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Top Planning Secrets to Know When Booking A Santa Ynez Valley Outdoor Event

Event Planning Advice / 04.18.20160 comments

Escort "cards" -river rocks with guest's names & table numbers on a bed of moss.

A wind-proof idea: Escort “cards” -river rocks with guest’s names & table numbers on a bed of moss.

Chances are you’ve put a lot of thought into your special event or wedding.  From inspiration boards on Pinterest, bridal shows, magazines and much more.  So, when you found your dream location and booked it, it was like finding “the one” you would marry. It just clicked.  Santa Barbara’s own wine country, The Santa Ynez Valley (made up of five towns: Buellton, Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Ballard) are filled with epic outdoor event gorgeousness and charming rustic chic glamour.  No wonder so many decide to get married in our wine country.  That said, there are some items that , if known in advance, will not only help you manage your spending plan (budget), but contribute to a seamless event and help ensure the details that you put into all your planning and special touches is actually realized and that your guests are having a great time.  Here are our top highlights of the most common items clients are not told or are overlooked when booking an outdoor special event venue in the Santa Ynez Valley.

“Gone With The Wind”

Pretty much without exception, the wind kicks up in Santa Ynez Valley around 2pm each day and continues until about 7pm.  Whether it’s a hot or cold day, the valley is almost always dusty and it is windy – religiously.  How does this translate to your event?   

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Using Local Event Supply Partners for Your Wedding : Top 4 Benefits

Blog, Event Planning Advice / 04.16.20160 comments

Photo by Dia Rao: Location: Foley Winery

Photo by Dia Rao: Location: Foley Winery | Lighting by SPARK Creative Events

Throughout my years as a Santa Barbara wedding planner, I am always intrigued why some clients choose to hire event supply partners (vendors) outside our area when we have world-class providers right here.  99.9% of all my clients are from outside Santa Barbara.  I’ve observed that that about 1% of clients hire outside-of-the-area vendors because they have a friend who is in the business and will provide the service at no charge; about 5% are from the Los Angeles area and are drawn to a service in their hometown that they can access more easily for appointments and are led to think that no service in Santa Barbara would be able to provide what they are getting in Los Angeles (in extremely rare cases, the latter may be true, depending on the detail of what the client is searching for).  But the majority of Santa Barbara wedding clients will save up to 75% by hiring a world-class local event supply partner.  F

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Fresh & Successful 2016 Season for Party Time with Scott Topper

Industry Shenanigans / 04.11.20160 comments

The amazing Host, Producers and Sponsors for Party Time With Scott Topper 2016 Season on TVSB

The amazing Host, Producers and Sponsors for Party Time With Scott Topper 2016 Season on TVSB pose with me

When Scott Topper first asked me if I wanted to co-produce and coordinate for his Party Time with Scott Topper show for 2016, I was honored.  He told me straight up that the show was like “community theater” and when he said that, he had my heart and attention.  Having a background in musical theater and also loving to support community, I knew the spirit in which the show would be produced and couldn’t wait.  Shows like this are all heart.  With an audience that reaches approximately three times the amount the Santa Barbara Bowl holds, as well as 5 million homes being able to watch the show on ROKU,  this was a great opportunity to showcase some real collaborative talent and have fun.

The first order of business for me was to come up with something fresh for his show for the new year, something that had not been done yet.   The sets in the past were gorgeous, and each year only got more beautiful. They were a lovely backdrop for guests to come, sit and be interviewed about their job.  And while this is the basis for the show, I wanted the way they were presented to be different.  I wanted to focus on a viewer “experience”, and do something different for 2016 that added dimension.

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Wedding Spending Planning Advice: 3 Reasons Not to Re-Use Ceremony Chairs for the Reception

Blog, Event Planning Advice, Rants / 03.17.20162 comments

Bacara Resort Wedding | Photo: Michael Costa

Bacara Resort Wedding | Photo: Michael Costa

When I first started out as a wedding planner,  I saw it all the time and to this day, I understand why it is done, but I do not understand why, with all the options available to manage a budget, couples want to aggravate guests, create a clumsy flow and above all: not actually save that much money in the long run (read on).  We are talking about the use of the same chairs for the ceremony as the reception.  There are other ways to maximize your spending plan (budget) than re-using your ceremony chairs for your reception.  I never, ever recommend this be done, and here are my top reasons why:

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Santa Barbara’s Oldest Private School – The Howard School – Gets Back to “Grassroots” in a Spring FUNdraiser

Special Events / 03.16.20160 comments

grassrootsunnamedSanta Barbara’s oldest private school – The Howard Carden School (now based in Carpinteria)- will celebrate Spring getting back to the “grassroots” of what’s important in life: community, education, delicious, hearty & heavy appetizers by Chef Rick Rossignol and Chef Nirasha Rodriguez , fabulous drinks,  and live music with the the beloved local band SolTree . There will be incredible items on which to bid, but even if you don’t bid, come for the community, music, fun, and to take in the atmosphere.

Held on Saturday, April 23rd at 3pm, “Grassroots”  is designed to help raise funds for Howard, a non-profit school which boasts a world-class education from preschool through 8th grade for over 100 years.  There will be something for everyone, and unlike many formal fundraisers, this one was specifically designed to pay tribute to and celebrate the relaxed, casual style of Carpinteria while supporting a worthwhile cause with no pomp and circumstance:  just good food, entertainment, community and incredible opportunities to bid on fabulous prizes (see below).   Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on the Howard School Website .

Check out some of the auction items:

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On The “Unplugged” Wedding: The Gracious Art of Combining Your Wishes with Happy Guest Experience

Blog, Event Planning Advice, Rants / 03.06.20160 comments

Example of a popular "unplugged wedding" sign from OffBeat Bride

Example of a popular “unplugged wedding” sign from OffBeat Bride

With cell phone camera and selfie stick use at an all time high, often taking away from life’s moments, it is no wonder there is such a huge trend for “unplugged” weddings.  If you are new to this term, “unplugged wedding” refers to those weddings where guests are asked to refrain from any cell phone use – including taking photos of any kind during the ceremony.  Before I express my thoughts on this entire topic, let me say first and foremost: I am completely in favor of any bride and groom who wants an unplugged wedding.  But recently,  I have seen a new trend going to an extreme:  where wedding couples are asking their guests to give up their cell phones entirely when they arrive and they are not “allowed” to have them back until they leave the wedding reception that night.  I was also recently asked to go up and “grab” the cell phone from any guest who started to use it during the ceremony.  And no, I will not do that.  For many, many reasons.  No matter how much you pay me (please read on).

First of all, let’s look at all the great reasons to have an unplugged wedding ceremony:

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Wine With a Wedding Planner’s Seasonal Grand Finale in the Funk Zone: Jump On the Wedding Planning Bus

Blog, Event Industry Businesses & Professionals, Industry Shenanigans / 02.24.20160 comments

unnamed-61“Wine With a Wedding Planner” offers an innovative, community-based, complimentary  approach to wedding planning in complete relaxation (and some unconventional fun).  On Saturday, March 5th, for our last one of the season, we are offering a “Grand Finale” of sorts:  Jump on the Wedding Planning Bus with our partners from Jump on the School Bus in Santa Barbara’s famous FunkZone!  There is no charge for the complimentary wedding consultation

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Jennifer and Remington’s Winery Wedding Glow at Firestone

Blog, Real Weddings / 02.13.20160 comments

imageIf you believe in “signs”, then you you will believe that this couple was meant to be when you read the “signs” that came out on their wedding day.  Jennifer and Remington met at age 7 and went separate ways for awhile and then became re-acquainted and the rest, as they say, is history (that is the simplified version).  The day of their wedding, Mother Nature put on a spectacular show:  from a rainbow right over them after their ceremony, to a sunset that was on fire, it appeared that forces beyond Earth were in tune with celebrating their nuptials.

After the ceremony on the Mesa (where the bride arrived in a vintage/classic car to make her entrance down the aisle), guests adjourned to the patio in front of the Firestone Tasting Room, where they mixed and mingled , signed “wishes for the Mr. and Mrs.”, made “Bucket List Recommendations” for the newlyweds, and Jennifer’s father sang a song that he had written just for the two of them.  To say this wedding was filled with joy and tears from the soul and love expressed by everyone is an understatement.

Dinners in the Barrel Room at Firestone Winery are epic, to say the least.  When it was time for the Grand Reveal (a little something I like to do when presenting the Barrel Room to guests for the first time as they are welcomed to dinner), guests moved into the long, amber-glowing up-lit Barrel Room to find their seat and enjoy a sumptuous feast.  The Courtyard outside provided after-dinner dancing under the stars to one of Southern California’s hottest bands, and special decorative touches like the lit-up “LOVE” sign oversaw the dessert buffet, while hundreds of lanterns provided glow everywhere.

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Catering Connection Showers Event Profs with Love- and A Guest-Interactive Experience

Blog, Event Industry Businesses & Professionals, Industry Shenanigans / 02.11.20162 comments

unnamed-33I love my job, especially because of events like last night that combine my favorite ingredients of life:  amazing food and beverage, great company …and the pièce de résistance: great humor and fun between everyone.  As a mom who juggles two event businesses and all that life slings at her, you could literally hear the wheels of my car peeling out when the babysitter showed up and I high-tailed it to Catering Connection’s culinary studios last night.  In an industry where our entire focus is taking care of others, it is especially meaningful when someone takes care of us.  And Catering Connection, one of Santa Barbara’s leading full-service caterers who just celebrated their 20th Business Anniversary last year offered to do just that.  As a thank you to those with whom they work, they decided to do more than just drop off a plate of cookies (not that there’s anything wrong with that- I will never turn down a cookie).  They decided to give their event supply partners an evening out- an experience – if you will. 

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When Britain Joins Miss USA in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country: A Lincourt Winery Wedding Story

Blog, Real Weddings / 02.07.20160 comments

imageWhen British gentleman Ben met his bride-to-be former Miss USA and Dancing With the Stars contestant Shandi F., it was a match made in heaven.  This power couple is just as kind as they are beautiful.  Of all the places they could have chosen to get married, they chose Santa Barbara’s wine country and one of the most rustically-charming wineries in our valley:  Lincourt.  A former dairy farm, the little yellow house (now tasting room) was at one time a Sears Craftsman house and overlooks the gorgeous vines and has views of the Santa Ynez mountain range. It is also located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and has convenient access to nearby bed and breakfasts, inns and more.

Ben and Shandi chose to keep things streamlined and not do any decor that would conflict with the already-gorgeous natural backdrop at Lincourt.  They put their priorities into what mattered most:

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