More than a one-night affair…

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TOYS FOR TOTS DRIVE + GIGGLE & MINGLE 2010!

It’s beginning to look a lot like…. TOYS FOR TOTS time!

As most of you already know, TFT is one of the Swann Squad’s favorite charities and your support does not go unnoticed! Last year we collected over 10 bins of toys, along with nearly TWO THOUSAND dollars of monetary donations for the cause. We feel so fortunate to be able to contribute in any way we can to the cause and we hope that every year we can raise more money, collect more toys, and help bring a little sumetin’ sumetin’ to the many children & families who rely on the program. We’ve already started the collections off fabulously by collaborating with Rev. Chris Tuttle, we collected three bins of toys at his recent event Mai Tai’s & Munchies.

Here are the details for our 2010 Season Efforts:

We will be collecting toys through December 20th at our recently opened Boutique at NTC Liberty Station. Please feel free to ship, mail, messenger, or drop-off your Toy or Check Donation (made out to TFT) anytime during the week at: 2690 Historic Decatur Rd. #209 San Diego, CA 92106- we’d love to see ya!

OR better yet.. JOIN US for Giggle & Mingle 2010!! Click here for the Facebook Event Page.

Click here for the Giggle & Mingle 2009 blog and here to see the album on our FB fan page.

A little feature we added to G & M 2010 is that along with some of San Diego’s favorite Wedding Coordinators, Swann Soirées will be holding a “Garage Sale” of DIY wedding items at during the party. All year long we’ve worked very closely with Brides who have gifted us “Wedding Left-overs” from their wedding: vases, centerpieces, linens, candles, baskets, candy jars, etc. etc. and we want to pass all the goodies on to you! But we won’t be “selling” the items, we will actually be TRADING them for TOYS! That’s right… see something you want? It’s yours… just leave a toy in it’s place, bartering with Toys! Fun!

Wohoo!! So what do you need to do to help us out? Send us a toy(s), come to Giggle & Mingle, We are asking that all Toys be of at least $10 value.  There will be a photo booth, music, door prizes, and delish food & drink specials all evening! The event is open to everyone… brides, grooms, fellow pros, your mom, her neighbor, the guy down the street… everyone and anyone that believes in the cause.

So what do you say? Will we see you there??

xxo!

Brenda

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White, Black & Red | Real Swann Diego Wedding

Being in this industry, many people often ask about my & Mr. Swann Soireés’ wedding… “It must have been perfect!” “I bet it had spectacular details!” “You probably weren’t stressed at all!” -Since today is our Third Anniversary, I figured it would be a good time to share with you what the Swann Wedding Planning experience was like.

While I am quick to share that our wedding was a beautiful & unforgettable day, I’ll also admit to a day full of highs, lows, the unplanned for, and puppy dog tails- literally. We loved every last minute of it- including the jean-wearing crashers, lost Rolls Royce limo’s, and the cocktail hour which was spent at the hospital with the Mister’s 82 year old grampa who had caught pneumonia while traveling to our wedding. Overall I remember it as SOOO MUCH FUN and it is the way I typically describe it despite anything that was a challenge around it. Oh, and there was challenges, but that’s a blog for another day…

When Dayton proposed, we were both in the midst of making some pretty big life changes which included him getting ready to deploy on what ended up being a 399-day tour to Iraq, while I was gearing up to go study abroad in India. Neither one of us will ever deny the serious consideration we gave to eloping, we (or he, rather) was ready to pay to just fly our parents to Fiji & get hitched. We would have too had it not been for, hhmm…well, I am pretty certain it had something to do with his mom & grandma… not entirely sure anymore… So Alas, I was left here with what started out to be a $5000 (I know! GASP!!) budget to plan a wedding over a year and a half while he went off to war. Occasionally, we joke that if he hadn’t gone to Iraq and gotten the little bit of extra pay for being in a war zone… we wouldn’t have had a wedding at all.

The planning, oh the planning >insert awkward laughter here<… At the time, I was a day-of coordination hobbyist, doing weddings here and there for my friends (for the fee of fancy dinners OR a whopping $75 dollars if I didn’t know them directly). Because I had been involved in other people’s weddings, I knew that planning weddings was hard, time consuming, and expensive “Really Dayton, you are just giving me $5000?!!?” (If only I would have known then that getting married in a barn was going to be all the rage!) I was overwhelmed by the thought of it all… I mean, when I was coordinating (ahem, yes, coordinating, not planning) other people’s weddings, THEY had already thought of nearly everything, made their DIY items, organized themselves, designed it, etc. They had done it all… all I had to do was take all their work, call people to make sure they were showing up, pull it together, and carry around this huge bag of emergency “stuff.” I knew right from the start that this was going to be a very looong process & I wasn’t looking forward to it (is it sin to admit I as more excited about going to study in India?). Thankfully, because I had made several good relationships along the way, and had the BEST Matron of honor & Bridesmaid, all came together and turned out to be a Swanntastic day!

I’ll give you the basic run down of our priorities:

  • Location: We HAD to have our dogs with us all day, so the location had to allow off leash dogs
  • Location: We had to have plenty of free parking
  • Location: It had to be in central San Diego, or what we dubbed it: Swann Diego

Outside of the above items, I had NOT A CLUE what I wanted for a “theme” or colors or touches…I didn’t know what kind of menu I wanted, shoot I don’t think we had a date set for what seemed like ages! But, I knew what I wanted my hair to look like, and that I wanted to wear comfortable shoes so that I could dance all night (which we did!)….I spent months looking for a dress all over, from Florida with D’s grandma & aunt to Mexico with brides I used to take down there to get custom-made veils, finally, I bought my Pronovias gown about five months before the wedding- I know, GASP again, just five months out!! Oh, did I mention I bought it for about 2/3s of the budget D gave me for the whole wedding? EEK!

The first person booked for our team (sans location or date) was our DJ, Primo from Primo Deejays. I had met Primo in 2001 at a Bridal Bazaar I attended with a girlfriend when she was planning her wedding, she loved him. I loved him… I had worked with him twice (in 2002 and 2004) and knew he was who I wanted, even if he didn’t remember who the heck I was. After booking Primo, he urged me to lock down a location & date, which I did… eventually… ceremony would be held in the courtyard of the Old Naval Hospital (mostly because it was within the now $2500k remaining budget) and had loads of parking, plus being that it was a public place the permit was inexpensive and it was semi-private since not many people tend to tourist around that part of Balboa Park (AND I figured the chances of a park ranger coming to yell at me for having my dogs wandering around off leash were slim). The reception was a toughie, but we ended up at a”hall” where a friend of mine who worked for a caterer said they’d let me bring my own alcohol and most importantly, they allowed dogs! The “hall” was actually the Cypress Room which belongs to the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church on Park Blvd, exactly one mile from the ceremony. So, no, we aren’t Greek nor orthodox BUT they had plenty of free parking and allowed dogs, even served them a hot meal of boiled chicken breast cut up into little pieces. Did I mention they gave me a military discount too? So there, reception site found. Oh and for Catering? The only preferred vendor for the venue: California Cuisine. Great, done. pheeww.

With the “big stuff” in order (right), I went away to study in India where I became obsessed with linens & colors…India will do that to you folks- be ready if you ever visit. I bought sooo many linens out there it was ridiculous. I used NONE of the textiles I scoured the streets of New Delhi for… I know, crazy. wasteful, so typical of a girl who’s not dreamed about her wedding day… well ever. Instead, upon my return, I looked into a lady that one of my clients recommended, Haydee, at Concepts Event Design (then Concepts Party Rentals) and rented from her the most exquisite of linens for my reception, black and damask satin… oh it was gorgeous, but nowhere near as inexpensive as my treasures from India. So just like that, I ran out of $$ and wrote D an email- “I need more $$ for Your wedding, I was all about eloping remember?” -LOL! After he reluctantly gave me a little more money, that’s when I found a photographer, Alice Hu (who’s shots are below), and made about 53 trips to Michael’s to buy materials for the centerpieces- which were just bowls and floating candles (did I mention I had everyone at my day job collecting Michael’s coupons for me? Ha Ha! Then, I fell in-love with our wedding invites from Wedding Paper Divas… after ordering them, I wrote D another email: “I need more money.” We still didn’t have flowers, or cake, decor, favors, or shoes, >insert over dramatic panic< “omigosh I have nothing!” I was getting married and I had nothing!!! “Whaaaa!! I needed more money!!!”

So I got more money.

Then I booked NR3 Video Productions. I had fallen in-love with Norma from the moment I saw her website, I tried to go to other places, but I kept coming back. So… I wrote D another email: ” I need A LOT more money.” The way I saw it, this was an investment, not just uncle whoever shaky recording from the fourth row back (or worse, standing in the middle of the isle thinking he’s James Cameron!

He gave me more money (and I added to the pile from my secret pile of cash, aka my 401K- GASP! I know, blog for another time!), which I also used to book Rolls Livery, a Rolls Royce Limo to transport us to the ceremony and from ceremony to reception…. and you guessed it, I needed more money after that too. When I got it, I booked Dan Libertino to play our ceremony music… he basically got me with his charming personality and the fact he suggested playing the “Peanuts” theme song for when the dogs walked down the isle. Genius. I love you. You’re hired. Just when D was about to get the email that said “Yay! All done booking stuff! Now just get home…” I decide I need more money… for white-wooden-padded ceremony chairs instead of plastic, for red Steve Madden wedding shoes, for $200 custom dog collars for the pups, oh and dance lessons… I (I mean we) need dance lessons. Did I mention we had no cake or flowers yet? So I got more money, upgraded our photographer’s package, got my red shoes, oh and a custom made lariat necklace for me… it matched the dog’s collars. Oh yea, and I started to look into cake and flowers. Just as I was going to ask for, you guessed it… more money… A colleague in the industry offered to do my flowers as a gift (her: “What do you want Brenda?” Me: “Uhm, whatever…red, timeless, unique, blah blah, uh, you pick”). I found a baker that gave us a sweet deal and didn’t hate on my idea of doing multiple cakes that I wanted to place on the multiple heirloom platters D’s Grandma gave to me, plus! She concocted the best triple coconut cake ever (D and I loooove coconut!). I still asked D for more money though “I might need it, you know, for like lipstick and stuff..” Ha Ha Haa. The last piece of the puzzle was the coordinator, a position that was not originally up for grabs since I was stubborn and thought I could do it all myself because I did it all the time (I know! I undermined my own role!) but eventually ended up with my former assistant and a former colleague as my coordinators. They were incredible.

So- that my dear friends is how this Swann planned her Soireé (or let the Soirée just plan itself because I was busy going to India, putting together care packages, asking for more money, and watching Law and Order with my dad till the wee hours of the night, etc, etc,)- as it was it took over 18 months to plan (and I was honestly faaar more interested in my clients events than my own!). When it was all over, it really was quite the simple and intimate affair, nothing was over the top. We had 105 guests, served chicken & vegetarian (YUM couscous!) entrees, our fave beer, wine, and signature cocktails, which we called the “Something Old,” “Something New,” “Something Borrowed,” and “Something Blue”- I can’t for the life of me remember what any of them were. I didn’t have favors ( gave some $ to charity instead), place cards (decided seating chart was waaay easier), and we live happily ever after. People that talk about our wedding, remember it the way we do: It was SO MUCH FUN! We danced the night away!

Whoa this blog is way too long. It really was just supposed to be a little old thing with pictures for all of you to see, and another place where I could say “Happy Anniversary” to my sweet husband, who gave me the wedding that I didn’t know I wanted.

So, Happy Anniversary to Mr. Swann Soirées, who actually let me start using his name for my company before we were technically married. Also, Happy Birthday & Happy Anniversary to Granny Pat & Pa. Love you two very very much!! Enjoy the photos!

~All Photos by Alice Hu Photography~

 

Like my fascinator? I made it! My sole DIY item for the wedding.

 

 

 

My beloved Steve Madden shoes! Bridal Bag from Ebay, custom lariat necklace, Wedding Paper Diva

 

 

 

I walked myself down the isle | Our Flower Girl was the CUTEST!

 

 

Saying our vows

 

 

Having our kids with us was #1 priority! Love that they were able to be there!

 

 

 

One of my fave photos0 my parents in the back ground

 

 

 

Our dashing men in Uniform! love this picture because men in uniform aren't usually laughing

 

 

 

The *BEST* bridesmaids a girl could ask for!

 

 

 

THE Steve Madden shoes we all *had* to have

 

 

 

The pups were well behaved the entire time, and just look at those incredible dog collars

 

 

 

One of about only six pictures we got with or in the Rolls Royce

 

 

Told you we danced all night!

 

 

Those dance lessons were sooo worth it!

 


An open letter to my Dad.

Dear Chuckesito,

I sure hope you are having eternal sunshine out there dad. Every time I am having a moment here, whether its crappy or amazing one, I think about what you could possibly be saying or thinking about it. Not a day goes by that I do not think about you…at least four or twelve times. In fact, when ever I work late (which you know is often) I can hear you saying; “Night Sugar”- in that sort of tone you used when you wanted me to understand it was time to be with myself, rest, go to bed.

When I finally give in to tiredness and go home to be with the kids and D, I think about how you ALWAYS made sure you were home to receive us- you were always the first one to arrive… it was the BEST feeling to come home and see you sitting out in front of the house with Bonnie & Clyde just relaxing and taking time to gather your thoughts. Something that to this day I am trying to fully be successful at… accepting that sometimes I need time to myself, and if it means sitting in the car in between appointments or while waiting for my mac-n-cheese to cook… I do not need to fill every waking moment with anything “productive.” Relaxing is part of the balance and the clear mind for success right? Isn’t that what you would try to tell me often?

Speaking of things you said often… I am pretty sure that my everyday is somehow influenced by something you didn’t say often if ever but I knew in my heart and mind- which was that you would always be by my side. As I sit here and wonder if I am making you proud with everything I am doing with my life, I can’t help but laugh about the time you told me my life was not over because I could not crash into the Spanish class that I needed to graduate… nothing felt better than being next to you as I cried my heart out to you during commercial breaks of Project Runway, and after making you a margarita if coarse 🙂 . Oh the tragic comedy of it all. I love you dad for humoring my dramatic moments… Who knew that my life really wasn’t over then, that I would not even be working in the field that I was studying, and that making you the perfect margaritas would remain as one of my most cherished memories with you (next to making you pizza).

As it turns out, life isn’t over after all. You saw me graduate and work that great job that gave me a company appointed pink razr phone, along with a hard hat… which went great with my heels for when I went to the construction site. Oh that was funny… I know you are still laughing with me that my first day on the job included going into a construction zone in a skirt. Ha!

Well my days aren’t like that anymore. Nothing like that at all actually, and I KNOW you are proud and support me. You encourage me all the time, with every challenge and every epiphany that follows it, I know you are guiding me along.  Last year I felt you tell me you approved of the path I decided to take, when I did a wedding which was sent my way by a lovely nurse who worked at the hospice, I had never met the nurse but she knew I stopped in there all the time with flowers from weddings, something I started doing after we got those lovely flowers while you were staying there. So, the lovely nurse gave my name to a lovely couple… who by the way reminded me of you and Mo immensely… and I got to be part of their life for the day. It was a really emotional day for me. I loved every second of it. Just as I loved taking her leftover flowers to the hospice that night as well. I don’t know that you remember Richard, but he makes sure that room 212 always gets the best flowers that I bring every time… and I run into so many people there in the middle of the night on any given weekend- it’s so strange yet incredible. I know it’s weird, but stopping by there before going home is one of the most calming things for me after a long day. I know you go with me every time too.

I think about you every single day Chuckesito. I know you always advised to not get emotionally attached to things that cannot love me back… kinda like this building I am currently sitting in… The old Naval Training Center… Who would have thought I’d ever end up in an office in the barracks where you started your Naval career. I think I like to work late because it’s like you are here with me, kinda like when we used to stay up late to watch Law & Order even though we both had to be up for work at 5am… and knew we were dozing off and missed the twist!  When I come up the stairs there is a uniform in a museum case that looks just like yours, the one I used to wear in high school as a fashion statement… HAHA! A sailor’s top and a mini skirt, if I saw someone wearing that now, or parading in ribbons that were not theirs (as I also used to fashionably wear), I’d be so mad! I love being here, I love that you can see me from up in the Fort too… dude, we’ve got the best views dad!

A few days ago I had a dream that I was a sailor and that I had a big loud diesel truck, man how I hated that truck! There is an irony to wanting a mini cooper when I was dreaming I had a Hemi powered Ram just like yours … You’re always on my mind. I miss you tons. I love you even more. I am so glad that you are constantly with me, because you help me get through the toughest of days…. Just like Mo inspires me to reach for the galaxies past the moon, you are the anchor that continually keeps me steady. Thank you for always being with me.

love you!

Sugar #2  (bc I know Mo is Sugar #1)

P.S. yes I know… I’m going home…


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.



Love + Support = San Diego’s Wedding Community

One of the major milestones in life is getting married. Even if you aren’t married yourself, you’ve probably been to (or in) a wedding or two (or far more than you care to admit to because you are fast becoming the one person who gets called out during the garter toss or has 27 bridesmaids dresses). You probably have friends who are married, want to get married, or are planning a wedding… Heck some of you reading this are in fact the professionals who work the weddings… where ever you may fit in the list above, or even in-between (ie: the boss that has had to block any wedding related websites from your company’s server so that your engaged employee can focus during work), you have probably heard or ran across BridalInsider.com

If you haven’t heard-of or visited the website, let me tell you what it is, straight from their home page: “Bridalinsider.com is San Diego’s Wedding Community. It is the most informative, resourceful, inspiring social network for San Diego Brides, Grooms and Wedding Vendors. The dynamic, creative Brides & Grooms of the San Diego wedding community make this site the #1 destination for planning your San Diego wedding. Our users are extremely resourceful Brides & Grooms and excited to plan their weddings with the help, advice and camaraderie of the San Diego wedding community.”

Eight years ago, Lori Foote, then a newlywed who had a few raves (and rants) about her wedding planning journey and the professionals who made it possible, established the website to help future couples plan their day. Since then, it has become an invaluable resource to many couples (ok fine, maybe more of a safe haven to the many brides & grooms who want to share their ideas, planning related achievements, and gather opinions without fear of sounding obsessive). The site has also served as a gateway to the careers of many professionals in our industry- yours truly included.

Bridal Insider helped me make it through my wedding planning back in 2006-2007, when my fiancé was at war in Iraq, I was planning the wedding all on my own >tear< (and yes that was sarcasm for humorous dramatic effect)… I was working a corporate job & trying to run my “little side business,” all in the midst of completing a mandatory study-abroad program in India, where I could barely get myself to a computer to finish assignments, much less catch-up on all the posts from fellow brides who I had built incredible bonds with even though we’d never met! Post-Wedding, I joined Bridal Insider on the other side, as an advertiser when my “little side business” became a dream come true. Every step of the way, as a bride and a wedding professional, Lori has been there to offer wisdom, promote positivity, entice innovativeness, support me personally & Swann Soirées.

It is because of the influence and impact Lori & Bridal Insider have had on my life that I write this post and reach out to all of you, to help me do what we can for Lori & her family. Last week, they lost their home to a fire- a freak accident that could have happened to anyone. They lost everything, including the family’s cat 😦 While Lori remains in very good spirits, and is very thankful that her family (husband and two young children) are safe and unharmed, they essentially have nothing, and are almost quite literally starting from the ground up. Currently, they are living in temporary housing while their home is rebuilt, but along all the irreplaceable things lost, there has also been a loss of many essential personal items- clothing, undergarments, toiletries, books & toys for the children…I am sure that you can take a look around your home and quickly realize how essential even the most insignificant inanimate object can be at a time like this…uhm hello, I can’t find my hair brush, and I have at least three of them…or what about my tupperware containers that I actually use for storage of make-up instead of storage of the dinner leftovers (there are no left overs when you only eat wedding food! LOL!)- As I sit here and look at the pile of laundry I need wash, I thank my lucky stars that I have enough clothing to put on my back to let the pile get so huge! But seriously, all is lost, and it needs replacing.

Together with fellow wedding professionals we’ve established a Paypal Donation site where if you have an extra dollar or two this week, or even ten next week, you can make a donation that will go directly to Lori & her family to help with the basic needs of food, personal items, and maybe a few toys for the kids.  Any help is welcome and appreciated. I personally Thank You for reading through this post,  even considering to help, and know that Lori will eternally be grateful to all of you as well. If you would like to mail any notes, well-wishes, or donations (check, gift cards, etc), feel free to send them to her via the Cerimone Studio at 2690 Historic Decatur Rd. #207, San Diego, CA 92106. You may also email Lori at lori@bridalinsider.com – do note that she may not be able to respond to your email right away.

Thank you again for all of your love & support. Please feel free to repost this blog 🙂

Lori Foote (Founder-Bridal Insider) Donation Page


Swann Soirées party of Four!

Before I start, allow me to give you a heartfelt Merci Beaucoup… Yes, you, reading this blog entry. You’ve probably been here before, reading up on the endless words of recently acquired wisdom, unsolicited advice, ramblings, and recounts of personal accomplishments, weddings, and otherwise exhilarating milestones I’ve made as Swann Soirées, party of one. Thank you all for your love, mentor-ship, encouragement, and even for the bitter little jabs some have taken at me while I wasn’t looking… it all continues to motivate and encourage me to grow.

In late 2008, Kristy Eagle joined me as I entered a year of (then unknown) incredible accomplishment. It didn’t take long for her to start running her own weddings, representing Swann Soirées in a way that far exceeded the already-high expectations I had set for her.

Kristy making me proud! Photo by Bluewave Photographic

Many of you have met or worked with Kristy, and I am sure can agree with me when I say the girl makes me proud! With her loyalty by my side, I was able to surpass many of the goals I’d set out to attain last year (not to mention she helped SS improve on a few processes).  But alas, as with all good things (no, they don’t always come to an end)… they got better, and growth became very much a welcomed option.

Enter Megan Mills and Helene Isbell. Two absolutely amazing women now part of the Swann Soirées team!

Megan Mills

Megan, a San Diego native, and George Washington University grad, recently returned to the sunshine from the East Coast (can you say Navy Wife?), where she was working for a well-known wedding planning firm in Annapolis, Maryland. Tenured in Wedding Planning & Coordination of events that range from $20K- $300K in size, Megan’s career actually began in politics, in the non-profit sector, doing among many things, event fund-raising and planning ~on itty-bitty budgets…Which in my opinion are skills essential in wedding planning!

Helene Isbell

Helene is a Humboldt State graduate, who in her short life has already opened TWO successful restaurants in Nicaragua. Having spent my previous life in the Construction field, I can appreciate a person, and even more so a woman, who knows how to build from the ground-up! Not just a business, but also the physical structure that houses one’s dreams! Helene is fluent in Spanish, and will be our in-house Green-Wedding Advisor, (after all, you gotta put that Environmental Resource Engineering degree to good use!).

It is with immense excitement I announce Swann Soirées is now a party of Four! Shout out to Gabrielle Fox Photography for her amazing photo skills too!

We are so excited to be re-opening the 2010 Calendar year for your Wedding Planning & Coordination needs! Kristy, Megan, and Helene are available to help you with everything from Day-Of Coordination to Full Service Planning, and Hourly-Consulting!!  Contact us today to learn about the Promo Pricing available for your Wedding Day. Also, stay tuned for an invite to a casual Meet-and-Greet, with Megan, Helene, Kristy & myself coming in April, we’d love for you to come say Hi!

xxo!

Brenda


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!!


Toys for Tots + Swann Soirées = HAPPY KIDS

That’s right! Swann Soirées has partnered up with Toys for Tots to help collect toys for families in need for the 2009 Holiday Season.

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Cerimone Studio is now an OFFICIAL San Diego drop-off location! Woot!! I am so excited at the opportunity to help bring some happiness into the lives of the benefiting kids & families.

Toys for Tots started in 1947, it originated as an idea from a Marine’s wife named Diane who hand-crafted a doll & wanted to donate it to a  child  in need- turns out there was no organization that did that sort of thing, so her husband created one. NICE! Just the way I’d do it!

Many of you are probably familiar with the organization, for they really put a countless amount of effort to raise money and collect toys throughout the year. Besides, who can really miss the dashing Marines, dressed in what I think are the best uniforms of the Armed Services, standing tall at the drop-off locations these last three months of the year? Lures me into going to buy a toy just so I have an excuse for my staring! Don’t worry, Dayton already knows I love the Marine uniforms more than the Navy ones… no need to gasp…hee hee.  Nothing beats a man (or woman) in uniform!  Toys collected will be distributed to families & non-profit organizations throughout the country in December just in time for Christmas morning (hence why efforts & collection drives start “early”).

Alright, so the details: I’ll be collecting new, unwrapped toys AND checks (made out to the Toys for Tots Foundation) starting October 2nd, between 5-8pm at the Cerimone Studio during “Friday Night Liberty”– a monthly Open House event at NTC Liberty Station. You can also drop off any toy or check donations at Cerimone between 9:00a – 4:30p M-Th, Friday, Saturday & Sunday hours will vary, but I will be updating Facebook & Twitter with those times. You can also mail donation checks to the Cerimone Studio.

Please know that this may be the ONLY toy a child could get on Christmas morning,  your love & attention at selecting a gift is very much appreciated, in other words… Make it good! Also, due to potential health risks from allergens, no stuffed toys.

XXO!! THANK YOU SOOOO VERY VERY MUCH!!!

Cerimone Toy Drop Off Info:

M-Th 9:00a-4:30pm

Friday Night Liberty Dates are as follows:

Nov. 6 & Dec. 4   5:00-8:00 pm.

Toys will be collected until December 10th.

P.S. Fellow Wedding Pros… if you want to get involved with Toys for Tots by donating your services, please contact me! All kinds of help is needed & greatly appreciated! xxo!!


Hear the thunder from down under part deux (II)

Before we continue through the rest of the adventure that was Oz. I am going to share more pictures of our morning frolic with the roos.  The two pictures I posted previously were really unimpressive, plus I didn’t tell you that we saw them at Lysterfield National Park. Although some of you may run among the wild roos often, I certainly do not and I think a few more amateur pictures will be sorta fun for you to look at, and perhaps better illustrate how TOTALLY COOL it was to say good morning to Oz that day.

Roos say: Peek-a-boo who foreigner??

Roos say: Peek-a-boo who foreigner??

We're outta here!

We're outta here!

The trail wa actually pretty cool too...

The trail wa actually pretty cool too...

How many roos do you count?

How many roos do you count?

Ok so back where to where the first post left off… I had fun hanging out with the koala, en-route to Phillip Island, where Janey spent many a summer living it up. We however, were going there to try

Janey & I on the pier at Phillip Island

Janey & I on the pier at Phillip Island

and catch the penguin parade. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to see the penguins for tickets sell out quite quickly and we really lagged on getting to the box office. Oh well… guess we’ll just have to go back to Oz! We did manage to have some fun though, which included eating fish & chips… one of my favorite indulgences when I travel. Have you ever noticed that everywhere you go, they always have fish & chips?? I am determined to eat fish & chips… everywhere I go. I know, glamorous right?!

NOM NOM!! Fish & Chips!!!

NOM NOM!! Fish & Chips!!!

As I mentioned in the first post, I normally travel alone, and without a set agenda. Usually I like to see, do, & eat the quintessential things that are to be seen, done & had at the specific location, the rest is just adventures. However, being that a) I was not traveling alone, and b) I actually had purpose in my destination- visiting Janey. I got to spend time doing just “regular things” like having Sunday lunch with her family, and going for a night out on the town.

Top Chef!

Our Top Chef! Jane's dad 🙂

Let's Eat!

Janey's dad pointing out the veggie patty's he made for Jane & I.

By the way,  if you want some very refreshing Victoria wine… get some of this:

yeah, this was delicisouly refreshing!

yeah, this was delicisouly refreshing!

Our night out on the town, in St. Kilda, where Dayton was hit-on by a French Man, grown men played silly drinking games, and where I discovered the drink I now call the “Ideas” (or the “Brenda” if you try to get it at the PL Bar & Grill across from the Cerimone studio!):

Doing shots of tequila through a straw... this obvisouly wasn't the first drink of the night!

Doing shots of tequila through a straw... this obvisouly wasn't the first drink of the night!

The "Ideas": Vodka Tonic with Raspberry syrum & lime! YUM! Credit goes to Janey for this one!

The "Ideas": Vodka Tonic with Raspberry syrup & lime! YUM! Credit goes to Janey for this one!

Man I miss Oz!

to be continued…


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”…