Party Blog

Traveling Gypsy Carnival Receives TSE Gala Award


I’m so honored and thrilled that our wedding “Traveling Gypsy Carnival” has won a TSE Gala Award! Our category was “Best Wedding: Budget Under $1,000 Per Guest” and our prestigious award was announced on Thursday, January 8 at The Special Event in Anaheim.

We were excited to originally get nominated and amazed to take home the win! We were honored to be in the company of AOO Events and Something New as nominees in this category.

CarolPlease read our TSE gala nomination blog post to see the wedding that got us our award! 


Here’s our winning wedding description in the gala’s program for the evening.

Gala Nominee

This would never have happened without the hard work and support of our many team partners from ISES and WIPA. Thank you to everyone!


WIPA Holiday Gala

Love this WIPA Holiday Gala video by Elysium Productions!  We can’t wait to share all of the photos – it was such a great night!


What Do Formula Drift Racing and Weddings Have in Common?

So…. Many of you know about the charity group I support: Wish Upon a Wedding.  We provide weddings for clients who are terminally ill, and cannot afford to get married.  Creating a dream wedding for these couples is priceless.

Our annual fundraiser, The Blissful Wishes Ball, raises the much needed funds to provide the weddings.  And, what’s a fundraiser without an auction?  So… there I was in April, checking out the auction offerings.  One of them was a very special event … Formula Drift Racing.

Well, I thought, this might be a terrific gift for my husband who is impossible to buy for.  (And, no, I didn’t know what it was! …  But it seemed cool).  So I raised my hand a couple of times, and voila!   A certificate good for a ride in a professional Formula Drift car and tickets to come back on another day and view the finals of the Formula Drift Championship Races.  What a deal!!


My communication with Jim Liaw, the founder and president of Formula Drift Holdings, was very informative and cordial.  He kindly provided information about Formula Drift racing, intructions for setting up our “ride along”, and a run down of the events for the championship finals.

Off we went on a Thursday afternoon to Irwindale Speedway  (Irwindale, CA).  We met Jim (himself!) who is the Founder and President of Formula Drift Holdings.  He gave us an overview, and turned us over to Brandon, who was charming and in charge of us from then on.

RdgkWK_QsV_O_QRxOCswPkriY9d_uDnRteR0nq1fS8E3hmOUtGwLlpS6She63vJQKt58MMKlAlYng_voBjggUwI know it was a gift for Howard, but I wrangled a ride-along, too!  What an interesting experience to be out there at the track, on the “hot grid” … with all the cars warming up and doing their practice runs.  The “drift” part employs laying as much rubber on the track as possible.  The clouds of smoke; smell of rubber burning; 85 degree heat; fire suits and helmets all made for the “real deal.”


Howard got his ride along with Mike Essa, the 2013 Champion!  They had a fabulous run around the track … all 25 seconds of it!  And, we learned, the cars go thru one entire set of tires every two laps!  It’s no wonder that most of the big sponsors are tire companies.




We had borrowed a GoPro from HD Optics (thanks to a friend/client of mine) .. so, we have fun pictures of Howard as he whisked around the track.

My turn: fire suit; helmet and ready to get in the car.  I have a tiny head, and the helmet kept falling down over my eyes, so I had to hold it up the whole ride.

I met my professional driver, Robbie Nishida, also a major contender.   He is from Japan, so his race car is right-hand drive.  (different!)



Off we went, and while the GoPro was filming me, Howard was filming the car going around the track.  Afterwards, he integrated the two videos … so here it is!


It was a fun, “smelly”, hot afternoon doing something all new and different… quite a treat.

We returned to Irwindale on Saturday night for the big finals.  The half-time intermission was the time to show up for junk food, displays and walks around the vendor kiosks, and motorcycle demos. The “pit garages” are open to everyone at the event, and hundreds of fans walk about from competitor to competitor, and check out the race cars, and meet the drivers.  They sell everything from tires to model remote-control drift racing cars.


The second half began with a swearing-in of several people into the armed forces, and then the National Anthem.  We loved it all … loved being in the stands for the final “16” and loved watching Daigo Saito win it all.  Sorry one of “our guys” didn’t win…but thrilling anyway.



For those in the wedding/event business… plan to attend the Blissful Wishes Ball next year.  It’s a great charity to support, and you never know what might come up for auction!!


Traveling Gypsy Carnival – TSE Gala Nomination

I am so happy to share this announcement with everyone: Our wedding ..”Traveling Gypsy Carnival” has received a Gala Nomination!

This prestigious award from the events industry will be announced in January at the Special Event Show (in Anaheim).  We are so honored to be nominated.    Wish us luck !

Here are just a few of the photos from that wedding – Thank you Next Exit Photography!






This would never have happened without the hard work and support of our many team partners from ISES and WIPA … major thanks to:

Adi Benner, Next Exit Photography
Amy Zelinsky, A to Z Special Events
Beau Lavine, Les Beaux Chocolates
Billy Ruic, Oh Watta Night DJ
Debbie Fields, Floral Fields
Erica Ahlin, Archive Vintage Rentals
Jackie Korman, The Korman Group
Jeff Anderson, Party Pals
Marc Weinstock, Pacific Event Lighting
Pauline Parry, Good Gracious! events and catering
Teresa Woolson , Occasions to Celebrate
Town and Country Event Rentals

Time Line of a Wedding Dress Disaster

As a wedding planner, one of my greatest challenges is producing an event for someone who is in, or is knowledgeable about, some part of the business.  In this case, it was the bride herself.

She is a movie and TV costumer, owns a costume workshop business, and knows about clothes, sewing, fabrics etc.  So…. Sourcing her own fabric, choosing her own designer to build the dress, and setting up the time-frame for all of this should have been a slam-dunk.  Right?

The wedding would be in mid-June, so…

December: I mentioned that it usually takes about 6 months to create a wedding gown, and she should get together with her designer.  “Oh don’t worry … we have time.”

January: “Red Carpet Season is coming, and your designer is going to be slammed … maybe time to get going?”

February: Glad to hear you are sourcing the fabrics, but…  Do you have the sketch for the dress?

March: Finally, from the designer, a sketch, a revised contract, and a timeline for fittings and completion date of June 1st, two weeks before the wedding.

Wedding Dress Sketch 1A

March, April & May: Fabric selected, but not available. New fabric selected, special underskirt made (by the bride),  muslin fittings (not going so well)

Early June: More fittings – things are still not right!

The wedding is Saturday evening, June 14th!

Thursday, June 12th:  Final Fitting for 3 hours; the dress seams are opened up because it’s not sitting correctly; there isn’t enough allowance in the side seams to re-position; the zipper, train, and pleating are not finished.  ”Don’t worry,” the designer says … ”It’s not as bad as it looks.  You can pick it up tomorrow (Friday) on your way to the rehearsal dinner.”

“OH NO!!,” I said, “The bride will be here tomorrow morning to try it on again.  We are not leaving everything until Friday night!

Friday, June 13th:

10:00 am: Text message, “Sorry, cannot finish the dress without hiring extra people to come in and sew, and that will cost extra.”

11:00 am:  The bride and her sister are at Macy’s to buy a backup wedding dress – ANY dress!

1:00 pm: Friend of the bride “retrieves” the dress from the now-fired dress maker (who cries the whole time), and brings it back to the costume workshop.  The most important piece is the ombre’d underskirt which is an integral part of the design, which the bride crafted herself.

2:00 pm: The bride is at the workshop to try on the disaster-dress – all the experts determine it is “not salvageable” (except for the specially-designed ombre’d underskirt, which the bride made herself).

Below is the dress on a mannequin. This is how it came to shop from the designer who had worked all night!  All those pins!





2:30 pm: The bride’s designer friend, David, says, “Let’s get in the car and go buy a dress”

2:45 pm: The bride and friends leave the workshop, go to David’s Bridal … and buy a sample dress off a mannequin, then go back to the shop and begin to make it work

4:00 pm – 12:30 am: All hands on deck!  Four friends are working on the two dresses.  Removing the special ombre’d underskirt from the disaster-dress, and switch it for part of the skirt from the David’s Bridal dress!

6:30 pm: The bride arrives at the rehearsal dinner, and rising to the occasion manages to enjoy herself

11:30 pm: The bride leaves the after-rehearsal-dinner cocktail party, returning to the workshop to try on the dress again, pinning it up for minor alterations

Saturday, June 14th : The Wedding Day

10:00 am:  Designer friend David and business co-owner Holly are at the workshop finishing up the re-worked dress.


1:20 pm: Holly, the bride’s business partner and bridesmaid, arrives at the wedding venue with a finished WEDDING GOWN

2:30 pm: The bride is taking pre-wedding photos and looking beautiful!



5:30 pm: The bride walks down the aisle wearing a gown, which was in serious doubt hours earlier.  (The modified David’s Bridal gown is remarkably like the ill-fated custom-designed version, but this one has been created by the loving hands of some of the bride’s best friends!)

Post-Script: The bride’s mother, who is ALSO this wedding planner, is relieved beyond belief!

August 2nd: Celebration thank-you dinner with the friends!



Weddings in Scandinavia

We had the most amazing trip this summer to Scandinavia and the Baltic Countries.  And, as usual, along the way we looked for weddings and things that are wedding-related.

Early in the trip, we visited the small island of Marken outside of Amsterdam, Netherlands.  In our walk around this old fishing village, we stopped at the home of a woman who has created a small museum to keep the history of the island alive.  We were treated to pictures in a book, and then actual wedding outfits from the 18th Century.  The best part: the beautiful hand-carved wooden shoes the groom made for the bride.  They couldn’t get married until he finished carving!

photo 1a

photo 2a

Also, in Amsterdam: the Rijksmuseum, and the famously beautiful painting by Rembrandt of The Jewish Bride  we also viewed a lovely painting of a wedding couple in the Jewish Museum there.

photo 3

photo 3aWedding Portrait in Jewish Museum Amsterdam

Our visit to the Van Loon House Museum was fascinating.  The canal house is owned and operated by the same family since the mid-1500’s. The back of the house opens onto a lovely garden. They rent the space for weddings and were in the process of doing the set up, so of course I couldn’t resist taking some photos!  Sorry we couldn’t stay long enough to see the wedding.

photo 7

photo 8

photo 9

In Copenhagan we had dinner at a very contemporary restaurant with an avant garde menu….and of course, we saw the wedding dinner and met the wedding couple!

photo 4

It’s always fun to see a store window with wedding gowns, and to find that styles are not so different than they are here in the U.S. (and, having a sale as well!)

photo 5

In Klaipeda, Lithuania we toured the marina, and saw a bride and groom with their photographer.  Where are they going?  Oh … they come here to take pictures a few days before the wedding!  They don’t have enough time on the wedding day, so they get all dressed and do it ahead of time.  Wow!  (so you get to wear your dress twice – nice!)

photo 11 Klaipeda

photo 12 KlaipedaUpon arrival in Helsinki, we took a ride with our guide out to the charming village of Porvoo.  In the small, old stone church there, what did we see?  A wedding rehearsal, of course.  Same as here!!

Photo 13 Porvoo Cathedral Wedding Rehearsal

Another couple – this time in St. Petersburg, Russia.  In the gardens at Catherine’s Palace Museum, and then outside another museum. This is the “the thing” to do in St. Petersberg.  They rent a limo, have friends and lots of champagne, and go all over town taking wedding photos in famous places.  What fun!

photo 15

photo 16 Bride Groom & Photographer

photo 16 Bride

Also in St. Petersberg, we visited the Grand Synagogue, and saw their beautiful and very impressive wedding room.  We have never seen that in any other synagogue.

photo 17 Synagogue Wedding Room

We continued our adventures with a driving trip in Sweden.  Such a beautiful country, and such lovely people!  In Gothenburg, we chanced upon a church where they were having a baptism.  It was lovely; we enjoyed the music and sitting over on the side and just watching.

photo 18 St Marias Baptism

photo 19 St Marias BaptismOur trip ended in Stockholm, Sweden.  On a tour of the Stadshuset (City Hall) we were allowed to walk thru the “Wedding Room” where couples can make a reservation to be married.  It is very special, with centuries-old tapestries.  Everyone wants to be married here, and the wait list is quite long.  So the couples have a choice of the the 3 minute ceremony or the more expensive 7 minute ceremony.  (oh my!!)

photo 20 C & Stadshuset Civil Marriage Room

Next came the banquet halls.  The lower banquet hall/ Foyer is where they hold the dinner for the Nobel Prize Winners (remember- we are in Stockholm). …. Impressive, to say the least.

photo 21 Stadshuset Decorated Stairway

We were delighted to see the large banquet hall upstairs.  This stunning hall, which can be rented for special events, was being set for an event that evening.  (that’s why the staircase in the previous photo was being decorated)  These photos should look familiar to all of us!

photo 22Stadshuset Banquet Setup

photo 23 Stadshuset Banquet Setup

photo 24 Stadshuset Banquet Setup

It is so much fun to travel, and to keep an eye open for things that are personally interesting to us.  Some people take pictures of special birds, or jewelry or architectural features.  I am always looking for life-cycle events and especially weddings!

Till next time……



WIPA Marina Del Rey

Well … they say life is short, you should eat dessert first!  So: we’ll start this post with the wonderful dessert bar at the WIPA meeting in March.  The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey was the venue with the view; the desserts were wonderful (and calorie-free!  LOL)

WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-15WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-1Our setting was the stunning Marina Vista Room, overlooking the marina and the boats.  WIPA always has outstanding vendors who participate for our meetings.  And this room was no exception.

WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-11WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-2WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-5WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-13WIPA-Marina-Del_Rey-8 We enjoyed cocktails in the garden …..  with beautiful vintage furniture and lots of great friends to connect with.


Below is the stunning the wedding gazebo:


Check out the stunning detail of this hanging arrangement done by Wisteria Lane Flower Shop…. such an outstanding touch!


Our speaker for the day, Allison Howell, brought home the message of Video Marketing in a very meaningful way.  We all wanted to rush back to our offices and start making videos!


Another outstanding WIPA meeting.  The message here is premiere speakers with educational ideas to take you to the next level.  When you combine that with networking opportunities at every level, you have another win-win for all of us!

Venue/Catering: The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey
Furniture & Décor: Found Vintage RentalsChameleon Chair
Photographer: The Yodsukars
Florist: Wisteria Lane Flower Shop
Invitations: Copper Willow
Cake Designer: The Butter End Cakery
Desserts: Sprinkles Cupcakes & Ice Cream
Videography: Colin Rieser
Entertainment: Garmenzzi Music Entertainment, LUXURY DJ’s
Audio Visual: PSAV Presentation Services

2014 Wish Upon a Wedding Blissful Wishes Ball

I was delighted to attend the Wish Upon A Wedding Gala earlier this month in Costa Mesa.  What a beautiful event, with work by so many outstanding vendors!











As a representative of WIPA, both myself, and the board, presented WUW with donation of $5000!  We were thrilled to be able to support WUW in such a special way.

The lovely evening highlighted cocktails, silent auction, dinner, live auction and wonderful entertainment..  I was personally overjoyed to emerge from the live auction with two fabulous items.  It was great fun to support WUW in such fashion, and I am so happy that all of us were able to contribute to an outstanding cause, and enjoy such a beautiful evening.


[Left to Right: Richard Martinez, Rhonda Couchigian, Pauline Parry, (Clint Huft, MC),  Carol Rosen., CSEP, David Pressman, Paula Laskelle, Laura Grier, Michelle Nowak Facciola, Kerry Underhill]








Skirball Cultural Center Wedding

The Skirball Cultural Center was the setting for this beautiful Jewish Orthodox wedding ceremony.  Our bride and groom observed the traditions of their heritage and enjoyed a very special day in an inspiring setting.











The Tradition is for the groom to veil the bride once he has confirmed “yes, she is the one!”














A lovely table of wedding photos showing the history from both the bride and groom’s side:


The Hora! Bride and groom are lifted by friends and family.



Coordination: Party Designs by Carol
Venue: Skirball Cultural Center
Decor & Floral Design: Floral Fields
Rentals & Linens: Designer Specialty Linens
Music- Ceremony & Cocktails: Star Source
Music- Reception: Red Shoe Productions
Photography: Taek Photography
Video: Bella Films

WIPA Holiday R&R | Leslie Durso

Leslie Durso

Our WIPA So Cal Chapter was off and running with their first event at Cal-a-Vie.  Through a special arrangement, they secured healthy food guru Leslie Durso.

Prior to lunch, food activist and teacher Leslie Durso demonstrated cooking healthy while on the go.  While preparing healthy snacks in Cal-a-Vie’s Show Kitchen, the “veggie dream girl” also shared her knowledge on how to best fuel our bodies during event days. Following lunch, Leslie led a breakout session on maintaining a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle during the holiday season and into the New Year.

Southern California native, Actress, Chef, Vegan Personality Leslie Durso represents the younger, chicer vegan movement that isn’t sacrificing style for sustainability. A practicing vegetarian since eight years old, Leslie shares her farm-to-stylish-table recipes daily – integrating an array of local growers and organic wineries along the way.  

We are incredibly proud of our new Southern Cal Chapter and their board who put this wonderful event together.  It was a smashing success, and a great forerunner for all that is to come for Southern Cal.  The beautiful photos below show how lovely this event was, how well put together, and how well attended.  We look forward to all of our regions achieving chapter status and continuing to promote the excellent education and professionalism of WIPA !
















A special thank you to our sponsors:

Venue/Catering: Cal-a-Vie Health Spa & Vista Valley Country Club

Linen: GBS Linens

Furniture & Decor: Taylor McMullen

Photography: Jen Wojcik Photography

Entertainment: Wayne Foster Music & Entertainment

Florist: Isari Flower Studio

Desserts: Sweet Cheeks Baking Company