Party Blog

WIPA Presenting Milena Santoro | Follow the Leader

Have you ever wondered what makes the leaders of our industry tick?  What  is  it  about  them  that  makes  you  want  to  follow? What’s their secret? Are they Leading or Managing?

Leader or Manager – Which one are you?

Have you asked yourself what type of leader am I and what is my leadership style? You are probably thinking I’m a great leader… but what are your clients, staff and vendors thinking?  In this interactive session, Milena helped us discover how our leadership style cancontribute to our success.  With her charm and knowledge, Milena presented options we could all relate to and use!

1391550_765638816785601_598648835_nMilena Santoro |  Author, international professional speaker, educator, award winning certified meeting and special events professional who has earned many accolades managing events for corporations, international associations, social clients and not-for-profit agencies. She is the Creative President and CEO of MS Productions Inc., a full service international wedding and event management and destination management company with offices in Canada and Europe.  Milena has been planning events of all types for over 20 years. With her background in hospitality and culinary arts, floral and interior design, she is able to translate her client’s ideas into reality.

Our meeting began with check in and then arrival drinks on the lovely patio of the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, CA.




Our vendors/sponsors for the day made the settings magical and elegant while maintaining  that beachy feel that is so indigenous to  Newport Beach.




The table settings were simple, and stunning and fun.  Check the setting below…that isn’t a box; it’s a cake (and really delish, I might add!).








These gorgeous gowns were  part of a casual fashion show:


And this beautiful jewelry was part of the take-home bag:


Michelle Faciolla (new So Cal Chapter President), Carol Rosen (International President), Milena Santoro (our fabulous speaker):




Venue / Catering | Island Hotel Newport Beach 

Linens / Furniture | Fusion Linens 

Photography | Christine Bentley Photography

Event Designer | Inviting Occasion Inc.

DJ / Violin Cocktail Entertainment | Tim Espinosa Entertainment

Paper Goods | Details Design Studio

Favors | Christopher Garrens Cakes

Videographer | Perryfield Films

Specialty Coffee | Conscious Bean

Lighting | Five Star Audio Visual

Cocktail Rimmers | Little Waisted

Kendra Scott Jewelry

Andrea’s Couture

Luncheon Entertainment | The Society Band

WIPA Presents: Kristin Banta, Building a Brand

WIPA Program

This past August, WIPA presented Building a Brand by Kristin Banta at the beautiful Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, CA. Developing and nurturing your brand identity is critical to defining yourself within the market place.  Kristin showed us how to define our own brand identity and how to begin getting that message to the right clients.  With her boundless energy, and charming personality, she talked about how to separate ourselves from our peers.

Below: The 1912 building of The Montalvo Arts Center with a wonderful antique car and our beautiful brides in their vintage-style wedding gowns:



Our event began with cocktails and meeting on the stunning back patio.  Perfect weather, perfect ambiance!

Patio Area



Kristin Banta’s presentation was in the on-site auditorium … a much appreciated space at the venue, and of course it was video taped by our videographer, Michael Loeb Photogrpahy, and is up on the WIPA website in the members section.

Kristin Banta



Following the presentation, we were treated to a delightful lunch.  Then a coffee bar, wedding cake and desserts topped off another home-run event for WIPA!

Table Decor\Reception Tables

Coffee Bar


Venue: Montalvo Arts Center | Catering: Culinary Eye Catering | Desserts: True Confections & Travelin’ Joe Espresso Bar | Photography: Photograffiti | Entertainment: Krista Strader | Printed Materials: Reb Peters Press | Flowers: Tutti Fiori | Linens: Napa Valley Linens | Party Rentals: Abbey Party Rentals | Transportation: Elegant Journey| Raffle Prizes: Authentic Common Scents | Wine: Soda Rock Winery | Videography: Michael Loeb Photography | Bridal Salon: Nouvelle Vogue| Make-up: Make-up by Sahar | Hair Stylist: Mission’s Mane Attraction | Model: Aryan Omar | Calligraphy: Monks of Age Custom Calligraphy

Weddings in Germany

What fun to travel, and to see what traditions other cultures observe surrounding weddings!  Last year (December 2012) I was delighted to write about weddings in Cambodia as we drove thru the small villages near Siem Reap.

This year finds us in Germany; driving through the Black Forest and visiting many smaller towns and hamlets.  In Germany, the couple must go to the city hall, or “Rathaus” to obtain their license and have the civil ceremony.  They are accompanied by family and friends, and may have a small celebration after the ceremony in the office.

Or: they may leave the town hall and move to another venue for a full-on wedding celebration.  On our drive between Rothenburg and Heidelberg, we stopped in the small town of Schwabisch Hall (yes, that’s the name of the town!).  The Saturday morning market set up in the square (marktplatz).  And , there alongside the square on the steps of the Rathaus was a family group having photos.  The bride and groom and their families looked very happy, and our guess is that they had just finished with the local registrar.


Sitting outside having lunch in Heidelberg, a young couple came walking down the cobblestone street on their way to ?? – who knows!  All dressed up, and he was schlepping the suitcase.



In the town of Freiburg, where we have been for the last couple of days, we found that Friday is THE DAY for weddings at the town hall.  Below: the photos of two brides… about 45 minutes apart, when they came out of the Rathaus and were celebrating.







Also in Freiburg, we saw a lovely bridal salon – so much like the ones we have in L.A. … beautiful gowns on the mannequins, lots of gowns on the racks, and a good seating/viewing area for the try-ons.  Things seem to be fairly similar in both locales!


Wedding-GownAlong with brides, we always seem to find wedding cakes and other wedding-related items that are fun to note.  Everything from silly toasting flutes to an old (17th Century) wedding vase in the glass museum, to a fun wedding cake look.GermanWedding-PartyDesignsbyCarol-18



So: today in Munich we attended Oktoberfest.  This is NOT a small event!  6 milliion international people pour into Munich for this event every year.  It’s a combination of the State Fair (Midway + food+games) and then,  of course, the drinking halls.  The drinking halls are huge tents set up just for this event every year.  They hold up to 6000 people each!  We were in the Hofbrau House Tent at lunch time … the photo from the balcony shows you the place was packed, and rocking, at 1:00 p.m.


GermanWedding-PartyDesignsbyCarol-15Then… in came a group of guys, all dressed in green outfits.  We asked our guide “what’s the deal?”.  He said – oh, it’s a stag party.  So… I made my way over to their section and introduced myself.  I started with “does anyone speak English?” …. (seemed the right way to start).  Turned out they were from England!!  So, a destination stag party from London …here in Munich.  How fun!GermanWedding-PartyDesignsbyCarol-13


The groom is the guy in the “girl” get-up.  We had fun with photos and a short chat.


WIPA San Diego – Journey to India

WIPA Presents: A Journey to India

Nikki Khan of Exquisite Events presented in depth about the vast country of India; Exploring the various regions, customs, culture, traditions, cuisine, attire and diverse languages spoken in the country. The Differences within Hindu, Sikh and Muslim weddings were discussed at depth. The presentation also touched on the differences in Hindu weddings by regions.

The presentation was designed to provide wedding planners and vendors a learning opportunity to assist them in the Indian wedding planning process and to learn tips on how to properly orchestrate a South Asian wedding.  All aspects of Indian wedding planning were be covered; from hiring the best caterer, bridal trousseau, music, dance troops, priest, flowers, and so on.


Exquisite Events specializes in planning opulent Indian and Pakistani weddings and events, from Mehndi and Sangeet ceremonies to authentic Indian and Pakistani themed weddings, parties and special events.  This immersion into the Indian culture enables her to both produce the events, and to teach others all they need to know.






In true WIPA style, the event focused on the beauty and uniqueness of the culture.  The restaurant, Bombay Exotic Cuisine, created the perfect atmosphere for our Indian-style wedding education.




A Special Thanks to Our Event Sponsors

Venue and Catering: Bombay Restaurant / Monsoon Group// Photography: Braja Mandala Photo // Videographer: Classic Filmworks // Henna: Henna San Diego // Lounge Furniture & Chairs:Lounge Appeal // Desserts: Mint Weddings // Stationery: J Grace Luxurious Event Stationery // Audio Visual/DJ: My DJ’s // Flowers:Artquest Flowers and Fine Gifts // Linens: APR Fine Linen Rental

A Special Thanks to Our Event Chair: Nahid Farhoud Wedding Elegance by Nahid

WIPA San Francisco – St. Francis

WIPA Presents- Online and Off: Trends in Wedding Media

Magazine editors and publishers, bloggers and media experts already know what is on the horizon for 2013. They have the inside track having set trends in color, style and cuisine for 2013 in motion in late 2012. This session will helped our audience put their work directly on the cutting edge of the New Year.


We heard from two prominent members of the wedding media about trend forecasts, how to position your wedding design for best editorial coverage, how to recruit ideal clients and vendors, and how to approach media in a way that will get your work noticed.


WIPA-St-Francis-3At this session audience members: learned what editors are looking for and how to present it in the right way, found out why you should also be blogging, posting to Facebook and to Pinterest and discovered the keys to making your work  stand out in a crowded field. We were graciously hosted by the Westin, St. Francis Hotel in the heart of Union Square, San Francicso.  They created an event for us that showcased their signature polish and ambiance…. indicative of both the St. Francis and WIPA.


WIPA-St-Francis-7It is always my delight to introduce our event chairs as well as the members of our National Board who are in attendance.


WIPA-St-Francis-12Under her nom de plume, Lady Grey, editor Summer Watkins curates a circle of blogs – Grey Likes Weddings, Grey Likes Baby and Grey Likes Nesting — from the unique perspective of a professional stylist in the editorial and bridal industry. In addition to blogging, she is a regular speaker about branding and publishing and her styling work has also appeared in several magazines, blogs, and a recently published book on gift wrap. Summer has also hosted numerous workshops to teach photographers how to grab the attention of editors and is passionate about sharing her wide range of knowledge.

WIPA-St-FrancisAs the editor of California Wedding Day magazine, Lara Morgenson Burnap brings more than 15 years of editing and publishing experience to the table. Her career has spanned culture and fashion, from covering celebrity and red carpet fashion at E! Entertainment and E! Online to tracking down the latest and greatest happenings and trends as the executive editor of Los Angeles Confidential magazine. Passionate about all things beautiful from fashion and design to flowers and photography, Lara brings a distinctly California touch to the California Wedding Day. Under her guidance, California Wedding Day has grown into a sophisticated and inspirational resource and guide for the California bride. In addition, she has written numerous books on party planning, including Party Confidential.

WIPA-St-Francis-17The dessert room was amazing!  What fun…





Venue + Catering + Paper Goods + Desserts + AV: Westin St. Francis
Florals: Ornamento // Photography: Kevin Chin Photography + Cinema // Cinematography: Life in Digital // Linens: Napa Valley Linens // Guitarist: Julio Reyes // Furniture Rentals: One True Love Vintage Rentals // The Desk Set // Chocolates: Choco Vogue


2013 Beauty Drive for the Beauty Bus Foundation

We all have charities we like to support, and Beauty Bus Foundation is one of my favorites.  I have the pleasure of volunteering for them as a “Beauty Buddy” during the year; and also being their planner for the annual Beauty Drive fundraiser.

We all have charities we like to support, and Beauty Bus Foundation is one of my favorites.  I have the pleasure of volunteering for them as a “Beauty Buddy” during the year; and also being their planner for the annual Beauty Drive fundraiser.076_SITK_Beauty-Bus-MThis year, Beauty Drive was held on May 5th  at the fabulous California Science Center, Wallis Annenberg Building.











When it was all over the silent auction and raffle, along with a special donation-matching event  on smart phones proved how successful this event has become.





Several companies and individuals donated their time and talent to create beauty stations throughout the space.  Guests enjoyed manicures, hair styling, men’s haircutting, makeup, and brow shaping!  The Kids Korner featured glitter tattoos and a volunteer art project.  And….the photo opp was a hit with everyone.


097_SITK_Beauty-Bus-MIn honor of Cinco de Mayo, the Beauty Bus ladies hung piñatas in their signature orange and green colors and a strolling mariachi group entertained guests throughout the space.







The Beauty Drive was attended by 400 guests who ate fabulous food prepared and presented by Joann Roth-Oseary and Cheryl Fish ofSomeone’s in the Kitchen.  Joann is the culinary genius, and Cheryl is the décor genius … a winning team to be sure!








All the guests left with a “Bag of Beauty” containing fabulous products donated by the sponsors.


And: the final topping on the day …. Guests had reserved ticketed entry for a viewing of the  space shuttle Endeavor!   What a great day for such a worthwhile cause.

Mammoth Lakes Wedding + LASEA Award

I was so happy to win a LASEA (Los Angeles Special Event Award) from our ISES Los Angeles Chapter at the Installation and Awards Meeting this past week.  The award was for 2013 Best Wedding Produced, and the wedding was one that I really enjoyed.


Mammoth Lakes Wedding was held at a horse ranch in the Mammoth Lakes area, and was worthy of an award primarily for the challenges which occurred.  The wedding was created and entirely financed by the bride and groom, so budget was of an essence.  It was an ultimate DIY Wedding!


I must give kudos to the bride and groom for all the perosnal touches they created and how completely charming it was.  The postcards for the guest comments were fun, the family chupah was beautiful and the ceremony performed by their friend and attended by their dog was totally “them”.


The venue included a grass area for the ceremony and dirt areas for games with a fire pit for the s’mores after the wedding.

ISES-Award-Wedding-4The challenges included attaching a chupah to a wood structure in 25 mile an hour winds and keeping the skirts of the ladies from blowing up in the wind.  The entire reception set up in the tent was accomplished by the bride’s friends … so, much supervision and improvisation was required. (the couple saved money with the caterer by having volunteer set up and clean up)

ISES-Award-Wedding-1The tent company presented it’s own challenges. Their late set up resulted in an inability to get the tent tied down properly in the wind the day before the wedding.  They needed to return the morning of the wedding to complete the tent installation; thereby setting things back a few hours!  While dealing with the tent, I worked with the family friend/landscaper who was creating the wildflowers in jars for table décor.

ISES-Award-Wedding-5The couple had created charming menus inscribed with blackboard paint on large mason jars.  The jars had the menu written on one side, and the table number on the other. The bride and groom also gifted each guest with a jar of homemade cherry preserves.




The entire day was exactly as the couple wanted, and they ended the evening outside in their beloved Mammoth environment under the stars.


Wedding Industry Professionals Association


I am so honored to be the president of this organization. Allow us to introduce you to the best in nuptial knowledge… the Wedding Industry Professionals Association – WIPA – launched in July 2008. It’s hard to be an innovative wedding connoisseur, to know what’s hot and when to end a trend. WIPA is delighted to connect with you as your aficionado and trusted source, giving you the edge to stay on top of all things weddings.


We don’t just talk about weddings… we create them! WIPA is a non-profit association that is run by its esteemed members. We understand what it takes to produce a wedding since we represent the multitude of wedding disciplines: cake designers, caterers, DJ’s, florists, entertainment companies, hoteliers, invitation companies, musicians, officiants, photographers, rental companies, wedding planners, venues, videographers and many more!


So, whether you are a wedding industry professional seeking a premiere association to join, a savvy engaged couple seeking stellar service providers for your celebration, or a journalist seeking a quote from a superlative expert, we invite you to take a vow of excellence with WIPA. WIPA is the most respected national community for wedding professionals who want to be recognized as masters and innovators.


Our Mission Statement

WIPA will advance the wedding profession, enhance the professional growth of members, uphold the highest ethics, and educate the public about WIPA-qualified specialists.

Members champion four core values

- knowledge, integrity, quality, & education -

thereby delivering the best business practices to our clients and each other.

Join WIPA online today!

Beauty Bus Foundation Presents Beauty Drive 2013


I would like to invite you all to attend the 2013 Beauty Drive for The Beauty Bus Foundation on Sunday, May 5th, 2013 11:30am-2:30pm in the Annenberg Building at the California Science Center. The Beauty Bus Foundation delivers dignity, hope and respite to chronically or terminally ill men, women and children and their caregivers through beauty and grooming services and pampering products.

Enjoy Interactive Brunch, Complimentary Beauty Stations, Men’s Lounge, Kids Korner, Silent Auction and Semi-private access to Space Shuttle Endeavor!

  • NYX Cosmetics offering Lips & Lips makeup application
  • Bosley Professional Strength offering Scalp Analysis
  • Instyler Professional offering Hairstyling
  • Beauty Bus Volunteers offering Braiding and Tinsel
  • ORLY offering Manicures
  • Men’s Lounge – Haircuts and Nail buffs
  • Kid’s Korner – Glimmer, Tinsel and Feather application plus Face Painting! Kids will get the opportunity to positively impact other children who are dealing with illness at our volunteer creative table!

Presented by:


I have personally attended these in-home services and worked at their pop-up salons. It is such a pleasure to be able to bring some joy and beauty to these Beauty Bus clients. I strongly encourage you to attend this event and support such a worthwhile cause.


The Beauty Bus Foundation was founded in loving memory of Melissa Marantz Nealy who passed away the age of 28 from a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Melissa loved a good day at the spa. When her ability to leave the home became compromised, Co-Founder Alicia Marantz Liotta, Melissa’s cousin, was able to schedule in-home beauty services through her connections within the beauty industry. Witnessing the hope, happiness and respite these services brought to Melissa, Alicia and Co-Founder Wend y Marantz Levine, Melissa’s sister, were inspired to launch Beauty Bus Foundation.



Photos from the Beauty Drive in 2012. Above is the silent auction. Below are the manicuring stations.



She Found Her Soulnmate

Some relationships are just meant to be! Dr. Sarah and Dr. Glenn found each other at a medical conference. She had been patiently waiting many years to find “Mr. Right” …and he turned out to be “Dr. Right”. It was so much fun watching them, and seeing how “Right” they were together.





Prior to the ceremony we observed many of the Jewish traditions: a “tish” for the men; the female relatives breaking a plate; the greeting of the bride; and the “bedeken”. All of these spoke to the devotion of the couple and their religious commitment.





The Beverly Hills Hotel had been her dream venue for years.  The setting we created in the Rodeo Garden for the ceremony was truly lovely and intimate. The ceremony had all the Jewish traditions and family participation the couple  desired.


Following the ceremony, their reception in the Sunset Room was fun, upbeat, and filled with magical moments. What a delight to work on such a loving event with great clients and vendors who all went the extra mile to make each element perfect for them!




COORDINATION: Party Designs by Carol