Archive for August, 2011

A Santa Monica Wedding

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I recently coordinated a Santa Monica wedding, in fact it was mine! Here are some wedding planning tips I thought I would share with you to help you if you are planning a beach wedding in Los Angeles.

First, consider the time of year you are getting married. If you plan on having a Santa Monica wedding outdoors, then it is best to look to the later part of the summer or early fall, August, September or early October.  Typically, May and June and sometimes even July can be cold and cloudy in the morning and late afternoon. Or as we Angelenos like to call it June Gloom.

Therefore, if you plan on having a beach wedding in Los Angeles, make sure to have a back up plan where you can move it indoors if need be due to weather.  We selected Hotel Casa del Mar because it offered the best of both worlds, a Santa Monica wedding easily accessible for family and guests and it also allowed us to have our beach wedding in Los Angeles!

Other wedding planning tips to think about when deciding on a location for a beach wedding in Los Angeles are:

  1. Do you need special event or photography permits or are there any noise restrictions? Luckily we held our wedding inside the hotel so we didn’t have to worry about the noise and got a permit to shoot our wedding photos at the Santa Monica pier and carousel.
  2. Make sure your guests have options if they don’t want to be outside in the sun if you decide on a Santa Monica wedding.  Provide shade or better yet, give your guests the best of both worlds with one part of  your wedding held outdoors and the other part of the wedding indoors.  For us, it just so happens that an unexpected storm blew in on our wedding day so we had to quickly change our plans and have both the ceremony and reception indoors.  The staff at Hotel Casa del Mar quickly adjusted to this situation and no one had to worry about the strong wind or rain that day.
  3. Not everyone is a friend of the sand.  Some guests are uncomfortable or cannot walk on the sand in their shoes or just don’t want to take their shoes off.  What is great about Hotel Casa del Mar is that the ballroom is on the ground level with a great view of the ocean and if you want, you can walk out to the beach or stay inside and still enjoy the spectacular view.  Therefore, you can have your beach wedding in Los Angeles and not have to worry about getting sand in your shoes!

These are just a few wedding planning tips to consider when planning your beach wedding in Los Angeles. There is a lot more to cover when considering a Santa Monica wedding and will do so in the following weeks.  In the meantime, to find out how we can help you with your dream wedding, click here for more information.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Berry Tart Recipe

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Last night I made this delicious berry tart and here is the berry tart recipe.  What is so great about this dessert is that it is quick and easy to make and the fact that it is a vegan dessert shouldn’t scare you a bit.  No one new it was vegan until I spilled the beans after everyone finished their second serving! Can it get any better, healthier or more delicious?

Here is the berry tart recipe.  To keep it a vegan dessert, use non-hydrogenated margarine instead of butter.

Ingredients for the berry tart crust:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla for the crust

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Beat the sugar and margarine until creamy and well mixed.  Add the vanilla and mix again.  Then add the pecans and continue mixing the batter until smooth and creamy.  Add the flour 1/2 a cup at a time.  Note, crust batter will become very crumbly.

Coat the tart pan with some margarine and then press the crust dough into the pan using your fingers.  Make sure to get the sides of the tart pan as well as the bottom and that your crust is even throughout.  You may find you have some left-over dough, no worries, just make a mini-tart for yourself!

Bake the tart crust until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Take the crust out of the oven and make sure to cool the pan completely. (I let my crust sit for about 5 hours to ensure it was ready for the berry filling.)

Berry tart filling:

1 pound of mixed berries (I used blackberries, blueberries strawberries and raspberries)

1/4 cup sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons of flour

1/8 to 1/4 cup crushed raspberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar

In a large bowl, mix the berries and the 1/4 cup sugar until well blended.  Then add the flour and mix until well-coated.  Transfer the fruit mixture and bake the berry tart in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warm about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, take your extra 1/8 to 1/4 cup crushed raspberries with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and heat the mixture on the stove top until warm and bubbly.  About 2-3 minutes.  Then, once the tart has been baking for 15 minutes, open the oven door, pull the oven rack with the tart out of the oven and carefully pour the raspberry sauce evenly on top of the tart.

Put the tart back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or so.  Carefully, remove this wonderful vegan dessert out of the oven and allow to cool before serving.  Remove tart pan before serving.

Enjoy making this berry tart recipe.  For more tips about party planning and easy to make dinner recipes, click here.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Party Venues in Los Angeles

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

There are plenty of great party venues in Los Angeles and one of them is the rooftop of the Luxe Rodeo Drive.  I was recently at a cocktail party there and the views from all sides of the rooftop are great and the food most enjoyable.

One of the items served to us was this raspberry soup in a shot glass.  It was delicious along with the crab cakes, beef skewers and delicious chocolate truffles tray-passed to us throughout the evening.

What makes the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills one of the better party venues in Los Angeles is that it is an open space that gives you the luxury of designing your own event.  There are two small enclosed rooms on the rooftop as well if you choose to use them.

As an event planner, when scouting party venues in Los Angeles, I always like to know what my clients’ options are for parking.  The Luxe Hotel offers valet parking but there are also plenty of public parking structures within walking distance to the hotel as well.

Learn more about what to look for when planning events and scouting for a special event venue right here.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Chocolate Wedding Favors

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Who can resist chocolate wedding favors? At my wedding, my friend Sara, who just so happens to be a chocolate artisan, made these wonderful chocolate truffles.

Click here for Sara’s chocolate truffle recipe.

For these chocolate wedding favors, Sara drew my wedding logo onto the truffles and then packed the chocolate truffles inside the gift box.  She covered the truffles with gold tissue and then wrapped a gold and ivory colored ribbon around the box.  Finally, I had my wedding logo printed onto stickers which Sara used to seal the boxes.

Sara has been making these chocolate truffles for years and on the last page of the chocolate truffle recipe, she offers some tips to ensure your truffles come out as delicious as hers.

A helpful hint with chocolate wedding favors is to make sure to store them in a cool place.  Notify your wedding coordinator or banquet manager as to their location to ensure the chocolate truffles get placed at the guests’ seats. For other party favor ideas and helpful hints, click here to pick up a copy of Budget Bash and check out pages 43 to 45.

Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Easy Chocolate Dessert

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

This chocolate tart is such an easy chocolate dessert to make that I thought I would share it with you.  And the fact that it is a vegan dessert shouldn’t scare you a bit.  I took this tart to a party on Saturday night and no one new it was vegan. Can it get any better, healthier or more delicious?


1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla (1 for crust and 1 for filling)

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (You can also use pecans)

1 1/2 cups flour

6 oz bittersweet chocolate

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup coffee – I used decaf

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 lightly greased large tart pan (I used margarine to grease the pan)

To start making this easy chocolate dessert, heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the margarine (to make it a vegan dessert) and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the walnuts and mix all ingredients well.  Add a half cup of flour at a time and mix after each addition.

Press the dough into the tart pan with your fingers and then bake the tart crust until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Take the crust out of the oven and make sure to cool the pan completely.

For the chocolate tart filling, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate until smooth and remove from stove.  Brew the coffee and then bring it to a boil either over the stove top or in the microwave.  Pour the coffee into the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth.

Add the cornstarch and vanilla and stir until really smooth and then pour the mixture into the cooled crust.  Refrigerate chocolate tart overnight and then garnish as desired.  I used a mint leaf, you can also use strawberries, blueberries or almonds to name a few.

Here are some other modifications to this easy chocolate dessert recipe that you can try.

When the crust is cool and before adding the chocolate tart filling, thinly slice bananas and place them on the bottom of the pan to make a banana chocolate dessert.  I haven’t tried this, but check out on line for a gluten free tart crust and substitute that for the regular crust.

I got such rave reviews over this vegan dessert that I definitely will be making it again.  For more easy-to-make recipes including vegan and gluten free recipes, check out my book Budget Bash.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Flower Arrangements for Weddings

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Here are some pictures of some simple centerpieces when you are considering flower arrangements for weddings.

Flower arrangements for weddings don’t always need to be elaborate to be elegant.  For the first simple centerpiece, just gather some roses and a contrasting flower such as a Calla lily, strip the leaves below the the water line and arrange carefully in a glass container.

For the second simple centerpiece, just take Cymbidium orchids and submerge them in water.  Or for an evening affair, weight down the flowers in the water and float a candle on top.

These simple centerpieces can also be used for bridal showers or even a dinner party.  For more ideas and step-by-step directions to make your own simple centerpiece, just check out my book Budget Bash.  This easy-to-ready inexpensive party planning book is full of insider party planning secrets that you can use for your next event.

Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!