Do you ever have the feeling that the universe is moving you in a certain direction?
Last week, the universe pushed me to the beaches of LA. Actually, it drove me via limo with a team of Las Vegas Wedding Planners and Event Professionals, thanks to Miss Brit Bertino! We headed out early to Shutters on the Beach for a WIPA meeting. WIPA stands for Wedding Industry Professional Association, and it is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, growth, and promoting the highest of industry standards. Comprised of luxury wedding professionals and pulling from "the best of the best" - WIPA meets nation wide and fosters a feeling of community and camaraderie amongst those of us crazy enough to live and breathe weddings!
Los Angeles and Las Vegas are like besties. We live near one another, share ideas, and you will often times find that a lot of couples from LA look to Las Vegas as the perfect weekend escape, and visa versa. We share so much, that it seemed natural for me to spend a few additional days exploring the area and seeing just how our two markets intersect.
After spending nearly 5 days in and out of LaLa Land, here are my take aways:
1. FOOD - If you have been following me anywhere (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) then you know that I am a crazy foodie. I love food. There is something primal and romantic about serving food and eating with someone. Certain meals will trigger memories years later, and so I always spend as much time possible planning menus with my couples, ensuring that we strike just the right balance between comfort food that everyone knows and loves, and exotic items that guests will be excited to try.
At Shutters on the Beach we were served an insanely delicious, light Artichoke Soup with Olive Dust. Yes, Olive. Dust. The two main ingredients are foods we all know and love, but that you would not always put together. Still, the dish was perfect!
I only wish more couples served soup at their weddings, even in the summer! Nothing more refreshing or unexpected than a cold soup!
Two days an just a few steps later, I found myself at M.A.K.E. - A raw, vegan restaurant. Now, it's no surprise that California loves it's health food. But is that really just a west coast thing? It seems that everyone is paying more attention to what they eat these days, and couples are beginning to ask that healthier options appear on their wedding menus. Whether a political stance, a lifestyle choice, or a legitimate health concern, being able to talk about food and create dishes that are both delicious and nutritionally balanced can be difficult, but it is a skill worth mastering.
One of my favorite dishes at M.A.K.E. were the Kimchee Dumplings. They had the texture and flavor of a meat dish, but were really airy and very flavorful. Would you serve something like this to your guests?
2. Succulents can be Elegant and Beautiful. Yeah, yeah, Succulents are popular now. I got it. I've seen a million of them in the raw pots and the mason jars, blah, blah, blah. But while roaming around Santa Monica I stumbled upon The Leaf & Petal Company, a floral studio that has living walls all the way around the boarder. One wall featured these gorgeous, lavender succulents that looked like roses. I stopped, I touched them, I played with different combinations of flowers, and I really fell in love with them. I have shied away from them in the past, fearing that they were too literal and too casual and too desert for the tastes of my clients. But after this, I would love to see a bride incorporate one or two into a bouquet, or maybe an entry piece.
3. The Colored-Stone Engagement Ring - The non-diamond engagement rings is an ever growing trend, and is gaining popularity day by day. Beyond the obvious nod to our royal friends across the pond, celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy and Jessica Simpson are rocking colored stones, making them a much more legitimate choice for brides seeking something other than diamond.
Personally, I love jewelry. Unique pieces that speak to you can be hard to find, but LA is home to so many small, boutique jewelry stores that the options are endless. Still, turning my head when it comes to rings is tough to do, but this stunner literally left me breathless!
The east-west horizontal setting is unique on it's own, while the oval cut and the delicate halo are very much on trend. But what really got me was the stone itself. It's a dark, almost black blue, filled with flecks of light and gold. There was something cosmic about it - and putting it on felt really decadent. Shockingly, the jeweler wasn't quite sure of what the stone was, but after some investigation we settled on Lapis Lazuli. One of the most sought after stones of all time, Lapis Lazuli stands for royalty and honor, gods, power, spirit, and vision. It is said to activate the Third Eye, and is a universal symbol of truth. What could be better to wear as a symbol of engagement.
Alas, the ring did not leave with me. But I am hoping to see it - or something like it - on the hand of a bride in the future.
Oh, and if you notice, it also satisfies your "Something Blue" craving.
4. Venues, Venues, Venues - California offers something for everyone. I am lucky enough to be working with a couple in the San Diego area right now, and while they live on Coronado they are hosting their wedding in Mission Beach. But what of LA? Brides in Los Angeles have nearly limitless options. Looking for luxury on the beach? Shutters offers sweeping views of the ocean, sandy beaches, and ballrooms that are out of a fairytale. Want something a little rough around the edges and hipster? Head to West Hollywood where cool reigns and you can have your wedding catered by anyone from the top chefs to the iconic Joan's on 3rd. Looking for something that just oozes luxury and Hollywood glam? There's the Chateau Marmont, the L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, the Peninsula, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Bel Air Hotel...The list goes on and on.
Over the course of my career I have had the opportunity to work for and with a great number of California based companies and couples. Some of my favorite corporate clients hail from California, and planning weddings for California couples comes so naturally. I expect to see more couples from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego finding their way to Las Vegas, and I can see traveling to and working in those cities happening on a much more regular basis. If for nothing more than the inspiration and the ability to bring a little bit of the coastal experience to the desert!
But what about my couples in Las Vegas looking for a destination wedding location outside of the city and away from The Strip? It's obvious that California truly offers something for everyone. And I have only mentioned the handful of places that I saw while on my most recent trip to LA. There are so many cities and towns up and down the coast, inland and on the water. There's the metropolis of San Francisco, the gardens on Montecito, the beaches of San Diego, and the desert of Bakersfield and Barstow.
I recently read that one of the most important things you can learn is how to learn, especially as you grow in your chosen field. Education, inspiration, and the ability to bring something new to the table are what make my job fun. But most importantly, it helps me stay on the edge, offering up new ideas to keep my couples happy. Expect to see more inspiration and sharing between the coasts, and for more information about WIPA coming through on the blog.
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito is often published, with works featured by the likes of BRIDES, Style Me Pretty, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, The NY Times, LA Times, Junebug Weddings, and more. With an eye catching style that shares not only the story, but the soul, of a wedding, Andrea's clients praise her for being their wedding planner, event designer, advocate, and friend.
An internationally acclaimed speaker, Andrea appears and speaks at events for the Engage! Luxury Wedding Summit, NACE, The Knot, the Wedding MBA, and more. Named the Best Wedding Planner in Las Vegas (2013, 2015, 2016), Wedding Professional of the Year (2011) and ranked as one of the top 50 wedding planners world-wide, Andrea works with celebrities, athletes, executives, and all people in love!
Based in Las Vegas, and working as a destination wedding planner world wide, you can learn more at www.AndreaEppolitoEvents.com.