Wednesday, February 25, 2009

travel-themed wedding {08.02.08}

I admire couples who take on the daunting task of planning their own wedding, not to mention creative couples who can carry out their ideas with a level of quality and cohesiveness..and then on top of that, having the ability to plan it from afar and being miles from each other! I got in touch with Rachel and Joe upon completing the chocolate & green invitations I did for her good friend, Meryl. Rachel and Joe two lived most of their courtship living in different cities, but managed to travel the world together -- what a brilliant way to spend your time and youth. Because traveling became a huge part in their couple life, they decided upon a travel theme. They definitely get an A+ for setting the perfect "travel" ambiance -- an outdoor, tented reception next to an island bay lined with slowly moving sailboats, the famous Coronado bridge, and the feel of a cool San Diego breeze. I approached this wedding to design travel-themed coordinating programs, maps, favor tags, and signs, but it wasn't until I saw the rest of the goodies that Rachel and Joe introduced that reminded me why I love to do this -- everything in their wedding embodied who they are as a couple, and it's that personal touch that I appreciate wholeheartedly. The theme was consistent -- the location, photos with the trolley, b&w-designed passport programs and boarding pass programs, mailbox/postcard sign in area fit with luggages, peanut favors, personalized luggage tag give-aways, and the kicker -- the LED marquee that displayed wedding info! AWESOME! We are honored to have been a part of helping tie in all the details to make for one, cohesively planned event.

Date: 08.02.08
Ceremony: The Immaculata USD, San Diego
Reception Venue: Coronado Island Marriott Resort, San Diego
Photographer: Harvard Photography, Orange County
Videographer: LAX Productions, Los Angeles
Programs/Details/Signage: bellz&whistlez, Southern California
Florist: Lilies Flower Shop, San Diego
DJ/Emcee: Music Phreek/Vynce Pham, San Diego
Hair/Makeup: Mist Mirage/Tanya Nguyen, San Diego

These photos were taken courtesy of Harvard Photography.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

update {02.23.09}

Sorry if I've been MIA. For the last six months, b&w has been intensely working on another huge event (coming April)! It's soon approaching, so I'm totally focused on accomplishing all the bellz and whistlez. I'm currently immersed in the wedding invitation project that accompanies this big event! And following, I'll be on a massive sewing project, so I apologize in advance if you don't hear from me! . . .(click for full post)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

our planning :: 18 :: responses

Responses from the invitation are usually expected one month before the big day. Sometimes, they are required earlier, like for destination weddings, and sometimes later, for the inspirational, ultra-organized couple. But for the common folks who set their response date one month before the wedding, you've created enough time to organize the accepts and regrets. On a side note, you'll find a level of excitement upon each response card received in the mail! ;)

There are a few solutions to common challenges that I'd like to share in regards to the response card, also known as the RSVP card.

  1. Challenge: You've received a blank response card. Solution: To avoid the dreaded "blank" response card, before you mail out your invitations, simply number the back of each response card, making sure they correspond to a numbered guest list. This way, when you've received a blank card, you can easily flip it over and see that #5 is the Doe Family on your guest list. Then, call the Doe Family to confirm a response.
  2. Challenge: You've indicated a specific # of reserved seats, and the guest crossed it out and put another #. Solution: If they've subtracted a seat, then it should work out to be a good thing! If they've added, simply call the guest and clarify the alteration. For the most part, it's up to your great communication skills to resolve the matter if you cannot add another seat. But keep an open mind, you actually might be able to accommodate that extra guest and avoid a dilemma.
  3. Challenge: You haven't received some response cards back by the due date. Solution: Wait about 3–4 days after the due date. If you still haven't gotten all your responses, you can make a courtesy call or e-mail to the unresponsive guest(s). It is def ok to e-mail guests to find out if they're going to make it. To ease the task, bride and groom, you can each tackle your own guest lists.
  4. Challenge: You didn't include an option for meal choices on the response card but are serving three different meals at the reception. Solution: Oops, invitation blunder. It's going to be tedious, but you'll have to call all guests to find out their meal choices. Banquet vendors need a specific # for each entrée because they place orders for food in advance. Unless you're having a buffet dinner, you should be aware of each entrée count; pricing does vary and you want to ensure you're paying for the correct # of meals.
  5. Challenge: You have an indecisive guest. Solution: If he can't find a date, or keeps changing his meal choice or even the fact that he will even attend, give the guest a date to give a final answer to the unresolved Q. If he can't make up his mind to bringing a date, do not include the guest seat in your headcount to the banquet mgr, but leave space on the table in the event he arrives with a guest. It's easier to add a place setting than it is to try and get your $70 back for the unattended guest. This pertains to any guests who are unsure if they can attend, even if they've replied "yes" -- avoid paying for "maybes."
Photo of the escort card panels

Main gallery entrance where guests could sign the guest book & preview our engagement photos

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

celebrate love!

It's February 14th…and you know what that means!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

our planning :: 17 :: toast or roast

The toast -- it's a moment to share wonderful stories about the newlyweds and give insightful advice, but it's also an opportunity to simply say the wrong thing. It is a tradition to have someone share a few words followed with a toast of some bubbly in honor of the bride and groom. Who delivers it can be planned or unplanned, but in the end, it should be a moment that is remembered -- and in a good way! I think some level of planning should be involved when it comes to the toast.

Traditionally, the father of the bride gives a toast in welcoming the groom. I'm not sure I can say I've seen it happen, but I hope to witness more of them! For the modern couple, a toast is typically given by the MOH or MaOH and the best man (men). But any one from the bridal party is also common. If you're looking to do something different, try having the couple who has been married the longest share some words of marriage wisdom.

There are a few things that the couple might want to consider when it comes to the toast.
  1. To ask or not ask. Couples may want to hear toasts from specific people or leave the mic open for any one willing. If the couple prefers to ask a specific person(s) to prepare a toast and he/she is uneasy, the couple should give the person some time to make a decision. They can approach the Q a 2nd time, and if the 2nd invitation is rejected, the couple should simply find another person who would be interested. Public speaking is one of the top fears! Here is a great article on how to overcome public speaking: "How to Conquer Public Speaking Fear" by Morton C. Orman, M.D.
  2. Plan ahead. The people who are toasting ought to have enough time to prepare. Few are great at "winging" it, but most folks aren't. A good, long month or two should suffice.
  3. How many people should toast? It's completely up to the couple. E.g., if the bride and groom plan to have 4 toasts delivered, they can break them up into two groups throughout the night. It makes for a great transition and will definitely grab the guests' attention. But it's also wonderful to witness one awesome, tear-jerking delivery.
  4. Time matters. If the couple is concerned with staying on time with the reception itinerary, it's advisable to determine a certain amount of time (in min). A 20 min delivery can be grueling. If more than 2 people are giving a toast, allowing 3-5 minutes each is realistic. It's not a matter of seeing who prepared the longest speech; it's about the message or value of what's been said.
Photo of Vern delivering the toast

There are a few things that the person giving the toast might want to consider when it comes to the toast.
  1. Practice. The person delivering the toast should time him/herself and practice in the mirror -- more than once. No need to memorize, just get comfortable with the delivery. Much like we did in school! It works.
  2. Practice/Proofread with someone else. I'd suggest that the outline be read by a male and female -- two different point-of-views. Some males tend to write with a masculine tone and some females, a little bit lengthy. Were the points made tactfully? Was it too long? Were the transitions smooth? Is the grammar correct? Was the purpose recognizable?
  3. What's the message? Is there a clear message? Words of advice? Sharing old stories? The person delivering the toast should prepare a story that is easy to follow, with vivid, positive memories, and then tie them into an overall message. He'll knock the socks off guests with an inspirational conclusion.
  4. Toast or roast. Back to "proofreading it with someone else" -- they can tell the toast-ee right off the bat if it's a toast or roast. And please -- speakers, steer clear of mentioning any of the ex's, or being on the "rebound," or wicked debaucheries, or pretty much anything that would seem as if the toast is "roasting" the bride or groom. All eyes are on the speaker. He/she may think he's painting a picture of the couple, when unfortunately, he's painting a picture of himself. It's ok to embarrass with good intent, but refrain from humiliation -- huge difference.
Photo of Noel, Abe's best man, delivering the toast

Abe and I kind of shared the idea with our bridal party to get a feel for who would want to do the toast, and then approached (3) ladies and (2) gents. Seemed like a lot, but we pre-determined 3 min for each toast and worked the transitions to ensure a timely delivery. We split them into two groups during the dinner. For the ladies' toasts, my older sis and Maoh, Germaline, shared a few words and my bf and BM, Cyril prepared a 4 min toast. Ginger, Abram's sister and one of my BMs, sweetly welcomed me into their family. Noel, Abe's Best Man and Vern, one of his groomsmen, prepared speeches and carried us through comedic stories with Abram. We also had two additional, surprise toasts, given by Abe's other Best Man, Vic -- which ended up being a tear-jerker, and Abe's bro-in-law, Charles, who was graceful with his message. Total, (7) folks shared the mic, all at different times throughout the evening. Each message was heard, delivered fairly quickly, and was full of good intent.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

our planning :: 16 :: take a break!

If you're wondering what my time frame is looking like at this point, I'm about three months shy of the wedding. It's the final stretch of the planning. We've accomplished a majority of the planning, and it was time to give ourselves a pat on the back for having done this while managing the normal bouts of life. Many small tasks still needed to be completed, but it was the perfect time to take a break! The thought of these small, remaining tasks were overwhelming, but they were eventually completed. We were soon approaching our big day -- our masterpiece in the making.

Couples, it's ok to step away for a little while, to center your emotions and physical well being. I encourage clients to take a break, not just a Saturday to go to the movies or shopping, but what I call an "engagement honeymoon." During the engagement/planning, the bride and groom plan a small weekend get-away and relieve themselves of any wedding plans. It's a way to remember to enjoy the engagement! It could be a flight out of town or even 30 minutes away. The trip doesn't have to be a major dip in the wallet, it could just be a weekend trip to a local spa. You've been saving and laying low and are also preparing for the biggest day of your life! You're entitled to take a "planning" break, away from the things-to-do list, phone, and computer, to remember why you're getting married -- each other.

Photo of Abram and I driving up Pacific Coast Highway

Photo of the rock at Morro Bay, California

Abram knew I was deeply involved and focused on our wedding plans and wanted to snatch me from the daunting job I had started nearly 9 months earlier. He surprised me with a weekend trip to San Luis Obispo and arranged the accommodations, rental car, and itinerary for four days. We took a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway, since he knows I love the ocean, and even rented a convertible so I could smell the clean fresh air. I had never been to SLO, but found it's a quaint city with many landmarks to visit, and it still has an obvious night life promoted by the college students who live in the vicinity. Ahh, what a relaxing time it was. We walked around SLO's downtown, ordered some Belgian fries and $1 beers, and on one night, indulged in a delectable Italian dinner. We also made a tourist venture to the Hearst Castle, which was stunning and on our trip down, made a stop at Oxnard's annual strawberry festival. His sister and her husband also met us at Morro Bay to enjoy some freshly cooked seafood. The trip, for me, was necessary and well spent.

Bel Frites, serving belgian fries and $1 Stella beers, located in Downtown SLO

Stunning architecture and view -- the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California

Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, California
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happy birthday, abram!

Just wanted to say, "Happy 30th Birthday" to my wonderful husband, Abram! I posted some pictures from his bbq-themed get together at the house over the weekend.

I planned a southern bbq themed get together at the house for Abram and celebrated with 30 friends. We ordered bbq and some fixins from Lucille's BBQ, bought some fried chicken from Albertson's (*their chicken is realllly yummy), requested Steph's home baked mac & cheese and my mom's collared greens w/ham hocks, and cooked some corn on the cob. We also got to try one of my clients' Butcher Blocked Baked Beans with pork chunks and smoked bacon (which were amazing!) -- coming to a Costco near you! Oh, and we finished it off with Claim Jumper's Chocolate Motherload cake with ice cream! Yum!

I made this birthday sign and bought some red&white towels to decorate the tables and wrap the cornbread and biscuit baskets. NOTE: Use some Kale or other greens to decorate your food platters.

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