Tuesday, March 30

2010 Is Off To a Great Start!

While our blog posts have slowed down, the work that is going on at the studio definitely has not! In the three months of 2010 so far, we have planned and coordinated five weddings, put on a San Francisco Bridal Tour and are putting together plans for our upcoming 2010 and 2011 weddings. It has been a busy start, but is certainly welcome, as we love the amount of happy clients we get to send off into their new life together every year.

I do have to point out though that we have been EXTREMELY lucky with the weather this year. It has been a very heavy rain season here in the bay area, and having four outdoor or semi-outdoor weddings in March was tricky. We always had our Plan B as well as a Plan C in case of inclement weather, but as most would imagine, these are rarely the preferred plans. We were lucky to not have to use any of them in and and ended up with amazing weather for our clients.

I do have to mention though, while watching a television special a few weeks ago, I was less than amused that the bride and groom were drenched by the end of their wedding ceremony. I have heard many things about this situation, such as the producers insisted on no back up plan, or that they did it for the drama. Either way, you simply don't put clients or guests in that type of situation. A simple change would have been to switch out the fabric ottomans that were used, so at least they could be dried off. Instead, they were left out there, and the guests had to sit on plastic

The umbrellas are great, but how about having two people hold them for the bride and groom? There were simple things that could have been done to partially remedy the situation, and I'm sure there were things that the planner could not do because of television restrictions, but I still think that this couple was unfortunately left out in the cold, literally.

Trust me, we have been forced to make a last minute decision before, and while the weather reports might say it will clear by the ceremony time, it is always hard to tell for sure. I have made some very iffy calls before, and luckily they worked out, but this is something that even if you know it could rain, come prepared. Have your coordinator bring towels to wipe down all chairs before the guests sit down. Have a large golf umbrella up near the alter, so if a downpour starts, the couple can take some cover and the officiant can hold it. Have your coordinator bring umbrellas or have them pre-ordered, and you can return them if they are not used after the wedding. If you have it in the budget, have a simple clear top tent on order. This usually requires a non-refundable deposit, but if you are looking to get married in somewhat rainy months, it is better to be safe than sorry.

We will be posting photos soon from our recent weddings, as we have worked with some great photographers recently. Here is a very bad quality photo taken with my phone from my March 20th wedding that was at Hotel Vitale and included the couples dogs. One of the pups decided the brides dress was her favorite spot!

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, March 24

SF Dream Wedding Giveaway

I feel so fortunate to have a career that I love so much, and giving back was on my list of things to do this year. I have started that with signing on to be the lead wedding designer for the SF Dream Wedding Giveaway for a very deserving couple, Vanessa and Mike. The couple found out they were winners on Valentine's Day, and the design team got right to work on our design. I was able to Skype with Vanessa to find out her likes and dislikes, and get an overall feel of how she will want her wedding to be.

Her original color selection was red, black and white. This could work almost anywhere, except the Hotel Vitale. This hotel is only five years old, has a very muted color palette and looks like a West Elm catalog. It is lovely! After realizing those colors weren't going to work, we came up with a muted grey, soft yellow and crisp white. It is coming together nicely, and will look great with the backdrop that the Vitale offers.

I will posting throughout the planning of this wedding of our progress on the design elements. The wedding is coming up quickly on May 14th, but for now, here is our inspiration board that got us started. She already has her gown, bridesmaid dresses and invitations picked out. Linens have been selected and rentals ordered. I'm working with Nancy Liu Chin and Leighsa Montrose on the
floral design, so you know it is going to be beautiful!

Happy Planning!

Thursday, March 18

Planning the Rehearsal Dinner

There are no real rules when it comes to the rehearsal dinner. It can be just you two or extended to include your immediate family, wedding party and their spouses. A lot of times invitations are extended to out-of-town family and guests because it is a great time to catch up other than on the wedding day. The decision can be daunting while writing the guest list to the rehearsal dinner. Who to invite while trying not to hurt anyone's feelings while not going over budget?

A lot of our couples have family and friends coming from all over the country. The rehearsal is an opportune time to host a dinner that is more casual. This is a great time for all of your family and friends to meet and get to know each other. Many of our clients are having cocktail or dessert receptions in place of or after a sit down dinner. A cocktail hour from 5:00 to 7:00 allows your guests not be rushed straight from the airport. It is also more relaxed and gives people a chance to mingle and catch up with everyone. Hosting a dessert reception gives you and your immediate family time to have a smaller more intimate dinner then joined with all of your out of town guests later in the evening. This is a great way to include everyone, give your guests time to arrive or explore the city a bit on their own, and then come to celebrate while you get to stick to the budget.

Kathy Goodman with Well Rehearsed is one of our good friends and is an amazing resource when it comes to planning your rehearsal dinner. From finding the perfect location to decor and all the details, she is fabulous at working with you (and your future mother-in-law) to plan a memorable rehearsal dinner.
Wanting to include everyone, we have alternatively had picnics in Golden Gate Park, bringing in catering trays from a local gourmet market or our favorite - a taco truck! This is much more casual, you can invite the whole crew and enjoy a beautiful afternoon (with the chance of fog as always) with all of your family and friends.

Your rehearsal dinner, whether is ends up being big or small, traditional or not so much, remember as always it is your wedding weekend. Have fun!


Monday, March 15

Giveaway | Simple Stunning Wedding Organizer

We are just hitting the start of what is proving to be a big wedding season. We have March brides scrambling with their last minute details, while we are completing timelines, vendor confirmations and room diagrams. There is a lot going on during those last few weeks, and I know that some brides don't have planners out there, so we are running a contest for a Simple Stunning Wedding Organizer by Karen Bussen! Even if you have a planner, this is a great tool to keep you organized through the planning process.

To enter, leave a comment with your most stressful wedding moment, detail or crisis you have dealt with with your email address, and we will randomly be picking a winner on Thursday March 18th.

Happy Planning!

Tuesday, March 9

Kid Friendly or Not?

It is hard deciding whether or not to have an adult only wedding or extend the invitation to families with children as well. There is the bad rap that kids can be a damper on the wedding. What are they going to do the whole time? What if they spoil things? We want our friends and family with young children to have fun at the wedding too! There are many options to make your wedding “kid friendly”, and with a little planning, kids can attend and be a part of the wedding while keeping the focus on the bride and groom.

If you just have a few children and they are sitting with their parents having a goodie bag with activities for the children at their seats keep them entertained while adults have dinner and toasts are going on.

Creating a playroom is a fabulous option. If you are able to provide a separate room at your venue that can be a “hang out” for the kids will keep them plenty busy. A few ideas to have include coloring books, games, puzzles, supplying beads to make necklaces they can take home or other arts and craft projects. Most caterers will provide a kids buffet with all the kids favorites, and even can make the table kid friendly height. Once they have eaten their dinner and crafted their hearts out, a TV/DVD player to play movies and giant pillows and blankets for them to crash on is the perfect end to their night.

It is also important to delegate someone to watch the younger guests throughout the reception if you have a playroom out of sight. There are many professional nanny services, or you can ask your hotel if they have a company they work with are a few ways to find someone the parents can trust watching their children.

If you do decide to go the “adult-only” wedding, that is okay too. It is a way to keep your guest count lower, and it really depends on what you want and how you see your wedding. Some venues or decor installations at weddings are simply not child friendly, so sometimes it is a safer option to opt for the adult only. We have seen many a centerpiece or cake go down because of a curious little one. Out of town families might still choose bring their children along though and make a vacation out of your wedding, so providing off site babysitter/nanny options is always helpful. Make sure that you specify that you are doing an adult only reception on the wedding website as well as the invitation. A simple "please join us for an adult only reception immediately following" on the reception card is an easy way to make it clear.



Thursday, March 4

Blog it Forward | What Inspires Me

I am super excited to be in included in sfgirlbybay's Blog it Forward mashup. About 300 bloggers are participating, and we were given the task to write a post about what inspires us. Yesterday I was passed the baton from Discover: Interior Design, and loved her post about her inspirations. There are so many things I could write about, because I constantly get inspired by so many things around me, but I decided to write this post without restriction and straight from the heart. I usually don't go this personal, so this is a little scary for me, but hopefully you will enjoy it!

{Yoga} With so many things in my life to juggle, it sometimes can take over and overwhelm me. I learned years ago that I need only about an hour a day to myself, and doing my yoga practice is the best way for me to do that. It is when I can clear my mind and body, and prepare myself for the grinds of my job. At the weddings, we need to think fast on our feet, as problems arise and we have to fix it. Coming in peaceful and ready makes all the difference, and makes me a better person overall.

{My Home} Most who know me know that I always try to make every space I'm in as cozy and comforting as it can be. I'm a self proclaimed homebody, and I am proud of it. My home is where I come to at 2am after working a twelve hour wedding day, cuddle up in my midnight blue and white bedroom, and wake up the next day to choose which of my three balconies I will enjoy my morning tea on. I don't spend a lot of money on my decor, I just find things from many different sources and piece them all together.

{My Son} Most don't know this tidbit about me, but I had my son when I was 20 years old. He completely changed my life, and has been my best friend and proudest supporter. Everything I do, I do for him. I put so much effort into my business daily because it is to support us. He is a walking little me. Wait, take that back, a BIG me. He is now 5'9 and I'm pushing 5'1. Having a teenager in the house isn't always easy, but I always know that deep in there, he still loves his mommy.

{My Boyfriend} I met my boyfriend almost ten years ago at a Giants game, and we instantly had a deep connection. He came into my life and took on with grace being a big part of my son's life. He also was my biggest backer when I decided to open and run my own event planning business. My boyfriend was raised solely by his mother, as his father passed away when he was 2. He has struggled with many major health issues during our years together, and it has only brought us closer. On Valentine's Day 2008, I got a devastating call that Joe had suffered a major migraine induced stroke. This left him unable to speak for five days and in the ICU, with months of rehabilitation after wards. His strength and courage through that time, and even today, makes it clear that he is forever my rock. I will say though, I do make a pretty good nurse!

{Love} This one pretty much goes without saying, and may sound corny, but I actually get so inspired by my clients love for each other. The way they look at each other, or slightly grab the others hand always makes me smile. Much of my work and design isn't about the bells and whistles, I like to really focus in on the couple and their love for one another. One of my favorite weddings was one that hardly any money was spent, no details were majorly stressed over, but the love felt at their reception was overwhelming. It wasn't just their love for each other, but for life, friends, family and even their vendors. I walked out of that wedding with a different outlook on what is really important.

Be sure to check out tomorrow's blog it forward post on drywell's blog, looking forward to it!

Happy Planning!

Monday, March 1

Real Parties | Oscar Night!

Every year I throw an Oscar party, as it is one of my favorite nights on television. It isn't too lavish, it is actually rather casual, but it is always a lot of fun, and I really have fun putting it together. I am preparing for the party this weekend and thought I would share some of my ideas.

One thing we always do is have an Oscar pool. Everyone brings $5 to put in the pot, and we all fill out our ballots before the show starts. Quick note, always put your start time an hour before the show to allow for everyone to get there, say their hello's and get their food and drink. This way they also have time to fill out the ballot. Once the show starts, pass the ballots out to everyone to grade, and let the battle begin!

Another thing I am incorporating this year is I will be having prizes awarded throughout the broadcast. The way I am doing it is on their ballot, I will have a space for them to guess the time that these firsts will happen: first crying acceptance speech, first cut off acceptance speech, etc. It will keep the interest up through the three hour show even for those that aren't as into it.

When guests first arrive, they are greeted outside by my mock "search lights." It is basically a bunch of flashlights attached in different directions to the trees outside my home, and it makes me laugh, but it works. Then I have a "red carpet" for the guests to walk on as they enter. They are always greeted with champagne, and I have the bar fully stocked and loaded so I can enjoy the show while guests help themselves throughout the evening.

On the dining room table, I create a buffet. When they first arrive there will be individual boxes of popcorn, red vines and cracker jacks on the coffee table. There will also be fancy appetizers that they can make a plate of, grab their seat and get ready to enjoy the show. I am planning to mimic the design that has been approved for the Governor's Ball, I'm loving the color combination.

At one point, I take out the tri tip and all the fixings for guests to make gourmet steak sandwiches, with a few side dishes. Nothing too fancy, guests are eating on their lap, so you always need to consider that. I also have dark chocolate, Oscar trophy red velvet cupcakes and red wine for the tail end of the show when guests need a little pick me up.

As you can see, it is super easy to throw a party like this. Get your Oscar Party Kit from the Oscar website and download all you need and get some great recipe's as well. There are a few keys to remember though when planning your Oscar Party:

1) Always make sure you have enough seats. This isn't a standard party where guests can stand and mingle.
2) Make sure the food is easy to eat, you don't want to serve something that needs a knife.
3) Create a bar that is a self serve type. Have enough glassware, open wine and a carafe of water. Always serve your guests as they enter the party, and explain that they can help themselves to the bar after that.
4) Don't invite too many people. Some are very into the Oscar's and want to hear the speeches. You don't want it to be too crowded or too loud.
5) Go light with the decor. The theme at the Governor's Ball this year is "1930's Streamline Moderne." Design your table that way instead of with the tacky party store items.
6) Some go with a full sit down Oscar inspired dinner, which can also be fun. Take the movies nominated, and play with that. Or, you can always try and serve what Wolfgang Puck will be serving that night, yum!

Do you have any fun ideas to add? If so, please share!

Happy Planning!