All wedding photos are by Brian Lee of Etcetera Photo
Hannah and Chris initially planned to have their wedding at The Estate on Second in Santa Ana. It is a stunning building surrounded by brick on the inside and outside. One month before the wedding, during the final walkthrough with the venue coordinator, it became clear that this mostly-indoor space wouldn't be able to host their 60 guests with strict adherence to COVID restrictions. While concessions and safety plans could have been made to accommodate everyone with ample distance, Hannah, Chris, and their families did not feel comfortable hosting the event there.
Thankfully, The Estate operates under Jay's Catering, which shares the same management as The Rose Center in Westminster. With their same date of November 14th still being available, it was an obvious choice to move the entire wedding to an outdoor location. Was is absolutely insane to relocate all plans with 4 weeks before the big day? 100% YES. Is it possible? With vendors who are willing to do whatever it takes, 100% YES.
Read on to see how beautifully everything came together in just 27 days.
The wedding day began with the bridesmaids and groomsmen arriving on scene early from their nearby airbNb. Already having their hair and make up done, the girls were immediately ready to pose in their robes with the bride.
Then, it was time to help Hannah put on her dress. For all future brides with traditional wedding dresses, you might not realize it, but you will need around 30 minutes for this, not including all bridal photos! It will also help to ensure you have at least 1 person (typically the maid or matron-of-honor) who knows how to bustle your dress, if you have one.
Of course, Chris also had a moment to get himself ready before the first look!
This stunning landing on the second floor of the theater was the perfect backdrop for the first look!
After a special moment alone, it was time for Chris and Hannah to join the (at this point, slightly tipsy) bridal party for some entourage photos in the beautiful gardens outside! One thing we LOVE about The Rose Center is the endless variety of photos you could have because each corner of the building and each surrounding area outside gives a very different look and feel. You would never know that the photos were taken mere steps away from each other. It's like getting married in 5 different venues!
As Chris and Hannah were directed back to the bridal suite to await the start of their wedding, the photographer took the chance to capture a few more romantic shots in. Remember when we said that the Rose Center feels like a new place at every turn? The slideshow below is proof!
Having a wedding during COVID requires out-of-the-box thinking in many ways. Hannah and Chris were adamant in using only the outdoor area in order to maintain the safest possible environment for them, their guests, and all vendors. Thankfully, the Rose Center offers a hedging package (a divider covered with faux greenery) that splits their courtyard into two distinct areas: 1) welcome area and cocktail hour, and 2) ceremony and reception. We were able to coordinate with their Event Specialist during the planning stages and the Event Captain during the execution to make sure that all the "flips" were done on time and according to plan.
The ceremony was very intimate with the processional only including the bride and groom's parents. Their officiant was a childhood pastor who flew all the way from the Bay Area. All music was live and performed by a groomsman.
During cocktail hour, guests walked back to the welcoming area, which now had delicious appetizers and the open bar! Hannah and Chris mingled with their guests in the photo booth. Because their guest list was reduced down about half of what it initially was, we all agreed to make sure that they were able to spend quality time with each person to thank them for making it to their big day.
While this was happening, the previous ceremony space was being transformed to become the reception site, with guests being none the wiser. Alright, admittedly, there were a few who successfully poked their heads in to see what was happening. It was still awesome to see how amazed the guests were when the hedging was brought down! The flowers were definitely a showstopper.
The tone of the reception was set by the bride and groom who entered the space with drinks in their hands! LOL. The program began with the first dance, which was immediately followed by the cake cutting, and a prayer for dinner. All guests and vendors were impressed with Jay's Catering's filet mignon and salmon entrees, as well as all appetizers and side dishes. Definitely a 10/10!
While an intentional decision was made not to have any dancing for the night, the rest of the reception was full of laughter and tears from the speeches of the Hannah and Chris's best friends, and games that everyone played.
The night ended with a memorable surprise serenade from the groom himself. He wrote lyrics for his now-wife, which brought everyone to tears. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful November night.
Thank you to the Chi and Yoon families for trusting us with such an important milestone. As we tell all current and prospective clients, we never take this responsibility lightly, especially in a time like we are all currently in right now. Congratulations to the newlyweds; we're sure we'll see you again in the future!
Today marks Day 24 of "Safer At Home" for Angelenos like us. As of the writing of this blog, it has been announced that we will be under this order until May 15th, and there is a possibility that it could extend longer. There are many emotions that come with this new reality. The start of a marriage, which is supposed to be one of the happiest days of our bride and grooms' lives, have become a source of anxiety and grief.
As vendors in the wedding industry, we feel for our couples who have had to reschedule their Spring events to some time later in the year, or even 2021. Our hearts also break for caterers, photographers, videographers, DJs, officiants, musicians, bartenders, rental companies, venue owners, chauffeurs, florists, stylists, hair and make-up artists, and boutiques, whose sources of income have become threatened by the pandemic. It really takes a team to make a wedding beautiful, and we miss making miracles happen with our squad.
Below, you will find a list of all the terrible things that happened in this FICTIONAL movie, but are, in-fact, VERY REAL.
Disclaimer: Hayley's wedding was set in Rome, and we have no knowledge on the wedding culture in Italy. Is it typical that they don't have coordinators? We don't know for sure! We just thought that this movie's release was a good and timely opportunity to show couples, who may be currently panicking, why hiring a planner or coordinator might be right for them.
What we do:
Besides the vendors, we normally give a detailed timeline to your wedding party. If they know exactly what to do and where to be, it is less likely that they will wander away during crucial moments. We try to share the day-of schedule with them as early as possible, so they can plan around it, if they really need to be elsewhere. Google Drive is our friend!
2. The wrong seating arrangement ended up in a disaster.
What we do:
We find that there is a nice, sweet spot between having anarchy (no seating assignments) and totalitarianism (place cards). We suggest assigning tables, but not seats. Of course, you can do whatever you want, but planning your reception this way does more good than harm. It provides control and organization while still giving guests the feeling that they have some choice as to who to sit beside. Doing this will make them feel more relaxed, and ready to have a great night!
As your coordinators, we also double-check each area before letting guests in. We cross-reference our lists and layouts with what we see on the floor to ensure that everything is in proper order.
3. An inebriated guest caused a scene.
What we do:
Overseeing your wedding doesn't just mean that we're focused on the details. It also implies that we are aware of your guests' overall experience. We take care of them. Our planners are happy to offer anyone anything from our emergency bag (sewing kit, stain remover, or safety pins, anyone?), and even arrange safe transportation options for your guest who may have enjoyed the open bar a little too much. See photo above.
4. The reception program fell apart.
What we do:
It is our responsibility to carry out your vision from start to finish, including the different components of your ceremony and reception. Is it time for the speeches? We give everyone speaking a 5 minute warning and have champagne handed out to guests. Is it time for the bouquet toss? We check that the song is lined up and the flowers are with you. Is it time for the grand exit? We prepare all the sparklers and lighters. We anticipate YOUR every need.
5. Ultimately, the saddest part of the wedding was that it fell on a family member's shoulders to keep the event going.
What we do:
On your wedding day, we are your primary problem solvers. You and your VIPs should all know that if anything is not going to plan, we are the first people to tell and consult. We've had to resolve missing wedding rings, mismatched groomsmen suits, wet bridal gowns, lost grandparents, and more. We put out fires with a calm resolve and a smile on our faces. You wouldn't even know a thing.
We hope you learned something from this blog. If at the end of all this, you still decide against hiring a planner or coordinator, that is a completely valid decision. Please feel free to take any tips, and apply it to your own big day. Congratulations on your engagement, and happy planning!
All photos are by the amazing Emily Tingley.
The day began with Kelsey and Austin's first look in Pasadena City Hall. You can feel pure bliss from both of them as they see each other for the first time on their wedding day.
After their moment alone, it was time to join their bridal party and family for portraits outside.
Kelsey and Austin are very private people, and they chose to do their vows intimately. Remember, you don't have to play by any rules on your wedding day. We always encourage our couples to do what feels right for them. Unconventional as it may have been, it's what they wanted, and we made it happen!
The unplugged ceremony was brief and emotional. It was made more beautiful by a song performed by the Best Man.
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour while we flipped the same room to be used for the reception. Couples on a budget can shave a few thousand dollars off by renting a versatile space that can serve many purposes. Aren't you amazed by how we completely changed the space in under 45 minutes? ;)
The reception was filled with loud laughs and cheerful conversation. We heard some of the most heartwarming messages from guests, and witnessed one of the greatest father-daughter dances ever!
Kelsey and Austin are not big alcohol drinkers, so we made sure that they had their drink of choice: Dr. Pepper!
Many venues in California have banned the use of sparklers because of the fire hazards they pose. Luckily, Center for the Arts continues to allow them, so that magical moments like this can be captured!
Thank you, Ouellettes, for letting us be a part of your wedding. We hope that whenever you look back on this happy day, you are reminded of the kindness and love you were showered by all the people you cherish. Congratulations!
All photos are by the amazing Emily Tingley.
Bride Not Zilla is on a mission to help couples live out their wedding dreams in California. Both of BNZ's lead planners and coordinators got married in the notoriously expensive LA County area, and were able to execute big ideas at a low cost. They have the experience and expertise to help you visualize, prioritize, and organize all things bridal.