Category Archives: Los Angeles Wedding Planner

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 /

Photo by Yann Audic /


Photo by Yann Audic /, flowers by Estelle Preston -

Photo by Yann Audic /, flowers by Estelle Preston –

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 /, Florals by Estelle Preston:

Photo by Yann Audic /, Florals by Estelle Preston:

Photo by Yann Audic /  Florals by  Wine corks held seating cards; a personalized wine key proved a fitting favor for guests.

Photo by Yann Audic / Florals by Wine corks held seating cards; a personalized wine key proved a fitting favor for guests.

Photo by Yann Audic /  Florals by, utilizing the bride's key color, bright fuschia.

Photo by Yann Audic / Florals by, utilizing the bride’s key color, bright fuschia.


Photo by Yann Audic /

Photo by Yann Audic /

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 /  Florals by

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 / Florals by

Laurel Sanderson of Treize - a Baker's Dozen created the cake; flowers by 360Degrees florist - 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 – 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 /, flowers by Estelle Preston -

Photo by Yann Audic /, flowers by Estelle Preston –

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!

Postcards from Paris: A Baker’s Dozen, Hotel Revamps, and French Cuisine “To Go”

By | Event Planner, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Paris Destination Weddings, Paris Wedding Planner, Uncategorized, Wedding Planner | No Comments

As we ready for our next event in Paris (and no, it’s NOT the Kimye wedding – though we’ll be in the neighborhood at around the same time!) we get the opportunity to work with our colleagues overseas and hear what’s new and exciting abroad.  One of the things we’re most excited about is Treize – A Baker’s Dozen, a new cafe and bakery by one of our favorite colleagues and vendors, Laurel Sanderson.  She created this exquisite cake for our Le Crillon wedding, and now has launched this new business with her usual gusto.

13 - A Baker's Dozen, Storefront

Her inspiration for the name?  She writes:  “The baker’s dozen thing comes from (typically bloody) medieval history – devious bakers in the 13th century lost their hands for selling short measures, which inspired the creation of a guild of ‘honorable bakers’, who set themselves apart by always giving 13 loaves when 12 were ordered….It also embodies two of my favorite things- a spirit of generosity and a oddly lucky number.” Her approach is about as farm-to-table and handmade as you can get, in a city known for artisans that take pride in their work.  She’s doing things the old school way – “rolling out pastry and pasta by hand” – and sourcing ingredients on a daily basis:  “I do the market almost every morning, and my veg’ guy Jerome sets me up with the most amazing and wonderfully weird veggies – most still with moist dirt on them…. It is set up so that it really is like being in my kitchen (only, with more seats, and more booze!)”. 

An American by birth turned longtime Parisian, Laurel brings a fresh personality and sensibility to the table (literally) while holding dear the French concept of local food, carefully sourced and cooked with love.   Her space is also ideal for small, intimate parties and get-togethers.  Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited to see it in person this May! In other venue news, Hotel de Crillon is closed for renovations, just like its fellow luxury neighbor, the Ritz. We had a gorgeous wedding in one of the salons of Le Crillon and I’m a little sad that the venerable decor is going to be replaced, and terribly curious to see the new look when it is unveiled sometime in 2015.  When we were last in Paris in April 2013, an auction of some of the decor and other precious items from the hotel was in the works.  What a treasure hunt! Other luxury brands have installed themselves in the City of Light, keeping major hotels on their toes to compete.  This August, Peninsula Paris opens; and Shangri La and Mandarin have quite recently installed themselves as the new kids in town.

Husband and Wife at The Crillon. Photo by Olivier Lalin,

As far as painting the town red, there are few better places than the Marais neighborhood and its environs.  The Marais has for awhile now been a stylish, artful area of town, with unique boutiques, a bustling bar and club scene, and points of interest such as the Place des Voges.  The northern parts of the 2nd arrondisement also have this feel, particularly near one of the busiest restaurants in town, Frenchie.  There’s also the Frenchie wine bar, right across from the restaurant, and now, as of mid last year, Frenchie To Go. I’m particularly excited as when I went to the wine bar with a dear friend from L.A. (lucky lady, she has moved permanently to Paris!) – we had a wonderful time and the food and wine were outstanding.  An informative review can be found here.

There will be plenty of Facebook updates and lots o’ Instagramming while we’re abroad in May – feel free to follow us while we globe-trot!

Traveling 101: Tips on Jet Lag, Packing, and Safety

By | Destination Wedding, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Paris, Paris Destination Weddings, Paris Wedding Planner, Travel, Uncategorized | No Comments

In honor of our “travel week” on the No Worries blog, we culled the best advice from fellow travelers about how to prevent sticky situations while heading near and far:


Every seasoned traveler has their own trick for jet lag, and you have to discover for yourself which one works.  The universal rule applies to EVERYONE, however: Do not go to sleep at your destination city until the evening!! No napping!  You need to reset your clock according to your new locale’s sunrises and sunsets, and if you take more than a cat nap upon arrival, you’ll be a mess.

For example, after I arrive at my destination, I stay up till about 10 or 11pm, my usual bedtime.  This may mean that I may be up for almost a day when I arrive, and THEN have to keep my eyelids open till 11pm that night.  It’s a doozy, but that’s what coffee’s for, people.  (And I cannot sleep in a plane…at all.)  And sure enough, I wake up the next day wide eyed and bushy tailed, and back in gear.

Other tricks from veteran travelers:

1. HYDRATE.  Like you’ll never drink water again. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Perhaps get an aisle seat, too, since you’ll need to go the bathroom pretty often…!

2.  SLEEP SELECTIVELY.  If, say, you are leaving the States in the afternoon and hitting Italy (dare to dream…!) at 9am local time, you may be able to sleep a few hours prior to landing and be refreshed.  Me, I can’t sleep on planes – but those who can, can give this a try.

3.  WATCH THE COFFEE AND ALCOHOL.  Don’t counteract tip #1 by drinking too much coffee and alcohol on the plane – you may want to avoid it altogether.  I usually take an overnight flight to Paris so that I arrive by 9am; they serve breakfast around 8am, and I definitely tank up on coffee at that time, but not before.

4.  GET SOME AIR.  As soon as you land and check in, go out for a walk, a fun activity, sightseeing – whatever.  The sunshine will signal your internal clock that it’s still daytime.

5.  TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR – about sleeping pills. I am not medically credentialed to say anything else but, some people find these helpful on the plane!

6.  PLAN THE FLIGHT ACCORDINGLY – go for an overnight flight, like my routine of hitting the destination at 9 or 10am local time.

Schedule a trip to a local museum or site shortly after you land, to keep your mind busy and your body active. Musee D'Orsay, April 2014


Ah, the art of packing.  Having worked for both House Hunters US and International,  and traveled for weddings, I’ve gotten it down to a science.  Here’s some tips:

1.  PACK ESSENTIALS ON YOUR CARRYON.  Pack the following:  Medications, original prescriptions, extra glasses and/or contacts, toothbrushes, some cash/local currency, spray ointment (Neosporin makes a great one), antibacterial wipes and gel, over the counter pain killers, digestive meds, eye drops, bandages, and allergy medication, as well as ear plugs (never forget these – learned the hard way when I was on location for HH and the room’s unreachable smoke detector kept beeping due to low battery).  Also make sure you have two changes of underwear and extra clothing and socks.  If your checked luggage goes missing for a time, these things will get you through a night or two.

2.  HAVE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING.  Antibacterial gel is this OCD girl’s best friend – and it has its own little compartment, a side pocket in my carry on after I go through security. My water bottle is in another portion of my carryon, and the Ipad and laptop are in another. My ID and boarding pass are in an easy-to-access, outside zippered pocket as well.  Pack in an organized fashion and it will save you quite a bit of time and stress.

3.  RENTING AN APARTMENT? PACK TOILET PAPER.  If you are renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel (OR, staying in a hotel in Sochi…!), the owner may have forgotten to leave you with a few essentials. And the one you DON’T want to wait for is toilet paper, so throw a roll in to your luggage.  Seriously!

The view from a well-located apartment in the 1st...


For as hard as the TSA and Homeland Security work to keep us safe, our personal property is not always out of reach of theft.  As you send your items through the X-Ray scanner, bear in mind:

1.  PLACEMENT:  I like to put my laptop and ipad after my two bags, so I can buy some time to go through my personal scanner and hopefully beat their arrival at the end of the security check in.  Wear easy off-and-on shoes so you aren’t fiddling with shoe strings for twenty minutes.

2. SLOOOWWW DOWN: By that same token, when you have actually put back on your belt, shoes, and dignity (!) after the screening, take a moment and do an inventory: Got your ID? Boarding Pass? Laptop? Phone?  Do a mental checklist of all your valuables, and if any are missing, see an agent ASAP.  I once was in a hurry (for no good reason…ah, my crazy 20s!) and left my cell phone at security.  I called it and the agent picked up, thank goodness.  Now, I stop and take my time very carefully after each security check to properly restore every item.

3.  RFID and KEEPING MONEY SAFE.  The new issue travelers are dealing with are thieves who pick up your credit card information via scanning their RFID information.  (Clear as mud?  Read this article for a full explanation.)  There are RFID blocking purses and moneybelts that we encourage clients to use as they wander the streets of their destination. Also, do not be distracted by peddlers, pickpockets, con-men – in Paris, bands of peddlers will come up to ask you for money while stealing your phone or wallet.  (The issue was so bad last year, the staff of the Louvre staged a strike one day in protest!)  Keep these items in zippered compartments or pockets (or even better, in hidden money belts) at all times!

We hope this gives you a good kickoff to your travel planning.  Need more tips? Email us at or call Dee at 310-562-3306!

Travel Agents: Your Partners in Stress-Free Travel

By | Destination Wedding, L & R Travel, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Paris, Paris Destination Weddings, Paris Wedding Planner, Travel Agent | No Comments

We have built a solid niche planning Paris, France destination weddings, and have come to rely on outstanding travel agents.  Why?  Because even in this day of online booking, agents have access to huge resources that enable upgrades, discounts, and buying power that is usually impossible for the layperson to access.

The famous IM Pei pyramid at the Louvre, Paris, France, April 2014

Also, if you have a complicated itinerary, having a travel agent hand-feed you options is crucial. For example, I have specific needs when I travel to Paris, such as arriving at 9am(ish) and leaving at a specific time, and transferring through Dallas.  [I try to avoid other airports with worse delay times, and Dallas is the main hub for my usual airline, American; so, if our airplane is out of commission, they can literally take another one out of the ‘garage’ and off we go – this has actually happened before at DFW.]  Svetlana from L&B Travel swiftly found me a perfect, specific, itinerary that I couldn’t find myself on or even on, and it was comparable in cost.

They can also help you redeem miles in the most cost effective way possible, secure last minute airfare deals you won’t see online, and manage group bookings more quickly and effectively.

There’s a great breakdown of the services agents provide at the L&B website, here.  Svetlana is our partner for all destination travel, and she’s always available to answer questions!

Need help planning your destination wedding?  Shoot us a note or call Dee at 310-562-3306!

Five Questions to Ask a Wedding Planner or Coordinator

By | Day of Coordinator, Event Planner, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s engagement season (apparently!) – vendors in our industry have a swell in inquiries at the turn of the New Year. The holidays are a busy time for popping the question.

As couples shop for a planner or coordinator, here are a few questions to ask each candidate:

1.  How long have you been doing this? If the planner is relatively new, they still may have lots of experience working for a few other planners, and/or have related experience (like TV or film production, project management, or catering).

2.  What type of venues do you usually work? This is a top question to ask if you are getting married in a more complicated space – like a private estate, state park, beach, or other outdoors, rustic space where everything needs to be brought in – from lighting to power to outside catering. There are all sorts of permitting and logistical issues that the inexperienced planner cannot foresee. Also, staffing and pre-production of these types of events is quite a bit more than a ‘typical’ planning or coordination service, so if the cost is too good to be true, they could be underestimating their production needs.

Yours truly, working a wedding while 4 months pregnant.

3.  Is this your full time job? This is on a lot of ‘questions to ask planners” list, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a fair one. In this economy, I’d give a lot of leeway to planners and pros that have freelance and/or part time jobs to supplement their income while their business strengthens.  An outstanding professional with flexible work hours can make the weekday walkthroughs, afternoon rehearsals, and return your calls and emails within a reasonable amount of time.  Checking references may be the call here to ease your mind of their abilities to multitask.

4.  Give me an example of how you ‘saved the day.’ It could be little things – like reminding a friend-officiant to sign the marriage license (!) – or realizing a few items were missing from the rental order.  Or, for a full wedding planner, it could be an example where they saved the client hundreds to thousands of dollars in negotiation.

Photo by L.A. Color Studio /

5.  Why do you do this? Funnily enough, I’ve never been asked this, but I’ve started bringing it up. If you ask this question to a potential candidate, the answer may allow you to see into their personality far more deeply than just ‘talking shop.’  How your personalities click is important, and asking what their motivation is to do the work can be a great way to gain insight into what makes them tick.

As for us, we’re an open book – ask us anything! And if we’re not available on your date, we have awesome colleagues in the industry we happily refer to.  Happy planning!