.Bridal Expo & Good Times guide to wedding planning

cover_BRIDAL2STips on wedding planning from:
Cocoanut Grove
Feast for a King Catering
Minister Christine Jones
Heidi Hughett, The Couture House
The Buttery
Monterey Bay Laser Aesthetics
Jewels on Pacific
A Festive Affair

Get the Bridal Expo 2010 insert in this Good Times this week complete with exhibitor map and booth listings


The Cocoanut Grove

Oceanfront Elegance and Santa Cruz Charm
Guests have been dancing by moonlight in California’s classic Cocoanut Grove since 1907. The famous landmark, with its grand beachfront location, is ideal for weddings, dances, banquets, and celebrations of all sizes.
Over the past 100 years, the Grove has been the setting for many important West Coast events including the state’s first Miss California Ball and the greatest performers of the Big Band era. The 20,000-square-foot facility has been tastefully updated in a way that preserves the building’s unique character and historic roots.
The Grove’s professional staff provides full banquet, bar and kitchen services, as well as complete event planning with menu and beverage options for up to 1,000 guests.

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The Sun Room features breathtaking views and a retractable glass ceiling, capturing sunshine and ocean breezes during the day and glittering with starlight after dark.
The Grand Ballroom with its elegant oval lines, a tiered stage, wooden dance floor, and balcony seating, reflects the glamour and romance of the 1940s. Panoramic views of the Santa Cruz coastline are highlights of the classic Bay View Room, perfect for smaller groups.
A spectacular oceanfront setting, and experienced, friendly staff make the elegant Cocoanut Grove the perfect choice for weddings and receptions of all sizes.

For more information on the Cocoanut Grove, call (831) 423-2053, or visit cocoanutgrovesantacruz.com.

Less Stress Advice for brides-to-be from Cocoanut Grove staff
1 Know your budget and try to stick to it.
2 Listen to the experts—that’s what you pay them for!
3 Make a list of “must haves” for your event. Set priorities from very important to those on a wish list.
4 Be prepared to compromise and be flexible within reason. This is “your day” but the wishes of both families should be considered.
5 Ask for clarification when you don’t understand something. Your vendors may use unfamiliar terms and they need to know if something is confusing to you.
6 Keep accurate notes of what you discuss with vendors and make sure all vendors are aware of changes that may have been made during various planning sessions.
7 Your site coordinator, photographer, and DJ or bandleader should all be given an accurate timeline prior to the event.
8 If you aren’t hiring a wedding coordinator, ask a friend or family member to be the vendor liaison on the day of the event.
9 Try to enjoy the planning process—take time to relax along the way.
10 Don’t lose the magic of your wedding day by getting bogged down in tiny details.

Quite a Feast

Feast for a King Catering serves up food and more
If you talk on the phone to Kimberly Santia, owner of Santa Cruz’s Feast for a King Catering, you will get hungry. As a popular caterer in the area, she can dish on trends in catering, food choices, styles of décor, decadent meals and more. Of course, this is her specialty. After all, she’s been busy catering weddings for years.

She started out in her youth, helping her grandfather in the catering business, and worked her way through restaurants, college, and various catering jobs. Eventually, she launched her own company. “I never set out to be the biggest caterer in town,” she says. “I wanted to be the best. I limit myself to two weddings on one day. … It’s a very seasonal business, so the bulk of my business happens between May and October, and we probably do 30-40 weddings a year.”

Bridal_King_LobsterbisqueThat said—contact her early to get moving forward with your catering needs for your divine day. Feast for a King Catering specializes in what’s called ‘American Classics’—a contemporary take on regional cuisine. “The food we like to cook is familiar to people, it’s definitely approachable, but not something they would cook at home for themselves. But, it’s certainly not over someone’s head. We don’t dumb down our flavors. We put a lot of attention into how things look, style, and presentation, and we work with a lot of local, seasonal ingredients.”

Santia’s company offers a variety of menus and prices, with most starting around $25/person, going to as high as $80/person. The average, she says, is about $35-$40/person, which includes appetizers, two entrees, three side dishes, bread from a local bakery and a French roast coffee.

In addition, Feast for a King Catering can also provide a bartender for your wedding; they handle all your recycling and can also rent out china, glassware, and most anything you might need to put on a wedding.

Some of the favorite items that Santia is noticing people are fond of on her menus right now include her crab cakes, marinated and grilled tri-tip and the Sonoma Coast hangar steak.

Right now, she notes that ‘family style dining’ is a rather popular theme in catering, where platters of food are set on tables, and guests partake from their own table. “It creates a social [atmosphere] and is a nice medium between a plated, served dinner and a buffet.

Another popular dining theme right now is petite versions of American classics including mini burgers, lobster bisque in a shot glass, and the mini crab cakes.

In addition, they have an excellent fine foods to-go menu where a bride can choose just a few items from her menu, instead of going with a fully catered meal. (Good idea for saving some money.)

| Christa Martin | Photo: Terry Way Photography

For more information, visit feastforakingcatering.com or call 464-1741.

She Does

Minister Christine Jones enjoys uniting couples
The decisions—they never end. Pink napkins, or ivory? Favors or not? Flower design? Makeup and hair? Photographer? The list is endless, but one wedding decision you want to make sure to invest some time in is choosing your officiate. This is a decision you don’t want to delay in making. You need someone who hears what you want for your ceremony and puts it into action.

Enter Christine Jones, a local officiate who’s been guiding couples into that matrimonial transition for the last 17 years. As a non-denominational minister, she approaches weddings with no religious affiliation, and will happily customize a wedding to a couple’s style, religious perspective or whatever creative concept they have to represent their love story and formal commitment to one another.

Bridal_MinisterJones typically handles 12 to 24 weddings a year, most of which land in the spring to early fall. Her charge of $525 includes a book of the ceremony (which she calls a heritage keep sake), her services on the day of the wedding, and her undivided attention. “I deliver the ceremony from the book itself,” she says. “I don’t stand up there with a clipboard.”

The process for hiring Jones to officiate your wedding includes an interview with her—she gives you plenty of time to decide if she’s a good fit for your ceremony. “I never pressure a couple,” she says. Couples send in a booking fee, and then a deposit. From there, Jones goes back and forth with the couple creating ideas for how the ceremony should flow.

“What I love about weddings is that it’s such a poignant moment in life,” Jones says. “It’s just rich with every emotion possible—love, beauty, fear, anxiety, community. … It’s such a rich moment.”

Since she’s at the forefront of many weddings, she says she’s seeing “a new trend where brides are wearing veils over their face. And some couples are asking for traditional wedding vows.” She notes that interestingly, these are new trends. These choices were popular quite some time ago, seemed to have disappeared for a while, and now are back in style.

As for tips for the couple, Jones suggests: “View it as an adventure,” she says. “Every ceremony is perfect. Even if the cake falls over or a bridesmaid breaks her ankle, every ceremony is perfect.”

She also encourages couples to have the same vows, thereby agreeing to the same set of rules and standards, the “same driving manual.” She offers many suggestions in this process, and numerous examples from which to cobble together an ideal set of vows.

Just remember—saying “I Do,” is a big decision, so make sure you decide upon your officiate with as much gusto as you said, “yes, I’ll marry you.” | Christa Martin |

For more information about Christine Jones, call 462-1823.

Bespoke Wedding

Why Heidi Hughett has big plans for your wedding
If there is any event in a person’s life that should be intensely personal, a wedding is it. Forget the traditional notion of a “wedding,” these days brides are branching out and creating an affair to remember with details as diverse as the couple’s personalities themselves. To put it simply, weddings should be like snowflakes—no two alike.

Bridal_Heidi_CheninBoutwellAssisting in the creation of a bespoke wedding is the specialty of local wedding coordinator Heidi Hughett. Prior to starting her wedding planning business, Coastside Couture, Hughett worked in area nuptial hotspots such as UC Santa Cruz and Chaminade, where she oversaw more than 200 weddings. After more than 20 years working in the local wedding industry, Hughett knows her stuff. “The biggest trend now is intimate weddings,” she says. “People are really getting back to the family values of the 1950s and ’60s and thinking quality instead of quantity. Everyone’s being a lot more personalized and doing the little touches that make them happy. Cookie cutter weddings are gone. You want people to walk away and say, ‘Oh that was so them,’ and not, ‘that was the tenth wedding I went to this year that had chicken.’”

Covering ground from Half Moon Bay to Carmel, Coastside Couture has myriad connections and ideas that brides may not discover without the help of a wedding coordinator’s trained eye. However, many brides these days do not have the budget to hire the services of a wedding planner full time. For this very reason, Hughett Bridal_Heidi_Larsoncreated a solution she calls The Couture House, a wedding Library and Lounge. “The Couture House is a full service vendor resource specifically designed for engaged couples, brides and their families,” Hughett says. “This affordable service matches clients with the area’s best event professionals based on style and budget. It is basically the newly engaged couple’s one-stop-shop for a guided tour of services and products from some of the top event professionals in the Monterey Bay Area.” In a nutshell, The Couture House can save frazzled brides countless hours of Google-ing by condensing their wedding vendor search into one relaxing afternoon. “Our clients enjoy a warm, comfortable atmosphere, while sipping champagne, viewing videos, browsing through photographers’ albums, tasting cakes and much more,” Hughett shares. “During the two-hour private appointment, a professional Event Concierge is there to assist in finding the best fit of vendors, products, concepts and venue,” Hughett says. “We felt this was a much-needed service due to the budget concerns of today’s engaged couples. If they cannot afford to hire us to plan or direct their big day, they can hire us to help point them in the right direction.”

In addition to The Couture House and full service wedding planning services, Hughett assists many brides with day of planning to ensure that even brides on budgets can be cool and collected on their big day. After all, what good is the most detail-oriented wedding at any price if the couple is too stressed out and harried to enjoy it?

| Leslie Patrick | Photo: Chenin Bout

For more information, visit coastsidecouture.com or couturecelebrations.com, or call 246-1438.


Have Your Cake

Behind the magic of Janet Platin and The Buttery
It’s possibly the most quintessential moment at a wedding, the moment when the bride and groom cut the cake. Will the couple demurely feed each other small bites or will they smash the icing-covered confection into their new spouse’s face? This tradition may indeed be a foretelling of the newlywed’s burgeoning life together. But whether you look at cake as simply a wedding tradition or a psychological phenomenon, every wedding has a cake, and many Santa Cruz brides turn to The Buttery for their baked-goods needs.

Bridal_cake“The cake is the jewel of the wedding—except for the bride of course.”

“The cake is the jewel of the wedding—except for the bride of course,” says Janet Platin, owner of the Santa Cruz mainstay The Buttery for more than 25 years. “Wedding cakes are fun because they are edible art. The most elaborate cake we have ever made had a beautiful sea dragon that wrapped itself around the cake.” Although most brides won’t request a winged creature to adorn their cake on their special day, Platin says many brides see an image in a magazine and are immediately besotted. But what they don’t realize is that the cake may be outrageously expensive. “In the last 10 or 15 years, the whole design of wedding cakes has grown and expanded,” Platin explains. “People are more sophisticated about what is possible because of the popularity of wedding TV shows. These fancy cakes are not requested just in New York and L.A. anymore—you’ll see bakeries doing them in these small towns.”

But what are brides on a budget who want a stunning cake to do? Well according to Platin, there are plenty of ways that budget-conscious brides-to-be can cut costs on the cake without sacrificing on quality or style. “A lot of brides just end up getting a small cake that serves about 20 percent of the people at the wedding and then they will just serve sheet cakes,” she says. “But what they end up with is a beautiful cake that is so tiny it’s hardly noticeable. The cake is such a fun expression and can pull together the whole theme and the colors of the wedding. So for a bride on a budget I think it’s better to get the bigger cake but maybe not get fondant. Not do a super elaborate design. We’ll see what it is that appeals to them about an elaborate cake and find various ways of coming up with a simpler version.” This is great news for brides with champagne tastes who have to plan their entire wedding on beer budgets. And a word to the bride who’s looking for just the right flavor. “People love chocolate. There’s just no way around it,” Platin says. | Leslie Patrick |

For more information, visit butterybakery.com or call 458-1012.


A Glowing Bride

Monterey Bay Laser Aesthetics gets your face in prime shape for your wedding
That bridal glow—sometimes it comes at a price. Sure, she shows up at the altar looking amazing, but how did she get that glow, that flawless finish, that smooth skin? Usually she had some help from professionals like those at Monterey Bay Laser Aesthetics, a medical office in Capitola run by Dr. Rebecca Small.

Bridal_Sun Damage_ beforeBridal_Sun Damage_ AfterWith extensive experience in family medicine, being the author of several books, and too many credentials to note here, Small keeps brides’ faces in check. She defuzzes them, removes age spots, plumps up sagging skin, erases frown lines and wrinkles, keeps acne at bay, and all around helps brides feel their best on their wedding day. (In addition, she offers the same services to mothers of the bride, bridesmaids, etc.)

Once you’re engaged, there are myriad details to take care of in terms of planning your wedding. But don’t forget to take care of yourself. Whatever your aesthetic concern, it can most likely be taken care of. That’s where Small and her team come in.

“Most people don’t realize how damaged their skin is, and after a few treatments, their skin can look good again.”

Consultations are free, and Small recommends making an appointment with her up to six months ahead of time before your wedding. (Keep in mind her office does not accept insurance, so all treatments are out of pocket.)

You can get that furrowed brow look injected with Botox, those chin hairs can be zapped, the skin damage you incurred from those days of lying out in the sun can be reversed, your nasolabial folds can be filled in, and your cystic acne can vanish. And on top of all that, the team at Monterey Bay Laser Aesthetics can also do your makeup for your wedding. And furthermore, you can even have Botox injected into your armpits to avoid sweating on the big day. Microdermabrasion, peels, facials, laser treatments, eyebrow sculpting, injections—it’s all available.

The process for getting your skin under control will be determined at your consultation where Small and the bride discuss skin concerns, and the steps to looking better. “Most people don’t realize how damaged their skin is, and, after a few treatments, their skin can look good again,” Small says. | Christa Martin|

For more information, visit Montereybaylaser.com or call 475-1077.


A Dress to Remember

Jewels on Pacific sparkles with artistic wedding dress options
Everyone knows that at the center of a wedding is the couple … er, actually, it’s the bride—and her dress. And so, with such high stakes pressure to find the perfect gown, you’ve got to find the perfect store to shop at. For traditional brides who want the ‘look’ that everyone else is going for—there are plenty of shopping options for you. But for the bride who’s got an artistic edge, a creative bent, a flair for the unusual, or who just wants to stand out, swing by Jewels on Pacific in downtown Santa Cruz and take a look around. The store is dreamy.

Bridal_dressHelmed by a team of owners, including manager Michelle, the store is set up like an art gallery/fashion boutique, with a romantic flavor. Since the store opened in 2003, it’s been offering a variety of formal wear, from wedding gowns to bridesmaid dresses, and more, as well as a sparkling selection of jewelry for any occasion.

“We live in an artistic community and we sell dresses that have a nostalgic feeling or perspective in their design,” Michelle says. “It’s not that we don’t do poufy dresses, but we do [feature] soft, flowy lines for a beach or cruise wedding, to a cathedral length train, couture gowns, and custom orders.”

The store also features catalogues to order dresses from, and they work with seamstresses to alter dresses as well. “If you have a dream dress in mind, and you’re having a hard time finding it, we can look at your picture, have a consultation and refer you to a seamstress and have it recreated in the storyline [that you want],” Michelle says.

Prices are reasonably affordable in an industry where people won’t blink at a $2,000 price tag—however, here you can find a gown from $100 to $500, and on up. “A lot of girls are on budgets,” Michelle says, recognizing the need to cater to all price ranges. “As artists, we have a different business perspective. We’re much more accommodating.”

As for what’s in/what’s out, Michelle explains that her store doesn’t operate that way. “We don’t approach things from that perspective,” she says. “Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life. We think people ought to wear what they’re dreaming of. … It’s such a personal process.”

And don’t forget your undergarments. Michelle explains that many brides wait till the last minute to buy their undergarments, which can completely change the ‘look’ of a dress.
“We’re really an alternative wedding store,” Michelle says.
| Christa Martin |

For more information, visit jewelsonpacific.com, or call 420-1441.

Behind the Scenes

A Festive Affair can really toss ‘a festive affair’
With all the other stuff a bride has going on—securing her location, fine tuning her dress, sending out invites, and much more—one thing that often gets overlooked is the need to rent equipment for the wedding. This ranges in size from small to large, from five wine glasses to 50 chairs, from a coffee pot, to an enormous overhead tent. And the list goes on. Santa Cruz’s own A Festive Affair can take care of your needs. Manager Joe Doll says the company, which opened around 1998 and also has Half Moon Bay and Gilroy locations, has “no minimums to rent. We’ve rented out two chairs before.”
He suggests that brides get organized and know what they want before contacting A Festive Affair. Why? Because sometimes a bride can be so thrilled by the variety of glassware, stemware, flatware, and so on, and they have the influence of bridesmaids and others whom they’ve brought to the store, that suddenly the tab can skyrocket. So know what you want and stay focused.
Prices are distinctly affordable—a chair can rent for as little as $1.35. But you can also rent a large canopy tent for anywhere from $600 to $1,200. “Rental prices for a standard wedding for 150 people, including dishes, linens, and the full shebang, can go somewhere from $750 to $1,500,” Doll says.

Doll suggests coming in and dialoguing with him and the staff at A Festive Affair about two months before your wedding, which will enable a bride to get all her final rental needs in order. The process? Know what you want; call him to request a quote; he’ll go back and forth with you to fine tune the numbers; deposits are due; then voila, it’s time for your wedding.

As for securing the equipment for pick up and drop off, A Festive Affair can take care of these needs for you, as well as hire people to set up everything.

As far as trends go, Doll says, “Right now brides are very economically aware. … I’ve seen a large influx of the simple, small ceremonies and people are trying to do as much as they can on a small budget. … That’s something we work with to make happen. … I’m also seeing a lot of ivory, black, burgundy, very simple, basic colors.” He also notes that simple china (instead of elaborate designs) seems quite popular as well right now. Other new trends include picnic and barbecue weddings with checkerboard linens.

Doll explains that there are benefits to using a rental company instead of just borrowing silverware and tablecloths from a friend: “Your friend may miscount the silverware in a drawer or chairs in a garage,” he says. “The other thing is the cleanup. If you rent a full dinner set, you don’t have to wash it. Just scrape it and put it back in the box. It’s an environmentally friendly thing to do.”
| Christa Martin |

For more information about A Festive Affair, visit afestiveaffair.com, or call 425-1535.


Joyce Anderson, maven of the Santa Cruz bridal style scene, puts on a fashion show to remember
Anyone that has ever been behind the scenes of a fashion show knows that the atmosphere is one of buzzing, frenetic energy. Models parade in and out of the dressing room and onto the catwalk, many times with only a few seconds to change outfits and must reappear looking perfect with nary a hair out of place. All the more stressful is a bridal fashion show, when intricate gowns must be hooked, Bridal_Showdressesbuttoned and bustled within an inch of their lacy, silky lives. But for Joyce Anderson, the process seems to run as smoothly as the butter cream icing encapsulating a sumptuous wedding cake. For more than 10 years now, Anderson has been the woman behind the curtain, selecting models, doing the choreography and coordinating all of the styles that will be seen on the catwalk. “It’s a big production when you do something like this,” Anderson explains. “It’s almost like a rock band going on a road show. There are a lot of people that work behind the scenes.” A lot is definitely an understatement when you consider the dozens of models, hair and makeup experts, event coordinators, musicians and photographers that Anderson must wrangle together for the show each year. “The most major part is putting everyone together. There are four or five steps that easily take a few months to coordinate. Actually I pretty much start planning for the next show as soon as one is done,” she says.
At this year’s show, brides-to-be can expect to see the latest in wedding fashions from Bridal Veil Fashion, Rosa’s Bridal and Jewels on Pacific for bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses and mother of the bride dresses. The men will be suavely outfitted in suits and tuxedos from MW Tux.

“The biggest trend for this year is more color,” Anderson points out in regards to styling the 2010 show. “In the 1920s women used to get married in suits with long skirts, not wedding gowns at all. But even with the economy, people still want to have a beautiful dress.”

Whether current styles dictate a pantsuit, cocktail dress or fairy-tale wedding gown, Anderson artfully combines them into fashion show perfection.
The fashion shows will be held at the Jan. 31, 2010 Bridal Expo at the Cocoanut Grove at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and will showcase bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, evening gowns, and menswear respectively. | Leslie Patrick |

For more information contact (831) 454-0715.



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