More than a one-night affair…

Fun Stuff

Giggle & Mingle 2010 SUCCESS!!

Upon awakening every morning, I have a routine that includes taking deep breaths, updating facebook, stretching, and counting my lucky stars… occasionally I check twitter too...all before getting out of bed.

The counting lucky stars part is so that no matter what the day holds for me, I will remember that I woke up being able to count the many positive elements in my life… because I have been blessed with that option, I have to find ways to pass it on to others. I am not sure where I get the crazy motivation to take on some of the challenges… like baking 300 cookies for a family day benefitting TFT...or asking all of my friends, family, clients, and strangers to not only help me bake those cookies, but to come eat, drink, be merry, AND bring me toys…  but I tell you what… I KNOW I will forever wake-up counting lucky stars and being grateful for this little borrowed life of mine. I live everyday hoping to give as much back as I am getting from it.

For those of you who don’t know, last year I started Giggle & Mingle, which is a Toy Drive disguised as a party for anyone and everyone who wants to help Swann Soirées support the Toys for Tots Foundation, be it colleagues, clients, neighbors, friends, all of the above. For the cover charge of a new, unwrapped toy, you got cheap eats, good drinks (like the $1 Brenda’s, an exclusive cocktail only found at the PL Sports Grill & Pub), and the chance to hang out with not only awesome peeps, but with some pretty dapper men & women in uniform too. This year’s Giggle & Mingle was an absolute hit! We collected over 255 toys in ONE night! Good ones too! Nothing beats the thought of a kid opening up a big ol’ Buzz Lightyear action figure or a talking Storm Trooper mask on Christmas morning. Makes my heart melt! This year we had many of our clients join us… it brought tears to my heart seeing our newly-wed couples AND their bridal parties showing so much support with their presence (and presents!). Adding something nice to all the sugar & spice, is having a team of five, which means that many more beautiful faces to host everyone that came out! The Swann Squad (Megan, Sherry, Interns Ania & Jess) were absolutely essential to the success of the night. It was so incredible I am getting goose bumps typing it out…

The giggling was aplenty and the mingling was heavy… there’s was tons of fabulous door prizes too, among them dinner at The Pearl Hotel, gift cards to Target, iTunes, and Best Buy, music by Mike Thomas of Higher Level Sound, and the always-a-hit photobooth by After the Engagement. Special Shout-Out goes out to Victoria from Theory Weddings & Events for designing the Giggle & Mingle 2010 invite.

THANK YOU ALL so very much for coming out, donating toys, bringing your friends, and most of all for being my lucky stars.

Below is the uber fun highlights video put together by Luke McCain Videography. You can also visit the photobooth gallery and our on the scene coverage by BlueWave Photo.

much love to all of you!

xxo,

Brenda

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Thursday Details: DIY Fortune Cookie Favors

Looking for an edible wedding favor but don’t want to do the standard truffle-in-a-box or tin-o-mints, how about fortune cookies???

While it may seem that you’ll need to have a certain “theme” in order to use the fortune cookies, that’s actually not the case because you can customize them to be in your wedding colors and even have custom fortunes inside. We found a website that even allows you to order the cookies in a specific color!

But because it is DIY THURSDAY, we will assume you want to bake them yourself (ok ok, or order them plain if you don’t want to bake) then stock up on sprinkles, icing, and other confectionary delights and viola! Decorate an afternoon away! Wrap up the pretty cookies in cello with ribbon, add a little tag, and your guests will enjoy a unique treat on your wedding day.

This is how to make it happen as per DIY Central:

(Makes 6 cookies..You will need to multiply the recipe depending on how many cookies you will need.)

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 1/2″ x 1/2″ fortune strips (Already printed, cut and ready to go!)
  • Optional: Food Coloring
  • Optional: Chocolate and sprinkles/nuts/colored sugar (SugarCraft has a huge variety of colored sprinkles!)

Let’s get baking!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet thoroughly.
  2. Whip the egg whites on low speed until light and foamy. Blend in the sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Pour in the melted butter, flour, salt, and extracts; mix until well combined. If you want to color your cookies add a drop of food coloring to the batter and mix well!
  4. Drop a tablespoon of the batter onto the prepared cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread the batter evenly into very thin 3-inch rounds. Alternatively, use the lid of a jar with a 3-inch circle punched out as a template, pour the batter in the ring, and remove. Because you must work quickly to shape these cookies, bake just 3 at a time.
  5. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the edges are a light golden color.
  6. Optional Step – Once cooled you may decide you want to dip your yummy cookies in chocolate and then either roll the dipped cookies in fun sprinkles, crushed nuts or colored sugar. If this is the case melt your chocolate in a double boiler or microwave following the package instructions. Then just dip, roll and place on a piece of wax paper to cool! Sooo delicious! Plus, you can further customize the cookie favors to your wedding theme by dipping them in colored chocolate to match or rolling the dipped cookies in sprinkles or sugar to coordinate with your wedding.

This what the final product {could} look like:

Tags you could make for the cello bags


Enjoy making this fun & unique wedding favor! Maybe we’ll get started on making some too… send them off to Brenda’s adopted sailors on her husband’s ship…

xxo!

Intern Ania

Photo Credits/Sources Cookies: Left, Middle, Right & Tags.


Soaring with Swann Soirées: Fall Updates!

Whoooaa!  Where has the time gone?

Happy November! I am so Happy to share loads of updates with you all.

First, the most exciting of all the news: Swann Soirées has officially moved into our own Boutique Studio! WOOT!! I (or rather we, the Swann Squad) are sooo thrilled! Where is this studio you might ask? Well it is twelve feet away from our previous shared space. I just couldn’t stand the thought of leaving what has become my home turf when I was looking to expand into a place that could accommodate has become my fabulous team (aka: The Swann Squad)… and when a fantastic opportunity presents itself to you, you just have to jump in!! Ready or Not… GO! It’s a good thing I thrive on the fly!

But in all seriousness, having spent the last sixteen months in the Barracks 19 Building of NTC Liberty Station, our clients and colleagues have grown to love the area right along with us.  Having built relationships with all of the neighbors and surrounding businesses to nearly a family level,  the decision to move into the available space was of no contest, not to mention the ease of the move was a huge benefit. The last week has been a whirlwind as we addressed business as usual AND started remodel of the new suite. Good thing that the build-out of the previously shared space was done in 72 hours in the midst of my peak season last year… gave me good practice for this move!

For the second set of exciting updates: The Swann Squad! My spectacular team began to grow at the start of this year when Megan Mills joined Swann Soirées as lead Planner & Coordinator, taking over for Kristy Eagle who still has the occasional cameo in our soirées.  Shortly thereafter, Sherry Tarrant, Designer & Coordinator came onboard, followed by our fabulous interns, bride-to-be Ania & Foodie Fashionista, Jess.  Nothing makes a girl feel better than equally motivated & hard working associates. Seriously, our team is soaring & we’ve got some serious goals to achive. I couldn’t be happier.

On to more fun… TOYS for TOTS!!! While we are shamefully a month behind in our fundraising efforts, we will be collecting toys & monetary donations starting NOW…and YES, there will be a Giggle & Mingle 2010, mark your calendar for Friday, December 3rd. Our dear friends over at the PL Sports Grill & Pub have once again donated the venue for the party…woot!!! If you would like to donate a prize for the party please email us here. If you’d like to donate a toy or mullah (make checks payable to Toys for Tots), you can stop by the new digs or ship it to us (did I mention we have a new Boutique Studio?? Haha… yes we are excited!) The new address is: Swann Soirées 2690 Historic Decatur Rd. Suite 209, San Diego, CA 92106.

Lastly, our monthly BRIDAL NOSH has been a huge hit this year! Stoked! Due to the holidays coming up, we will not be holding a Nosh for November & December, not to fret though, we will return in January 2011!

Whoooa nelly told ya there was a lot… Thank you so much to all of our families, clients, friends, and colleagues for all of your continued love & support. You are the fuel to our motivation.

xxo!

Brenda


Tuesday Shoesday! Seeing Suede…

You know what’s HOT this fall??  Brightly colored suede heels! How can you not incorporate these beauties into a fall wedding?

Brightly colored heels, especially ones with large platforms may look intimidating to wear, but what bride doesn’t love the idea of adding sultry suede as the finishing touch to a gorgeous gown? The multitude of colors available range from cobalt blue, hot pink, purple to military green, brown and more… perfect accessories for every fall wedding. Practice makes perfect, so wear them (a lot) before the wedding to make sure they are broken-in and comfortable come the big day.

Don’t let the fun just be on your feet either… every bridesmaid dress needs a little bit of flirt too!

Check out these delicious heels (we couldn’t pick just one!) by Fendi, Steve Madden, Dolce Vita, and  Christian Louboutin.

xxo!

Intern Jess


Swann Soirées’ debut at the San Diego Bridal Bazaar

This past Sunday, August 8th, we made our debut at the Bridal Bazaar which took place at the San Diego Convention Center downtown. Having never had a show booth before, the pressure was on to make sure that this investment was both sound and inspiring to future couples. Needless to say, I am very pleased with how everything turned out (after changing my mind several times and getting advice from nearly every show vet).

I designed the booth with the intention of depicting to couples (and their accompanying family or bridal party), what the heck a Wedding Planner & Coordinator is…In 60 seconds-which is the average amount of time a person will look into a booth at a show like this, talk about pressure! Sure, to many of in the industry or those who have already been married, it’s pretty clear cut what “I do”, but some people still think that a Planner & a Coordinator are two separate people- one is like J-Lo in the movie The Wedding Planner, who costs a lot of money, and makes your wedding everything he or she wants, wears a fancy head-set, and actually runs around in heels on the wedding day! The other, is someone who costs less money, perhaps a hobbyist or newly married person who did everything themselves for their wedding so they know all the “little stuff” that needs to be taken care of on the day of your wedding. Not many people realize that “JLo” and the “Coordinator” are one in the same, for you can’t Coordinate a wedding without planning… and one can’t plan a wedding without coordinating all the elements. What is often forgotten as well is that most of us take our profession just as seriously as the rocket scientist couple who might hire us…. We constantly self-educate, train, and reach out to others in our industry to remain on top of our game.

So… how to put all that in a 10×8 booth?? Please see below:

Bonjour!

There was four sections to our booth; The “entrance,” which was a bookshelf that depicted how our services are an All-Encompassing resource from beginning to end. The table that followed I called the “Details” table which had DIY place cards Sherry hand crafted and photos of the many wedding details we’ve helped put together. That display was followed by our sweetheart table (made deliciously stunning by the Wing Chairs we rented from Concepts Event Design). The tablescape was pulled together by Sherry’s ability to take my random ideas & make them a reality… finally, closing up the booth was a belly bar I called “Picture Perfect”- which depicted how our pre-planning & behind the scenes involvement makes all the great moments at weddings, Picture Perfect.

Here’s some more picture of the absolutely gorge-ous sweetheart table: I am a huge fan of everything contradictory yet complimentary.. what the what?? Yea, I like clean, simple, elegant styles… no shabby fluff, swirls, or overly complicated patterns, yet I loooove textures! The linens (also from Concepts Event Design) as well as the pillows from Z Gallerie, along with the placemats provided me that fix… the place settings, glassware, and silverware were understated and calm. Perfect Balance.

Now the flowers… let me tell you about the flowers… O M G… UUHHH-mazing!!

I was thrilled with the florals, which were the magnificent work of Nancy Stevens. I was floored with what she came up with for me after only talking to me about the booth for an hour & getting such vague, indecisive, and complicated instructions. I feared that my inability to name anything other than a white cynbidium orchid for my hanging vases on the backdrop, I had given Nancy what I thought was zero to go on… I recall telling her “I would like two arrangements and a bouquet… I want them to be sassy, organic, lots of texture, all white…a splash of deep purple and sage are okay but NOT much… I would like them to be funky but not weird… you know, classy but not boring…oh and I would like something to wear, preferably in my hair, but not feathery or a flower…” I can only imagine what Nancy was thinking when she heard me say that last part! Hello!? The woman is a florist, not a hair accessory maker… Ok well she nailed it anyway. She’s just THAT awesomesauce. The gorgeous pieces are currently adorning my office, and they were a hit at the show! Can’t tell you how many people picked up the bouquet, took pictures and asked about them. Good stuff!

Please don’t allow my lack of photography skills to tell you differently about Nancy’s talents… These were perfect. I wish I had been getting married and that these were my decor (p.s. the only good pic I got of the sweetheart table arrangement is above- oops!)…

Bouquet:

Close-up of top of bouquet:

“Organic” or “Live” headband which consisted of orchid petals (purple) succulents, and the monkey tail. I am in the process of preserving this one with some stuff I bought at Michael’s, I’ll let you know how it goes. This is by far waaaay more unique than anything currently adorning wedding manes in my humble opinion.

Lastly, the arrangement she made for the “entrance” to my booth:

So that’s it folks! Sherry and I had an absolutely busy day from start to finish, it was non stop! I call the show a success. We met many brides, booked quite a few, and plan on doing it again.

P.S. The promo pricing we were running during the show has been extended! Please call or email us so we can talk wedding!

xxo!

Brenda!!

SHOUT OUTS::

My friend & colleague, Sherry Tarrant

Wing Chairs, Linens, Sweetheart table rentals: Concepts Event Design

Florals: Nancy Stevens Flowers

Logo revamp, banner & Flyer design: Bamboo Star Studios

Logo dress: Fiveloaves Twofish Clothing

Drive & Motivation: My mom & husband

Inspiration: My current & future clients ❤


San Diego Fashion Show | Swann Soirées Social Events

Can I just tell you how incredibly excited I am to be doing my first fashion show??

Thrilled.

Not just because it will be the first time doing this type of an event, but also because over the last year, I have gotten to know the talented designers of Fiveloaves Twofish Clothing not just professionally, but personally. Kit & Heather, owners & designers, moved their design house into the Barracks 19 Building (where Cerimone studio is located) last year, and since the day I caught sight of a really cute dress in the shop… it became shop at first sight!

Lucky for me (and my wallet)- I was unable to buy the made-to-order dress at that second. It turns out that each garment is custom-fitted to each customer. The whole process is quite lovely and a lost art really; from choosing your silhouette, the fabrics (sometimes even the buttons!), and getting measured, to scheduling multiple fittings before taking it home. While it does challenge the instant gratification bug we all seem to have developed in this day and age, it also blossoms an appreciation for quality of hand-crafted, individually designed, one of a kind pieces, that are made locally.  The bonus?? Well one; you feel like a designer yourself being so involved in the process, but you also know that the item you purchased was not mass produced in a questionable factory abroad (undeniably, there is almost no way to avoid that these days) but it never the less feels good that that one little purchase was a conscious one.

Among the many reasons I connected with Kit right off the first gasp at her fashions, was that she is an avid traveler. During her travels she buys some of the amazing textiles that fill her shop. She has everything from hand-knitted fabric from Guatemala, bought directly from the artist, to salvaged Kimono’s which she delicately takes apart and incorporates to other pieces. Every last piece of material is used, whether it’s for lining of a skirt, a headband, a rosette for a hair clip… nothing goes to waste, and great thought is put into the purchase of all the items which will leave the Design House. Can you tell I am a fan?

Okay but back to their Summer-Line Launch Fashion Show… When Kit asked me to be part of it, I almost cried in excitement! How could I not?! She scheduled the fashion show for the same evening of Liberty Station’s Friday Night Liberty. As you have probably seen me promote before, every first Friday of the month, NTC Liberty Station has ‘Friday Night Liberty”- the name honors the history of our location, which used to be the Naval Training Center, the term “Liberty” refers to the free time the sailors had to go have fun when not obligated to their training on the base.  FNL is a free, Open House event throughout NTC & the Promenade, where the many artist studios, businesses, museums, Dance House, and Karate Studio open their doors to the public for demonstrations and exhibits. When not busy with a wedding, the studio is open for visits during FNL (some of last year’s Toys for Tots efforts took place during FNL), sometimes I’m even able to feature an artist (Harpist, Amy Lynn Kanner was with us in February), this month I was going to feature DJ Oscar Otanez, buuuut instead, him and I both, are going to collaborate with Fiveloaves Twofish for their Summer Line Launch. Which by the way will include dancers from Malashock Dance, Drummers from the Recreational Music Center, and the deliciousness from Chi Chocolat & Banyan Catering at a reception (after the show) at their design house (located right below the Cerimone Studio).

Ok ok … I am done with the excitement (for now). Click here for more information on the show and Friday Night Liberty info. Below are some iPhone pictures from the rehearsal yesterday… I’d love it if you could come join us! Tell your friends! It’s going to be a good time!! If you want reserved seating, please rsvp here. Otherwise it’s first come, first serve!

fashion Show will take place in the Sybil Stockdale Rose Garden

The runway will be right over the water in the fountain!!

Oscar is ready! The mix of live music, drumming, and his mixes are going to rock!

Inside the Design House

Fiveloaves Twofish focuses on women & girls design...

...that are very feminine, fun, vibrant...

sneaky peaky!! Prepping for the show has been non stop!

This is my favorite shelf in the store. It's where most of the textiles bought from artisans abroad are kept.

Works in progress! See the red & white blouse-ish looking top... mine!

Some of the current young girls designs

I've been eye-ing this dress...and that beautiful necklace too!

This is a pic from last year, the first dress Kit ever made me (yes the silhouette that was shop at first sight!) ... which can also be seen here at my Toys for Tots fundraiser.



Giggle & Mingle a Success!!!

Seriously!!?? I have no idea how a girl gets so dang lucky to have so many awesome people around her… yes I am speaking in the third person I know 😛 I can’t help being in awe and thanking every lucky star in the sky above me for all the positivity and energy that fuels me to thrive as I do.

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Toys, toys, toys AND all the great folks who shut down the pub!

During my First Annual (because yes, I will be doing this again) Giggle & Mingle Toys for Tots Drive, I felt the love! There will be some happy, giggly, smiley faces at Christmas time this year for sure, all because of the incredibly supportive folks who came out to mingle with me.

Huge SHOUT OUTS to the people who made it all happen:

First of all, Joe & Ronny over at PL Sports Bar & Grill for donating the venue & coming up with some yummy specials for the night. My handsome sailor husband, Dayton, for donating the door prizes & always encouraging me to do my thang, my dear friends & studio mates Melissa McClure & Cathy Olson for donating the grand prizes. Melanie Montoya for the awesome invitation design, Bill Calhoun for his music & MC Skills, along with DJ Dave who played some awesome live music. Designer Kit Frye of Fiveloaves Twofish Clothing for the beautiful, custom dress & headpiece that got me compliments all night! My brother, Ludick Kepler Photography, along with Jordan & Gia from Absolute Kelvin Photography for providing the paparazzi coverage all night. You can visit the Swann Soirées Facebook Fan page (become a fan!) to browse the many pictures, AND visit the Giggle & Mingle Gallery Jordan posted too! Another Shout Out also to my friends over at Foto Cabina for providing the photobooth & props for everyone to enjoy, it was a hit! We must not forget, especially on this Veteran’s Day, The Marine Corps, for sending me some uniformed fellas who not only selflessly service our country, but also were good sports about all the pictures, dancing, and shenanigans an all-night happy hour brings! Who else was going to carry away the FIVE heavy TOY-FILLED boxes though??!! Lastly, my incredible “wing girl” and assistant, Kristy Eagle, for being a fabulous co-host. Much Much LOVE to all of you.

Even more love to ALL who showed up with toys, money, and enthusiasm. I am on such a happy-happy joy-joy high right now I am typing away bewildered on how I got to be so blessed by the awesomeness of people around me. Makes me want to sing and dance! I wanna put on…. my my my my my boogie shoes!

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Getting Toy Love from Starcross'd Creative!

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DJ Dave Rocking the House!

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Photo Booth Fun!

I will be collecting Toys & Monetary Donations until December 10, 2009 @ the Cerimone Studio. You can stop by on any weekday from 10am-4pm, including during our next open house, December 4th until 8pm, you may also mail-in check  donations made out to TOYS FOR TOTS to the studio, click here for our address.

I am being asked to have another Giggle & Mingle next month, so I’ll update you on that if it happens. If you would like to sign up to be a recipient of the Toys collected by the many incredible volunteers this season, contact Toys for Tots directly here.

KissKissHug to all of you again. MERCI! GRACIAS! THANK YOU!!


Hear the thunder from the land down under… Part I

I know this is a very late Trip Report, for it’s been almost six months since my trip to the Land Down Under… But I am going to tell you about it and show you a few pictures anyway. We all like pictures right?!

Going to Australia was a very late 30th Birthday present to myself. Not that I needed an excuse to go abroad, but it all seems so much more justified when there is a reason to go overseas in the name of celebration. Truth is that I really just wanted to see my beautiful friend Jane, who I met in 2006 while traveling through Greece, and who had not seen since our wedding in 2007.

Jane lives in Melbourne; The visit took place during the Easter Holidays (yes Easter and not Spring because it was actually Fall in the southern hemisphere during our Spring but it is still Easter none-the-less), with a tail-end trip out to Sydney for a few days before returning to the States. Originally I was going out there alone, but some last minute changes allowed Dayton to join me for a week, making Oz our first official trip (abroad) together…and boy was I nervous! Outside of our honeymoon & a small cruise we took back in 2005, we had never really traveled together, and I have always been sort of a “loner” when it comes to going places afar… That is just how I enjoy traveling, adventuring it through like a grown-up version of Dora the explorer, on my own with no agendas or worries, much less a person to be mindful of. As it turned out, we actually had a lot of fun! Due to his schedule, he was only there for a week, but then I was joined by my friend Melissa, who captured some of the images you will see on this post.

I tell ya, D & I loved Australia SO much, we are actually considering retiring to Melbourne, that city is the best combination of suburbia, countryside, and big city living all in one. Not to mention that the people are wonderful and the dogs even seem happier there. As it stands now, when we finally make it out there, I can apparently clean house with a Mexican Food restaurant (the Aussies love them some real Mex food) or doing what I do best… Weddings, for there really isn’t a whole lotta wedding planners/coordinators around out there. Whatever the case, Melbourne officially beat out Istanbul as my choice city to retire to (which is probably a good thing since I don’t think I would have EVER convinced Dayton to move to Turkey-LOL!)

So here folks begins our photographic journey through of our trip:

Approaching Landing in Melbourne!

Approaching Landing in Melbourne!

Upon landing & showering, the first thing Janey did was take us to a pie shop… but not a bakery, an Australian Meat Pie Shop.

Jane wasted no time introducing us to the "unoffical" meal of the Aussies, the Meat Pie!

Dayton enjoying his Meat Pie!

After having our meat pies, we went for a long walk (one of many long, on-foot excursions) to Brighton to see the Beach Boxes.

Visiting the Beach Boxes in Brighton... these fancy sheds are own by the rich & almost famous of Melbourne

Visiting the Beach Boxes in Brighton... these fancy sheds are own by the rich & almost famous of Melbourne

Photo by Melissa McClure

Photo by Melissa McClure

In the following days we explored Melbourne. What a magnificent city!! There was just enough of everything and its all accessible! Safe & calm suburbia is just a short, reliable, train ride away from the big city. Your back yard is the lush outback, beautiful nature surrounds every part of Melbourne There is enough culture & sports to balance out a fun yet intellectual lifestyle…and yes, there is even a fair amount of Bogans to keep things interesting. One of my favorite aspects of Melbourne was that it is uber dog friendly, I am not kidding when I tell you that the dogs out there just looked happier, and were pretty much allowed everywhere, on many occasions I noticed doggie water bowls outside establishments & restaurants, as well as a few places that even had leash racks, picture bike racks, but shorter, where you could just leash up your doggie while you went inside…and yes, they were dog racks, I asked! Did I mention the people were fantastic? They were! So dang friendly! Everyone greets you on the streets, when you go into their shop, on the bus, it’s so refreshing! Fellow runners & walkers cheer you on when they pass you, yes, they say “Keep at it!” “Good job!” “Almost there!”- so encouraging! For the first few days I was running with Jane I thought all the people we were passing by on the trails knew her… but then she told me that they didn’t, that’s just how fellow sportsmen are there. Nice! I know it may sound odd, but I tell ya, it makes your exercise routine that much more enjoyable!

Here are some of my favorite things in Melbourne :

The market in Downtown Melbourne.. I just LOVE street markets!!

The market in Downtown Melbourne.. I just LOVE street markets!! This one is like the perfect mix of a Mexican street market & an organized, clean grocery store. And NO, Farmer's Markets are not the same...

The Melbourne Gaol (Jail)

The Melbourne Gaol (Jail)- Australia was founded by convicts you know...

On the Yarra river bank with Janey, downtown Melbourne in the background.

On the Southbank Promenade of the Yarra River Bank with Janey, downtown Melbourne in the background. I just LOOOOVED it here!

The Square at Downtown Melbourne - love cities with "Squares!

The Square at Downtown Melbourne - love cities with "Squares!

Janey’s boyfriend Ben is a trainer for the Western Bulldogs, an Australian Rules Football team, which is my NEW favorite sport to watch! We went to a couple of games while we were there, and I LOVED it… so much fun, and the fans are for real (so hardcore- ALL of them) … I loved getting official gear from Ben too, I was totally decked out at the games!

It was a FULL HOUSE for this game... and apperantly, every game!

It was a FULL HOUSE for this game... and apparently it's like that at every home game, for each team in is respective city (except for Sydney).

All decked out in my official Bulldogs gear!

All decked out in my official Bulldogs gear!

Trying out the stadium food...

Trying out the stadium food...I think that was a sausage roll. Just like out here...totally overpriced and overcooked.

As mentioned earlier, we did a lot of on-foot exploration… Jane is a marathon runner, who exercises extensively, every single day, at the crack of dawn… as it seemed MANY Aussies did… So every single day while there, we took an excursion or two on foot to run or hike in the “Bush” or National Preserves ALL over the place (did I mention I actually lost a few pounds while out there?). It was magnificent- I saw SOO MUCH wildlife that way, granted half the time I couldn’t stop long enough to take a picture (and no I didn’t have my iphone with me)- but it was an absolutely genious way to see the country in all its natural splendor. One of the days, Janey made sure I took my camera so that I could snap pictures to my hearts content of all the wild kangaroos at this particular park. We had to wake up at 6am to get to see them, but it didn’t take more than a second to spot them, and they were all within arms length… it was WILD!

Wild Roos!

Well good morning Mr. Wild Roo!!

Roos just kickin' it...

Brekky time Aussie style!

Look Ma!!! Looky how close I am!

Look Ma!!! Looky how close I am!

Then of course we visited a wild life sanctuary where we got to feed “tame” roos & koalas too!

Dayton's new BFF

Dayton's new BFF

Actually D has a bunch of new BFFs, it took me a while not to be scared of feeding them too... them suckers are STRONG!

Actually D has a bunch of new BFFs, it took me a while not to be scared of feeding them too... them suckers are STRONG!

I prefered the uber lazy Koalas! Who have claws & jaws of steel, but are yet so fluffy!!

I preferred the uber sleepy Koalas! Who have claws & jaws of steel, but are yet so fluffy!!

Ok ok… I think this is a good place to “be continued”…


Failures, epiphanies & a birthday…

I know I am a bit behind on blogging, and for that I apologize…This is my attempt at trying to catch-up with a tri-topic blog, better get your “ relaxin’ ” on, this is gonna be a long one!

Let’s start with Fitness Endeavors: Week 3 & 4

Well, there have been no endeavors really…. It’s been established that I have challenges with my eating habits. I can continue to make excuse after excuse on all the reasons why I’ve been completely incapable of conquering what is really a simple issue of effort. I have put forth very little effort to establishing & committing to any sort of eating habits. I try, I really do, but not long enough to make a difference, and I think I am actually starting to put my trainers’ patience on trial now. I mean I am sure that they don’t feel good about the fact I’ve lost zero weight in the amount of time I’ve been working with them. I see them three days a week, been doing it for a little over a month now, and while I feel great, have noticed a significant change on my strength, toning & endurance…no weight has been lost.

And now… just weeks before the Disney Half Marathon, I’ve had to make the very tough decision to not run it- hell, I am starting to wonder if I’ll even make it walking. For I simply have not spent enough time training… The last time I ran a half marathon, I spent almost 10 months training, and it was well worth it… this time, I’ve had very little structured training, and it’s not as if I can just lace up my Nike’s and do it….run 13.1 miles effortlessly. I’ve had to be quite honest with myself, a tough thing to do when you think you’re supergirl… I am very disappointed, feel like a failure if I stop to think about it too long, yet I’ve quickly gone into the state of accepting it… I’ve got too many other things going-on to dwell on the fact I’ve not prioritized personal time more efficiently to meet my goals. Perhaps the fact that I am happy in my life takes the “feeling like a failure” sentiment down a few notches. But it is, never the less, a failure.

Why do I do, what I do?   Do-be do-be do…

Recently I had a potential client ask me the above question (minus the do-bees). While I wanted to answer with “because it makes me happy”- since it does, I found myself pondering the question as if I was trying to answer the never ending-saga of which came first, the chicken or the egg?  I was stumped, I didn’t know what to say…my happiness seemed so insufficient and quintessential to be a “real” answer- and in the cynical world that we live, happiness is sometimes just not enough to close a deal. Fortunately for me (or everyone really!), I like to have my Socrates moments and think things out anyway, and I did…

In the midst of “thinking” – that occurred over a span of a few days. I happen to be spending some time with a colleague who posed the same question to me in a totally different context… then suddenly, VIOLA! At that moment I had to stop and get to a computer, so that I could type out to this potential client, why it was that I do-be do-be dooed… what I do. Running the risk of sounding even loonier than saying “because it makes me happy”- I realized what it is that makes me happy and why I do-bee the way I do…. Are you ready for it?  Wait…wait for it… wait…

I do it because I have always wanted to be part of a BIG OL’ family, and planning weddings sometimes gives me the great privilege to become a part of a couple’s family, be it for 18 months or maybe just 18 weeks… we share so many moments along the way and build such amazing friendships that there is no way to avoid being happy. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve got my “own” family… but most of them I’ve not seen since I was 10 years old, at home in Mexico. I have loads of family; they just aren’t here and worse… I don’t know them at all 😦   My immediate family, sans husband, was five people until my dad passed two years ago, since then it’s been just Mom, Brother, Brother, certainly not what you expect out of a Mexican right? I mean we’re supposed to have big ol’ familias with so many tias, tios, primos, padrinos, etc. etc. (aunts, uncles, cousins, god parents)… so many of them that you can’t even remember who’s blood going through who’s veins got you to a spot in the family name. Counting the husband, I have a bigger family, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and even nieces & nephews… but they too are all far away, spread between Iowa & Florida…uugh!

So alas, I am left with all of these beautiful brides & handsome grooms, their parents, best men, maids of honor, silly aunts & crazy uncles, overbearing grandmas, pervy grandpas, and all the in-between… I am left with happiness, and often, with everlasting friendships & bonds…. That is why I do what I do. Because as I said in the email I wrote to my now client: “I really enjoy helping build the memories you will hold on to for many many moons, and while i realize you aren’t going to remember me specifically down the road.. you are going to remember the planning, your day, you’ll see the pictures… and that’s really what excites me, that you can have those stories to pass on to your kids, grandkids… etc. I love what I do because it’s like the huge family I always wanted, it might sound cheese-ball, but I am ok with that… one giant cliche of a cheese ball 🙂 I’ve got no shame!”

Happy Birthday to me!!

I love my birthday! In case you didn’t know, August is “Brenda Month”- I call it that because I pretty much spend all month “catching up” with all kinds of friends who are so kindly wanting to help me celebrate my birthday, but with busy schedules all the way around, there is no avoiding celebrating all month long… Oh and I just LOVE it… This year, I kicked off Brenda Month on my actual date of birth (the 3rd) by spending a day at the Hotel Del Coronado Spa… Oh was it ever so glorious!! My husband so kindly arranged (all the way from Afghanistan!) a day full of pampering and relaxation. At first I was completely against it… only a crazy person takes a WHOLE day off in the middle of wedding season, I mean really, who’s got the time?! R & R come in the off season; December never looked so sweet!! LOL. Anyway, the pampering started off with a mimosa brunch, and was followed by a sugar body scrub treatment, hot stone massage, facial & eye treatment, paraffin mani & pedi- and capped off with a little poolside cocktail. It was amazing… I can’t believe he doesn’t send me to do that every day! All kidding aside though, “Brenda Month” started off great, it’s moving along marvelously, and I am so excited for what’s ahead!

Birthday Mimosa?? Why yes, yes please!!

Birthday Mimosa?? Why yes, yes please!!

Aaahhh... can this be my everyday??

Aaahhh... can this be my everyday??


Happy 5-Year Anniversary: Sophie & Tyler

“When you are in love you can’t fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams.”

~ Dr. Seuss

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How time flies! I cannot believe it! Today is the FIVE YEAR anniversary of my dear friends Sophie & Tyler. Who coincidentally happen to be the very first couple whose wedding I was DOC for. Their wedding day was start of what I’ve grown to be today… Sophie’s trust, encouragement, referrals, (and French grammar skills) has been a huge contribution to the existence of Swann Soirées (not to mention her patience & forgiveness for all the mistakes I KNOW I made that day!). The feeling I got after being such a big part of Sophie & Tyler’s day is the same feeling I experience every single weekend when exchanging the same “Thank-yous, love-yous, and talk-to-you-soons” with my couples at the end of their night. I will never forget that day outside the Holiday Inn on the Bay, exhausted, sweaty, and totally thrilled…consumed with the possibilities and hopes… I vividly remember calling a friend of mine and telling him how incredible I was feeling after such a long day. Amazing!! It was a magical night… in so many ways! Granted, it took me a while to really get it all together, but they were the inspiration, start, and the accelerant.

Today, Sophie continues to provide me French grammar & spelling help (she speaks it fluently, and teaches it at a local high school). She and Tyler are parents to two of the most beautiful little girls you’ve ever seen, and to one of the coolest dogs ever, Miller (who was Flash’s class mate in puppy school, where Sophie, Tyler & I met!). They are amazing friends, the kind you thank your lucky stars for… LOVE YOU GUYS!

Félicitations Sophie & Tyler… Cheers to many, many, many more happy years together!!!

Miller & Flash at puppy School

Miller & Flash at puppy School