Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay Area offer some of the most unique and stunning wedding venues in the world. Whether you picture yourself barefoot on the beach, in a traditional dress at a local church, or dancing under the redwoods, there are hundreds of options to fit your style and budget.
Planning your wedding should be a wonderful adventure, and, with the right experts on your team, it will be. Our area is lucky to have an abundance of creative, skilled professionals, excited to share their knowledge and make your life a lot easier.
The 2011 Bridal Expo brings more than 100 vendors together under one roof to help make the process a little easier. You’ll see gorgeous bridal fashions, stunning photography, fantastic cakes, and amazing décor. You’ll also get to sample food from top caterers, and meet the talented people who can work their magic for you.
And you might even win a valuable door prize, including $1,000 cash. (Tip: Bring your own return address labels to easily sign up for the many prize drawings.) Bring your best friend and make a day of it! Grab the full event guide in this weeks’ Good Times.
Highlights: 100+ Vendors, Fashion Shows, Door Prizes including $1,000 cash.
Where: The Cocoanut Grove 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz
When: Sunday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $7 per person or $5 with coupon on website
More Info: www.cocoanutgrovesantacruz.com or (831) 423-2053
The Cocoanut Grove
Oceanfront Elegance and Santa Cruz Charm
Guests have been dancing by moonlight in California’s classic Cocoanut Grove since 1907. The famous landmark, with its grand beachfront location, is ideal for weddings, dances, banquets and celebrations of all sizes.
Over the past 100 years, the Grove has been the setting for many important West Coast events including the state’s first Miss California Ball and the greatest performers of the Big Band era. The 20,000-square-foot facility has been tastefully updated in a way that preserves the building’s unique character and historic roots.
The Grove’s professional staff provides full banquet, bar and kitchen services, as well as complete event planning with menu and beverage options for up to 1,000 guests.
The Sun Room features breathtaking views and a retractable glass ceiling, capturing sunshine and ocean breezes during the day and glittering with starlight after dark.
The Grand Ballroom with its elegant oval lines, a tiered stage, wooden dance floor, and balcony seating, reflects the glamour and romance of the 1940s.
Panoramic views of the Santa Cruz coastline are highlights of the classic Bay View Room, perfect for smaller groups.
A spectacular oceanfront setting, and experienced, friendly staff make the elegant Cocoanut Grove the perfect choice for weddings and receptions of all sizes.
For more information on the Cocoanut Grove, call 423-2053, or visit cocoanutgrovesantacruz.com.
Less Stress Advice for brides-to-be from Cocoanut Grove staff
1 Know your budget and try to stick to it.
2 Listen to the experts—that’s what you pay them for.
3 Make a list of “must haves” for your event. Set priorities from very important to those on a wish list.
4 Be prepared to compromise and be flexible within reason. This is “your day” but the wishes of both families should be considered.
5 Ask for clarification when you don’t understand something. Your vendors may use unfamiliar terms and they need to know if something is confusing to you.
6 Keep accurate notes of what you discuss with vendors and make sure all vendors are aware of changes that may have been made during various planning sessions.
7 Your site coordinator, photographer, and DJ or bandleader should all be given an accurate timeline prior to the event.
8 If you aren’t hiring a wedding coordinator, ask a friend or family member to be the vendor liaison on the day of the event.
9 Try to enjoy the planning process—take time to relax along the way.
10 Don’t lose the magic of your wedding day by getting bogged down in tiny details.
Boulder Creek Flowers offers a spectrum of services for every budget
Flowers can make the difference between an ordinary wedding and an unforgettable wedding. Yet, the cost of this design element can easily consume a large portion of the wedding budget. That’s why Boulder Creek Flowers offers a variety of services ranging from full-service floral design to wholesale floral offerings for do-it-yourself floral arrangement.
They started in Santa Cruz County 30 years ago, selling wholesale flowers to local retail floral shops. About 15 years ago, they opened to the public as a bulk flower provider, selling bundled grower’s bunches, which consist of about 10 to 25 stems in a bundle. Eight years ago, they began to specialize in weddings and design services for clients. Today, Boulder Creek Flowers averages about 100 weddings per year.
“We are unique from other flower shops because we can do all the design work, but we also provide wholesale flowers,” says Briana Mosbacher, wedding floral designer. “So we provide that niche between do-it-yourself and full-service.”
And in today’s world, with the soaring cost of weddings combined with a struggling economy, Mosbacher describes much of their work as within the “grey area” between the two extremes. “We’ll get brides that will want us to design their personal flowers—bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres—but they’ll want to design their own centerpieces. We also provide classes that can teach people how to make floral arrangements.”
Mosbacher says that one of the tricks to keeping flower costs reasonable is to stick to flowers that are in season during the time of year the wedding will take place. “The hardest part is when girls find pictures in magazines that show early spring items such as peonies, anemones and ranunculus. They are available for such a short time. You can get them year-round if you’re willing to pay big bucks. My job is to help guide them to find something that looks comparable but doesn’t cost a fortune.”
Because the wedding season in Santa Cruz is heaviest in the late summer and early fall, dahlias are a popular local wedding flower. Not only are they in bloom during the height of the wedding season, but they come in an enormous variety of vibrant colors that are fun to play with. Year-round favorites include roses, orchids and minicalla lilies.
As far as trends Mosbacher predicts for this season, she says, “Popular colors are hot pink, orange and lime green.” She adds that if you mention that you read this article in Good Times, you’ll get a free toss bouquet. | Lily Dayton
For more information about Boulder Creek Flowers, visit bouldercreekflowers.com, or call 462-9276.
Cakes by Veronica elevates wedding cake tradition to a new art form
Other than the bride, the cake is the most-featured element of a wedding. It symbolizes the union of the new couple and at the same time its design reflects the distinctive personality of the bride. The cake even gets its own table.
Though the divine taste of Veronica Seitchick’s specialty wedding cakes is what attracts people to Cakes by Veronica, her understanding of the importance of designing the right cake for each unique wedding is what ultimately makes people hire her to create the cake of their dreams.
“I pay special attention to accommodating the bride’s needs,” says Seitchick, who creates wedding cakes for delivery to venues throughout the Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas. “Brides appreciate being treated well and a flexible schedule for tasting. Although taste is the highest priority on the list, when brides meet me at the show, (this treatment) is what they come back for.”
Offering delectable flavors like limoncello and chocolate creme caramel—with designs that elevate cake making to a new art form—Cakes by Veronica makes the bland white-white cake with stiff columns and sickly sweet frosting flowers seem a relict of the past. That’s not to say that Seitchick shuns tradition. In fact, one of her special services includes cake replication, where she will remake a couple’s wedding cake to celebrate their anniversary. And she still gets plenty of requests for white cakes in today’s weddings—only with modern elements.
The new white cake is updated with whimsical textures and fun elements such as silvery dragees, fondant with piping, gum paste flowers and other embellishments. But if dark chocolate is your fancy—or if you prefer hues in hot pink—the modern bride need not stick to white.
“The Food Network has opened up the whole ballgame to ‘anything goes,’” says Seitchick. “It’s your own individual artwork with no limits.”
One of the current trends in wedding cakes is red velvet, which is one of Seitchick’s most popular requests. Typically a light chocolate cake with a hint of cocoa and red coloring, Seitchick has added her own twist to create a sumptuously dense cake with more chocolate flavor and a light butter creme frosting that literally melts in your mouth. For a dreamy variation on white cake, Seitchick has created tres leche, a to-die-for caramel-butter creme cake reminiscent of crème brûlée. Her passionfruit mousse cake combines passionfruit puree with vanilla genoise cake that tastes so tropical you will think your honeymoon has already begun.
People often order two flavors of cakes, says Seitchick. “I encourage them to do so if they choose a flavor that is more unique. Your grandmother may not want limoncello or red velvet, so I can do tiers with different flavors.”
As far as popular styles? Simple elegance with a touch of whimsy is in. For example, the subtle placement of bright Gerbera daisies on a simple white cake makes a stylish modern design. Ribbon is also a big trend, crossing the cake with bands of colors that match the wedding palette. Other whimsical elements include offset cake tiers, square cakes—or intermixing square and round tiers—and floral branches cascading off to one side. | Lily Dayton
Cakes by Veronica, cakesbyveronica.com
Time of Your Life
The wedding planning team at Coastside Couture provides superb attention to detail for your big day
The last thing a bride wants to worry about on her wedding day is whether or not the port-a-potties have been delivered or if the silverware has been polished to gleaming perfection. She should be focusing on more important details—her dress, her makeup or her future husband perhaps? But sadly, many brides are still going through their special day concerned about the trifles, simply because they feel that they cannot afford a wedding planning service. Ladies, this is simply not the case.
Heidi Hughett and Karissa Paxton, the über-organized mavens behind the wedding planning service Coastside Couture, offer everything from complete planning for the entire event down to a service that simply assists overwhelmed brides with finding the right medley of vendors. Together, Hughett and Paxton have more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, which translates into an impeccably organized wedding for you.
Not only are Hughett and Paxton sticklers for the most Lilliputian of details, but they also exude a fresh sense of style—something that absolutely must be considered when choosing a wedding planner. The team stays abreast of the latest wedding trends each season and then beautifully incorporates them into their plans. “Outdoor receptions are popular for 2011,” Hughett and Paxton say. “We are constantly hearing from our clients that they want to move away from the indoor ballrooms and celebrate under the stars and in nature with their loved ones.” The team also reports that private home ceremonies, texture, family style reception meals and groom involvement are all popular new developments for weddings this year.
Sounds expensive, right? Wrong. Hughett and Paxton realize that many brides’ budgets are still tight, so they have a few tips on how to save money without sacrificing glam. “Utilize your budget wisely by using the big impact items where they will be most noticed,” Coastside Couture’s in-the-know owners say. “For example, use high-end linen on your cocktail tables, while using a less expensive option on your dinner tables.” Hughett and Paxton feel that the most important thing a bride can do to have a gorgeous wedding on a budget is to be realistic. “Don’t look at what you can’t afford,” they say. “Make priorities, figure out what is most important to you and spend your money there. The best way to make the wedding you want affordable is to cut your guest count. We also offer an incredible service for budget-conscious brides called the Couture House where we help couples find venues and vendors based on their style and budget. This is a great option to find your perfect vendor team.”
So there you have it. Let Hughett and Paxton worry about late deliveries, hungover groomsmen and any other wedding snafu that may occur. Meanwhile, you will be free to sip champagne, live it up with your bridesmaids and savor every second of the happiest day of your life. | Leslie Patrick
A Dream Wedding
The Dream Inn is a dreamy wedding destination
Aurora Smith, the sales and catering manager for the Dream Inn, has worked on more than 500 weddings over a span of 15 years. Smith jokingly calls herself the “midwife of weddings.”
“My job is sort of to make things appear and disappear as needed,” she says with a laugh. “If for some reason we don’t have a cake and it’s 5 p.m. and we need a cake, I go and get a cake.”
The past three years she has worked at the Dream Inn, helping with the re-launch of the Inn in 2009, following remodeling. Last year marked the venue’s first wedding season after the re-launch, and Smith says incorporating weddings at the Dream Inn has been a successful team effort.
“The most spectacular thing about our venue is apparent—our views,” says Smith. “Besides our views, personalized service is why you’d want to be at the Dream Inn for your wedding. Everyone from the front desk, to the restaurant, to the housekeeping team, to the food beverage team, they all know who you are when you are checking in. You’re not just a number here; it’s a whole family experience. On your wedding day you feel like it’s your day, your place, your hotel. Typically we only do one wedding per day, and one at a time for sure.”
“I love to see the final product of what we’ve designed together for months prior to the wedding date,” says Smith. “There is a special feeling of pride that comes with crunch time of setting up. All of the vendors coming in all at once—it’s an invigorating feeling. I’m going around checking each piece of silverware, each glass, making sure everything is pristine for that bride and groom. It’s exciting.”
With the Boardwalk just outside, kayaking and surfing readily available, and an expansive beach, the Dream Inn, says Smith, can be a surreal experience. “Really, your wedding day is a dream,” she says. “Most girls will say ‘I’ve been dreaming about this day all my life.’ So that’s one of my first questions. ‘What does your wedding day look like?’ I work to make that dream come true, in a feasible way.”
At the Cocoanut Grove Bridal Expo, the Dream Inn will be set up to demonstrate what a wedding realistically looks like at the Inn. Over at the Cocoanut Grove Bridal Expo, the venue’s booth will be French themed, but Smith says the booth is a surprise compiled by the Dream Inn’s floral designer Frederic James. | April M. Short
Find the Dream Inn online at dreaminsantacruz.com, or call 440-3859.
Making It an Event
Eventscapes transforms any venue into a stellar affair
When people enter a space that has been decorated by Eventscapes, the most frequent expression that comes out of their mouths is “Wow!”
“We completely transform a space,” says Linda Robinson, Eventscapes owner. “We are a full-design and decorating company so we provide one-stop shopping. We own all our own decor and props, including live plants and trees.”
Whereas a wedding planner will often hire the services of different vendors, Eventscapes provides not only wedding planning services, but also lighting technicians, in-house florists, wall draping, ceiling treatments and a warehouse full of inventory and props that range from potted palms and chandeliers to a volcano that actually smolders and blows smoke.
The most important thing, says Robinson, is that “it’s your wedding—not a cookie-cutter wedding. Every wedding is unique.”
To help you design your dream-come-true affair, Robinson starts every complimentary consultation with a sit-down interview. “People come in and we interview them about their personalities, what they like, what they don’t like, what they enjoy doing. We bring elegance to what they’re trying to accomplish. Afterwards, the clients walk away saying ‘You are so thorough—I had no idea I had to think about all these things.’”
The No. 1 question that clients ask is “How much is this going to cost?” Robinson says that this is one of the main goals of her job: to work within a couple’s budget to find a cost-effective way of giving them the wedding they envision.
“When we sit down with a client at a consultation, we give a line-item quote,” she says. “We work within their budget to prioritize what is most important to give them their desired ambiance while keeping down costs.”
As each venue is unique, Eventscapes will utilize the features available in different spaces. Rather than draping an entire venue, they may need only to drape an undesirable aspect of a room, or bring in lighting to highlight focal points or suggest a mood. Live trees are one way to really transform a space in surprising ways.
One of their specialties is their ability to bring cultural elements into a wedding venue, as well as blending all aspects together. They even have in-house designers and carpenters who can build custom-designed ceremony structures.
“We did an Egyptian wedding where we used pyramids with floral arrangements within them for centerpieces,” says Robinson.
She adds that this season, vintage is back—but with a modern twist. “We’re blending what’s old and new into a cohesive design.”
Some of the old-fashioned items that have made a comeback include feathers, lace, baroque mirrors painted in a bright, modern color, and classic floral urns lacquered hot pink, turquoise or black, which has become a popular accent for weddings in recent years.
“Chandeliers are very also popular,” says Robinson. “At the bridal show we’ll be featuring our new chandeliers. Crystal is back, but blended with a modern edge.”
And as for their smoking volcano? It hasn’t been utilzed for a wedding yet, but Robinson says they are waiting for the right couple to add it to their dream wedding design. | Lily Dayton
Visit eventscapesinc.com, 728-2980, for more information.
Come Together Wedding Ceremony Services 831-588-3859
Sweet Roxy’s 831-750-0932 www.sweetroxys.com
Stephan’s Fine Jewelry 831-458-9950 www.stephansjewelry.com
The Wedding Stop & Cake Shoppe 831-423-2424 www.myweddingstop.com
Weddings of Spirit 831-335-2086 www.weddingsofspirit.com
The Vault Gallery 831-426-3349 www.thevaultgallery.com
The Flower Ladies 831-423-0261 www.theflowerladies.com
Bargetto Winery 831-475-2258 x11 www.bargetto.com