Archive for May 2010




Sandals Antigua

Thought I would report on a great location to honeymoon at, or even take yourselves only, or a small group to, for a destination wedding.

I was last in Antigua about 20 years ago, so it was time to go back, and I have just come back from a few nights down/over there.

If you are looking for a resort that has 2 sides to it where you can utilise/get the benefits of both, then this resort fits the bill.  A boutique/island side that is older and quaint and romantic, and the new side (only 3 years old) that has the new modern rooms, high rise with views over the gardens to the ocean, and  the big pool.   When I would look back up at the new building it reminded me of Bellagio a bit in Las Vegas.  Great bathroom with tons of room and a lovely shower as well as a big oval bathtub with jets, four poster bed, sitting area, and a cute balcony you could sit on and watch the sunset, if you weren’t down at the beach doing that.  The part that makes a Sandals stay so great is, all the food (choice of quite a few restaurants and areas that offer/serve food) and the beverages are included.  So from the well stocked fridge/bar in your room, champagne/beer/hard liquor, to no matter where you went being able to get what you want when you want, there is no stress about what the bill is going to be at the end.

The items that will be on the bill will be the extra items you chose to spend money on, ie, items from the boutiques/shops on property, internet (could do wireless but there was a fee by the day or week), excursions, and of course the spa which I had to sample and it was lovely and well worth the $$.

They also have some neat small villa accommodations around the property that are very private and have your own jacuzzi and plunge pool outside with chaise loungers and small table and chairs, very romantic and secluded feeling.  These and some of the other level accommodations come with a butler, and the couples who had one were loving it, no thinking involved.  Their meals were booked/pre planned for them at the different restaurants etc, and anything they could be thinking they may want to do, they make it happen.  We even saw some go down to the beach and save seats for them in the shade and then take the couples lunch/drinks etc, while we had to go and get ours!!  Believe me we needed to do the walking with all the food and drinks we were enjoying, and never once did I think to find a gym!!

Think I have been/seen all the Sandals now or the islands they are on, and if you are considering the Caribbean and going with Sandals, whether I am your planner or not, let me know.  I have my couples work with a special department there, the price is the same as if you book on line or randomly call the 800 #.  With the dept I use you get personalized service from your first call through until you make the last before you head out the door for the plane.  So again, if you want personalized service, email me and I will put you in touch with the department and that’s it, you don’t hear from me again, you just work directly with them.

For couples only, or small groups, you can have a wonderful destination wedding at any of the Sandals.  We saw quite a few while we were there, in various areas around the resort, some with djs and sit down meals, and some just the couple.  You can either do the planning here in the US yourself and then let the resort co-ordinators handle everything for you down there, or you could work with me helping you put everything together on this end and then be there to ensure all goes well once you are down there, and can even be the liaison between you and Sandals so you can only work with me if you want.

Vacation or honeymoon, you won’t be disappointed.

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment May 23, 2010

Wedding Season has begun

Hmm, I thought this would happen, as the weddings begin to happen and the details for the weddings that are coming later start to be worked on, plus all the normal things we must be involved in/do as co-ordinators, my blogs are down to about once a month right now.

Had a couple of lovely weddings since I last blogged at my lovely Sunset Terrace & Plaza Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna.  So hard to beat the spectacular backdrop to this site, it’s the Pacific Ocean in your face and being above it just gives this fabulous view/feel to what is being celebrated – your vows.  Then the Plaza Room where the dinner/dancing is held is so intimate (max 74) and elegant (fireplace & chandelier) and opens right to a balcony looking down to the crashing waves.  A very memorable experience for all those lucky enough to be invited and share your day with you.  My pal Tony Florez was the photographer for one, love him, so easy to work with/calm and captures everything without you even feeling his presence.  Now with both weddings florists, something for you brides to keep in mind, it’s hard for a co-ordinator to hold a florist to the same demands as normal, when you refer to them as your friends, you trust them, they have done other events for you etc.  When it is a normal florist I work with or a known or unknown company, I  get a copy of the order/proposal from them directly (normally nicely typed and easy to read) and then I can catch if something is missing or if something doesn’t read right.  When I get handwritten orders and there is no descriptions or colors mentioned all I can do is come back to you and let you know that the components are there, but as for holding them to anything on the day I can’t, so I have to leave it to you the bride to ensure you and the florist are clear with each other.  To me, the easiest way to do that is have it written on paper.   With both those weddings, very nice florists, they showed up, did what they were supposed to do, but with one wedding the bride said her bouquet wasn’t right, yet it was exactly as the paper said, and the mom said there was supposed to be pink in the bmaids bouquets (there was no pink mentioned on the order) when I showed them both the order and that the order matched what I was giving them, they said the differences had been verbally discussed.  With the other wedding the bride’s bouquet was gorgeous, peonies/gardenias/freeshias/roses-talk about elegant and fragrant.  When the bride saw it for the first time her comment was, where are the hydrangeas.  There was nothing on the order about hydrangea and this bouquet was stunning.  But maybe hydrangea had a place in her heart for some reason and this was important, at this time it is too late, so those are things you must be sure a noted on your order.  They were in her centerpieces, I ran right back and made sure of that (as there would have been time for the florist to rectify that, but the bouquet, not so much.   Ladies, remember this, paper is the king/queen.  Until your wedding day all you have for all the money you are paying everyone in advance, all you have is what is written on paper to hold them to.  So check colors/descriptions/items/people florals and make sure they are all right or as expected and if something is not clear, have it written down.  If you end up in front of Judge Judy you are going to lose if they delivered what is written on the paper but it wasn’t what you expected.  These things never happen when I hold a normal florist to my normal expectation of information, so please be really careful that you don’t have disappointment or a friendship is ruined because you assumed your ‘friend’ knew what you wanted or got it, and I will say, sometimes the pricing I see is more than what you would be paying if you used someone who doesn’t know you, you aren’t always  getting mates rates – they are probably a business for profit situation also.  Anyway, both beautiful weddings in spite of those ‘oh’ moments.

Was up at the Bel Air Bay Club for a dinner.  Wow.  I love Malibu but my past experience has been you are either right on the water or way up on the hills looking at the ocean in the distance, this club is just up the hill off PCH and the view is awesome.  Had a very Amalfi coast view/feel until you saw Santa Monica and realised you couldn’t be in Italy.  Great space, reasonable rates, there are even 9 hotel rooms you can rent to stay in.  The way the ceremony site is setup you have complete ocean behind you.  Really unique and only been open to non-members to use for weddings for the past six months, so this is one to remember.

This is a beautiful way to dress a napkin, you can either do this yourself or some of the more upscale linen companies do have items like this and will provide them and put them on, for a fee of course.  Just gorgeous.

Went to a viewing by Elysium Productions where they demoed their new demo.  Fabulous.  The music, the words, the picttures, there was a couple of times I had to not blink so the tears wouldn’t start, and I didn’t even know the couples they were showing!!!  They really know how to capture the emotion and that is why they are so successful and get to travel the world with their service.  The demo that really captured my eye, was the vintage demo, I loved it, that would be what I would have done if it was me getting married, so timeless and elegant and just such a great feeling.  The fun part of the showing was, they had rented out a movie theatre and you sat there with beer and popcorn (well I took Junior mints) watching!! Don’t think there are many theatres around here you can do that at.  In New Zealand when I am home we have a theatre where you sit in home theatre style chairs and you can drink your wine or champagne or whatever your pleasure, have appetizers or more to eat while you watch, it’s very civilised and grown up.  Don’t know why those kinds of things don’t seem to be around here, unless you are in someones home.

One of the weddings did have a nice dj that they knew, haven’t had such great experiences with this situation so far this year, but I have to say, I went in lery, and came out with a guy who did a great job, was easy to work with, and will be referred by me from now on.  Love it.

Then I was at 7 Degrees for the launch of a new program called ‘Wish upon a Wedding’.  A great organisation with chapters that are spreading all over the US.  A couple of my fellow co-ordinators are running the LA/OC chapter and this was the launch party.  It is all about us wedding vendors, from djs to caterers, to wedding co-ordinators providing our services at no charge for a couple who are getting married, one of whom is terminal and does not have long to live.  Don’t think there was one person of the 300 odd who attended that did not volunteer product or themselves.

Then I was very fortunate to be part of a small group to be picked up at my home by limo and whisked out to Riverside for a 24 hour Mission Inn experience.  I have done a couple of weddings there over the years and have taken the in-laws out at xmas so they can experience the wonderful light display and done the carriage around the block thing.  For anyone wanting to feel like they are in Europe but don’t have the time or want to fly, this is your place.  Time to go back again and create some more memories for someone/s.

Did my first wedding at Muckenthaller Mansion in Fullerton.  Have been to a few events there over the years, but not had a bride look there until now.  The caterer/handler of the mansion was lovely to work with, got to see my friend Larry Crandall while he worked doing the photos, such a gentleman and his work/end result is just beautiful.  For intimate events of no more than 60-80 you can use all the space inside for various parts of the event, the grounds are lovely, there is a great balcony for a ‘special’ picture that they seem to be known for, and a lovely courtyard for the cocktails.  Again, a touch of Europe or early America right here on our own doortep.  We did the sparkler exit with them getting into a vintage car and driving away.  They weren’t going to do the car, just leave with a friend driving, but it was easy to persuade them that my way was going to be the perfect end to a perfect day.

Have a great wedding coming up at Club 19, St Regis with a bunch of fun elements to it, so will report on that next time.  Have met and booked some great couples over the past few weeks who are going to be getting married in the next 3-4 months and we have some really great things in mind for their weddings, so keep your eyes open.

Till next time, Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment May 7, 2010

Why you need a co-ordinator

Okay, just a little blog to toot my own horn and to hopefully have anyone who is on the fence about hiring a co-ordinator if they don’t have to, realise they do.

We are your allies on the day.  We are there to ensure that everything you are anticipating or expecting to be provided or done by any of the vendors you have hired is.  This way you get to relax and  enjoy, not sit there dealing with problems or wondering what is going on.

I had a wedding recently where we had a sales person we dealt with, but on the day a totally different person took over the event.  Now this is normally what happens at hotels, but the difference is with the 5 star hotels you must have a co-ordinator so if you are respectful your way goes, for the 3-4 star hotels the banquet captains will normally do whatever you say needs to be done.  In this situation we had walked the area with the sales person and this bride was particular about things being in certain places and would be expecting those things to be as we were told.  I did not get a revised beo from the sales person which I requested so I could be sure that everything from our walk through was covered, so note to self when dealing with this location again, I will be adamant and get a revision.  After the guests were at the dining tables I went to the courtyard to get something and noticed the bar and bartender were there, I asked him when he was moving inside (where he was supposed to be going and to a very specific area), he said he was not going inside and was staying outside all night.  Now, this couple had a 4 hour bar package, and I can tell you, if this bar stayed where it was, not one person would have thought to go all the way out to this side courtyard not visible to anything and look for the bar, they would have just assumed there was no longer a bar, or we would have had to keep having the dj announce that the bar was still in the courtyard.  I went to the day of banquet manager who knew nothing of the bar being moved, argued with me, I told him to contact the sales person, and told him the bride would be expecting the bar to be in this special room/area.  Within 30 minutes it was in there, but without me noticing and putting my foot down, wouldn’t have happened.

Next situation, we had talked about the cake being in a certain area, sales person agreed it would work.  Banquet captain on the day was again adamant it would not fit.  I asked him to humor me and try the tables in the way we had discussed with the sales manager, and if it didn’t work he could go back to his ‘normal’ way.  Of course my way worked, looked fabulous, and the bride when she saw the room for the first time, cried, ‘Lisa it all looks so beautiful and just as we talked about’.

This wedding started mid afternoon, so their ending time was early at 9pm, based on the normal hours this location books the rooms for.  This couple was concerned that they wouldn’t be ready to leave this early, so the detailed timeline had variations of ending times on it, based on them extending, all overtime for the location and any vendors was shown, so there would be no suprises on the night if they decided to extend.  Of course I had to ask the sales manager what the overtime would be, otherwise how would I know, and also to ensure it was even possible.  Banquet manager on the day knew nothing and was quite perturbed that we were even considering this.  He left an hour before the original ending time and we did go another 1/2 hour with his 2nd in charge finishing things up.  If I had not been there, this wedding would have ended at the contracted ending time, but they would not have been ready to end and it would have been quite depressing.  The time we ended meant the right amount of time, and it ended on a high note.

Lastly, the bar, I mentioned earlier they had a 4 hour bar package.  The arrangement we made with the sales person was that when the guests left cocktails to come to the tables, and then grand entrance/first dance/toasts etc, for that time, around 1 hour, the bar would be closed (giving time to move it, yes these are all the things that related to each other, so I know I wasn’t going crazy), but we could keep this hour and add it on for when we reopened the bar at dinner service.  So if we extended the bar was good until 9:30pm, if we ended at the contracted time, the location got 1/2 hour of bar we never used.  The banquet manager came to me just before he left to suggest that at 8:20pm we do a last call for the bar as it would be closing at 8:30pm.  I told him we had the bar until 9:30pm due to the arrangement with the sales manager.  He knew nothing of this and was quite upset about it and caused quite a scene infront of the other vendors where I was when he came to make the suggestion.  Needless to say, I held my ground, showed him the detailed timeline that gave this info, and the bar stayed open until 9:30pm.  If I had not been there the bar would have closed at 8:30pm, guests would have been none the wiser but just not been able to get drinks, and as my couple was not drinking, just dancing a lot, they would have had no idea that their guests were not able to get drinks for the last hour.

Now everything I mentioned above, was on a very detailed timeline/order of events I had supplied a draft and then final to the sales manager, reiterating that if something was not correct to let me know so I could tweak my timeline.  Everything on it had been verbally confirmed at meetings with vendors and were details and items that were important to the bride.  I made sure it all happened.  Without me, I feel sure, the couple would have realised some things were not happening as they were supposed to, there would have been quite a damper put on their event (as she was a bride that was quite into the details), she would have had to start working the event to have it be as she wanted, and probably they would have spent their honeymoon working out what their complaint letter was going to say to the location, and the location would have ended up refunding the couple for all the things that they did not follow through on that then ‘ruined the couples wedding’.

That, my friends, is why you need me/us.  There will be no letter to the location, the bride & groom don’t even know half of what I was dealing with with the location on the night to get things right, and that is how it is supposed to be.  We are your eyes and ears and protector of the dream/vision.  Now for the next time I have a bride who has picked this location, or I decide it is a good fit for a bride who needs a location, we will go in with a much more educated mind when it comes to dealing with them, and I will not need to be doing all that extra work/babysitting.  Whew.

Let me help you enjoy your day!!!

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment May 5, 2010

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