Archive for ‘Vendor Interviews’

May 30, 2011

“Going Green” with wedding floral arrangements

Plantable invitations, recyclable wedding programs, organic reception menus and bio-dynamic wines… brides really seem to be going “green” lately! We would like to applaud our clients for being so environmentally conscientious, and we thought we’d do our part as well by suggesting ways for brides to make the greenest part of their wedding, the flowers, become even “greener”! Thanks to Stacey from Stunning Stems, who answered our questions on how to make our flower arrangements environmentally-friendly. We are excited to share them with our readers!

Forego arrangements that require floral foam (Oasis)

Floral foam, also known by the popular brandname Oasis, is used to secure flowers and provide continuous hydration.  As Stacey says, “It works wonderfully for certain designs (pomanders – balls, tall arrangements without stems showing etc.) but unfortunately it is made out of plastic and chemicals that negatively impact the environment: it’s not biodegradable and can leach chemicals in landfills.” Ouch! Stacey suggests: “If possible, opt for designs that don’t require floral foam for stability or where your florist can use other armatures, such as balled up branches or recyclable balls of wire”.

Willow branch floral ball with solar powered lights inside

Reuse containers

Get creative! Work with your florist to incorporate reusable containers into your arrangements. As Stacey said, “For my home I tend to scour garage sales, second-hand and antique stores and trade amongst friends.

Garage sale tea cup with local flowers

I’m now applying this approach to my business and hope to acquire a supply of unusual containers.” Your vendor might be open to being creative and finding other materials: Stacey adds, “I love to make structures from used lumber and found items when possible. These items will then be made available for rental for weddings and events.” Brilliant!

DIY recycled floral tin containers


DIY tin floral finished product

If possible, buy seasonally, locally, and organic

As Stacey says, “By buying seasonally and locally, brides can keep their wedding carbon footprint to a ‘strappy-sandal’.”  According to Stacey, the fuel cost to grow plants in a green house or to import them via plane is huge: the U.S. imports nearly 70% of all its fresh-cut flowers from Colombia, and transportation costs (and the carbon footprint) just to get them to Miami are astronomical: flowers are shipped via a 747 or large cargo plane, which on average burns five gallons of fuel per mile. The distance between Miami and Bogota is 1,500 miles, resulting in 7,500 gallons of fuel each way for each plane used! And this number seems to be increasing annually: in 1971, the U.S. produced 1.2 billion blooms of the major flowers (roses, carnations and mums) and imported only 100 million.  By 2003, it was reverse; the US imported 2 billion major blooms and grew only 200 million. (For more reading on this trend, Stacey suggests a great article on Columbia and the flower industry in the Smithsonian’s February 2011 issue.)

To be fair, Stacey also notes that this is just one side to the story. She adds that William Miller, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, said the carbon footprint of imported flowers is not fully understood yet; however, he states that “There’s definitely more CO2 production in the transportation process of the imported flowers… but in Colombia they can effectively grow roses using less greenhouse emissions because the weather is better. Growers in California might have to heat greenhouses to produce quality flowers.” We are glad to see both sides to the story… but regardless of the pros and cons of transportation and growing costs, we think that buying organic and supporting local growers is always a good idea!

The best option, of course, is to focus on flowers that thrive in the local ecosystem and do not need greenhouses. This also means buying flowers that are in season. Consult your local florist to find out what flowers will be in season during your wedding, and make sure to ask if they use local flowers to cut down on transportation.


Donate your flowers

Sadly, all arrangements must eventually wilt… but they still have some life in them after your wedding day! We absolutely love the idea of sharing the beauty of a wedding day with those who could use a little cheer. Stacey reminded us that “Hospitals, convalescent homes, hospice etc. house many people who could use the positive effect of flowers in their day.” Couples can choose a charity or organization to donate their stems to, and then designate a bridesmaid or groomsman to donate their flowers after the wedding.

Stacey adds that “some cities have organizations that will appropriate flowers and deliver them to folks in need. San Diego has an organization called Blooms from the heart (http://www.Bloomsfrom  Check your community for similar options.”


Opt for potted plants

Aisle ways, centerpieces, and other floral arrangements don’t necessarily have to be cut flowers: opting for potted plants is an incredibly green (and economical!) option for brides. After the wedding, plants are still alive, well, and ready to be transplanted into your home or garden. We love this idea!

We have to admit, we had NO idea that there were organizations like Blooms from the Heart, and wish we had known about before our own weddings! Thanks again to Stacey for giving us these incredibly helpful suggestions for how to make floral arrangements environmentally-friendly. We hope we inspire our brides to not only make their special day colorful and “green”.

May 14, 2011

Vendor Profile: Stunning Stems

One of the best parts about being an event planner is the wonderful people that we get to work with on a daily basis. From beaming brides to creative vendors… we are surrounded by truly inspirational people! We have spent years developing relationships with our vendors and look forward to working with them, but we realize that working with a vendor to plan a wedding is often a very daunting task for a bride! So we recently sat down with Stacey from Stunning Stems to get to know her, and get some advice for our brides on the “dos” and “don’ts” of working with a flower vendor. Thank you, Stacey, for your advice, and for sharing your inspirational story of the birth of Stunning Stems with us and our readers!

LVB: Could you give us a little background of your business: how you got started, how long you have been in business, what the focus of your floral business is, etc?

Stunning Stems: I’ve always had a passion for design and in college I studied many forms – graphic, landscape, and interior.  So when I finally had a chance to take floral design at City College in San Francisco in 1997, it was a natural fit. After taking courses at City College, I worked as a freelance designer while working full time as an IT project manager and executive.

In late 2008, I had a significant loss when my mother, brother and brother-in-law died within a 3 month period.  I knew then that I needed to change my life and take a risk; a risk I always wanted to take but didn’t have the courage.  I decided to start my own business… in 2010, I started Stunning Stems and haven’t looked back.

 LVB: What is your number one tip for a bride working with a florist?

Stunning Stems: If you have determined your budget, please share this in your initial consultation.  There is nothing more disappointing to a bride (or us) if we recommend designs that are outside of their budget.  By having clear guidelines we can recommend budget-friendly flower choice and balance overall arrangement sizes. I work with brides on every budget and I believe the key to loving their flowers on their wedding day is to understand from Day One what can be achieved.

If a bride has a floral vision that requires a floral budget of $10K, but their budget is $2K, then my goal is to help them see all their options allowing them to make an educated decision that aligns with the original vision. We choose key elements from what they love most in the design and play with options to give them the most their money can buy.  They may not get everything they originally wanted, but I find most are pleasantly surprised with the end result [more so than if we were to just make a smaller version of the original inspirational arrangement].

LVB: What kind of research should a bride do before she comes to you for a consultation?

Stunning Stems: On our website we have a wedding questionnaire that we ask brides to fill out prior to our initial consultation.  (We sneaked a peak: it’s a great resource!)

Overall I think the best thing a bride can do is look at their home, their favorite space, and the place they go when they want to relax.  What colors, styles and objects do they like best? Once they understand this [concept], we can apply this to their floral designs.

Many brides already have picked out their dress, determined the wedding colors and the overall look and feel of the wedding by the time they meet with us.  This makes it extremely easy for us to walk through flowers and designs that would complement and accentuate their wedding day.

Thank you to Stacey for her candid answers and best of luck to our brides as they plan their upcoming weddings! Need some more inspiration or help? Make sure to check out her blog coming soon on choosing spring and summer flower arrangements.

May 2, 2011

Vendor Spotlight: Sparkle

Confetti, bubbles, flower petals… there are dozens of ways for guests to send a bride and groom off after their big day, but few are as stunning as the sparkler.

Shannon Ho Photography

Little did we know… not all sparklers are created equal! We recently met up with Libba, owner of Sparkle, a company whose long-lasting sparklers have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Modern Bride, Brides, InStyle, Southern Living and The Knot magazines, as well as in movies and a recent Coldplay tour. Whew! Libba’s certainly been busy since she and her husband opened their store eight years ago, but she was kind enough to take some time and answer our questions regarding this unique send off, plus provide our brides with some important tips when it comes to using her product. Thank you, Libba, for the answers to our questions. We look forward to seeing our brides use your sparklers during their send-offs!

1. What was your inspiration for starting Sparkle?

When my husband and I were 27, we attended 12 weddings… for 8 of those, the bride and groom did a “sparkler send-off” but used the small 10 inch sparklers which burn out in 45 seconds.  For my wedding three years prior, I did a sparkler send-off, something I had never seen before. as a nod to my family who has been in the fireworks business for over 50 years.  After a little research, I learned that no one knew 20 and 36 inch sparklers existed. I decided to take a risk, set-up a website, buy an ad in Martha Stewart Weddings and see what happened.  We have had orders every day since for the last 8 years.

2. Could you provide me with a brief overview of your products/services? Which is your most popular product?

We offer 10, 20 and 36 inch sparklers.  Our sparklers burn the brightest and longest of any sparklers I have seen on the market.  Our 36 inch sparklers are the most popular as you only have to give one per guest and they last for 4 minutes each.  With the 4 minutes, you have plenty of time to get the sparklers list (and if you have 200 guests, it takes a little time), your guests lined up and plenty of time for a grand exit.

3. Any advice when it comes to setting up the perfect sparkler photo?

The more sparklers lit, the better.  Have guests hold two if there are any left over.  And be sure to tell your photographer in advance so if they are unfamiliar with photographing sparklers, they can study up beforehand.

Melanie Mauer photography

4. Any other advice for brides planning their wedding day?

Have fun, enjoy the process.  I love that brides tell me that their sparklers photo is their favorite and that sparklers were the detail most guests remembered.   They also laugh when they realize they only spent about $100.  Sparkers provide quite the impact for such a little amount of money.

Thanks again to Libba for answering our questions. We loved perusing the many amazing photos on her website of couples using sparklers, and can’t wait for our future brides to create their own brilliant, unforgettable moments!

April 23, 2011

A Wedding Nightmare: Why You May Want to Hire a Professional Wedding Planner

The Stressed Out Bride

Are you on the fence about hiring a wedding planner/coordinator?  As a planner, of course, I recommend that you hire one, and do it soon.  I could go on to list the obvious pros for hiring a planner, but I’m sure you’ve already seen that list on every other major wedding site.  So, let’s take a look at things from a different point of view.  A dear friend of mine who is an on site venue coordinator, not a wedding coordinator shared a great story about a bride and groom who did not have a wedding planner.

“I am the venue on site coordinator, this means that I handle rental requests and walk clients through the process of using our facility for special events.  From this vantage point, I am responsible for having the venue ready for the client’s set-up team and then monitoring the facility during the event, not their wedding.  I don’t really have any responsibilities as a planner in these instances.

Here’s my account of a wedding that I witnessed first hand as the venue coordinator.  Guess what, the bride and groom didn’t hire a planner! They are a perfectly lovely couple.  Sweet, in love, and blissfully unaware of what happened (and didn’t happen as they wished) at their reception venue while they were at the church.  (Let me preface my story by saying it’s very hard to stand by and watch things fall apart, I like to have my ducks in a row.)


It’s a beautiful Saturday in August.  The lovely couple has planned a late afternoon ceremony and the guests are scheduled to arrive for the reception at 5:00 p.m.  I arrive at the venue at 12:30 p.m. to do a walk-through and check thermostats, turn on lights, etc.  (The venue policies allow clients to have access to the facility 4 hours prior to the event start time.)  I’m expecting vendors to begin arriving at 1:00 p.m.  The bride confirmed with me the week before that everything is all set and everyone knows when to arrive and where to deliver.

The tables and chairs are all set up but design elements like linens, floral, candles, etc. still need to be set up.  This is perfectly normal in terms of event set up and nothing seems out of place at this point.  Until I walk into the office and find a conference room full of flowers.  Hmmm.  A few questions later and I learn that the florist was told to bring the flowers over “sometime in the morning”.  Since the linens had not yet been delivered or placed, she couldn’t set up her centerpieces.  So, into the conference room they went.  Where was the florist now?  She had to go to her next delivery.  Who’s going to move all these flowers? Seems no one knows.

Disapointed Groom

Another hour goes by and we still don’t have linens on the tables.  I decide to make some calls and track down the caterer.  There’s no one else around from the family or wedding party, so it appears that no one has been given the task of checking on the reception set up.  The caterer tells me that yes they are providing the linens but had planned on bringing them at 4:00 p.m. when they arrive to set up.  Do you see the problem yet?  We now have two vendors (the florist and the caterer) that are dependent on each other who do not have an integrated timeline.  (Wedding day timelines are VERY important.  All vendors should have one a week before the wedding, and your wedding planner will do this)

I ask the caterer to send someone over with the linens early so that the flowers can be placed.  He happily agrees and it looks like things are back on track.  But, we still don’t have anyone to place the flowers.  (You can probably guess at this point how those flowers are going to make it to the tables.)  The linens arrive in a flash and since no one else is around I begin covering the tables, even though this is not my job (Yes, this would be a job for the wedding planner, or someone that she delegates to.)

Not The Emotion You Want To Be Feeling On Your Wedding Day

Red flag number three!

Red Flag, Warning!

We only have linens for the guest tables.  Another call to the caterer reveals that his contract states they only provide linens for the buffet and guest tables.  All others are the responsibility of the client.  That means that the cake table, DJ table (which proves to be a problem later), gift table, sweetheart table, and candy bar are all left bare.  Hmmm, ok well maybe the bride is sending someone over soon with specialty linens? I wouldn’t know because I was never given a wedding day timeline and there is no wedding planner to ask (Again, VERY important, people!)

Next up the cake delivery.   I point her to the cake table (still with no linen) and she looks at me expectantly with the obvious question.  At this point, I can’t stand for this and decide to go rummage through the storage closet to see if we have any linens that could do the job.  I find a somewhat respectable white linen and the cake lady and I make the best of it.  Did the florist leave any extra flowers for decorating around the cake, she asks.  Well, no.  Was she supposed to?  No one seems to know.  The cake table remains bare!

Onto the candy bar.  A friend of the bride shows up and begins unloading boxes of candy, glassware and all the fixing’s for a candy bar.  Everything but the linens, that is.  That’s right! You guessed it! She doesn’t have any linens for all those extra tables either.  She also confirms that the bride didn’t make arrangements for those tables.  What to do, what to do! ( a wedding planner would of thought of this)  Back to the storage closet I go only to find one less than perfect round linen (It’s for an oblong table not round.)  But wait, the office manager at the venue thinks she has two tablecloths in the trunk of her car left over from a previous event.  They are clean enough and our this is our only option so we grab them. (used table cloths!eeek)  Candy bar friend begins her work.

In the meantime, the DJ arrives to set up and asks for a table linen. (Seriously, this should not be this big of a problem, but clearly the communication ball was dropped.) He ends up using two round linens overlapped on an eight-foot table.  Not pretty.  Now the candy bar friend resurfaces and says, “Where do I need to put the price list for the cash bar?”  What?!  Seems the bride and groom decided to change the hosted bar to a cash bar at the last minute and they didn’t let us know.  (Don’t ever do this without consulting your venue.  Cash bars require different licensing and often that means a special occasion permit. And if you had a wedding planner they would have been able to save you enough money so you wouldn’t have to hold a cash bar, tacky). Now I’m off to confer with the bar service to confirm that we are all set with appropriate licensing.  When the bartender arrives he’s very frazzled and moving a lightning speed.  No one else seems to notice that he could have a problem so I step in to see how I can help (not my job).  I lend a hand and chat away only to find out that the original person scheduled for this evening backed out an hour ago and he was called in at the last minute.  He has exactly 30 minutes to unload supplies, prep the bar and get his act together (a wedding planner would have been handy here)

Timing Is Everything

At this point, I realize that the bride and groom miscalculated on the travel time between the church and the reception venue.  I feel obligated to tell the vendors (like caterer, bar service, DJ) that I believe the guests will be arriving about 20 minutes earlier than anticipated.  What’s the big deal? A lot of last minute preparations typically happen at the reception venue within those last 20 minutes.  Think candle lighting, bar set up, catering prep.  Everyone takes note and scrambles to adjust their timing.  Without the heads-up from me (should have been the wedding planner), the wedding guests would have arrived on a scene of vendors rushing around to complete their set-up.  Not something you want as a first impression for your party.

So right on cue everyone arrives and the party begins.  Have I mentioned the importance of a timeline?  Throughout the evening, the DJ should keep the festivities rolling by announcing important moments such as the arrival of the bride and groom, the toast, the cutting of the cake, the first dance.  Not at this wedding.  He didn’t have a timeline!  So, the bride herself had to keep giving him cues for announcements.  It should be the other way around (poor bride).


Did the guests have fun? Absolutely!  Were the bride and groom blissfully married? Yes.  But, it could have been so much better with the help of a good planner.  The venue coordinator is not really responsible for styling your event or coordinating your vendors (unless they are contracted to do so).   Why were so many things overlooked?  I believe the bride and groom just didn’t know about all the details that needed attention.  They didn’t know to ask about linens when meeting with the caterer.  They didn’t know that the vendors should have been scheduled for deliveries in a specific order.  They just didn’t realize.  They weren’t available during set-up (for obvious reasons) to point people in the right direction and to double check the deliveries.”

Here’s my disclaimer – yes in a RARE instance, you can plan your own wedding and handle the day-of details with the help of some good friends and family.  Is it as easy as it should be? No, there is plenty of stuff that you will not think of that a wedding planner will.

Now, it’s up to you to decide.  How would you like to spend your wedding day?

Bride Having Fun On Her Wedding Day

February 6, 2011

Trudys: Gorgeous with Curves

Not every bride is a “perfect 10”. In fact, sizes 14 and 16 are the two most common sizes ordered according to a bridal gown designer. This is apart of why Trudys has their annual Gorgeous with Curves Event and line. The “Gorgeous With Curves” line includes approximately 25 wedding gowns, in sizes 16 thru 26. Trudy has over 30 years’ experience in their salon, and has often heard customer’s comment on their sizes and shapes. Today’s fuller-figured brides are more common and of course simply want to look fantastic – just like anyone else. Yet these ladies usually assume that their options are limited to modest styles or those designed to conceal certain aspects of their bodies. We want to celebrate curves, with Trudy and the rest of you Brides on Sunday March 6th, 2011 at the Pruneyard Plaza Hotel. There will be featured Bridal Gowns by MoriLee, Pronovias, Enzoani, Alfred Angelo, Casablanca, and many more.