Category Archives: Don’t Smile Now

Let It Go: Learning to Relax and Love Your Wedding Day

By | Day of Coordinator, Don't Smile Now, Event Planner | No Comments

Every once in a great while, we have a client who appears to have a hard time sitting back and letting the wedding day flow.  They (or a family member) also try to take control of the timeline or do things on their own that throw off the day because they make us go off-schedule.  We’ve managed to quell any major worries and remind these clients to just sit back and let us do our job.  We do what we can to make things run on time and are very successful at this. I hate to think of those that could ruin their experience of the day by not sinking into the joy and heart of the day, and letting little things (that no one can control) drive them crazy.

An unplanned moment - beautiful bride, city sidewalk.  Photo by Don't Smile Now/ Shani Barel.

An unplanned moment – beautiful bride, city sidewalk. Photo by Don’t Smile Now/ Shani Barel.

At the risk of playing armchair therapist, here are some tips to fully enjoying your big day:

1. Hire a coordinator.  Duh.

2. Trust the (well qualified, well-vetted) coordinator.  Clients do not always know the multiple questions, issues, and hiccups we deal with during the wedding day and rest assured, there is always something. If your day goes south, OUR day – and our business’s reputation – goes south, too, so trust us, we’ll fix it usually before you even know about it.  Go and enjoy yourself and let us be the wizard behind the curtain that makes it all happen smoothly. We’ll adjust the timeline or flow of the day when something does happen that is completely out of our control (such as when the ceremony starts 3 minutes later than planned because your friend who is officiating decides RIGHT BEFORE WE START THE CEREMONY to take a leak.  !)

3.  Guess what – this is just the beginning.  Some of our clients already have kids, but if you are childless and just embarking on marriage, get ready: Every day for the rest of your life is going to be an adventure, especially if kids are on the radar. When you have kids, control goes out the window.  Let your wedding day be that first taste of living for the moment, accepting what you cannot change (those peonies you wanted were in bad shape from the grower, and didn’t end up in the centerpieces –  or, Cousin Jimmy’s toast was a little, shall we say, off-color…) and enjoying the hell out of everything else.  It’s life, in all its amazing, wondrous imperfection.  Remember every detail – set aside a moment now and then to take it all in, even if it means watching Aunt Louise get down to that Notorious B.I.G. song.

One of the most heartfelt moments of the night:  Toasts.  No one is alike another. It's one of our favorite moments to witness. Photo by Don't Smile Now Photography / Shani Barel.

One of the most heartfelt moments of the night: Toasts. No one is alike another. It’s one of our favorite moments to witness. Photo by Don’t Smile Now Photography / Shani Barel.

 4.  Don’t take it all so seriously.  Okay, we take your wedding VERY seriously. There is a lot of emotion, a lot of money (let’s be real about that), and we want you to get a big return on your investment emotionally and yes, financially; it’s a lot of pressure in that regard.  And that is valid, and a few sleepless nights are certain.  But turn on the news, and remember the distress in the rest of the world, and what wonderful, ‘first world problems’ they are, these little stresses and concerns about your wedding.

5.  Value the experience.  Again, on the money tip: What you are buying are not just flowers, or photos, or time in a grand ballroom – but an experience, that cannot be replicated.  This assortment of people, at this very time, will never happen again.  We’ve overseen weddings where guests have flown from Australia, Singapore, you name it- it’s the one in a million experience of seeing your favorite people in one room that makes this worth the stress and the money.  These days, it’s rare for families to get together on a regular basis – families are spread all over the country, even the world, due to work obligations and other considerations.  It’s so special to have them all together in one room. Forget your worries and focus your attention on savoring time with them at your wedding.


These tips and observations come from running over 100+ events; 200+ if you consider the entire No Worries Team that is at your service – and remember, there are no tests to pass, certificates to earn, or any other requirements that planners and coordinators have to meet in order to open their business.  Getting a DBA, business liability insurance, and a business license are all you need – and these are easy to get, so be very careful when hiring a coordinator.  If you truly want to sit back and relax, get a good, well recommended professional.  Venues, other vendors, and picky brides are great sources for referrals to a qualified coordinator.


Friday Finds: Cool Champagne Chiller, Sequins Galore, Christmas at Casa Del Mar

By | Don't Smile Now, Event Planner, Jackie Combs Lotus and Lily | No Comments

1. I was delighted to receive this gift from a dear friend for the holidays, and it’s a must-add to a registry: A decorative wine/champagne chiller, where you design the ring of ice around the bottle. Easy, cool (literally), and a big conversation starter.

From Williams

2. All that Glitters: Clients are now entranced by sequins and glitter. I adore this movement. Where the recession seemed to coincide with a very rustic, almost spartan look in some circles, now brides want to celebrate with touches of gilt and sparkle. While not necessarily rare, sequin linens are still not mainstream among vendors or easily spotted on linen websites. A good event planner or rentals broker can give you the scoop on where to find the best options, and sometimes a discount as well.

3. Our last wedding of the year was a beautiful event at Casa Del Mar on December 21st. The bride and groom truly looked like a Princess and Prince Charming…and the ballroom was gorgeous. Graham from SilverTunes Entertainment, Jackie from Lotus and Lily, and photographer Shani Barel, owner of Don’t Smile Now, all did a marvelous job creating a magical night. Photos are here.

The ballroom at Casa Del Mar

Back in action in 2013 – Casa Del Mar festivities, and a new FAQ section to the site

By | Amy's Culinary Adventures, Bar Mitzah Coordination Los Angeles, Carly Cylinder, Day of Coordinator, Don't Smile Now, flour, Jackie Combs Lotus and Lily, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

Just a little bit of ‘housekeeping’ here as I end a whirlwind year of events.

I fell off the blogging wagon just a touch (!) as we ramped up for holiday busy-ness. We coordinated a gorgeous wedding at Casa Del Mar, and followed that event up with backing up one of our favorite caterers, Amy’s Culinary Adventures, at a high-energy Bar Mitzvah. My day of rest? The 25th -Christmas Day. Then it was right back in action prepping for a large event, coming up the first weekend of the year.

The Casa Del Mar wedding featured the talents of Graham Silver from Silvertunes Music, the beautiful (inside and out) Jackie Combs of Lotus and Lily, and Shani Barel of Don’t Smile Now, once a fellow vendor and now a dear friend (fellow valley mom!) who took outstanding pictures. I’ve seen the previews and will post the real deal soon.

Quick shot of Casa Del Mar in its glory...can't wait for Shani Barel's photos (of Don't Smile Now Photography)

One of the changes I am making in 2013 is to the website – some revamping and tweaking, versus a big overhaul, and the first change I’ve made is the FAQ section. It has yet to have its own spot on the mast head (that’s for my web programmer to create) but you can check it out here. I feel it answers a lot of questions that clients ask at the beginning of the coordinator/planner search.

Another random note: I love vintage, I love rustic, but boy do I adore modern or baroque or mid century – basically, anything that represents dynamic, inspired florals and event design that doesn’t necessarily look like many other weddings featured on the ‘net these days. Or, in other words, everything that Carly Cylinder of FlourLA features on her new website, The Pollen Lounge. Daily inspiration right up my alley.

I can’t wait for the post-engagement rush…and excited for the new year. Happy Holidays!


Friday Finds: Pinterest Inspiration, Favorite Favors, Real Weddings

By | Don't Smile Now, Friday Finds, La Tavola Linens, Soft Peaks Confections, Superfine Bakery | No Comments

Today’s Friday Finds showcases some local vendors and brilliant inspiration from the wedding world.

1. First, our favorite Pinterest user to follow right now is La Tavola Fabrics. If you want to be blown away by gorgeous fabrics and unique prints, see their showroom in Beverly Hills (like I did this week!) – or check out their site for an advanced search. But their Pinterest page is probably the most droolworthy one we’ve seen from a vendor in a long time. Take a look (and see you in a few hours!)

For this wedding, styled/designed by Social Hour Events, La Tavola's Tuscano collection was used. Photo by Blue Window Photography.

2. Earlier this week, we posted about some excellent small businesses that provide delicious and creative gifts. Treats like caramels and macarons also make great wedding favors, don’t forget. Vendors can often package their products accordingly for smaller servings that can be placed with escort cards, in a basket at the end of the night for a good night sweet, or at each place setting.

Apple Pie die for!

3. Lastly, our favorite Real Wedding is this fun Queen Mary expedition shot by Don’t Smile Now. A truly unique wedding with tons of personality.

Have a great weekend -stay dry out there!

Wedding Proposal Checklist: Before and After You Pop the Q

By | Don't Smile Now, Jeromy Robert Photography, New Years Eve, Proposal Advice, Proposals | No Comments

Those in the wedding and events industry eagerly await the holidays, not just because the festivities are part of the job, but because Christmas and New Year’s mean a lot of dropped knees, solitaire rings, and tearful “yes”-es.  And then, we enter the picture, planners, DJs, caterers alike, ready to guide the newly betrothed couple down the lane of wedding planning.

I was thinking recently about the best proposal advice, and I’ve realized that a fantastic way to knock her socks off – besides the ring – is also gently take the reins in the planning process.  Not too much, mind you – ladies love to spearhead the event planning and design – but present her with great ways to to get things off to a good start.  This shows her how invested you are in the event and how excited you are for the big day, as opposed to washing your hands of the rest of the proceedings.  Some men get really involved, some take a back seat – no matter what your perspective, at least showing her you’d like to help her get a running start is a lovely gift in and of itself.

Get ready for your engagement session...this beautiful shot is by Jeromy Robert Photography.

First, though, you gotta pop the ring.  A few ideas:


1.  The Ring: Obviously the diamond is priority #1, but bear in mind that women are now switching rings to match their jewelry. Ok, full disclosure:  really just myself and Jennifer Lopez are (or did).  So, that’s at least two of us. And frankly I think it’s a trend that’s increasing.  I love white gold, so my ring is exactly that (with a sapphire and two diamonds – nice work, hubs!).  I also love antique gold, and realized the ring totally clashed with my gold earrings.  My amazing hubs bought me a simple thin gold band – not too flashy – with diamonds, that’s stackable.  This allows me to wear my gold pieces and also has lots of sentimental value. He can also buy more rings to stack with it to commemorate anniversaries.

If you have the budget, purchase another ring in a different metal to give her options in a different metal.  I like the band style because you can also wear it with your wedding ring; without a raised gem, it doesn’t invade the rest of her accessories and allows the wedding band to blend in.  Rose gold is on the rise and reasonable as well.

Photo by Shani Barel Photography /

2.  The Place: Is she shy or private?  Perhaps best to avoid the surprise engagement in front of everyone (though I cry every time I watch Ultimate Proposal).  For easygoing ladies, a small family party can be sweet.  A trip away for the weekend can be lovely, as well as an intimate dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant.  Some of the coolest proposal stories I’ve heard, though, are in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, over pizza and Sunday football, really anywhere.  The surprise and joy is almost more intense when it really isn’t expected.

3.  The Expert: Wedding planners and consultants like myself also help with proposals.  We can vet the ring (ensure size and style are kosher, coordinate insurance, etc), make reservations, and make sure that the restaurant or venue is attuned to your very special night and needs.  Feel free to shoot us a question anytime – we’re full of hints and tips!


1.  Wedding Planning 101: After the afterglow has turned into the thrill of realizing a wedding is in the making, show her that you’ve done your homework.  You don’t want to hijack the planning, but telling your fiance you’ve booked a consultation with a wedding planner or consultant is such a great way to say you’ve got her back.  Most planners like myself offer complimentary consultations and are happy to meet just about anytime, anywhere.

2.  Budget: It’s also thoughtful to ease budget stress immediately by letting her know you’ve chatted with your families (assuming you’ve asked Big Daddy for her hand in marriage, yes?) and had a delicate and polite chat with all parties about budget.  It’s so stressful working with large dollar amounts, and heading into the planning process with certain expectations makes everything easier.

3.  Get ready! Buckle up – you’re in for a fun, crazy, and sometimes nutty ride!  But remember, this is your time to see how you work together on a major project, and it’ll strengthen your relationship even more.  Gearing up for the big day is an experience like no other.

Have any ideas you want to bounce off a pro?  Need recommendations for the most romantic restos in L.A.? Let us know and we’ll give your proposal prep a boost.  If there’s anything we’re proponents of, it’s lamour.  Good luck!

Pretty Stuff: “Still Life”s from Fabulous Photographers

By | Don't Smile Now, Flowers, Karen Leah Photography, Katie Robertson Photography, Pretty Stuff, Rings, Shirvan Design, Stephanie Yantz Photography, Still Life Shots | No Comments

Ah, the ‘ring shot.’ No, it’s not a last-minute 3-pointer from Derek Fisher, but rather, the posing and lighting of the rings that photographers do so well.

I had started to blog about city noise ordinances, and it was so doggone boring that I decided to just put up pictures of pretty stuff. And the stuff I find so pretty are these gorgeous ‘still lives’ of the meaningful symbols of the wedding day.  Enjoy.

Flowers! Rings! Photo by Karen Leah Photography.

Callas by Shirvan Design, photo by Karen Leah Photography.

Close up of the bling by Stephanie Yantz Photography.

Capturing ring, flowers, and stationary design. Stephanie Yantz Photography.

Flowers by Jackie Combs Floral Design, photo by Katie Robertson Photography.

Escort cards look light and pretty. Shani Barel/Don't Smile Now Photography.

A nice spin on the 'shoe shot'. Karen Leah Photography.

I love the texture of the wood. Photo by Shani Barel of Don't Smile Now Photography.