Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jaci & Nick's Wedding: Team Member POV

I met Michelle a long time ago at Angela and Ashvind's Wedding. From the start, I could feel her energy and great demeanor. I later learned that evening that Michelle was a friend of Amber's! I could definitely see why! She is smart and able to act quick on her feet. Forward a few months, and I am always still looking to work side by side with Michelle. Thanks Michelle for taking time out of your busy mommy and work life to fill out this post wedding questionnaire. It was great having you for Jaci and Nick's wedding on August 13, 2011! {Nira}

Q. How did you learn about Interning or Assisting for Amber Events?

A. Amber has been a friend of mine for years and one night ( a few years ago) while out dining on Charcuterie with cheese and sipping wine, Amber mentioned an upcoming wedding that was going to be at a larger location and needed help. I simply volunteered.

Q. Tell us about yourself and how it relates to the wedding industry. 

A. Well, I love all things crafty and creative. Being involved in weddings allows me to see all my favorite things come together while being outdoors and around people. I’m a Leo and we all love crowds!

Q. What tasks did you complete for this wedding? 

A. I was in charge of reception set up. For this wedding that included: Escort Card set up, menu placement, photo booth set up, place card assigned seating at family tables, coordinated with catering to ensure all tables were set appropriately with the correct number of chairs and place settings, table numbers, candles, bathroom accessories set up and maintenance, gift pack up, and finally collecting and packing everything from the treasure chest and placed into a parents car.

Q. What surprised you?      

A. Truthfully, every person I had contact with at this wedding was unbelievably gracious, friendly and complimentary. The energy was amazing and that makes for a lovely working experience despite the heat and running around. The Saddlerock property is HUGE! Also, this was my first wedding where I didn’t know the other vendors. Usually working with the same vendors, its easy to take for granted how seamlessly the day comes together when working with a team you know. I had to come at it a little differently - take the time to socialize with the catering manager and staff and let them know I was there to help with it all coming together. In the end everyone worked together beautifully.

Q. What is your favorite part of this wedding?

A. The location and decor by far! So rustic with a fancy twist. Rolling green lawns, willow trees with hanging lights, sofas made of hay, chandeliers, photo booth, vineyards in the background and FARM ANIMALS! Oh, and the fact that one of the house camels gave birth that very same day. Celebrations all around!

Q. What shoes did you wear?

A. Well, that's a funny story :) I had never been to Saddlerock Ranch before so I did not realize the importance of “comfortable” shoes. I normally wear a pair of cute flats or small small wedge-type heels. Really anything you wear by the end of 11 or 12 hours hurt your feet - BUT the distance covered at this location and boxes carried, I really wish I had a pair of “Easy Spirts” five hours in!

Q. The uniform for the Amber Events staff is a black button down shirt and slacks. What did you do to Jazz up your look?  

A. Well for this wedding knowing it was mid August in the middle of the Malibu Canyons I knew temperatures could reach high nineties so a few weeks before I had asked Amber if a black sundress and black cardigan would be appropriate. It helped A LOT! (Until night-time when the mosquitoes came out to play)!

Q. What is your favorite wedding scene from a movie? 

A. This is a funny question, simply from where I’m at in my life at the moment. I would have to say Cinderella! I have a two and a half year old daughter and we watch the wedding scene from this movie a lot. It is the best part of the movie. Castles, white sparkly gowns, a real horse and carriage, fairy god-mother and prince! What else could you ask for, really? Ask me again in a few years - my answer will probably be different :)

Q. Do you have any words for anyone wanting to join the wedding industry? 

A. This is a really fun industry to be a part of. If the words organized, detail-oriented, professionalism, and hard-work are a part of your vocabulary you’ll love it.

Final Comments:
Another great wedding working with a stellar team. I heart Amber Events!

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to have a raging dance party

So you have a great DJ/Band and that you think is going to make your guests tear up the dancefloor, eh? Not so fast, you need a few other key items in place in order to have a truly insane dance party. 

Don't have more than a parent and a best man/maid of honor speak. Seriously. And when you ask that person to speak, tell them they have no more than 3 minutes. Nothing kills a party like like three 8 minute speeches in a row. Don't you know that's what the rehearsal dinner is for? Oh, and have said people speak before dinner so after dinner is saved for boogieing .

If you read my blog, you know how important I believe lighting is  (more important than flowers, sorry, florists!) and I think that any good reception has two lighting levels: " romanticaldinnertime" and "sexydanceytime". Sexydanceytime usually involves me crawling around the room unplugging the uplights if I don't have a standby guy on hand, but it's worth it. People like to get their freak on in dim lighting.

Make sure your band/DJ is right on the dance floor with nothing (like tables) to come between their love. They and the dancers feed off each others energy  like rock stars and groupies. Also make sure your bar is in the same room. The closer to the dance floor, the better. And if dancing is really your thing don't dilute your reception with other activities such as photo booths. If you want your guests to be slaves to the beat you have to keep them captive.

Nix the band OR do a band/DJ combo
Bands have to take breaks every 45 minutes. Nuff said.

and last but not least

Cake. That damn cake.
This is my most hated time of the evening: it's 10:15 PM and the dance floor is rocking. There are 1.75 hours left of this party. The photographer has to end at 10:30 or overtime will ensue. I tell the MC that we'll be cutting the cake after the next song and the announcement is made. Dance floor fizzles out and never returns to its original glory. My advice? Cut the cake right after dinner or sneak away with your parents & photographers to cut it then get back to the floor to shake what your momma gave ya.

Proof that the above works? Feast your eyes on the party that was Andie & Doug's wedding reception. They got married one year ago today, actually! Happy anniversary, lovebirds! xo
    photos by the talented Studio Castillero

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pretty Pictures- Pink Soda

This photo here is quite elementary and to the point. No special gimmicks, lighting, or photo shop. This is a pink can of Coca Cola with a matching pale bruised flower sitting on top of it. Still, it's so fascinating to me, just for the simple fact, that it is pink.

I don't normally have such a fixation on the color, though you might think otherwise with my chosen pretty pictures logo.

Coca Cola is the most recognized brand in the United States, and perhaps even the whole world! To normally associate the brand with the classic red can or bottle with red label is natural to us. 

Seeing a different color is just so special! It's almost discriminatory, but in a good way. 
This drink, is for the ladies. 
Source: Tumbledye

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kelly & Nick's Wedding: Team Member POV

Amber Events Team Member
Post Wedding Questionnaire

I first met Keithlyn directly on site for Kelly and Nick's wedding. Though she had experience assisting corporate events, this was her first time working a wedding!  Keithlyn was focused and determined and helped make the night run smoothly. Thank you Keithlyn for taking time out of your busy world of school and life to fill this out. It was a pleasure working with you on Kelly and Nick's wedding on August 6th, 2011.  {Nira}

Q. How did you learn about Interning or Assisting for Amber Events?

A. The opportunity came to me through a club that I am involved in at Cal Poly Pomona. The club is Association of Student Event Planners (ASEP) and we are occasionally given opportunities to work on different events to gain experience in the industry.

Q. Tell us about yourself and how it relates to the wedding industry.

A. I like to think of myself as a creative person. I like to plan and I love to see how you can take a raw idea and turn it into something beautiful and amazing that people can enjoy and remember for years to come. Also, I love love, and weddings are the perfect display of two people sharing the love they have for one another with their friends and family.

Q. What tasks did you complete for this wedding?

A. I helped put linens on the cocktail tables, I arranged place cards that the bride made onto an iron gate, I made sure the tables in the reception area had the proper amount of place settings, I set up the kids table, I lit candles, and I directed guests to where the needed to go. It was fun!

Q. What surprised you?

A. I was surprised by how smooth everything went. This is the first wedding that I have worked and I was expecting it to be more hectic, but Amber had all the details covered and it turned out wonderfully.

Q. What is your favorite part of this wedding?

A. My favorite part of this wedding was after everybody entered the reception area and they sat down to enjoy the evening. Not only did it look beautiful, but you could tell everyone was enjoying themselves while celebrating Kelly & Nick’s marriage.

Q. What shoes did you wear?

A. I wore black Pumas. They are the shoes I normally wear to work and I knew they would be comfy to work in.

Q. The uniform for the Amber Events staff is a black button down shirt and slacks. What did you do to Jazz up your look?

A. Not too much. I wore a subtle necklace and a feather in my hair.

Q. What is your favorite wedding scene from a movie?

A. Hmmm…I like a lot of wedding scenes. One of my favorite movies is The Young Victoria. I love how in a time where many were forced into arranged marriages, she stood her ground and married the man she fell in love with.

Q. Do you have any words for anyone wanting to join the wedding industry?

A. It’s a lot of work. There are tons of details that you don’t realize until you actually work a wedding. However, if you are up for the challenge they are also very rewarding. It’s satisfying to accomplish a task that you know has a lot of significance to many people.

Final Comments:

I got a taste of what working a wedding is like and I want more! I had fun working with Amber and Nira, and I would definitely work with them again if they needed me too. I learned a lot from just this one wedding and I am eager to be a part of many more in order to expand my knowledge and experience in the industry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Weight of Weddings

This Sunday will be my 70th wedding. You'd think that by now I would be perfect and wouldn't make stupid mistakes, but I did at a wedding a few weeks ago. Correction: you'd think I wouldn't make stupid mistakes that my clients find out about (if only they knew what I quickly corrected!). I'd say about 98% of mistakes I'm able to catch before they become apparent and mess things up, but sometimes I can't. And the weight of that mistake, (while in actuality was small to my clients, thank God) made me cry on the way home from said wedding and woke me up the next morning with that guilty feeling of "I did something bad".  Oh, and don't even get me started on clients who were over the moon happy on their wedding day then after "reflection" send a nasty text or email about the things they disliked. That's another blog/therapy session.

When it boils down to it, as a wedding planner, I'm the couple's insurance policy against anything going wrong. And an insurance policy is, by definition, risky. With every wedding I do I become more seasoned about what can go wrong, how to deal with what is about to go wrong, and how to avoid it going wrong. I also learn more about human nature and mob mentality and can tell you with absolute certainty and if your guests want you to go up in chairs for the hora and the wedding planner stops them because she knows that you don't want to, then there is going to be a riot on the dance floor. And not the good kind either.

However, the weight of weddings is the yin to the yang of the joy there is in being such an instrumental part in the celebration of a new family. The emails, calls, letters, gifts, and reviews that happy clients send my way ease the weight and help me keep on keepin' on.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Union Station Wedding Reception: Christine & Cyrus

Christine and Cyrus contacted me eight months before their June wedding. They were planning long distance as Christine was in grad school in New York and Cyrus was in the Bay Area about to move out to NYC to start a new job. They fell in love with Union Station to hold their reception in as they spent so much of their relationship long distance that they felt that a train station would be the perfect place to celebrate their new marriage.

 Their faith is a huge part of their lives, they held the ceremony at the gorgeous Wilshire United Methodist Church and officiated by their pastor. Many of their friends participated in the ceremony by playing the worship music that was printed in the programs.
The reception format was unique in that we intentionally set it up without a dancefloor--the lounge in the middle of the room was set with board games, karaoke, and a photobooth. It was a total hit!  Christine's brother Stephan MC'd the evening and the guests had a great time celebrating the new union. It was a wonderful evening!

Congratulations, Christine & Cyrus! May you have a long and happy marriage!

The Team that made it happen:
Planning & Coordination: Amber Events (with special thanks to my assistants Nira & Rozie!)
Officiant:  Pastor Alex Van Riesen
Reception Venue: Los Angeles Union Station
Catering & Rentals: Event Professionals
Sound System & Karaoke: BTS Sound

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How much does it cost to alter a wedding dress?

With summer weddings in full swing and fall brides in the alteration stage of their gowns, many are getting sticker shock with the cost of how alterations are going to be. Most of the time, this sometimes enormous sum was not factored into the budget, because when the salesperson was ordering the gown she was more than likely pretty vague about what it would cost. She was probably vague because she's not the seamstress standing in front of you in the actual dress, estimating the labor hours it is going to take to make it fit flawlessly. She's just selling you a dress.

Salons place the gown orders with the manufacture based on the largest part of your body (for instance, my hips are much larger than my chest) and some salons probably even add on a size or two to make the alterations substantially costly. If a gown comes in too small and the seamstress cannot let it out enough, the salon has to eat the cost of it and they'd rather not do that.

So your gown comes in and it's two sizes too big and 8" too long. This is not a cheap and easy fix, no matter where you take it. Wedding gowns, because of the delicate fabric, lace, beading, and elaborate details are EXTREMELY difficult to alter. You can't just hem a wedding gown like your dry cleaner hems your slacks for $15.00. Most of the time the skirt has to  come off at the waist so that the detailing at the bottom is not lost. Only the most experienced tailors & seamstresses (think 20+ yrs of experience) will even touch a wedding gown. Many seamstresses who work for themselves won't take on the liability of a wedding gown because if she ruins it, she probably doesn't have the thousands of dollars to replace it. If the salon's seamstress ruins your gown, the salon has to pay for a replacement.

I always recommend sticking with your salon for the reasons I just mentioned, but if you do decide to take your gown to a tailor/seamstress that is not affiliated with your bridal salon, make sure you get some solid recommendations and ask to see photos of their work. Be very careful and make sure that you aren't just shopping for the cheapest price.

My advice: set aside some money for alterations so you're not frantically scrambling right before your wedding.


Pretty Pictures-Romantic White Crocheted Lace

When I came across this series of enchanting photos, it automatically brought me back to Amber's recent inspiration shoot that was featured on Style Me Pretty.
  Even this model resembles the other!
The beauty of this model, Tuva Heger was captured by Norwegian photographer, Anette S

I am in love with the monochromatic theme, as it  brings me back to Viennese society of the late 1700's.
This has such a romantic feminine look to it! I wish we could still incorporate this style into our every day modern living.  I love the fragrant gardenias and white roses in her hair. Her dainty parasol tops off this elegant look. 
Now I feel like watching Marie Antoinette!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jenny & Jake's Wedding: Team Member POV

 Amber Events Team Member
 Post Wedding Questionnaire

I first met Kaylin in Amber's office a couple day's before Jenny and Jake's wedding. She was there to put her creative skills to the test as we prepped some of their decor: lacy and festive luminaries! This was Kaylin's first wedding with Amber Events.Thank you Kaylin for taking time out of your school schedule to fill this out. It was a pleasure working with you on Jenny & Jake's wedding on July 31st, 2011. 

Q. How did you learn about Interning or Assisting for Amber Events?

A.  I am a student at Cal Poly Pomona, majoring in Hospitality Management, and one of the clubs I belong to, the Association of Student Event Planners, had sent out an email that Amber was looking for volunteers for some upcoming weddings and since my goal is to eventually be an event planner, I jumped at the opportunity.

Q. Tell us about yourself and how it relates to the wedding industry. 

 A. I am a very organized, task-oriented and creative person and I love working with people. Working in the wedding industry allows me to use those skills and traits to make other people happy and help create events and memories that will hopefully last those people a lifetime.

Q. What tasks did you complete for this wedding? 

A. As a part of the Amber Events team I helped make the luminaries that lined the front of the house and the reception area the Monday before the wedding. On the day of the event I was in charge of putting together the programs and placing them on the chairs for the ceremony. I also set up and lit the luminaries, greeted guests upon arrival, set up the name tags and favors for the guests as well as assisted any guest needs and helped Amber with anything else that she needed.

Q. What surprised you?      

A. I was surprised by just how quick the team was able to flip the ceremony area for the reception. I thought that it was going to take a lot longer than it did.

Q. What is your favorite part of this wedding?

A. My favorite part of this wedding was seeing the bride and grooms reaction and hearing their comments, seeing how happy they were. I also thought that the centerpieces and food was presented beautifully, and warmed up the overall atmosphere.

Q. The uniform for the Amber Events staff is a black button down shirt and slacks. What did you do to Jazz up your look?  

A. I pretty much just stuck to the uniform. My hair however was crazy curly that day because it had rained at my house that morning.

Q. What is your favorite wedding scene from a movie? 

A. My favorite wedding scene is probably in Letters to Juliet when the main character Sophie runs off and Charlie comes to find her and he climbs up the balcony to kiss her and he falls of and she runs down to make sure he is ok. It’s a little cheesy but I just love the way he looks at her.

Q. Do you have any words for anyone wanting to join the wedding industry? 

A. I think that the wedding industry is a very fun and challenging industry to work in. One where you can use your creativity to take someone’s ideas for their dream wedding and make it into an dream come true that they will be able to look back on for the rest of their lives, but be prepared to work long hours, work with your hands, and always be available to your client whenever they may need you whether it be logistical or emotional.

Final Comments:

This was my first time working with Amber and her team, and I have to say it was an absolute blast. I really enjoyed being able to see all of the different aspects of the wedding come together and to be able to observe Amber and see how you should deal with different people such as caters, florists, pastors/rabbis, the bride and groom and their families, wedding party, and guests. I also loved seeing just how happy the bride and groom were and seeing all of the guests enjoy the evening. I hope to be able to have the opportunity to work with the Amber Events team again some time soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

When your parents get crazy....

...and you want to disown them, watch this scene. Chances are they're going through some pretty heavy stuff also.

“Who presents this woman” … this woman …. But she is not a woman she is just a kid and she is leaving us…. I realize to that moment that I was never going to come home again and see Annie at the top of the stairs, never going to see her again in our breakfast table and in her nightgown and socks. I suddenly realize what was happening, Annie was all grownup and leaving us... And something inside began to hurt" ~George Banks


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pretty Pictures- A Vibrant Home

This photo shocked my system, when I first saw it. This had to be photo shopped right?
No, This is actually a place and it actually does look like this at sunset. What a sight to enjoy!
Robert Crum is the photographer of this shot, and next time he travels, I might ask him to come along.

Manarola, Italy is the southernmost town of the Cinque Terre and seems to have such a charming quality to it. If the homes are this vibrant, I imagine the people must be too. 
I would love to visit one of their restaurants and talk to the locals.
Better yet, have your wedding here and invite everyone in town.

Note from Amber: my husband and I rented apartment in Manarola in Cinque Terre in 2006 and fell in love with it. It truly is that magical! We spent one entire day hiking 4 of the villages and kayaking to the 5th. A bottle of wine and dinner on our rooftop back in Manarola ended the day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My New Business Cards...

...are mullets: business in the front and party in the back. Fierce!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Home Weddings

After having a break from them over the past few years, in the past few months, I've done two weddings at homes. Not a private residence that is rented out for events: but the home of the bride or groom's family or a close friend. If rented venues are tough, home weddings are three times harder than a normal wedding. It takes a wedding ninja and a team of martial artist vendors to make it all come together smoothly. To pull off a home wedding properly, not only do all of the normal things (Music! Flowers! Invitation! Decor!) have to be dealt with, but all of the items listed below.

Pre-Prep of the Property
Unlike rented spaces, many homes don't have full time landscapers, painters, electricians, and plumbers to make sure that everything is up to par, so everything has to be checked prior to the wedding. Pianos have to be tuned, ovens have to be serviced, drains have to be snaked, AC units tuned and filters changed. Then you have the organizing around the house has has to be taken care of: furniture that has to be moved out in order to allow 100ish guests in your living room. After all of that above? Then comes the deep cleaning: the window washing, carpet shampooing, molding dusting hell.


Where are your guests going to park? Do you have to bring in valet? Should they be shuttled from the hotel? Is there a parking lot nearby you can rent? All of these questions have to be asked. 

Where you live determines how late you can party or the cops will be on your doorstep in .02 seconds. If you send your invitations out for 7:00 PM but live in Beverly Hills that has a 10:00 PM sound ordinance you're in for some trouble. Also, if you live in an area like Beverly Hills and put up a tent or a generator, you have to get a permit or risk your party being shut down.  And then we have neighbors. If you don't want your neighbors to have the cops show up at 9:00 PM you better give them a goodie basket with a note and some booze. It's recommended to invite them, ESPECIALLY the crazy lady that you can't stand. Every neighborhood has one.

Most of the time homes don't have perfect nightscaping built for entertaining, so if you're having any sort of lighting, you will more than likely need a generator or you risk tripping the circuits when the caterers plug in the coffee pot at 9:30 PM.

Good flow is key. Where will the guests enter? Where will they go? Where are the bottlenecks going to happen? Are they going to be cool or warm enough? Will there be enough chairs to sit on? Where will the bars be placed? The dance-floor? If the ceremony and reception are happening in the same space, are the tables going to be pre-set and brought out during cocktail hour? If not, you better have a darn comfortable space for guests to hang for over an hour.

Can your kitchen handle cooking for 100+ people? Where can the caterers set up their prep & scullery area? Can they use your refrigerator or will a rented one have to come in?
Then there are bathrooms. This is one of the most important aspects that people overlook. People need 1 restroom for every 50 people. This includes staff. If you have 100 guests in your home, you'll have 20 vendors working it. That means you need more than 2 bathrooms or you're going to have problems. And your plumbing had better be GOOD or your problems are going to be even bigger. A bathroom blowout will kill a party faster than anything.

Often overlooked Logistics
Who is going to be cleaning up the house on the day of the wedding? You need one person dedicated to refilling toilet paper in the bathrooms and making sure that there is still soap.

Who is going to deep clean the property once 120 people have trampled the grass, soiled the carpet, and stained the couch? All of the vendors will take out what they brought in, but they're not responsible for deep cleaning your house.

On the day 
Unless you want a disaster, your caterers had better specialize in coming into homes and cooking with ovens they aren't used to. And you need a wedding planner who knows all of the above and gets a sick thrill out of the most difficult logistics imaginable in the wedding world.

Enjoy this oh so true to life scene from Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride"

Best line: "oh it's vera nice! Ve change it all though, come let's go..."

Your Wedding Ninja,