real weddings :: paul and korey

san diego wedding photographer elle.g photographyimages courtesy of elle.g photography

The San Diego summer is here and what wonderful way to kick it off with an outdoor wedding. Korey & Paul and their parents staged a gorgeous San Diego destination wedding and reception at The Paradise Point Resort. Lois Mathews, of Lois Mathews Design, provided stunning flowers and a bamboo ceremony arch set the tropical tone for the night. Starfish and orchids decorated the ceremony aisle. Their theme for the night was seashells, starfish, shades of butterscotch, soft blues and creamy yellows. The delicious wedding cake, designed by the French Gourmet, kept the theme going. Wedding planner Ann of Ann’s Plans assisted with every area of planning including design, venue search, vendor inquiries and negotiations. Everything was timed perfectly and Ann made it all flow smoothly for Korey & Paul.
Bob Brichmann, DJ and Emcee from Artistic Productions, kept the floor packed the entire night with a combination of retro and modern sounds that pleased everyone! A true San Diego Weddings of Distinction wedding and a really great party!

news :: the san diego sheraton hotel & marina shines along san diego bay

sheraton:: images courtesy of Lisa at ::

Weddings of Distinction paid a visit to an iconic San Diego wedding property for their June luncheon meeting – The San Diego Sheraton Hotel & Marina (

WoD President Bob Brichmann, DJ and Emcee from Artistic Productions ( welcomed everyone to our June luncheon meeting. Honored guests included Stephanie Mason, Catering Manager for The San Diego Sheraton Hotel & Marina (, Lindsey Campbell, Office Manager for Plush Lounge ( and Ariane Pardubsky, daughter of WoD member Cheryl Byrd, Haynes Antique Car Chauffeuring (

Stephanie Mason gave us a nice brief overview of the Sheraton and its banquet facilities. Stephanie has been in the hospitality industry for 11 years and at the Sheraton for about two years. The hotel is an incredible San Diego venue on the water with gorgeous views of the downtown skyline. They pride themselves on their service, quality and attentiveness to their wedding clients.

Bob introduced a cute icebreaker to warm up the meeting with a “guess who this is” type question and response quiz. Bob encouraged members to get to know each other on a more personal level as they network and share business leads.

Our showcaser for the day was Cynthia Blase, owner and wedding coordinator of Cynthia Zatkin Events ( Cynthia, a native Californian, has a passion for event planning. Cynthia has planned events for a non-profit organization on the East Coast and has worked as a catering manager for the Hyatt Aventine in La Jolla. Cynthia strives to foresee what is needed to make her client’s wedding a “red carpet” moment!

Cynthia offers a couple of different packages, including full service, day of and month of planning. Cynthia also has a talented assistant – Andrea. Their ultimate compliment is to hear guests say, “The wedding is so the bride and groom!”

The Board shared several items of internal business. The Brichmann’s annual BBQ/Pool Party/Potluck was announced for July 12th.

Raffle winners were: Dennis Way, ABI Photography ( – gift basket donated by Ann Strobel (; Amy & Maurice Wright from The Theorie ( – a magnum of champagne courtesy of Cynthia Blase; and, Merrylin Brichmann from Artistic Productions ( – a family portrait & 8×10 courtesy of ABI Photography.

The Weddings of Distinction 2009 Board:
President, Bob Brichmann, DJ & Emcee from Artistic Productions (
Vice-President, Ann Strobel, Coordinator from Ann’s Plans (
Treasurer, Merrylin Brichmann, DJ & Emcee from Artistic Productions (
Founding President, Susan Ashley from Romantic Honeymoons, (
Membership, Carrie Esparza from San Diego Authentic Flavors Custom Catering (
Secretary, Andrea Pena from The Prado at Balboa Park (

Committee Members:
Shannon Henry, photographer from Studio Carre (

Weddings of Distinction is a non-profit networking group specializing in weddings and special events ( They meet monthly at various San Diego County hotels, resorts and special event facilities. Their July meeting will be Tuesday, July 28, 2009, from 11:30am-1:30pm at The Soledad Club (

tips from the pros :: a couple finds a more frugal way to tie the knot

When Michael Kiesling proposed to Heather Hendren at the Hotel del Coronado last fall, they agreed they would like to get married there, too. Then they found out using the historic venue would set them back a minimum of $20,000.

That was their first wake-up call.

“I was never going to touch that. It was obscene,” said Hendren, 32, a finance manager for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Developmental in La Jolla. “With the economy the way it is, you can’t afford to take on that kind of debt. You just can’t.”

An average wedding in America cost nearly $30,000 last year, according to a survey conducted by The Knot Wedding Network. The survey of 18,000 couples married in 2008 also indicated 40 percent of couples marrying this year will curb their wedding budgets by about 16 percent because of the recession.

Through the process of planning their April 25 wedding, Hendren and Kiesling, like many engaged couples, had to find ways to scale back their dreams without sacrificing on the celebration. Every step they made was with an eye fixed squarely on the down economy and shaky job market.

After researching dozens of venues, they chose St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for the ceremony and the Museum of San Diego History in Balboa Park for their reception. The couple was able to rent the museum for $3,000 for the entire day, a $4,000 savings from the least expensive hotel they found.

The Rivini gown Hendren kept gravitating toward in bridal magazines cost $5,800. She ultimately chose an off-the-rack number on sale for $1,600.

The couple’s dream of having a vintage Rolls Royce ferry them about on their special day was quickly nixed when they learned of the Rolls’ $700-an-hour price tag. Their pie-in-the-sky wish of a 16-piece band and gobo lighting at the reception was abandoned altogether.

Hardest of all was having to ruthlessly hone their desired guest list from 200 to 70.

Wedding coordinator Cynthia Zatkin of Cynthia Zatkin Events, who provided Hendren with “day of” services, said having a smaller wedding is the single most effective way a couple can reduce expenses. Guest lists of 50 to 100 are the norm this year, she said, compared to the 300-guest weddings of the past.

“You save so much money in every way,” Zatkin said. “Less food, less tables, fewer centerpieces, fewer linens. I see a lot of clients who still want a lovely event that is gorgeous, but on a smaller budget.”

Zatkin said she is also seeing some couples bypass 2009 in favor of 2010 and beyond.

“People are hoping the stock market will go back up and their portfolios will get bigger,” she said. “By the time they are paying for their wedding, they will have the money to do it.”

Zatkin tells the vendors she works with that business may be down this year and next, but to set their sights on 2011.

“We know it’s coming back,” Zatkin said. “The economy is not in the tank forever.”

Betsy Winsett, co-owner of the Encinitas-based Bridal Bazaar, which produces bridal shows in Southern California, is seeing brides trim their sails in a number of ways. While some brides are delaying their nuptials, she says most want to get started on their new life now and are willing to economize in ways they might not have considered when they first got engaged.

For example, flowers adorning the ceremony now often do double duty at the reception site, Winsett said. To cut expenses, some couples go the D.I.Y. route, making their own favors, place cards and programs, and many opt to marry on a Friday or Sunday rather than the ever-popular Saturday.

Couples are also being more selective in what they pay for, such as hiring a photographer for fewer hours or choosing a smaller tiered cake for reception photos and serving guests less expensive sheet cakes, Winsett said. And brides are getting savvy about asking vendors those seven important words, “Is that the best you can do?”

“The smart vendors recognize during a down economy that they do have to make accommodations,” Winsett said. “Happy brides today tell their friends who are getting married tomorrow and that is part of a vendor’s customer base. The smart vendors are looking at that as an opportunity.”

“Vendors are bending over backwards,” agreed Sharon Cole, a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants and owner of A Dream Wedding By Sharon. “In reality, I think brides are getting the best value for their money this year.”

Nearly every vendor Hendren chose – from her wedding coordinator, an essential expenditure considering her 60-hour work weeks – to the photographer, caterer and Internet chocolatier willing to sell her truffles at 55 cents a piece as opposed to the typical $3 a piece, slashed their prices 15 percent to 40 percent. Even Hendren’s church defrayed the cost of the flowers for the ceremony for a $100 donation and the couple’s promise to leave behind the arrangements for the regular congregation.

“It’s an all-around hurt issue, not just for brides and grooms, but for the vendors and everyone else,” Hendren said just weeks before her wedding. “I’ve been honest with people, saying ‘This is what I’ve got to spend. What is the best package I can get?’

“We had to work so much harder for what we wanted,” Hendren added. “As a financial professional, looking at my spreadsheets, I had no idea in my wildest dreams that it would be this expensive. We easily could have spent double.”

Written by Caroline Dipping for the San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE

real weddings :: brad and ann

Anne and Brad chose to have a San Diego wedding, though their families reside in the Midwest and the South. The couple met while studying in San Diego and thought it would be the perfect location for a destination wedding. The couple chose to hold their event at a San Diego hotel along the bay because it’s sand and boardwalk created a quintessential San Diego feel. Anne and Brad hired wedding planner Cynthia, of Cynthia Zatkin Events, to coordinate every aspect of their day, from start to finish. Anne decided on a very simple motif of black, white, and light pink and the result was stunning. Her inspiration came from a black and white flower pattern piece of paper she found and she worked with Cynthia to design an elegant affair in that motif. The bridesmaids wore black cocktail dresses and carried light pink flowers. The reception combined black and white linens with pink flowers. The programs and menus, in black and white, picked up the floral motif from the inspiration piece of paper. To cap it all off, musicians Silverwood serenaded the guests throughout the ceremony and cocktail hour. The look and music created a serene and intimate affair.

san diego weddings of distinction :: real weddings

tips from the pros :: make-up trends

You will be photographed more on your wedding day than any other day in your life. Your photographs will be viewed and treasured for many years and generations of your family. You’ll be the center of attention–Guaranteed! You probably know the most popular saying heard at a wedding is, Congratulations!. But, running a close second is “You Look So Beautiful!”.

Having the right dress and the right hairstyle are just part of the equation. Having the right makeup application is also critical on your wedding day.
San Diego weddings require no unique preparation for bridal make up than anywhere else. Of course, you should be aware of weather conditions if you have a beach wedding, boat wedding, or use any outdoor wedding location.
A face primer is ideal to neutralize skin imperfections, diminish the appearance of fine lines and increase makeup wearability. Apply over moisturizer or use alone.
Using an eye primer neutralizes discolorations from the brow bone down to the eye lid, thus giving the eye area a perfect canvas for true color as well as hours of long-lasting eye shadow wearability without fading or creasing. Be sure to apply a foundation or concealer and powder to the eyelids.
Foundation should look and feel like a second skin. The more natural looking, the better. Oil-free mineral foundations with long wearing properties are great to use.
When using an illuminating powder on the face, only apply to the areas that you want to highlight and enhance. If applied all over the face, you will look unnatural and your face will look shiny and oily in pictures.
To enhance the eyes, use a soft shimmering eyeshadow on the lid and use a sheer matte finish eyeshadow in crease of eye and under brow. If the eyeshadows are too pearlized under the brow, the area will reflect the light creating a bright spot above the eyes in photographs. To make the eyes look larger and stand out, curl the lashes with an eyelash curler before mascara application. Try a natural style of false lash. Pick a soft pair and cut in half. Apply to the outer half of lash line for a full, yet natural look. Be sure to choose a mascara that’s waterproof; it’ll last longer and withstand tears.
For longer lasting color, line lips as well as entire mouth. Apply lipstick in the same color family. Blot the lips, apply a light dusting of powder, and apply lipstick again. Or try a long-lasting lipstick that’s formulated to stay on ’till the wee hours of the morning.

Lastly – be sure to create a great skin regimen that you’ll stick to, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of water, and exercise to prepare for your big day!

member spotlight :: romantic honeymoons

Susan Ashley Romantic HoneymoonsRomantic Honeymoons and Holiday Travel is San Diego’s Premiere Travel Specialist since 1995. With 14 years of travel experience, you can count on the fact that we have visited the top romantic destinations that most honeymooners want to travel to. We take pride in knowing which places to send our clients to and which ones to stay away from.

Our destination base consists of the Caribbean, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Mexico, Europe Yachting & Cruises. We have a wealth of experience and feedback to draw upon when customizing your memorable honeymoon.

We also offer our clients a “Honeymoon Wishes” gift Registry. Check it out at

Planning your honeymoon through us WILL save you time and money. Most importantly, our services are complimentary! Contact us now to discuss your Island and resort options as well as additional amenities that may be available to you such as: spa treatments, sunset cruises, luau’s, zip-lining thru a forest, swimming with dolphins or even sharks – if you are that adventurous. We have it all and have done it all!

Call us for an appointment at 858-538-9811 or email us at We look forward to working with you to create your most romantic, fun and memorable honeymoon ever!

real weddings :: will and amber

Amber and Will were married in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, a spectacular wedding venue that featured a ceremony site overlooking the San Diego waterfront and a gorgeous large ballroom. The couple hired wedding planner Cynthia, of Cynthia Zatkin Events, to coordinate every aspect of their day from start to finish. Since the bride has a young son and they spend many of their days off at Disneyland, the couple chose the theme of a fairy-tale ball and, by capitalizing on the design skills of Cynthia, created a grand Disney look through their selection of flowers, colors, and decor pieces. Musicians, Silverwood, enhanced the mood by playing Disney love songs for the ceremony and cocktail hour.

San Diego weddings of distinction :: Real Weddings

tips from the pros :: how can I save money on my wedding at the last minute?

The question’s been popped. The date’s been set.

In fact, your wedding is just weeks away and most every detail – from the veil to the venue – has been arranged and paid for. Now, you’re wondering if there are ways to defray some of the mounting costs.

The pro: Cynthia Zatkin, owner of Cynthia Zatkin Events, Signature Weddings & Celebrations

How far into planning can you change things?

It depends on the flexibility of the contract you signed. When it comes to food and beverage at a hotel, that is pretty inflexible. Couples need to consider this when signing that contract, because it is something that is truly set in stone.

But many vendors, if you go to them with financial concerns, will be pretty flexible. A linen specialist, rental company or florist won’t need a finalized contract or final counts until about two weeks before the wedding.

Linen specialist?

One thing a couple can do is increase their table size. By choosing a 72-inch round instead of a 60-inch round, more guests can be seated at fewer tables. A larger table means fewer linens.

Table linens are somewhere around $40 apiece. If you take out a couple of tables, that’s an easy way to whittle some costs.

And flowers?

Centerpieces can cost in the realm of $75 to $300 each, depending on what you are doing. That definitely adds up.

Downsize your flowers. If you thought maybe you wanted a $300 centerpiece, ask your florist what can be done for $100 a centerpiece. Most florists are pretty willing to negotiate.

The way to do that is to say, “This is how much I have to spend. What can you create?”

Are there other ways to economize?

Cut off an hour from the event. This can save you in alcohol, DJ or band, and photography costs.

Wedding receptions don’t need to go more than five hours, and you can shorten it a bit if you want. If you host an open bar, shaving an hour off the event can save significantly. Consider your alcohol cost is essentially $5 per person per hour. If you have 300 guests, you could save nearly $2,000 by losing that last hour.

With the photographer, you don’t need more than six hours. Have the photographer start two hours before the wedding to get the portraits and beautiful shots of the bride and friends while their makeup is still perfect. These are the shots people frame and keep forever, the memory photos.

As a wedding coordinator, I just stack all the events that need to be photographed toward the beginning of the reception. I make sure the cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss, money dance, etc. are all done before the photographer leaves.

A good photographer is $500 an hour. You can save $1,000 by shaving a couple of hours from your photography time.

Any other cost-cutters to consider?

I’m a big fan of using nice chairs, but they can be $8 to $20 a chair. A couple on a budget could use chair covers instead. There are some good companies out there with chair covers renting from $2 to $3.50 a chair.

Downsize the musicians. Instead of having a quartet at $500 an hour, choose a duo for $200 an hour.

Downsize the tiered wedding cake. Wedding cakes range up to $15 a slice depending on the pastry chef. If you do a tiny cake for the ceremony with sheet cakes for serving, it can be $2 to $4 a slice.

Eliminate any kind of “night of” transportation, like a limo or trolley. I’ve seen couples have just as much fun driving their own transportation decorated by the groomsmen. Or, if they are going to be drinking, enlist a friend with a nice car.

I’ve also seen family and friends network to borrow great cars like a red convertible for the getaway car or a big Chevy Suburban to transfer family and friends between church and reception site. There are ways to get creative with transportation without having to pay for it.

Written by Caroline Dipping for the San Diego Union Tribune

tips from the pros :: wedding trends for 2009

If you’re planning a wedding, you’re probably wondering what will be trendy and hip. There’s no denying that 2009 Wedding Trends are heavily influenced by the economy. It seems dreary to be constantly talking about how the economy will impact your life, but fortunately, there are already ways in which a smaller budget has inspired couples to have more creative, intimate, and personal weddings.

These weddings are benefiting from a heavy dose of style, influenced by the many images and ideas circulating around the blogosphere. This chic style will be the second biggest influence this year. Rather than huge weddings, where cost cutting means a lack of details or fun, the 2009 wedding trends are full of fabulous details meant for smaller, affordable weddings. This holds true for San Diego weddings and any other part of the country.
• Small luxurious weddings Budgets might be tight, but that doesn’t mean that luxury and glamour are going away. Instead, couples are opting for intimate glamorous affairs. By having fewer guests, they can have more opulent details, like elaborate favors, beautiful wines and gourmet tasting menus.
• Macaroons The delightful French cookies not only have a delicious almond flavor and light texture, but they’re also stunning as favors or as an accompaniment to wedding cake. 
The newest trend is creating a tower of macaroons instead of a wedding cake,
• Gray For the past few years, chocolate brown has been the “It Color” popping up in weddings as a hip neutral, and combined with bright pink or cheery yellow. While chocolate brown isn’t going anywhere, the hippest new color for 2009 is gray. You may think of gray as too dreary a color for weddings, but on the contrary, it can serve as a sophisticated foil to brighter colors. It’s great paired with pink or yellow, but perhaps the hottest combination this year will be silver and royal purple.
• Affordable and Rewearable Bridesmaid Dresses 2009 brides are considerate and mindful of the economy, so they’re looking for bridesmaid dresses that are truly rewearable and don’t come with a sky-high price tag. For a beach wedding, consider telling your bridesmaids that they can wear a knee-length, spaghetti-strap dress in any shade of blue. They’ll not only be able to shop the department store sales, but your wedding will reflect the beautiful colors of the ocean.
• Photography Registries – A wedding photography registry can help you increase your budget for photography services while offering a convenient gift-giving solution for your guests. Your gift will not only be well-received, but will provide a life-long artistic memory. The Bridal Registry options of today are very different than in the past. Current wedding couples may have been housekeeping for a number of years and no longer require the usual household items and “stuff”. The wedding photography registry allows family, friends and guests to purchase certificates which the bride and groom will use toward their wedding photography.

real weddings :: greg and rachel

Rachel and Greg decided on a La Jolla wedding at the La Valencia Hotel, a gorgeous wedding venue with decor dating back to the 1920’s. They chose wedding planner Cynthia, of Cynthia Zatkin Events, to coordinate their wedding day. Wedding photographer Shannon Henry, of True Photography and Studio Carre’, captured the details of their day exquisitely. Wedding musicians Sterling Strings created ambiance for the ceremony and cocktail hour and wedding DJ Bob Brichmann, of Artistic Productions, entertained the guests and had the dance floor packed for the entire night. Rachel chose a beautiful muted color scheme of taupe’s and ivory’s and received high marks from her bridesmaids by choosing a BCBG cocktail dress for their bridesmaid dresses.

images courtesy of Shannon Henry