Category Archives: Los Angeles Wedding Planner

Hiring the Best Wedding Vendors

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Los Angeles Wedding, Budget Weddings, Event Planner, Facebook, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Planning Checklist, Wedding Vendor Negotiation | No Comments

By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries

Every year as the holidays roll around, the wedding industry clamors about “engagement season”- and yeah, this is the time, from December through January, where we get super busy taking incoming inquiries and generally book up to 60% of our dates for the coming year.  It’s appropos then to share some insight about booking wedding vendors.

Remember, there is no real barrier to entry for most wedding vendors.

A DJ has to have specific technical skills, sure, but has he or she practiced mc’g in front of large crowds?  A florist doesn’t necessarily need to be formally trained to start his or her own business. And wedding planners and coordinators need really NO technical training, nor does there seem to be any formal qualifications and standards set by a leading organization to follow. (Corporate planners can get their certified meeting planner designation, which is respected as definitive by the industry, but in the wedding world there are a variety of certification programs by competing organizations for weddings and none of them are considered “the” one to get.)

So when you interview a prospective vendor, it’s good to see how they are viewed in the industry. Do numerous venues sing their praises?  Is their Yelp page full of 100s of reviews? (Remember, Yelp isn’t the end-all be-all of legitimacy, but it is a good indicator that a business has been around for a bit.)  They don’t need to have graduated from “DJ School,” but they should have a solid level of experience and savvy in what they do.

Tray passed appetizers wedding vendors Los Angeles Wedding Jenna Janelle Rose Wedding photography cost of wedding catering

Your wedding: Not the time to go cheap on food. Tray passed appetizers here are by Huntington Catering Company, Photo by Jenna Rose (JennaJanelleRose.Com)

Benchmark prices carefully.

I know weddings aren’t cheap these days, and it’s a struggle couples go through. But if you go cheap on a vendor, you’ll pay a price.  I’ve had weddings where, to the person, the vendors that were charging below-market price were the ones with which we had significant issues – including a florist that was sloppy and left damage at a venue that would have cost the client hundreds to thousands in their security deposit. (The florist came back later and managed to fix the damage.)

First, put together a solid, cohesive budget.  Then, carefully compare prices from competitors in a variety of categories.  If there is a vendor that is significantly less expensive, there are a few reasons why:  1.  They may have another job, which isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s important to make sure they will uphold reasonable work ethic and response times, which is easy to check by calling a few references; 2.  They may be just starting out – so it’s important to see what prior experience they have, since anyone can pretty much get a business license for performing work in the wedding industry; and/or 3. They do a very high volume of work for very low prices.  I speak from experience when I say this means you will get a longer response time and less of a personal touch from these vendors, nearly every single time. For a wedding cake, maybe (maybe) this is no problem. For a photographer or DJ, you will want a more intensive flow of communication.

Norris photo los angeles church wedding vendor

A church wedding ceremony can be cost effective, support the community, and provide a gorgeous setting for your wedding. Photo by Don Norris (Norrisphoto.com)

 

A good wedding vendor sets boundaries.

My life changed a few years ago, when I added office hours to my contract.  A good vendor has good boundaries, and ultimately they help the client.  It’s important to know when wedding vendors are usually available (this blog post is helpful as to what is typical in the industry), and to understand that if a vendor can compartmentalize when and how they work for you, they can manage your event better because they are focused on pre-set, efficient work hours and deadlines and can be super productive in the times they devote to your project.

Does that mean I haven’t squealed with delight and texted right back to a client who shot me a photo of her dream dress at 7pm on a Monday night?  Or that I haven’t suggested a Skype at 8pm with an out-of-state client that works 60 hour weeks, or a weekend walkthrough of a venue? Of course, I am flexible and meet clients halfway whenever possible with my time. But be aware, and respectful, of wedding vendors, and ask ahead about when they usually take appointments and correspond with clients.

For more solid, realistic advice, my guide the Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths will steer you well; and hang around our Facebook page to learn when we’ve posted a new article on the blog.  Happy Planning!

Real Wedding: May at Malibu Rocky Oaks

By | Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Malibu, Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding, Malibu Wedding, Wedding Ceremony, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Decor, Wedding Design, Wedding Planner | No Comments

This last May, el nino threatened our chances of an outdoor wedding, but in the end, love prevailed!  This wedding, with elements of Korean customs, was full of joy, laughter, and tasteful touches of Jackie Combs of Lotus and Lily’s floral and event design. Delicious food and seamless entertainment and beautiful lighting from outstanding vendors made this a hugely successful event, at one of our all-time favorite venues.  The beautiful photos below are from Iris and Light.

 

Venue: Malibu Rocky Oaks

Catering:  Amy’s Culinary Adventures

DJ, Paebeck, and some Lighting:  Valentine Entertainment
Rentals and some Lighting:  A Rental Connection

Cake:  Intricakes

Florals:  Lotus and Lily

Linens:  Luxe Linen

Videography:  Peter Yun

Photography: Iris and Light

Hair and Makeup: Yuri Sinata

 

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Cake by Intricakes

Cake by Intricakes

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Valentine Entertainment coordinated the Korean Paebeck ceremony.

Valentine Entertainment coordinated the Korean Paebeck ceremony.

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Florals by Lotus and Lily, Linens by Luxe Linen

Florals by Lotus and Lily, Linens by Luxe Linen

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Florals by Lotus and Lily, Linens by Luxe Linen

Florals by Lotus and Lily, Linens by Luxe Linen

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Real Destination Wedding: La Quinta

By | Destination Wedding, Event Planner, Guest Books, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Palm Springs Wedding Planner | No Comments

This destination wedding was just pure joy – our music-loving, awesome couple hired a killer band, Entourage by DeBois, had charming decor, and a fabulous backdrop in the Merv Griffin Estate.

When choosing a venue, the couple wanted an estate that could also serve as home base for their bridal party and family for the weekend. The Merv Griffin Estate has room for around 20 people total, and is absolutely huge – there is a lake on the property! Yet, despite the glamorous grandeur, it had an open, welcoming feel, as well, and is impeccably kept and managed.

We secured room blocks at hotels nearby and also provided transportation for many guests to ensure they could fully enjoy the evening’s events.  The couple’s passion for music was reflected in a vinyl guest book – guests signed records with silver pens as a momento to keep forever.

Catering was by Modern Art Catering, paper goods by Paper Source and Sloane Harmony Design, flowers by Desert Blooming Events, Cake by Dot’s Cakes, videography by KS Photo and Film, photography by Michael Segal, rentals by Signature Party Rentals, and planning by yours truly.

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Program by Sloane Harmony Design

Program by Sloane Harmony Design

 

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How to Hire a Wedding Planner or Coordinator

By | Day of Coordinator, Event Planner, How to choose wedding vendors, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding | No Comments

I blogged about five questions to ask a coordinator or planner a few years ago, and I’m now writing today with a more in-depth article on how to find and choose one – reflecting the current needs of brides and grooms today.

 Consider exactly what service you want. The past two years, I’ve seen the number of wedding coordination bookings lessen, and surging ahead in popularity are my Partial Planning and custom consultation packages.  The reason is, people are strapped for time and need expertise given to them quickly and accurately.  These services save couples money in the long run; we often can pre-negotiate and warn clients of costly missteps when we are more intensively involved in the planning process. Also, having a life while you are planning your wedding is nice, too.

Weddings at private estates, like this intimate affair at Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard, take intensive time and labor to pull off flawlessly. Photo by Dave Richards Photography.

Weddings at private estates, like this intimate affair at Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard, take intensive time and labor to pull off flawlessly. Photo by Dave Richards Photography.

Do your research on pricing.  Comparable-quality vendors have similar price points.  If one or two are out of wack from the majority of quotes you are getting, ask them why.  Some vendors are newer and less expensive; be sure you can trust their work and check their references.  I also talk about this in a recent podcast, here – knowledge is power, and being educated will allow you to discuss pricing in a fair and effective manner with a potential vendor.

“Day of” Is a misnomer.  Every now and then I receive a call from a potential client who insists they only need a “day of coordinator” just to “run the day”.  I understand there may be some information or opinion floating about there in the universe that allows someone to think that a coordinator does not need to be involved till, say, a few days prior.  Many times I’ve stepped into an event 3-4 weeks prior and there are a significant amount of final elements left undone – like a proper timeline, linen count, final menu choices, etc. etc.   And certainly, there are also clients where at 2 months out, they are already rock solid with a lot of details. But consider a coordinator an agent of final due diligence and essential project management, speaking with all the vendors and passing info from to another, and correcting some things and adjusting others.  We can spot a disaster waiting to happen, too – a seemingly innocuous detail can cause serious issues on the day of, and we’ll hone in on those potential issues.  We’ll chase down info from vendors, and chase down info from the client FOR the vendors. The vendors don’t all talk to each other; they need someone to connect the dots.

All set and ready to go...starting a ceremony on time takes careful prep in the weeks prior to the big day. Photo by True Photography. Venue: Calamigos Malibu. Florals: McCann Florist.

All set and ready to go…starting a ceremony on time takes careful prep in the weeks prior to the big day. Photo by True Photography. Venue: Calamigos Malibu. Florals: McCann Florist.

 

I’ve seen massive holes left un-addressed and even if everything is locked up tight, I need to be prepared before the day of so I know how to manage everything. Otherwise, I’ll be constantly behind the curve and scrambling to keep up – and guess who will be to blame if anything goes wrong, that could have been fixed ahead of time? That’s right- the coordinator.

My value for showing up on one day – with no prep work – is at least several hundred dollars. My day rate for working for caterers as a floor manager, for example, is around $350 for 8 hours.  Add a few more hours of time at the event; and acknowledging I work 30 weekends a year usually so I have to make it worth my while; and, add the assistant I MUST have (no matter how big or small the wedding), you’re looking at almost 1k.   So, it makes sense to get the whole set of wedding coordination services for a little more money, and get way more value out of the caring hand-holding and resourcefulness of a coordinator working just for you.

My book The Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths has more must-have info about planning your wedding, and my door is always open at dee@noworriesep.com. Happy planning!

 

Modern First Dance Songs: Summer/Fall 2015

By | Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Music | No Comments

The most challenging aspect of planning can sometimes be picking the perfect first dance song.  I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground, listening for newer, special songs that can work for your first dance.

1. Coming Home – Leon Bridges.  This song is deceptively simple…but it pretty much says it all about love. Being with your true love really is like coming home, a place of comfort that is always there for you.

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Photo by Brady Puryear

2.  Flaws – Bastille.  This  may sound counterintuitive to the couple blissfully inlove, but I learned after a few years of marriage is how the single most important concept of couplehood is admitting your flaws and working on them, but accepting your significant other’s imperfections, and, even embracing them.  It’s called a “wonderful mess” in the song, and I love that idea – perfection is overrated!

Photo by Brandon Kidd Photography

Photo by Brandon Kidd Photography

3.  The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Here’s a classic song that I have not heard at a wedding until just recently, and deserves a second look.  A dear friend of mine got married recently and they had talented friend of theirs sing this song (originally sung by Roberta Flack).  It’s beautiful and truly timeless. This version is a live version sung by Leona Lewis.

Real Wedding: Party Animals at SmogShoppe

By | DIY, event design, Event Design Tips for Weddings, Event Planner, J Huffman Photography, king Protea wedding flower, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, SmogShoppe, Uncategorized | No Comments

When great ideas and great execution collide, you have the definition of successful event design.  We love taking our clients’ ideas and transforming them to tangible decor that has a purpose at their event.  In this case, for Hayley and Nick’s wedding, they wanted to implement the fabulous “Party Animal” theme with bright colors, flamingo figurines, and the playful shape of the king protea.  We created fun and stylish centerpieces, had a spray paint ‘clinic’ on how to class up the flamingos with an ivory and gold sheen, and weighed in on the selection of chic table runners from Luxe Linens.  The couple’s details – animal masks, menu and signage design, perfectly painted mini animals, and a station for advice givers – were so clever. Together we worked to create a cohesive design for a wedding that truly was a party!

Vendors and Venues:

Ceremony: St. Timothy’s

Venue: SmogShoppe

Photography – the awesome J Huffman Photography

Videography – George Street

Catering – Huntington Catering Company

Reception Music – DJ Swon from Red Shoe LA

Cocktail Hour Music – Jenny Luna and Alex Logan

Florals – No Worries

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Social Media and Cell Phone Rules for Weddings

By | Cell Phones at Weddings, Continuum Weddings, Continuum Weddings Photography, Facebook, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Shani Barel Photography, Social Media at Weddings, Uncategorized | No Comments

With social media and technology, things are constantly evolving – first we had Friendster, then Facebook, now Snapchat – it’s hard to keep up! But there are a few hard and fast rules for social media and cell phones at weddings, it just takes some careful communication to be sure your guests are aware.

The only time it's appropriate to check your Facebook feed:  When you change your status at the altar from Single to Married!  Photo by Continuumweddings.com

The only time it’s appropriate to check your Facebook feed: When you change your status at the altar from Single to Married! Photo by Continuumweddings.com

1.  Have your officiant tell guests to put their phones down.  It’s like a scene from TMZ: You’re walking down the aisle, and all you can see are cell phones snapping away!  If you don’t want this, be sure to have your officiant take his or her place, and then make a brief announcement, before the rest of the processional.

Or, have a young bridal party member lovingly and charmingly remind guests to turn off their cell phones!  Photo by Shani Barel.

Or, have a young bridal party member lovingly and charmingly remind guests to turn off their cell phones! Photo by Shani Barel.

 

2.  Then, whip out the hashtag signs…or not.  If you do want up to the moment memories saved on ‘the cloud,’ create and research a hashtag before the wedding and print out small signs to put on the bar, cocktail tables, and near the photobooth.  That gives permission to then snap away and post on Instagram and Facebook.  Or, if you want social media silence the entire night, be sure to have your officiant mention that as well at the ceremony.

Appropriate: A quick cell phone shot amongst close family and friends before the ceremony. Photo by Shani Barel.

Appropriate: A quick cell phone shot amongst close family and friends before the ceremony. Photo by Shani Barel.

 

3.  Have a party online.  Our favorite apps are Wedding Party and Bonfyre, for private, invite-only news feeds of photos and comments of the party, during the party.  If you have a laptop connected to a projector, you can even show a live feed at the reception.  Definitely a way to blend social media into a live event without sacrificing the meaningful person-to-person interaction of a wedding.

With these tips, you can better offer an intimate environment for your wedding ceremony and yet provide an online experience for guests as well. Happy planning (and snapping, posting, sharing…)!

Real Wedding: Romance, Beverly Hills-Style

By | Beverly Hills Hotel, Brady Puryear Photography, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Sky Event Productions, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

We had the opportunity to work at one of the most romantic getaways in the city, the Beverly Hills Hotel, for this gorgeous August wedding. The clients were a dashing, intelligent couple with excellent taste; the wedding had Persian elements celebrating their culture and lush florals from one of our favorite vendors, Sky Event ProductionsAfsaneh Sargordan designed the sofreh, and the cake came from Joanie and Leigh’s Cakes.  Rounding out the A-plus team of vendors are Golnar Djahanbani (officiant),  TMMPro (lighting) and Vidicam (videography), and of course, photos by Brady Puryear, whose work you see below.

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo By Brady Puryear

Photo By Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

MorshedWedding417

Lighting by TMMPro; photo by Brady Puryear

Lighting by TMMPro; photo by Brady Puryear

Cake by Joanie and Leigh; photo by Brady Puryear

Cake by Joanie and Leigh; photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear.

Photo by Brady Puryear.

Lighting by TMMPro; photo by Brady Puryear.

Lighting by TMMPro; photo by Brady Puryear.

Photo by Brady Puryear, florals by Sky Productions

Photo by Brady Puryear, florals by Sky Productions

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

Photo by Brady Puryear

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Photo by Brady Puryear, florals by Sky Productions

Photo by Brady Puryear, florals by Sky Productions

 

 

 

The Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths: Myth #5 – “I can DIY my entire wedding!”

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Budget Weddings, DIY, Jackie Combs Lotus and Lily, Katie Robertson Photography, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Budget, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

Over the past few days, we’ve been breaking down the 5 biggest wedding myths. Today we’re tackling Myth 5: DIY/”Friend-or” weddings.

The DIY movement enpowers brides and grooms to add personal elements to their event, and fold in their buddies to the big day, as well.  We’ve had friends play guitar for the ceremony, or brides bake a grooms cake – small contributions make up for big, heartfelt gestures. But totally replacing a major vendor with a friend or your own DIY efforts? That’s flirting with – or hurtling headlong into – disaster.

One of the best examples of this myth is the “FRIEND DJ.” (Settle in kids – I’ve got a few fun stories for ya.)

Here’s the thing: music is inescapable. If the music is suddenly off, the WHOLE crowd notices. It’s also the international sign for, “Show’s over, Folks! Time to leave!” Unlike a drink that is a little too strong for one particular guest, or one centerpiece that is a bit wilty on a table of twelve, the music is everywhere and affects everyone, not just a handful of guests. Thus, your wedding tunes have a huge impact on the success of your event. At the end of the day, how much are you really saving?

A bride wisely provided her own lovely and easy to assemble candle centerpieces, but hired a professional florist (Lotus and Lily) for the more complex bouquets.

A bride wisely provided her own lovely and easy to assemble candle centerpieces, but hired a professional florist (Lotus and Lily) for the more complex bouquets. Photo by Katie Robertson Photography.

We no longer work events where a “friend is managing an Ipod,” and per our contract, all non-professional vendors are SOLELY responsible for the integrity of their work. For example, we’ve had a “friend-DJ” space out and not immediately turn the music back on after the bouquet toss, causing confusion and guests to start leaving. After our urging to get the music on, he panicked and had a hard time finding the next song – and by then, in just that minute or two that passed, we lost a dozen guests at a wedding that already had a low guest count. The wedding died out shortly thereafter.

At another event, a “friend DJ” did not know at all how to work the rental equipment, and had to use the one speaker on the venue’s property. This speaker was a low-quality piece of equipment that was typically used for the less complicated ceremony sound. So, it sounded muffled – like it was underwater: in a word, terrible. Even worse, this DJ started using an online song source ON HIS PHONE. The music stopped every time his phone buffered!

I mean it: Get a professional DJ, florist, officiant, – the whole nine yards. Also, most venues now require every vendor to have insurance, so right off the bat that takes away the option to involve an amateur.  Reserve friends’ talents for small touches, like providing the ingredients and recipe for their special signature cocktail, or to craft a lovely gift card box for you. Otherwise, let the pros safeguard your beautiful day with their savvy services.

Apply your talents to DIY touches you can do well before the event – like namecards, table numbers, or other printed goods.  Definitely don’t try florals – honestly, that’s a whole other blog post – unless you’re pre-building tissue or paper florals.

Make sure your vendors know your tastes and preferences so that the day is still all about you and your fiance’s personality – and then you, and your friends, can just relax and enjoy the day.  Happy planning!

The Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths – Myth #4: “I can coordinate my own wedding!”

By | 5 Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Day of Coordinator, Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Coordinator | No Comments

#4 in our series of the Five Biggest Wedding Planning myths: The risks of not working with a professional wedding coordinator.

Certainly, a bride or groom with common sense, an eye for numbers, and solid time management skills allow him or her to organize a wedding from the ground up. But no matter how on point you are, you need to be present as the guests of honor on your wedding day, not actually ‘working’ the day itself. It’s like a play – the lead actors cannot also serve as the stage managers!

Also there are logistical and permitting issues at play in a variety of cities, that the layperson is not aware of. Having the bare minimum of expertise to guide your wedding will save you from doing the dirty work of brass-tacks logistics.

A few things to keep in mind:

Vendors do not all communicate with each other or the venue. In other words, they often don’t know what they don’t know about each particular wedding until someone shows them a timeline, a scout video, etc. Once they receive that initial information, numerous questions and concerns come to the fore, and a coordinator can then expertly answer them, while the client focuses on more fun things – attending a flower mockup, trying on the dress one more time, and sorting out her guest list.

Most other vendors – like the DJ, onsite banquet captain, or photographer – hate taking over as coordinator. They do not have time to answer multiple questions or perform certain tasks (i.e., repurpose the bridesmaid bouquets to the head table; discuss adjusting the main course service time due to the bride and groom taking last minute sunset shots; coaching the terrified maid of honor through a dry run of her toast, etc.). The DJ is constantly adjusting volume and his or her mixing board, double-checking the speaker system, and prepping for the next toast or announcement. Your photographer is catching the most essential, important moments of one of the biggest days of your life, scanning the room for those special moments. They do not have ample time to circle back with the banquet captain to keep things flowing. The biggest danger here is going seriously off your timeline and running so late that you go into overtime with your vendors or the venue.

Having a chat with a Maid of Honor before the ceremony.  Photo by Wasserlein Photography.

Having a chat with a Maid of Honor before the ceremony. Photo by Wasserlein Photography.

Experience counts. There is no governing body that declares someone fit to start an event planning or coordination business. No bar exam to pass, or board certification to earn. Anyone an their mother (literally) can sell themselves as a planner, with little to no practical experience.

The assistance that a good, qualified coordinator provides is evident throughout the planning process, as well. Here’s an example of just a small percentage of the work – the tip of the iceberg, really – we recently provided to a coordination client:

  1. Advised on floor plan and gave floor plan changes to the venue manager, who mis-read them twice. That’s about 30 minutes and 4 emails back and forth that we took on, on behalf of the client. This is just a small sample of the hours and number of emails (typically 600-800 per event) that we expend on behalf of a client.
  2. Provided ideas for how to create risers and, thus, more space, on their favor table so there was enough room for their cute but bulky favors.
  3. Consulted with their DJ on a jam-packed timeline to ensure it went smoothly on the day-of. I sent multiple emails back and forth and drafted at least 3 revisions of the timeline, and ran it past multiple other vendors to ensure it worked with their service time frames.
  4. Advised on quantities for dessert bar; myself and my associate sat on hold multiple times with the bakery to discern how long the desserts would be stable at room temp, as well as to confirm delivery time.
  5. On the day of, we dealt with serious issues at the venue on the clients’ behalf. First, we showed the venue manager the contract to ensure everything we and the client originally confirmed with them, was provided accordingly. Then, we asked for a $500 credit at the bar for the client…and got it.

A coordinator protects your best interests and removes a lot of wasted time and guesswork from your planning process. As soon as you hire one, you’ve come the closest to truly guaranteeing your emotional and financial investment in the big day is fully realized.

Our door is always open for a complimentary consultation about the peace of mind and stress savings a coordinator can provide.  We can be reached at dee@noworriesep.com or 310-562-3306.