Archive for December 2009




Here’s to 2010 & Weddings

As the year changes from one to another, and we change from one decade to another, I look at the pictures above and have happy thoughts.  How lucky am I to be an invisible part of what you see and how it came to be.  How lucky am I to get to meet/know and work with such lovely couples and end up with this kind of a picture memory.  How lucky am I to work at such beautiful locations with fabulous professionals, and here’s to the team of vendors that can make or break your event, this year many old friends and some wonderful new ones.  Both of the weddings above have a special place in my heart due to who the couples were and my involvement in their planning.

For all my couples from 2009, I enjoyed you all, and wish you all the best in life, love, and happiness.  Thank you for the emails and notes I receive after your event, that reiterates to me that I have taken the right career path.  For those that I will have the pleasure of working with in 2010, I look forward to getting to know you and helping a picture similar to those above, be yours.

If you are getting married at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, St Regis, Monarch Beach, or the Hyatt Huntington Beach, my team and I are ready to help you create memories of a lifetime, and if you are at other locations we are familiar with or not, we can and look forward to helping you also.

We offer a range of services from large/handle it all for you, to making it easy and taking you through the process but you are intimately involved, through to the Two Month and One Month options, and smaller if that is all you need.  Whether it be a hotel setting, country club, or a unique location, we can make it happen.

Between my last blog and this one, I had a lovely wedding celebration for a couple where they were getting married at their church and then having the reception at the Ritz-Carlton.  As the date came closer the church lady realised she could not be there the day of the ceremony, so we ended up handling the ceremony at the church, as well as the reception at the hotel.  No worries at all.  So whether you are looking here in S.CA, or elsewhere in the world, we are there for you.

Here’s to 2010 and getting to meet and know you, and work with you.

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 31, 2009

Bit of this, Bit of that

I am using this blog as an excuse to get you the great shot below.  Things happen for a reason.  Had a lovely couple book me 6 months ago for a Dec wedding.  They were both Japanese, the groom lived in San Diego and the bride was coming over in August to check on things then go back to Japan, and stay here after the wedding.  Well in November he got transferred back to Japan!!  Wow, talk about a turn in events.  Now they are both living over there but having a wedding here, and because everyone had tickets and plans to be here, went ahead with it.  Who knew Sat would be the rainiest Sat we have had in years (well it felt that way).  We changed our minds on the ceremony being in/out a few times in the two hours leading up to the cere time.  We were ready to go out and then the rain hit again, so last minute we came up with the beautiful fountain in the Courtyard being their backdrop and they would get married under the overhang and the guests would stand under there also, a really intimate setting.  After the wedding they got the pics on the cliff with the ocean below and a great variety of indoor shots at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Laguna, as they have so many lovely lcoations.  Then at the very end, last minute decision was made to still go down to the beach, sunset (what sun?) was in 5 mins, but the bride still wanted to go down, and the shot below was one of the outcomes of that trip.  Wow.  Without the weather we had that day, they would not have had so many great backdrops or the shot that ended the day below.

They had a great celebration with a little bit of everything happening in the luncheon/dancing time, lots of emotional moments, and some crazy dancing (they told me no-one would want to dance!!!!) that we felt bad having to end it.  I hear that if it rains on your wedding day, that is a sign of financial and wedded success, I truly hope and feel this is the case for this lovely lovely couple.  I called them my cutest couple for 09.

If you are in the Lake Forest area close to my office, a really neat wine restaurant you must visit is called Crush. Cnr of Lake Forest/Lambert streets.  Great atmosphere, food, and if you like wine you are in heaven.  I have been a few times, and went again last week with my friend Caren,  it reminded me that I should go more often.

Went with my husband to see Up in the Air with George Cloony, what a great movie.  Didn’t want it to end.  Don’t know what I expected, maybe a comedy, but it wasn’t anything I could have imagined, had those ‘oh dear’ moments, some laughs and some awkward moments when you all gasped.  It was a real life movie, and one that ended up releasing at a time that it all seemed so ‘in the times’, doubt that was the intent when it was filmed.

Ok, that’s it for this one.  It was really to get this great shot out by my good friend Frank Salas/Master of Photography!!!!!

Till next time

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 16, 2009

Destination Weddings

I am in a fortunate position indeed.  I am based in a wonderful location where I have lots of local couples or couples that live close by, but 50% of the weddings I do here in S.CA are actually destination, meaning they are coming here from other cities/states or countries, and they is meaning the couple and many of their guests.  They have many great reasons to choose S.CA for their special wedding celebration, we can pretty much count on their outdoor ceremony being outdoors no matter what time of year, it may be cooler at times but never as cool as where they may be coming from.  S.CA is a great draw for the friends and family to meet and not only enjoy the wedding event/family reunion, but also combine it with a family vacation and take advantage of being close to all that we are famous for, Hollywood,  Disneyland etc, and be close enough to go to San Diego and enjoy the attractions and city only an hour away.  For some couples this is where one or both of them come from, or they have parents or family here, and for some it is really about the Pacific Ocean and the climate.  Being based here and with the huge range of vendors and options available here, it is a great idea to get a co-ordinator from here to help narrow down those options and ensure your event goes as planned.  Most couples do have one or more trips into the area to either select vendors or after selecting vendors finalise everything and know going in that everything is going to be wonderful.  I have couples from all over the country, seem to always have a few from NY NY, Miami, and Chicago, and some from out of the country – all these weddings have gone off flawlessly whether they came into town prior to the big day or not, so if you are looking for someone who is based here to help you from Santa Barbara to San Diego to Palm Springs, feel rest assured that I can make the process smooth and calm for you and have done so for many couples.  Some I have not even met until the day of  the celebration, as they didn’t need or want to do a rehearsal of the ceremony.  How’s that for confidence!!

Ok, Destination Weddings out of S.CA – if you are an OC or LA bride and looking to go elsewhere for your celebration, then I can assist you there also.  I can see where if going to another location in the States including tropical destinations like Hawaii etc, you may feel that as couples coming here find me and that works for them, well why wouldn’t you do the same thing in the reverse.  You can, the difference would be, if  we were involved in the planning process from the beginning together, finding the location, invitation sourcing, vendors etc, then you feel like you have someone on your side that knows what they are doing fully, where otherwise you may not be 100% sure you are covering all bases.  I always suggest at least one trip together to the destination to scout locations and vendors, or if that is done without a trip, a trip to finalise arrangements with vendors/see samples and ensure all is to be as planned.  By having me there with you during that/those trips and the final trip then you are going to be able to feel that you can fully relax and enjoy your destination as I will be ensuring all the details are covered/happening/as planned.  I am there working while you are enjoying.

Destination Weddings to Mexico, Carribean, Europe, Downunder, South Pacific and anywhere else you may have in mind – well this is when having someone with you on your side through the process here and then there I think is very beneficial.  With these kind of weddings it’s not just the 6 hours of the wedding celebration you need to be concerned with, you become responsible for giving accommodation options, transfers, activities, meals, before and after parties, all things that with a wedding in the US do not seem to be as essential to have to plan for the guests.  This involves using a Destination Management Company, which is going to be totally different to the person at your location who is assisting with the ceremony and celebration that will follow.  Most of the time there could be a language barrier/challenge, even if they speak english.  Where you may hear a yes answer, someone like me knows what questions to ask a variety of ways to ensure the yes answer is indeed correct.  I definately believe one trip should be done, either in the preliminary planning stages to scout locations and vendors, or if those are chosen without a trip, then a trip pre wedding to ensure everything will be as expected.  This way you will never have suprises or disappointment when you arrive a day before and don’t have time to make things right if something becomes obvious it’s not what you expect, or you end up stressed and frustrated because you now do not have time to deal with fixing things as family are coming in and you also had planned to chill for a day or so prior, so your whole experience starts to become tainted.  The pre trips and having someone like me I believe are a great investment when working with a destination where the culture and language can be foreign to you.

A good example of this is, I was at a resort in Mexico a while back and there was a couple in the pool that we started chatting to.  They were having their wedding at this resort in two months time.  They were from San Francisco.  We asked how everything had gone and they looked at each other, with THAT look.  Un oh, what has been happening we asked.  This was their 2nd trip down, their person at the resort had changed 2 times, they were never really given all their options, and were very stressed.  This trip down was to ensure all was going to be well and they could hopefully now relax and look forward to the big day.  The bride said, I wish I had of booked a co-ordinator from home to help me with this process, it would have been less expensive and stressful/frustrating to have had that hand to guide me through the process.  Even though her contacts at the hotel spoke english, she never really felt the confidence in what they were saying.  I felt very sad that where she should have been looking forward to such a great trip for all to share, she was now more in the frame of mind to have it happen so it could be done with and look back knowing it ended up as it should be, but she had had to spend her planning months worrying.

Now on the other hand, you can choose locations such as The One & Only Pamilla, which I had a chance to visit and tour of.  What a beautiful location, and not only from the visual standpoint, from the way you feel from the moment you are greeted, to how the accommodations are, to how the staff treat you and each other.  There is such a serene, calm feel at this lovely resort, you can see why Oprah chose this spot to host John Travolta’s 50th birthday party.  Top notch everything.  They have a team to assist you from arrival on, but even at a location like this, how nice it would be for you to have your local consultant helping you with everything from invites through vendor options (maybe taking some from here is best for you) and then being the person on site down there to handle everything while you laze by the pool, and go to the pre and post parties you have planned.  That’s how it shyould be.

I will say from a few years ago when doing a Destination wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean meant having to bring everything in such as linens, specialty chairs etc, all that has changed.  There are great companies in all these locations now to handle every aspect and option you would expect to have here in the US, there as well, and to be honest, with some of the vendors I have met with and seen, they can be a bit more creative/unique than what some of our local vendors can be, maybe it is that vacation tropical/feeling air.  so that is fabulous news.

Is doing a Destination Wedding out of country going to save you money? Probably not (unless you were looking at 200 here and now are cutting it down to 50 there), what it does is mean the friends and family that are the most important to you will be there, it is a more intimate event where you can really all enjoy not only being together, but be together, you aren’t so streteches as you are even trying to get around 120 people in a 5 hour wedding reception.  You can give those guests who travelled pre and post events to attend, the best food & beverage experience, and make use of linens/chairs/dancefloors/lighting and unique elements that maybe you would not have done at home, all create a fabulous memory for you all to remember forever.

The great thing about a planner such as I, is I have the contacts in the various countries to give us the support system we need, to know that all will be well.  This comes from having travelled to so much of the world, spending this year really looking at other locations for those couples based here who are looking to go elsewhere, my constantly updated list of professionals world wide who have contacted me wanting me to know where they are based and how they can help me and my couples wanting to go to their desintation, and my membership in Assn of Bridal Consulatants which has members world wide, meaning I can always lean on someone in an area I may not be familiar with, to give us the guidance we need to get things started,a nd know who/what we are dealing with going in.

Destination weddings are a celebration that you should be looking forward to with great anticipation, not trepidation, so use a co-ordinator such as me, on this end, to help you be in that place.

Until next time

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 15, 2009

Pueblo Bonito Resorts, Cabo

A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a group of 13 co-ordinators from all over the country that were invited to come to Cabo and experience the properties of the above company.

They have 5 resorts in Cabo San Lucas, and there is something for everyone there.  I was at the Holistic Resort & Spa.  Reminded me very much of Arizona, except there was a view of the Pacific o cean which brought the best of two worlds together.  It was a lovely quiet resort, 2 pools, a coffee shop, sushi bar, and a restaurant that looks over the pools to the sand to the ocean and the food was excellent.  I had a rack of lamb that was to die for.  The really cool thing that catches your eye immediately is that there are about 5 cabana beds just sitting out on the huge stretch of sand which are fabulous.  It feels like looking at the desert and you see something there that must be a mirage, very cool.  Didn’t get a chance t experience those, but I hear that for $80 or so dollars you get the use for the day and it includes all food and beverages, sounds like a deal to me, now again, I heard that, don’t know for sure, so don’t quote me.

The resort next door to us that was way up on the hill and just flowed down to the sand like a waterfall of buildings is their Sunset property.  It is primarily a timeshare but also has  hotel rooms  and a lovely spa.  The accommodations here are fabulous, the most luxurious, well presented/feeling I have ever seen for a majority timeshare property.  Many pools, including one at the very top of the resort way up on the hill where you can watch the sunset from, awesome, and then one way down right at the sand, and a bunch in between.  You get around by golf carts that continuosly run up and down the hill on a Lombard/San Fran style cart road, hilarious.  In the dark for the first time after a couple of drinks quite exciting and in the daytime just really enjoyable to watch the view and the beautiful landscaping they have.

They had 2 properties along the beach from downtown Cabo that we saw also, both different so you would pick your style.  I believe one was inclusive.  From either of these you step from their grounds right onto the sand and then 20′ away you can swim in the bay, something that can not be done in the ocean at the other two resorts.  A 5 min walk along the beach and you are enjoying the fun sand restaurants like The Office, and others, for those of you that know what I am talking about.

There is something to be said for each resort.  They are unique in their own ways and offer a different style/feel, so that you can pick which is right for you.  They all offer beach/sand weddings, the Sunset has a lovely Mexican/religous  feeling chapel, and have locations where you can dine/dance under the stars or use an inside room if you are wanting to create a totally different environment.  The really great thing about a group of resorts like this under one umbrella, is if you have a group coming down and everyone is on different budgets, they can stay at the resort that matches them, and then come to where your wedding will be, and go back to their own place that night.  They have shuttles that run between all the resorts so even if you prefer a quiet place to sleep at, you can spend all day at one of the downtown locations and charge to your room and enjoy those facilities.

I can also see here where it may be that you stay at the downtown bay area properties for the pre wedding festivities, girls/guy nights, then move to Sunset and do the wedding/reception there, and then you ditch everyone and go to the Holistic Resort & Spa to ‘honeymoon’, yet you can still see any remaining family/friends if you choose or feel like you are in another world and pretend they aren’t even close.

They have properties in other areas/cities in Mexico, definately a great contender for anyone considering a wedding in Cabo.

Definately a good option for anyone considering a wedding down in Cabo.

My next blog will be on Destination Weddings.

Till then

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 11, 2009

Vendors

Okay, this could seem like venting or it could be informative to you, probably depends on your frame of mind when you read it.  Get a glass of wine or a cup of tea and read on….

Well, this was the year that I decided that some of my counterparts may have the right thinking – ‘I don’t work with you unless you hire the vendors I work with or suggest you hire’.

I have always prided myself on allowing couples to really have their own event, either by relying on me to give them vendor direction, or they found their own vendors and picked them for whatever reason.  But for some reason this year it really seemed that a lot of vendors couples had sourced on their own were about themselves or just not professional or prepared for what their role is in this very important day.

I of course, will not ever make my couple’s only use vendors I suggest, but I strongly urge you, if you are going to have a co-ordinator either from the beginning or closer to your date, ore are relying on your hotel/location person for referrals, ask them for suggestions and if you have someone in mind, ask them if they know them, or maybe have questions they suggest you ask the unknown vendor to ensure you really are getting someone who is going to be the best for you.  Remember we/them are not going to steer you in the wrong direction, it doesn’t benefit any of us at all to do that.

It could be the internet again, that has opened bride’s eyes to options that look great, but as I said in a previous blog, you can pay people to make your website fabulous, but you may not be.  I always wonder if we were back to bridal mags being the main form of advertising, with the cost involved with print, would half of these vendors be in this business, or is it because having a website really doesn’t cost that much.  Hmmm, something to ponder.

Here are some situations to backup my feeling of disappointment in some of these vendor choices, and the key thing to remember is that we see vendors every weekend, whether we know them or not, to compare each new one we work with to.  So if a vendor we are not familiar with is put out by something we know is a common situation, we would obviously sympathise with them and tell them what other vendors do to overcome this particular situation, or if this is never an issue with other vendors, realise this vendor has no clue as to how a professional handles their responsibilities and instead of looking at this person as a potential new vendor to work with again, immediately know this is not someone anyone else should be considering.

Here is also some good news, my brides and if you have a good co-ordinator, never know on the day any of the challenges I may be dealing with with these vendors, I feel I am being paid to ensure that.  But there were a couple of times when I made the comment, I wasn’t being paid enough!!  Yikes.

Florists – I could not believe the florists who did not come prepared with carts to move their product from loading docks to cere or ballroom locations, or even ladders if needed, and then are put out when the hotel due to liability will not assist them with these items, or all their items are in use and they don’t have anything to loan to the florist.  These should be standard in their vans I would think. Any panic from their end based on timing and now being behind is no ones fault but their own!!  Or the florists who did not have enough staff to fulfil their contract to you, meaning getting the cere site set up in the time they had, or the ballroom completed.  Or those who don’t want to collect their items at the end of the event and put that responsibility on you, even if you save a few dollars to do this, do not allow it, you must pay them to come back.  And I can only guess that the florist who brings their children to help setup or husband is giving you a good price!!  Sometimes I can see that the bride got the product and service she paid for in these situations, and that is obviously a budget choice, but there were situations where I knew other florists who would have given excellent service and product for the same price or less, and we would not have had the distractions of this vendor to take us away from other things we needed/wanted to be doing. Key tip here, always pay your florist to do a sample centerpiece, you will see if the $$ matches your vision or you need to spend more, or if you need to be more specific with the florist to get the end product you believed you had both been talking about, prior to seeing the sample, the paper read right, well so you thought!

DJs -unfortunately these poor guys often end up in the middle.  They are either old school/been around for a long time, which means for many years they had to somewhat co-ordinate the flow of events during the celebration part of the night due to the locations not requiring an independent co-ordinator and most of their clients don’t think they need one (not knowing what we can do for them in the planning months, or the difference we can make on a wedding day overseeing everything) so even if budget wasn’t an issue, they just don’t include a co-ordinator in their vendor list.  Remember a co-ordinator can save you time and sometimes their fee can be offset by directing you to vendors you may have never found without them.  I digress, back to the djs I was talking about, these are the guys who don’t like double checking the program on the night and going through the details to be sure they have it right (I didn’t do it once with a dj who made it very obvious I was wasting his time, and after he played the wrong first dance song, I checked to see he was working from a draft timeline of mine not the final, that I had also called to verbally confirm all details on two days prior to the wedding, so I live with whatever attitude I get now, I go thru it all!!).  These old style djs are also the ones who want to be center stage.  I had a terrible time with a dj this year who wanted to be right behind where the cake table was, so he would have been in the background of all photos.  It’s so wierd because the guys I work with that I recommend and see on all the primo lists, and charge a lot more,  have no issue not being seen, or in the spot light, and will go wherever they are directed to, yet you would think they would be the ones with the egos, but not the case, completely the opposite.  Of course power sources and speaker locations all come into play, but extension cords are a wonderful thing!!

Photographers-I used to say it didn’t matter if your photographer hadn’t worked at a location before, new eyes can mean great photos, but this year I saw so many slow photographers who due to not having been at properties before, spent too much time in one area and had to give up great locations that seemed to be so obvious, including one who had been with the bride for 45 mins earlier in the day, but right at sunset time after the cere was staging her on the roadway in a shot where she was looking up at him, with the groom and a golf cart that they paid good money for, waiting and when he was done, the sun was gone. They guys who work these properties all the time, know the area, know the priorities and can make it all happen, including cocktail time for the couple if wanting!! I hate to say it, but sometimes I get the feeling that if this is their first time at a location, their needs to take shots to showcase their style at the location for future couples, may supersede you!!  Also, and I think even the guys/girls who do work the coastal locations a lot need to be reminded, if it is important to you to have shots taken at the cere location after the ceremony with family/bridal party where you can actually see the ocean or backdrop, your main reason for picking that site, tell them.  Their job is to make that happen.  Their inclination to get the best shots is of course to take you away from that backdrop as it is too bright and go elsewhere or have you turned around at the location but with a different backdrop.  If you are paying $10k or an amount that seems a lot to you for your backdrop and you want pictures showing it, then tell them.  I don’t believe they have any idea as to the rental fees some of these locations are charging for the cere sites.  I have been suggesting they do a few there and their job is to get it as best as it can be, so at least you have some, and then take you to where they feel they have the best light/backdrop to get this group/family shots etc you hired them for.  One other possible question to ask a potential photographer, have they only ever shot digital or did they shoot film prior?  Prior to digital the photographers had to be good, they had to be timely and that had to have an eye, otherwise their lack of talent would cost them a lot in film developing in wasted pictures that they couldn’t even show a bride & groom.  These guys are the ones that don’t have to keep looking at their shots on their digital cameras, because they know they took a good shot.  They are quick, and they are the ones that can get your group/combo shots done after the cere, maybe get some beach shots in with you, and …….. get you back in time for some cocktail time with the guests, all within say 1 1/4 hours.  With digital cameras being relatively inexpensive compared to what film photographers used to pay, and with a wonderful thing called photo-shop, there are a lot of people putting themselves out there as wedding photographers, using the term photo journalistic (which is what 98% of all wedding photographers are now, they tell the story of the day), but on the day they have to take 5 shots of the same pose, they are constantly looking at what they just took to see if they need to do it again which of course is all adding to the length of time your photos take, and can mean missing out on other spontaneous moments that could be happening.  So something to ask, did you shoot film or have you only ever shot digital.  Of course if you find someone whose work you love, you are always going to be willing to put up with any challenges, because the end result is what you are going to keep forever.

Videographers – I don’t understand why some videographers don’t need spotlights on all the time during the dancing portion and some do.  It is amazing to me that after we have created a beautiful atmosphere with lighting and candles to have a videographer tell me he needs the lighting turned up or his video is going to be dark and the couple won’t be happy.  Maybe this is a big question you need to ask your videographer, can he work with subdued lighting?  I have yet to see a party really get going when everyone is dancing in what seems to be daylight.  The guys I recommend never have this issue, which is probably why I recommend them.  If they have rolling tripods etc for the toast time, they also don’t seem to have a problem standing right in front of your while the toasts are happening with no care as to who is behind them and now can’t see you or your reactions.  Things to think about, as until they happen you have no idea.

Hair & Makeup – well, sometimes it’s not even cheaper, but if it is, is it really worth it to be really running late?  I have a company that I recommend to my brides and for those that go that route, my bride’s are never late, they bring the right amount of artists to cover the services needed in a timely fashion, and end result everyone is calm and cool.  I saw too much of the opposite this year, and when I arrived I had to be the bad guy and start getting everyone moving.  When you run late, something has to give somewhere or your guests are on the waiting end which is not fun.  Some independents are greedy and have no probs knocking on your door at 4am to do services for a morning wedding and not bringing help, and remember, she gets to go home and sleep, while you normally have another 6-7 hours of event to go through, and the poor person who was the first to be done, can’t really do a lot once her hair/makeup is done.

Ceremony music – I love  my string trio/quartet I recommend.  They are fun for you the bride to work with, flexible and reasonably priced.  Not the cheapest but also not expensive. This year I had bride’s finding strings thru the web who were maybe $100 less than my lovely group.  Bride was happy with them, but I definately saw the difference, in how slow they were at changing songs pre cere or during the processional (worse!!), how if their time was up, they were up and gone, or one trio, came to me after and told me she would be sending the bride a bill for 15 mins overtime as they were over by 2 mins and they charged for anything over in 15 min increments.  One group in their hour needed a 15 min break.  At one cere just as I was about to start the musicians, stopped playing, got up and went to the guests water station, got a glass each, then went back and sat down and were now ready for me to begin (hmm haven’t they heard of bringing your own bottled water??) At one wedding I think their length of time was 1 hour and just prior to starting one of them got up and told me she needed to go to the restroom, so we waited.  I don’t know but shouldn’t she have done that before she sat down?  I am sometimes amazed that I realise it has been 8 hours andI have not gone to the bathroom, guess I am too busy or focused and probably a lot of that has to do with the fact that I go pottie just before I am on the clock!!! My lady has never subjected me to any of these things, and thus she gets lots of business from me.  She will learn songs if you give her notice and she understands things happen and our timing can be off.  I also saw a lot of chatting during the pre cere music between songs, which amazes me!!!  If you don’t see each other often, go for lunch after you are done with the wedding, don’t use this time to catch up.

Linens/chaircovers/chairs/rental items – so much is involved with these items, sometimes a small window of time to put them down, and always same night pickup.  Too many companies offer a cheap price to get you interested and then by the time you realise you need timed delivery and setup and same night pickup you are back up in price or they don’t do that and now what happens.

For some vendors, they just don’t understand why a co-ordinator is involved and don’t understand why they may be being given direction or asked questions by the co-ordinator, we are all a team that has come together to make your day fabulous, but the co-ordinator is the leader of the team, and the one you are relying on to ensure all your expectations are met.  Each vendor has their own contract with you but sometimes we are privy to info that the couple wishes for us to relay to the vendor, or we may know things that can change things as the day goes along and the vendors/dj need to be willing to trust us and go with it, making for a much smoother working relationship on the day.

We are on your side.  We want you to have the best vendor and rental item experience for your budget and style.  Why wouldn’t you lean on us to give you direction, and if a co-ordinator won’t give you vendor direction if you booked her for a small service, then something is very wrong, why would she want to deal with headaches on the day dealing with vendors who are not professional or prepared, maybe she doesn’t really know what you have hired her to do, and so you end up with a so so job from her, but you don’t know it because you have nothing to compare it to.  But the hotel knows it and will steer you away from those companies too.  Unfortunately if they keep getting booked they believe they are doing a great job, and they keep getting rewarded for bad behavior, remember, we see that how these people are is not the norm or your only option.

Limos – I always suggest have your co-ordinator make suggestions.  If a company gets business from a co-ordinator you will never have an issue, they like the repeat business.  But a limo company you find for a one off wedding, well things can happen, car switches, late, etc, they know they won’t see you for another wedding so if things don’t happen as planned, no biggie in their mind.

Doves – only one company down here I use, even if others are cheaper I saw a really lousy dove release earlier in the year and it scarred me for life!!!!  Not literally.

Now if you read thru the above you are probably like, wow, she is on a rampage about/has it in for vendors she doesn’t know or have relationships with.  Well yes in some circumstances, and my concerns and feelings always have you the paying client in mind.  Why should you get less or settle, and just because you may never know that there is better or you could have had a better experience, why should my concerns not be aok for future brides to keep in mind.  Thus the point of this particular blog episode.

But now, to hopefully balance it out a bit, as mentioned in an earlier blog, I have found diamonds of vendors that I now recommend thanks to a bride finding them first.  Take John Russo photographer, love him.  I also got to work with Mark Hix the dj again this year, hadn’t worked with him in probably 8 years – came in prepared/did his job, even if he thought I was annoying with double checking things, never showed it, and then we had a situation, and he went over and above and as a favor to me stayed on for 1/2 hour longer and did not charge the couple.  Love him.  Great English accent, for anyone wanting to add that bit of style to your event.  He will definately be one of my new constant recommendations.

I guess the key here is, I AM being paid by you to ensure all goes well and to do that, it has to involve double checking things on the day.  The vendors who don’t find this a problem, are the ones that I can add to my vendor list, as easily as I can take someone off or not recommend.  I want your event to be the best it can be, and I have the resources and knowledge and comparisons to make that happen.  Any vendor who does not understand the big picture and only looks at your day from their vantage and end result is possibly not the best to work with.

It’s tough from your angle as the bride when working out who your vendors will be and where you find them, and it’s tough for the vendor wanting to get started>  My advise to the vendors wanting to be constantly referred is, come prepared, be willing to do your job without being babysat or becoming a time waster/distraction for the co-ordinator, don’t make your meal/break the priority of the event, and the work will flow from there.

I am also sure that what I have just tried to inform you about when it comes to vendors, can also be said about co-ordinators, and we do all have different styles, fees, and detail orientations, and that is why the locations are a great source to find out who they like and would be good for you, or if they have heard of someone you are considering, they also are not going to suggest someone who is going to come in and make double work for the banquet/setup department or have you coming back to them after saying, you were not happy working with this person and why did they refer you to them.

Off to the office to detail a 2010 couple, we are way ahead of it and they will get to enjoy the holidays.

Till next time,

Lisa

1 comment December 9, 2009

What I can do for you

Okay, so for bride’s who are searching around the web and looking at different co-ordinator web sites because they have to have one (due to the event location’s contract) or because they know they want one, or for the bride who isn’t sure, let me give you some information that I hope helps you have a great experience.

Things have changed in my industry over the past few years thanks to tv shows, brides that got married and enjoyed the process, and an economy that has had people who have lost their jobs think about or have to make a career change, and the internet has become a tool that can be used by brides anytime of the night or day.

So are these changes good or bad.  Well it depends.  I’m not sure if some of the new co-ordinators really understand what their role is or why we need to be part of the bride’s must have vendors.  Going back 15 years or so, normal bride’s did not have a co-ordinator, the dj or photographer or banquet captain or hotel sales person kept things moving on the day, well kind of.  Whoever took that role really did it from a standpoint of their particular role, it was never big picture.  So for those of us in the hotel world we saw what was missing, the conductor of the orchestra, the leader of the team, and having a co-ordinator went from being a wealthy persons vendor to now being either required by a location or being a vendor that a lot of bride’s want and see the need for, and it makes sense.  There is no doubt that tv shows have glamorised what we do, and I think we even manage to make what we do look easy and fun on a wedding day, but it really is a lot of work and a lot of time, and pressure.  The biggest problem probably is the internet though, anyone can pay someone to create a fabulous website and have all the right things written and have great pictures (whether they are theirs or not) and an uneducated bride falls for the music and feelings, but doesn’t understand that the substance may not be there.  I think I will go into this a bit more, so keep reading.

I booked a bride two weeks ago, getting married in February, who came to me with vendors chosen and a lot of questions, and I could tell by what I was being told she had done a lot of work to get to the stage she was at.  However in meeting and chatting with her and then being booked to help her for the rest of the planning time, I found out that I was the third co-ordinator she had hired.  Now I know what you are probably thinking, had to be the bride, well I disagree, unfortunately she made choices for whatever her reasons may have been at the time, but as time went on she realised they weren’t doing anything for her and she was doing all the work.  It also came out, that a good friend of hers whose wedding I had done 5 years ago had told her to call/book me 6 months ago, well she did call and chat with me, but decided to go with someone else who didn’t have anywhere near the experience.  Now I don’t know what the other two charged and if it was relative or not, but  the frustrating part of her experience from my viewpoint is that she had to go through what she has to finally get back to me after spending probably way too much money, and only now has confidence that someone is going to do what they say and give her the comfort that all will be as she expects on her day.  In chatting with her I could tell the other two people may have said they had experience, and maybe they did, but not it seems the experience to understand what they were being paid to do.  One had small children and was never available to meet or chat, and one would take days to get back to her on her questions or calls.  I’m not sure what these ladies thought they were getting paid to do.  When I heard this bride had told her groom that I even had books of thank you letters in my office from past happy couples and neither of the other two had anything, I was shocked.

This season I heard from a lot of the banquet captains at the hotels I am at frequently, that there was a lot of new faces that were working the weddings,  a couple were good, but with most of them, they shook their heads saying ‘we ended up doing most of their work for them, they were either sitting in other rooms or no-where to be found, or left before the event ended’.  Again, I wonder what some of these ladies or gentlemen think they are being paid to do.

Questions must be asked by you of the person you are considering, but maybe until now you didn’t know what the right questions were:

If you have someone in mind, ask the property you are having your event at, if this is someone they know, and if so, would this person match your style/vision etc.  Just as I have vendors that I match to bride’s for style/vision/budget, the hotel people can do the same thing for you regarding a consultant.

If you are starting from scratch and need someone to even help you find the location and then go from there, normal questions should be asked, especially if paying this person thoughsands of dollars –

How long have you been doing this?

Where do you do a lot of your weddings?

How many do you do a year (if the answer is under 10 a year, I don’t know what that tells you, either they don’t get booked by many, or they are doing huge weddings where their fees for those 10 cover their bills/expenses for the year)?

Is this your full time job/career? Or is it a second job/hobby?

How available are you going to be to me, for meetings, phone calls and emails?

Do you have letters from past brides I can see, and if so, how many? (if the answer to this is low or no, yet they make it seem like they do a lot of weddings, wouldn’t that be telling?)

Do you have an office?  Where will our meetings be?  (Now this is a tricky one, I know some of my friends in this industry don’t have outside offices but have a dedicated area in their house where they meet with you, and that works too, but I really feel that someone with a real office gives a sense of ‘this is my job’ and should also be a place where distractions should be few if not none.  It should be all about you when you are meeting).

People come and go in this industry as they do in all, the core group here in Orange County have been doing this for 9 years and longer, and that should  give you confidence that they are in it for the long haul, and not only will they be responsible in their role to you, but also that they have experience and knowledge which should be a huge part of what you are paying for.   We all have different styles and appreciate each other for that, and realise that we all have different brides because of that.

Now I am not saying that there are not some great new ladies out there, there are and each year a few pop up and prove their worth to the industry locally and we are pleased they are here, but unfortunately there are more not so great ones out there that don’t have any kind of tangible backup to their claims and bride’s are hiring them.  You always get what you pay for, and this can really run true here, but I have also been shocked at some of the high fees I have heard brides are paying for people that just don’t have the experience or knowledge to justify their fees, but the bride’s are still booking them.  Hopefully those bride’s really do feel good afterwards, and those ladies are not the ones giving the industry as a whole a bad name, for taking money and not really seeming to do much to assist the bride.  Unfortunately when you only get married once you don’t have the comparisons to know if you did pick a good one or not, so hopefully some of my thoughts above will help you make the right decision to have the best experience.

So how does this relate to my subject title, What I can do for you, let me give you three words – Peace of mind!!

and that should be what you have with whoever you choose to work with from the minute you hire them all the way through until the event has ended.

From the first time we chat by phone or meet, or even by our emails you will feel the strength/ or confidence I have in what I do, that comes from many years of experience and knowledge.  I have 13 years of  hotel background together with nearly 10 years of independently planning weddings with/for couples at many different locations.

I would say that in 50% of my weddings, my couple’s live out of town, state or country, and they have complete comfort in knowing everything has been thought of, taken care of, and will be fine, due to that confidence and experience they found in me.  Some have made trips in and some never see me until their day, yet they are feeling great about their celebration, that is telling.

I offer a variety of service options.  Unlike some co-ordinators that only want to be involved from the beginning, I do those weddings also, but I also have no problem starting with you closer to the date after you have chosen the vendors and have the vision in mind, if that is what you need.  By having this variety I am always on the go and excited about each wedding, as they are always so different, and yes sometimes the smaller services present their challenges that I have to work out/with, but that is what you are paying me to do and if you don’t need to you will never know what those were.  I never lose sight that it is your wedding, so if you want the control it is yours but I am there to guide you as needed, or you can pick a service that still has you in control but not controlling everything.

I have an office that really gets you in the zone, very wedding feeling, and tons of pictures and albums to look at.  A designated spot where there is no computer and I don’t have a phone there that keeps ringing.  This is where all the lovely Thank You letters are kept from past weddings, and they remind me why I love my job.

Obviously the length of time/experience gives me the op to steer you towards the right vendors for you, I know the ones to steer away from that will not work for you, and I have the contacts/knowledge at the hotels that can make a huge difference, an advantage a lot of people miss.

I am not weak, so if looking for someone to yell at or treat badly, I’m not your girl.  I like working WITH my couples, however in saying that I am fully aware that you are paying me and when it comes to vendors I will hold them accountable and will be the leader of the team.

You will have comfort in knowing you have support and knowledge through your planning months, you will see a detailed timeline/order of events that will give you the comfort level you deserve, to know that every moment/detail was thought of and you had options, choosing what was important to you/your event.  It’s your wedding, I do not steer your towards vendors or moments that are not right for you.  I will take as much pressure off you as you want or are willing to pay for.  On your day, you will be a guest at your wedding, getting to eat, and enjoy the whole experience and your guests.  When you leave it will be with your shoes in one hand and your new husbands or wifes hand in the other, no work/ nothing to do.  You will have gone into and through your day knowing I had it under control and you had nothing to worry about, so just enjoyed.

We all attract the right couples and the couples for us/our style.  I am lucky to be known for having nice/lovely couples (meaning not problematic for the location or vendors), so if that sounds like you, then come on in, let’s get this party started.

Until next time, which will be on vendors!

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 5, 2009

Hotel Del Coronado & St Regis

This blog will be about two weddings that are very different, and a good way to end the seasons blogging with.  Even though I have other weddings I ddi this year and still come coming up I could blog about, I really am excited about using this forum as a way to help future bride’s on their path to a great celebration, so this will be the end of the wedding pics for this year (well so I say!!)..

First up, Ursula & Norman – Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego

Ursula is a bride who grew up on the east coast, contacted me while living in Switzerland where she had become engaged to a wonderful Swiss man, and wanted a S.CA wedding.

Ursula knew she wanted a beach ceremony, in  August, and on a Saturday night. Hmmm, well in LA and OC during the summer months you can’t do a ceremony on a public beach, unless it is small and no chairs/decor will be done, so I had to find her options where she could stand with her toes between her feet. I came up with a few options, but there was always something that had to be given up, and Ursula really wasn’t ready to give anything up. Thank goodness they were planning on moving back to S.Ca and probably San Diego, which of course then make our choice so easy and natural……..
The Hotel Del Coronado
www.hoteldel.com

Around this same time in our research for the perfect location, I was invited as part of a small group of planners from S.CA and surrounding areas to come and see the hotel as they had great new things to show us, their spa, new accommodations, food & beverage, etc, and their timing could not have been more perfect.  It gave me a great chance to see first hand if this really was the perfect location for Ursula and Norman.  I also reconnected with Farrah, one of the catering managers, that I had known from her days as a banquet captain at the St Regis, so it was starting to seem like fate.
This is one of the few beaches in CA I believe, that is privately owned. So here we could do the chairs and decor on a Sat afternoon/early evening in the summer for her on the beach, have cocktails on the sand, and then move into a ballroom where we could have the dinner/dancing/traditional event and service you expect from a famous resort. Fabulous.  A great time was had by everyone, some European traditions played a part in the ballroom celebration, which at first may have seemed a bit strange to the American guests, but by the end everyone was involved.  Ursula and her sister’s have Irish blood in them, and this became very evident during Irish jigs that my good pal Peter of Viv Entertainment dug up for them.  The photos below are courtesy of www.franksalas.com.  You may notice that I worked with Frank a lot this year, we have always had a few weddings a year together, but this year was our year,  a lot of my couples this year really liked his style and him.  Over the years Frank has always gone over and above and jumped in and done things that I am not sure everyone would.  An example of this is; A few years ago I had a client who had booked a photographer his family knew and it was a somewhat cultural connection, but as the days got closer, the groom started to have concerns that he was not going to get the shots or style he was really looking for, so he asked me to get him  a second photographer to be more background but hopefully fill in any gaps his #1 photographer may miss.  Frank was only supposed to meet us at the hotel and cover the reception.  I arrived at the church after leaving the bride’s home where getting ready shots were done and was waiting outside when I saw Frank, I asked him why he was there, thinking he had misunderstood and not realised he was only to be at the hotel.  He said he read the church location on the timeline and decided to come by and just be sure all was aok.  Thank goodness he did.  The groom  arrived, and the family surrounded him and took over the street, singing and dancing him all the way to the church.  Frank got those shots, the #1 photographer had not arrived yet after shooting at the bride’s home.  For this wedding at Hotel Del, Frank shone again;   Frank had left to drive back to the OC and a friend was driving the couple’s baby back to their home in Oceanside but got to the house and realised the house key was not in the baby bag.  Panic and blame took over the event  for the next 10 mins as the couple and well meaning friends tried to work out what to do, it was decided that the only option was for the sitter to come back to the hotel and get the key.  Hold on I thought, I called Frank,’ where are you?’,’ on the freeway on the way home’,’ can you come back we have a situation?’  He did, he got the key, I had him meet the sitter at a gas station at the off ramp close to the house, and off went the baby to her bed, and Frank continued on his way home.   Just love him.  Never a challenge, or a no!! He is a true teamplayer and you get great memories in print of your day, what a great combination and decision to hire Frank.

Pacific Lawn/Ballroom, St Regis

Ah my lovely Stephanie.  A beautiful lady with so much enthusiasm for her special day, and together with her mother in law, kept me laughing throughout our planning time together.

Below you will see photos from their day taken by my new friend John Russo.  He is one of the reasons why I love my job.  Along the way I will have bride’s that find their own vendors and sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not.  Stephanie had booked John, who I did not know, and boy what a fantastic find.  He was a pleasure to work with, as well as fun, and has a great team working with him, and we both look forward to working with each other many times in the future.  He is based in Beverly Hills, only does a few weddings a year, with the bulk of his business being Vogue covers and collatoral pictures for major high end hotels around the world.

http://www.johnrussophoto.com

Square Root did the decor/floral design and as always a quality event that all the guests could feel.

Thanks as always to the team at St Regis, the lovely Tiffany, supported by David the banquet captain, and the banquet team who handles all the food & beverage needs of the guest’s on the floor.  As always Mr Johnny So, the GM, came by to ensure everything was going well and if I had any needs.   He is the only GM that I know of that does this.  I see him at every wedding I do at the St Regis, and he comes by most of the tastings also.  I have known him for around 12 years, and it is his personal interest and caring that has placed him at some of the top resorts in the world where his ‘being’ shows and flows down to the staff who work under him.

Wow, got wordy again today.  Till next time.

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment December 1, 2009

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