Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Champion We Needed

I have to give a separate and very special shout out to the Crystal Cathedral - we've all had a pretty tough year, and they are no exception. Well I'd say they've probably had it a bit tougher than most of us - with not so good press.

I have to tell you all - I had really just about given up hope on finding a replacement venue and was just heartbroken and sick for our couples at the thought of having to tell them some very sad news.

I am so eternally grateful that I never had to do that! Kari Moeller who is the Wedding Coordinator for the Cathedral was quick to respond. I mentioned in an earlier post that they'd contacted me to inquire about working together next year - and I certainly hope now that all is said and done that they still want to =)

They were so very welcoming to our cause, our couples and our staff. They were kind, gracious, professional and such an extreme pleasure to work with. If you haven't ever been there, take the time and go - if you've been there before - go back and say hello. Tell them we sent you!

Perhaps we will even see you there!

Hair and Makeup Teams

Our brides were certainly all ready for their closeups thanks to an amazing group of volunteers!

Our hair and make up teams came from salons large and small, some near and some as far away as Temecula! They all shared the same spirit as everyone else involved in this amazing day! Please take time and thank each one of these companies by referral, phone call, email or even stopping by and thanking them for making a difference for a bride!


Each of these folks has their own style, technique and charm. They came to us from all over Southern California - Our staff and brides were so thankful and grateful to have been able to work with them. Please show your appreciation for their kind and giving hearts by visiting their sites, and referring them to your friends. Help us reward them. I am still getting logo information for one more, so please check back.

Jeff Almquist came to us through Event Planner Michelle Brydenthal and stepped in to be Christine and Edwins Photographer.

Christina is actually a client of mine - we are helping her with her upcoming wedding next year. When we told her about this event, she was happy to step in and help. She spent the day with Nicole and Scott, and I am so eager to see the results.

I've known Lynn and Jon from Create and Capture for a while now, and was honored to have them jump in and volunteer for this event. They worked with Susan and David from sun up to sun down, and beyond - I cannot wait to see their sneaks!

David worked with LaShawn and Todd to ensure that every detail was captured even with the super late start they got for the day.

Jaime was my 4am find - and I cannot thank her enough - she jumped in and captured Amber and Wesleys magical journey through the day. She sent me to her blog and gave me permission to repost here.

Justin was referred to us by one of our Dream Team members who could not be present. He, along with Cody Beach (another referral sent to us) worked with Jessie and Trinidad, and made them feel truly special. Like royalty!

Devin Workman is a man of few words, but he makes up for it in the magic he captures o camera. He spent the day with Colleen and Terry.

Again, thank you to each and every one of you - I know these couples will cherish the memories you captured on film. Picutres speak a thousand words alright, but wedding pictures - they speak happiness, tears, joy and hope.

Here's to our hopegivers!

Those who made this wedding possible....

There are soooo many people that need to be thanked - and I fully intend to thank each and every one of you! From the get go I said it takes a wedding community to make a wedding like this for 7 couples possible.

I need to start with the Angel Bride Dream Team, for without whom none of this is possible - they are the very core of what we do.... and consist of:

These people are the core of the Angel Bride Program, and I love them all dearly! I HAD to list my logo too, because my staff at ETM is all volunteer - they give and give without expecting and it's amazing.

I love you all dearly and can never thank you enough!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Big Day - Come What May....we did it!

Saturday, December 18th, 2010..... the day started for me at 4:00 when I did a quick check of email (in the dark so as to not wake the others that slept in the living room with me) only to find that not one, but two photographers and a makeup artist were no longer available. Taking into consideration the week I've had, nothing phased me anymore- I'd come to realize that this day was going to happen regardless - and it was all larger than life and as a human it was beyond my control. Throwing caution to the wind one last time, I went to craigslist and facebook - my two best communication methods beyond this of course - and put my plea to the world. Almost immediately I had a photographer - okay, one down. I continued reaching out until about 5 when the alarm went off. Turned it off and layed back down on the couch for another hour or so.

Got up, sent a text to Chara, who thought she might have been lucky and found a venue for the receptions to take place. Turns out it could not be ready in time, so we ended up with no venue for a reception for all, not for lack of trying however.

We set about picking up all the items that had been donated - this included food donated by Kittys Catering in Huntington Beach, sodas, cases and cases of them (by a kind and generous donor who wished to remain anonymous), eggrolls, cookies donated by Jacks Bakery of Garden Grove, cupcakes courtesy of Albertsons in Fountain Valley and of course the amazing Couples Cakes courtesy of Artistic Cakes in Fountain Valley. As we worked our way down our checklist checking mail and text as we heard the phone go off - one by one the missing people came to us, referred by facebook friends and strangers. It was amazing and magical - but of course it would be! Nothing about this process has been anything less than such.

Quick phone call to the local dance studio that rented it's small dance hall to us for a song for our bridal ready room. All set and ready to go - excellent!

We arrived at the Cathedral to began the setup on site - the staff was welcoming and things came together quickly. They are a very well oiled machine and we were so humbled, honored and happy to work with them. Friday at rehearsal they told us that while they have done six weddings in a day, never at one time. Watching them work you would never have known that! Our bridal parties began to arrive - the excitement and nerves evident in the smiles. As if the big guy was smiling down on us, the rain let up a bit as the brides began to arrive. Gowns up in the air as they traversed the parking lot dodging puddles, big ole smiles on their faces! That was so awesome to see!

I learned that there was a film crew on site interviewing the brides - very cool! What a treat for them (I learned later it was the Register). A quick check in to make sure all was good and off I went to answer more questions, get boutaineers on male bridal party members and seat guests.

Cathedral staff starts gathering and lining up the bridal parties for six of our couples (the 7th is on the freeway in traffic) A bit of confusion about the whereabouts of one of the marriage licenses, a quick trip to the hotel and all was great - nerve wracking but great. I snapped a quick picture of the grooms along with our Pastors for the day - Rev. Dr. John O'Keefe, Rev. John Ogannes Agayan and Crystal Cathedral Staff Pastor Bruce Goodrich.

Still hoping couple number 7 arrives in time.....and then learned our bride was not
even dressed. Oh, dear.

5:00 -
Holding for the friend to arrive back with the marriage license from the car. Our runners deliver it to Kari and we are good to go - queue the organist, and Canon begins. The bridal parties all walk into place as we get the brides lined up and fluff their trains. The music changes and on go the fountains up the center aisle -loud, dramatic and simply breathtaking! Up go the brides, one by one to their grooms, all beaming with smiles and a sense of accomplishment - quietly standing in the back of the church (okay I will admit, not so quietly - I always cry at weddings, especially Angel Bride weddings). Pastor Goodrich welcomes the crowd and says - well, here we are - who'd have thought? and the gallery broke out into spontaneous applause. Very cool I might add.

Still no 7th couple, only via text updating as they made their way to us. The ENTIRE ETM crew sans myself and the two girls downstairs clearing the bridal room is outside (in the rain) on standby to run the missing bride into the room.

Our missing couple arrives, but neither the marriage certificate (they're already married) or the gown is not with them - the gown in another car! Oh MY goodness! Ok, well if they hurry they can have their marriage blessed.

Pastor Goodrich asks the grooms to kiss their brides!!! Reverends O'Keefe and Ogannes pronounce each couple individually and the gallery erupts into loud cheers!

Sometime around 6:30 or so I finally had time to speak with the camera crew and actually enjoyed having an on camera interview - was asked afterwards to take some pictures with one of our brides, which I happily did!

Our 7th couple? Well the bride got dressed and amongst alot of confusion we got them up to take pictures. Rev. Ogannes was kind enough to perform a blessing for them at another venue later.

As everyone left, we divided up the food we had been given amongst them, gave them their cupcakes and couples cake - and sent them on their way with a smile on their faces and a warm sense of accomplishment in ours.

A day that could have been incredibly sad for our couples turned out to be, I believe something they will remember for a very long time!

Heres to you all - thank you so much for allowing us to help make your weddings happen, and thank you for your encouragement and kind words as we worked our way, together through a very trying and tenuous week. May you all have more happiness than you can imagine, more laughter than should be legal, and long lives together!

The final week....

The final week of any wedding is stressful, it's inevitable and just part of the process, right? Muliply that times seven and you'll have an idea of this last week for us as we worked to finalize all the details for these 7 simultaneous weddings.

When we started out on this journey, we knew it would be challenging, but never in our wildest dreams did we imagine just how challenging the final week would be. It started like any normal week, until Monday morning I received a phone call at work that my mama, a very special member our our ETM team, had been rushed to the hospital! I spent the day with the family, trying my best to keep up with the questions of the brides, planners and vendors while keeping tabs with doctors, nurses and family members. (Mom is on the mend, although still hospitalized though.)

Got home from the hospital to check emails to find a couple inquiries about rain plans. Sent a quick email to the event organizer to inquire about rain plans to soothe nerves of the inquiring brides and then went to bed after a very long day.

On Tuesday the decision was made to cancel Benefitall, due primarliy to the rain - no doubt a difficult decision for the organizers after all the planning put into the event; unfortunately, that decision also eliminated the venue for these 7 weddings, now just four days out. At the time that I should have been finalizing delivery times of the donated tables, chairs, linens and food - I suddenly found myself scrambling to try and find another venue able and willing to house these weddings - there was just no way I could call these brides and cancel or ask them defer without trying to find an option. That would be just so devastating to them, and I couldn't do it without giving it everything I could to save it. I just had to try - I gave myself 24 hours and began emailing, and had my team start calling. I emailed the other planners to let them know of the decision and got on the hunt! Between us all, we called hotels, restaurants, showrooms, office and warehouse realtors; one of the first emails I sent out was to the Crystal Cathedral who'd inquired about working together with our Angel Brides program next year - the second was to Lori @ the Register to see if she might be able to get a quick post up seeking help. I emailed Jennifer Bjorklund @ Channel 4 for the same thing - she was out of the country, but forwarded message to her editorial group; many people had space, no one had space they could, or would donate. Running out of time.....

Then along comes Kari Moeller and the Crystal Cathedral. They opened their hearts, their doors and welcomed our couples into their main sanctuary - their staff volunteered their time and helped us to take what could have been a tremendously sad day and turn it into something our brides will remember forever.

Kari, Pastor Goodrich, and Volunteering Staff members, from the depths of my soul, I thank you!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Wedding gown for All! - What a beautiful day it was

When our story was aired on Channel 4 news in October, it resulted in my phone lighting up the moment it was done. The very first call was from Sharrell Martin, a designer in LA -she wanted to become involved. Two days later, she calls me and tells me that she's got a few gowns for us - 20 to be exact. Many of them brand new with tags!

Sharrells career prohibited her in being as involved as she originally wanted to be, and she was so saddened to not be able to have the girls come to her studio to try on the gowns, but we were still able to obtain these amazing gowns yesterday! They are beyond words! We immediately got them hung and sorted by size and began making the phone calls to our brides that they could come try them on!

I had the great honor of meeting Sarah, her mom and sisters - Aleksa and I sat and listened to the ooohs, ahs, laughter and giggling as she tried on the gowns until she found the one that spoke to her. She now makes two brides have now brought their moms, sisters, friends, and dreams and have walked away with a smile the size of Texas and a wedding gown that just sparkles, shimmers, and further restored a feeling of hope that was once fleeting dream is truly coming true in just 22 days, as one of them reminded me today! Of course we took pictures of them and sent them to Sharrell so she could experience the joy that she brought to others, even if from afar.

It was a beautiful day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"I feel like Santa"

What a thing to be quoted on....lol but I'm okay with it. I can only imagine what Santa must feel as he spreads holiday cheer around the world. What I experienced for three days, as I worked my way through the list, leaving non descript messages to please call me back - and then working my way through the typical questions - is this for real? it sounds too good to be true...what's the catch?

Last Friday, Aleksa and I had the honor of being part of in person notifications for two of our local couples. First was Nicole and Scott - they were nominated by Nicoles sister Missi, who along with their dad, called a family meeting to get Nicole and Scott there - this crazy woman with red hair walks up to them as they're gathered waiting to go into the restaurant and starts blabbing about I'm a wedding planner, blah blah - and then OH by the way, you've been nominated AND selected. Here's a sample of your invitation you're getting married in four weeks! Aleksa was recording and you didn't really hear much until the entire group of 20 or so? roared, applauded, cried, hugged, and experienced more joy than should be legal - oh that was me. The best part was when Nicole's mom could not believe that the wedding date was set for THIS December! We left them to enjoy the rest of their dinner and family night, got in the car and headed to our next stop - Amber and Wesleys. As we're on the 405, my head was just clearing and Aleksa and I were figuring out how we felt about what just happened...my phone rings and it's Lori (Basheda). I told her we'd just told the first couple and she said that's great - how did it go? I say OMG it was amazing - I kinda feel like Santa Lori - they were sooooo happy!

We arrived at Wesley and Ambers Townhouse to find Ambers mom, Patti, waiting for us in the street - she's so excited to tell them the good news - now, picture this - they are upstairs expecting moms boyfriend (who they've just been told is going to propose to her that night)as a rouse to keep them there instead of going to the grocery store with Wesleys dad for Thanksgiving food. We walk up the stairs and find Amber on the porch with Wesleys dad and Bryce, Amber and Wesley's son. Amber walks into the house with a puzzled look on her face (later she told us that she went in to tell Wesley that there were these two ladies walking in with her mom, NOT the boyfriend). Patti invites us into the house and despite her best efforts not to give it away, she starts crying. Poor Amber is trying to figure out what's going on, why is her mom crying and these women in her living room, one with a phone in her hand pointed at them... so I introduce myself as a wedding planner, blah blah, and as I get to the part about the which couples were selected, Patti cries out, "YOU GUYS WON!" Immediately, the room goes into a quiet stupor, everyone was so completely surprised. Bryce was smiling (cause grandma told him about it already) - even Wesley's dad could not fight the tears anymore. They were so excited and their home was filled with a joy they thought would not come. Will upload the video soon.

This feeling of joy, I learned over and over as I made my phone calls throughout the weekend (one I returned during my wedding last Saturday). One of our brides to be honred didn't recognize my number so she wouldn't answer the phone no matter how many times I called - until I sent a message saying PLEASE call me - I have amazing news - 'who is this'? was the response. "I'm the one you wrote to about getting married at Angel Stadium, please call me I have great news"....my phone immediately rang and it was her! She was at a family gathering at his familys home - so I asked her to put the phone on speaker. More joy -

What an absolutely tremendous, overwhelming experience this has been and continues to be not just for the couples and their families, but for all of us involved too. We thank each and every one of you who've helped to make this possible for these couples!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The BIG Announcement is here!

Over 75 nominations from all over southern California were submitted! Your stories were heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspiring - I have cried many tears for each of you. Some of you don't even know you were nominated by a loved one - I wonder what your reaction will be if you are one of the chosen? What a tough tough decision to pick only 10 - thank goodness the decision was not mine alone to make! Several people have had the joy and honor of reading them all and have submitted their top choices. We contacted our now friends Lori Basheda of the OC Register and Jennifer Bjorlund of NBC4 to let them know we are ready to announce - and now for the news. Benefitall Director Sharon Girulat released this:

Thursday, November 18th, 2010, Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Benefitall Angel Bride Couples Announced: Sharon Girulat, of SG & Associates, and Erin Taylor, Angel Brides Founder of Events TaylorMade, joined together at Angel Stadium, to announce the couples selected for the Angel Bride Weddings to take place during Benefitall. Benefitall is a full day of gifting for all Southern Californians, scheduled for December 18th, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

The Angel Bride selection committee independently reviewed all submissions and jointly selected the ten most deserving couples, ensuring representatives from each of the counties. The selection process took into consideration not only the 'desire' for a wedding and the couple's situations, but the degree to which the couple sacrifices for others in deference to their own needs. The lucky couples are:

Orange County:
Nicole Parks & Scott Krochmalny
Amber Gulla & Wesley Christy
Colleen Kelly & Terry Saurwein

LA County:
Christine Ramirez & Edwin Carranza
LaShawn & Todd Barnett
Jeremy Hayes & Judith

San Bernadino:
Sara Gonzales & Alfredo Saldana

Susan Armitt & David Riha

San Diego:
Trinidad McGee III & Josephine Felaca

USMC - Camp Pendleton:
Erin Boucher & Brandon

Visit www.benefitall.org for details and to register for Benefitall as an individual, business or non-profit, volunteer, donor or participant. There is no fee for the all-day family-oriented holiday event. Ball@benefitall.org or 949.485.5098, Inquiries welcomed.

We have contacted all the area papers for the regions - OC Register, Press Enterprise, San Diego Union Tribune and the LA Times and will keep you posted as the stories break - or if you see them first, let us know!

Congratulations to our 10 amazing couples!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What an amazing response!

To say the response has been good would be the understatement of all understatements! I have never been so touched, moved and humbled! There are parents nominating their children - sisters nominating one another; cousins and in some instances almost strangers! I cannot wait to share some of the stories! The selection committee has their work cut out for them that is for sure....if it were up to me, I would grant them all of course - and who knows? perhaps over time we will indeed be able to do so. But for this event we can only select 10. ONLY ten, she says like that's a small number :)

The response from vendors has been equally as humbling - within minutes of the story airing on Channel 4 my phone quite literally lit up with emails, texts and missed calls. We have been very fortunate to have so many wanting to be part of something so magic and inspiring.

In less than one month - 20 days to be exact - we will be notifying our lucky couples of what is in store for them. I wonder if they have any idea of what we've been able to accomplish so far - and it's no one person - it's the work of many individuals inspired to give what they can to make a dream come true.

If you know of a couple who has given up hope of their dream wedding, we are still taking nominations. Use this link to nominate them:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Start Spreadin the News....and then some!

It was very interesting to see what pieces of the 30 minute interview they selected to use. Of course they showed me all teary weapy and quivering - we all saw that one coming, right? The minute the story aired on the news, my phone, email and Facebook began sounding off - we experienced a surge in nominations and volunteers who want to be part this amazing day celebrating humanity and its charity.

Did you see it? if not, here is the link for it -
I'm afraid you'll have to copy and paste as the link insertion doesn't seem to work for me.

First out of the gate? A costume designer from LA who is interested in helping however they can. Another photographer, videographer, makeup artist - one of the photographers and his wife an amazing makeup artist both from Kerrys wedding posted on my Facebook simply, we're in if you need us!

This morning I received an email from a coworker from 13 years ago wanting to help and be part of this magical day - oh and she knows people who would also like to help.

I continue to be amazed by the power not only of the media helping to get word out, create a buzz - but by the power of people wanting nothing more than to be part of something good and helping others. What a tremendous thing!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

...the word continues to spread. NBC Interview

I look at my phone and see a phone number I don't recognize, so of course wait for it to go to voicemail (sorry Jennifer =/) and dialed into my voicemail as soon as the little icon pops up.

"Hi Erin, this is Jennifer Bjorklund from NBC4 - I'd like to interview you about Angel Brides...." AFTER I stopped giggling with excitement, I made contact with her -we set our interview time and met at the Stadium under the big red hats - not so ironically the exact spot that our couples will exchange their vows in December. The interview was amazing! I kept going through all the key points in my head, reading my mental notes (hopefully my eyes were flittering around like some mad woman) - and yes I must admit, I teared up at one point. I tried sooo hard not to, but I guess when you're as passionate about something as we are about our brides it's just so hard NOT to. She spent some time this morning checking out my blog, our website and had so many nice things to say about what we're doing. What a tremendous woman with a kind and giving heart and I'm so very grateful to her for shining some light on our efforts to support our Angel Brides and those who love them.

Oh, and her cameraman Kristopher - another tremendous individual - offered his services as one of the photographers that we will need for the day.

The story will air tonight during the 5 pm hour.

What a tremendous, fabulous great day!

Our Story hits the OC Register

We knew we'd be doing a story in the Register - I'd contacted Lori and told her about what we are hoping to do, and asked for her help in getting the word out so we could get our bride nominations and hopefully spark the interest of some fellow industry professionals - afterall if it takes a village to raise a child, it must take an entire country to put on 10 simultaneous weddings, right?

Lori and I talk and she says let's run it on October 11th, which is actually perfect, because it would be one year after Kerry and Kurts wedding - how fun and fitting would that be to see how everything has developed, blossomed and grown in the last 12 months..... well that all changed yesterday with an email. 'I think sooner is much better than later - let's get the word out now' and with that the interview happened and the story was written. The goal? do a smaller article now with the details about the event and bring in the nominations - then we can do the larger, more in depth story later.

Our story posted and the response has been tremendous! not only are the nominations streaming in, but industry professionals are stepping up and volunteering their time, talents and support for this event. These are all strangers to ETM, to Angel Brides and much to my pleasant surprise they have the same philosophy and heart that we do with our Angel Brides.

We at Events TaylorMade are so humbled and honored to be part of the BenefitAll, the Day and everything it represents! I am so very excited to see how this all comes together. We will be accepting bridal nominations (send them to angelbrides@eventstaylormade.com) until November 1st; the announcement will be made on November 18th!

oh - here's the link for the story! Please share it with your friends - the more clicks it gets, the longer it will stay up!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Angel Brides Dream Team goes to Angel Stadium of Anaheim - December 18th.

Events TaylorMade and its Angel Brides Dream Team are proud to be taking part in a day of giving back to the community, called BenefitAll which is to be held on December 18th, 2010 at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim!

This is our opportunity to take part in something truly special - this day of giving back will have so many charitable organization collecting and distributing items that are so needed - and to pay it forward and grant these wedding wishes seems so fitting!

To do this, we need our couples - if you know of someone who's always gone above and beyond for others, and now that the time has come for their wedding, things just seem to be going wrong - please, share their story with us. We will be notifying our couples on November 18th and handing them their invitations. There are many details still to be worked out, but these weddings will take place at absolutely no cost to the couples, their families or guests. We plan to provide them with not only a customized wedding, but also a reception be it hor d'oeuvres, beverages and cake or something more for up to 100 people per wedding.

If you are a vendor who is not yet part of our Angel Bride Dream Team but think that this is the perfect opportunity to do so, please contact us as well.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Angel Bride #11 - Erica

I met Erica and her mother Kathy through Kerrys wedding. Kathy had responded to one of Kerrys CL ads offering the use of some of the items that she and her husband Larry had been purchasing for Ericas wedding. Kathy and I exchanged many emails and we all finally met when I picked up some of the items she was loaning to Kerry for use at the wedding. I knew from the moment Kathy and I met via email that we would be lifelong friends. The three of them (Kathy, Erica and her fiance Ben) came and spent the morning helping me set up the reception for Kerrys wedding - talk about paying it forward waaay ahead of time!.... I knew that Kathy was doing all the planning for Ericas wedding, and wanting to repay her kindness towards Kerry, I offered Day of Coordination services to them, and as we spoke more we decided that they'd be using items from our ever growing FGM Closet as well.

Erica and Ben are not your average couple - Erica is a bubbly, very happy, intelligent young woman who just so happens to have Downs Syndrome. Ben is quick witted, can charm your socks off and is developmentally delayed. Between the two of them they will keep you in stiches for as long as you spend with them! You cannot help but immediately fall in love with them.

About mid December, I get a desperate email from Kathy that their venue had fallen victim to the recession and now what??? I went to work finding venues that were available on their chosen day and sent her a nice list to choose from. We ended up with the OC Sailing and Events Center in Dana Point. Kathy and Larry decided to hire me to finish up the event planning for them and needed servers and offered to pay for them too. In return for use of the FGM items, they purchased 300 appetizer/cake plates that match the square dinner plates - what a tremendous contribution!

We pretty much packed up the office to bring to this wedding - so many different elements, new additions and the like. Both my mom and dad, along with my daughter Aleksa were part of the day crew /stay crew in addition to my fab four from Rachele and Andrews wedding (John, Crys, Tine and Paul). Tom, Kaysie, Jesse and Cliff came to help with the setup/cleanup which was fabulous! Always a big help to have extra hands at the end.

It was an amazing wedding, officiated by my very brother! Dream Team photographer William Dick captured every second of this amazing day, to include one very special high five exchange between the newlyweds and their wedding planner which I hope to have a copy of to add to this post soon.

The night ended waay too soon as the crowd fell deeply in love with the outstanding entertainment Kathy had booked, OC Elvis - yes folks, Elvis was IN the house, rocking the night away! (www.ocelvis.com) in case any of you would like him to be IN at your event! Banker by day, Elvis by night and fun to be had by all! I've never seen sooo many people on the dancefloor for so long - so many that we kept backing tables up so the crowd (aka mob) could expand.

When it was all said and done - it was a gorgeous day and Ben and his new wife Erica left for their honeymoon at Disneyland!

Angel Bride #10 - Rebecca

Ah, Rebecca - it was really hard to not skip ahead to her! If you ever get to meet her, her new husband Jesse or her father Phil, you'll understand why in a less than a minute!

I've done two Bridal Shows, just two - and I always give away a Platinum Planning & Coordination package as a raffle prize at each one. Rebecca was the winner from the Weddings on Ice Show that I participated in. After I contacted her, I also came to find out that she is the sister of Phil - from Phil and Daisy! Omigosh - this wonderful sister who penned such a heartfelt letter on behalf of her brother although she really needed the help herself, had just won the very same thing she'd enabled her brother to have. (K-A-R-M-A)

Rebecca chose to do most of the planning herself, with phone and email support - twice she was ready to turn it over but realized after we talked that she was good to go and doing a fabulous job! We provided all the 'pretties' for her wedding along with the Day of Coordination and serving. Their venue? Puddingstone Resort in San Dimas - which BTW is a breathtaking venue if you haven't been there!

The wedding date? May 9th - which also happened to be Mothers Day as well as Jessee's birthday, which I later found out! (NOW I know why you picked that day!). Because we'd had Rachels wedding the day before and didn't get home until almost one am (verrry sleepy) and had to wash all the white linens on top of both unloading from Rachel and loading for this one - it was more than a bit chaotic and we left later than I wanted to. (Yes, I will admist I'm one of THOSE people who wants to arrive early). We got there and just about everyone decided to come early - OMG!!! Fortunately the venue had the chairs all set up so we got to work putting things together - guess what? gail force winds again - okay, no tents or gently flowing anything....lol Improvisation is key I kept reminding them both. We got everything ready to go despite the wind (which died right back down in time for the ceremony to start).

Every wedding is incredible - that last moment of queuing the groom to take his place, fluffing the train, that gentle touch on dads sleeve asking, 'Are you ready?' as he's about to give his little girl away - and the anticipation on the brides face - oh...makes me cry every time! That is seconded by the father daughter dance - I must admit that this one topped em all! I have never seen such a loving relationship between a father and daughter, so many tears, so much joy during that dance - and the crowd loved it too! =)

For me personally, this day was incredibly special. My crew consisted of the love of my life, my husband Cliff, and two of our four girls, Courtnea and Aleksa, and my mom. What a wonderful way to spend Mothers Day - doing what I love with the people I love!

[picture to come]

Angel Bride #9 - Rachele

Rachele found us from the CL ad that we run down in San Diego for our 'rental' package; she told me that she and Andrew had a quick civil ceremony last year because he was going to be deployed and they wanted to be married before he deployed. Now he's back and they would like to get married the way they wanted to originally. Being the proud wife of a retired marine I jumped at a chance to do whatever I could to help a fellow marine! I told her that whatever they need to let us know and we will be happy to provide;

Their venue was the beachside Cantina on base at Camp Pendleton - lovely indeed and very affordable for anyone, but especially so for a young marine couple.

She came up to the office and looked through our stuff - even made a second trip back with one of ther Bridesmaids, Kelly [hi Kelly!! =)] We got their list created, and told her we would come set up and work the event for them if she would like (same thing we do for all Angel Brides when we don't have other events), but in this case I had another Angel Bride wedding the next day that also needed the white linens so I HAD to bring them home so I could get them laundered and hung for the other wedding.

What an amazing couple! Our volunteer servers were so happy and felt so welcomed that they'd have done it again in a heartbeat! Rachele came and worked not only a wedding before hers, but again in June when I needed some extra hands was right there - not 10 days before a major move.

Angel Bride #8 - Aimee!

Aimee placed an ad on CL looking for a wedding gown - just a wedding gown. She and her long time love were ready to finally get married, budget or no budget! I emailed her and after we determined her size, invited her to come in and take a look at our gowns to see if there was one that would work for her. She brought her Maid of Honor and I had my Assistant (who happens to also be my sister) Kelly with me. I asked Kelly to come because I wanted her to know what it's like to experience the Angel Bride phenomena!

Come meeting time, in walks this wonderful woman, her MOH and her Grama - oh Grama was the sweetest thing! After our introductions we got straight to the gowns - I brought in all the ones in her size, laid them out on the table and left the room so they could do what they needed to without extra eyes. She found one that fit like a glove and she just shined in it! She walked out and Kelly was standing there ready with a couple of veil options and hair pieces. The smile turned into a sunbeam and you could just tell that this bride realized she was going to have that wedding gown afterall!

Because we'd spoken so much on the phone and via email, we all sat down and continued visiting - as we were talking we started asking questions about the church decor and the reception (to see if we could help any further). I showed them the silk flower arrangements we had that Toni had made for her wedding and we decided they'd dress the aisle perfectly, so on the list they went! As for the reception, well they were planning a back yard barbeque - as she talked, you could visibly see the smile begin to fade just a little. I looked at her and said - can I ask you a few questions? "If you could decorate however you wanted - what would you have?" We talked it through, and I said okay hold on real quick, got up and disappeared out of the room, leaving them with Kelly who I'm sure at this point is wondering 'what in the world am I supposed to do NOW?' I walk back in, armed with my pretties! I put down the black linen, the red charger, the white plates, glasses, napkings, virtually set a sample table and say - something like this? When she realized we were offering to let her use all our items at no charge there were some tears - by all of us. Aimee is such a gracious woman that we couldn't help but take it further - they live locally, so of course we'll bring it all to you and help set up. We tossed out the offer of helping serving and Day of Coordination and she couldn't help but laugh, smile, cry - many emotions. She called Steven from our office and told him that they were going to have an amazing wedding!

Despite the gale force winds that happend that day and some very tired flower girls -we had their back yard all set up and ready to go, the church decorated and a wonderful, touching love filled wedding took place. We learned the Ice Cream and Cake dance - who knew there was an Ice Cream and Cake dance??

Aimee has ended up not just being a former bride, but has turned into one our forever friends! She has made it known that she will be there to help anytime we need her - and she's always on the lookout for great FGM stuff, too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Angel Bride #7 - Tina

I actually found Tina - she'd placed an ad on CL - the saddest little ad I've seen. They had the venue, an old church in Brea - very dark, dim, and gothic looking. Not at all what she'd envisioned for her wedding day. She just wanted to make it something even close to what she was hoping to have.

It took a few attempts to get ahold of them, and it was actually Kyle that called to make sure it wasn't a cruel joke. It took a little convincing, but we got them to come in, and I told them to take a look and they could use whatever they wanted. They didn't want anything for the reception, just the church.

Kyle was very excited, but poor Tina was incredibly overwhelmed and couldn't come up with anything solid to ask for. This was a big turning point for me - I realized so many things thanks to Tina and I can't thank her enough. I realized that 1)what seems to me to be just 'stuff' at time and 'no big deal' ISN'T just stuff or no big deal to someone who has nothing; and 2)that I need to not reveal the 'closet' until after we have gotten through the haze or realizing that someone really is offering to help and really isn't asking for anything in return but a picture (well, okay a thank you is always nice, too). So the first trip came and went - they came back again with help this time - they came back two more times as a matter of fact and by the last time, she was smiling as she tried on veils and tiaras!

We got them loaded up with all the pretty stuff - they came back a few days later with tales of a lovely wedding and many new additions to our Fairy GodMothers Closet as well as the important lessons I got from them. Thank you so much Tina & Kyle

Angel Bride # 6 - Daisy

Oh my gosh - Daisy and her fiance Phil came to me through my dearest friend Kim Turcotte - an amazing floral designer with a heart the size of Texas! She has an organization called Weddings on Ice and together we decided that we wanted to give a wedding away - she put an all call out through the Register, ran a contest for a military couple. Being the proud wife of a retired marine (Semper Fi) I was sooo in from the get go. We had our first couple who were both active duty - we were so excited! Sadly the conflict of last year called them both to deployment but we already had the date set!

Fortunately for us, Phils sister saw the all call and sent an amazing, loving heartfelt letter to Kim telling us the story of Phil, Daisy, their love, him going into active duty and their wanting to be married prior to him going so that he could know solidly that his wife and son were taken care should anything happen to him during this deployment.

Oh, this was amazing we though - and thus the planning began - I handled the couple, Kim handled just about everyone else. I reached out to my dear friend Rev. Ogannes Agayan (www.idowithyou.com) and asked him how he felt about performing a wedding - ON ICE! shared their story with him, and he was in!

Kim and I met with the couple to discuss details of what they'd like to see happen, told them of all the regulations of the arena that offered the venue for the wedding, revamped how we were going to do everything..... wow, a wedding on ice - capacity crowd, televised, young couple... what were we thinking? I could see the disappointment in their faces - 2 minutes for getting on the ice, 2 for the ceremony, maaaybe 3 and then 1 to get off - regulation says there can only be 6 minutes between hockey periods. Aye Carumba batman -

So....back to Rev. Ogannes I went, asking him if we could do a second, much more intimate, relaxed ceremony - a do-over - just for Phil and Daisy. Of course he proclaimed. To see them smile and be happy again was such a blessing!

The dress - oh the most amazing dress! and I am so very proud to say that it came from my very own FGM Closet - a brand new gown I purchased not a month earlier, never been worn or even tried on - I pulled them all out for her to look at and see if one spoke to her. We found one that would work, it was 'okay'. We talked about her style, her dream and I suddenly remembered having one more gown hanging at home. A quick phone call, in comes the gown, I opened it and her eyes lit up! This was the one!

The wedding day - wow is an understatement! The arena approaches me with a photographer who's going to shadow me around for the day - me?? okay whatever keep up. We talk, she snaps pictures, we get Daisy ready, she's (Maya, I think)silently snaps away - time for the big reveal to the mom - she got it on film - amazing! Such a wonderful day!

About a week later I get a call from her editor - they want to interview both myself and Daisy to write the article that matches the photos - the little pictorial spread had grown. Daisy's quote? "Next to the birth of our son, it was the best day of our lives". The article was published in the April 25th edition of the Inland Living Magazine!

Here's to Phil and Daisy!

Thanks to my dear friend and colleage A. Michaels Photography for the use of the photo!

Angel Bride #5 - April

April is one of my brides who needed rental stuff but had no budget for the normal route. She saw one of our ads on good ole CL and responded with her list.

We put together a package deal where basically everything you need for 150 people, we offer it one of two ways - if you have $350.00 you can 'rent' it - if not, you can 'borrow' them. We ask that you take care of them and also contribute something else back to the FGM Closet. If we have volunteers or team members available we will offer to go help set up and tear down if they want or need it. But sometimes? they just need the stuff and want to do it themselves, which we fully support.

Her wedding colors were something that we didn't have in stock, so I bartered my fees for fabric with one of my other clients who was already ordering organza in bulk. We made overlays and chair sashes to match her colors.

Delivery was fun - the first batch was delivered no problem, but they forgot a few items and we were still finishing up making the linens. So we made a second trip for delivery - bumper to bumper traffic! Arrived to drop off at 10pm although we left at 5:30pm.... (minor route detour there)

I heard back that the wedding was gorgeous, got pictures in my inbox and a major contribution back to our closet - thank you so much April and your wonderful mom, too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Angel Bride #2 - Kortney

I just love Kortney! I met her through her posting on Craigslist - she posted not long after Kerrys third update to her ad on CL - this would have been in August. Kortney believes not only in pay it forward, but doing so in advance! She came and helped with Kerrys wedding preparations on more than one occasion - came and worked my first bridal show with me and worked the December 5th wedding with me -and even brought a friend! I was so inspired after hearing that Kortneys fiance' Charles lived in Vegas, wouldn't be moving out here until not too long before the wedding, so she was doing most of the planning on her own - and all of the money was coming from them as well.

The venue that was offered to her was a lovely older church that isn't used for weddings and receptions very often, but it was perfect for what they needed and wanted. The folks at Grace Bible Church in Fullerton couldn't have been more accommodating!

Many wonderful people from Team Angel came together to make an special day amazing - Kitty put on a spread not to be beaten for an unheard of price she'd seen Kortney working at all of my events and said - "Oh we need to take good care of this girl!". I was so excited to learn that Rob had stepped in and taken on her wedding - he is such a sonsummate professional that is pure joy to work with! Michelle from Mire La Chancla jumped was IN and made a gorgeous pair of Havianis. Will would have been there but had already been booked on that date - but the photographer she got was excellent and took some amazing photos.

It was a beautiful wedding - filled with many of lifes precious moments to include a family ceremony to include Gabi and a father daughter dance that would melt your heart.

Kortney, Charles and Gabi - thank you so much for everything you've done for us here and for allowing us to be part of your amazing day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Angel Bride # 4 - Kim & Stevens Wedding

Throughout the time I was planning Kerry and Kurts wedding, I would always scour the CL postings to find other brides that just needed some help. Kim was one of those brides. She and Steven were so excited to get married - but her father was going through cancer treatments and she couldn't bare the thought of asking him to help pay for a wedding. She herself couldn't do much of the planning as she was in the midst of a high risk pregnancy and needed to avoid stress as much as possible.

There were lots of breaks in our correspondence as lifes moments happened for Kim and Steven, but low and behold they were able to come up with a date - December 12, 2009. My moms birthday! What a great day! Just a small, intimate group of 12 plus our couple.

We found them a venue they wanted, Leslie Park in Dana Point, so of course I suggested to them that they plan their lunch at Pete Truxaw's Salt Creek Grille - the best place for a small wedding party to dine. All seemed set - except the gown -not many places have maternity gowns that don't look like a mumu - so we set out searching for her, found several for her to choose from and delivered them to her so she could try them on (by mid- November she was on bedrest) we finally found one that worked and she loved! YAY!!! All is set and ready to go!

Flash forward to December 11, 2009 - TORRENTIAL RAIN.... also forecast for Saturday -hmmm Leslie Park - outdoor wedding - torrential rain - this is not going to make for a good day. Quickly typing, I contacted Pete and Christy at Salt Creek to find out if they had somewhere we could have a quiet, intimate wedding - once again they proved just WHY we love Salt Creek - they opened up their Private Library to our couple and provided what turned out to be the most romantic, intimate, candlelit wedding!

Kerry heard of the wedding and insisted on doing the flowers - paying it forward and they were drop dead gorgeous! My amazing friend William Dick (WDPhoto.inc - my faaavorite photographer, and proud partner in my Angel Bride Group)stepped in and photographed the big event - amazing shots as always

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Angel Bride #3 - April & Josh

I've actually known April since she was in second grade with my oldest daughter Crystal, but hadn't been in contact with her since they were in high school. Crystal had been updating me on how close it was getting to the wedding, and about oh 9 days out or so, Crystal sent me an email that says something to the effect that mom, April needs your help! She's getting married next week and she has NO VENUE or anything for a reception! The person arranging it didn't and now she's got nowhere to go! O-M-G.....a venue in under 10 days? wow okay time to get to work for sure!

Before she ever called me I was sending Crystal links to as many venues as possible -not knowing what kind of budget she had or didn't have, I just kept it as inexpensive as I could. The second or third one I sent she loved, the price was great and it was available - so they booked it! YAHOOO!!!

Met with April and her FMIL (Future Mother-in-law for the non wedding-ese speakers reading this) the Sunday before the wedding. Talked about what they had, didn't have, what they wanted to see happen. She just wanted something nice - we talked about what colors she wanted (red/white/silver) - okay, I've got that I said - I didn't have white linens, but knew I could make them easily....speak it into existance, right? We talked about menu - I made a phone call to my dear friend and favorite caterer, Kitty and got a menu put together for them at a price they jumped at! And in a matter of an hour we had their reception planned. Now to pull it all together.

Another friend of the girls', Sarah made the wedding cake (which was simply stated, AMAZING) and came to pick up my just ordered and received Silver plated cake stand that I just love! The week went by fairly smoothly, I began cutting the white fabric like it was nothing, clearly I didn't realize how long sewing 15 linens would take.... note to self: it's not like sewing a napkin!

We started sewing Friday night, working like a mad woman making these white linens and red runners! Five broken needles and a minor meltdown came my way Saturday late morning when I realized that OMG I'm running out of time (things clients never realize we go through) but we got them done - by 2 pm! what was the problem? lol

Come to find out that we can't get IN to start setting up until 6pm. Really? the reception starts at oh 6:30!!! So out goes the texting, rallying the troops, and lots of them! Up pulls a team of 10 volunteers! no kidding! there were 10 of them! Jesseca, Jean, Erin, Courtnea, Kelly, Kaysie, Tom, John, Crys, Kortney and Greg. My newest acquaintance, Michelle brought along many of her amazing value priced ecoutrements to add some amazing shine, shimmer, and elegance to the night! Kitty arrived with her food, and thankfully the young attendant opened the doors 4 minutes early for us! 27 minutes later we transformed the once empty room into a warm, welcoming, candle lit, twinkle light filled reception room! The bride and groom arrived right on time, the doors were opened and an evening of memories and love took place!

Come time for clean up, some of the volunteers returned, but my most ardent (not so much a volunteer, more like volunteered) supporter arrived. My very own big red dog in his big red truck came to help load everything up and rescue his by now very tired wife. I have many members that make up support team, but only one that supports my soul - my husband of almost 20 years, Cliff. He pulls up and says, rest babe - I got this. You did your work, let me help you. And so he does - he loads my 'stuff' so quickly and efficiently it amazes me everytime.

Our team of volunteers are what makes this whole Pay it Forward thing possible - we'd never be able to do this if we had to pay staff members. Our volunteers are our friends, our family members, our past brides and grooms, and even some of our future brides and grooms! Kortney? she wasn't getting married until February 20th and this was December 5th! She even brought in her friend Greg! A huge thanks for all of our volunteer dream makers!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Evolution of the Fairy GodMothers Closet

Once all the dust settled from Kerrys wedding, the cameras were no longer around and life just went suddenly back to normal - we had all this 'stuff' that had been donated for the wedding. We had gowns, candles, linens, candles, vases, candles, and oh yes, we had a few choices for, yes you guessed it - candles!

We had a bride who got married just 2 weeks before Kerry who literally loaned us her entire reception if we wanted it. We returned her stuff to her, but told her if she decided to sell it to please let us know so we had first dibs at buying it and shared our vision for moving forward - pretty simple we thought.... build up a resource where brides could go to rent or borrow basics at little or no cost - so that no one ever had to go without again.

Kerry eventually moved on to other things, but has always been incredibly supportive. The other bride Toni joined forces with me for a short period of time before life happened, and ultimately sold me her items for an amazing price. I frequently scoured craigslist for brides wanting to get rid of leftover items they'd purchased and snatched it up with a devlish grin, knowing that 'someone' would want this!

Our goal was to be able to provide basic items - to date we have floor length linens in four different colors, overlays in 10 different colors, chair sashes and covers, gowns, glassware you name it! We started getting word out about what we had, telling people that they can rent it for literally pennies on the dollar and if they just had no money, they could simply borrow it - check it out like a library book - the cost? Add something to it when they bring it back. As the concept caught, on we had more 'stuff' than we knew what to do with it. One shelf quickly became one Unit, then two, four - and we had to put it somewhere.

Along came the most amazing, quaint little office. (the Closet)!!

525 square feet of magic we call it. Seemed big when we moved in November 1st - six months later we have grown so much we are rearranging and the once conference room is now the storage room and the once storage room is now my office. As this amazing pay it forward movement continues, I see needing more space! Already told the landlord that I want the next office over that connects with mine - that will definitely get us through a few more years! Only problem is that it's still occupied =D

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where does the Fairy GodMother go for help?

Seems like a rhetorical question, doesn't it? Where does a FGM go when she needs help? (besides Craigslist for sale ads) - isn't there a book or something out there somewhere that tells you how to grant wishes for those who really want it?

My help is in the form of a group of amazing women. My mom is the worlds greatest (and fastest) napkin folder, is creative beyond words, my sister who has become not only my personal assistant but a great wedding planner!, all four of my amazing daughters who all do whatever they can to help out anytime it's needed and my friend Sharon, who mentors and inspires me with her knowledge, challenges me to grow in ways I didn't think possible and isn't afraid to tell me when I'm being just plain dumb! Then there's Kerry who just keeps telling people about what we're doing and calls me with monster huge donations!

We have hoped that word of our works would get out - it seems to work have happened.
It appears that I have somehow created a bit of a reputation for myself - or the FGM anyway. Just an hour ago I made a phone call to a potential new vendor - she rents Chiavari chairs - the omigosh delicious chair that every bride would LOVE to have at her wedding, but just can't swallow the rental costs. I introduced myself and she said - I kid you not here - I was wondering when we would meet! I know all about you and the amazing things you're doing for young couples! I want to be part of it - we need to meet soon! How cool is that?

And then there are our Angel Brides....more to come on that


The Beginning... have to start somewhere, right?

Much thought and energy has gone into creating this blog about my angel brides - many months of encouragement from the brides, the families and the friends of those who've been touched by the 'Fairy GodMother'....as I like to call her.

Who is the Fairy GodMother (FGM)?? a ficticious little creature that I have created, my scapegoat of sorts - okay yes, everyone knows it's me, but how crass would that be to go around referring to myself as THE Fairy GodMother - I'm just a mom, a wife, an event planner and a woman with a heart the size of the USA that will do whatever I can to make wedding dreams come true.

It started with Kerry and Kurt - the first couple that experienced my magic wand and pixie dust. Want to hear? GREAT! thanks for asking - our family was ready to leave California, the land of the prevailing money for the (hopefully) greener pastures, slower and less expensive life of Michigan - reading through Craigslist last July looking at properties, I decided to take a look at the barter section and found an ad that said it all - I want to get married and I need help - there was more (three pages long to be exact), but those 9 words captured my attention! She was willing to work it off, barter for any and all services rendered - they just wanted a nice wedding. I contacted her - it took a couple of days to get through because to my surprise, the Register has published her story and she was being interviewed by CBS and KCAL was waiting their turn! How crazy is that? I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with Becka (her bestie) and got some background on what was going on and who Kerry is as a person. I fell in love with this gal and I'd never even met her! Little did I know she would become the Angel of Inspiration that would change not only my life, but the lives of so many others...

We got to work immediately - having been a planner for then 26 years, I had many many contacts and was able to tick off two-thirds of the list of items she needed before we'd ever met - I contacted the vendors I've worked with and asked them first if they would like to be involved in this amazing wedding. Once we knew what we still needed it was time to reach out to others - of course I used Craigslist for this! How many 'mom and pop shops' like mine, are just trying to make a name for themselves? For every items we needed, I contacted five or six hoping that one would want to participate, and much to my amazement - there were actually very FEW who didn't want to be part of this magical experience. Not one wanted payment or bartering, just wanted to be involved in paying it forward.... what was up with that? People wanting nothing more than to simply help other people! It was pretty amazing, and humbling to be able to call Kerry for our lunchtime update and say - oh yeah, that's taken care of now too... (the magic of pixie dust).

Of course there were lumps, bumps, bruises - vendors dropping out, cars breaking down and some actual flakes - go figure - and some hurt feelings, but when you plan something this huge in such a short period of time and it all comes together - everyone wants to be involved and along with involvement comes feelings and opinions, etc. I always knew that it wasn't about me, and when you stay focused on the bigger picture it's easy to just hold your head up high and keep moving. (Important to note here that while I knew it wasn't about me, I did know that it was me that made it happen).

Some 52 vendors later, a documentary team from Maryland watching it all unfold, this amazing wedding day took place. The ceremony was on board the Tall Ship Pilgrim docked at the Ocean Institute and the reception was hosted by Pete Truxall and his amazing team at the Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point - The press was there, John and Terri were there filming it all, and I was happy to be quietly in the background watching it happen - knowing full well that the day was never about me, my involvement or being given credit for it. When the happy newly married couple took the microphone and made their speaches in front of the 150 or so friends and family members, vendors (and even the nay-sayers) and offered such heartfelt thanks for my efforts, that was just a moment of monumental proportion for me! Their young daughter came and took my hand and walked me down to the center of the floor where they both opened their arms and did this huge group hug. We all bawled like babies, and it was just such a moment! Ah....here come the tears again remembering that amazing moment!

Once we all recovered from the massive amount of energy spent on making that day happen, I knew we had to continue making those kinds of moments happen for other couples.

The story of Kerry and Kurt can be found all over the place, www.begbarterorbride.com, Facebook, OC Register, the Event Planners Association website is still running the piece on their homepage (www.eventplannersassociation.com), it was the official start of what we now very fondly refer to as my Angel Brides. This will be their stories - their moments to shine and know that for this one day in their lives, the rest of the troubles don't matter.

More to come....