Where Have I Been and Other Catching Up…

Oof.  It’s been over six moths since my last post.  Yeah, that wasn’t intentional, I swear.

You may have been wondering where I’ve been (although if you follow me on Facebook – and if you don’t, you really should – you probably know).  The short answer is that I’ve been EVERYWHERE.  I’m pulled in about a zillion directions right now.  It’s fantastic, and I’ve never been happier, but it’s definitely left very little time for blogging!

The long answer, of course, is that I had a baby girl in early April.  She was an eagerly-anticipated member of our family, but any new parent will tell you that it’s a big adjustment!  Baby A has grown so much in the last several months; it’s almost impossible for me to imagine that she was ever just 7 lbs!   We used this fantastic photo from Chrystal Cienfuegos Photography for our Christmas photos last year:

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Before she was born, I had some beautiful maternity pictures taken by Melissa McClure Photography, and did a Baby Wishes video with Murasaki Media.  If you or someone you know is expecting a baby, I highly recommend doing both photos and a video before the baby is born; I am so happy we did!

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Once she arrived, we had more photos taken, this time by Gabrielle Fox Photography.  She’s so tiny here!!!

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Most recently we had photos taken of Baby A by TWO fantastic photographers (it just sort of happened that way!), Sarah Layne Photography and flutter glass PHOTOGRAPHY:

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A

Gah, I can hardly stand the cute!!

She sits up consistently now, is eating some solid foods, and is learning to crawl (exciting and scary at the same time) and teething (awful).  She also wants constant attention!  Baby A is quite the demanding boss, so Mommy hasn’t had much time for blogging.

In the mean time, of course, the first anniversaries came and went for Julianna + Kyle, Soila + Steven, Chris + Emma, Stacy + Tyler, Alexis + Chris, and Ana + Gina!  And next week will be the first anniversary for Cindy + Neal, followed by first anniversaries for Diana + Julian and Richelle + Matthew…  It’s hard to believe that a year has flown by!  Unfortunately I am still missing quite a few photos from the weddings above (something about last Spring, especially, and getting pictures from photographers), but here’s one of my favorites, by the lovely Stacy Alberto Photography (formerly Sunday Romance Photography):

rec4cake-062386wRichelle, this is easily one of the best faces I’ve seen in a wedding photo! 😉

Fun fact; I actually had three weddings scheduled this past spring, two for fellow wedding pros.  I was thrilled to find out last summer that I was pregnant with Baby A, but sad to have to miss out on Alia, Jenna, and Liz’ weddings!

Then, of course, I’ve been working on this year’s weddings.

First, we had Megan + Mike at Condor’s Nest Ranch, with a photo by Faithfully Focused Photography:

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I did all their decor/design, and boy was it gorgeous!  It was recently featured on Rustic Wedding Chic, and I love how the feature shows off all the lovely details we came up with!

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Then was Damaris and Omar’s wedding at 94th Aero Squadron, with beautiful photography by Jessica Chavez.

i-WDQpwDG-LYou may recognize Damaris and Omar from their styled wedding shoot that I did back in March (yes, at 9 months pregnant) at Presidio Park with Erica of Les Amis Photography.  It was recently featured on Bisou Bride!

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Unfortunately I haven’t gotten photos back from either September wedding I did, but speaking of features, the shoot I did i February with former clients Stacy + Tyler and the ladies at Chris Wojdak Photography, Penny Blooms Floral Design, Unbridled Beauty, and Mili’s Sweets at Condor’s Nest Ranch got a lot of press this summer!  It was featured on Sweet Violet Bride, Things Festive, Trendy Bride, and Storyboard Wedding!

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Of course I have a busy few months ahead of me; I have two more weddings and a birthday party (or two) left this year.  And next year I’m already quite booked – I don’t have any availability until late April, and even then I’m pretty booked until the Fall!

Oh yes…  And I have not one but two big things in the works.  To be announced soon.  Stay tuned!!! 😉

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Belated Happy Anniversary, Michelle + Dave!

I have been SO busy lately, most notably dealing with an internet outage at home that really knocked me off my game (three weeks without internet = a VERY tough time getting anything done!).  My mobile data is almost used up for the month (I’ve never done that!!) and I’m thisclose to my maternity leave…  But I had to leave a little love note for Michelle + Dave, since it’s been a year since their wedding (their anniversary was Sunday)!

They found me on Yelp and hired me sight-unseen to plan their wedding for them, long distance, from Chicago.  From the minute we had our first phone call, I knew they were going to be the kind of clients planners always wish for; the kind that have their own mind about things (you’d be surprised how difficult it is to plan for someone who has no opinion!) but have lots of trust in the people they hire to do the best job they can.  We had so much fun planning and creating their wedding together, and assembled a dream team of vendors.  And THIS happened.

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Yup.  Pure bliss.  Nothing makes a planner happier than to see her couple so happy that they don’t care who else sees them nuzzling. 🙂

This is another one of my favorite photos from their wedding:

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Seriously?  When the groom tears up seeing his bride coming down the aisle?  This planner melts.  I was behind the bride, way in the background, and didn’t see this happening.  When I saw the photos later on, it took my breath away.  It’s also a great reminder that the First Look (which they had) does not spoil the Coming Down the Aisle.

You can see more photos and videos on my blog:

And on my website Gallery.  You can also read what Michelle had to say about my services in my Happy Clients section!

I’m lucky enough to have been able to stay in their lives this year and I’m thrilled to say that things are going well for them – and I hope that next year we can celebrate their anniversary together, with our daughters! 😉

Michelle + Dave’s Classic Beach Wedding at La Jolla Shores Hotel Wedding Details:

Updated Services and Pretty Pictures!

HOORAY!  It’s February first!!!  I’ve been anticipating this day for a while – I decided that the Holidays were far too busy for me to make website updates, so my 2012 services and pricing would stand until February 1st… But today is here and I get to share with you some exciting new service options!

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First of all, you might notice that Coordination no longer is listed on its own page.  In fact, if you have a keen eye you’ll see that Coordination is no longer listed as part of my logo.  While I will continue to do Coordination of weddings, and while I adore my Coordination clients, I have known for a while that my heart is truly most happy when I get to work with clients on their wedding design as well.  If you have ever e-mailed me or taken my business card, you’ll see that I list myself as “Event Designer” (and have from the moment I started Events by Elisa), because I really adore design.

What does this mean for Coordination clients?

I will still be taking Coordination clients, so please don’t stress!  I have put some new notes on my website about when to contact me for Coordination.  At this time I will not be taking on clients for Coordination any farther than 6 months before the wedding date.  This will be a transition for me; I’m not sure how I’ll like it, but as my emphasis will be on Design and Planning services, which are typically booked much farther in advance, I am doing a trial run.

You’ll also see a few brand new services: Concierge, Elopement, and Consulting are the main ones.  I think they’re relatively self-explanatory, but just in case:

  • Concierge is the ultimate in services for couples who want to feel like a guest on their wedding day – I’ll do it all for you!
  • Elopement is meant for weddings with 10 guests or less, including the couple.
  • Consulting does not involve wedding day services, but is a six-hour package of one-on-one time with me, personalized for your needs, including some great planning documents.

In addition, I’ll be offering Bridal Attendants as an add-on to any package (except Concierge, where two are included); a Steward is offered for grooms, and a Lady-in-Waiting for brides (please note: they are priced separately and it’s absolutely possible to have two Stewards or two Ladies-in-Waiting!!!).  The purpose of these additional wedding day assistants is to be with the couple throughout the getting-ready process, photos before and after the ceremony, and the beginning of the reception; they’ll be your right-hand (wo)man throughout the beginning of your day.

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Lastly, you’ll see some beautiful photos from my Unicorn birthday party, Stacy+Tyler’s wedding, and Richelle + Matthew’s wedding…  There are more photos coming from last year’s events, but they’re taking a little longer than expected…  Still, more eye candy is never a bad thing! 😉

I hope to start blogging again on a more regular basis now that this update is complete, so I can bring you up to speed with last year’s events and some of my other tips and observations (being a bridesmaid in a wedding last month really made me think about weddings in a different way!).  In the mean time, I hope you like my updated site! 🙂

Images by flutter glass Photography and Sunday Romance Photography

A Very Special Announcement…

I know I’ve been a bit on the quiet side lately.  Part of this is because I have been taking some recuperative time; I somehow managed to have a long (3 month) break between major events.  This wasn’t by design, actually, but it did happen to coincide with the hottest weather we’ve had this year (thank goodness!).  I actually had a couple of events scheduled that for various reasons ended up being un-scheduled.  Nothing bad; it just happens sometimes.  Financial situations change, minds change, etc.  But in this case I really do think it might have been the finger of God or Fate or the Universe or something…  Because not a week after my big rainbow-colored birthday bash (which will be shared soon, I promise) I was sitting at my day job and started feeling really dizzy and exhausted.

I went home that day after barely sitting upright at my desk for the rest of the afternoon, convinced I had the flu.  My entire office had had it.  I must have gotten it.  I think I slept something like 16 hours the next day, and 14 or 15 the day after.  I was dragging!!!  I was feeling a bit nauseous too, had a bit of a headache, and body aches all over. I decided not to take anything, though, because I was afraid that it would aggravate my nausea.

It didn’t even occur to me until late that day that perhaps I was feeling sick for another reason…  And then it did.   I took a test the next morning.  And then the following week, we brought these over to my parents’ house.

Cute, huh? 😉

Yup, it’s official.  I’m going to be a mommy!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!! 🙂

But, of course, what does this mean for my business?

Well, first off, I won’t be taking any new clients except for limited Design Only or Stationery Design for the first 7 months of 2013.  I did have to let two Spring 2013 clients know that I wouldn’t be able to do their weddings (and I’ve helped them find other options).  It was especially tough to do this because I was scheduled to be the Coordinator for a longtime friend and vendor’s wedding in April, but it’s taking place two weeks after my due date.  So I’ll be in no shape, physically or mentally, for working a wedding day.

Beyond that, I have a sort of half-formed plan.  I’d actually decided earlier this year that I wanted to take next year a little easier, too.  May, June, and July were exceptionally busy for me, and while I loved every single wedding and shoot I was involved in, I don’t think I could continue that breakneck pace next year.  I have three weddings scheduled this Fall (2nd trimester energy – hooray!) and did decide to decline a fourth once I found out (I found them a great replacement too), because I wanted to give myself the ability to focus on the ones I’d already booked and an extra couple of weeks’ rest.  Next Fall and Winter I’ll be going back to a modified event schedule; I already have a couple of potential clients in the works and am SO looking forward to their weddings.  I’ll probably take on another 3-4 weddings on top of those I’m already talking to, late next year, as well as doing a few shoots that I’ve been designing. I plan to take on several 2014 weddings as well!

I will stay active in the San Diego wedding community, networking and meeting new vendors (this is another area where photo shoots are invaluable, as it gives me the opportunity to work with people I wouldn’t necessarily, otherwise, meet), as well as actively blog (perhaps not as often as I was during the summer, but hopefully with decent frequency; I still have SO much to share from earlier this year too!).

And I will be working on a Wedding Consulting package too (details should be worked out by early December)!

I’m so thrilled to be able to share with you the secret that’s kept me pretty quiet lately.  I know it will be life-changing in many ways.  But I also know that event planning and design is where I want to be, so I will be working hard to continue to provide excellent service and value for my clients!

 

 

Emma + Chris’ House of Blues Wedding Featured on Style Me Pretty!

It’s been quite the summer for Events by Elisa.  I’ve had more amazing weddings, fabulous photo shoots, and incredible features in just a few months than I thought possible.  Last weekend I designed a table at my local Classic Party Rentals showroom, to be featured for the next two months and seen whenever anyone goes to pick out their linens or tableware.  I’m hard at work designing an invitation for my cousin’s wedding early next year, in which I’ll also be bridesmaid.  And I’ve had a grand total of FOURTEEN features on all sorts of lovely sites since June.  FOURTEEN!!!

Including today.  Yup, it happened again.  This time on Style Me Pretty California.  Emma + Chris’ House of Blues Wedding is featured today!!!

If you’ve read my four blogs about this wedding, you’ll know how much I love these two.  And how proud I was of all we accomplished on our extremely modest budget.  And how much I adored the stationery that I designed!  This wedding ended up being an extremely personal labor of love for me.  And I was so, SO proud to work with some of my favorite San Diego wedding vendors to make this special couple’s wedding day unforgettable.

That’s why it was such an honor to have it featured on Style Me Pretty!!

See?  Aren’t these two gorgeous???  Not to mention those drop-dead flowers from Penny Blooms Floral Design!

See the entire feature on Style Me Pretty California today, and while you’re there, check out the whole Gallery for even more fabulous photos!!!

Oh yes, and now I get one of these nifty things to put on my website… 😉

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And on a completely unrelated note…  Four years ago was my wedding day.  Celebrating my anniversary tonight with my sweetheart and looking forward to a fabulous fifth year!!!

(Photo by Beverley Woodward; I’d link to her site but she’s no longer in business!)

Emma + Chris’ Whimsical Music-Themed Wedding at House of Blues San Diego Wedding Details:

What I’ve Been Up To Lately…

June was an extremely busy month for me (spilling into the first day of July).  I’ve got three more events happening in the next several weeks but I thought that on this beautiful holiday I might share a little taste of what I’ve been involved with over the last month!!!  Three styled shoots (including stationery for two) and two weddings (including programs for one and all the stationery for the other) meant a ton of work and very little time off.  But look at the gorgeous results!!!

I hope you have a fantastic holiday – I’m off to spend the day with friends and my husband.  Be safe!!!

What I've Been Up To!

Photo credits:

Nominated for the San Diego A List!

I just need to take a minute to do a happy dance – for the second year in a row I’ve been nominated for the San Diego A List!  It’s completely voter-driven (which means that it can be completely skewed, of course!), but it’s an honor to be on the list!

I know I ask a lot of my clients – a final wrap-up meeting, reviews if you were happy, etc., but if you have a few extra minutes and feel that I did a great job for you, please vote for me!  🙂  Thanks in advance!


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Can You Send Me a Price List? Why I don’t like standard pricing

As you probably know, I completely redid my website in early April.  I had been meaning to do so for a very long time.  I realized that so much of it was out of date, and so much had changed within my business, that it really needed a facelift.  One of the many, many changes I made was to move to simpler packaging for weddings.

Just design, planning, or coordination.  Well, and Design with Coordination, or Design+.  I decided that having Day-of and Month-of services was just too confusing.  That, and I kept finding that my Day-of Coordination package was actually equivalent to most other Month-of Packages.

For the last few months before the big change, I had been explaining this change in e-mails to prospective clients.  I wished so badly that I could snap my fingers and make it all happen on my website too, but these things take time to get right, and this change actually took longer than I had originally intended because my first design simply wasn’t very functional.  So I had to keep explaining that what I do hasn’t changed – just how I talk about it.

With that move toward simplification, I also decided to publish my adjusted pricing for the first time.  I talked about this briefly in my announcement of the new site, but I wanted to get into it a little more here.  There are several schools of thought for wedding professionals as to whether prices should be published online, and originally (before my first site went live to the world, when I was asking for feedback from friends and mentors) I’d published mine.  I wanted transparency.  I remembered planning my own wedding, and how helpful it was to have prices published.  I was counseled to have them by request only, at first, and I’m glad I was, because the more weddings and events I did, the more I learned about how long each process takes and what is involved.

But now I am pretty confident in my pricing structure.  And I still think it’s important (in fact I heard feedback once from a friend who had referred someone to me; that someone had taken one look at my services page and said “She doesn’t publish her prices, so she has to be too expensive for me!”).  So I’m feeling pretty good about service structure and price publishing.  But it also is tough.

I often get e-mails that say simply, “My fiancé and I are getting married [on a certain date, in a certain month, or sometimes even in a certain year].  Can you send me your pricing sheet?”  It’s hard, really.  Because I don’t like standard pricing, and I have never had a pricing sheet.  Even now, my website reads “starting at…” for a reason.  Because each wedding is different.

Wedding Design, Planning, and Coordination are all best when they’re personal to you.  Just like your house, your phone, your wardrobe…  You are an individual.  Your wedding is not the same as anyone else’s.  In fact, I relish weddings that are personalized, handmade, and quirky.  It’s my favorite thing to do, planning a wedding with a couple who wants their personalities to shine.

Married by a Robot. Oh yes.

Standard pricing assumes that you have a “standard” wedding.  And what does that mean?  That you’re just the same as the next couple?  That you have the same needs? That your planner or coordinator just charges everyone the same price without putting any thought into it?  That you’re getting charged for services you might not need, or maybe that you’re not getting enough service for your wedding because it’s not in the package?

For a while I was actually putting together a full quote for every couple who contacted me, adding up all my costs each time (which is why I was glad that I was counseled to not post standard pricing, because it did fluctuate).  As I said before, I have decided to streamline my packages, based on what normally happens at a wedding and what I’ve learned is necessary (all my weddings now happen with at least one assistant, for example).  This will help give my potential clients a ballpark figure for the service they want before they ever contact me, and I think that’s important.

But I’m leery of standard pricing.  It’s like going to buy your first house without any inkling of the market around you.  You know you want three bedrooms and two baths, but you’ve never bought a house before and have no clue if you’ll need to plan on $20,000 or $200,000 or $2,000,000 to purchase it (and have apparently been living under a rock, but bear with me on the analogy).  You contact a real estate agent who says to you that all of their three-bedroom, two-bath homes cost $400,000, regardless of neighborhood, lot size, or condition of the home.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense in real estate, and I don’t think it makes a lot of sense in wedding planning either.

Every wedding has it’s own personality – the unique number of guests and attendants, location, and setup details.  An outdoor wedding under the stars will require far more complicated a setup (tables, chairs, dance floor, lighting, heaters, restrooms, cooking equipment, etc.) than a ballroom wedding.  Especially an outdoor wedding with tons of DIY details (or one without professional vendors for things like floral design and music).  Hanging hundreds of ribbons in a tree for your ceremony or a backdrop to your sweets table looks amazing (and I love, love, love doing it – I’m so looking forward to sharing my next post with you where I can show you what it looks like!), but it can take hours.  Hours of painstaking detail work.   On a ladder.  So can arranging the perfect combination of wildflowers in jars.  Or creating that tower of favors, or that escort card puzzle.  The Chinese lantern sculpture I created last year for Emily + Jeremy  was insanely gorgeous and a breathtaking piece to decorate the entry to their wedding reception.  But it took three people four hours to complete.  No joke.

One of the biggest factors in my pricing is making sure that I have enough hands to complete heavy setup jobs like these.  But the number of guests is also a factor, since setting up place settings and favors for 300 guests is a far different story than setting up for 50 (to say nothing of guest management during the wedding or cleanup afterwards, or all the other things we do and decor we set up).  Based on the whole picture of the wedding day, I’ll hire either my regular assistant or a combination of full- and half-day assistants to help make it all happen.  And of course, I have to charge for travel outside of San Diego County, in order to make sure I don’t lose money on events in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, or Santa Barbara Counties.

The thing is, I suppose that if I charged an extreme amount for my services, I could absorb things like extra assistants and mileage into my bottom line.  But I don’t – I try to provide the best value cost possible for my services while still offering excellent service and quality.  And I hate charging people for things they don’t need.  So I always will need more specifics before confirming a price for a potential client.  Which is part of the reason I’m excited that I built my new website with an inquiry page that asks for more information than would be included in the e-mail I mentioned above.

And I’m happy about that.  I’d much rather review all the details of a wedding day before giving my potential couples a final price.  It takes a little longer, and is more work intensive.  And there’s the dreaded “starting at…” listed on my site.  But I’m truly happy.  Because I don’t want to do cookie cutter weddings, and I don’t want to overcharge any of my clients.  I’m proud to say that my weddings are anything but “standard,” and that’s just the way I want them to be!

Photo from the McAwesome Wedding, by Events by Elisa

My New Website!

Yesterday the Easter Bunny brought me a fantastic present – my brand new website is finished! 🙂

I’m SO proud to show you all the beautiful things I’ve been doing, and to bring you my new pricing structure.  Of course every event and stationery client will receive a custom quote – the prices listed are for basic services (and don’t include extra assistants, hours, services, or mileage).  But I’m extremely proud to publish prices on my site.  It’s been something I’ve wanted to do from the beginning (and I had detractors on both sides, telling me not to publish them because I wouldn’t get clients to pay them/I was worth more than my prices).  I think it’s just an important thing for me to do, since integrity is a crucial tenet of my business.

I’ve also got lots of gorgeous photos.  My old site was severely lacking in photography, mostly because I was afraid of overloading the server.  I bit the bullet and bought an upgrade, and I loaded my site with galleries and pretty pictures.  In addition to photographs of my work, I love my new headshots from Melissa McClure Photography and I get to show them off!

There’s a great “About Me” section, including bios for myself and my wonderful Assistant Rachael.  I’ll be adding new Galleries all the time (starting, hopefully, with Michelle and Dave’s wedding this week!), and new testimonials from Happy Clients, as well as new Links to features and some of my favorite vendors.  I’ve got all my Contact information available as well as a fantastic Inquiry form to help new clients tell me exactly what they need.

I’m ridiculously excited about this huge website upgrade, and I hope you enjoy the new features as much as I do!

Rogue Wedding Invitations!

March was print materials month around Events by Elisa.  From the entire (classic, be achy) printable suite (table names, sweets buffet tags, programs, menus, escort cards, Out of Town bags, etc.) for Michelle and Dave’s wedding to the (modern, typographic) three-piece invitation suite for Chris and Emma’s wedding to the simple (henna-inspired, elegant) one-piece invitation for Rogue Bride, I spent most of the month in front of the computer!

Now all the pieces are done, printed and to the clients.  And I’m so proud of them.  At last week’s wedding, Dave (the groom) told me he was so surprised (in a good way) with all the finishing touches I’d made.  I got a text from Emma when she received her invitations that had over a dozen exclamation points.  And Friday (when I was at Disneyland with friends) I got an e-mail from Rogue Bride with the subject line, “LOVE THEM!”

Have I said how much I adore my job?  Let me just say it again.  I adore my job.

Anyway, Rogue Bride blogged her invitations.  And she does love them! 🙂  I do too.  That paisley is one of my favorites!!!  And she took a much prettier photo than I could have (although I’ll share Chris and Emma’s sometime because they’re super fun, even if I have to take photos myself).  I’m so happy I could make her happy!!!!

Also, if you visit my website any time soon you’ll notice that it’s under construction.  Finally and officially.  I was able to get one critical piece working yesterday and hope to have it completely redesigned within the next two weeks!