More than a one-night affair…



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Swann Soirées Studio Open House

You are all invited to come check out the new Swann Soirées Boutique Studio!

Brenda will host a casual open house on Sunday, December 19th from 1-7pm.

Come check out the new digs, enjoy some chocolates from our rad neighbors, ChiChocolat, and if you’re feeling merry, you can also drop off a toy for the Toys for Tots foundation. No formal RSVP required, all are welcome; friends, fans, colleagues, former & current clients. Looking forward to seeing you!

2690 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 209

Download directions here.

All images courtesy of LA VIDA CREATIONS. Betsy & Jeff ROCK!

Herb Infused Wedding Inspiration Board

Although my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, has looked over its shoulder and said “I’ll see ya next year,” the images and smells of my sage butter roasted turkey, thyme andouille sausage stuffing, rosemary red potatoes, and lavender pound cake are still lingering in my mind…and definitely on my waist. When you’re a foodie, like me, there was no denying what I’ll be sharing on our  Inspire Me Monday blog post: An herb-infused wedding!

There’s so many fun, creative ways to put together a herb themed wedding! The scent of rosemary, sage, basil, mint, thyme, and lavender can invigorate the senses visually and aromatically. As the board suggests, bundles of herbs can serve as a name or place card holder. For favors, the options are limitless! You can concoct a salt and herb rub or seasoning. If you’d like a sweeter approach, get a little gourmet by marinating herbs such as rosemary or thyme in honey and include a food or drink recipe that incorporates your personalized gift. Herbs are a beautiful and surprising addition to floral arrangements as well; centerpieces, boutonnieres, bouquets, and even ceremony decor.

During my wedding planning, at the consultation with the florist, we discussed how I LOVE herbs and wanted a natural look to the arrangements and bouquets. I shared with her how I envisioned the dinner napkins to have fresh sprigs of rosemary tied-on with colorful plaid ribbon….the ribbon complimented the flannel shirts worn by the  groomsmen. Our venue was surrounded by pine trees that hovered over a beautifully manicured garden area. I wanted  my flowers to embrace the allure of our natural setting; therefore,  elaborate floral decor was unnecessary. The florist did an amazing job with my requests! There were sprigs of sage, mint,  thyme, and lavender accenting the gorgeous bouquets, and at the ceremony, bundles of herbs wrapped in twine designated family seating.

Foodie or not, flirt with all sorts of herb inspired ideas for your wedding…it can make for a tantalizing experience for your guests!

Happy Wedding Planning and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!



P.S. – Remember that these ideas are not only inspiration for your wedding but for your everyday occasions too. At my 30th birthday luncheon, I baked a bag of lavender shortbread cookies for all of the guests to enjoy. They were yum yum!


Mint Bout | Herb Centerpiece | Peach & Rosemary Sprtizer, Herb Infused Honey, Herb Place Card, Rosemary Sea Salt Favor

Inspire Me Monday: A Trip Back Home

Last week, I was fortunately able to take a trip back to my amazing hometown… San Francisco! My family lives in the Mission District, just walking distance from awesome vintage stores and to-die-for restaurants. One of my favorite things about home? The food!  San Francisco is so culturally diverse… unlike anything I have ever experienced anywhere… aaaand all available at your beck and call too! Mexican, Japanese, Cuban, French, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, American and the list goes on…

(Picture of Oakland Bay Bridge below)

First thing on my agenda was food of course! I found a very small & unassuming restaurant where I ordered fresh ice tea and a goat cheese, roasted-veggie sandwich, with seasoned crispy potatoes and caramelized onions. It was delectably delicious! We all know a meal isn’t complete without dessert, so I headed off to my favorite ice cream shop that specializes in unique flavors where I ordered my favorite flavor…salted caramel! Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!

After my tummy was full with yumminess, I went to the most amazing antique store I’ve been to yet, called “Big Daddy Antiques”. Set in an old warehouse this store was filled with old barn tables, rustic birdcages, large pots filled with succulents, farmhouse candles, and knickknacks galore. There was even a cool vintage bicycle hung high up with succulents adorning it. A stunning high beamed ceiling housed these array of engaging visual displays.  It was high style Ralph Lauren meets shabby chic barn. It truly took my breath away and reminded me of what I love…Weddings of course!

Because weddings are always on the brain around these parts, I began to think; “How would I incorporate these organic, one-of-a-kind pieces into a wedding?” I began to envision a lush field turned into an altar, a bride struttin’ her stuff down the aisle in a short dress while carrying a bouquet of succulents, a beautiful old barn transformed into a reception hall glowing with sunlight and a fresh iced-tea welcome for the guests.  During our Swann Squad meetings, we often discuss the importance of encouraging all of our clients to seek inspiration for their wedding in the things they enjoy everyday.  A wedding is a day not only to rejoice the love they both share for one another, but also allow guests to experience the celebration more intimately by having guests enjoy what the couple loves to do, see, and eat.

For this light, fancy-free, afternoon affair, I’d serve what I had for lunch earlier in the day, that yummilicious goat cheese, roasted veggie sandwich accompanied by roasted potatoes, and of course… salted caramel ice cream for dessert! What better way to personalize your wedding than to use your daily life as inspiration!

Oh how I love visiting home…


Intern Jess

Inspire Me Monday: Polka Dots & Ruffles

Living only four blocks away from Balboa Park, I think I’ve explored every inch of it…and EVERY inch of it offers endless inspiration. During one of my night walks, I found myself staring off into the Sculpture Garden, located in the San Diego Museum of Art. The unrestrained and expressive sculptures reminded me of my childhood and of my attempts at art: crayon doodles that could have been used as inkblot tests, Lego structures that never could stay upright, and Play-Doh moldings that made my parents’ heads tilt in confusion – they didn’t know whether to praise my work or question it.

Peering in through the gates, I was convinced that one day, I’d have a bride and groom who wold want a youthful, playful reception. At this fun and interesting outdoor venue where polka dots, ruffles and colorful candles would adorn the tables, cotton candy would be waiting for you at your seat, an ice cream truck stationed outside would be stocked with ice creams and candies from yesteryear, and midnight snacks of In-N-Out burgers and fries would assure everyone goes home with happy full bellies. I think the kid in everyone would surely come out to play!


Sherry Tarrant


Green & white polka dot fabric for napkins | Chloe ruffle linen from Wildflower Linens for tabletop overlay | Paula Rae Florae bouquet wrap | In-n-Out burger image | Wedding Cake | Ruffle Ring for bridesmaids | Vintage tote box for gift cards | Bouquet | Bridesmaid Dress | Boutonniere | Escort Cards | Colorful Candles for centerpiece | Fun encrypted Save-the-Date cards | J. Crew Wedding Dress

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…


Intern Ania

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

Sage, Purple & Lace | Liberty Station Point Loma, Real Wedding

Nothing beats getting to work on my home turf! This past April I was part of Rachel + Rick’s uber fun wedding day which took place at Liberty Station. The ceremony was held in the NTC Chapel followed by a casual cocktail reception in the Luce Court.

There were two things that made this wedding memorable (well actually a lot of things) but two that were particularly enjoyable for me. One, was the over grown seagulls which aggressively stole the sand-filled paper luminaries surrounding the parameter of the area, I am sure they were hoping for a burger and fries instead of votive candles. It is too bad I do not have photos to share of the hilarious scene they caused.

The other was how timelessly beautiful Rachel was… her dress was so delicate, romantic, and feminine. Her hair was sweetly tied into a side bun, make-up; dewey and soft – she was brilliantly stunning, and glowed even brighter when at Rick’s side. The way he looked at her was beyond adorable… so giddy yet in awe of his bride. Oh how the secret romantic in me ate it up! Enjoy these shots compliments of Aaron & Samantha at AS Photography.



This is my favorite photo of the day- it is the epitome of what a Wedding Day should be.

Tuesday Shoesday!

An amazing pair of shoes can definitely make your heart melt…mine begins to liquefy at the sight of these Christian Louboutin’s called Canonita.

Made of delicate crepe satin and chiffon sitting right below the ankle creating a trendy “booty” look they are just perfect for a California fall wardrobe. As hip as this heel appears, its ruffles keep this shoe classy and wedding appropriate. Perfect for pairing up with a bridesmaid dress or adding a bit of an edgy-glam to the right wedding dress. This shoe comes in this gorgeous midnight black or an innocent crème, but spending $995.00 on wedding shoes might not be in every gal’s budget. If only…

While shopping at Nordstrom’s I did a double take on a pair of heels that I thought were these same ones, as I reached over to touch the sultry ruffles, I realized that they were actually a pair of Chinese Laundry sexiness at only $89.00! Same look, within my budget, and in three fabulous colors to choose from! Don’t you love them!?  How do you like the booty-style heels kicking fall into fashion?


Intern Jess

Inspire Me Monday

Today’s Inspire Me Monday starts with an idea for home decor project that hit me out of the blue, then turned into a creative wedding idea…

My husband, Jamie, and I have been in our new condo over five months now. When we first moved in, I painted a wall in our bedroom a cool, soothing hue of blue….

As you can see, the wall is cool and calming BUT still bare because I’ve been waiting for just the right “thing” to hang on it. It finally did during a recent Lake Tahoe trip last weekend! It was a GORGEOUS day for hiking in Emerald Bay, Jamie and I had the trail all to ourselves. The luscious shades of green were memorizing…and THAT’S when inspiration struck down on me. With Jamie unaware, I fell back to create a little distance between us and I began snapping away.

These photos would be perfect matted, framed, and hung in a single horizontal row to finally add some interest to our blue wall.

Now let’s translate this idea into something for your wedding! While the most common time for you and your fiance to be photographed (a lot) and consecutively is your engagement photo shoot, why not find a series of photos you’ve taken during your relationship… maybe from several different birthdays or different trips to the same place, heck, why don’t you take your camera on that next little getaway you take? You choose!  The photos just have to be the reflection of who you are as a couple. My home project is especially meaningful for us because Lake Tahoe is one of our favorite places in the world. So now, every time I look at our wall, I reflect on all the memorable times we’ve shared in there.

After your select the photos (or coordinated the engagement shoot)-  mat and frame the photos to use them as your “guest book.” No, this isn’t a new trend or anything you’ve not seen before, but like with everything in YOUR wedding, this little detail is for you to keep & enjoy for years to come- so it doesn’t matter if it’s been “done,” it’s all about adding those personal touches that makes it Yours.

Pay special consideration of how thick to mat your pictures in relation to how many guests you plan to have at your wedding; you want to make sure there’s enough space on the different frames for all of your guests to sign. You don’t want your matting to be too little, otherwise, you’re guests’ notes will be crowding your pictures. Equally, you don’t want your matting too big or else you may end up with gigantic gaps between their notes. This can be a DIY project (Michael’s always has GREAT sales on their matted frames), or you can get the pictures professionally framed. When choosing how to display your series of pictures be sure to consider the look and feel you are trying to achieve in the room.  If your space reflects a modern feel, go with simple frames that have clean, straight lines. However if your space has a traditional feel, you may want to consider a more ornate, decorative frame. As far as the matting goes, you can get creative with this too- don’t limit yourself to a white or ivory mat. If your pictures and frames allow it, consider a dark color like navy blue, hunter green, black even, then use white, silver, or gold pens for your guests to sign with and PRESTO! Now you’ve got something artistic and memorable to decorate your home with .

Have so much fun putting yours together!



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!