Category Archives: Cakes

Paris: Third Time’s a “Charmant”

By | Cakes, Ceremony Decor, Estelle Preston Florist, Event Planner, Flowers, Lifestories Wedding Photography, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Paris, Paris Destination Weddings, Paris Wedding Photography, Paris Wedding Planner, Wedding Decor, Wedding Design, Wedding Planner, Yann Audic | No Comments

As one of the very few event planners that specialize in Paris destination weddings, I count my blessings every time I land in CDG, inhale the scent of fresh baked bread from a boulangier, and most of all, send our American-in-Paris couples down the aisle.  It’s enchanting in Paris, and to work there is a dream.  After a long day of work and research, I usually grab a drink with a local friend, then buy a baguette, slather it with the stick of butter I keep in my rented flat, and eat and sip wine while checking email and watching funny French TV (they even have their own Real Housewives franchise!).  No, there is no partying at clubs or lingering at cafes all night – I’m on the clock nearly every moment I’m there – but I love what has become my routine, as well as catching up with my local friends and colleagues. It’s become almost a home away from home.

The bride and groom, Michelle and Adam, reached me several months before their projected wedding date of late Spring 2014, and one of the first things she told me was she already had her dress.  The picture she sent was stunning – but once she stepped into it the day of the wedding, my reaction was beyond words.  Now listen – I work with dresses all the time.  This one, a Vera Wang, was one in a million.  The photos of the ceremony, with that stunning train behind her, and her handsome groom next to her, are simply gorgeous.

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com

 

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com, flowers by Estelle Preston - www.estellepreston.com

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com, flowers by Estelle Preston – www.estellepreston.com

We corresponded completely by phone – since the couple lived in the Midwest – and met in person for the first time in Paris, but after the hours of phone calls and hundreds (thousands?) of emails, we felt like we knew each other.  I also sent multiple emails to their guests, as well as updated their website with current information to ensure everyone’s stay was enjoyable.

While in Paris, we met a dear friend and colleague, Laurel Sanderson of Treize: A Baker’s Dozen, a small nook of a cafe that feels like the “Cheers” of Paris.  Off of a charming courtyard, away from the main street in an elegant area south of the Seine, you walk in and are immediately bellying up to the counter, downing some wine, and talking to Laurel, her servers, and her regulars, as if you knew them forever.  It’s like going into some sort of wormhole where you are as comfortable as an American on your native city, but tasting the best wine, tea, desserts, and cuisine Paris has to offer.

Laurel prepared the American-style wedding cake for Michelle and Adam, and for the tasting, we met at her shop and tasted the fresh berries and filing she was going to incorporate into the recipe. The berries – fresh as can be – were like none other we ever tasted – no exaggeration.  Luscious at room temperature, with an odd oblong shape that now makes me scared of the hyber-bred, “perfect,” hard, crisp, bright crimson berries we have here, they were addictive.

Those amazing strawberries...

Those amazing strawberries…

We visited the local florist around the corner from Laurel to pick out fresh flowers for the cake.  The peonies were gigantic – when it’s spring in Paris, peonies are omnipresent, and practically as big as your head – these fluffy stunners can be seen in buckets outside of floral shops, displays in stores – just about everywhere.

The day of the wedding, the bride, groom, and close friends and family took photos near the Trocadero and Eiffel Tower with the talented and punctual Yann Audic of Lifestories Weddings, then the ceremony and reception took place at Fontaine Gaillon, a perfect example of classic French dining, with velvet banquettes and a spacious patio with a stunning fountain that oversees the dining space.

Estelle Preston, a florist who is as talented as she is kind, produced the gorgeous peony centerpieces.  We filled in the decor with a guest sign-in table consisting of vintage Parisian postcards bought off the shore of the Seine (yours truly bargained for the best price), with a feather pen for signing; pillar candles on antique pedestals and candlesticks; and napkins dressed with wide, elegant lace.  Candles we added to Estelle’s glass bowls, also trimmed with lace, as well as lace fabric throughout the space, brought a softness and femininity to the handsome, old-world room.

 

Photo by Yann Audic / http://lifestorieswedding.com/, Florals by Estelle Preston:  http://www.estellepreston.com/

Photo by Yann Audic / http://lifestorieswedding.com/, Florals by Estelle Preston: http://www.estellepreston.com/

Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com.  Florals by http://www.estellepreston.com/.  Wine corks held seating cards; a personalized wine key proved a fitting favor for guests.

Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com. Florals by http://www.estellepreston.com/. Wine corks held seating cards; a personalized wine key proved a fitting favor for guests.

Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com.  Florals by http://www.estellepreston.com/, utilizing the bride's key color, bright fuschia.

Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com. Florals by http://www.estellepreston.com/, utilizing the bride’s key color, bright fuschia.

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Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com.

Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com.

We styled a guest book table with a custom painted, vintage frame, vintage mail holder, candlesticks, and florals by Estelle Preston.  Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com.  Florals by http://www.estellepreston.com/.

We styled a guest book table with a custom painted, vintage frame, vintage mail holder, candlesticks, and florals by Estelle Preston. Photo by Yann Audic / Lifestorieswedding.com. Florals by http://www.estellepreston.com/.

Laurel Sanderson of Treize - a Baker's Dozen created the cake; flowers by 360Degrees florist - http://www.flower.fr/. We placed lace brought over from the States over the dessert table and antiqued pillars and candles added a romantic glow.

Laurel Sanderson of Treize – a Baker’s Dozen created the cake; flowers by 360Degrees florist – http://www.flower.fr/. We placed lace brought over from the States over the dessert table and antiqued pillars and candles added a romantic glow.

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com, flowers by Estelle Preston - www.estellepreston.com

Photo by Yann Audic / www.Lifestorieswedding.com, flowers by Estelle Preston – www.estellepreston.com

My phenomenal associate Noemie Alison assisted in negotiating and fine tuning the elements of the event, and also flew in from her new home in the States to assist.  Talented photographer Krystal Kenney assisted as well that day; with her prior background in event production, she was vital to ensuring all was setup properly.

As expected in Paris, the food and wine were delicious, and the guests shared toasts, laughter, sweets, and even a little dancing thanks to a mini boom box the family brought from the States.  Like all weddings – whether in Paris or in the States – it was a night to remember.  “Merci” again to this wonderful couple for bringing me along for the ride!

Old Hollywood Glamour at Cicada Los Angeles

By | Cakes, Callas, Cicada, Day of Coordinator, Elizabeth Etienne Photography, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

I’m in love with Cicada. I adore old-Hollywood elegance.  The space, a former men’s department store from the 1920s, is not only a landmark, the staff have a service ethic from a different era as well.   Adelmo and Richard manage the space brilliantly – their staff can turn over a ceremony space to a banquet setup for over 100 in no time flat.

Recently we had the pleasure of coordinating another wedding at Cicada, and the couple imbued the evening with their Hollywood savvy (she’s in casting – and beautiful as a movie star – and he’s a writer, and handsome as a leading man – the perfect couple!). A script for a guestbook, a dress straight out of a 1930s classic movie, a candy bar that delighted the Shirley Temple in all of us – it was definitely a night rich in character and love. Elizabeth Etienne Photography is responsible for the beautiful photos.

A romantic first dance under the stunning chandelier

Flower Duet used callas to reflect the Deco feel of the space

The clever guest book, styled beautifully by the couple.

Nickel Diner made the scrumptuous red velvet cake.

A send off with sparklers

What I also loved about this event is that took advantage of local, Downtown-LA businesses.  Guests and bridal party stayed around the corner at Hilton Checkers, and the bride and groom ordered their wedding cake from the Nickel Diner, a local favorite.  In fact, I headed to the city extra early that morning to join a friend for breakfast at the diner – and enjoyed their cake many hours later!  Downtown L.A. has truly become a vibrant community.  Cicada has been in the center of it all for years, and will be for many more to come.

Venue + Dining: Cicada

Photographer:  Elizabeth Etienne Photography

Flowers:  Flower Duet

Cake:  Nickel Diner

Aaaaand we’re back: From Palm Springs, Anyway

By | Acqua Pazza, Cakes, Destination Wedding, DIY, Flowers, Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs, Red Lantern Photography, Signature Party Rentals, Succulents, Sylvia Weinstock Cakes | No Comments

Wow. It’s been ages since I blogged! As a mom / house cleaner/ cook / event professional / laundry-doer, honey, there just isn’t a lot of spare time.  I love the whole mad rush of life, don’t get me wrong; it’s just, social media tends to drop down a bit on the ‘ol to do list, as much as I love going viral as often as possible.  My routine is getting more and more Swiss-Watch-like as time goes on, and soon I plan to blog 2 – 3xs a week. Fingers crossed.

And now.  Palm Springs.  Ladies and gentlemen, I love Palm Springs. I’m planning on making it one of my two destination wedding specialties (the other one being Paris – I’ll be there next month for a wedding).  The tranquilizing heat, the festive nightlife, the stunning mid-century vibe and architecture…it calls to me. I’ve been there many times, and each time I hop on the 111, I get a little smile of anticipation.

It was my good luck to meet a couple last year who wanted to wed at Korakia.  They booked the space – a gorgeous getaway with both Moroccan and Mediterranean elements – and we were off and running.

Korakia's signature: The front door in front of where couples stand to exchange vows.

One of the planning elements, the cake, had an unusual spin:  A dear family friend of the bride’s happens to be related to the great Sylvia Weinstock, and the cake was a gift.  I was on call throughout the week leading up to the wedding, tracking the logistics of shipping and driving the cake out to the desert.  Continental and Action Messenger did the delicate work of getting the showstopping cake to Korakia, safe and sound.

Buttercream morrocan-tile design...

Nader and Donna from Red Lantern Photography were so hard working and easy going; they’ve recently moved to L.A. from Palm Springs, and I look forward to working with them in both cities.  Soon their pics will be up too – can’t wait to see his pro images from the big day.  Acqua Pazza is a popular restaurant in P.S., and they cooked up fresh, delicious Mediterannean-style fare; the staff were warm and friendly (and rustled up some cranberry juice when yours truly got, shall we say, a mild heatstroke and needed a little sugar before cocktail hour).  DJ Chase Martinez kept the party going; Tom Laliberte and his team from Signature Party Rentals were so on top of it, so fun to work with, and Tom gave me some great inside scoop about the best of Palm Springs event venues and vendors. Lastly, my girl Mary Phelan assisted me from start to finish, and was amazing, as always.

Succulents and boxes stained by the groom himself

Eagerly awaiting the bride and groom...

This wedding was so much about friends and family coming together, from the groom’s family friend creating all the flowers, to the maid of honor writing the table assignments, to so much more.  When the sun set and the refreshing desert breeze set in, not only was the setting beautiful, but the atmosphere of love and generosity was palpable. I hope to have more weddings in the desert, and I’ll be lucky if they are with as sweet and fun a couple as this one.

By | Agency DJs, Cake Monkey, Cakes, Dessert Table, Heirloom LA, Vendors, Venues | No Comments

There’s a  dirty little secret that events pros are well aware of:  Not all venues are ‘easy.’  I will never divulge the names of such venues, because we can pretty much put up with anything, and enjoy our pleasant relationship with all places we’ve worked.  But.  Maybe the site manager is not cooperative, or there have not been many technical upgrades; perhaps parts of it are rundown (like the piece of wood floor that came undone in the reception hall, that we – yes, we – had to tape down, because the venue manager we notified. Did. Nothing.  TRUE STORY.)

The SmogShoppe is not that type of venue.  Everything is plug n’ play, perfectly appointed- coordinating a wedding there on the day-of is a breeze.

We worked our first Shoppe wedding a couple weeks ago, and it was a pleasure.  The weather was quite nice for March, and except for some chill on the patio, everyone was comfortable and cozy, and the dancing went on past midnight.  The clients had a wonderful time and the ease of working at the venue greatly allowed us to help them enjoy their wedding as much as possible.

It’s such a lovely place, even my amateurish non-SLR photos look halfway decent.  More photos to come – we’re back at the Shoppe again very soon for another beautiful wedding.

The loft is a perfect place for a bird's-eye view of ceremonies.

The ability to play movies adds extra ambience to the urban-chic interior.

Holly Flora's whimsical blooms, vintage jars, and oil-fueled candles set the mood.

Chris Carter from Agency DJs kept the crowd dancing till the very end.

Music: Chris Carter, Agency DJs. Food:  Heirloom LA. (“Our cupcakes are made of lasagna!” Best mission statement ever.)  Cake/Dessert table (and going-home DingDong favors!):  Cake Monkey.  Flowers (including the dramatic chuppah):  Holly Flora. (Their space next door also incorporates SmogShoppe’s new alternative ceremony area.)

Wine plus Cake equals Perfection

By | Cakes, Champagne, Recipes, Superfine Bakery, Wine, Wine Comparisons | No Comments

My new favorite magazine is Southern Living.  My mom used to get it a long time ago and it was a straightforward publication that covered food and gardening in equal measure.  It’s slicker and hipper, but hasn’t lost that southern charm, y’all, and the production design is exquisite.  It’s become a key part of our event design/inspirational arsenal.  (Camellias in simple white china? Effortless perfection!)

The recipes continue to delight, and last night, I was paging through my latest issue.  They had a whole article on poundcakes (this is the kind of magazine Paula Deen no doubt has been reading since childhood – we’re talking 2 sticks o’ butter in every cake) and one had sauvignon blanc as a key ingredient.

I have a wedding coming up at a restaurant, and their least expensive wine was around $35. I suggested to the clients that I research some wines being sold at the 5cent Bev Mo sale that, even with the corkage fee, could save them around $200-300 total.  I took on this horrible arduous task (buying wine! tasting it! buying some more! drinking it!) and discovered some awesome white wines.

I’m not a fan of whites, but I tried enough delicious chardonnays – leaning towards the brighter, fruitier type vs. the bottles with that unctuous, buttery layer – to win me over.  I recommend the Montevina Chardonnay, which with the sale is $12.04 for every other bottle – quite a deal.

The other white I tried (well, I tried 3 – I must be thorough, after all!), was a Sauvignon Blanc by Santa Rita.  Delicate, crisp, light, this works for fish or a cream sauce pasta – lovely, particularly in the summer, but you know, I had to open it, so I’m working my way down the bottle. (I know…this is a really tough, demanding job.)

And then I read my latest issue of Southern Living, and lo and behold, a recipe for Sauvignon Blanc Pound Cake.  Butter, sugar, and wine.  Really, it was a slam dunk.

To hell with the icing...we couldn't wait. The cake is good enough on its own.

Here’s the recipe, but I made some changes that you might find worthy:

– Substitute one cup of white flour for whole wheat to subtract some of the guilt

– Reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup – you won’t miss it, unless your taste buds are particularly dull. I’m not a fan of super sweet stuff.

A close up...you might be able to see those incredibly healthy flecks of whole wheat flour, surrounded by mass quantities of butter and sugar.

At your wedding:

Superfine Bakery’s champagne cake is to die for.  Light, yet, dense with flavor – like a vanilla cake with something extra.  Absolutely perfect. I’m also a fan of Plusko’s champagne filling. Mm-mm!