Our Thoughts About All Things Events
The Design Conundrum by Marcea Galindo
July 11, 2023
You're planning a wedding, and you have visions of what you want, Pinterest-worthy visions, and then you go to the rental company and realize those picture-perfect scenes are REALLY expensive to actually achieve! Now what?
I get it! My styled shoots were so fun because I got to go to a rental company and get absolutely anything I wanted to achieve the look I was after. But in real life, that's not so budget friendly.
So how do you achieve the look you want without having to tell about 50 people they can't eat at your wedding? Here are some tips:
Start with the main elements (color, texture, floral/greenery style) and decide what's most important. Take a centerpiece: if you have a particular look in mind, ask the florist what it would cost, and ask about different sizes (i.e., could you get away with a smaller arrangement?). Then work out from there. Can you add some greenery around the base of it to enlarge the look? How about adding candles/tealights for some depth, or maybe some fabric?
Consider what might already be included in your venue or from your caterer. For instance, when my daughter got married last year, half-drop white cloths and white napkins were included. While we prefer full-drop cloths, it wasn't worth the cost. And while my daughter considered colored napkins, in the end the budget won and the look with white napkins was just as good, and maybe more elegant with everything else.
Can you achieve the same look with a different element? The pictures you are looking at have gold-rimmed plates and gold flatware, but would the table as a whole look just as good with white plates and silver flatware?
Think about substitutions and DIY: instead of renting multiple table runners, can you buy fabric in bulk and make your own? We are doing this for our upcoming wedding and just ripping the fabric leaving a raw-edge, no sewing required (wait until you see the pictures!).
And of course, stalk Marketplace, Buy Nothing and Offer Up for things people are selling off or giving away after their own weddings. I was able to get vases for $5 each...so much cheaper than buying or renting. And you might get some creative ideas in the process!
Remember that there is always help out there, too. Anytime you hire us, we are happy to offer design suggestions, but we also have a Design Management package that includes a deep-dive into design to help you achieve that look you are after.
So forget the conundrum...you can do this!
Photo by Arlene Chambers
Budget? What Budget? by Marcea Galindo
May 23, 2023
I asked my husband, "Tell me the first three things that come to mind when you think about a wedding." His reply? "Money, Budget, Finances." Yep, he's a guy. And he's also a dad who had one daughter get married last year and another later this year. The subject is a little raw.
No matter your budget, you will be thinking about money when you plan a wedding. As you should! I always tell people, think of what you'd like to spend, then add $10,000. That's realistically what you will probably spend (or want to). Vendors, venue, decor...it all adds up much quicker than you think it will and weddings cost more than you think they should. And if you're a parent paying for it, it's pretty hard to say no to your daughter who has particular visions.
We are always happy to talk about budget and how you might be able to stick to your original one. Here are a few tips:
Shop around! Take photographers, for instance. There is a wide range of prices depending on experience and packages. And there are talented people out there willing to work for less in order to gain experience. If you hire someone with less experience, be sure to ask for a portfolio and some references. Photos are nothing to mess with on your wedding day.
Consider a combo deal: some DJ's also do photo booths, some photographers also offer videography, some caterers do wedding cakes, some cake bakers also do other desserts. See where you can save a little by hiring one vendor to do multiple things.
Consider the area your venue is in and hire vendors close by so you don't have to pay travel fees.
Have a more casual menu. Instead of steak and chicken, how about an Italian buffet with pasta and pizza, or a Mexican buffet with a taco bar? These are crowd-pleasers and much easier on the budget. My daughter even attended one wedding last year that didn't have dinner at all, just some appetizers and a dessert bar. And she said it was lovely. Don't be afraid to be different!
There are many ways to have beautiful decor that don't cost a lot of money. One of my favorite weddings last year had no fresh flowers--zero! The bride made her and her bridesmaid's bouquets out of wood flowers and they were stunning. The centerpieces were candles and faux greenery. Flowers are really expensive so consider alternatives or use them in key areas and be creative in others.
Borrow items from friends, or from our Inventory! We have a wide variety of things to use such as tealight holders, signage, fabric items, easels, arches, table numbers, card boxes...there are so many things we don't charge you for that we can bring. Great value-added perk to working with us!
Lastly, what is your peace of mind and the freedom to enjoy your wedding day worth? Priceless, right? Hiring a wedding coordinator is so vital, it should be your number one budget line item. I believe in it so much that I hired multiple people for both my daughers' weddings. And I can't articulate enough how valuable that was for all of us.
When it comes down to it, on that day, you won't be thinking about money. It will just be the best party ever. And all money well spent.
Photo by Dawna Stoecker
Picking the Right Venue by Marcea Galindo
April 12, 2023
So you got engaged and know you want to plan a wedding...now what? Most people are pretty excited to shop for a venue right away, but believe it or not, there are a couple of things you need to do before you hit the road.
The first thing you need to do is determine your budget, and also determine to stick to it (not easy!). Vendors vary in price, and your budget will determine a lot, now and down the road. The next thing you need to do is determine a guest count. This isn't the number of people you invite, but the number you think will actually (realistically) show up. 75% of your invite list is probably a safe number to work with.
Once you have done these two things, then you may shop for a venue! Finding out their capacity is usually easy--it's often right on their website. Make sure it has plenty of room for your desired number of guests.
Venues also vary in price, so make sure you look at that at the beginning. A hotel might not have a room rental fee, but will have a food/beverage minimum, while a stand-alone venue will have a rental fee. It's also vital to know what is included with that fee. Do they provide tables and chairs, and a tent? Do they set those up for you and take them down? Do they provide cleaning, or is that an extra fee? Are there any extras they provide, like a borrowing closet or lighting?
Then, find out what their policies are. Do they have required vendors, like in-house catering or a required caterer? Do you have to pick from vendors off their list or can you pick your own? Do they require a day-of coordinator?
We also like to know what their facilities are like as well, especially for the caterer. Do they have a full kitchen with a sink and refrigeration? Do they provide garbage service?
Remember, any item the venue doesn't provide is an item you need to rent (i.e., tables and chairs), and any service the venue doesn't provide is something you need to pay someone else to do (i.e., setup and teardown of tables and chairs), so all their inclusions are valuable.
Once you have done all this research and determine which venues you are interested in, find out their availability (there are, at this writing, venues already booked out through 2024), then schedule a time to visit in-person. Pictures can't give you the full picture or the feeling you get when you walk through it. Just like you probably knew when you found your partner for life, you'll know when you find your venue! It will feel right, it will feel like you.
As always, call us either before or after this process. We are happy to help with recommendations of any vendors, even the elusive venue.
Photo by Taylor Stuck
Think Ahead by Marcea Galindo
March 15, 2023
The wedding planning process can be grueling...I get it. There are so many details when you are planning a wedding for yourself or helping a daughter or son, that it's easy to overlook what happens right after the reception ends. The reality is, the event isn't quite over! Clean-up and tear-down still has to happen, and things you came with need to go home somewhere.
One thing often overlooked is what happens to all the flowers after the wedding. This is especially difficult when the family of the couple is from out-of-town and returns to a hotel room rather than a home. If your wedding was especially flower-heavy (or even if you just have a few!), I like to help you think ahead about what will happen to those florals.
If you worked with a florist who rented the containers to you, those vases will need to be returned to them, or sometimes the florist comes back at the end of the night and picks them up. In this case, you should bring buckets along to take the flowers home in.
A better idea is to buy your own vases to give the florist to use, whether from thrift stores or the Dollar Tree or some other source. This is what I did last year--my daughter wanted a certain look for her centerpieces, so I scoured all over town, multiple times, thrifting vases for just a couple dollars apiece. Then, I printed up a note that I handed out to 24 friends (because we had 24 tables) asking them to please take a centerpiece home at the end of the night. Not everyone did, and I still took home a few, but it wasn't 24! The flowers (hopefully!) were enjoyed after the wedding in multiple homes. And it probably cost me a lot less than renting from a florist.
I can't tell you how many flowers we have brought home, and worse, thrown away because it was impossible to take a truckload of flowers to a hotel room. We hate it when this happens! So for the sake of the flowers, think ahead about how to give them a longer life.
The flowers thank you!
Photo by Ariella Noelle Photography
A Day in the Life by Marcea Galindo
January 12, 2023
Recently, I had the privilege of being featured in a blog on Planner's Lounge, an online resource for wedding planners. Rather than regurgitate the article, I thought I'd let you read it for yourself. You can access it here. Enjoy!
In The Moment by Marcea Galindo
October 25, 2022
A few days after my last wedding of the busy season, my husband and I took off for the Arizona desert. It's a place we hadn't been in quite some time (a couple of decades) and we were eager to explore and see what we thought of the area now that it had grown up a bit. We invited our adult kids to join us for part of the trip and we rented a beautiful house and a mini van (yep!) to accommodate everyone.
Having our kids with us was amazing...they are so fun...and we also enjoyed time alone, exploring places further away than our kids wanted to travel (sometimes exploring is easier with fewer people). We saw historic sights, small towns, too many cactus to count, a tarantula in the wild (!), giant red rocks, and ate our weight in Mexican food.
But the sweetest times were the ones at "home"...in the pool, playing shuffleboard and corn hole, playing card games late at night, laughing until we cried. And I remember thinking I wanted to freeze the moments, live in the moment, absorb the moment. And all too quickly, it's gone and our time is over.
The only way I know how to savor those moments longer than just a second is to take pictures. And like many moms, I take a lot. My kids groan, but years later, they appreciate them.
It's no different with a wedding. I've been there, both as a bride and as a mom. And we have thousands of pictures from each experience. It's the only way to truly remember.
So snap away! Get pictures from your friends. Ask your photographer for every picture you can get out of them. Take your own, if you can. Don't apologize for it.
They aren't just pictures. They are being in the moment. For all time.
And by the way, Arizona is awesome :).
As Things Wind Down by Marcea Galindo
September 20, 2022
2022 has been my busiest wedding season yet. And honestly, it started in a bit of a fog because my own daughter was my first bride this year (and that counted for, like, four weddings!). But around the time my schedule started being crazy, the haze cleared (as did the weather!) and Natalie and I got into a great groove.
We did a few "farm" weddings, a yacht club wedding, a historical house wedding, weddings with ponds, fountains and waterfalls, and weddings with chandeliers, string lights, and and lots of sparkle. We even had our first wedding proposal (see our most-watched Instagram story--IG @mgeventdesignevents)!
We have a few more to go this year, but the busyness seems to be waning. And with that comes refreshment and renewal, and many off-season projects to get us ready for next year.
If you're planning a 2023 wedding, we hope to be a part of your story, just like you will always be a part of ours.
Photo by Larissa Friesen
A Blog about a Blog by Marcea Galindo
August 22, 2022
We are thrilled that one of our weddings from last summer has been featured in an Aisle Society blog called The Budget Savvy Bride. This was a favorite wedding of ours that took place in a garden grove of trees at the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington.
What made it a favorite, aside from the grove, were the DIY elements the couple incorporated. Because the bride is a scientist, they made centerpieces from blocks of wood and test tubes. Because one of their first dates was at a soap-making class, they gave out homemade soap as favors. And because they love the outdoors, their escort cards were little potted succulents.
You can read all about it on the blog, and we have included the link below. Enjoy!
Photo by Rebecca Anne Photography
To First Look or Not To First Look by Marcea Galindo
June 25, 2022
A controversy that comes up quite often is whether to have a first look a few hours before the wedding or to wait to see each other down the aisle at the ceremony. Usually when a couple chooses to wait for the aisle, it's quite often the groom's choice (because if a groom ever had dreams about his wedding, it's about this moment), and I have the mother-of-the-bride in the background of the meeting, gesturing wildly for me to talk them into a first look. I usually try, because it helps the day to run so much more smoothly. But ultimately, it's the couple's choice.
For argument's sake, though, I'll break it down with some pro's and con's.
Pro's to waiting for the aisle:
You get the "traditional" aisle experience.
Con's to waiting for the aisle:
You don't spend as much time together on your wedding day.
Your wedding party doesn't get to spend as much time all together on your wedding day.
You don't get as many pictures because there isn't as much time to take them.
Your guests have to wait longer for dinner because you are taking pictures after the ceremony.
You have to buy more appetizers and drinks because cocktail hour is longer and your guests are hungry.
You only get one "moment," and it's witnessed by a big audience. You don't get that private moment.
Pro's to having a first look:
You get two "moments." One at the first look that can be completely private (usually with the photographer present, though)--an intimate moment with just the two of you, and one down the aisle.
You have plenty of time, together and with your wedding party, absorbing all aspects of the day.
You still get the aisle moment; believe me, I've never seen a groom not react to his bride coming down the aisle just because he saw her earlier...he always reacts anyway!
You can get most, if not all, of your pictures done before the ceremony. And you get more of them because you have more time.
Your cocktail hour doesn't have to be as long so you have more time for dinner and dancing.
Con's to having a first look:
You don't get the "traditional" aisle experience (except, you do...so there's that).
I'm sure by these lists you can gather what my opinion is on the matter. Feel free to formulate your own, and we will indeed carry out your wishes, but remember, mom is usually right (as she gestures wildly from across the room)!
Words Escape Me by Marcea Galindo
April 21, 2022
It has been a while since I've shared anything here. So much has happened that I don't even know where to begin. We've been kind of busy with a lot of life change. The most important event in the past few months, though, was my youngest daughter getting married. It's a biggie. And I've wanted to process it here for a while, but words just escape me.
Planning a wedding, you would think, would be old hat for me. But being mother-of-the-bride and planning a wedding was something entirely different and new. Normally, when helping a client, I have a "formula" for getting things done and making sure all the details are cared for. What I now realize is how much more goes into it. I knew that, of course, but never had to actually do it until now. The whole process, I hope, has served to make me better at my job.
On the actual wedding day, everything felt pretty surreal. I remember pausing in the reception space, looking around at the beauty, and thinking how weird it was to actually be doing that. For my daughter.
It turned out beautiful, the weather cooperated (in March!), the bride was stunning, the groom dapper, the ceremony ridiculously touching (those vows!), the wedding party colorful and fun, the decor beautiful, the food delicious, the crowd a perfect cross-section of our lives, the dance party lively and unending, the send-off magical. There would be things I might do differently, but I wouldn't change the outcome.
I can't describe it to you adequately. Words still escape me.
A Successful Season by Marcea Galindo
October 7, 2021
When I began my busiest wedding season since starting this business, I honestly didn't know how I'd feel at the end of it. I wondered if I'd be tired of weddings, exhausted, ready for a break...you get the idea. But I can truly say, now, at the end of a busy few months, that I feel none of that.
I think what happens when you work in something you are passionate about is that you work hard, yes, but it doesn't feel like work (usually!). It feels like a bit like putting on a play...you organize, rehearse, create the set, play dress-up, and when it all comes together and the day arrives, you are prepared to put on a great show. Not that weddings are a show, but for me, they are a bit of a production and I'm the behind-the-scenes director. And when the curtain draws at the end of the day and everyone is blissfully happy, I know I've done my job well. I go home tired and often a bit sore, but completely satisfied. Give me a day and a hot bath, and I'm ready to do it all over again!
My 2022 season is filling up and I can't wait to get to know next year's couples more intimately as their days draw closer. After all, the director should know her cast, right? Give me a call and let's talk about how to make yours the best day ever.
The Personal Touch by Marcea Galindo
July 22, 2021
It's mid-July and we have almost a half dozen weddings under our belt for the year (yay!!). Each of them has been different, beautiful, sometimes challenging, always rewarding. We learn something every time. I suspect we always will, even a hundred weddings down the road.
One thing we are learning is that human creativity is unending. There is something fun and new at every single wedding. For one, it was the pancake cake (the wedding cake looked like a stack of pancakes!) because the couple met at a pancake challenge. At another, the favors were homemade soaps because the couple's first date was a soap-making class. At yet another, the "guest book" was a drawing on canvas of a tree where the guests signed the branches because this new blended family was creating a new family tree. Yet another had succulents as escort cards, then there was the glass blending (mixing different colors for each family member's birth stone) later sent to an artist to create a piece out of the tiny shards of blended glass. Or how about the wood blocks with test tubes of flowers for the chemist bride (so pretty!).
And we are only part-way through the year! We can't wait to see what our other couples do to personalize their special day. Our advice is to think about what makes you unique as a couple, what brought you together, what you like to do together, what binds you...something that sets you apart from everyone else, and then come up with a creative way to express that on your day. Guests love these personal touches and it will cause your wedding to live on in their memories for years to come.
We'd love to hear your creative ideas! What sets you apart?
A Mom's Best Friend by Marcea Galindo
June 17, 2021
I recently participated in a wedding show and I talked to many moms who were attending the show with their daughters. It's easy to tell when a mom is intimately involved in the planning of her daughter's wedding, and when I sense that, I zero in on the mom, letting her know that a wedding coordinator will be her "best friend" on wedding day. Several times, I visibly saw these moms exhale, eager to start a conversation about how I could help them have a relaxed, carefree wedding day.
If you've ever planned your child's wedding without a point person not named you, you probably have some regrets. Did you miss seeing the bride's dad see her for the first time because you had to tell the DJ what to do? Or did you miss talking to some friends because you were trying to answer questions from the caterer? Were you rushed to get ready because you were doing some last minute set-up? Did you have to rope family and friends into helping you do things you wished you didn't have to do?
With a wedding planner on board, most of these problems don't exist, at least for you. I make sure you have time to take in all the special moments, while I and my staff take care of all the details, major and minor, and trouble-shoot any glitches that come up. Many you never know about. And while we plan meticulously, we often do many things that weren't planned. That's just the nature of events and why we come with a "flow with it" attitude.
So even if the bride and groom think family and friends can handle anything that comes up, maybe mom does know best...hire a wedding planner!
The Most Important Vendor! by Marcea Galindo
May 18, 2021
As we discussed in the last couple of blogs, a recent survey asked newly married couples what they wished they had done differently when planning their wedding. The top three answers were: 1) Spend more money on the photographer and less on food, 2) hire a videographer, and 3) hire a day-of coordinator. Again, I didn't make this up...it really said this! And I have to totally agree. Let's talk about why a day-of coordinator (or more) is essential.
A wedding planner is often not a line-item in an initial wedding budget. It's one of those non-tangible things where you aren't getting something in return for your investment like flowers or a photo album or a tasty bite of food. But what do you get in return? Peace. Organization. A carefree day for your mom (or aunt, or whoever is your go-to for help) to just enjoy and absorb.
With me, you also get advice along the way, the whole way, not just the last month. A listening ear. Someone to bounce ideas off of. Maybe some design help. A pair (or two or three) of hands to put it all together on that day, and then take it all down at the end. Someone to keep you on schedule throughout the day so you don't pay more because you left late.
Maybe it's someone who will come to the rescue when your grandmother gets lipstick on your pristine white gown. Or keeps the DJ on task so the guests don't get bored (yes, we've done this!). Or strings fishing wire so a flower arrangement doesn't fall down (we've done this, too!).
Often it's the things you don't see and never hear about. Like helping a guest find their way, or solving an electrical problem for a photo booth, or coming up with something to cut the cake with when nothing was brought for that.
Whatever you need, we are there for you on that day, and it's our deepest desire that your wedding day is the absolute best day of your life.
Give us a call. We'd love to help you dream up that perfect day. And then keep it on task so you and your loved ones don't have to.
Video--Optional or Essential? by Marcea Galindo
April 26, 2021
As we discussed in the last blog, a recent survey asked newly married couples what they wished they had done differently when planning their wedding. The top three answers were: 1) Spend more money on the photographer and less on food, 2) hire a videographer, and 3) hire a day-of coordinator. Today we will talk about video for your wedding day.
Some of my couples see video as a luxury, or maybe an afterthought. It's something they consider if they have the budget for it, but don't deem it truly necessary. My opinion is that if you don't do video, one day down the road you will regret it. But you will never regret doing it.
Video is what captures your wedding day in real time. It's what keeps you forever young. It's something your children will one day watch and see what their parents looked like a looooong time ago (at least it will seem like long ago to them!). Video captures what photographs can't...your friend's voices, your uncle's goofy gestures, the twinkle in your grandpa's eye, a dumb joke that incites laughter. Decades down the road, some of those special people might not be around anymore, but you can still see and hear them and remember how they helped make your day so memorable.
So consider video when charting out your budget. It's a line item that should be at the top of the list. You will thank me in 20 years!
Photo by Rachel Jocelyn
Picture Perfect by Marcea Galindo
March 29, 2021
A recent survey asked newly married couples what they wished they had done differently when planning their wedding. The top three answers were: 1) Spend more money on the photographer and less on food, 2) hire a videographer, and 3) hire a day-of coordinator (I'm not making this up!).
I will touch on the others in later blogs, but today, let me talk about why a photographer is so important. The images you take away from your wedding day can't be redone, and they will last a lifetime (30 years later, my kids still enjoy looking at mine once in a while!). Hiring a high-quality photographer with a good reputation is important, but there are other factors to consider as well:
What is their style? Is it a good reflection of your own style? Are you Boho Chic? Is their style light, natural, and airy? Are you traditional elegant? Do they photograph indoor candlelight well? Is your wedding outdoors? Do they know how to play up natural light? Ask to see a portfolio or samples of the kinds of photos you are looking for if you haven't seen exactly what you want on social media or their website.
Who will be photographing your wedding? Will it be just one photographer or will they have an assistant along? How important are detail shots to you? Are you seeing each other before the ceremony and taking photos after? If so, who will be photographing the reception details? Do you want candids of guests? Remember, no one can be in two places at once. Two photographers are always a great idea.
What is their style during the ceremony? I might get into trouble with a few photographers for this, but some photographers are very invasive during a ceremony. Does it bother you if they are in the aisle, behind the minister, or directly in front of you during the ceremony? Or would you prefer they use a long lens and stay in the back or to the sides of the guests? It's something you should discuss up front if you have an opinion about this.
What do you get for your money? This seems like an obvious question, but make sure you know what you are getting and if it will meet your expectations. If you contract for eight hours of their time, will that be enough (this is something I can help you determine)? Do you want them to still be there for your sparkler exit, or will your hours have run out? Are photos of the getting-ready hours more important to you than the dancing, or do you want it all? Will they have a checklist of all the photos you want (family, wedding party, details, etc.)? Make sure your expectations are spelled out.
I am always happy to help you think through this, and I have great suggestions for wonderful photographers who will serve you well. We want to make sure that 30 years from now, you are happy with what your kids will see!
Photo by Matthew Moisant
Summing It Up by Marcea Galindo
January 8, 2021
I have spent quite a bit of time mulling over what happened in 2020. While there were a lot of challenges, I honestly have to say that there was overwhelming good.
My husband was forced to make a bit of a career change last spring, and the result is a new business that has really begun to take off.
Because she worked from home, our daughter was able to adopt a puppy who turned into our dog's best friend.
I learned to share my quiet house with two other people working full-time. While I had my moments, I think I handled it better than I thought I would (I hope they would say the same!).
I spent a record number of days at the beach. And the weather usually cooperated.
Most of my weddings for 2020 were cancelled or postponed, but the few that I was able to do were the sweetest parties I think I've done. My dream of a large anniversary party to celebrate our 30 years of marriage turned into the small beach party I've always dreamed of doing and it was an absolutely perfect day.
I really don't know what 2021 will bring; I've already had two weddings postponed and one cancelled; but I've filled the schedule with people who recognize that flexibility might be important this year and I know that no matter what, I'm going to come away from this year with more lessons learned, more friends made along the way, and hopefully more wisdom and character.
2021, bring it on!
Inventory Update by Marcea Galindo
October 19, 2020
Something we offer our clients that maybe others don't is a ever-growing inventory of items for our clients to borrow. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, we don't charge extra for our clients to use our inventory (we also don't loan them out to non-clients).
Even in this crazy year where we didn't have many events, we still acquired quite a few new inventory items, many through the generosity of others who want to see them used by future couples.
New this year are about 70 clear vases in various sizes (these were used in our Metropolist wedding and subsequently gifted to us), about 25 DOZEN clear tealight holders (pictured...that's a ton of candlelight!), some new white organza curtain panels, and some cute, shabby-chic signage.
Be sure and check our inventory once in a while to see what's new. These are lovely value-added items and go with a variety of decor options. We'd love to see them used in your next event!
An Attitude of Resiliency by Marcea Galindo
July 22, 2020
This year has been challenging for us all. Most of my 2020 weddings have been postponed to 2021. Some have tried to carry on this year, but very few have been able to do so and still have a wedding that will be acceptable in their memory years from now. But the fact that I have had no canceled weddings says so much about my couples.
Behind closed doors there have, no doubt, been many tears. There has likely been anger, frustration and just sheer sadness over these circumstances. All of us have experienced this at some level, but imagine if you have been planning your dream wedding for a year or more and it is suddenly ripped away from you, and there’s nothing you can do about it?
I can honestly say I have seen not one tear from my amazing couples. By the time we have talked on the phone or Zoomed, they have come to grips with the circumstances and sucked it up to make the best out a terrible situation. Some have postponed exactly a year out and commemorated their original 2020 date in a memorable way. Some have postponed a few months with a reduced guest list and the hope that masks won’t be the focal point in all their pictures. And some have gotten married anyway in a small fashion, leaving their big party for a future date.
I have been honored to walk all of them through various scenarios, helping them decide the best plan for them. What has impressed me is how resilient they truly are. And for the ones for whom the big party is yet to come, I can’t wait to be right there making sure it’s the best day ever.
Attitude makes all the difference. The choice to be resilient is one I daily try to emulate.
To all my couples, well done.
30 Years by Marcea Galindo
June 27, 2020
For my final installment in the series about our wedding, I would love to tell you my thoughts about my amazing husband, Joe.
The day I married him was literally the best day of my life. Not because the day was beautiful, and it was. Not because we were surrounded by just about everyone I’d ever known, and we were. And not because it went off without a hitch (that I’m aware of!) and everything was perfectly as I imagined it, and it did and was (thanks to my incredible and talented mom!).
It was the best day because I married my best friend and started what has become an amazing life together. At the time, I was young and starry-eyed, and not only was he impressive, but he thought I hung the moon and the stars. What girl could resist that combination? I truly felt he was the one God had picked out just for me, and 30 years later, I know that to be true in the depths of my soul.
Joe has stood by me through joyful victories and incredible loss. He has led our family with Godly wisdom and common sense. He has fathered three very different children to be honorable adults who are independent, level-headed, God-fearing people who honor their parents and grandparents well. And through it all, he has maintained and proclaimed his love for me at every opportunity.
I am grateful every day that I get to walk life’s journey side-by-side with such an incredible human being. I love him more than I can say.
Happy Anniversary, my love. Here's to 30 more!
The Sweetest Lemonade by Marcea Galindo
May 4, 2020
This has been a strange time in our history, for sure. It's been completely unexpected and has forced us to think creatively and outside the box.
While several of my clients have already rescheduled their weddings for 2021, some are still waiting to see if they can pull their celebrations off, whether as planned, or adjusted.
We already have a couple of backyard weddings scheduled. The couples are going to have big parties next year, but have adjusted their immediate plans to include a very small group in a month or so when that's allowed by the state. I'm actually really excited about them!
Having a small group of people allows us to do what a large gathering doesn't. The decor might be a bit more lavish on a smaller scale, time frames are a little bit looser, the food might be a little more interesting than it would for a big buffet, and place settings can be more personalized. Having fewer people allows the couple to visit more intimately with their guests than they would with a large crowd. The moments might be captured in their mind's eye more clearly.
And if they choose to have a big celebration later, there are bonuses...two parties! Two opportunities to dress up (every bride loves that!), and something special to look forward to.
Whatever our couples decide, we are walking this path with them and helping them every step of the way. Taking the lemons and making very sweet lemonade, indeed.
The Carriages by Marcea Galindo
April 6, 2020
My dad is a car guy, and I married one, too. So it stood to reason that the transportation for us and our wedding party would be a bit unique. We didn't want to go the traditional limousine route, so my dad, instead, rented five white Cadillac's for the wedding party. One of these took me to the ceremony with my dad, and the others took my family, Joe, and the wedding party.
Some months before, Joe saw an amazing 1940’s-era Buick in our church parking lot. He left a note on it, asking if they would be willing to rent it to us for our wedding. The owner called him and agreed, and sent his son as our chauffeur. We rode in this amazing car from our ceremony in Bellevue to our reception at the Seattle Design Center.
What made it so fun was that our driver took us on the scenic route through downtown Seattle. That weekend, there was a convention in town with 5,000 extra people on the streets. With five white Cadillac's following us, honking the whole time (driven by the groomsmen...what would you expect?), people took notice and came to the street, waving and cheering. We started waving back and it truly felt like we were in a royal wedding procession!
At the end of the night, we were driven to our hotel by our best man in one of the white Cadillac's. From start to end, the day was made even more special by our special carriages. Princess, indeed.
The Flowers by Marcea Galindo
February 28, 2020
Continuing our series on our wedding almost 30 years ago, this month I'd like to tell you about the flowers.
Almost a decade before our wedding, Diana became a princess. Her bouquet was one I admired and one day wanted to emulate. This became the inspiration for my bouquet (although mine wasn't quite as large), and the bridesmaids bouquets were fashioned to compliment mine in size, while enhancing their dresses in color. Both bouquets were a lovely mix of florals and greens and were stunning.
For the ceremony, a friend of my mom's designed the arrangements for the stage, and for the aisle, my mom made wreaths out of birch branches that wrapped around the candelabra on each pew, while tulle ribbon hung down around them. The wreaths were then taken to the reception location and placed on each table with the tulle, and a candle was placed in the center of each. Simple, but very pretty.
The head table at the reception featured a large arrangement made by the florist, along with a garland that hung down from the middle to the sides of the long table (greens and tulle).
Flowers don't make a wedding, but they do make it more beautiful and memorable. I love how flowers can enhance a memory or invoke a certain feel. These flowers made me feel special. A princess for a day.
(For more photographs, see my Instagram or Facebook post about this blog.)
Our Best Friend by Marcea Galindo
February 1, 2020
Sometimes life gets in the way of work, and this was one of those weeks. Our sweet dog, Harley, lived a long life--over 15 years--and this week, we said goodbye. I hope you don't mind if I memorialize him a bit here.
Harley came into our family when our kids were five, seven and nine years old. Seems like a lifetime ago. Our youngest, who is now a junior in college, was in kindergarten. He was a tiny ball of fur, the runt and only black dog in his litter. My husband had told me that if I could find a small, non-shedding, male, black dog, we could get one and he would get to name him. He really didn't think I'd be able to find one with those criteria, but within two weeks, I did. Joe named him Harley, since getting a real one wasn't in the cards for him then.
Harley quickly wormed his way into our hearts. After about two nights of howling in a crate in the laundry room, we caved and let him sleep on our oldest daughter's bed, where he slept for the next 15 years. He became a constant companion to her and to our other two kids as well (and me, since I was with him the most during the day!).
He was full of personality. He loved to watch us play games or do crafts (wrapping gifts was very entertaining with all that paper and tape!), and even "played" tic-tac-toe with a set we had that used wooden apples. He'd actually pick them up and put them on the board when it was his turn. He loved a roaring fire and came running whenever Joe made one in the fireplace.
Unfortunately, he developed a love for chocolate. He once ate a half a box of Hershey's Pot of Gold that was wrapped (paper and plastic!) under the Christmas tree while we were gone. That resulted in a late-night vet visit. At least he had good taste--he ate all the dark chocolate and left all the milk chocolate! He found other chocolate occasionally but seemed to develop an immunity to it. It never really affected him. He'd even unzip the kids backpacks to get to snacks (we caught it on video once).
He was very protective, of our home, and of the beach place we go to. He barked, maybe too much, but he was a great security system. And he especially took on big dogs. His bark was not puny...it was pretty big for a ten-pound dog.
Most recently, he was a teacher. About a year ago, we brought home an energetic puppy, wanting the young dog to learn from his older brother. And Sonny did learn to be respectful of a dog that didn't want to (or couldn't) play (his daycare says he's very mature in this area for one so young). He also taught us to be compassionate toward older dogs who need more help. In the last year, especially, he required a lot of care and patience (and I give our older daughter most of the credit for his wonderful care).
Mostly, he was a best friend. He lived with us in three different houses, which means he saw our kids through two pretty difficult moves. He had tears shed on him many times as we mourned the loss of friends and family. I'm sure he heard his share of secrets and never, ever told. He gave us consistent unconditional love, laughter, and joy.
He will be missed dearly. But we are so, very grateful God gave him to us. Our best friend.
The Bridal Party Attire by Marcea Galindo
January 15, 2020
Our wedding party consisted of friends and family, carefully chosen. My bridesmaids were a cousin, a friend since kindergarten, a college friend and roommate, Joe's sister, and my maid of honor was my best friend since fifth grade. Our candlelighters were two of my cousins and two little girls that were friends like family.
I knew I wanted formal attire, but I was young so I wanted something fun to wear and pretty for my girls. After much shopping, we decided what we wanted wasn't out there and started looking for patterns and fabric. We settled on a Laura Ashley pattern that was quite fashion-forward in 1990, and a blush taffeta we called "White Zinfandel" (to avoid calling it Peach!!), paired with an ivory lace for the huge collar. And yes, they had big bows on their backsides!
We humbly enlisted a friend to make these for us, which she refused payment for. Of course, she was invited to the bridesmaids tea! She did a beautiful job and the girls looked lovely. The little girls' darling dresses were lovingly made by their mother.
Keeping with the formal theme, the guys wore black tuxes with tails, black cummerbunds and bow ties. Joe's differentiation was a white bow tie and cummerbund.
Everyone wore gloves. Even my mother! Mine had lace added to match my dress, the girls were lace, and the guys were white. Keep in mind, it was about 85 degrees that day. But I don't remember hearing one complaint. It was just what we did for a formal wedding.
I hope they all enjoyed wearing what they did. I know I thought they looked stunning. I remember thinking that their look would never go out of style. Ha! Times and fashions change, but to this day, I still think they looked pretty darn good.
Decade Reflections by Marcea Galindo
January 6, 2020
Happy New Year!
As I sat to write this, I realized I took about a month off from writing. But isn't that ideal, to be able to take some time off during the holidays to spend more moments with family and friends? I am thankful to have enjoyed much-needed down time with my tribe.
As we start in on a new decade, I'm reflecting on not only the past year, but how much change has occurred over the past decade in our family. We graduated all three kids from high school, then two of them from college (so far), we moved, went through a couple of major job changes, a career change for me, got a puppy (still have the old guy, though!), said goodbye to some significant people who passed on, and welcomed others. It's hard to comprehend how much change will occur in the next decade, but we greet it with anticipation.
This past year has been a dream-come-true for me in that I'm doing something I've always dreamed of doing full-time, and I have loved EVERY minute of it! I did quite a few weddings, plus an auction, a women's event, and a styled photo shoot (stay tuned for more on that in the days to come!). Just this past week, I booked three weddings for 2020, so I'm anticipating great things to come for this new decade.
If I have touched lives even a little, and reduced the stress and worry from even one bride, then I have done my job. I pray this new decade brings many more blessings, celebrations, friends, and fond reflections when it's all said and done.
The Venue by Marcea Galindo
November 21, 2019
The next stop on our 30th anniversary remembrance journey is a visit to our venues. We really had three and all ended up having significance.
Our rehearsal dinner was held at Benjamin's in Bellevue, on the top of the Key Bank Building (think back to 1990!). Joe's parents hosted this wonderful dinner for about 50 people and I'm pretty sure steak was on the menu (Joe grew up on a ranch so this was fitting). The tables in the private room were set up in a giant rectangle and everyone sat around the outside, enabling us to be one huge dinner party, complete with city lights twinkling outside. I do remember that when we left that night, it was pouring rain, but I don't remember being especially worried by that.
Our ceremony took place at Bellevue First Presbyterian Church. We didn't attend there, but the church we did attend had bright orange carpet and pews, and that just didn't work for me. This was a lovely, wood A-frame structure and easily seated our 300 guests. After the ceremony, we had a receiving line and punch for the guests on a day that turned out to be beautifully clear and warm.
Finally, our reception was held at the Seattle Design Center in South Seattle. After looking at many venues, we decided on this one because it held our large crowd (back then there weren't many to choose from for 300 people), it was pleasant but not pretentious, parking was free and plentiful, and the food was delicious. Even with 300 guests, it never felt crowded...there was room for everyone to breathe. Dinner was plated (chicken, I think), served to guests seated around round tables, and the wedding party at a long, head table. We didn't have dancing, but we did have a pretty long program of entertainment (Canadian Mennonite style!!). I don't think anyone missed the dancing...it was a pretty fun night without it. The space has now been updated, and events are still held there today.
I mentioned that all our venues turned out to be significant in some way. The church building is no longer there, replaced by a larger, more modern structure, but my parents now attend that church. And Benjamin's and the Design Center? Two weeks after our wedding, I started a new job as a secretary for HR and Marketing at Schwartz Brother's Restaurants, a job I acquired two weeks before our wedding (and many months after booking both events!). Benjamin's and Gretchen's Of Course, the caterer for the Design Center at the time, were both owned by Schwartz Brothers. As I moved up the ladder at SBR over the next seven years, I ended up helping with some events in both spaces.
I loved all of our venues. If I had to do it all over, I'd choose them again!
Capable vs. Invaluable by Lori Dilio
November 11, 2019
Editor’s Note: This summer, I was blessed to manage the wedding of the daughter of a dear friend. I’ve known the bride since the day she was born, and to be asked to help the family enjoy their day was truly an honor. My friend, the mother-of-the-bride, is a highly talented hostess and entertainer in her own right. But she recognized the need to let go of the reigns and enjoy the day. I asked her to pass along her important thoughts about the process and her perspective.
My daughter got married this summer and it was truly a beautiful and grand affair--all that we could have imagined for our daughter. But this was not my first rodeo and I knew better than to go it alone. Without ample reinforcements, a wedding can take you down pretty quickly. They are expensive and emotional, and in the Pinterest-Etsy vortex brides revolve in, expectations are way over-the-top.
Sure, I’m reasonably good at planning, project-management, and party hosting--doesn’t that pretty much cover it for a wedding? Why should I pay good money for someone else to plan and execute an event when I’m perfectly capable? Dare I say maybe the value is not just in the outcome (a beautiful event) but in the process--the delicate management of time, money, and relationships. And truth be told, when money and relationships are involved, things get, well, sticky. Add in the fact that you may not know half the people involved and you can feel out-gunned pretty quickly and perhaps even pressured into making rash financial decisions. Feelings get hurt and relationships suffer.
Financially, Event Managers can provide reliable information on what you can expect to spend in your geographic area to meet your expectations. They know the venues, the vendors, the prices, and in most cases are savvy negotiators. My daughter got married in Seattle but her fiancé and family were from Alabama where the cost of living (and wedding services) is much, much lower. They were shell-shocked at Seattle prices as they looked for rehearsal dinner venues, hair stylists and make-up artists, hotels, and transportation. An Event manager can provide an objective sounding board for financial decisions and steer you toward the best values and options. Without one, are you actually getting the best value for the services you want? Do napkins really cost $4 apiece in Seattle? Are fancy linen napkins worth it at $4.00 apiece or would the guest experience still be great with the $2.00 ones? Do you need to pay for an extra hour of venue set-up time ($500) or could having an efficient Event coordinator eliminate the need for both extra set-up and clean-up time, saving you $1,000?! Your future in-laws are suggesting a live band ($7,000-yikes!) but voila, your Event Manager says it’s not really an option! You’re off the hook! A good Event Manager can protect both your budget and relationships by acting as a financial buffer between all parties. You can honestly respond to every expectation and suggestion with, “That sounds wonderful, I’ll have to run it by the Wedding Planner.” You can literally fall back on paying someone else to be the fall-guy!
A couple of weeks before my daughter’s Big Day, we were informed that our venue/catering liaison would not be present at our event after all; some sort of family emergency involving out of town travel. We would be assigned a new contact person. Great. Basically starting all over with someone new. Expect it-weddings are like a living organism-constantly growing, changing and evolving. Life happens, people get sick, guest lists change (we had a death, a birth, and an engagement between the time we mailed the invitations and the actual event). You need someone to be the continuity factor between all the moving, evolving parts, and in reality, this is more than a one-person job. Our catering contract alone was rewritten five or six times. Some of our vendors had sub-vendors. A major sporting event required that we adjust our photo-shoot at the last minute to avoid traffic grid-lock. An Event Manager can provide a thread of consistency and continuity between vendors, contracts, negotiations, and on-the-fly adjustments. You may be very “capable” but no one-person can catch every potential problem. A second set of eyes may catch a minor mis-spelling of a guest’s name on the seating chart, or a major costly error in the catering contract.
On the Big Day I wanted to “be there” for those that mattered most to me: my daughter, my husband, our sons, and our aging parents. I certainly could have been at the venue to oversee last minute details-florist, rentals, cake, caterer, DJ, etc. I am undoubtedly capable of managing those things but then I would not have been helping my 83-year-old mother get dressed or watching my best friend style my daughter’s hair. I would not have been there to fix the strap on my mother-in-law’s bra, bring my sons some lunch, or enjoy my husband’s company. Being “capable” does not count for much when you must choose what matters most at a given moment. Weddings are chock-full of those kinds of choices. Even the most capable among us can only be in one place at one time. An Event Manager is invaluable. You need her because some very important, excited, people need you.
On The Big Day I kept my phone close and braced myself for the inevitable onslaught of last minute phone calls. I got…..one. That’s right, just one the whole day. And it wasn’t even an emergency. And this is why you need Marcea and her team at MG Event Design. Because regardless of how capable you are this is the one day you shouldn’t have to be. This is the day to drink it all in, and realize you are blessed to be with family and friends who just want to celebrate with you.
I don’t know how many calls Marcea and her team took on my behalf that day. Frankly, it was worth every penny not to know.
The Dress by Marcea Galindo
October 23, 2019
Around thirty years ago, I started shopping for my wedding dress. My mom and I, and usually my best friend, Suzanne, went all over the Eastside and Seattle, looking for "the one". It was a pretty fun process. I was the perfect sample size at the time, so all the dresses on the floor fit me, and it was fun to try on lots of different styles, even those I knew I wouldn't end up with. I was likely a salesperson's nightmare.
I remember specifically visiting Bellevue Bridal (I KNOW that lady didn't like me!), and also a salon in what was then known as Moss Bay in Kirkland (I'd love it if someone could help me remember the name of it!). I think we went there twice, but couldn't seem to land on anything.
Then, one Saturday that I came up from Portland where I was in my senior year of college, we went to Victoria's in Seattle on Capitol Hill. It was a charming salon and had beautiful inventory. And we found "the dress"...almost. It was so close, but wasn't quite the right color and the neckline was pretty plunging...not mom-approved.
As we were humming and hawing, I'm sure, the salesperson suggested we talk to their seamstress, Debra, to see if she could custom-make the dress the way we wanted it. She assured us she could, and without much hesitation, we embarked on the journey of a custom-made dress.
What resulted was a true masterpiece, inside and out. The dress was made of silk taffeta with lace on the edges and the bodice, and a touch of sparkle. It had a peplum on the front and back and I wore a crinoline underneath for volume. The sleeves were puffy, of course, and the back was a modestly deep "V".
My headpiece was custom-made by Debra, as well, and she also put some lace to match on my very inexpensive (but pretty!) shoes. The veil was in two pieces: a finger-tip length veil that I wore the whole day, and a cathedral-length veil for the ceremony that extended beyond the very long train.
I loved that dress. I still do. It's not in style anymore, but it's so masterfully made that my girls don't want to alter it. And I'm good with that. And Victoria's is still in existence, several locations later. One day, maybe my girls will shop around, only to end up there. That would be a pretty fun full-circle experience.
Interesting side note: Ten years later, Debra made the bridesmaid's dresses for my friend, Suzanne's, wedding, in which I was Matron of Honor. So I have two of Debra's creations, and the second one is stunning as well!
Our (Not-So) Secret Weapon by Marcea Galindo
October 16, 2019
In my consultations with my brides and grooms, I always ask if they have two photographers—the main one, and a second shooter. My opinion is that it takes two to get all the desired photos. No one person can be in two places at once, and two perspectives are better than one.
Introducing my secret weapon...MG Event Design’s own second shooter, Larissa Friesen. Larissa is not only my beautiful niece, she’s an incredibly talented artist with a camera. Larissa recently graduated from high school and is starting at the Gary Manuel Aveda Institute this month to hone her cosmetology skills (another art skill of hers). But on the side, this girl takes the most fantastic pictures of people (her senior portraits are incredible), animals (she gets down on their level to capture incredible action shots), and nature (she will get up at dawn to seize the sunrise).
As a second shooter, Larissa sees small details through the lens that the main photographer might not have the time to look for, or she will see the moment from a different angle. While the main photographer is taking family portraits, Larissa can be taking candid photos of guests during cocktail hour. Or while the main photographer is down the aisle shooting pictures of the wedding party coming into the ceremony, Larissa captures the precious moments in the back between the bride and her dad. The best part is, she’s stealth...you probably won’t even notice she’s been there.
We want to help you put together your very best day. A second shooter is an essential piece to that puzzle. Let us help you place that final piece!
An Epic Wedding Cake by Marcea Galindo
September 16, 2019
As promised, I am going to tell some stories over these next ten months or so leading up to our 30th anniversary next July. The first element I've chosen to talk about is our wedding cake, not only because it was incredible to look at and it tasted amazing, but it was made by a very special woman.
From 1974 to 2012, Sharon of Sharon's Catering & Cakes made over 5,000 wedding cakes. Over the years, she developed her own white chocolate frosting that enabled her to get the edible smooth finish and lacy elements that you see in the picture. I believe ours was the first she did of this design (notice the layers are not round but petaled), but it was copied after our wedding a few times that we know of.
Each layer was a different flavor. The one I remember tasting was carrot cake and it was delicious. The small cakes you see on the table were her famous cheesecakes. They were so delicious that they were gone before the main cake. I remember a friend coming up to me with the cheesecake on her plate and a bite in her mouth saying, "have you tried this? It's amazing!" I replied that I had not...it was all gone! She shoved a bite of hers into my mouth. She was right...it's one of the best bites I've ever tasted.
Sharon has since retired and just recently decided to share with the world her recipes that put her in such demand back in the day. The carrot cake and cheesecake recipes are there, along with all her cake tricks, and many other catering recipes. To top it off, she has shared her famous white chocolate frosting recipe in the hopes that someone will take the baton and carry on the legacy.
You can purchase her cookbook online at sharonscateringandcakescookbook.com. She is even doing some classes in her studio, teaching the technique to make the frosting (it's a bit complicated). My mom and one of my girls attended a class this summer. The best part was that we each got a piece of cake and a tub of frosting to take home.
A wedding cake is the centerpiece of any wedding celebration. And ours really took center stage. We were glad to share the limelight with such a beautiful creation!
Wedding Season Reflections by Marcea Galindo
September 10, 2019
A few days ago, my last wedding of our busy season took place.
I've spent many moments the past couple of days reflecting on how blessed I am to do this job. I've often heard people talk about how they can't believe they get paid to do what they love...it's more like playing and they feel guilty taking money for it.
I never felt that.
Until this year.
This year has been the fulfillment of a dream. Not one I actively thought about. One I never thought I'd have. One that was born out of "if I could do it all over again." Deciding it wasn't too late was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
So what has made it so special?
The people I have met are certainly at the top of the list. Every bride I have worked with has become a friend, I feel. My brides and grooms are spectacular couples and I believe in their marriages.
The design work has been so much fun and has stretched me. Incorporating my daughters and my mother has been a bonus...they are talented women who lend unique perspectives from my own and balance me out.
The organization and the challenge of not only building a business but putting together an incredible day for someone has been exhilarating. My checklists and worksheets are my own and evolving with every event.
And of course, event days are my favorite days! I wake up ready to go in the morning and if I have to kill time because a venue won't allow us to be there until the afternoon, I spend the morning antsy to get going.
Every blister, sore foot, bug bite, and sleepless night (because ideas run through my head!) has all been worth it. The day after an event I'm pretty exhausted, but give me a few hours and I'm ready to go at it again.
Maybe this is my "honeymoon" period of my business, but I hope not. I hope I always feel as blessed as I do right now.
I think I will.
An Engagement Anniversary by Marcea Galindo
August 12, 2019
Today is an anniversary of sorts, a day we don't often remember, but one that is super significant. Thirty years ago today, my husband proposed to me. The year was 1989 and we didn't have cameras on our phones...we didn't even have phones...so I don't have many pictures of it. But it's a day that's etched in my memory as one of my favorite days.
Joe is from the San Francisco Bay area and because I hadn't yet met his family, we planned a trip to see them. We spent the day we arrived with his parents, then the next day, Saturday, August 12, 1989, we spent in the city. We met a friend from college there (who would later be our best man), and the three of us explored the nooks and crannies of that beautiful city for most of the day.
After going home to change, Joe took me to his favorite restaurant at the time, Charlie Brown's in Emeryville on the water. We feasted on crab-stuffed mushrooms (his favorite) and steak, and I really thought he would propose at sunset in this beautiful setting (I wasn't actually naive about what was going to happen on this trip!). But we left the restaurant after dusk and instead of going back to his parent's home, he pointed the car back toward the twinkling lights of the city.
We wound our way up the narrow streets of Nob Hill to the iconic Coit Tower. There, he got me out of the car and suggested we take a little walk. After circling the tower, he sat me down on the ledge and asked me to be his wife. I don't remember much of what was said...it was a happy blur...but of course, I said yes, and it was perfect.
After a bit, we got back in the car and a ways down the street spotted a phone booth, where we stopped to call my parents to tell them the good news. Of course, they knew it was coming, but it was nice to make it official.
This picture was taken a week later at our engagement party, which was already planned before we ever took the trip (unbeknownst to me!). Joe's parents even had plane tickets already purchased so they could be at the party.
And thus begun an eleven-month journey to the altar.
So, in this 30th year of our marriage, I thought it would be fun to share a few memories of our wedding every so often. I hope you enjoy the journey down memory lane with me.
And I'm glad I remembered today's anniversary. Even though we never thought to take pictures, they are clear in our memories, and I am grateful every day I said yes to my incredible man.
The DIY Touch by Marcea Galindo
July 24, 2019
I'm still coming off the high of a stunning wedding a few nights ago. It was in one of my favorite venues (SODO Park in Seattle) and included some of my favorite people (a tribe of long-time friends). One of our tribe's daughters was the bride and she glowed like I haven't seen a bride glow in a while.
For me, what made the wedding so special wasn't the incredible venue, or the delicious (!!) food, or the dancing or the sparkler exit. What made it truly special was the extra touches the bride's parents (mostly) worked very hard to provide.
They made the wedding arch out of copper pipe, welding and screwing it together, and it was finished with lovely blooms and greens by the florist. This arch was repurposed during the reception to grace the beautiful cake (which, by the was as delicious as it was beautiful!), also made by the bride's mom.
A smaller, duplicate arch displayed the welcome sign, then was repurposed to display the table assignments with a quick rip of some Velcro.
The incredible centerpieces were placed in containers made by the bride's mom out of thrift store glass bowls and candlesticks, with some spray paint added to make them look antique. They were gorgeous!
The couple is really into games, so two ping pong tables were provided, as well as a chess set made by some family members a while back...when they couldn't find a chess set to play with, they went out into the yard, found a tree, and made their own.
There were also a couple of custom puzzles picturing the bride and groom that guests could work on. And lastly, the favor was a jar of honey and a swizzle put together by, of course, the bride's hard-working mom.
I love these personal touches and I know how much work they can be. But in the end, it makes the event truly one-of-a-kind in a way that can't be duplicated. And the memory of that is totally worth the effort.
The Value of Friends to a Marriage by Marcea Galindo
June 19, 2019
A few evenings ago, I made my (adult) daughters watch Steel Magnolias with me. They had never seen it. You know, the one with the quirky group of friends that opens with an over-the-top wedding in "blush and bashful". Afterward, I reflected on this odd group of friends and thought about my own friends. I don't think we, as a group, are odd, but maybe some of us are unlikely friends except that we were thrown together many, many years ago.
My husband and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage in a few weeks. We were recently asked by a newlywed couple for our best marriage advice. We told them the usual things like listening, forgiving, putting the other first, putting God before anything else, putting our marriage before our kids. Believe me, we haven't always done everything right...far from it. But one thing we did very early in our marriage was to find a group of married friends. It was very intentional. And from this group of couples came my girlfriends, my tribe.
Together, we muddied our way through births and deaths, celebrations and loss, triumphs and tragedies. And this was without girl's weekends away, not often, anyway. We support one another in life, every day, through encouragement, prayer, and just being there. And when we socialize, we usually do it with our husbands. In that way, we are supporting our marriages and making them stronger.
I look forward to growing old with not just my husband, but my friends. And I hope we get more quirky as time goes on. It'll be more fun that way.
Choosing a Venue by Marcea Galindo
May 2, 2019
Much of the time, a client has already booked a venue by the time they come to me. But occasionally I’m asked for advice about venues. Here are a few things to think about when deciding on the best location for your event:
The budget will be a huge determining factor when you are looking at sites for your wedding or event. Start with your overall budget and work backwards from there. If your venue is “all-inclusive” it can take up to 75% of your budget. If it’s pretty basic (just a room rental), it can still eat up to 40%.
When determining how much a venue will cost, take into account what the venue includes. Do they have tables and chairs or will you need to rent those? How about a tent in case it rains for an outdoor ceremony? Linens? Dishes, cutlery and barware? Then determine if you will need to hire a caterer (and servers) and/or bartender and the food/beverage cost, or does your venue include these in the package? Sometimes it’s less expensive to go to a venue that includes many of these items than a less expensive place and have to rent everything else on top of it.
Before you start visiting locations, think about how you have always envisioned your wedding or event. Do you love the country vibe and see yourself getting married in a barn? How about a meadow? Do you love the eclectic, urban feel? Or a more elegant location (hotels, by the way, are pretty all-inclusive) or a winery?
Or are you adventurous and would like to try a public park with spectacular views? How about a boat (as long as you’re ok if it turns out to be stormy and wet!)? Or the zoo?
There are LOTS of choices and there is something out there for everyone on any budget. Find a location that speaks to you and reflects who you are.
Take into account where your wedding will be in terms of your wedding party and your guests. Do you want somewhere close in with free parking so it’s convenient for everyone? Or are you ok asking your guests to drive a ways? If it’s far away, are there accommodations nearby for everyone who needs them?
And how many guests are you planning to have? Will your venue of choice hold all the people you want to be there? Or will you have to narrow your guest list too much?
Lastly, if you are having your event in the Pacific Northwest and wanting some or all of it to be outside, make sure you have a rain contingency! I don’t care if it’s at the end of July...if you don’t have a plan, you WILL be surprised by rain!
As always, give me a call any time if you want to discuss any of this. Happy venue shopping!
Photo by Kamra Fuller Photography
Three Tips for a Successful Party by Marcea Galindo
April 15, 2019
A friend of mine, Karen Rae, who owns Fave Lifestyles, recently filmed me sharing some tips for a successful party for her website, www.favelifestyles.com. I thought I would share these here, and you can also access the video via this link: Three Tips Video, or you can view it on my homepage.
Parties are fun and I think everyone should have one once in a while. But too many people get totally stressed out by the mere idea, so they just don't do it. Parties don't have to put you in the fetal position, though. To ease the stress, I've come up with a few tips to help you. These are “universal truths” to party planning, whether you are planning a large wedding or a small gathering in your home. I will call them the “Three F’s”...Food, Fotos, and Fun! You will have to get creative on the spelling of Fotos!
The first is food, the centerpiece of any party. Whether you are having a dinner for 300, a dessert for 20, or an intimate dinner party for six, the food is a big deal. It's what we gather around to celebrate. My number one rule for any event—guests must not leave hungry! When planning a wedding, the food will be your biggest budget item, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. One of the most elegant weddings I ever attended had a taco bar for dinner...filling, economical, and everyone loved it! A Christmas party at your home doesn’t have to be expensive, but to save on the budget, it’s better to make your food than buy it pre-done. And your guests will appreciate it more if it’s homemade. Cheese trays, pasta salads, dips- hot and cold, all these can be budget stretchers. And make as much ahead as you can and freeze it. This will save on stress for you!
The second is Fotos. If you are planning a wedding, this should not be a place where you try and save money. Your photographs will be around for you to show to your kids and grandkids...you want to make sure they reflect your style, are great quality and plenty of quantity to choose from. Video is essential as well. Don’t cut this from the budget! You will thank me once you see the most special day of your life on video. If you are having a smaller gathering, don’t forget to record it in photos! These small moments in time are good to remember as well and pictures are a great way to do that.
Finally, Fun! Your parties should always have a fun element. It's a party, right? Music is a great way to add fun to a party. For a wedding, be sure and hire a DJ or a band that reflects your personality and keeps the party moving. If you are having a party at home and don’t have an all-house sound system, have Alexa stream a fun playlist, have Bluetooth speakers all over, or even use your TV’s to play Pandora or the same cable station on all your TV’s in the house. It’s an easy way to add atmosphere and keep the party energized.
And if all this sounds too stressful, call me! I’m always happy to help. Happy party planning!
Marriage Wisdom by Marcea Galindo
March 4, 2019
Ceremonies and receptions were often very different a few decades back. But the institution of marriage is still sacred today; that’s something that hasn’t changed. My parents have been married for 55 years so I’m pretty sure they know a thing or two about what it takes to make a marriage work. But to put it into words, I came across one more helpful piece in the briefcase. I will conclude my series with this wise list (author unknown):
HAPPY MARRIED LIFE
1. Never both be angry at once.
2. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.
3. Yield to the wishes of the other as an exercise in self-discipline if you can’t think of a better reason.
4. If you have a choice between making yourself or your mate look good, choose your mate.
5. If you have any criticism, make it lovingly.
6. Never bring up a mistake of the past.
7. Neglect the whole world rather than each other.
8. Never let the day end without saying at least one kind or complimentary thing to your life’s partner.
9. Never meet without an affectionate welcome.
10. Never let the sun go down on an argument unresolved.
11. When you do wrong, make sure you have talked it out and asked for forgiveness.
12. Remember, it takes two to make a quarrel. The one with the least sense is the one who will be doing the most talking.
Ceremonies Back Then by Marcea Galindo
February 26, 2019
In the briefcase, I found a folder full of programs from weddings my mom had done. Many names I know and some I didn’t (if you are reading this and my mom did your wedding, yours might be in there!). Some of the weddings I remember being involved in. Some were people I did music with, and some were my youth group leaders.
Many of the components of the ceremonies were the same. Almost all started with an organ prelude, followed by either a vocal solo or candlelighting (remember how we used to have candelabra lining the aisle and a pair of people to light them?). The seatings and processional were followed by a prayer and another solo. Then the vows, rings, unity candle, and another solo. Then the big, boisterous organ recessional (and usually no clapping or cheering).
Most of the programs were extensive, listing pretty much everyone involved, down to the sound guy, and some giving quite a bit of background on each member of the wedding party. Many listed the address where they would reside following the ceremony. Some of the programs were hand done in calligraphy, but most were those pre-printed ones that were also used for funerals (sorry, if this was you!).
I also came across a couple of “Reception Information” sheets. One of them gave the information on how to make coffee and tea, punch, how many sugar cubes to put out, how many pounds of nuts and mints to get per 100 guests, and also gave the option to put a bow on the cake server. Another sheet made sure we knew who the punch, coffee and cake servers would be, and what table arrangement the bride wanted, which we set up with table cloths, silver services, and bows. I remember a “fancy” reception served little sandwiches and had dry ice in the punch!
This was a fun trip down memory lane. I thought it might trigger some memories for some of you as well.
The Way Things Were by Marcea Galindo
February 18, 2019
Looking further into the briefcase, I found a folder of old Journal-American newspaper clippings and articles. This was how we did Google back then! My mom kept up on dress designs, cake trends, photographers and venues by reading the Brides section of the Wednesday newspaper.
In this segment of time, church weddings were in vogue. As a 1989 article stated, “’The days when people had weddings at the beach or in the park seem to be pretty much gone,’ said Molly Howell, Bridal Salon buyer for Frederick & Nelson.” The article also quoted Jessica McClintock, originator of Gunne Sax, commenting that a bride wants “as much lace, beadwork and detailing as (she) can afford.”
The premier venues for receptions (besides churches) on the Eastside in those days were Tibbetts Creek Manor, Bear Creek Country Club, and Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. Unfortunately, the winery doesn’t do weddings anymore. But there are now plenty in Woodinville that do and there are many beautiful options.
The Bridal Shows in those days were called Bridal Fairs, and were held in malls, specifically Bellevue Square and Southcenter Mall. So no fee to get in, just go and browse! Or you could take in a free fashion show featuring the Jessic McClintock signature collection and men’s formal wear from The Bon Marche.
Couples utilized bridal registries, often at Frederick & Nelson, and most registered for fine china, silver flatware, and crystal. Most of us who were married in those days have these things, and use them maybe once a year.
Some other “blast from the past” ads in the newspaper included portraits from Brant Photographers (in Old Bellevue), cakes from Pacific Dessert Company and Great Cakes & Edible Monuments, and a whole spread of florist ads with cut-out coupons.
The wedding industry was alive and well, even three decades ago. How we obtained the contacts and information was just a little bit different. Ok, maybe a lot different!
Traditions and Their True Meanings by Marcea Galindo
February 11, 2019
SEATING of the friends of the bride and groom is on opposite sides to symbolize the sacrifices they have made in order for the bride and groom to enter into covenant. A covenant was established by cutting the flesh of an animal sacrifice and passing between the pieces (Genesis 15:10, 17-18), thus the aisle down the middle.
THE GROOM’S ENTRY occurs first to signify that he is the covenant initiator, and thus assumes the greater responsibility for its fulfillment. This is also why the Groom vows first (1 Thes. 4:14-17).
THE QUESTION the minister asks, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” and its response symbolizes not only the full blessing of her parents, but also the transfer of responsibility to the groom by the father (1 Cor. 7:38).
THE WEDDING RING in Scripture is a symbol of authority and the resources which go with it (Esther 8:2). In a covenant relationship it symbolizes identification.
THE INTRODUCTION establishes the change of names. They become known now as husband and wife (Gen. 17:4-5).
THE GUEST BOOK records the official witnesses who testify to the reality of the marriage, thus it technically should be signed after the ceremony, not before (although both are done today) (Deut. 19:15).
THE FOOD SERVED was part of a covenant agreement; one of the root meanings of the word covenant is to feed. This feast was customary to further symbolize the unity of the couple. Entering into a meal itself is a form of covenant (John 2:1-11).
THE CAKE which the bride and groom feed one another represents their identifying as one flesh, a part of one another (1 Cor 11:24-25).
Even though this list was written decades ago, the basis for covenant never changes. Marriage is sacred and this was a nice reminder of why.
Legacy--Introduction by Marcea Galindo
February 6, 2019
I grew up doing weddings. From about the ages of ten to twenty, I worked alongside my mom in some capacity, watching her coordinate weddings and learning from her. From the time I was just a kid, I sent bridesmaids down the aisle as my mom played The Wedding March on the organ, calming their nerves and reminding them to smile. I worked as an assistant to the Reception Coordinator, washing dishes, filling punch bowls, and sneaking those yummy cream cheese mints when no one was looking. I learned how to make bows, drape table cloths, refill hot coffee servers, and be present yet invisible. By the time I turned 16 I was the Reception Coordinator myself, scheduling my own assistants and working with brides to make their church receptions memorable.
My mom recently loaned me her old briefcase from those days, and inside was a treasure trove of valuable information and relics from weddings in the 1970’s and 80’s. I thought it would be fun to dig into some of what she passed on to me, and reminisce a bit about how things were, not so long ago. I will break the briefcase apart into four sections and my next four blogs will cover:
Part 1. Traditions and their true meanings
Part 2. The Way Things Were
Part 3. Ceremonies Back Then
Part 4. Marriage Wisdom
I hope you enjoy this peek into my past, and why I do what I do. Much has changed, but the basic truths have not. I’m grateful to have such a foundation. This is, after, all, my mom’s legacy to me, and I’m so proud to be carrying on the tradition. I dedicate this series to her.
Stay tuned for Part One!
What Is Day-Of?? by Marcea Galindo
January 10, 2019
Some people need help from start to finish with their parties and weddings, choosing to hand over the details to a professional. But others like the process of planning. This might be a day they have dreamed of for years, and inserting their own special touches is a delight to them. But even then, handling the details on the day-of an event can be more stress than is necessary, and asking close family members to do it can lead to the most important people missing key moments. That's where I come in!
At MG Event Design, a Day-Of Coordinator is so much more than just day-of. Let's assume we are planning your wedding. My relationship with you begins with the first phone call, and hopefully that is months, if not a year or more, before your big day. Our initial meeting is complimentary, and once you are under contract, I give you lists and checklists so we can keep track of who you have booked and what you still need to pursue. I gently "encourage" you to stay on task so you book your preferred vendors before someone else does. Over the months leading up to your wedding, I'm available by phone or email any time for questions or advice, and I've been known to accompany brides to a wedding show or venue, just because I want to go. I also include one meeting at your venue in this package so that I'm clear on how your day there should look.
About a month before your wedding, I begin contacting your vendors, establishing a relationship (if I don't already have one), and making sure they know I'm their contact person on wedding day. I also help them with any questions, concerns, or trouble-shooting.
The week before the wedding, I like to meet with you once more to tie up loose ends, answer any questions, and make you feel at ease that everything is under control.
Your rehearsal is the next time we will see each other, and I will run this from start to finish, making sure everyone knows where to go and when, and also educating the ushers on what to do.
Then, it's wedding day! I'm the first one on site, making sure that when vendors arrive, they know where to go, where to set up, and serving as a go-between for them and the venue. I'm on hand to answer questions for anyone, from the D.J. to the flower girl's mom. I make sure your decor installation happens exactly as you envision it, and that everything from the guest book to the photo booth is where it needs to be. Then, I make sure the ceremony starts as on-time as possible, guiding the wedding party where they need to go.
Once the reception starts, I make sure we stay on schedule, guiding guests from dinner to toasts to the cake cutting to dancing, keeping to our time-frame so that at the end of the night you don't have to pay extra fees for staying in your venue too late. Then, as the last to leave, I make sure your clean-up happens to plan, and sign off with the venue.
And that's day-of in a nutshell! My brides say it's worth it. And on so many levels, from participating in the event and being witness to brides and grooms on the biggest day of their lives, to the actual work, I absolutely love it.
Photo by Kamra Fuller Photography
Holiday Parties by Marcea Galindo
December 13, 2018
To me, Christmas means parties. It's the time when the whole world celebrates Jesus' birth, whether they realize it or not! And it's a natural time to show our family and friends how much they mean to us by making their holiday season a little bit more special. I love to do that by throwing a party...a big one. With lots of people, upbeat music, and great food. Tons of food. Because a guest should never leave a party hungry. But a big party can be a huge undertaking, and for some, that's too overwhelming to even bother. I use a few tricks to make my parties easier than maybe they seem. Here are a few:
- Always use disposable plates, cups and cutlery for a big crowd. But don't skimp on quality! Buy sturdy, large plates (not cocktail-sized) that are attractive and go with your decor. The last thing you need is a plate of food ending up on your floor because the plate was too flimsy or small.
- The only exception to rule #1 is wine glasses. Good wine is best served in a glass, not a plastic cup. Yes, you have to wash them, but it's worth it. And if you don't have enough, hit the Dollar Tree. They have amazing glasses for a buck each! Order them online so you can store them in the nice box they come in.
- Serve mostly food you can make ahead: bite-sized appetizers that can be frozen (like spanikopita or sausage/cheese balls), dips that are fine in your fridge for a couple of days, or something you can throw in your crockpot in the morning and forget about until party time (see the recipe at the end!). Plan your foods that need to be baked according to your oven(s) capacity.
- Have an assortment of crackers and chips that go with multiple foods like cheeses and dips. Put the crackers and chips around and between the foods they go with. A quality cheese assortment is a must. Serve them near an assortment of olives, pickles, and veges (fresh and pickled).
- A dessert buffet doesn't have to be complicated. Have one or two big desserts that you can make ahead (like a trifle or a yule log), and surround them with cookies and candies (that again, you made ahead!).
Thinking, cooking and baking ahead allows you to do last-minute cleaning, decorating and organizing the day of the party. Start your ovens a couple of hours ahead of party time and bake the items first that are okay to be eaten cooled. Leave to the end those that are best warm. Once the party starts, keep your eye on anything that might need replenishing, but hopefully you will be a little more free to enjoy your guests and spread the holiday cheer.
Merry Christmas and enjoy the season! Oh, and here's the promised recipe:
1 large jar grape jelly
2 jars chili sauce
That's it! Put as many meatballs in your crockpot as you can fit in, and stir in the jelly and sauce. Put on low (about mid-morning for an evening party) and after an hour or so, stir everything up again. Add more meatballs if you can (or want). Then let it go, stirring every couple of hours. I promise you, these will be gone!
True Hospitality by Marcea Galindo
November 9, 2018
I have recently thought a lot about hospitality vs. entertaining. It's different, you know. Why? Hospitality comes from the heart...entertaining is often just decorating. We can be hospitable when someone knocks on our door by inviting them in even though the house might not be picked up. We can be hospitable by inviting someone to stay the night even though it creates work for us after they leave. We can be hospitable by hosting a dinner party in a day when it's a lost art. When our heart is in the right place and hospitality meets good entertaining, magic happens. Sometimes I have to work at getting my heart in the right place, but mostly I love the rewarding feeling of making someone happy, giving them a break from every day life to just have fun, a good conversation, a delectable bite to eat. I love those times where people gather to celebrate...a union, a birthday, a job well done, a holiday. And whether I plan a wedding or a party for a client or for my friends and family, I put my whole heart into it. Because it's not just decorating or organizing for me. It's my heart's desire that each guest would feel true hospitality.
From Then 'Til Now by Marcea Galindo
July 25, 2017
A common question is "what was your first job?" My mind usually goes to the first paycheck that the IRS acknowledged, which was a secretarial job in college, but my first job in reality started when I was around 10 years old. My mom was a wedding coordinator at our church and she enlisted my help at a very young age. She was also the church organist and played for many of the weddings she coordinated. Not able to be in two places at once, I sent the bridesmaids down the aisle while she played the Wedding March. I must have carried some sort of air of authority because I don't really remember anyone questioning my age. They listened and did as I requested. This led to helping out at the church basement receptions, first washing dishes, then helping with set-up and clean-up, and refilling punch and mints during the receptions. I was taught by a church florist how to make bows and drape the lace tablecloths in an elegant manner, I was taught courtesy and politeness by adults who cared to invest in me, and I was taught to serve in the background, always to enhance someone's special day. By the age of 16, I was hired to be the reception coordinator, and also often filled in for my mom, running rehearsals and doing wedding day coordination duties when she was out of town. As time went on, it felt natural to volunteer my services in planning other events, from a college senior banquet, to the Employee of the Year banquets for a prominent Seattle restaurateur or a large women's luncheon for a non-profit, from church musical cast parties to office Christmas parties, from school auctions to parties at our home. I have enjoyed every minute of every event I have planned. So it seems natural to now roll that experience into a business. Because an event might not change a life, but it can indeed make memories that last a lifetime. And helping someone do that just might change my life.