member spotlight :: ann’s plans

San Diego wedding coordinator Ann, of Ann’s Plans, can provide you with a personalized planning checklist, calendar and wedding day timeline. Advice on customs and etiquette, and referrals for high-quality wedding vendors are just some of the bonus features of Ann’s Plans. Your wedding will reflect your personality and fulfill all your dreams, while presenting your family and friends with the most fabulous party. You can choose services from complete event planning, month-of assistance, and day-of coordination. Ann’s Plans specializes in stress-free brides. Visit her WEBSITE OR take a moment to email her today! ann@annsplans.com

real weddings :: seth and marie

La Valencia Hotel weddingimages courtesy of Sara France

Marie and Seth were married in La Jolla at the La Valencia Hotel, a quintessential old Hollywood wedding venue that featured a grassy ceremony site overlooking the La Jolla waterfront and a classic black and white ballroom. The couple hired wedding planner and Weddings of Distinction member Cynthia, of Cynthia Zatkin Events, to coordinate every aspect of their day from start to finish. Since Marie has a fantastic tattoo across her back, Cynthia worked with her and local gown designer Valena Valentina to create a custom wedding dress that showcased the bride’s gorgeous back. For décor, the bride chose bright pink flowers for the ceremony and cocktail hour and then monochromatic white, green, and gold flowers and linens for the dinner reception. The colors and style blended with the atmosphere of the old Hollywood hotel. DJ Andy Hagenah, who is also a member of Weddings of Distinction, spun tunes that kept the dance floor packed. The highlight of the evening was when the groom’s two teenage daughters showcased their talents by serenading the bride and groom and then pushing Andy aside to spin 30 minutes of house music. After the wedding day, Marie sent wedding coordinator Cynthia a note saying that her guests so enjoyed the day that they were describing it as “the best wedding ever”.

member spotlight :: cynthia zatkin events

cynthia zatkinsCynthia is a native of La Jolla, a graduate of La Jolla High, and an alumna of UCLA. She began event planning through non-profit work in her early 20’s, planning conferences and both national and international philanthropic projects. In her late 20’s, she took a position at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla as Catering Manager and continued to develop her event planning expertise. Then in March 2005, Cynthia launched CZ Events. Because of her hotel experience, Cynthia sees each event as one that involves a community of creative people. She excels in bringing together the expertise of various vendors to create an event that together showcases their individual talent in a triumphant whole.

What Cynthia had to say:
“Why weddings? People ask me this a lot. Simply, I love weddings! I love being part of a family’s most memorable occasion. It is wonderful to plan and create and then step back and watch the joy on the faces of those gathered. Celebrations are one of the most basic parts of humanity. We have celebrated rites of passage since civilization began. I feel connected to what is most important in life when I create the wonderful occasions that are part of each family’s story. I hope to able to create your wonderful occasion for you.”

tips from the pros :: 10 tips for planning a wedding

Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting and rewarding things a person will ever do, but it is also one of the most stressful.
The following is a list of tips for brides planning weddings in San Diego or anywhere else…

1. Start planning as early as possible. Places and service providers are booked earlier and earlier each year. So to ensure that you get exactly what you want, start early. It also gives you plenty of time to find and investigate other options if your first choice does not work out.

2. Know your service providers. The reputation of the service providers you choose is of the utmost importance. Avoid unpleasant surprises on the day of your wedding by selecting service providers with impeccable records.

3. Put everything in writing. When you book your service providers, anything that you discuss, including special arrangements or deals that you want included in your package for the quoted price, make certain is written in the contract. People can’t remember promises they made to you a year ago verbally, so make sure all the details are written in the signed contract.

4. Be organized. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks ahead of you, stay organized. Make an action plan (by week) of what you are going to do, and keep track of progress. This will help you to keep your thoughts and plans in order.

5. Pursue proper etiquette. Following proper etiquette has two advantages. Firstly, you will avoid embarrassing social blunders that can ruin your special day. Secondly, weddings are an emotional event for everyone involved, not just the bride and groom. It is important to keep all relevant parties happy and excited. By following the proper rules of etiquette, you can never go wrong.

6. Invite people to participate in your wedding party because they care about you, not out of obligation. I can’t tell you how often a bride asks someone to be in her wedding out of obligation, and is only frustrated by that individual’s lack of interest and participation. This is one of the most important days of your life. Only involve people who genuinely share in your happiness and love. If they don’t, there is no way they can behave the way you might expect them to. It is impossible.

7. Watch your budget. It is very easy to get drawn into spending more on your wedding than you planned or may be able to. There are so many wonderful choices available to brides that you should not have to put yourself in debt to have the wedding you want. If you start out with a budget, stick to it and find alternatives that allow you to do that. You do not want to start your new life with your partner paying off wedding bills for years to come!

8. Compromise. Knowing how to compromise will save a lot of stress through the planning process. You, your groom, and families all should enjoy the wedding and be proud of it. The bride and groom should do what makes them happy, but also be open to suggestions and sensitive to the feelings of those around you.

9. Confirm and follow-up. Make sure as the date gets closer, about 2 months before, that you follow-up with your service providers such as the band or DJ, limos, photographer, florist, and videographer to confirm your arrangements and provide any last minute instructions. It will make you feel secure and will ensure that they understand your expectations. This is also a task a good wedding coordinator can assist with.

10. Relax and enjoy! It is a fun, happy, beautiful time, especially in San Diego! Do not let the planning process mask that for you. Take moments to step back and enjoy what is happening, especially the day of your wedding. Just enjoy it. You have done all you can and it is in the hands of the trustworthy people you have hired.

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!

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 :: 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.
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images courtesy of Shannon Henry