Archive for December 20th, 2011

Unique Elements

Yum, just got home from some floral meetings with a couple and the bride’s parents, and mom had a lovely xmasy container with homemade fudge in it for me.  Needless to say, 1/2 of it was gone on the drive between appts.  Thank you Gayle.

But onto my next topic ……..

I had a few weddings this year that wanted to do something different for the guests as an ‘ending’ element, or to go item.

The late night snacks by the hotel/caterer – sliders/fries, ice cream sundae station, mini dessert stations, speciality coffee station, were still popular, as they have been for the past few years, plus  the candy stations, some where they had no more than 6 containers already filled/bags/scoops etc, and I would put them out at the time we designated, or the brides who paid for the Candy lady to come and do the beautiful/elegant candy stations that matched their color theme or favorite candys and had more options/decor layout etc.

Still had the boxes of godiva chocs or some food item that was easy/color co-ordinated etc, some spending $5-6 per box and some making them themselves.  And of course the wine stoppers/glass identity items. Flipflops that come out at dancing time (to be honest most women seem to prefer bare feet), color themed to the wedding or just random colors and sizes for all guests.

When you are spending $300-400 per person I don’t  feel you should feel you must give them something to take, but if you feel you must, then I always suggest you make it personal, a recipe you are known for, a thank you note or seeds to plant with a cute poem attached, an item others can use that is relative due to a hobby everyone knows you do, or your job/your business.  I just had a wedding where the couple  were from Mexico City and all the guests flew in (quite an affluent group) and their favor was a mini bottle of the best tequila and a shot glass-normally this may seem  a bit tacky, but this group appreciated it.   Just remember, sometimes 1 or 2 (if a couple) of something isn’t enough for them to do a lot with, ie napkin rings etc.

But for those where the options above were a bit old, or there was a personal reason, we did In N Out burgers at the end or during the dancing time.  Now for most locations your guests  can’t see the truck from where they are dancing, so you either end the party and lead them to the loading dock or outside the gates and then they stand by the street or wander back eating, so not a great end result in my mind, you pay for the truck that is the bulk and they can’t do the hot french fries normally, so I have had my assistant go to the nearest say In N Out burger place, get the order you have pre-ordered and paid for, they normally start cooking when she arrives, then we time it that when she is back with them, the hotel has french fries ready and the staff then walks around during the dancing time passing the fries and burgers.  A great memory especially for out of towners, for those that have had a bit to drink a great alcohol soaker, and for others that don’t want any something they remember and tell others about.

One bride had a group that wasn’t going to be a big dancing group, so she had a magnet station with a back drop that from the moment it opened through the 1/2 of overtime we paid them, had a line.  The magnets were couples, groups, anyone that wanted them done.  She also had  a crepe station, lovely man who came with an assistant, they had 2 burners going non stop, one did savory dinner style crepes, the other desserty ones.  Yum. 

My fave photo booth is the Epod, it talks back, normally takes the people inside a while to realise it but then they start cracking up.  Towards the end of the night if the group is right, it can get a bit raunchy, love it.  This is such a nice looking booth and tucks into any corner.  so many of the other booths are very rickety looking boxes and the guys setting them up and running them are just doing a job, they can’t wait to end and don’t put a lot of effort into guest service.  With Epod you have the owners there and they are wonderful.

Quite a few weddings with the Pashminas this year, not a bad idea.  Even though we have notified the guests the ceremony and normally cocktails are outside, we still have ladies that are wearing that new dress no matter what, so during the course of the event end up wearing their dates jacket.  You can buy them all the same color as your wedding, or have a variety of colors.  Keep the ladies warm and  we all like a pashmina for many events/reasons throughout the year.

Napkins rings  – these are big due to the wedding books with the beautiful place setting photo shoots that are being showcased.  I love them, they do look fabulous.  It’s just one of those ‘gifts’ that one or two of them isn’t normally enough to do something with them at home when you are normally going to use them, at a dinner party.  But I do see the smart ladies gathering a group of them due to people leaving them behind or ladies who at that moment have completely forgotton about them, so some do manage to collect enough to do a table of 4 or 6 at their home!!! LOL

The world is your oyster when it comes to favors/gifts/items.  Just google and you will be suprised what may come up.  It’s really about spending small or big amounts on something the guest will find useful or chuck away or just leave (which normally if mom realises at the end people didn’t take them she starts running around collecting whatever it is, not wanting it to go to waste, I always wonder in that situation is it worse for you to realise your guests didn’t appreciate/want what you spent good money on??), and how you feel about their reaction to it and what you spent, or would you have been better using that money to rent cool furniture they could sit on during the dancing, or more money for the bar.  You know your priorities and what is worth it to you either in item or $$ spent.  Always something to have to think about eh.

Till next time


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Add a comment December 20, 2011

Timelines/how I work and Thank Yous

Well, I just got off the phone from a 3 1/2 hour long detail/timeline meeting with a bride in Boston (50% of my brides/couples, and some to all the guests, are coming from other states/countries, such is the call of the great weather and scenery of S.CA).  I mention this due to the length of time our call took.  I am very detailed and am known for that not only with all the hotels, but also some of the djs who consider my timelines overkill.  But in the 20 years I have been doing this, and as I was mentored in the hotel industry by a Japanese man and a  German man, their mantras to me were, it’s all in the details.  So when I tell a couple who are doing an in person detail/timeline meeting we may be 4 hours (shortest was 2 1/2 hours and that was when the B&G gave yes or no answers only, they had a restaurant reservation to make, so no time for digressing/chatting, longest was 8 hours and that was when I didn’t hone the groom in early enough,) or by phone 2 hours (most of the time we are doing these late at night after you are home  from work, so some have gone as late as 1am, if that is what it takes, that is what I do), no-one ever believes me and they can’t for the life of them figure out what we are going to talk about.  Then once we get going they get it, and then totally know everything has been thought out.  This year I had a few moms sit in on the details and this was their 2nd or 3rd child, and each time, the mother would leave saying, none of the other weddings whether there was a planner or not involved, had ever gone over so much of the details pre wedding, and they felt good knowing that some of the suprises or things that could have happened would not be happening at this wedding.

No matter how big or small a service you book for me, the meeting above happens, as I will never take on a wedding where I have not had contact with vendors prior for confirmation of services/timing/details, and I have not been able to create my timeline/script (normally 4-6 pages long).  All hotel staff know/see me carrying each page of my script on the day as to where we are at and that I am going by it, unless of course there are things happening that are needing us to divert a bit, and if needed, of course we do so.

Our detail meeting whether by phone, small (meaning the week of the wedding for a day of service) or large service, comprises of, the first hour or so is spend on vendors/who you have hired, confirming you know what you have hired them to do/finessing timing-your needs of them (then I contact each vendor involved to be sure they are in agreement-no misunderstandings), then we create the timeline/order of events, first the basic order of the important things from ceremony on (takes sometimes 2 hours), then I back everything  back and start with the hair/makeup beginning times-where groom will be etc, who/where for photos, all leading to the cere time, then it gets really detailed as to who walking with who, to what, etc.  At the rehearsal I verbalise the key times for everyone involved, if no rehearsal (which happens a lot now) I send a copy to you day prior with the key times/people indicated so you can pass that info onto them so hopefully they won’t be bugging you on the day) I give you options, you make the final decision (obviously the flow I suggest if you are amicable  is what I see as being the most successful, you can’t do weddings as often as I do and not get a feel for what the reality will be).  There is no right or wrong way, it really is what you want/are happy with, and I do guide you but what you say is how it will be is what we all orchestrate.  Normally what we put down during the meeting is how it stays, sometimes couples change it after they have thought on it, and this year I had two different grooms that re-worked it several times right up until a few days before the event,  and kept asking me what I thought of their tweaks, in both cases I did not feel there was a flow, it was a lot of start/stop, and I would give my thoughts back, but ultimately with both these grooms we used their order of events during the dinner/dancing portion (I think with some of these the brides have no idea how often the groom and I are corresponding/going back and forth), with one of the weddings, the groom was actually having an issue with the band they had booked (don’t think the bride even knew), he did not feel they were responsive to him at all, I chatted with the band rep about the timeline etc , he then became much more responsive to the groom (who thanked me for that) and in the grooms words the band rep ‘was very complimentary about the conversation with you and it really sounded like you had it all under control. To which I told him you absolutely do.’  In the end. this band rep was not a fan of the grooms order of events but went along with it also, and to this point due to the flow not being the best (again grooms end decision no other way he was going to have/want it) the groom became  quite panicky each time the band was not in the room playing when there would be a bit of a lull.  So do listen to the suggestions of your planner who is suggesting things from an overall perspective, to an individual vendor who is of course doing it to make themselves look fab and forget that they aren’t the stars, or that may not be the type of event you want.

But my point is, even with a  service that starts the week of the wedding, I go through this same process with you.  It means you have thought about everything, all the important moments have been incorporated, the people involved/doing anything have been told/know, and on the day there are no suprises from an orchestration point of view. and you can relax on the day knowing I know what is supposed to happen/when and will make it happen.  I am also known for keeping meal times within 5 mins of the time on the hotel paperwork.  Ceremony may start late, cocktails may go over, but I have buffer time in my timelines that covers all these things, but as the meal is what you have spent the most of your budget on, I don’t want that food compromised.

So anyway, as I started off, I just finished a 3 1/2 hour phone detail with a bride, now her event is 1 1/2 days so a bit more to go thru, thus the longer time.  All open items  are then emailed to you to check on/answer/tweak/change etc.  I do everything by email so you can always refer back when you have time and update me or change things, and from my perspective I have what you told me written down/know that I have covered everything with you/heard back on open items/decisions,  and can always refer back.  No stone is left unturned with me, believe me, ask your hotel person.  So feel safe and confident knowing you can enjoy your day, I am doing what I was hired to do ultimately, run your day with you not having to worry about anything.

I have been doing weddings for over 20 years now, first in my hotel life, and now 11 years independently.  I am referred by the best hotels in the OC,  since the day they opened (St Regis & Hyatt HB) or as with the Ritz-Carlton for 11 years, others have come and gone off the lists (as with my list you can be pulled off at any time) so that tells you a lot I believe, and that my formula/way I work suits the hotels and has meant many happy couples/families. 


I was in the office sorting some filing out on Friday, and counted up thank you notes and emails from 26 weddings this year/2011, thank you to you all for taking the time to think of me after, always touches my heart (I have books of thank you notes from all the years I have been doing this, I have kept every one, one day I will count how many are there, with email now it is really easy so they come nice and quick after the day-instand gratification for me!! LOL).  Some even sent me wee items from their honeymoon or make sure I see pics from the wedding.  I also got xmas cards from a few couples already this year,  some it’s their first year married, for others I am getting cards 3-4 years into their marriage, brings back memories.  I also came across an email that touched my heart, it  came in Oct, it was from a groom saying they had been in S CA during the summer with their 2 young kids, and it reminded them of me, and he wanted to check in and say hi (internet is a great thing for finding people that you would not have found otherwise) and let me know they still thought about me and had great memories from their wedding, which was …. back in 1994!!!! Wow. 

I have had couples call me from their 1 year anniversary dinner, and this year even had three couples call me when I was driving home from their weddings (so around 1am), I see their number and have a panic as to what the heck can be wrong I knew they left the wedding and all was well, and it is one or both of them on the line thanking me for such a great day/celebration.  Of course, I say thanks, but please, get back to what you should be doing right now, which is not thinking about me!!!! Oh dear.  So thanks right back to all of you, it really touches me that I have a special place in your memory/heart, just as you have mine.  I was shredding files from 2005/06 about a month ago, and when I saw the couples names was able to recall  things about their weddings, always seems like yesterday.

So lucky lucky, can’t imagine doing anything else and don’t want to.   And if you are reading this, then it means you have checked out weddings on my blog, maybe pics on my website, so you can see how varied my brides and their visions are, and that I have the experience to help you too, you are not  trusting all the money and most important hours of your life so far, with a novice or someone who doesn’t really care if they do this for a short or long while. This is my life and career.

That’s definately enough words for today.  But if you are looking around/considering a co-ordinator, the above info is the reality/truth of how I work, check with your hotel person if you need extra confidence, they are not going to steer you wrong, it only comes back on them.  Anyway, email or me call, let me know your date/time, how many guests, and how much or little help you are looking for from a co-ordinator, and I will email over a detailed service option for you to look at, they are in full and have pricing showing.  Then we can phone chat or in person meet/chat, and see if you would like to move forward.  I have a lovely office where you can  see tons of albums/photos of past weddings, and get inspired if needed, or at least see your room/site and get a feel or what you may want to do/not do, based on what others before you have done.

Looking very forward to hearing from you

Here’s to your wedding


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Add a comment December 20, 2011






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