Writing your own vows – tips!

First and foremost, do not leave this until the last moment!   Grab a notebook or jot notes in your phone as things pop into your head.  Remember, this is a time to be vulnerable, which doesn’t come easily to many.  Fond memories or anecdotal reasons you are head over heels with your future spouse are always well received.

Craig, owner of Craig Does Weddings gives this advice:

1. Don’t memorize them. Just read them.  You don’t want your first memory of your wedding day to be, “Man, I was so nervous doing my vows from memory.”  I want the first memory to be, “We had a GREAT wedding!”

2. Remember they are vows, not a summation of your entire history as a couple.  You’re making a promise to your mate, so write things that you want to promise.  Now, it’s ok to have a few “history” events, or character traits you want to highlight.  It doesn’t have to be TOTALLY serious, but, the best vows I’ve heard are promises spoken from the heart. I advised this to one couple in advance of the wedding and during the ceremony, he pulled out three pages of notes for his vows, then she pulled out 2 pages.  In total, both vows took 30 minutes.  We were in the hot sun with no wind on Coronado.  Lot’s of “cutesy” stuff.  Lot’s of “inside” humor.  It didn’t go well.

3. Think “Big themes” rather than small promises.  It’s kind of funny (even cute) when couples promise not to “leave the toilet seat up,” or “take the remote away during NFL games,” but if you do that, keep it to a minimum.  This is “insider information” between the two of you.  You might think it’s cute/funny, but it sounds a little corny and besides, you can’t keep that promise anyway.  Big themes are things like: “loving you through trials and life’s hard knocks,” or “do my best to listen to your words and the feelings behind those words,” or “I will remember that you (and I) are ‘in process’ so I’ll do my best to be patient with you when we have conflict on things,” or “I will encourage you and support you in any new challenges that come your way.”

4. Use themes from “repeat after me” vows for your own vows.  I often direct couples to look over the vow options I give couples and suggest looking at the themes there.  They are a helpful guide.  And, I suggest picking and choosing phrases from those vows that they might want to insert in their own, or put into their own words. They don’t have to, but those vows have some great words to help guide.

5. Look on the internet.  There will be a lot of bad vow options, but there are some good ones out there that you can make your own as well.

Once you’ve honed in on the perfect words, write them on an index card and practice, practice, practice reciting your vows.  You’ll thank me for this tip on your special day when your nerves take hold!


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Bridal Party Gifts

Wedding gift ideas for the bridal party.

You’ve planned the wedding and are feeling a sense of relief.   Hold on.  You’re not done yet… Bridal party gifts are still on your list! Trying to come up with new, fresh ideas for bridal parties can be tough. Start by searching Pinterest and Etsy to get your creative vibes flowing.  Next, think unique, think about something that means something to you and your future husband or wife. Some brides choose to gift their ladies with accessories for the wedding day such as jewelry, purses or robes for the morning of the wedding! A bride that taught English in Japan gave her bridesmaids kimonos to wear while getting ready for the wedding.  A small wooden crate filled with some special soaps, alcohol, candy, can always make a great gift when thoughtfully presented.  A mini bar in a jar packed with your favorite mini alcohol bottles will always be everyone’s favorite.

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Although most would love Tiffanys jewelry, it’s not in the budget for many.  A nice alternative is a personalized necklace, bracelet, or ring from Etsy which coordinates to a spot you and each person loves (Think favorite restaurant, vacation spot, college dorm, sorority house, where you hang out with each person).  With a little thought, you can put together a gift all will adore no matter your budget.

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Photo credit: Photography by Anjuli

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Wedding Rings!

Every wonder why the wedding rings go on the left hand, fourth finger? Thousand of years ago, there was a Greek and Roman belief that a vein from the fourth finger on the left hand ran directly to the heart, which led to our fondly held tradition of placing wedding bands on this finger. When any other digit would do, we choose to place the ring on our ring finger, thereby connecting our wedding rings directly to our heart, and forever sealing our wedded bond.



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A Wedding Planner’s Wedding on the Big Island: Intimate, Sweet, Perfect

I have been a wedding planner in San Diego for 8 years and I was recently married myself.  I chose to have a destination wedding in Hawaii to keep it intimate and stress free. I was engaged earlier this year to an amazing man named Carlos who I had been sharing my life with for nearly three years. He gave me a gorgeous Levian chocolate diamond ring from Kays in Fashion Valley which I absolutely love. I wanted something that reflected my uniqueness so I chose chocolate diamonds.

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We set the date for an August wedding, and after planning hundreds of weddings for others, I knew I wanted something small and personal, so Carlos and I decided to have a destination wedding. While visiting Hawaii the previous Fall, I fell in love with the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort so we decided to book it!

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We then asked a great friend, Api Lavatai, to officiate our wedding.  We secured our ceremony music with a fantastic DJ, Ed Geer.  After getting off to a great start I had a devastating injury which left me with a broken wrist and caused a pause in my life. I put the rest of the planning on hold for months.  About a month before the wedding I finally started dress and decor shopping. I purchased a beautiful, ivory wedding gown with a jeweled belted waist line from Bridal and Tuxedo Galleria near my house.  The staff there is fabulous but they thought I was a little crazy for waiting until a few weeks before the wedding to try on dresses,  especially being an ever-organized wedding planner!

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I quickly had the dress altered at Shimaki Tailoring, went shopping for jewelry and undergarments and packed. Three days before flying out we chose Carlos’s ring at Kays in Fashion Valley.  We flew out and shortly landed on the big island of Hawaii!  Carlos’s mom joined us and my amazing life long friend, Ruby, landed soon after. The pre wedding days were pretty tense with a lot of emotion.  I had no idea how much stress and anxiety a bride truly carries right before the wedding.  Did I question my choices? Yes. Did I stress out like crazy prior to the wedding? Beyond a doubt. Did I cry? I certainly did.  Did people drive me crazy for calling me with questions before looking at the 5 page detailed minute-by-minute timeline I had intricately created? Absolutely! Did I know I wanted to marry my husband in spite of the craziness and arguing? Most definitely!

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Ruby stayed with me the few days before the wedding at the Hilton Waikoloa. The morning of the wedding was truly awesome. Stress seemed to dissipate and every moment became dreamy. Ruby and I had a lovely breakfast at Big Island Breakfast at Water’s Edge. Live, mellow music played from the Christian retreat that was onsite.  Then it all started to come together with my mom and my makeup artist / hair stylist / brother’s girlfriend arriving as well as the other very special ladies in my life.

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My photographer, Al Torrico, arrived and the environment become amusing. He joked a lot which helped everyone relax. At one point he told my mom that he had just picked up the camera at Costco and hoped he had “film”. The look on her face…priceless.

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It was time to see my soon to be husband for our first look photos.  I walked out of my room in the gown that I had chosen just weeks before, and for the first time ever in the pre wedding stage, felt nervous. There was a long hallway I walked down to meet Carlos, who had his eyes covered and back towards me. I tapped his shoulder. When Carlos saw me, he was overjoyed, donning the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his handsome face!  We couldn’t stop holding each other. The tears started flowing from my eyes and we just melted in each other’s arms. We couldn’t help but kiss (even though it was not allowed) and I knew in that moment it was all going to be amazing beyond compare.  Al, our photographer, was more like a very close friend there to capture every moment. I had the pleasure of coordinating Al’s wedding in 2007 and since then he’s become a highly sought after wedding photographer!
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My dad was an hour late and the leis for the guests were lost… but none of that mattered. I was getting married to the man I loved. My parents walked me down the aisle as Api, our friend/officiant and also wedding singer sang Forever.  Ed Geer  blew us away, doing a perfect job with the music and sound for the ceremony. As I approached the front of the church with my parents, Api looked up and started to cry, which I knew would happen! He is a big teddy bear! We had only 15 people present, our very close family and friends, and that is the intimacy we wanted. Our ceremony was small, personal and fun; we laughed so much! Carlos’s vows were perfect and heart warming…even the part where he mentioned he would still eat meat (I am mostly vegan).

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After the ceremony we took some stunning sunset photos on the lava rock while our guests rode the boat over to the KPC restaurant.

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Next we arrived at the restaurant to find it romantic and elegant.  My friends Luana, Jezzy and Ruby all helped decorate and it was flawless. Jonathan and the staff at the KPC restaurant truly went above and beyond in service and everything was impressive. I know a big part of the reason I was able to enjoy my day was because we had picked the best venue with staff that cared about us.

At the dinner the food was delicious. My parents and Carlos’s mom toasted.  I presented my bouquet to my mom because she truly is the best wife I have ever known. Our wedding cake was adorned with fresh bright Hawaiian flowers and a cute Hawaiian cake topper which kinda looked like us! We cut the cake to top off the wonderful evening with our guests.

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After the reception Carlos and I entered our room and were greeted by champagne and chocolate covered strawberries given to us by Cheryl and Robin of the Hilton.  They provided excellent service and helped me so much. I had a million questions when deciding on a venue and they were extremely patient and attentive! The reason I chose a destination wedding was to have a stress free and intimate celebration, and in choosing Hawaii and the Hilton Waikoloa, I accomplished that.  My wedding was perfect.  Even with the light rain in the morning and the crazy wind…and frizzy hair…it was spectacular.  I would do it all over again. It’s a beautiful memory and I absolutely love being married!

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Thank you Al Torrico!

At Your Side Planning was formerly Ah! Le Party

We are now At Your Side Planning!

At Your Side Planning is officially our new business name!  We previously were Ah! Le Party and after much consideration, decided to change our business name and branding.  We are SO ecstatic about the new look.  We want to thank Lauren Eschborn for creating our beautiful logo and some marketing pieces. We love the font, the swirl and elegant design. Lauren also created a car magnet for Diana’s vehicle. She is currently working on the brochure for client meetings and a business card. The main reasons we have changed names included creating a brand that better defines our company and creating a name that better reflects what we do.  We are more than parties…we plan all types of events.  Besides weddings, we have planned beautiful social events, fraternity socials and conferences as well as many themed events.  As Ah Le Party, the look was more youthful and a lounge feel. It was not representing what our company had evolved into. Our clientele has also evolved into one that is more of the higher end so we felt creating a brand that represented that was appropriate. We worked on our website with our designer, Jessica Wooding on our website. Countless hours were put in creating just the appropriate style and content for each page.  We are so ecstatic about the transition and the branding is being completed as we move forward. We welcome you to take a stroll through our new website. We would love for you to like our new Facebook page, follow our blog and pin with us on the creative and addicting Pinterest. Creating the new links is starting all over again and we would truly love your support! Thank you very much!

Please like our new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/atyoursideplanning
Follow our blog at www.atyoursideplanning.wordpress.com
Pin with us at www.pinterest.com/atyoursideplans.

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The History of the White Wedding Dress!

Have you ever wondered why wedding dresses are traditionally white? It has not always been this way! In 1840, Queen Victoria wore what people describe as a “flamboyant white gown”.  In those days, wearing white clothing signified that you were wealthy and could afford to purchase a dress that you may never wear again.  Wedding dresses were all different colors, shapes, and styles.  Most women wore dresses that they could slightly alter and wear again.  Another famous white wedding dress that presented itself after Queen Victoria was a knee-length white wedding dress designed by the infamous Coco Chanel.  Even so, women still just wore what they would afford, and still only those that came from wealth had the means to wear an elaborate gown on their wedding day.  The white wedding dress tradition is still very, relatively new.  Queen Victoria may have been the first in 1840 but the tradition didn’t really set in and take off until about 1950.  Now most people can’t dream of a wearing a wedding dress that is any other color than white.
However, there are always those that want to start their own traditions and such, so if you’re thinking about wedding in a gown other than white, here’s an old folklore that may help you decide whether to go with tradition…or not!  We enjoy seeing all styles of wedding dresses.  We have even had a bride who had an all white wedding and she herself wore slate.  It was so much fun!  We wish you the best in your wedding gown shopping!

All photos courtesy of Shadowcatcher Imagery

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Fun and creative wedding engagement photo shoot!

Balloons, signage, San Diego, the beach and their dog!  What more could a perfect engagement shoot consist of?!  We wanted to share these lovely engagement photos from one of our great couples this year… Caroline and Bart.  These photos were provided by Joshua Word of One Love Photography.  The couple incorporated some creative items into their shoot…including their pug!  We hope you enjoy these photos as much as we did.  Courtesy of One Love Photography

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Nature Inspired Wedding Trend continues into 2012

We have been seeing nature inspired weddings as a trend for the past few years all across the board in events and weddings. These trends are continuing into 2012 and we are looking forward to planning more of these great weddings!  Outdoor locations to consider having thewedding ceremony and reception at would include backyards, Victorian homes, parks, gardens, campgrounds, the woods and outdoor areas such as Lake Tahoe or Sedona in Arizona.  All of these choices are great places!  There is a lot of to consider when deciding to go with an outdoor venue that you coordinator will be able to assist you with (such as electricity, lighting, restrooms, parking, trash and so forth.)  For inspiration, think on picnics, barns, pies, lemonade and natural floral which are loose arrangements and not tight arrangements that are all the same.  Floral that is popular are wild flower and daisies with a hand-picked look. Going with the nature theme throughout your planning is the goal.  Attire can include vintage dresses or certified organic cotton.   In San Diego popular sites are the parks in Coronado and central San Diego such as Presidio Park, the beaches in La Jolla and the gardens in Carlsbad.  Favors can be items such as seeds, plants or donations.  Donations many couples choose are to local charities or their favorite charity.  Another popular trend is having a “honeymoon” fund where guests can pay for items for the wedding honeymoon online such as plane tickets, train tickets, taxi fare, meals, spas etc.  The food menu can be organic and vegetarian centered or picnic inspired.  Invitations can be from recycled material or electronic.  Eco friendliness is an important factor to over 1/3 of engaged couples.  Eco friendliness goes hand in hand with nature inspired weddings.  Include natural aspects of everyone .. more so with elements of the outdoors.  There is so much inspiration for nature inspired weddings.  Thinking on the outdoors…picnics, red rock, the forest, lakes, beached, mountains, barns, parks and gardens.  Our most recent wedding which was nature inspired was in Julian, California at the Pine Hills Lodge and it was adorable! The menu was vegan, floral were loosely arranged, a tree stump for the cake and the area surrounded by beautiful lush greenery!  All photos provided by Brandon Tridle.

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Best Wedding Planner San Diego on 10News Alist

We are so honored to have won best wedding planner for San Diego on the 10News Alist!  The polls for voting for the best wedding planner in San Diego were open for a few months this summer.  We reached out to our prior clients,  present clients, vendors we have worked with and those familiar with At Your Side Planning (formerly, Ah! Le Party) to ask for support!  We thank everyone for their vote because every vote truly does count.   What is amusing is that we weren’t notified about winning best wedding planner so as we started to get congratulations….we realized that we should check results!  Sure enough, as we checked the results for best wedding planner in San Diego, we saw Best Wedding Planner 1st Place – At Your Side Planning (formerly, Ah! Le Party)   Thank you for all that voted and that continue to support us!  Cheers!

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