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!