Sunday, December 19, 2010

Florists - The Unsung Decor Hero at Every Wedding

Are florists really that important? Yes, they ARE that important.

As a wedding planner, one of the first things I do when I start working with a newly engaged couple is help define their top priorities for their big day and assemble their team of wedding vendors. In situations where couples rank floral and event decor towards the bottom of their priority list, I know I have my work cut out for me.

Understandably, most couples have never planned a big event and have hired me for that reason, so they naturally rank their priorities based on the things they can relate to - food, wine, liquor, the wedding dress, cake, photography, music, etc. As the hired professional, it's my duty to help the couple fill in the necessary gaps and educate them on why.

Not always, but the florist is one vendor that I do find myself going to bat for quite often, especially when budgeting is a big concern. Again, understandably so, floral and event decor is a variable cost to the budget, meaning that you can spend as much or as little as you want, unlike other fixed costs, such as a venue site fee. However, just because you can spend a little on this particular service, doesn't mean that you should.

Here are my top reasons why you shouldn't skimp on the florist:

Florists Are Essential to the Overall Look & Feel of Your Wedding 
Every couple wants their wedding to be beautiful, romantic and memorable, not only for them, but for their guests as well. Beauty involves aesthetics and romance involves evoking feelings, and nothing creates a more beautiful and romantic atmosphere than flowers and candle light. No matter how creative or crafty a member of the family may be, no one can create an atmosphere of romance and beauty like a good florist, especially in a tight time frame.

Florists Provide Theme Continuity & Personal Details 
What makes a fabulous wedding isn't how much you spend, it's all the small details that make it completely custom to the couple. A good florist is someone who not only understands, but helps shape a vision, can pick up the small nuances from the couple, and designs cohesive floral treatments to illustrate and reflect their taste. A good florists will create visual continuity between every decorative element of the wedding - from bridal bouquets to table centerpieces to chair adornments to the escort card display - the theme will carry throughout.

Florists Provide Quality & Sophistication
Unless the bride's mother, sister or best friend is a florist, there is a big difference in the quality of the overall look and feel of a wedding when a florist is absent. Not to say that DIY flowers aren't absolutely beautiful when executed correctly, but florists have the expertise and skill set to take the same bunch of flowers and really up-level the entire arrangement just by their understanding of height and variation. Believe me, guests remember the details and will appreciate the polished and refined look.

Florist Offer "Day of" Execution & Preparation
DIY flowers aren't as easy as couples would like to think they are. There is so much to consider when doing your own flower arranging such as - who will be helping you create 15 centerpieces, 8 bridesmaids bouquets, 8 boutonnieres, 6 corsages, 4 large arrangements, cake flowers, head table treatments, flower girl basket, and on, and on... Even if you do have the manpower to do such a task, where will you store them and who is going to take on the responsibility of transporting them? Even more importantly, who will be setting up your ceremony space, your cocktail reception and your dinner reception? And even more importantly, how can you trust it will look nice. Honestly, no bride wants to deal with this kind of stress and paying a florist is worth EVERY PENNY.

Florists Cost & Service Are Well Worth the Price  
When you hire a florist, you aren't just paying for someone to source your flowers, you are paying a professional for a high value service. Most florists are willing to work with clients to make sure they get as much value for their budget as possible - they know what flowers are seasonally at the best price  and how to stretch every dollar to create some absolutely amazing treatments. Here is a secret - a good florist can create almost twice the amount of floral treatments using a combination of greens and seasonal flowers than what a typical bride would spend on DIY flowers, and they will look a whole lot better!

Florists Provide Decor & Materials  
Most floral designers have a huge collection of materials and vessels to carry out a dream wedding. Since they own much of what they use to display, couples don't have to incur the cost, shop for items or deal with the clean up. Also, once the wedding is over, couples don't have to deal with trying to sell or throw away a bunch of materials that they'll never use again. Florists invest in their materials so they are typically beautiful and high-end which again can up-level the sophistication of your event.

With so many photos captured at weddings and the popularity of wedding videography, the investment of a good florist is incredibly important. No couple wants to look at their wedding images and wish they would have splurged just a bit more for better decor in the background of all their photos.

One of my most favorite parts of every wedding is between the ceremony and reception (when the guests are at the cocktail hour) when I give the newlyweds a private tour of their decked out reception space. I love the look of awe and excitement when pointing out the small details in their custom decor and floral treatments, especially when the couple at first didn't think of it as a high priority. Believe me, they always say how happy they were to have had a great florist.

Happy Planning!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best Weight Loss Exercises for Women

In keeping with week's bridal fitness and weight loss theme, below are the top fat and calorie burning exercises for women. Since the holidays are here and many brides are starting to gear up for their spring or summer weddings, this is as timely as it gets as pounds can start to add up during this holiday season.

Don't fall behind in your fitness program!

Running (treadmill or outdoors) - the best weight loss exercise. Running is one of the most efficient methods of burning calories. For every mile you run, you burn approx. 100 calories. Highest calorie burn and cheap as chips. All you need is a pair of quality running shoes. Plus, if you stick with it, you'll get hooked, making weight loss and weight maintenance easy. 

Elliptical Trainer - If you can't run this is an awesome piece of machinery. The elliptical trainer combines the cardio of running with resistance and it is low impact. Another positive is that burning the equivalent amount of calories as running feels easier on the elliptical. Great weight loss exercise. 

Cross-Country Skiing (machine or outdoors) is a fantastic endurance sport, calling on every major muscle group. Again it is a combination of resistance and cardio exercise. If you've got snow I suggest you ski.

Rowing - Cardio and resistance training in one fierce calorie-burning workout lasting between 20 and 40 minutes. Best used for interval training. Just make sure most of your power driving the stroke comes from large muscle of the thighs - not the upper body (a common mistake). 

Step Aerobics targets legs, hips and glutes. It is an intense calorie-burning exercise. Calories burned during this weight loss exercise depends on speed and step height. 

Bicycling (stationary or outdoors) targets thighs and calf muscles. Effectiveness for weight loss depends on speed and resistance/ incline. However, pear-shaped women beware of high resistance, as this will increase muscle mass in your thighs and exacerbate your problem area. 

Swimming - excellent full-body weight loss exercise. Water supports the body. Thus, less stress is placed on joints - low-impact. Brilliant for those with injuries. 

Jumping Rope is a seriously simple, but effective weight loss exercise. Ten minutes of jumping rope burns the rough equivalent of running an eight-minute mile. This weight loss exercise also improves cardiovascular endurance, coordination and agility.

Racquetball/ Squash - The high-intensity makes racquetball a great weight loss exercise. 

Rock Climbing is a weight loss exercise that combines cardiovascular exercise with resistance training. This weight loss exercise burns A LOT of calories, esp. on the way up.

As long as you stick to a good exercise program during the holidays you can afford to enjoy yourself more without the gilt come January. If you didn't gain any, pat yourself on the back as you have already made big progress!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bridal Fitness - Tips on Losing Weight & Looking Great


According to a new survey of 1,000 brides by Fitness magazine, 83% wanted to shed weight before their wedding, and many were prepared to take drastic action to achieve their goal.

As a wedding planner, I know how important it is for brides to look and feel amazing in their "perfect dress" on their wedding day. Some brides only want to tone up and shed a few pounds, while others are ready to undergo a major weight loss program. Regardless of how much weight a bride wants to lose, below are a few good tips on how to get great results before the "big day".

Regular Exercise
If you want lean and toned arms for your sleeveless wedding down, killer muscular legs for your reception dress or an amazing butt for that white bikini you've found for your honeymoon, you MUST workout. There is no way getting around it. Toning requires muscle which requires strengthening exercises.

Here are some great group exercise classes that will help you get in shape in no time:

  • Bridal Boot Camps - If you’re not a gym bunny, you may want to consider enlisting in bridal boot camp. Many boot camps are owned and taught by women and offer specific training sessions geared toward brides. These pre-nuptial programs can range from intensive weekend or week long regimens to long-term fitness plans. Bridal Bootcamps are offered all over the country so do a simple online search to find one in your area.
  • Bridal Fitness Coaches - these are personal trainers that are specifically trained to help brides get into amazing shape on a one-on-one basis. They are private trainers that design bridal exercise and diet programs specific to your individual needs. Most of the time they have their own private gyms or will come to your office or home to work you out! Check out Bridal Fitness Coach.
  • Gym Group Exercise Classes - There are some really great group exercise classes that are already offered at many gyms that brides can take advantage of without paying any extra in gym dues a month. Spinning, Pilates and Yoga are all great classes that burn calories while getting long, lean muscles. The BAR Method and Daily Method are also great classes that focus on slimming and toning the core.

A Healthy Diet - "You Are What You Eat"
Being fit is 80% diet related. What you consume greatly affects your entire body - the way your skin looks, your hair and nails, and more importantly, your body fat percentage. Losing weight is a simple calculation - you must burn more calories than what you consume. To shed those unwanted pounds, you have to be smart about the decisions you make when it comes to food.

Here are some good suggestions on helping you watch what you eat:

  • Visit a nutritionist - a registered nutritionist is a great resource to help you lose weight. They are trained professionals that can design the perfect eating program based on your body type, lifestyle and metabolism level. They will make sure to design a program that will give you all the proper nutrients to keep your energy level up and satisfied without crashing. With a great diet and regular vigorous exercise over a sufficient amount of time will result in a sexy body.
  • Cut out refined sugar - The problem with refined sugar is that it's a non-food, it is a stimulant, sure it has calories so it could be said it gives you energy, but the same could be said of alcohol. But those calories are empty at best and downright unhealthy in reality. Refined sugar actually causes more weight gain than eating fatty foods due to the spike in insulin levels in your blood. You can read all about at here.
  • Watch your calorie intake - Again, losing weight is a simple calculation - you must burn more calories than what you consume. Your body uses calories for energy and fuel and when your body burns more calories than what's being stored, it creates a deficit and therefore you start losing weight. The best way to monitor your calories is by writing everything down that you consume. There are also some great apps for your iPhone that can help you monitor your calorie and exercise intake so it keeps you honest throughout the day. I personally like the "Lose It" app for iPhones. 

Drink Lots of Water
Hydration is critical. While the benefits are countless this is one of the hardest things to implement into your daily routine. Water lowers body fat, flushes cellulite, improves digestion, gets rid of dark circles under the eyes and makes you feel full.

Here are some tips on how to get your water intake up throughout the day:

  • Keep a bottle of water beside your bed - before you go to sleep drink ½ the bottle and as soon as you wake up (before your feet touch the floor) drink the remaining ½ bottle 
  • Before each meal drink a half a bottle of water
  • Carry water with you and sip it throughout the day

Reward Yourself with a Cheat Day
Motivation is key when embarking on a weight loss regime and a light at the end of a tunnel is very beneficial after an intense week of working out and strict dieting. Having short term goals is highly effective in gaining momentum for weight loss - so rewarding yourself with a  "cheat day" for a job well done will help in keeping you from any binging tendencies which can lead to weight GAIN.

No matter what your weight loss and fitness goals are, you have to be dedicated, motivated and consistent to yield the results you're looking for. Is there anything more motivating than looking amazing on your wedding day? YES. Looking fantastic on the beach wearing your new wedding bling in a string bikini on your honeymoon!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soiree by Simone on Facebook and our Upcoming Website

Soiree by Simone has been in full swing in getting up both our website and Facebook pages. We are excited to announce that our Facebook page is now LIVE and we're actively posting planning tips, weekly style trends and other wedding related topics. Please visit by going to our page.

We are now putting the finishing touches on our website with some great wedding galleries of events we've done for all to see. The site will be going LIVE at the end of the November. Thank you to all our supporters and we'll definitely formally announce the launch!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Sweet Soiree in Saratoga for a Very Sweet Couple

Today Jason and Christina are getting married. After over six years of dating, 9 months of planning, a full week of weather report checking and an emotional rehearsal dinner, the day is finally here and everyone is excited.

No one loves wine more than this young couple and with a color palette of burgundy red, autumn brown and champagne, it was only natural for the festivities to be held at the gorgeous Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Ca.

For me, it's a bitter sweet feeling... as a planner you get very close to clients. As stated perfectly from one of Christina's bridesmaids, "When you really grow to love people, the line between family and friends and friends and family begins to blur." After nine months of planning, these two have grown to become more like family. Congrats to them on their special day.

Photos to come.

Vendor Credit:
Engagement photo take by Deanna Graham-Garcia of Sweet Thing Photography

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eileen + Stephen - No Beginning & No End

On an unusually warm Sunday afternoon in October, Eileen and Stephen of San Mateo, Ca., tied the knot in front of 70 of their closest friends and family at stunning Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. The bride's attention to detail, style and class shined through in every aspect of the event. The theme of their wedding was "rustic elegance" - with hand selected artisan cheeses & wines, floating gardenias, gold pashmina party favors, amber glowing lanterns and a custom cigar bar, the event was one that everyone who attended will remember for a long time.

The couple married against the Carmel Valley backdrop of the Santa Lucia Highlands and exchanged written vows alongside their two daughters, Sophia 10 and Julia 7. The bride donned an ivory Carolina Herrera trumpet gown, a gardenia in her hair and a small locket with a photo of her father in his remembrance on her bouquet.

The newlyweds and their guests dined at a king's table with a harvest inspired decor and toasted during a gorgeous sunset. The local and sustainable menu featured butternut squash amuse bouche shooters, heirloom tomato caprese salad, herb infused rack of lamb, Israeli couscous, garden vegetable medley, grilled chicken with apricot chutney and black forbidden rice.

After dinner, the couple danced to “At Last” by Etta James in a candle-lit carriage house as guests looked on and enjoyed designer cupcakes from a specialty bakery. There was magic and lots of love in the air on 10-10-10.
Vendor Credits:
Wedding Event Design and Planning: Soiree by Simone
Floral Design: Christine Cater Wedding and Floral Designs
Catering: Paradise Catering
Cake: Petals and Pastries
Photography: Alex Johnson of AJPhotographer
Location: Holman Ranch, Carmel Valley, CA
Cheese & Wine: The Carmel Cheese Shop

Bride's Attire:
Dress by Carolina Herrera
Shoes by Kate Spade
Vintage diamond & yellow gold bracelet by Fourtane Jewelers

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Website.... launching first week of November!

Soiree by Simone will be launching their brand spankin' new website during the first week of November! The website will feature galleries from this year's weddings and events, new service packages and some other cool stay tuned!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Eileen & Stephen - A Perfect 10

10-10-10 = Eileen & Stephen
Holman Ranch, Carmel Valley, Ca

(Sunday, October 10, 2010)

Numerology for 10:
4+6 = harmony

1 followed by 0 indicates the column and the circle, meaning the principle of the female and male

The number 10 is regarded as the most perfect of numbers, because it contains the Unit that did it all, and the zero, symbol of the matter and the Chaos, of which all came out; it then includes in its figure the created and the non-created, the beginning and the end, the power and the force, the life and the nothing

Whether you believe in numerology or not, the power that's felt in this date truly matches the intensity of adoration, love and respect this couple shares for each other.

Working with Eileen and Stephen has been a wedding planner's dream - they had a clear set vision, elegance, sophistication, charm and a great sense of humor. Eileen is a stunning beauty with great style who loves small special details. Stephen is just a class act gentleman with old school chivalry that's hard to find. Together they make one of the most stunning and interesting couples I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Their wedding and reception will be held at Holman Ranch, a beautiful ranch style garden estate tucked in the mountains of Carmel Valley, CA. With grounds full of lavender, rosemary and roses, and backdrops of vineyards and rolling hills, this fall inspired event will be a wedding to remember.

Here is a preview of just a few details of what we have in store:
- Wrought iron adornments with burnt orange, ivory and bitter brown flowers
- Dahlias, garden roses and floating gardenias
- Chalkboards and love notes
- A king's dinner table under a vineyard arbor featuring the Carmel sunset
- Wine and cheese pairing from around the globe

Event photos to will be posted shortly.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dahlias - The Floral Star of Fall

I get excited for the start of every season knowing that Mother Earth will start producing a new collection of the most stunning varieties of flowers for us lucky people to enjoy. To say the least, she has not disappointed us this year.

While shopping this past weekend at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, I was in Dahlia heaven. I have never seen such an abundance of different sizes, varieties and colors of dahlias in my life. Pastel and deep hued blossoms of various varieties the size of a small watermelons were growing every where. If you live in the Bay Area, are in need of a shopping fix and love dahlias like I do, run to Stanford Shopping Center and enjoy them before they're gone until next year.

This past weekend's run-in with this lovely fall flower has made me even more excited about the upcoming nuptials planned for this coming weekend at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. The dahlia is the floral star in our fall ranch inspired wedding where she'll show up in fall colors of orange, ivory, white and brown. Photos to come!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Guest List Etiquette - When Are Plus Ones Appropriate?

One of the biggest concerns among engaged couples is, "who gets a plus one and who does not?" From an outsider's perspective, many might not think it's a big deal, but if the wrong decision is made, things can get a bit dicey.

Guest lists are one of the very first items couples must complete when they start planning their wedding - it helps determine the wedding budget, the size and how much a couple can spend on their event.

Here are a couple simple tips to follow when determining who gets invited and who doesn't:

Where to Make Cuts - a guest list is obviously a numbers game and every head is an extra cost incurred to the couple. They should remember that the wedding is about them and not about making everyone else happy. With that said, inviting family, close friends and spiritual mentors are all at the top of their list. If you have to make cuts, try to subtract work colleagues and friends that you haven't seen or heard from in years.

Who get plus ones - plus ones should ALWAYS go to friends and family who have spouses, domesticated partners and long term girlfriends/boyfriends. They should also always be extended to their wedding party attendants. Regardless if the couple knows their closest friends' other halves or not, it's in poor taste not to invite them. Believe me, if the person you're inviting has a long term boyfriend/girlfriend that you decide not to include as a "plus one", there's probably a good chance that couple will get married and will remember the lack of the plus one on your part. How would you feel about receiving an invitation to their wedding that DOES NOT include your wife or husband? Not good and it happens. On the contrary, if the friend or family member you are inviting has only been dating their significant other for a short period of time, you aren't obligated to extend a plus one to their invitation.

Determining your guest can be an arduous task so be selective, be consistent and be fair.

Happy planning!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Peony - The Queen of Flowers

Since they say the Gardenia is the King of Flowers, in my opinion, the Peony is Queen.

Unlike roses, Peonies are only available two months out of the year - May and June - which make them some of the most sought after flowers on the market. Many brides plan their weddings during the early summer season for that very reason. Who could blame them?

With their soft feather like blossoms, they truly are a poet's dream and the quintessential symbol of true femininity. Whether used in a simple bridal bouquet, or part of an extravagant tablescape, they add a touch of elegance, refinement and luxury to their surroundings.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Celebrity Wedding Profile: JFK Jr. & Carolyn Bassette

American Royalty and Understated Elegance

The story is a tragic one, but this couple still is one of my top ten favorites.

JFK Jr. & Carolyn Bassette
Cumberland Island, Georgia
September 21, 1996

Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy Jr. were married in a secret ceremony on Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia, on September 21, 1996. The evening ceremony took place in the wood-frame Brack Chapel of the First African Baptist Church. The 40 guests included Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and her husband Edwin Schlossberg. The wedding was planned by Gogo Ferguson, a Cumberland Island resident who also designed the couple’s wedding bands.

The bride walked down the aisle in a $40,000 pearl-colored silk crepe floor-length gown, hand-rolled tulle silk veil and long silk gloves by Narcisco Rodriguez. She also wore beaded satin Manolo Blahnik sandals. Her hair was pulled back away from her face and styled by George Kyriakos. A bun at the nape of her neck was pinned with a clip belonging to Jackie Kennedy. She clutched a lily of the valley bouquet, arranged by Rachel “Bunny” Melon, the same woman who designed the White House rose garden. The groom wore a single-breasted, midnight-blue wool suit, with a white piqué vest by Gordon Henderson and his father’s wristwatch.

The Economy vs. Your Wedding

How has the economic slump impacted your big day?

A new study released by The Knot shows wedding budgets are down more than 5% from last year across the US. According to, the average cost of a San Francisco based wedding this year is $30,000 -- which is a pretty big decline from the $38,000 reported average cost in 2009. That means more couples are planning their own weddings with longer planning periods and incorporating many "DIY" elements to their special day.

According to the survey, the list below outlines what couples paid on on average last year:

Cost Category * Average Spend 2009

Reception Venue $12,838
Reception Band $3,288
Reception DJ $892
Photographer $2,444
Videographer $1,481
Wedding/Event Planner $1,728
Wedding Gown $1,134
Florist/Decor $2,093
Invitations $509
Wedding Cake $559
Ceremony Musicians $451
Catering (cost per head) $63
Wedding Day Transportation $692
Favors $292
Rehearsal Dinner $1,163
Engagement Ring $5,847

With the economy in the tanker, gone are the days where the bride's family picks up the tab -- couples are trying to make every dollar stretch and now-a-days both families pitch in to cover associated costs.

Here are a few tips that many couples are following to ensure their day is their dream day, is within budget and goes off without a hitch:

1) Hiring a "Day-of-Coordinator" - this may be one of the best decisions a bride could make. The following people will thank you: the Mother-of-the-Bride, the Mother-of-the-Groom, the bridal party, the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the videographer, etc., etc.... you get the point. Why? "Day-of-Coordinators" are insurance policies for a successful wedding. They are more affordable than you think, and to be honest, let someone else sweat the small stuff. No brides should be on the phone with her florist because her shipment of hydrangea never arrived and she's at the wholesale market purchasing another batch two hours before the ceremony. Brides should be focusing on getting ready, staying calm and looking beautiful. Also, many venues require you to have one stated in their contract. Wouldn't you rather hire your own who you trust has your best interest at heart rather than someone who is "appointed" to your event?

2) Downsize Your Guest Lists - your wedding day is about YOU, it's not about making everyone else happy. To ensure you get that delicious cake, the venue of your dreams, and/or the perfect honeymoon, sometimes you need to keep your guest list limited and intimate. Wouldn't you rather have an exceptional intimate affair that your guests remember rather than a large generic one guests don't?

3) "DIY" (Do It Yourself) Elements - there are a lot of ways to save money planning a wedding and some of them are fun and easy to do. For instance, try creating your own invitations using arts and crafts stores like Michaels, or ask to have your invites printed digitally instead of opting for costly thermography or letterpress techniques. If you have an Aunt Jane who loves to bake, ask her to bake a "rustic" wedding cake "to cut" and order designer cupcakes for your guests. For more fun and easy "DIY" wedding project ideas, visit