Bridal Expo

expo1The Cocoanut Grove
Seascape Flowers
Hollins House
Crown Café Catering
Alexis Party Rental
Music Now DJ

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 2012 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 a romantic getaway valued at over $1,000. (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!

expo CocoGroveLogoHighlights: 100+ Vendors, Fashion Shows, Door Prizes including $1,000 getaway.
Where: The Cocoanut Grove
400 Beach St., Santa Cruz
When: Sunday, Jan. 29,  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
Exhibitor list and map in the 1/26 edition of GOOD TIMES.

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.

expo SunroomOver 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.

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.  


Seascape Flowers
Beauty and a passion to remain innovative stand out here

From the bluebells and daffodils of springtime to summertime’s cosmos, chrysanthemums, and foxgloves, Laurie Craig, owner of Seascape Flowers, says the inventive arrangement ideas brides-to-be often bring into the shop are a welcomed challenge.

expo flowers“It keeps everything kind of refreshed, keeps our style fresh all the time because we’re doing things that we wouldn’t normally do and we just go for it,” she says. She adds that some of the trends in the last year were rustic and vintage arrangements, as well as clean, natural, and organic styles.

At a wedding last year in Rancho Soquel, Craig says Seascape worked on a particularly fun wedding with a Hollywood couple.

“It was just really fun working with them because they wanted to have this kind of vintage style with a lot of props and antique furniture,” she says. “It was a real rustic feel; they set up little vignettes of couches, had a dance floor with hay bales around it, and then they had old cameras and movie reels.

“Instead of the regular round tables they did these long rectangular tables,” she adds. “Every table was slightly different.”

Craig says another trend that has been popular for the last two years is underwater arrangements, such as flowers (calla lilies or orchids)— either the stems or blooms are held down with shells or river rock in the bottom of the vase and candles rest on top.

Craig says brides-to-be often bring inspiration into the shop with them in the form of magazines, fabric clippings and photographs.

“She’ll show me what colors she wants to work with, and we just kind of take it from there and get some ideas down on paper,” she says. “We are really into fresh, good quality, high-end products.

Collaboration, she says, happens amongst Seascape staff members as well as clients and Craig notes that working with families makes it a rewarding endeavor.

“The moms come in often with the daughters, or best friends come in, and we all plan and collaborate,” she says. “They’re just so excited about this special day and what it means for their family. I really enjoy getting to know them while they’re putting it down on paper. And then we bring it to life.” | April M. Short

Seascape Flowers, 5 Seascape Village, Aptos, 662-9030, seascapeflowers.com.


Hollins House
Striking views and attention to detail make for a perfect wedding celebration

The Hollins House is no novice when it comes to weddings. Around 30-40 couples tie the knot in this prime location every year. With spectacular views of the Monterey Bay and beautiful outdoor patios, this superb venue is high on the list as a place to get married. Margy Siefert, Hollins’ wedding and special events coordinator for more than 25 years, has a wealth of experience under her belt and goes all out to accommodate your every need. Take note:

expo hollins viewTHE WEDDING GUIDE
Hollins House has prepared a handy 22-page guide filled with photographs, sample menus, testimonials, facility fees and vendor referrals. It is most important to know up front what the wedding is going to cost. Although the bride would like a 10-piece orchestra playing at the nuptials, budget might restrict the music to a DJ or one guitarist.

“About three or four months before, I get all the details,” says Siefert. “That way they have time to solidify their thoughts – and then we go through a kind of brainstorming period.”

“I’m very excited because I’m going to be working with two chefs this year,” says Siefert.  One is Steve Rice, who has been with the Hollins House for more than 25 years, and the other is John Paul Lechtenberg, the new executive chef. And Siefert pays close attention to dietary requests.

“Because of the area we live in, there are many requests for fresh, organic, local and humanely treated types of products,” she adds. “We have to be ready for that.”

“Pink champagne has come back,” Siefert notes. “People are requesting that big time. They usually request local wines, but if they want champagne, then it’s usually traditional.”

In conclusion, Siefert says that this is the one venue that is totally exclusive, with no other events going on at the same time: “We close it for you so that it’s all for you.” | Josie Cowden

Visit Hollins House at 20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz, 431-3231, or log onto thehollinshouse.com.


Freedom Bakery & Confections
From innovative designs to cake consultations and more, this could be the sweetest wedding portal around

Whatever your heart (or sweetheart) desires when it comes to baked goods for a wedding, Freedom Bakery does it all. At this reputable bakers and confectioners, weddings are not all about a huge iced cake tied up with a big pink bow.  Although a classic cake is by far the most requested item, Freedom Bakery excels at making exactly the kind of cake you have in mind.  

expo CakeTony Liu started Freedom Bakery in 1975 and his son Paul Liu took over in 1997—and now oversees the whole operation.  “It’s done well for us,” says Paul Liu. “And it covers a wide spectrum as we do all kinds of baked goods for celebratory occasions.” And one of the bakery’s main specialties, of course, is wedding cakes.

“As far as wedding cakes, it’s still the traditional classic cakes,” says Liu, referring to typical white icing with floral decorations. “But we also do a fair amount of cupcakes. I would say that they are very popular right now and probably 10 percent of the weddings that we book are for cupcakes.”

Liu adds that chocolate is high up on the flavor list. And on the white cake side, mango is the most popular—a tropical flavor with a hint of coconut.”

One thing that sets Freedom Bakery apart is their ability to do photo cakes for birthdays, celebrations and weddings. “We put full color images on cakes,” says Liu. “We have machines that we built ourselves. One of my friends helped us to do it, and we actually print right onto the icing.

“Other bakeries use paper,” adds Liu, “which results in a gooey texture on the finished cake. Paper melds into the icing, but we spray the picture on using our special computer, so it’s a good, clear picture. We do quite a lot of photo cakes and we do a fair amount on cookies and chocolates, most of which are shipped around the country.”

When asked what’s new on the scene for weddings, Liu says that dessert bars are a popular new trend. For the last four or five years candy bars have been very popular, he says. “We do tarts and petit four items and brownies—cupcakes are a more casual feel. The modern bride does whatever fits her personality,” he says. “If she likes casual, then cupcakes and dessert bars are along those lines.  A dessert bars also offers different flavors.”

But cutting a cake is traditional and most people prefer that. “It completes your day for the photo album,” he adds. But these days, there’s a lot of flexibility. “It’s made the wedding business much more interesting because there are really no restrictions as to what the bride wants.”

Liu does all of the cake consultations. “The reason for that is it’s the most important part of getting the wedding cake done,” he says. “And I know all the ins and outs. I’ve been decorating [cakes] since I was 13 years old – a quarter of a century,” he laughs. “We believe in quality across the board – and service.  A lot of people are surprised by the quality of our products. When people see a well-decorated cake, they don’t expect such high quality and flavoring.” | Josie Cowden

Freedom Bakery, 125 Hangar Way, Watsonville #120, 722-5223 and 866-548-7266 (toll free). FBandC.com.


Crown Café Catering
Local business gets to the heart of wedding matters

Mickey Phelps rules the roost at Crown Cafe Catering, a Capitola offshoot of Scotts Valley Market. She can usually be found whipping up a variety of savory delights like the legendary tri tip and cheddar “Mountain Man” sandwich, but she took a few minutes pause to dish on some culinary insights. When asked what got her into catering Phelps cites her sense of un-fulfillment until seizing upon her dream job, one that combines her two passions for food prep and customer service.

expo CrownCafeBut Phelps also acknowledges that this sometimes poses a challenge, as some people are disappointed when they realize their grand vision may be a tad unrealistic. The best weddings, in Phelps’ opinion, are ones with a relaxed vibe. Although it is not unusual for Crown Cafe to cater large affairs (sometimes up to 500 guests, buffet style) the simple ones are the most rewarding. She fondly recalls one of them held in an outdoor Aptos venue as one of her favorites. “Great music, great company, great food–of course!” she laughs. Though an ardent subscriber to the idea that every wedding is a “special occasion,”

Phelps admits that some can be challenging when particular dietary restrictions come into play—from offering just the right amount of variety for vegetarians and vegans to meat eaters. On that note … Phelps reports that Crown Cafe’s tri tip is their most popular dish, which she surmises is because “people love a good barbeque. It makes things feel more festive.”

As for Phelps herself, the one wedding staple she would never turn down is “anything seafood.” And Phelps’ fan base who enthuse that she is a “delight to work with” isn’t likely to turn her down anytime soon either. Located in Brown Ranch Marketplace, replacing a Quiznos Subs (bonus points for keeping commerce local) Crown Cafe focuses on meat (and meat alternatives) main courses, pastas, sandwiches, and salads. They will handle the wedding cake, delegating to local bakeries. Committed to “one-on-one consultation and the ability to accommodate diverse orders,” they are a decidedly community-based catering company. | Katie Lewin

Learn more about Crown Café Catering by visiting 3555 Clares St. Suite G. Capitola, or call 475-5992.


Your Dream Wedding
At Alexis Party Rental fairytales really do come true   

Eleven years ago, Santa Cruz local Margie Reber had a vision. She envisioned a company that would create magical weddings for starry-eyed couples in need of a stress-free event at which to share their vows in front of friends and family. And so, Alexis Party Rental was born.

Initially, Reber ran the grassroots business out of her home, without owning a single piece of rental equipment. She would wash dishes after events at a local restaurant, and dry each one by hand, just to make ends meet. Eventually, her partner in crime and now loyal assistant Debbie Tara joined in, and the business began to grow.

Today, Alexis Party Rental operates out of a 12,000 square-foot warehouse at 300 Natural Bridges Drive, that is stocked with everything—from silky linens, to decorative dishes, to a sno cone machine—you need to celebrate your special day.

expo rentalsBut don’t be mislead, the company is more than just a go-to party rental supplier. A self-proclaimed Jack of all trades, the Alexis team manages all deliveries and oversees all details (down to the last sparkling napkin ring) for every event they work on. And Reber has a knack for turning the dreams of newlyweds into reality.

“You have to be a good listener, and envision what their dream is,” says Reber. “Other people’s ideas create creativity in yourself.”

Besides being a great wedding option for those who prefer to think local first, according to Reber, the staff at Alexis Party Rental has a reputation for being conscientious and friendly.

“It’s a once in a lifetime event,” says Reber. “The largest percentage of business is weddings, and it’s a sign we succeeded in that world.”

Helping clients to celebrate their love in a way that is both creative and all their own is half the fun for Reber. “Vintage is in again this year,” she adds. “Softer colors, white, dusty rose, old school—a simple, clean look.”

Whether you want to stick to the trends or take your wedding in an entirely different direction—the Alexis crew once organized a sit-down Moroccan style wedding and a Monarch butterfly-themed wedding—Reber vows to make it happen.

We won’t lose sight of your dream either, she says. “We only have parameters to transform according to what our clients want.” | Ashley Madigan

Alexis Party Rental visit alexispartyrental.com, or call 458-6080.


Music Now DJ
Let the music play—and more

Music Now DJ withstands the test of time. Jack Crawford, owner, says he remembers the transition from vinyl discs to CDs and later from CDs to computers and iPods. Founded in 1987, the company has played countless events, specializing in weddings.

“Longevity is obviously on our side,” says Crawford. “The wedding DJs that work for me have been doing it at least 10 years, most of them much longer than that.”

expo MusicNowWhen Music Now began, Crawford worked as a disc jockey. When he met the previous owner of the company at an event, he decided to make the switch from radio disc jockeying, which was his specialty for several years in the Monterey Bay area, to live shows.

Crawford recalls the company’s beginnings when the office was the then-owner’s Capitola apartment, their warehouse a garage. He has seen the company grow up to 15 DJs and eight equipment vans. He has moved with the company from the Capitola apartment to a house on Market Street to a building in Soquel, and finally to its current Water Street offices in Santa Cruz.

In recent years, Crawford, a self-proclaimed “romantic at heart,” has noticed a heartwarming trend.

“Because we’ve been doing this for a long time, we are getting offspring’s weddings now,” he says.  And over the years, he has played his fair share of Santa Cruz weddings. “People do anything here in Santa Cruz—they’re not always that traditional,” he says.

From traditional military weddings, to a clothing-optional ceremony, to a phone call he received from the mother of the bride just weeks before to inform him that just one detail had changed: the groom.

“For one of the first weddings I did, we did the ceremony as well as the reception,” he says. “The bride was in a beautiful, flowing white gown. She wore combat boots and she walked down the aisle to ‘Rock Lobster’ by the B52s.”

While the weddings may be eclectic at times, Crawford and Music Now DJs recognize their role as hired professionals.

“I think the difference between us and the average DJ is, first off we’re not cheesy,”  says Crawford. “We don’t come out and steal the show; we specialize in weddings and when we’re doing events like that, we know what our place is supposed to be and how we’re supposed to conduct business.”

Crawford requires DJs that work for him to adhere to a strong criterion of professionalism, including a clean-cut image.

expo2“There’s all sorts of people that live here, so our DJs are not average,” he says. “ They’re professional, they’re professional looking.”

Music Now’s digital library ranges over almost every style of music, and a duel CD/MP3 player serves as backup collection in case of a technical emergency.  

“We have everything from the 1920s to modern music because we’re trying to accommodate all of the age ranges and musical tastes, and I think that’s why people hire a DJ.”

Crawford recognizes that the DJs role at a wedding can make or break the experience.

“You’re helping somebody start their life out,” he says. “The DJ is wearing many hats. We are the master of ceremonies, the disc jockey, the music director, and sometimes we’re the bouncer,” he says. “Sometimes we’re considered the personal assistant, which is a little much but we’ll do what we can to make sure everybody’s happy.” |  April M. Short

Music Now DJ, 877-423-4423, or visit Santa Cruz DJ musicnowdj.com.

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