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 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 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" 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 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. 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!