Archive for November 2010




Catchup

Well, as the main wedding season winds down here (keep in mind we are really a year round option here in S.Cal due to our great weather), I realise that there were lots of other great weddings, couples, and things that happened that I have not mentioned so here is a recap below:

I had a bride that was very crafty and had brought a lot of ‘items’ over the year to be incorporated somehow into her decor, we found a great florist who works with that kind of product and ideas who pulled it off beautifully, could have looked cheesy, but it ended up looking very elegant, and the groom got to have his craps table in the corner, and play his drums with the band!!!

I had a couple from Texas and two from Arizona, where everyone flew in and had a good three day type celebration, I always have NY couples but their guests tend to come from  various states and also have a lot of local guests, so it was great to see groups of 40-60 all coming in to share an event with a couple (as I would too, you have every reason to want to come on over to the West Coast/S.CA/the OC)!!

I had a couple of weddings that ended up with major NZ connections (I am from New Zealand), one a couple I had been working with had applied for residency in NZ and it came through while we were planning their wedding here, so in the middle of planning the wedding, the groom relocates to my home town (isn’t that getting wierd) where he has a job, the bride goes down for a visit and ends up coming and going three times, as does the groom who came back for the tasting and then again of course for the wedding) and now they are there enjoying the cold weather!!!! (but great lifestyle and people).  Then another couple who were a lot of fun, we had a beer bar with 13 different types of beer on it, two martini ice luge with different colors and names for the couple, strings for the cere, reggae guy for cocktails, Mariachis to lead guests into the ballroom for dinner and then play during dinner (and again, another reason to hire a seasoned co-ordinator, the groom had hired most of his musicians off a certain web site, I had called and checked several times with each one/confirmed etc, then two hours before the mariachis were supposed to play I got a call that they were not coming they had been arrested due to not having papers (I can’t make this stuff up), so I immediately made two calls to two mariachi groups I use and recommend only, you pay more, but quality and reliability is not an issue, one could not make it due to another event (but he has a couple of times before when similar situations have happened last minute) but the other group was up in LA playing and made a 50 min drive down in time to start playing when dinner  began – whew!!  Now the couple knew by now there would not be mariachis to play them in and thought that was it, so when the toasts ended and the MC announced dinner was being served and the next thing the couple heard was mariachis starting up and saw them walk in the room, the bride was in tears and the groom couldn’t stop smiling – those are the moments that I know I was able to make a difference and add an important moment to their memory of their celebration.  Anyway, I digress, then they had a Frank Sinatra singer do the last hour of dinner, and an Elvis impersonator do a show 1/2 way into the dancing time, but the part I loved most was, their band was a group of guys from  New Zealand.  So easy to work with, no divaish issues/demands, played when people were dancing and only took breaks when they could see the crowd needed to break also.  Very cool/hip guys.  Aaaah, made me miss home.

This is how their ballroom looked:

I had one Chinese bride where we had 7 dress changes.  I feel like I spent more time in the changing room/head under dresses than out on the floor!

I had a bride who was looking to book me a year ago for her  August wedding, then found a location that provided a  day of co-ordinator and decided to go that route, oh well.  Well two weeks before her big day, I get a frantic email to see if I was still available as the hotel person had flaked on her and she was not comfortable at all and needed my help.  I had a  morning wedding that day, so had my lovely Teri and Peni head up there and get things going and I was up there in time to get the ceremony started and see her thru the end and ensure she got to bed with happy memories.  Wow, fate sure has a funny way of bringing you back to where you should have been/stayed from the beginning.

Lots of cultural weddings and had quite a few Jewish celebrations, which I love as they are normally on Sundays, and the hotels are so much quieter, so you can do ketubah signing, couple meeting, and everything you want to do when you want to do it, without much in the way of conflicts or space being tight at the locations.

Of course, none of these celebrations come to fruition without the tastings, floral meetings and the detail meetings I have with my couples, so I was kept pretty busy and time  seemed to go very fast.  Thank goodness the weather is holding out so I can feel like I am having my own summer!!  Most of the time we end and we are in full fall/winter type weather and it is so sad.

A couple of nice events I made it to over the season, one was held at the Sheraton in Carlsbad,  a really lovely property that if you didn’t have kids dragging you to Legoland you would have no idea they are there, and then was down at the Park Hyatt Aviara, formerly the Four Seasons, and happy to say it seems to be exactly the same which is nice, such a lovely property and experience.

Well that winds it up for me on this one

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment November 25, 2010

Weddings in Greece

I had a great two weeks in Sept hanging out on three Greek Islands and had about 30 hours in Athens.

I have been to Greece before, did Athens thing for a few days and on that same trip took  a ferry boat journey in one day that gave me the chance to get off and enjoy three different islands for a few hours.  All I really remember was the small fishing village feel and no beaches,  rocky ledges were the sunbathing venues available.  And on a Med cruise two years ago stopped at Santorini which is just gorgeous, and the epitomy of what you believe a Greek Island should be.

This trip had me in Crete (largest Greek Island) for 4 days, then Rhodes for 2 days and then Mykonos for  2 days.  I love looking at everything I am seeing/experiencing with a future destination wedding for a lovely couple/group in mind.   On this trip  I found some gems, so if you are considering a Greek Island wedding, let me know and I can work with you to have that dream become a reality.

Here’s what I saw/experienced:

Crete – Stayed at the Panorama Hotel just outside of the town of Chania, about 10 mins by cab and 20 mins by local bus.  It sits up high on a hill thus the name and the views of the Cretan Sea were just awesome.  The property is all about the pool areas and the view.  It’s not 5 star, but certainly not a low 3 star either, and you can pay for executive or executive with your own entry to a pool infront of those rooms etc so if you want more than their basic it is available, plus I find that  when you are in other countries and not staying at name brand hotels where you know the hotel room/amenities are consistent world wide, you really need to be open and enjoy what you have and where you are.  Our room was aok/had everything we needed in it and was very unique as it was in a different section than the big hotel block/tower, it was under the Executive Suite section of which they are floors 2-4 I believe of this curved/hugs the cliff section, and we were on floor 1, our balcony opened to a lawn area where I could pull the chaise out onto the grass and have a different experience sunbathing on the lawn than a balcony or by the pool, quite enjoyable.  They have a great american breakfast buffetwhere you sit under trees and umbrellas with that same beautiful ocean and island in the background,  a beautiful way to start the day.  Nice bar/lounge and outdoor seating areas, and we had no probs getting loungers around the pool and the temperature was good,  Sept is the  start of their off season and after hearing the temps they get in Greece in July/Aug, then May/June or Sept would be the months I would look at.

Chania Harbor:

An alley in the harbor area:

How would I use this hotel and destination for a wedding.  Well, everyone could stay here, especially in Sept when the rates were excellent, think Motel 6 pricing.  For the first night everyone in house reception/dinner  I would book an area/or book it out in a restaurant in the village a 5 min walk down the road (or you could rent a few taxis/or shuttle but the walk was easy)where the ocean is coming right up to the restaurant, very casual, gets everyone in the mood.  Then if the next day is rehearsal day, do the rehearsal where the cere would be, which in my mind would be in the lower side pool area where the ocean and island looking towards Chania are the backdrop, then have buses pick everyone up and take you into Chania town, do the walk down the cobblestone street to the harbor, have dinner booked at one of the harbor cafes where it’s all about the people watching, then give everyone the chance to do what they want after, shop, sit and drink more, go home and sleep etc.

Wedding day: ceremony in the location I mentioned above, cocktails around the pool area, and then dinner/dance under the stars on the big pool  deck.  At midnight you move inside to a room where it’s set up with loungy furniture for those that want to keep partying (yes there are noise time limitations even in Greece and especially at hotels, but midnight outside to me is great).  We actually saw a wedding reception for 200 in the area I mention and watched them from 11pm-midnight and boy were they having a great time, no plate smashing tho!!  Note: the ocean was warmer than the pools, they don’t seem to have an heating equipment for the pools and I am guessing that is due to how hot it gets in their summer and the pools probably heat up with the sun and outside of those times people just aren’t swimming.

The view below would be the backdrop I would use for the ceremony, and then the dining/dancing are on the main pool deck has an incredible panorama ocean view:

Wedding party c

Now onto Rhodes – loved it, a very european feeling locale with all the europeans vacationing along with you.  We stayed about 10 mins by cab/bus out of the main town in a great hotel that was very W feeling, they have a tower block again, and also bungalows that are at the back of the property where there is a separate pool area, if you had a big enough group you could probably take this area over.  The bungalows are fantastic, and again think 4 star but Motel 6 pricing, it can’t be beat.  American buffet breakfast included again and several pool areas and a nice path that goes from this hotel around infront of several other hotels along the bay, one of them quite large and obviously the party/keep the guests entertained night and day place.  Lots of local restaurant options within 5 mins walking from the hotel. 

The town is made up of the newer (old to us) part and then the wall enclosed old town, this is the place to be and enjoy.  You are just walking around on cobblestone streets/paths that are surrounded by buildings of history, then areas of souvenir/shopping  stores and of course, tons of cafes where you stop for a beer and face the walkers and people watch.  A couple of roof gardens where you are looking down on them too and they have no idea.  This seemed to me to be the kind of place that probably gets going at night after 11pm.   We got  a car and it took us about 45 mins to drive along the coast to a beach/cove area called Lindos where their acropolis/pathenon is there for you to walk around.  The beach/cove areas are lovely in that area and there are restaurants right on the beach you can just shower and walk up to and eat and drink and then go back to your umbrella and chaise lounger.

Now weddings in Rhodes, at our hotel I could definately see areas to do the cere with an oean backdrop or they have a wee amphitheatre area, and then cocktails with an ocean backdrop  and then the dinner dancing inside or outside.  And for the pre event dinners etc the places I talked about above would all work and be fabulous.

This is the fabulous bay/cove in Lindos:

Mykonos – well as you fly in or go in by boat, you immediately realise that the architecture is what you think Greek is going to be.  The white washed buildings with blue trim, light or dark or greeny.  The owner of our boutique hotel picked us up at the airport and drove us by town so we could see how close it will be to walk there.  As we turned a curve I saw white buildings on a beach and thought, wow what a great location, well it turned out, that was were we were spending the next 2 nights.  Fabulous doesn’t even describe this hotel.  31 rooms, so if you are a destination wedding with 40 guests or so you can probably have the whole place to yourselves.  There is a central courtyard great for a cocktail party or just hanging with everyone, a great breakfast included daily, a cool pool/restaurant area and a lawn looking right to the beach/Aegean Sea.  The Mykonos  Bay Hotel is my pick of picks if you come to me  and say where should we go in Greece for our destination wedding.  It is a very greek accommodation style, if you have someone who wants the plush/spa accommodation then right across the street up on a hill is the accommodation for those guests and they can wander up and down and not feel out of anything and be paying more for the experience they are more comfortable with.

Ok,  I would do the arrival night cocktails and food in the courtyard:

Rehearsal dinner would be in the town at one of the cool cafes (and probably do this two nights before)  and then after the guests can hang and party in town if they want or walk back.  This town is known for the all night partying and you can see that nothing starts there until around midnight and people from  all around the world are there to party!!  Thus, two nights before the big day.

Cere would be held through this arch on the lawn with the coean/sand backdrop.  So the guests and the bride would all enter to the lawn through this arch from the main courtyard, lovely eh:

And this is the lawn with the backdrop behind the couple and the view of the guests:

Now I pick the lawn for the cere,  most of the beaches in Greece are pebbly, and this is no exception,  but you can do it on the beach if you want, but you would need to provide flip flops for the guests as a fun but useful gift/favor.

Cocktails would be held around the pool area:

Then cocktails

Then the dinner/dance would be held in the restaurant area at the end of the pool area, looking back to the buildings of the hotel:

The food served here is not Greek which to be honest was a nice change, fabulous mushroom risotto, caesar salad, great sandwiches etc, so I know they will have no problem doing a full on gourmet meal for the guests to enjoy and eat all of it!!!  Use the town for the traditional greek food experience.  I love this area as you keep the view, but in  case of wind or the elements are enclosed. 

Obviously in all areas you see, the right chairs/tables/linens will be brought in to create whatever feel/atmosphere you want.

I just fell in love with this hotel and hope the pictures give you the feel I want you to have.  Now it can be windy in Mykonos, it’s known as the island of the winds, the owner  tells me April/May/June are going to be before the heat and less wind.  Sept is excellent pricing tho, but can be windy, and the town and most hotels close from Oct-April, so not a huge windown to choose from and of course nature will do what it will do, but I would not do July/Aug when all the tourists are there and the island is fulll and prices for everything are premium.

As far as Athens is concerned, I would use this more as a arrival hub if you wanted to, have the next day planned with using the Happy Train to see all the key sights and get on and off at the nooks and crannies it can go to (that buses cannot), people can do the acropolis and any historical places of interest to them, then do dinner that night with everyone in the Plaka, lots of cool restaurants to choose from/and areas, then the next day bus everyone to the airport for the flight to the island of choice for the wedding or catch the ferry to the island.

If this all sounds like fun and you are interested, let me know and we can get started planning your destination wedding to Greece.

Oh this was funny, we came back from our walk into town to find these two Japanese couples posing around the hotel grounds, the guys had been dressed and then got casual but the girls stayed in their ‘American’ gowns for more pics.  They were on their honeymoon and had brought these gowns with them just for these shots!!

Till next time

While I was waiting at the base of the Acropolis in Athens for my husband (been there done that before and decided people watching was more my style that day), about 20 cars came honking up the road and a whole bridal party/couple/family got out and climbed a rock close by with their photographer behind, I went over and followed and they got the couple positioned on this rock with the acropolis//pathenon behind, what an awesome picture that is going to make for their album or wall.  Fabulous.

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment November 18, 2010

One wedding, one day, two locations

Well I had my first wedding on Sept 11th for a while (for obvious reasons) this year.

A lovely two culture couple which meant the guests got to experience and learn the different ways weddings are celebrated.   My day started with an Indian Wedding Ceremony at the Hyatt HB at 10am in the morning, which was preceded by the grooms arrival on a white horse and the milni which followed.  Prior to that it had started very early at a house the groom’s family was at close to the hotel, thank goodness the bride and I did not have to be there for that too.  This ceremony was followed by a very casual Indian buffet lunch.  Then the bride headed to the groom’s house for another ceremony, while everyone else had some down time.  I meanwhile headed off to the Nixon Library where we were now going to do a christian style wedding ceremony and american style dinner/dance with dj until midnight.  Guests were bussed to and from the Hyatt, as most of them were in house.

Here are some pics to show the very different celebrations that the same 200 guests got to enjoy.

Thanks to their photographer  Edna of Square Eye                 for sharing these photos with us.

This shot is the traditional Indian Ceremony at the Hyatt :

Then the christian style ceremony at Nixon Library:

Then the reception/dinner/dance at the library,  in the beautiful replica of the East Ballroom from the actual White House:

Till next time

See why I love my job, never boring!!

Till next time

Lisa

http://www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment November 12, 2010

Pavilion Ballroom/Ritz-Carlton-Laguna, two days, two different looks

I had the fun recently to have two weddings in two days in the same room and also got to work both weddings with the easy to work with photographer, Katie Clark.  Love her.

So here are some pics to show how one room can look so different, all based on what you bring in/do with rentals, colors,  or what a location provides:

The tabletops:

The ballroom, two top are one wedding, two bottom are the other:

So no rights, no wrongs, just what is right for you, it all looks beautiful.

As always, thanks to my lovely ladies Teri and Peni that are my left and right hands and my bride’s love them!! And to the ladies and gentlemen of the fabulous Ritz Carlton Laguna who we love.  Eryin Choi as always did a fabulous job and what a fun tasting we had with Scott and Gloria!!!

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment November 8, 2010

Monarch Ballroom – St Regis, Monarch Beach

I had the pleasure of helping Cindy with her wedding celebration at the St Regis.  Our inspiration stemmed  from a picture she had on her phone from an event she had attended in Canada a few years ago, a Morrocan themed event that used a lot of wine and gold colors, low tables/cushions and canopies, and she just could not forget it, and now we got to use that inspiration to create her own picture that I am sure someone else will carry around with them. The groom’s background and faith is from that same area of the world so it seemed kind of fate-ish.

We started with the invitation, and found a really unique one that could allow us to go two different ways in color and style as we went along, but teased at the feel of the event.   We planned the rehearsal dinner at Mozambique Restaurant in Laguna Beach, to reinforce that theme/feel again.  Our favors were uniquely packaged & flavored chocolates that were named after the couple, and of course everything from the room decor/linens and even the menu selection all tied in.  These elements made sense/fit to us as we go along and pull it together, but maybe not to the guests until after the event when they have a chance to look back at each component, and then they have their uh hah moment.

In a ballroom/banquet space to create a wow/feel and atmosphere in keeping with where you want people to be transformed to or believe they are, you must drape the space, so as you can see we did.  For this group we did not want the typical ballroom setup with two sides of dining areas and a d/floor in the middle, so we created a dining area – the first area the guests would walk in to, and then the dancing area, that was separated by a sheer drop across the room, but very visible, so once the band and dj began guests could move to that area and hang (canopies and cafe style tables waiting) or stay at the dining tables and enjoy the feel of that area after dinner but totally be able to see what was happening in the dancing area and have access at any time easily if they wanted to go and dance.  We had a martini ice luge designed in  keeping with the theme.

The guests were wowed and the couple was overwhelmed with how fabulous it all turned out.

Of course, I/we can have an idea, but it takes a team to bring it all to fruition, so thanks to Square Root as always, Fusion Linens for the draping and linens/chairs, and enjoy the photos taken below by the awesome Tony Florez (www.tonyflorez.com), and the wonderful team at St Regis, Kelly O’Dell (newly engaged, shhhh), David and the rest of the family.

So, 1st pic is how the ballroom is, the picture below it is the dining area of the room we created:

Then the dancing side:

And the ice luge which along with a regular bar were set up in the dancing area:

Till next time

Lisa

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

Add a comment November 7, 2010

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