Guest Blogging Gig for My Fitness Pal! And caterer LOVE.

Hi!  I am so excited (and so late!) to announce that I am officially a guest blogger for a My Fitness Pal!  Just call me the resident wedding planning expert!  My first post (Healthy Wedding Food Trends) went live a couple weeks ago and I'm eagerly awaiting my next post - 'Why Starving on the Big Day is a Big NO!'  I'll make sure to announce the post via Facebook and Twitter.  Hey!  Do you follow Allure on those platforms?  I hereby invite you to!  Click on those links and let's connect! I'm going to take this opportunity to rave about the catering company that I mentioned in my first post for My Fitness Pal: Culinary Eye.  John Silva, one of the owners, was kind enough to send me a list of some of his Spring and Summer menu items so I could feature them in my post.  Culinary Eye caters events, big and small, with amazing food and service.  I wanted to give specific examples of organic, beautiful food that couples can serve at their receptions and I new CE would fit the bill splendidly.  I love working with John (lead designer) and Collins (the executive chef) and I LOVE eating their food.  This is my blog and I'll rave if I want to!

Below are some of the items on the Culinary Eye menu this season.  The photo is of the deviled quail eggs - I can personally vouch for their deliciousness.  I'm hungry!

- Canape of Heirloom Melon, Thai Basil, Torn Burrata, and Balsamic Reduction
- Petite Deviled Quail Eggs with Caper and Pickled Jalapeno
- Blanched Summer Shelling Pea Tartar with Mint, Organic Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, and Shaved Manchego
- Compressed Cucumber in Pear Vinaigrette, Smoked Salmon, and Chive  on Silver Spoons
Keep following along and I'll keep posting!  Deal?


Hello Lovelies!  Happy New Year!  I have taken a bit of time off…my last blog post was August!  2013 was a very busy year. I had my second son, Thomas James, in May, and planning weddings while being a full time mom to two was a whirlwind!  The holidays brought a much needed break, and now I am back to the office (during kids' naps and weekly set aside hours) and I'm thrilled to also be back online - blogging, pinning, tweeting and generally trying to keep up with the wedding industry's crazy social media scene.  On one hand, I feel like shouting, "I'm back!" from the proverbial rooftops.  On the other, I feel like I wasn't ever really gone.  Like all working moms, I have a lot of balls in the air and I'm just doing the best I can to keep juggling!

Later this week, I'll be posting an Allure wedding shot by Mary McHenry.  Here is a sneak peek of Joanna and Patrick's SF wedding:

This year, I am looking forward to planning weddings at the Fort Mason Center, the W Hotel and the Presidio in San Francisco.  So far, so good!  Keep up with me here:  Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Yelp.  Seriously, say hi!  Let's comment, share and link away in 2014-- together, we'll stay connected and stay inspired!


Photos above by Ashley Paige and Mary McHenry.  Click on the photo for the link!

Wedding Vision Process: Inspired by Paris, Romance

Hi!  Today, I am thrilled to share a gorgeous inspiration board with you.  Stormy, romantic nights are evoked with this color scheme and feminine details are incorporated seamlessly to create a unique wedding vision.  My friend and day-of assistant, Jennifer Schleis, created this board in the process of planning her own wedding and she shares her story below.  How does a couple go from ideas to wedding vision reality?  Read on and find out how this couple did it!

Romantic French Charm

                I love color. I love bold, vibrant color so, naturally, when I began planning my wedding, which is taking place in October, I equated the season with rich oranges, velvety purples, and deep reds – until I found my wedding gown. Most people think the best way to begin putting together their wedding vision is to simply choose their colors, but I realized it was not until I found my dress that my vision truly came together.

My gown is Karena Royale, by Maggie Sottero and has a gold underlay with shimmering ivory lace laid over the top, finished with a perfect gold sash and rhinestone brooch. The moment I saw myself in the dress, I knew it was the one (much like I knew he was the one…) and in that moment, I knew I had to throw my color choices out the window. Gone were the bright and bold fall hues I love so much and in their place entered soft muted honey, sage, lavender, and peach. All of these colors spoke to me, and they all made perfect sense.

My next step was finding an amazing florist. Flowers certainly add color, but they also add structure, depth, and beauty to any event. I knew I wanted to incorporate succulents somehow, but I was open to almost every other option. My florist suggested peach garden roses, lavender calla lilies, quicksand roses, and (my new favorite) scabiosa pods. These perfectly round segmented taupe stems remind me of being a child, making wishes, and blowing the seeds from a dandelion. I was so intrigued because they are so delicate yet so structured. I am now excited and confident that my florals will not only be beautiful, but they will also be quite unique!

My fiancé and I will be honeymooning in France and what says, “Most romantic city in the world,” better than the colors of days gone by? After finding the dress it was as though my brain was begging to make the connection between these blush tones and this most venerable city.  Ivory lace and pale lavender say France, but I decided to take things a few steps further. October, France, wine, harvest – with these ideas in mind, I remembered some gorgeous candle hurricanes I had seen on a blog that were simply green wine bottles with the bottoms removed and a candle inside. I showed them to my father and he has since made me over fifty of them for our décor.

I also discovered the phrase, “L'amour est la clé de tout,” which means, “Love is the key to everything.” From that, skeleton keys and the boutique hotels of Paris inspired our escort cards and, in continuing to tie everything together, the fleur de lis, which makes an appearance on place cards, was also used in the form of a wax seal on the inner envelopes of our invitations.

We are just about two months away from our wedding day, and I am so pleased with the way everything is coming together. I cannot wait to see our vision become a reality in just a few short (albeit hectic!) weeks. I am looking forward to sharing the outcome with you all very soon!

-Jennifer Schleis, Bride

I can't wait to share Jennifer's future wedding pictures with you!  Jenn, thank you for sharing your inspiration board and story.  I know your wedding is going to be stunning and personal.  And that honeymoon...ooh lala...have the best time!!







Vintage DIY Wedding, Mustard and Gray

My dear friend's Apple and Martín got married last weekend and I was honored to be a guest/coordinator at their vintage inspired wedding.  For this wedding, style was everything.  Apple's dress was a tea length, lace, 1950s original.  She paired it with mustard yellow heels, and when it got chilly, a brown leather bomber jacket.  Very cool, right?  It gets better.  The bridesmaids wore handmade cotton dresses from Etsy, the groomsmen were all in bow ties that Apple made and grey cardigans, and Apple and her bridesmaids carried gorgeous fabric bouquets.  Also made by Apple!  Here's a look--I was able to take some Instagram shots. Aren't they adorable?  And that cake guessed it, made by Apple.  2 vintage plates, one vintage vase, hot glue...voila!  Here's a comprehensive list of everything Apple made for her wedding, and that her amazing bridal party helped me set up:

DIY -Bow ties for the groom and groomsmen -Bow tie necklaces for the bridesmaids (so cute!) -Bow tie, cuffs, ring pillow for the canine 'flower girl' -Fabric flower bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids -Pocket square for the groom -Fabric flower centerpieces -Yarn wrapped small vases and mason jars and votives for mis-matched centerpieces and accent decor -Tiered vintage cake plates -All invitations and signage w craft paper and stamps -The table numbers -Fabric pompom flower garlands for the walls of the reception room and the bar -A 'guestbook' made of fabric squares  for guests to write little notes, then pin on a clothesline strung up in the bar -Large fabric hand painted bows for every dining chair -All props and signage for the photobooth -Escort card favors that included goat's milk soap from Etsy and small bingo cards for the game played later in the reception

The reception was at the Fort Mason Center Conference Center and was catered by  Villa Del Sol.  The location was a perfect mix of San Francisco charm and blank-slate-DIY-possibility.  I had a wonderful time and I'm so happy for my friends. Congratulations, Apple and Martín!



Allure: 20th and 21st Weeks in Review

Hi!  2 more weeks of wedding prep down, 12 to go!  I mean, the season significantly slows down once we get to October.  For the next three plus months, I will be in wedding overdrive. I'm ready, let's go!  (I'd type the lyrics to "I Am Woman" but let's face it, I don't have time.  This woman is busy!) 1.  La Tavola Linens.   More love for one of my very favorite rental vendors!  I visited La Tavola in SF with a bride last week and as usual, I wanted to move right in.  The studio space on Sacramento is inspiring as a workspace and visiting always makes me want to redecorate my dining room.  I mean, I'd have to get the crayons, goldfish, laptop and binders all off the table just to see my current table cloth.  And then I'd probably just realize it needs to be washed.  Clearly, my real life is not as glamorous as my fantasy La Tavola life.  But, oh...if I could pull off a sequined chevron in my kitchen everyday...I sure would.   (Also, I had a great meeting with my bride.  I'm excited about our choices!)  2.  Hidden Villa.  I met clients at this Los Altos Hills venue last week and I was really charmed by it!  I didn't know what to expect from the working farm, historical main house, kid-campers-all-about, venue...but I really liked it and I can't wait for Allure's first wedding there this fall.  Of course, I will share my experience right here on this very blog!

3.  Bowerbird Photography.  This is not my first post about this amazing photography duo.  I just love Ariel and Sam and I can't say enough good things about them.  But I'll try!  Last week, these two lovebirds took time out of their busy schedules and took family portraits for us.  It's been too long since we had a proper, professional photo shoot and I enjoyed every minute of it!  Ariel and Sam are naturals...they are inspiring to work with, they're so supportive and effortless with each other and with the subjects.  My son is not usually cooperative when cameras are around, and my husband likes to pretend he hates having his picture taken (as much as I love having mine taken!).  So our lovely photographers had their work cut out for them.  Below is a sneak peek...!


Allure: 18th and 19th Weeks in Review

Well, wedding season is officially in full swing and I am one busy working mama!  In the last two weeks, I have been primarily working on my June and July weddings.  I also took a nice family trip to the East Coast for a graduation and a reunion, so I had my work cut out for me upon my return.  Traveling with a toddler adventure.  While I felt like I needed a vacation after my vacation, I had to jump right back in to work once we got back.  I've been booking baby-sitters and locking myself in the office everyday and I'm getting really excited about the weddings coming up soon! Btw...did you see Abigail's post last week?  Great Gatsby wedding inspiration--swoon!  Here we go!

1.  Marin Art and Garden Center.  I love this venue!  When I'm there, I'm struck by the natural, yet manicured beauty and I am so impressed by the well-oiled-machine wedding operation they have going on.  It's seriously a North Bay gem tucked away in Ross.  I'm thrilled to be working there in June and I am hoping for more weddings there in 2013!  Also, Insalata's is catering--yum!

2.  Coffee Shop Workaholic.  Since I don't have a dedicated office space to meet clients, I work at a lot of Bay Area Coffee shops.  In the past two weeks, I have spent countless hours out and about.  And in the next two weeks, I have three meetings planned and probably another dozen or so hours of just computer work...all at local coffee shops.  A girl has to get out of the house sometimes!  Here's where I've been:  Philz on Van Ness in SF (great, library-like workspace).  Orchard Valley in downtown Campbell (I always get a Thai iced tea here for some reason). Peets on the Alameda in Santa Clara (lots of room and they play nice, soft music).  Bravado Cafe in SOMA, SF (I love the modern look, comfy seats and the iced coffee was STRONG).  And literally 6 different Starbucks between Los Gatos and Oakland (My home base is Curtner and Leigh in San Jose.  I can walk there.  But I usually don't...).

3.  Balance.  As you know, I am a full time mom.  And a wedding planner running the Allure show on my own out here in the Bay Area.  The owner of Allure, Michelle Martinez, is a mom too and I learned a lot about how to balance having a business and being a mom (among the hundred other roles we play) from her, especially in the early days of my wedding planning career.  I would watch Michelle literally juggle her baby, her cell phone, and her laptop, all to happily take care of her family, her clients, her business, and herself!  I find myself doing the exact same thing now.  I am proud of myself for getting this far, and as I get busier with wedding work everyday, I have to get better at balancing it all.  I get overwhelmed, sure.  There are days when I feel like I am doing a thousand things and I wonder if I am doing any of them well.  I think this is only natural.  At the end of the day, I put Joey to bed and head back to the computer for a couple more hours of work, and I feel...good.  Good about the amazing and inspiring and exhausting time I get to spend with my son, good about the strong relationship I have with my husband who works so hard for us all, and good about the job I am doing for my clients.  I truly love this life.

Ha!  Now I'm all emotional.  Ok, so since I am getting really SUPER busy, the blogging might be more sporadic.  I hope you understand and I'll do my best to keep up!

Allure: 16th and 17th Week in Review

Something is in the wedding water around here!  This past week, I received more inquiries, and had more meetings with vendors and couples than I have in the past two months!  I'm excited to share some developments and I can't wait to start working on these new weddings and keep you updated along the way! 1.  Jonathan Moore Photography.  Jonathan is an LA based photographer that works in the Bay Area often and shoots destination weddings anywhere.  In a six-degrees-of-separation kind of way that I love, he got in touch with me after finding out what I do from his old college buddy, my brother.  Jonathan and I met for coffee (with Joey in tow) and chatted about the industry, our styles, and our shared commitment to marriage equality.  I like Jonathan, and I hope to work with him this year.  Check him out!  Below is one of my favorite photos from one of Jonathan's 'Beloved' sessions.  2.  BoLee Bridal in Sunnyvale.  I visited BoLee with my friend Elizabeth Chang, of Skyla Arts.  I often get asked by brides for suggestions of bridal boutiques, and I have a couple go-to answers, but I definitely need more in my rolodex (head).  BoLee is located in the heart of Sunnyvale, about ten minutes away from downtown Mountain View.  It's in an unassuming strip mall, and the building masks the store's glamorous interior and gorgeous inventory of sample dresses.  I am happy to have a new store on my short list, and I look forward to working with Bo, the owner, on future events and promotions.  3.  Allure's new blogger!  Did you read my post Wednesday?  I'm thrilled to announce that starting Friday, June 1, Abigail Rutkowski of Wedding Row California will be guest posting on the Allure blog.  Abigail will be bringing the pretty now that Kaella's inspiring stint has ended.  I can't wait to see what kind of creative and unique inspiration boards Abigail has in store for us!

4.  Cupcake Tasting.  This week, I had a pleasant task on my to-do list:  Meet with Ashley at Frost Cupcake Factory for a client cupcake tasting.  I tried 4 different versions of a lemon cupcake, took copious notes and made executive decisions.  It's a tough job, y'all.  Frost is my very favorite local bakery, I'm always happy when business or pleasure brings me into the store, and of course I'm thrilled when my clients choose Frost for their wedding.  I like to do quality control during that time between hiring Frost and the wedding day.  I take my job very seriously. 5.  Client meeting at Tartine in SF.  Speaking of baked-goods-as-job-hazard...I met with one of my brides last week while her mom was in town.  The three of us met at the delectable, world famous, stupidly crowded Tartine Bakery in the mission district of SF.  I enjoyed an AMAZING gruyere croissant and mocha while we discussed wedding details.  One item on the agenda was favors.  I don't love wedding favors, I love trying to come up with creative, fun ones for weddings I plan, but I don't love them as an overall wedding tradition.  I think there are far more 'important' things to spend money on when planning a wedding, and I like to find other cool ways to make the event personal for the couple and memorable for the guests.  I do, however, like the idea of a charitable donation in place of a favor for each guest.  This is what we were discussing at Tartine.  My clients are making a small donation in the name of each of their guests (which amounts to a nice donation!) in place of buying a favor for everyone.  We are going to place a small placard at each place setting describing the gift and it's significance will be inherent.  Just discussing this element of the wedding was emotional for my bride and her mom.  I'm so glad they were able to find a nice way to honor loved ones at the wedding reception, I know it will have an impact.

That's it for now!  I have proposals to draft!

For the love of Pinterest

Hi!  As I caught up on work and blogging last night, I spent some time 'pinning' and I noticed that I am getting close to 1000 pins!  Thought it would be fitting to post about Pinterest today and share my boards with you.  As a wedding planner, I use Pinterest all the time.  Admittedly, it's addicting and a great way to procrastinate and distract myself from momentary boredom.  But the site as a whole is so much more than just that.  For clients, I create Pinterest boards that they can pin on with me if they want.  Each client board is like a personalized wedding inspiration board, it's always evolving and it's extremely user friendly.  If my clients see a cake stand that they like online, they can pin it to their board on my account and I can see what they like, and since the original link is attached, I can click on the cake stand image and find out where they saw it--maybe on the retail site, so I can order it for them if they want.  Basically, Pinterest boards take the place of the bulky binder with torn out magazine pages, or the stack of wedding magazines a bride might collect and then stick post-it bookmarks all over.

Here is one of my current client boards, Wedding Collection: Joanna.  It's a board that speaks to Joanna's general wedding vision and it's a collection of colors and patterns that Joanna loves.  She can pick specifics from this board to include in her wedding, or mix and match a little inspiration from here and there.

Here is a board called Weddings of My Clients!  It's just that, a Pinterest portfolio of my past weddings, with links to the wedding photographer's site, or to other blogs my weddings have been featured on.  This board is a fantastic way for prospective clients to see my work and get to know me a little.  I bring my iPad to initial consultations and show couples this board, instead of bringing several photo books of weddings I've planned.  Interactive and fun, y'all!

I also use Pinterest to collect images when I'm doing research on wedding trends or when I  want to explore a theme or design element.  These boards, like Weddings: Lace Ideas, are filled with ideas and images I love.

lace, clothespins

I love Pinterest, obviously!  I have boards filled with dinner recipes, interior design inspiration, and fun projects to do with my son.  On my to-do list today, in fact, is to go grocery shopping for the next week.  First stop, my Food board to choose some entrees and sides and check out the recipes.  It's time to try those red potatoes with parmesan!

As I get busier with wedding season, I'm sure I'll be relying on Pinterest more when it comes to my blog.  I look forward to sharing some of my favorite Pinners with you, and to continue to explore and collaborate on Pinterest--and you're invited, of course!

Bohemian. Gypsy. Hippie. Wedding style from BHLDN

  Hi Wednesday!  I just booked a wedding for this October at Camp Lotus.  It will be my first campground wedding and my first wedding with a true bohemian style to it.  The bride is currently searching for the perfect hippie chic dress and will be collecting bright jewel toned vases and blankets for the next 5 months to adorn picnic tables and hay bales.  I am beyond excited!  And I need to look into a cabin or inn in the town, because while I am loving the idea of a camp wedding...I am not exactly a sleep-in-a-tent kind of wedding planner.  Don't worry, they knew this and they still hired me.

So...I told the bride that I would send her some pics of cool dresses to consider.  I knew the first place I would look--BHLDN by Anthropologie.  I think the BHLDN dresses have that certain something for the fashion forward, slightly funky, accessory-loving bride.  Below are some of my favorites.  Imagine them with boots, beaded headbands across the forehead, and draped with necklaces.  Ooh!  And maybe a crochet shrug!  For a bride with this kind of style, I might just sleep in a tent.



The beauty here is in the ability to individualize each dress, I think.  Accessories needed.







The post is the perfect follow up to Kaella's inspiration board last week!  View it here!









This last one--in nude--is my favorite.  So pretty!






ps.  I am not a sponsor of BHLDN.  I just really like the dresses, especially for the bride I am mentioning in the post!

Allure: 13th Week in Review

I'm 30!  My birthday was Friday and I was happy to take a little break from working to celebrate it!  Next week will be a little packed because of it, but it was worth it!  After my husband and I spent a great evening in SF on Friday night, I woke up to a very busy Allure Saturday! Here's a peek at Allure's last week: 1.  Unveiled!  The Rengstorff House in Mountain View is a fantastic little wedding venue hidden in the Shoreline Nature Preserve.  It's a historical Victorian house with beautiful manicured lawns, a wrap-around porch and a cool brick patio.  Unveiled is an event that the Rengstorff House hosts for local wedding vendors to connect with engaged couples...many of whom are getting married there.  It's a much more intimate expo than other ones I have been to (some of which are hectic and stressful), so I was thrilled to have Allure's first table as a vendor be at this event.  I invited my friend, Krista Lynch to 'man' my table with me.  Krista is a wedding photographer--check out a recent wedding of hers on Style My Pretty!  We had a great time talking to brides and grooms and parents, and getting to know other vendors.  I hope to book weddings based on yesterday's conversations, and I will definitely be back for next year's Unveiled!   The linens and tables were provided by Stuart Rental Company for the whole event--big thank you for choosing a color scheme that goes so well with Allure's brand!  And the pictures are by Krista, of course.  I'll post more about this great event as I start to get more post-event info and pics!

2.  Haute Bride Opening Party and Bridal Fashion Show.  Right after Unveiled, I drove home for a quick change, then headed to Los Gatos for the Haute Bride Party.  I put on a racer back tank top, a sequin mini skirt and heels--it was HOT yesterday, even at 7pm everyone was in shorts and tanks.  The warm weather made for a summery, chilled wine kind of a fete and everyone at Haute looked amazing!  Designer Hayley Paige was at the party and presented a runway show of her current line of gorgeous wedding dresses.  There was one with a champagne sequin skirt, I LOVED it!

3.  Marriage Equality Video.  Lastly, I am so happy to present my latest Allure video!  I will do a full post about this later, but I wanted to introduce it here and now as I got the final cut up on youtube just last week.  Huge thanks to my friend Sean Basaman of Good Joe Pictures for producing and directing the video.  I'm really proud of it and so excited to share it here and on Facebook today.

Allure: 12th Week in Review

Hi!  Happy Sunday!  I am actually working on this a little late this week.  I like to draft my posts on Friday or Saturday, but this week has been a whirlwind! 1.  St Francis Yacht Club.  I am working with a bride to plan her wedding this September at the St Francis Yacht Club in SF.  It's my first time to work at the venue and I am really excited!  She and I met up this week in the city to discuss everything--we started with the big picture and then got down to the details and logistics.  I'm busy pinning for this wedding now...check it out!  2.  Planning Planning Planning.  This job hinges on scheduling.  As a full time work-from-home mom, it's all in the planning...and the planning is 90% scheduling.  It's a juggling act, for sure.  Last week wasn't any busier than any other week, in fact it was fairly calm...but I was really busy setting my schedule for the next two weeks.  I have lots of weddings coming up and they all have different packages based on different proposals.  So my 'Month of Coordination' package differs from one wedding to the next.  In order to keep on top of it all, I have to plan ahead--my phone calendar is my lifeline for this job.  It automatically backs up to my google account, a feat that allows me to sleep at night!  I would be lost without my calendar.  Some days I have to put 'shower' or 'sleep' into it.  Those days are particularly hectic!  For now, I am scheduling a tasting with clients at the Presidio Social Club, several design meetings with a couple getting married at the General's Residence in Ft Mason, a trip to Napa for site visits, a rehearsal in Marin for a June wedding at the Marin Art and Garden Center, and a visit with my partner Michelle Martinez when she comes into town.  I thrive on busy...and I might need a few days with 'nap' on the calendar!

3.  Cupcakes!  My favorite cupcake shop is Frost Cupcake Factory in downtown Campbell.  I have clients getting married in September and we've already had a tasting there and put in a big order.  I like to visit from time to time (every week, sometimes twice a week) to do a little quality far so good!  But I'll still check, wink wink.  My favorite cupcake is the toasted almond (pic below).  Now Frost is serving Peets espresso drinks, so I think I might have a new coffee-shop-to-work destination!  Yum!

More to come!  I'm excited to share my styled shoot, my new video, and my pictures and experiences from next week's Rengstorff House Unveiled Event!  I'll keep you posted.  Literally!

Allure: 10th and 11th Week in Review

Hi!  I took a week off from blogging because my family and I flew to the East Coast on short notice last week, so I have lots to share now!  Getting home and trying to catch up has been hectic, but in a good way!  I'm so excited about what's coming up and everything I am looking forward to sharing with you! 1.  Another Video!  I just saw the rough cut of my new video--I am over the moon about how it turned out!  My friend (and former groom), Sean Basaman, produced it for me and it's about my support for gay marriage.  I am in the process of figuring out what to do with it'll definitely be posted on my website and blog, plus my Wedding Wire storefront.  I'll keep you posted and make an announcement when it's up!

2.  Haute Bride.  Kaella and I met up with our friend Julie Jones of Encore Bridal this week to stop by the new Haute Bride studio in Los Gatos and to meet Lindsie Jones--the owner and designer.  The store itself is beautiful and the dresses and accessories are just beyond.  I wanted to put every single cuff on.  I loved all the bling!  I'm looking forward to the opening night party to officially welcome Haute Bride to the South Bay! Kaella, Lindsie, Julie, Me!  (See?  I need a cuff!)

3.  Unveiled at the Rengstorff House.  I am happy to be a part of this year's Unveiled Event at my favorite Victorian house venue!  On April 21, I will be there with my friend Krista Lynch by my side, manning a pretty pink Allure table.  Hopefully, we'll get to talk to lots of engaged couples and book another wedding at the venue!  Krista, a super talented photographer, and I will be offering a discount to couples that book us both--hooray for collaboration!

So that's my week!  I have been busy---I have a weddings coming up soon, and fall weddings I am doing lots of research and brainstorming for now.  I'm booking meetings every week with vendors and venues and meeting new friends in the industry right and left!  I feel grateful to be doing what I love, but I think I need a little help doing it!  I will be looking for a new day-of assistant very soon...if you are interested, or know someone who is, please let me know!

Happy Easter, everyone!  If you missed Kaella's Easter inspiration board this it is.  I love the pastel macaroons--pretty and delicious!


Bowerbird Photography and Allure Consulting - Our Mission

Happy Wednesday!  Today I want to properly introduce you to my friends Ariel and Samuel Soto-Suver of Bowerbird Photography.  Ariel and Sam contacted me after reading my posts about Allure's passion for marriage equality and gay weddings.  I love everything about this photography duo: their talent, their energy, and of course, the fact that we share a mission.  Marriage equality is important to us all, personally and professionally and I was thrilled to meet others in the industry that are actively reaching out to the LGBT community. The lovebirds of Bowerbird are crazy talented.  The pictures speak for themselves--and they say so much! Check out their website for more beautiful pictures of happy people in love!

What We Do: Month of Wedding Coordination

Day of Wedding Coordination.  Month of Coordination.  Partial Planning, Full Planning, Custom Proposals and Agreements, Wedding Designer, Wedding Planner, Wedding Consultant...  What's what?! Allure is here to help.  Literally, that's the business of Allure...helping couples have amazing weddings, and doing the work so they can enjoy every second of them!

I don't believe in "Day of Wedding Coordination".  The whole concept is sounds nice, but it's a unicorn as far as I'm concerned...not real.  Not possible.  Not a good idea.  To simply show up at a wedding and 'take over' is unrealistic.  I am getting anxious just thinking about how unprepared I would feel in that case.  Sure, I can direct vendors and I know the most basic timeline for the average wedding...but there would still be a lot of guess work involved.  And who wants an average wedding??  There are so many boxes that need to be checked in order for an event to run well and look effortless in the process.      If a planner is willing to show up on the day-of with little or no work before hand, those boxes are not getting checked, bottom line.  It's a risk to hire someone offering this service and I question that planner's training and experience if they are willing to take on a true "Day-of" job. What we do for you: Allure's "Month of Coordination" package is our version of the Day-of deal.  Allure specializes in Month-of packages, and custom drafts each proposal for each and every inquiring potential client.  The proposals start with this:  The Month-of Breakdown.  From here, we add in other services such as design assistance, vendor research and referrals, and production--which can all add up to a Partial or even Full Planning package.  We start working with you, at the very latest, 1 month before your wedding.  We take over at this point as the main vendor and venue contact, and act as a liaison between you and your wedding 'team' from this point forward.  40-50 hours on average go into a Month-of package on our end.  We create a full day-of schedule and do all the prep necessary to execute it on your wedding day.  Allure has been in business for 9 years; we have systems and templates in place so that our weddings are coordinated and come together in that last month to ensure a flawless day.

Here is what Bernadette of 14 Stories in NYC posted about Day-of/Month-of service.  Allure is recommended on her page of national wedding planners that specialize in Month of Wedding Coordination (and are educated in LGBT weddings).

Basically, Allure is an event planning firm.  I am a Certified Wedding Consultant.  I specialize in Month of Wedding packages.  I can be hired to plan your wedding from the very beginning of the planning process, to coordinate your wedding day, and to assist with design ideas and implementation.  I call myself a wedding planner, that term seems most recognizable and more all-encompassing than the others for what I do.

Hiring a wedding planner is a huge part of wedding planning.  A wedding planner can save a couple lots of money by negotiating with vendors and by working with vendors they know and trust.  A wedding planner is an expert in the industry--who to hire, and for what exactly, is an important decision for couples.  Here is an article from Sunday's Style section of the SF Chronicle--Allure is mentioned because we are professionals certified by the program featured.  Finding a planner that is experienced, professional, certified, connected and awesome to work with* may not be easy, but is absolutely worth it.  I'm not just saying that because I am a wedding planner!  I wish every couple could hire a "Month of" planner, I hate that it's often a cost-prohibitive decision.  It truly does make the process easier and more enjoyable.

* This is important.   I always tell couples inquiring about Allure that they should like (if not love!) their wedding planner.  We work so closely on such an important day, and the days leading up to it.  Being friends makes the whole thing a better deal for all of us!




Allure: 6th Week in Review

This week flew by!  I can't even believe it is March already!  I was busy with lots of following up, lots of flower and vintage inspiration research and LOTS of proposal drafting. I sent them out like a mama bird pushes her babies out of the nest...I hope that some of them come back to me! Here's a little of what kept this wedding planning mama busy this week:

1.  Flowers Flowers Flowers:  I feel like I am up to my eyes in flowers right now.  Working on the design concepts for two of my couples now, I am constantly adding flowers and information to my lists and pinboards.  Also, I am helping a friend out with the flowers for her wedding at the end of this month and this week the basic plan for this friend-job changed drastically.  I was juggling ideas, research, contact, and budget for these flowers and I learned so much in the process.  I also met a new vendor friend!  Yo, from Array of Flowers, was an amazing contact to make.  His tiny shop is literally across the street from my house and he creates beautiful arrangements in addiction to selling wholesale flowers to businesses like Allure.  I know I will be working with Yo on future projects (so knowledgeable, so helpful!).  And I will also be heading to Yo for my own flowers.  I'm going in today, actually!  I need some hydrangeas on my kitchen table stat.

2.  Office Hours.  I feel like I am working all the time...I have a 2 year old and I have a babysitter that comes once a week to help.  In the 4 hours that she is with Joey, I swear I do a full day's work.  The to-do list I have to catch up on by the time she gets here every week is daunting, to say the least.  Between my son, my husband, my house, my know the rant...I have very little time for anything!  I love my wedding work, I love the business that I am able to have and still be a 'stay-at-home' mom, and I am proud of what I have going on.  But I am on my computer until 2am most nights and weekends don't mean anything anymore.  So I have decided to try to maintain a better balance.  I need to set boundaries for myself and for my clients.  If they see that I am emailing them a response at 2am, I'm afraid they will think I am always available to them, which just isn't possible.  (Or fair, or right, or sane!)  Every profession has 'office' hours in some respect, mine does too!  I just don't adhere to them because I think I can't justify having set office hours since I am working on things all day long...but not 'full time'.  I'm a full time mom, doing my best to do it all.  The only person who can always get a hold of me 'after hours' is Joey.  So, New Allure Hours: 8am-10pm, Monday-Saturday.  Ha!  See, I'm trying, ok?

3.  Styled Shoot!  Allure is teaming up with Kaella Lynn Events and Meg Perotti for a styled shoot.  My first one to produce and coordinate!  My first one to be a part of at all!  I'm super excited about this...Kaella and I have been teasing you for a while about our big 'project' coming up and this is it.  Details are still top secret, but I can tell you it is going to be bright and beautiful and inspiring.  Not just in the pretty details and fun ideas, but also in it's inherent message.  It's been a lot of work to come up with it and set it up, and Kaella is working hard on the styling and design.  I'm so happy with everyone involved.  I can't wait to do it (mid March) and I super duper can't wait to see the final product of Meg's!

Allure: 5th Week in Review

This week has been so busy; I feel like I barely have time to draft this post!  When it rains, it pours...true for work and 'real' life, I guess! Here's a little of what I've been up to this week:

1.  Big Day of Meetings:  On Saturday, my clients from LA came up for a visit and we were a wedding planning A-Team!  We met with Shawna Futagaki of Flower Divas, Kalani Germono for a hair and makeup trial, Gavin Farrington for a photography consultation, and then had a cupcake tasting and planning session at Frost Cupcake Factory in Downtown Campbell.  (Black Velvet = best cupcake ever!)  We got so much accomplished in the wedding-planning-department and had a ton of fun getting it done!  After a long day...I felt really great.  Confident, energized and's a nice feeling! One of my favorite engagement shots by Gavin.  Look at that light!

2.  Pinterest!  I am always on the look out for inspiration to add to my Pinterest boards...Pinterest is now pivotal to my job as a wedding planner, and I'm addicted personally as well.  This week, I have posted a ton of pictures w notes for several clients.  My boards serve as a reference when I am talking to vendors, brainstorming design ideas, and planning styled shoots.  Kaella and I LOVE Pinterest.  I'm planning on posting specifically on Pinterest later...but for now, check out my boards and follow me if you want!  I'll see you out there, pinners!  (Tidbit: I coordinated Ben Silbermann's wedding, one of the brilliant founders of Pinterest!  Learn more about Ben and Pinterest here!)

3.  Allure on the Inspired Guide on Engaged & Inspired!  Check out our listing...we are in great company!

Now...on to the Oscars!  If the cable guy makes it out in time to fix our dish...womp womp...



Allure: 4th Week in Review

Hi!  I hope you all had a fabulous Valentine's week!  I'm a teensy bit glad it's over, actually.  Spring is on the way!  I am really excited about some goings-ons in the next few weeks...Kaella and I have been working on a fun, new project and as details fall into place (and by 'fall', I mean 'get handled by experts--us!'), I am giddy like a school girl with a secret! Here are a few highlights from this last week:

1.  Swedenborgian Church.  I visited the church on Saturday to meet the new events manager, Jenny Son.  We talked about the church's rich history, and it's renewed commitment to LGBT weddings and marriage equality.  We also discussed an upcoming collaboration...more on that later!

Images courtesy of Jere Visalli Photographics and Discovery Bay Studios

I coordinated a wedding at Swedenborgian last September and it was beautiful.  I love the feels warm and intimate, and you can feel the history when you walk in.  It is a pleasure to work there and I hope to many more times!

2.  Our video!  Front page news, people!  On the Allure Home Page, check me out!  I shot this a few months ago with Martin Rossetti of Fill in the Blank Media.  I wanted to put something on the site so that visitors could get to know me a little, and to find out what makes Allure different than other wedding planning companies.  There are plenty out there now and I believe that our training (Cal State Wedding Planning Certification Program), our many years of experience and our commitment to marriage equality do make us stand out.  My goal was to get that across in 45 seconds.  I'm proud of the video and I'm so happy to see it on the site.  Thank you, Martin!

3.  This week I've been doing a lot of planning for my clients K and AJ.  I was hired to do 'Full Planning' for them and they live in LA, so I have been researching, referring and booking vendors this past week...we have a busy Saturday next weekend when K and AJ come up to visit.  4 meetings:  florist, photographer, hair stylist, baker.  Candlestick maker!  Just kidding, but if I needed to find a candlestick maker, I would, no problem!

A week in the life of a wedding planner.  Lots of time on the computer, lots of coffee, lots of phone tag, more cupcakes than other professions (job hazard), sifting through pretty pictures, sending thank you notes, tweeting, blogging, linking, quickbooking, filing, researching, attending fun meet-ups, and shopping for deals on vases and least that's what this wedding planner did in a week!  The work never ends.  I wouldn't have it any other way! P.S.   Promotions! Facebook

Wedding Wire



Wedding Planner Certificate: First Exam

In our first class session, Joyce advised we spend 24 hours studying the class material for the each subsequent exam. That doesn’t even include the time necessary to prepare the Staging Guide project. It may seem like a lot of hours, but you'd understand why after just one hour in the class. Joyce goes over a ton of information. However, having no indication of the exam format, it was almost impossible to know where to start. Taking from my college days, I pulled out all the stops, including flash cards, rewriting my notes, teaching the material to unsuspecting bystanders (mainly my husband, who was quite the sport though I'm sure he was thinking about the Super Bowl), rewarding myself with treats for correct answers, coming up with crazy acronyms… you name it. And it all payed off - I aced the quiz! Having applied wedding planning experience prior to the class sure helped me remember a lot of the info, but there are so many details based on Joyce's 17 years in the business - truly indispensable knowledge for anyone in the industry. So far we’ve gone over the history of wedding planning, market trends, wedding and event management disciplines, budget management, negotiations, contracts, liability, site selection and photography. It feels like an MBA program. And similar to an MBA, it’s not that a person can’t run a business, i.e. wedding planning, without it, but the knowledge gained provides the base for managing a successful business and providing optimal service to clients. And the client is what it’s all about, right?

One of the things I’ve found most interesting is the costly mistakes many couples make when signing their contracts. Not knowing what to look for in the contracts, couples may sign too soon. Once signed, you lose your bargaining power. And speaking of bargaining power, having a wedding planner is a good way to get some. Wedding planners also help couples avoid expensive oversights. Contracts are tedious to read through, but they should be read thoroughly. There may be items missing that are crucial to your unique wedding vision or rules outlined that could result it hefty fines. Without expert knowledge of contract verbiage, it will be hard to pinpoint these specifics. Planners should be skilled at reading all contracts, from venues to photographers, and provide feedback and/or negotiate for you.

Even for a “Day-Of” package, it is imperative that the planner reviews all contracts from your vendors prior to the wedding. After all, your planner is in charge of making sure all the services and details outlined in the agreements proceed as planned. This is why reviewing contracts is included in Allure’s 'Month Of' Package. We want to make sure you get what you signed up for, and have a flawless wedding day.

Signing out.



Allure: 2nd Week in Review

I'm writing this weeks 'Week in Review' as the delicious smell of chorizo queso fills the room.  It's Super Bowl Sunday and we have traditions around here, folks!  My husband considers Super Bowl Sunday an important national holiday, and I consider it a day to eat lots and lots of bacon.  The party we'll be heading off to soon has an annual appetizer contest and 90% of the food entered in will have pork as the first ingredient.  My Quesizo will have to compete against (among others) my husband's famous spicy mac and cheese, homemade sausage stuffed jalapeno poppers, and the ever popular sausage-roll-wrapped-in-bacon-basted-in-it's-own-fat.  Disgusting, I know.  Please don't judge me.

While extremely interesting, Super Bowl Sunday is not actually what this post is about.  This post is my second Week in Review for Allure.  And we had another fabulous and productive week!  So here goes!

1. Baby's Breath.  This week, I was doing lots of research for my full-planning clients; getting married in September at the Rengstorff House.  I love this historic Victorian house venue...the ceremony and reception will be outside on tailored lawns and brick patios, and the land around the house is lush and wild and just beautiful.  I was thinking of some decor and floral ideas that would complement the natural setting and fit in with my client's wedding vision, and speak to their personal style.  I've always liked the way that baby's breath looks when it's bunched together tightly, so I started with that.  I loooove what I found and I sent a description of my preliminary plan (line the aisle with baby's breath on the grass, possibly use baby's breath to decorate the cake and escort card table) over to my clients and they jumped for joy and celebrated my brilliance over champagne and caviar!  (They talked about it and decided they liked the idea, and told me to proceed.)  Here's an example of what I am talking about.  I'll post pictures of my creation in September, of course!

Flowers by Heavenly BloomsI love this topic so much, I might just post more on it later!

2.  Kaella.  This week, Kaella (my assistant, mentoree, and friend!) had her second class at Cal State Hayward's Wedding Planner Certification Course.  She aced the quiz and will post about the class later this week!  This is the same certification course that Michelle Martinez and I both took, so we are so proud of Kaella and can't wait for her to be certified!

3.  Allure's first styled shoot.  I'm thrilled to announce that a special project is in the works for Allure right now.  We are planning our very first styled shoot.  Kaella and I are putting together the details right now and we'll shoot in late March.  I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you that the reason I am so very excited about this is because we will be styling and shooting vingettes for a wedding with two grooms.  Another super exciting thing about this shoot?  Our friend Meg Perotti will be shooting it.  She is ridiculously talented--here's her site, you want to take a look, trust me!  Here's an example of a styled shoot that Kaella did last month with Edyta Szyszlo.  It was featured in Style Me Pretty! 

That's it for now!  I have to taste this queso...

Allure: Week in Review!

Hiya!  Happy Sunday!  Today I am going to post about this week.  And every Sunday, I am going to do the same thing--an Allure recap of sorts.  The 2012 ball is rolling now and as we start working, I'd like to share our adventures!  Each week is different, that's why I love this job.  A post at the end of the week will be a chance for me to reflect on the work done and recharge for the work ahead.  I envision the posts will be about where we were, who we met, what's inspiring us, and what weddings we are currently working on.  I'm looking forward to sharing!

This Week in Review: 1.  Cake Plate in downtown Napa.  Kaella and I met Paige Smith at The Lab Event on January 14th.  We totally hit it off and planned a visit to see Paige at her gorgeous clothing and accessory store in Napa.  We aren't exactly sure how we will collaborate, but all parties involved hope we do soon!  We'll start the brainstorming off with the fabulous private "shopping parties" that Cake Plate has been known to throw.  Shopping...engagement parties...brides...there's gotta be something in there, right?

2.  Calistoga Ranch.  Allure has been on Calistoga Ranch's preferred vendor list now for a few years, I'm proud to say.  I have planned weddings there before, with Michelle Martinez (the owner of Allure), and I very much look forward to working there again in 2012.  It was really fun to head back up to the resort with Kaella to meet with Mike Moran, the director of sales and marketing there.  The property is simply gorgeous.  The experience of staying at Calistoga Ranch, or having a wedding there, is one of pure luxury -- nestled in wild, beautiful nature.  When I win the lottery, I will definitely book a personal stay.  Until then, I will work for clients getting married there.  And very happily! check out this wine cave--dinner reception inside!!

3.  The Clement Monterey.  Kaella and I drove out to Cannery Row the day after our wine country trip to Napa and Calistoga.  Lots of driving in two days, but totally worth it.  We went to the Clement to visit Nicole Lisane, the new catering sales manager there and old friend of Allure's.  She isn't old, of course!  She and Michelle have been friends for many years and along with 3 other wedding planners in SF, called themselves the Fab 5.  Nicole showed us the hotel and Kaella and I briefly discussed moving in.  (It could never work, how would our husbands eat dinner?)  Right in the heart of one of my favorite little towns, Monterey, this hotel is new and pristine and it smells like a beach and there are fireplaces everywhere and they give you fresh chocolate truffles just for walking through.  I fell in love with it.  And with Nicole!  She was so gracious to take time out and show us around...and Allure is on the Clement's preferred vendors list too...very exciting!

Hope you enjoyed our first Week in Review!  I enjoyed writing it.  I can't promise every post will be this long, but this was a big week for us!  And it's fitting that I would start this new installment after a big week!

In other news--I am almost finished unpacking and I don't need my gps to find my house anymore.  Next week will be filled with lots of research, inspiration hunting and referrals for my newest clients, Kate and AJ.  I'll keep you posted! (Literally.)

photo from