Association of Bridal Consultants Orange County

May Open Meeting: ‘Craft Cocktail Night’

Thursday, May 9, 2013 – The Villa San Juan Capistrano

by Bethany Thomas, ABC-OC Communications Chair
Commemory Fine Art

There are so many gorgeous outdoor venues in Orange County for couples to choose from to host their wedding. The Villa San Juan Capistrano is without a doubt one of them.
From a recent bride’s perspective, “…the location is gorgeous, and our guests kept saying how the food was ‘the best they had ever had at a large event’ and how it was one of the best weddings ever. The staff’s personalities and attention to detail helped make the event go perfectly (and I’m not being nice — it actually went truly perfectly).  They are an absolute pleasure to work with. An added bonus: you’re across the street from the Mission San Juan Capistrano — so we headed over there for an hour pre-wedding for pictures. I encourage anyone to check out the venue — I walked in and it was love at first sight — it took about five minutes to know that it was perfect for us.  And everytime I went back, I noticed some other small detail that made me love it even more. The trains going by added charm — as did the mission bells, that ring at 4:28: a perfect start to a ceremony.  Huge thanks to everyone at the Villa for an unbelievable day we will never forget.”
From the photographer’s perspective, it’s a gem, “What an incredible and intimate venue! I can see how brides fall in love with this place! The perfect opportunity to take an amazing photo everywhere you look!” Christine Bentley of Christine Bentley Photography – the off-the-charts talented photographer of this event. Each photograph is a work of art, capturing the beautiful nooks and nuances of every detail.

Thank you sponsors for making the evening so memorable!

Venue | The Villa San Juan Capistrano |
Catering | Iva Lee’s |
Cocktails | Pharmacie LA |
Dessert| Sweet & Saucy |
Florist | Floral Occasions and Whitney Rose Florals |
Linens | GBS Linens |
Paper Goods | Copper Willow |
Photographer | Christine Bentley |
DJ & Lighting | Divel Entertainment |
Candy Station | Sensational Sweets |
Rentals | Signature Party Rentals |

Trendsetter Update from Stacey Gitten!

An esteemed panel of wedding industry experts will judge your entries!  We have secured An Editor of Style Me Pretty, the Editor in Chief of Modern Luxury’s Brides California and the fabulous duo who created the Engage! conference – Kathryn and Rebecca!

All of the rules, revised and new categories, and entry form are on our website: It’s really easy! Complete the online entry form  for each submission before November 12th. Include your image(s) or video clip, a description and a list of all participating vendors.

If you have any questions about the submission process or award categories, please contact Stacey at . And please save the date: The Fifth Annual ABC-OC Trendsetter Awards Gala will be on December 10, 2013 at the Casino in San Clemente.

 Look for registration information via email and on our Facebook page. See you there!

Not a member yet? Join today and attend our events at our member rates.

April Open Meeting: Chuck Jones by 24 Carrots

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 – Chuck Jones by 24 Carrots

by Bethany Thomas, ABC-OC Communications Chair
Commemory Fine Art

You know the saying ‘if the walls could talk’? Then you probably heard what this cast of characters said about last week’s ABC-OC event at Chuck Jones by 24 Carrots 

“Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Mud. Brilliance. That’s all I can say. Sheer, unadulterated brilliance!” Wile E. Coyote

“The way I run this thing you’d think I knew something about it (24) Carrots are devine… You get a dozen for a dime, It’s maaaa-gic!” Bugs Bunny

“You know, it is possible to be too attractive. Do not come wiz me to ze Casbah – we shall make beautiful musicks togezzer right here!” Pepe Le Pew

Afterward, our own characters had this to say about the evening on our group Facebook page –

“I learned about two new categories and other changes about the Trendsetter Awards from Stacey Hofflich Gitten of Hitching Post Public Relations. I also learned all about fabrics from Rrivre Davies ….I am now doing bridal gown design. No more event film making for me,” Steve Moses

“I’m an animated person. To be surrounded by animated characters was wonderful. Even the shyest of people were animated just being there.” Alan Katz

“The flourless chocolate cake by 24 carrots was INCREDIBLE!” Katherine Hoggard

“The salad bar was fun and delicious!” Niloufar Sanai Gibson

“The Trendsetter categories and rules are now posted on our website at Entries will be accepted starting mid-May!” Stacey Gitten

 Thank you to our talented sponsors!

Venue | Chuck Jones by 24 Carrots |
Catering: 24 Carrots Catering |
Speaker | Rrivre Davies |
Florals | Flowers Etc. |
Paper Designs | AmpersandInk |
Rentals: FormDécor |
Rentals | Signature Party Rentals |
Linens | Designer Specialty Linens |
Photography: Jacquelyn Rachel Photography |
Photo Booth & Videography | Godfather Films |
Music | Dart DJ |
Lighting and A/V | The Event Company |


Look for registration information via email and on our Facebook page. See you there!

Not a member yet? Join today and attend our events at our member rates.


January: Starting the New Year Off Right with Cindy Novotny

January 8, 2013 Educational Event at the Hilton Costa Mesa

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art
ABC-OC Communications Chair

Members and guests started the new year off with a motivational shot in the arm with guest speaker Cindy Novotny last Tuesday night at our kick-off meeting of the year at the Hilton Costa Mesa.

“Cindy was awesome! What a great kick start to the New Year!!” – Veronica T.

“Thoroughly enjoyed it all! Thanks Kevin and Lindsay and all of the committee! – Steve M.

“Great ABC event tonight featuring Cindy Novotny – totally worth the time and money!  Thank you Kevin, Lindsay and everyone else who helped make this event a success!” – Katherine H.

“The food amazing. Sushi really good. Pasta station. Mashed potato bar. Really good dessert. 80-90 people.

Here are some key takeaways that Cindy had for the group:

One-on-One Relationships with People. Getting to know people on a deeper level is so important. Stretch to go beyond the surface.

Social Media. We need to be careful about what we put out there. She gave an example of a planner she knows that tweeted about a bridezilla client of hers. It’s not the forum to vent about clients when prospective clients are reading. Also, be careful about how much information we put out there. Don’t give all our trade secrets away and have people think they can just do the service on their own.

Goal Setting. There’s nothing like getting what you want to accomplish on paper. Hold yourself responsible. If you don’t have a business plan, write down for example how many weddings or what kind of revenue you’d like to generate this year and how you are going to accomplish your goals.

The Relationsip Doesn’t End with the Wedding, Client or Not. Be sure to say thiank you to your clients with as simple as a thank you note. And even if a bride didn’t book you, follow up with them to see how their wedding and honeymoon were. You may find that they wish they booked you and will refer their friends and family to you for taking the time.

Keep Your Value. It’s easy to be taken advantage of by clients asking for a lower price. Hold your value. You’re worth it.

Thank you sponsors for your wonderful services!

Venue | Hilton Orange County Costa Mesa |
DJ | Invisible Touch Events |
Florist | FlowerFusion  |
Sushi  | Akioni Catering |
Paper Goods  | Cherish Paperie |
Photography  | Happy Photos |
Videography | Perryfield Films |

Mark your calendars for the next two ABC-OC events:

– Tuesday, February 12th at Scott’s Restaurant – For coordinators only, this will have an officiant’s panel

– Tuesday, March 12rh – This will be an open event. Venue TBD

Why Join ABC-OC? Take a look at this video by Perryfield Films recorded from this event, dedicated to our friend Tasos Tsirtsis:

Look for registration information via email and on our Facebook page. See you there!

Not a member yet? Join today and attend our events at our member rates.

September Educational Meeting: Bride and Groom Panel – 9.11.12

September 11, 2012 “Bride & Groom Panel” Educational Event

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art
ABC-OC Communications Chair

If you were lucky enough to be able to attend last week’s ABC-OC educational meeting at the Wyndham Orange County, you know what a treat it was to be able to not only feast your eyes and tastebuds at the venue’s new Silver Trumpet restaurant and bar, but you were all ears as you heard the experiences and desires of four recently married couples about their wedding planning and wedding day. Don’t miss key takeaways the couples said and the night’s sponsors, below!


Skillfully moderated by Clint Hufft, here are some key takeaways:

  • Vendor selection – Finding and coordinating vendors is much easier with a wedding coordinator because they have the skills, knowledge and the couple’s best interest at heart.
  • The venue and photographer were top on the list to get first. Some had their hearts set on a venue but because of a disconnect with the people there, they went elsewhere. They chose based on the venue wanting to ‘wow’ them and help them visualize what their day will be like and where everything will take place.
  • Have extraordinary customer service like having a florist that wanted to go 1.5 hours each way (to the venue in Fallbrook) to see the couple’s vision.
  • Be interested in what the groom says/feels – great to feel included.
  • Be organized.
  • Communication – Vendors, please touch base here and there if your booked well in advance. Don’t wait until a week before the wedding to check in (don’t let the bride/couple call you first).
  • Be responsive to emails – within that day.
  • Key reasons for selecting their wedding coordinators are that they felt a personal connection with them like friends. Making their wedding dreams come true and ensuring them that they won’t have to worry were very important to them.  Some coordinators come off too formal or too stricct of a process.
  • Venues include day-of coordination but they didn’t realize what it didn’t include that they needed like ensuring the photographer took all the shots on their printed lisStuck Out?
  • Having a personal touch and going out of their way to make them feel special.
  • None of the vendors asked if they had a wedding coordinator.
  • Sources – Found vendors on the venue’s preferred vendor list, Yelp, WeddingWire, The Knot, Ceremony magazine, Etsy (shoes, jewelry, cake/bakery). Some vendors were found via Google (read up to page 3). None looked at blogs.
  • Bridal Shows – Went to 2. One at their venue. Everything in one place. Hired their photographer.
  • Magazines (Ceremony) – Liked having physical mag to show vendor.
  • Meeting Space – Meeting at a coffee shop or third-party location is fine especially if professional photos and information is provided.
  • Videographer – Yes! So important to relive the experience through video.  Time lapse of build up. Have watched the video at least  15 times in the first year. It doesn’t seem as important to have until after the wedding.
  • DJ – The timing was everything, and it was perfect thanks to our DJ. It was my one responsibility at the wedding (the groom) and I felt like the wedding was perfect because of him.
  • Ceremony – Suggesting unique ceremony ideas like having a prayer circle was so special and just for them.
  • Lighting – They did have lighting provided by either the DJ or venue. Not coordinated well between the two though (would have if there was a coordinator!)
  • Referrals – Getting referrals for vendors are appreciated – ask if they need help finding anyone.
  • Having family be a part of the decision making process and feeling included.
  • Having photos online (vendor’s websites) of vendor’s work from their selected venue was very meaningful for them to know the vendor knows the location, especially photographers.
  • Not sure online reviews can be trusted. It depends on the source.
  • Budget – Having a prioritized list of what was important to them. Then got quotes ‘from the best.’ Price shopped a bid, then made their decisions.
  • Special touches – The florist and coordinators did a great job of making their wedding special. But nothing different outise the list was recommended.
  • In looking back, they wish that the vendors all met or coordinated about their wedding prior to the day.

Phew! That’s a lot to take in but how valuable to hear.


Don’t forget to submit your work to be recognized by your peers to win a Trendsetter award. It’s easy and complimentary – just complete the entry form for each submission by November 11th.

Thank you sponsors for creating such a wonderful night for everyone –

Venue | Wyndham Orange County |
Photographer | Frenzel Photographers |
Entertainment | Tim Espinosa Entertainment
Moderator | Clint Hufft |
Florist | Empora Flora |
Stationery | Jen Simpson |
Linens | Designer Specialty Linens |
Linens | Fusion Linens |
Coffee & Donuts | Brew Ha Ha |
Entertainment & Lighting | As You Wish |
Video | Plug Wedding Videos |
Ceremony Arch | Happy Chuppah |
Chiavari Chairs | Fusion Linens |
Chiavari Barstools | Classic Party Rentals |

July All-Member Meeting: Mastro’s Steakhouse

July 10, 2012 Event

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art

The evening began behind in Costa Mesa by the Orange County Performing Arts Center at Mastro’s Steakhouse  in the Noguchi Garden. Most of us didn’t know such beauty existed in Costa Mesa let alone host a modern and California enriched wedding ceremony in this outdoor sculpture. Commissioned by Henry Segerstrom in 1979 and completed in 1982, Noguchi Garden is recognized as one of the country’s preeminent sculpture gardens and the most vital publicly accessible outdoor sculpture oasis in Southern California. Situated on 1.6 acres, the garden in its design symbolizes various geographical characteristics in California, incorporating indigenous plants and materials. Six principal elements comprise California Scenario: “Forest Walk,” “Land Use,” “Desert Land,” “Water Source,” “Water Use” and “Energy Fountain” captured beautifully by Ron and Gabrielle of Ron Levy Photography.

Owned by the Irvine Company, Mastro’s Steakhouse takes reservations for events in the Noguchi Garden and the site fee for the property is $500. The garden is open to the public so if you’d like to grab your Nook or meet a client there, feel free.

We were immersed in what family and friends would experience with a wedding hosted there, with a ceremony set up beneath the “Forest Walk,” champagne, delicious tray-passed h’orderves (the crab stuffed mushroom caps were a favorite) and cocktail reception with the cool sounds of Brian and Mike. The decor was bright and summery and the uber cool lounge furniture by Lounge Appeal was the perfect ensemble for guests to relax and chat.

For the second half of the event, our group of approximately 100 people were led through Mastro’s romantically lit ambiance where the impressive display of fine wines sparkled in what appeared to be the walls of the restaurant as we walked upstairs to a beautiful ensemble of lighting and decor. Without a doubt, a big highlight of the evening was the food. From the decadent mac and cheese to meticulously made sushi and let’s not forget the seafood tower with the largest shrimp I think I’ve ever seen (that disappeared in the blink of an eye).

John Goolsby of Godfather Films and California state coordinator and membership director for ABC reminded everyone about registration for this year’s annual ABC conference ‘Business of Brides’ themed ‘Diamonds & Denim’ November 11-13 in Denver. The cutoff for regular registration is September 15th. Late registration is an additional $90.00 after that.

Stacy Gitten of Hitching Post P.R. and Trendsetter Chair of the ABC-OC gala this winter gave an update about this year’s awards and updates to the nomination process. Stay tuned for communications about how and when to nominate for these prestigious awards. Be recognized for all your innovative work for your clients! For more information, visit the website at,


Did you know ABC-OC has a Facebook page? Join the group today!

Not a member yet? Members enjoy preferred pricing for events, sponsorship opportunities and recognition in Orange County. Non-members can attend two events to decide.  Join Today!

Don’t miss the next event held on Tuesday September 11th at the Wyndham Orange County. We will have a panel of brides to get insights on their experiences and vendor selection process. Click here for the event calendar and bookmark it!


hank You Sponsors!

Venue | Mastro’s Steakhouse & Noguchi Garden |
Photographer | Ron Levy Photography |
Florist | Lei of Love |
Musicians | Brian & Mike
Rentals | Lounge Appeal, Inc. |
Rentals | Baker Party Rentals |
Cake | Cakes by Joe |
Linens | La Tavola Linen |
Paper Goods | Li’K Designs |
DJ | Invisible Touch |
Photo Booth | The Fotomatic Photo Booth |

June Coordinator Luncheon: Five Crowns

by Bethany Thomas,
Commemory Fine Art, ABC-OC Communications Chair

Five Crowns, the host of the June ABC-OC coordinator luncheon, is a charming replica of one of England’s oldest country inns and a Corona del Mar landmark. The venue offers warm hospitality and cozy fireplaces set among authentic antiques and period paintings. We all enjoyed the sunlit Greenhouse and colorful English garden where the event took place. We experienced the award-winning food and wine, exceptional service and distinctive style that have made Five Crowns by Lawry’s a dining destination since 1965.

The theme of the event coordinated by Kerri Hatter Weddings & Events was inspired by the ferns in the greenhouse and the new herb garden where ceremonies take place. It was a gorgeous feast for the eyes where each element was hand-picked to complement each other. “Everything matches perfectly,” said Barbi Walters of Bluebirds PCH. From the blue and tan burlap linens by Designer Specialty Linens, to the florals by French Buckets – it all coordinated beautifully.

An unexpected detail were the thoughtful and creative gifts provided by Tasha with AmpersandInk Designs, the paper goods sponsor. Tasha packaged up a delightfully printed recipe/thank you card on seed paper with the avocado mash recipe that was served at Five Crowns. Behind the card was a wooden spreader with a perfectly ripe avocado in a crisp white bag!

There was so much helpful information provided at the event by the speakers. Here are just a few highlights –

John Goolsby | Godfather Films | ABC State Coordinator – The Association of Bridal Consultants ‘Business of Brides” national conference Nov. 11-13 in Denver, Colorado

Kevin Covey | Kevin’s Parties– Highlights from Engage!12 Summit like how to speak to ‘Millenials’ – “necessity vs. luxury.” Everything is necessary!

Laurel Mungo | Mon Amie Bridal Salon – How to be prepared for brides when emergencies happen. Like how to fix a torn gown in a pinch to getting lipstick and wine stains out of the dress. Laurel encourages all planners to get a tour of their 20,000 square foot salon to see all the designers available at the salon and to meet their expert team of consultants.

Friar Tux – Bowties are coming back! 10 years ago they were worn 2% of the time. Now they are at 30% and rising! Plus, Friar Tux has a referral program just for planners.


Couples, their families and friends can enjoy a full-service experience at Five Crowns with the entire space giving everyone the feel that they are in a private English home. In the same space is SideDoor, an English style, neighborhood gastropub. And upstairs has private rooms where the bride and groom can get ready with their bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Thank you sponsors for your amazing services!

Venue | Five Crowns and Side Door |
Speaker & Bridal Gowns | Mon Amie Bridal Salon & Amy Michelson |
Speaker | Friar Tux |
Photography | Diandra Ann Photography |
Florist |  French Buckets |
Linens | Designer Specialty Linens |
Musicians | Del Lago Trio |
Paper Goods |  AmpersandInk Designs |

Don’t miss the July ABC-OC all member meeting on July 10th at Mastros Steakhouse South Coast Plaza. Register today.

May Educational Meeting: Celebrations by Turnip Rose

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art
ABC-OC Communications Chair

Modern. Beautiful. Educational. Delicious.

On May 8th, 110 wedding professionals took advantage of a beautiful modern setting, delicious food, learned about Pinterest, a social media phenomenon important to the wedding industry and more about each other at Celebrations by Turnip Rose in Costa Mesa.

Congratulations and thank you to John Goolsby who was announced as our new ABC State Coordinator for California. New members to ABC-OC were announced as well.

To find out more about Pinterest and other marketing strategies to grow your business, contact Wendy Dahl at or visit her website at

Enjoy the crisply artistic photos captured by Christopher TODD studios, and please see the list of sponsors who donated their time and talents below:

Thank you sponsors:

Venue | Celebrations by Turnip Rose |
Speaker | Wendy Dahl/Bride Business Builders |
DJ Entertainment | Visions Entertainment
Entertainment/Vocalist | Lindsay Jacobs |
Favor/Sweets | The Last Crumb |
Florist | Entwined Design Florals |
Linens| Designer Specialty |
Papergoods | InStyle Event Co. |
Photographer | Christopher TODD Studios |
Video | Fiske Film |

To learn more about joining ABC-OC, the standard for wedding excellence, and to receive our emails please visit our website.

April Social Meeting: St. Regis Monarch Beach

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art

Raise your hand if you attended last week’s ABC-OC social event at the St. Regis Monarch Beach. Now keep your hand up if you expected a beautiful event based on the venue. Because your hand is still up – keep it up if your expectations were exceeded. We are willing to bet your hand is still in the air like these members –

  • “I had a fabulous time at the ABC event tonight!! This was my favorite flower and decor display!!! I loved it!! Thanks ABC for putting together the best event I have gone to in 6 years!!!”
  • “It was great to see all of the familiar faces and to meet all of the new ones at the St. Regis tonight!”
  • “As usual …first class all the way…great night.”

We were beyond thrilled with record-breaking attendance that had an exceptional experience thanks to the St. Regis staff and the ABC-OC board who brought in a variety of first-class companies to sponsor the event. From work-of-art floral and decor displays in the four corners of the ballrroom by, Enchanted Florist, tic-tock Couture Florals, White Lilac Inc., and Bloom Box to the deliciously prepared and stunning presentation of the food by St. Regis Monarch BeachItty Bitty Sweets,  Jay’s Catering, Hollywood Candy Girls, Simply Sweet Apples  and A Wish and a Whisk were delightful. Plus, the fashion show of bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses and mother-of-the-bride gowns by Carolina Herrera, The White Dress and Andrea’s Couture.

Did you win one of the fabulous prizes? A parting gift are these gorgeous photos by Lauren Hillary of Jim Kennedy Photographers. And don’t miss connecting with the fabulous sponsors listed below – enjoy!

Want to be in the know about upcoming meetings? Be sure to add yourself to the email list. Click here and enter your email address in the “Join Our Mailing List” box.

Thank you to all the sponsors who made this social meeting an exceptional experience. Please visit their websites and ‘like’ their pages for more information and ongoing updates about their services:

Florals | Enchanted Florist |
Florals | tic-tock Couture Florals |
Florals | White Lilac Inc. |
Florals | Bloom Box |
Bridal Gowns | Carolina Herrera |
Bridesmaid Dresses | The White Dress |
Mother of the Bride Gowns | Andrea’s Couture |
Photography | Jim Kennedy Photography |
Videography | Plug Video |
Linens | Fusion Linens |
Hire Elegance|
Hair & Make-up | Design Visage |
Hair & Make-up | St. Regis Monarch Beach |
Media | Ceremony Magazine |
Treats | Itty Bitty Sweets |
Treats | Jay’s Catering |
Venue & Food | St. Regis Monarch Beach |
Candy Buffet | Hollywood Candy Girls |
Candy Apples | Simply Sweet Apples |
Desserts | A Wish and a Whisk |
Photo Booth  | The Photo Booth Specialists |
Furniture Rental | Signature Party Rental |
Giveaway | Shinodas Design Center |
Entertainment | Tim Espinoza |
DJ | Invisible Touch Music |
Love Note Pad | InStyle Event Company |

February Coordinator Meeting: “The Bright Way to I Do”

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art

The first ABC-OC coordinator luncheon of the year called “The Bright Way to I Do” illuminated many things that day. The first was a glowing hidden treasure in Laguna Beach called Hotel Seven4One on PCH just south of Forest Avenue. The Hotel Seven4One, a 12 room private address that guests can call their very own beach house while they host their guests and event in contemporary and thoughtfully designed spaces: the Euro-chic lobby lounge, urban courtyard, breathtaking sun deck, and relaxed yet totally wired guest rooms and suites. There was a real buzz about the one-way mirror in the master suite’s shower overlooking the ocean. You can see the manatees but they can’t see you!

Video Created by The Emotion Picture Studio:

The brightness in spirit and mood were apparent as the coordinators were greeted by ABC-OC Co-Directors, Lindsay Longacre and Kevin Covey with lovely flutes of champagne and the light, mellow and hopeful sounds of singer, songwriter and acoustic guitar player Kevin Miso.

Calli Traub with The Event Company shed light on the importance of lighting to set the mood and give photographers a smile from ear to ear with a gorgeous landscape for their clients.  Yes, these shots are from Hotel Seven4One. An unbelievable transformation of the space with light and color. Photographer Kristina Lee agrees, “It’s so important to have great lighting like The Event Company provides. It makes my job much easier.”

The food was sensational and the desserts from A Wish and a Whisk melted in our mouths. The creativity of each delicious morsel was stunning to look at and a delight to the senses. It was hard to tell where the flowers from Empora Flora began and the desserts ended because they were so perfectly designed together. I heard many say things like, “what ooey goodness stuffed in that strawberry!?”

As you can tell from the beautiful detail shots from Kristina Lee Photography that it was Valentine’s Day. From the whimsical touches of the decor, florals, desserts, paper goods by Jessica Lam, music plus the reds and pinks everyone was wearing, love was in the air. The love of weddings, the friendship between members and comradery of creating beautiful memories for people’s union of love.



Thank you to all the sponsors who made this beautiful event, beautiful! Please visit their websites and ‘like’ their pages for more information and ongoing updates about their services:

Venue | Hotel Seven4One |

Speaker | The Event Co. |

Video | The Emotion Picture Studio |

Photography | Kristina Lee Photography |

Rentals | Signature Party Rentals |

Florist | Empora Flora |

Papergoods | Jessica Lam |

Lighting | The Event Co. |

Music | Kevin Miso |

Dessert/Sweets | A Wish and a Whisk |

ABC-OC’s First Open Meeting 1.10.12

by Bethany Thomas, Commemory Fine Art

If someone was doing a keyword search on Google for the first ABC-OC open meeting of the year, the words they would enter are: welcoming, friendly, re-newed and rejuvenating. These words were repeated in many conversations I had personally or that I overheard. One in particular was a direct quote from Monique Matlock of The Knot, “I loved the event. It was one of the most rewarding ABC meetings I have EVER attended. And believe me I have been to MANY!”

Coordinated by ABC board member, Cori Sponagle and hosted by the Aliso Viejo Conference Center, the night began with the ‘old’ and new board members anxiously awaiting guests to arrive as this was the first impression for attendees to experience ABC-OC this year. Welcoming scents of candles burning was in the air as guests found their adorably designed name tags.

Guests were directed to walk around to back terrace to the sounds of Mister Piano Man, Hector Jimenez and the sights of beautiful round paper lanterns. So many new faces!

Following cocktails on the terrace, guests were invited into the ballroom.

Lisa Moon, the association’s outgoing Co-Director of Administration welcomed everyone and had each of the sponsors talk a little bit about themselves and what they donated that evening.

Lisa then passed the torch to her successor, Kevin Covey who gave a very important message about improvements to this year’s meetings and how important it is to join and attend.

The association is all about networking and learning from fellow wedding professionals. But it is also about setting standards and ethics for our industry. Guests may attend two meetings. At which point they must join ABC-OC if they would like to continue to participate. He then introduced the new Board/Steering Committee:


Ambassador Chair | Kelly Feeney of Disney Fairy Tale Weddings

Ambassador Subcommittee | Monique Matlock of The Knot, Jan Wilder of FlowerFusion and Heather Morgan of The Hotel Hanford


Trendsetter Awards Chair | Stacey Gitten of Hitching Post PR

Trendsetter Awards Subcommittee | Shashona Reynolds of Mastro’s Steakhouse and Alan Katz of SoCal Officiant


Co-Director of Programs | Lindsay Longacre of LVL Events

Programs Chair | Holly Schoenke of Simply Sweet Weddings

Programs Subcommittee | Gini Garner of Gini Garner Events, Cori Sponagle of Events by Cori, Courney Urquiza of InStyle Events Company, Kerri Hatter by Kerri Hatter Wedings & Events and Carolyn Leal of Ceremonies by Carolyn


Co-Director of Finance | John Goolsby of Godfather Films

Membership/Database | Erika Bowers of Erika’s Elegance

Communications Chair | Bethany Thomas of Commemory Fine Art


Dinner was delightful! The conference center made a pistachio crusted French chicken breast with herb beurre blanc, sauteed arugula and whipped potatoes. My neighbor to my right mentioned it was the best chicken he ever had at an event!

An unexpected highlight of the dinner was a video produced by Steve Moses and his team at Vantage Point Productions called ‘The Arrival’ based on how “The party starts when you arrive” at ABC-OC meetings. A fun and fresh look at the great time our meetings are with a great group of friends and colleagues. Watch it! You’ll be sure to see yourself or your friends if you attended last year’s event at Casa Romantica.

After dinner, the room next door awaited guests with the heart of night’s activities with ‘speed networking.’ It was invigorating to have the opportunity to meet every person and give each other a peek at what service we give to our clients and each other. Artists, DJ’s, florists, photographers, planners, sweets, venues, videographers and more – many of which met for the very first time. Monique with The Knot agrees, “The speed networking really forces you to spread out and talk with people you never chatted with before. I have to say at prior events, I am guilty of sitting with people I know and am most comfortable with and not always mingling like I should. I hope we do more of these types of events in the future…..I still feel there are some I didn’t connect with!”

It was exhilaratingly exhausting by the time it ended. Now when the next open meeting comes around on April 10th (joint with the San Diego chapter) we’ll all know each other!

Thank you to all the sponsors who made this exciting night possible by donating their products and services. Please visit their websites and ‘like’ their pages for more information and ongoing updates about their services:

Coffee Service | Brew HaHa |

Entertainment | DJ Tasos |

Florist | Pixies Petals |

Rentals | Signature Party Rentals |   

Photography | Kate Noelle |

Printing& Design | Kamka Designs |

Sweets | Donna B’s Gourmet Cookies & Cakes |

Venue | Aliso Viejo Conference Center |