It’s true — I haven’t blogged in ages!  As things got busy around here with my final weddings of 2014, the blog took a backseat.  Then, I spent the majority of the last month finalizing preparations for the very first Love & Splendor workshop.  I’m here to report that by God’s grace, the event was a smashing success.  I am still floating on cloud 9 from the experience, and I know it will be a few weeks before I can fully process the beauty of it all.  It will also be a bit before we see the professional film photos from Ryan Ray (eek!!) so these iPhone snaps will have to do for now…

This past Sunday, as I scurried around the Heirloom LA Salon with Michelle, prepping for the welcome dinner, I confessed that my heart was beating wildly in my chest.  She couldn’t fathom why I’d be nervous.  After all, I’m definitely not afraid of public speaking, and I was totally prepared and ready for the workshop itself.  I told her that I thought my nerves were a mix of excitement, anticipation and maybe even a bit of self-imposed pressure.  I spent nearly a year thinking about hosting a workshop, and then planning every last detail.  I wanted to present a workshop that was impactful, educational, and inspiring.  Once we had our attendees locked in and registration closed, I think it became real to me.  There were 15 incredibly passionate, intelligent, creative women coming to this workshop — would I meet their expectations?  Would I be “worth” the journey some were making (from as far as Greece, Canada, Detroit, Pittsburgh…)?  In the end I knew all I could do was my very best, and all I could give them was myself, genuinely and freely.

Once the ladies arrived on Sunday and the introductory hugs were given, my nerves naturally calmed.  I felt truly humbled to spend a few days with this beautiful group of women, just sharing my heart, my story, and the lessons I’ve learned in the 9 years I’ve worked in this business.  With such an intimately-sized group (the perfect size!!), I got to spend time chatting with each of them, too.  I got to hear about their goals, their struggles, their desires.  We laughed together, I cried (haha! at least 3x on Tuesday — all happy tears!), and we shared some unforgettable moments.  When I walked into the farewell dinner at The Washbow, I burst into (joyful) tears.  I felt like I had finally given birth, in a way… something I had dreamed of for so long had finally come to fruition and I felt so blessed.  I am SO thankful I put on this workshop.  I am SO grateful to have met each of these hearts.  I can’t wait to keep in touch with each of them, following their journey in the years ahead.  Look out for these ladies — I think the L&S “alumni” are the best of the best for the future of this industry.  ;-)

I could not have put on this workshop alone and I plan to blog a bit about each of the speakers, collaborators and sponsors for this workshop in the weeks ahead.

Our amazing team included: Ryan Ray // Heirloom LA // Green Wedding Shoes // Jesi Haack Design // JL Designs // found vintage rentals // Julie Song Ink // Casa de Perrin // The Venue Report // Elysium Productions // La Tavola Linen // Sweet Lucie’s // Sweet and Saucy Shop // Financially Wise Women // The Washbow // 10.11 Makeup // Flipbooth LA // Jacobsen Salt Co. // Rosy Rings // Il Fustino // Pinch Provisions // Herbivore Botanicals // Malvi Joy // Solstice Canyon // Vanesa Rey // Rifle Paper Company

For now, let it suffice to say that I had the BEST team of people behind me for this workshop and that made all the difference.  Above all, I have to give all glory to God.  Anything good in me, any gifts that I have, come from Him.  I am so grateful for the opportunities He has given me.

I also have lots of general blogging catch-up (life, Olive updates, real weddings) to do.  Now that my 2014 season has come to a close, you’ll be hearing more from me here again!

I’ve already been asked many times — will you do another workshop?  I think the answer is a resounding yes.  But, before diving into that process, I will be taking time to relax, recharge and pray about it.  It’s important to me that each workshop has the same level of intention, purpose and attention to detail as this one did.  Once I have some information to share, you’ll hear about it!  If you would like to join the interest list for the next workshop (and have priority pre-sale for tickets before they are released), feel free to email workshops@loveandsplendor.com.

Thank you to each of you who has followed along here on my blog (or on Instagram) as I embarked on this inaugural workshop journey.  Your love, support, prayers and encouragement mean the world to me.

Have a wonderful weekend and chat again soon!

Today I’m sharing a pretty personal post but it is something that has been on my heart for a couple of weeks, since my sweet vacation.  (I promise a recap of the trip is on its way!)  The entire trip was so good for my soul; there is much value in retreating from the world, soaking up the beauty of creation, unplugging (as much as possible…) and re-connecting with your loved ones.  I was able to fully relax, calm my mind, focus on the little things around me…  Each day was a sensory overload.  I was overwhelmed by the vastness, the majesty, the loveliness of the many views we took in on our trip.  I was also taken aback when one day, I was overwhelmed by another feeling: fear.  Okay, before this gets too dramatic, let me rewind and give you some backstory…

When I was still in utero, my mother fell very ill with meningitis and was even hospitalized.  This was the early 80s when ultrasounds were not yet commonplace.  Having recovered, she went on to give birth to me and was devastated to learn at that moment that her firstborn daughter had a serious birth defect.  Though they will never know quite why (it’s not genetic), they presume it was related to her illness during pregnancy.  My condition is called fibular hemimelia and it basically means that I was born missing my fibula in my left leg.  Although it wasn’t visually  discernible when I was just a 7 lb newborn, the doctors explained that as I grew, the differences between my left and right leg would become dramatically obvious to the point where I wouldn’t be able to walk without a clunky Frankenstein-esque shoe, cane, or more…  My parents made the difficult but wise decision to amputate my left leg via Symes amputation.  This would allow me to wear a prosthesis and lead a more normal, active lifestyle.  The Symes amputation is different from the typical amputation you see in most movies or on TV, where they will show the leg cut at the knee.  In my case, they basically removed my foot (near the ankle) which means I have my entire left leg (though much smaller than my right leg) and my prosthesis is more like a boot than a pirate-esque peg.  haha  I underwent a few more procedures as a child to alleviate some of the dramatic differences in my left and right legs.  If you see me sitting in person today, you’ll see how my knees are in very different places and my left femoral shaft is a lot shorter than the right.  But all in all, my surgeries made me appear to most as a fully-able-bodied woman.  Before I was born, my parents were planning to name me a very French-sounding name (it ended up as my maiden middle name, actually) but because of my unexpected birth defect, they decided to call me Angel.

ummm was I chubs or what??  This was at 2-3 months old, after my first surgery.

not just being sassy, but popping my front leg shows the difference in length between the two legs

How many of you didn’t know this??  I am still surprised when a long-time friend of mine will realize one day that my left leg isn’t real.  They’ll see me wearing sandals, or perhaps a knee-length skirt, and exclaim, “What’s that??!”  I suppose that because I grew up as an amputee, I forget about my ‘difference.’  By God’s grace and mercy, I didn’t experience any teasing as a child.  I attended public schools all my life and never was taunted or ostracized.  Of course people stared (as they still may), but I’m human… I realize that we are all curious about things that are out of the ordinary.  It doesn’t bother me when people ask me about my leg.   My parents raised me to be proud of who I was, of who God had made me to be, and I was confident in that.  Thanks to advances in modern medical equipment, I had every state-of-the-art leg possible and learned to run, swim and snowboard with my prosthetics.  I felt invincible as a child.  I wore shorts without shyness, I swam at the community pool while others gawked.  I was just a normal kid in my mind.  I realize that having my amputation and successive surgeries during childhood was a great blessing.  There was no real transition period; I learned to take my first steps with the help of an artificial limb.  In that sense, my prosthesis was part of my original concept of self.

I led an active lifestyle throughout my youth and college years and still feel nearly 100% unimpaired physically.  So, it caught me off guard when on our recent vacation, Erik suggested we take Olive for a bike ride.  I was thrilled about the idea, because Lake Tahoe has some gorgeous bike paths to explore.  As we were signing papers and getting our helmets on, I felt a wave of panic wash over me.  You see, I hadn’t ridden a bike in four years.  And four years ago, I only got on a bike because we were on vacation (in Tokyo) and there was a fun opportunity to ride around the Imperial Palace.  It seems that vacation brings out the biker in me.  Other than that isolated experience, I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a pre-teen.

As a child, I remember being fearless on my bike.  I would ride so fast, standing in the stirrups, racing the neighborhood kids, being wild and free.  I have the scars on my knees and elbows to prove it (where there are tiny fragments of asphalt buried deep under my skin — not joking!).  But for some reason, I stopped riding my bike and got into other things.  And though it may be true that you never forget how to ride a bike, I was terrified to get on one again.  I sat down in the seat and put my left foot (prosthesis) on the pedal first, then tried to quickly balance and get my right foot on.  I wobbled.  I stumbled.  I didn’t fall (thank you Lord!) but I immediately turned beet red and got flustered and embarrassed.  I was thinking that the bike rental guy must have been laughing at me on the inside, wondering why a grown woman couldn’t get on a bike.  Did I really want to rent a bike and ride a 3 mile trail if I couldn’t even board one without stumbling??  I told Erik I was scared I might not be able to make it.  I felt my heart beating faster because I was humiliated and nervous and anxious and fearful.  Erik is one of the most athletic people I know and of course, he is a brilliant biker.  He loves mountain biking when he gets the chance.  Olive was buckled up in the trailer he was pulling and was so excited for the ride.  I felt like I was about to ruin the perfect family vacation moment.  I am pretty sure I told Erik I couldn’t do it, and he couldn’t possibly understand because of my leg and blah blah blah.  I mean, really??  I was going to use that as an excuse?  I was grasping at straws.

And then.  Erik gently told me to just get on.  To just wobble and be scared but put my right foot on the pedal and GO.  I did.  And I pedaled.  I was sure that the dozens of bikers who passed me on the trail must have been laughing or at least feeling sorry for me.  (Honestly, they probably couldn’t have cared less.  But isn’t it funny how we think all eyes are on us when we’re fearful?  We need to get over the audience mindset.)  I had my hands gripped so tightly on the handlebars that I got a cramp, I kid you not.  I was constantly braking because I felt like I was going too fast.  I would freak out when I saw oncoming bicylclists and wanted to pull over and stop to avoid what I thought would be a guaranteed collision.

holding on for dear life, but doing it

teensy Angel on the bridge

But it wasn’t.  I didn’t.  I never fell, never hit anyone, never had to call the rental company to pick me up halfway down the trail (like I feared).  I did it.  It wasn’t pretty, guys, but I did it.  And as I pedaled, even white-knuckled, I felt wild and free again.  I actually cried a little!  Cue the emo tunes.  I realized that my fear was holding me back from experiencing the tranquil bliss I enjoyed on that ride.  Erik and Olive rode behind me at a safe distance (I wanted to ride without distraction, haha!) so I felt truly immersed in the beautiful surroundings.  I could breathe in the crisp air, feel the breeze, listen to the whoosh of the wind through the trees.  It was wonderful in every way and I am so glad that I took the leap, I went for it, I listened to my husband’s gentle push.  I was still scared.  I was still nervous.  But I just went for it, fears and all, and it was worth it.

So many things in life are like that.  We worry about the audience.  We look at our perceived weaknesses.  We make excuses and at the first sign of a stumble, we back away.  We refuse even the possibility of being bad at something.  I know I do.  But why??  Why not go for it and fall and make a memory?  Why not try it and at least be able to say you did?  Erik and I agreed that that bike ride was one of the best experiences of our vacation and to think I almost missed out on it because I was scared.  I was looking at myself and my leg and thinking I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t equipped, I wasn’t able.  But God gave me the courage in that moment.  I was reminded of childhood-Angel, the fearless Angel, the one who never saw my leg as a weakness but just another part of me… like every hair on my head, every freckle on my face.  Sometimes we’ll succeed, and sometimes we’ll fail.  But it’s worth a try.  It’s worth the leap.

post-ride, feeling amazing.

from where i stand. try to ignore my un-cute real toes (I promise there’s a fifth one hiding)…

That bike ride caused a shift in my heart.  It sounds so dramatic to write that but truly, it did.  Whatever you might be fearing right now, I pray that you would find the strength to take the leap and give it a try.  Whether it’s trying that new hobby that intimidates you, or pursuing a new career, or even having a tough conversation with a friend.  Go and do.  Even if you stumble, even if you fail, it’s worth it.  You tried, you did your best, and you made a memory.  Now it’s your turn to get on the bike in the forest.  Or, something like that.  ;-)

Thank you for reading — see you next time!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  I’m back with another edition of Workshop Wednesday and I am thrilled that we are now just shy of TWO MONTHS until the Love & Splendor Workshop in downtown Los Angeles!  If you are thinking about joining us, don’t delay and grab your seat HERE.  We’d love to have you join us and the inspiring attendees from all over the country and world ( gasp! — we just had our first international attendee register all the way from Greece!  Hi V!).

Today I wanted to whet your appetites with some additional information about the fabulous speakers who will be joining us for the workshop in October.  I wanted to bring on speakers who were excellent communicators, experts in their field and passionate about what they do.  I also wanted to make sure that the content of their presentations was useful, informational and inspiring.  While I expect to have tons of fun during our time together at the workshop, my main goal is to fill our days with really practical, eye-opening, spark-igniting KNOWLEDGE and then a breakdown of the tools needed to get things into motion.  ;-)  So without further ado, here is a rundown on the all-stars (and my dear friends) who will be presenting at the workshop this fall…

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Ryan Ray, Film Photographer // Ryan is a highly sought-after photographer who shoots film exclusively.  He creates consistently stunning images that are full of emotion and natural beauty.  Ryan will be sharing about his experiences working with planners and designers, and what he finds to be their ideal and most helpful qualities and characteristics.  He will explain his creative process and how he collaborates with a designer on a shoot or a wedding day, styling each shot to perfection. Ryan exemplifies the importance of vendor relationships and aligning yourself with like-minded creatives as you hone in on your target clientele.  You will also get to witness the talent and passion of one of the industry’s foremost photographers and learn about his own story of finding success in a saturated market.

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Jen Campbell of Green Wedding Shoes // Jen Campbell, a formally trained graphic designer, started Green Wedding Shoes in October of 2008. GWS was born out of Jen’s desire to help couples dream up and plan weddings that reflect their personal interests and sense of style. GWS has since grown to become one of the most popular wedding blogs.

As the Editor and Creative Director of GWS, Jen works closely with top wedding industry talent and creative brides to showcase innovative and unique weddings, style photo shoots, share DIY ideas, and identify trends that give brides-to-be daily inspiration as they plan their big day. Green Wedding Shoes is widely recognized as the go-to wedding blog to find the most creative wedding ideas and vendors along with always keeping a high standard for gorgeous photography.

Ever wonder how to get featured on blogs like Green Wedding Shoes?  What is the editor looking for?  What makes a submission stand out (in a good way vs. a bad way) and how can you work with your photographer to style & shoot “for” submission?  Jen will address these topics and more, as she candidly shares her experience working with planners and designers all over the world.  She has a truly unique perspective as an industry figurehead and will make herself available for a no-holds-barred Q&A session following her talk.  You’re going to love getting to know the sweet Jen, and will benefit from a personal introduction to her in an intimate, encouraging environment.

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Jesi Haack Design // Jesi Haack is a designer, stylist and unmatched craft specialist.  She is the brilliant mind behind one of the hottest event design studios in the country, now bicoastal with outposts in soCal and NYC.  Jesi found quick success in the industry, making a name for herself with her out-of-the-box design style.  She mixes her fresh, playful style with a bit of irreverence for a modern take on celebrations of all kinds.  You will find her work all over the web and Pinned to no end.

How did she find success in a relatively short period of time?  Why did she quit planning and move toward design-only?  What does her wedding design process look like?  How does she remain ahead of the trends?  I know you will be pumped up by Jesi’s infectious energy as she shares on these topics and more in her presentation.

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Carissa Jowett // Carissa Jowett is the owner and floral event designer behind JL Designs: one of California’s top floral design studios.  Carissa’s incredible eye for design is evident in every wedding she does. She has put together phenomenal designs in every aesthetic, from rustic to classic, and retro-tropical to ultra modern.  With innate talent and creativity, Carissa produces work that is layered and textural, creating lots of interest and drama.  I could stare at her work for hours!

Did you know Carissa once worked for a wedding planner?  Carissa will share about her past experiences in the field, as well as how she now works alongside wedding planners and designers in creating a perfect day for her clients.  In addition to enjoying Carissa’s insightful presentation, we will have the pleasure of soaking up her gorgeous designs all around us at the workshop itself: her stunning florals will be featured at each workshop event.

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Brittney Castro // Brittney Castro is the founder and CEO of Financially Wise Women.  As a Certified Financial Planner who specializes in working with female entrepreneurs, Brittney is well-versed on the pitfalls and mistakes many young business owners make in their first few years.  She will share priceless knowledge with us about starting your own business, pricing, how to manage your money wisely, and creating sound financial goals.  She will also open up for a Q&A so you can ask her about your own business money questions.

I know many people in this industry who work full time and yet barely make more than they might working a minimum wage job.  I believe this is mostly due to poor financial planning.  If you are running a business (and not merely enjoying a hobby), you need to be financially wise.  Brittney is so adept in taking the intimidation out of money talk.  I can’t think of a better advisor in this arena and am thrilled to have Brittney speak at the workshop!

In my own sessions, I’ll be covering the wedding industry from A-Z.  Here are just some of the topics I’ll touch on in my sessions…

  • Starting your business: the nitty gritty steps and priorities
  • Writing a solid contract and what needs to be included
  • Pricing wisely for your market
  • Workflow and time management: how to run the business and not let it run you
  • Advertising & Marketing: getting your name out there without spending a dime
  • Social Media: using it as an extension of your brand; being active and relevant but not obsessed :)
  • Event production from start to finish: day-of management and handling the “what-ifs”
  • Client experience and tips for memorable interaction
  • Cultivating priceless vendor relationships
  • The planning process: budgets, checklists, timelines and emails.
  • Targeting your ideal client
  • Hiring and building your team
  • The Illusion of Competition
  • and much, much more!

I feel very strongly that our lineup of speakers represents the industry’s cream of the crop; we will all have so much to glean in October!  Come join us and learn firsthand why it pays “flock together” with these birds.  ;-)

For more information on the workshop:

Thanks for stopping by today; I hope you’re having a great week!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  With the first Love & Splendor Workshop just over 2 months away, I wanted to start a mini feature called “Workshop Wednesday” on the blog, where I’ll share some tidbits about the plans in progress and hopefully answer any lingering questions you may have about joining us in October.

If you need the basics on the workshop, you can find the 411 HERE and the “Why & Who” HERE.

Today, the topic is FOOD.  If you know me, you know I loooove to eat.  I have always been what you might call a “foodie,” although I don’t consider myself a food snob.  I savor the chance to enjoy an opulent 9-course tasting menu as much as I can get down with a hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant.  My mom raised me to have a great appreciation for all types of foods and cuisines and I attribute the development of my adventurous palate to her guidance.

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a gorgeous salad from a wedding with Heirloom LA this summer: burrata, purslane, peaches

One of my great job perks is attending numerous wedding tastings with my clients.  I mean really, who gets to call a five course tasting menu “work” other than a wedding planner??  In putting together my workshop, I wanted to make sure that my attendees would get to experience the very best of every part of the industry and that included the food.  I mean, of course we have to eat when we’re spending all day together.  But, I wanted to elevate our meal times to more than just that — they will also serve as beneficial times of instruction as we discuss how you work with a caterer and client in creating a personalized menu, how a tasting runs, and how you manage logistics and details with a caterer leading up to the big day.  Perhaps just as importantly, these wonderful meals will simply expose you to great food: an extremely vital part of a successful event.  They say wedding guests will always remember the food, whether it was fabulous or lackluster.  Some will even judge the entire event based on the food!  The menu you choose and the style of service you select will have a profound effect on the atmosphere of your event.

A large part of being a wedding planner and designer is being a guide, a sounding-board, a source of advice and information.  Your clients are counting on you to have informed opinions and elevated taste in everything from flowers to linens to of course, food.  My clients often ask me to weigh in on their menus and my knowledge and love of food are so valuable in those instances.  It is therefore crucial for you to at least be informed about what good food is, getting to know the best caterers in your region and learning what sets them apart.  I can think of no better way to learn about food than to taste it and in this case, you will get to enjoy the best.

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from another wedding with Heirloom LA last month: quail eggs in a hole

Love & Splendor Workshop attendees will enjoy six amazing meals (as well as copious snacks and treats) over the course of the workshop that will both nourish the body and excite the palate.  I thought today I’d tantalize you a bit with some teasers of what you can expect.  ;-)

  • On Sunday, October 19th, we will kick off the workshop with an incredible welcome dinner catered by the one and only Chef Matthew Poley of Heirloom LA.  We will be dining in the Salon, their private tasting room, and watching Chef Matt prepare many dishes right before our eyes.  Upon arrival, we’ll nosh on seasonal bites and appetizers as we meet with the other attendees.  The formal coursed meal that will follow is sure to be amazing, as every meal prepared in their kitchen is.  Although the menu will not be determined until closer to the workshop, you can count on the best local ingredients to make it onto our plates.
  • On Monday & Tuesday, we will have both breakfast and lunch at the Ace Hotel DTLA, catered by their in-house restaurant, LA Chapter.  Once again, our meals will be seasonally-driven and feature an array of options.  You won’t see stale muffins and bagels for breakfast.  No soggy sandwich platters and chips for lunch.  How about hangar steak or curried pork loin?  Grilled fish or a buckwheat soba?  Treviso and arugula or roasted vegetables and kale, anyone?  Maybe a bruleed pineapple or cereal milk panna cotta (!) for dessert?  I’m having so much fun putting together meals we will all enjoy.  Any allergies and dietary restrictions can be accommodated as well so rest assured you will be well-fed!
  • On Monday & Tuesday, we will also enjoy plenty of snacks and treats throughout the day including some of my favorites like cold-brewed Stumptown coffee, gorgeous mezze platters, and of course, indulgent treats from Sweet and Saucy Shop and Sweet Lucie’s organic ice cream.  ;-)
  • On Tuesday, October 21st, we will wrap up our time together with a spectacular farewell dinner prepared once again by Chef Matt of Heirloom LA.  This dinner will take place at a secret location and will be styled like a very intimate dinner reception.  Have you ever wanted to attend one of my events?  This is your chance, as you dine alongside workshop speakers and collaborators in the perfect setting to wrap up our time together.  You can expect a magical experience for all of your senses, and a stunning meal that you won’t soon forget.

Hungry for more?  REGISTER HERE for the Love & Splendor Workshop and we’ll see you in October!  As always, feel free to contact me with any additional questions.  Have a great day!

Today I celebrate 9 years of wedded bliss with my college sweetheart, Erik.  Just one year from our 10-year vow renewal, right honey??  I love teasing him about having a spectacular vow renewal next summer, but he likes to remind me that vows don’t expire and therefore don’t need renewing.  In my opinion, there aren’t enough opportunities to celebrate marriage so why not?  ;-)  Tell me I’m not alone here!

I met Erik when I was 19 years old and I knew very early on that he was “the one.”  We never had a class together at UC Berkeley (he was an electrical engineering and computer science double major — total brainiac — and I studied political science and history) but met at a local church.  Our first date was a concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco.  The headliners that night: The Ataris and The Juliana Theory.  High fives to anyone who knows both of those bands; feel free to play “We’re At The Top of the World” by The Juliana Theory while you read the rest of this post.  :)  We started our evening with terrible Italian food (he picked a random spot close to the concert venue and it was a total bomb) and missed the opening act that night (Yellowcard).  I still remember I wore a blue and white striped tank top, jeans, and a pair of Converse.  On the drive home, we laughed and pretend-splashed our water bottles on each other (I know, totally childish flirting) over the sounds of Ultimate Fakebook (yet another band we loved back then).  Fast forward a few weeks and we were inseparable.  On any given day of the week, you could find us studying in Main Stacks (ok, he’d be studying and I’d be in the adjacent cubicle taking a nap) or grabbing dinner at Pasta Pomodoro.  A couple of months later, I went off to Europe with my mom and sister and called Erik nearly everyday using prepaid calling cards (remember those things?).  When I returned to the states, Erik surprised me at the gate with roses and chocolate covered strawberries and whisked me off (having just come off an international flight, I was not looking my best!) for a date.  My mom called me shrieking when she got home because he had delivered 100 long stem roses to my doorstep in case he didn’t intercept me at LAX.  Let’s just say he knew how to make an impression.

Our college dating experience included lots of movies (mostly sci fi), shrimp and steak fajitas at Chevy’s, and competitive mini golf.  Falling in love with Erik was so effortless.  He was funny, thoughtful, incredibly smart and handsome and best of all, a passionate follower of Christ.  He challenged me and encouraged me and helped me grow in so many ways.

197856_1007973244161_2561_njust married | 2005

Most people thought we were at least a little bit crazy to want to get married so young.  They didn’t understand why we didn’t want to just wait things out and “find ourselves” first.  We were engaged during our senior year and got married just a few months after graduation.  When we walked back up the aisle as husband and wife (to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” by the Beach Boys, no less), little did we know…

  • Just a few months later, I would leave behind my scholarship to law school without any plans for another career
  • Erik would change course in his own career and leave an excellent engineering job to return to school for 5 years, earning two master’s degrees
  • I would start a wedding planning & design business
  • It would take us 7 years and a lot of heartache before we had our first child, Olive
  • We would see close family members undergo surgeries, fall ill, and even pass away
  • We would lose three babies in the womb
  • We would travel to Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and more…
  • We would pick up and move away from our families to start a new adventure with Erik’s new job as a pastor
  • We would buy our first home together

No, when we were 21 and 22-year-old newlyweds, we had stars in our eyes and love in our hearts and no idea about what lay ahead of us.  But we did know that our love was founded on the same thing: Christ.  We knew we were devoted to one another, committed to the same permanence of marriage, and intent on the same desire to glorify God through our union.  We knew we were going to be stretched and sanctified as we “found ourselves” together.  Two opinionated, passionate people under one roof are bound to butt heads once in a while.  But we knew that we would.  And we knew we would get through anything together.  And we have.  Through the ups and downs of 9 years of marriage (and 11+ years together), we have made it through stronger than ever.

ACF369Fus in january 2007 (not our wedding — just a fun bridal shoot!) | photo by The Image is Found

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us in late 2007 | photo by Jasmine Star

swanson_019aus in 2008 | photo by Amelia Lyon

orange_county_engagement_photos-03us in 2009 | photo by Jessica Claire

We have grown in love — in depth and breadth and richness.  We have grown as a family — we have literally seen our love multiplied with the birth of our daughter.  We have grown as individuals and have grown to respect and honor one another in our differences.  Most of all, we have strived to help each other grow toward Christ-likeness.  This is our greatest hope and desire for one another.

002564-R1-E009us in january 2012 | photo by Jose Villa

Sean_Anna_Wedding_321us in june 2012 | photo by Ryan Ray

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I don’t know what the next 9 years will hold for us; there is so much that can and will change.  But I do know this, in the deepest part of my heart and soul — I will be loving my Erik with all of my heart.  I will be thanking God for bringing me to my sweetheart so early in life, so we could grow alongside one another.  In another 9 years I will still be laughing uncontrollably at his silly antics, I will still be moved by his quiet but romantic gestures.  I will still be wiping away tears watching him read and play with our daughter.  I will be standing by his side when the road gets rough.  I will be leaning on his shoulder when my heart feels heavy.  I will be praying with him when the future looks uncertain.  In 9 years, I will be teasing my sweetheart about an even-grander 20-year vow renewal coming up.  And by then, frankly, he’ll owe it to me.  Right??  ;-)  (P.S. How blessed are we to have family photos from so many of the country’s best photographers??)

Babe — thank you for 9 joy-filled, heart-stretching, soul-blessing years.  You are my greatest gift and my truest friend.  You are a brilliant and captivating man and you inspire me everyday.  It is a beautiful adventure being your wife and I love you with all of my heart and everything that I am.  Happy Anniversary, darling.

yours always, Angel

Thank you for indulging this personal post today!  If you’re here for workshop info, scroll on down to the last post!  I hope you’re having a great week and I’ll see you again soon!!  xo

Happy Monday, everyone!!  With registration now open for the Love & Splendor Workshop, I wanted to share a little promo video about the workshop prepared by my friends at Elysium Productions.  We filmed this a while back on a busy street in downtown LA, not far from the Ace Hotel DTLA, where the workshop will take place!

Love & Splendor Workshops from Elysium Productions on Vimeo.

Thank you to Erica of 10.11 Makeup for making me feel gorgeous that day, and of course to Libby, Julie and the editors at Elysium Productions for helping me with this little project!  I figure if you’re going to come to my workshop and hear me speak for 3 days, you might as well make sure my voice doesn’t annoy you (too much) first.  hahah!  I realize it’s the first time that most of you have heard my voice… was it weird??  I always find it a little interesting to watch someone on video that you’ve only seen in photos.  Now that I’ve set you up to analyze my awkwardness in complete detail, enjoy.  ;-)

For much more info about the workshop, check out THIS 411 POST.

To register to join us, CLICK HERE.

I’m thrilled about the talented women who have already signed up to join us; who’s next??  Thanks for watching and enjoy the day!

UPDATED — REGISTER HERE!!!

If you’re looking for information on the Love & Splendor workshop, you’ve found it!  Here are all the details you need to know about this very special time I’m planning!

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BASICS: Sunday, October 19th thru Tuesday, October 21st // Ace Hotel DTLA // For wedding planners & designers of all experience levels!

TOPICS COVERED:

  • Writing business plans, contracts and other planning documents
  • Pricing wisely
  • Managing marketing and publicity
  • Effectively harnessing (without being consumed by) the power of social media
  • Nurturing incredible vendor relationships
  • Web features and publication
  • Creating a sincere client experience
  • Hiring and building your team members
  • Cultivating a unique brand and standing out in a saturated market
  • Determining and reaching your target clientèle
  • Designing a wedding from inspiration to execution
  • Collaborating with other like-minded creatives
  • Planner vs. Event Designer vs. Coordinator
  • Workflow and time management
  • Nitty gritty money talks: how to run a successful business, not lose money on a hobby :)
  • Balancing work and life/family
  • Staying personally inspired
  • …and much, much, more!

WHAT’S INCLUDED: 

  1. Instruction by myself (Angel Swanson) as well as insightful guest sessions by industry experts including film photographer Ryan Ray, Jen Campbell of Green Wedding Shoes, Jesi Haack of Jesi Haack Design, Carissa Jowett of JL Designs and Brittney Castro, certified financial planner and founder of Financially Wise Women.  Instruction will be classroom-style as well as hands-on, focusing on both the business side and the design side of planning weddings and events.
  2. 6 incredible meals (dinner on 10/19, breakfast + lunch on 10/20 and all 3 meals on 10/21!) plus plenty of delicious snacks.  All food is provided by either Heirloom LA (Sunday and Tuesday dinners) or LA Chapter, the fab restaurant at the Ace Hotel DTLA.
  3. A beautiful binder filled with the workshop’s curriculum including templates, outlines, sample documents and notes, tips and helpful resources.
  4. Carefully curated gifts and surprises — I can’t wait to delight each of the attendees with some of my favorite things.
  5. A stunning setting.  The workshop will be set and styled with care and chock full of details that you’d expect at any event of Love & Splendor.  Our dear friends from {found} vintage rentals, Casa de Perrin and La Tavola Linen will help us set the scene, with floral design by JL Designs.
  6. An authentic and heartfelt experience.  I am working hard to ensure that you will have plenty of personal attention, interaction with speakers and other attendees, and most of all, a genuine experience that is truly inspiring.  I look forward to the connections and memories that will be made in our time together.

OVERALL SCHEDULE:

  • Sunday PM, October 19th // Celebratory Welcome Dinner prepared by Chef Matthew Poley of Heirloom LA at an off-site location.  Opening Words by Angel Swanson.  Mix & Mingle with other attendees.
  • Monday, October 20th // Instruction at the Ace Hotel DTLA from 8:30a-4:30p.  Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided by LA Chapter at the Ace.
  • Tuesday, October 21st // Instruction at the Ace Hotel DTLA from 8:30a-4:30p.  Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided by LA Chapter at the Ace.
  • Tuesday, October 21st // Farewell Dinner at 7p.  An unforgettable evening at a secret location (!), with a beautiful meal prepared by Chef Matthew Poley of Heirloom LA.  It will be the perfect wrap up to our time together and a night you won’t soon forget.  Cocktail attire requested.

TUITION: The 2014 Love & Splendor workshop costs $2200.  The full amount is due at the time of registration and tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

TRAVEL NOTES: If you are flying in to join us (!), you will want to arrive at LAX (just 17 miles away, which is about 45 minutes in ‘typical’ LA traffic).

A special block rate has been secured with the Ace Hotel DTLA for our attendees.  We encourage you to stay with us for the workshop and enjoy the amenities of this gorgeous new LA hotspot.  Travel information will be sent along once your registration is confirmed.

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Registration officially opens this Friday, at 9am PST / 12 noon EST.  HERE is the live link to registration.  Tickets will be limited to maintain an intimate workshop experience so if you’re interested in joining us, don’t wait too long!  ;-)

Any additional questions?  Feel free to email angel@loveandsplendor.com and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

I hope to meet you in October; thanks for reading!

A million thanks to: Ryan Ray // Heirloom LA // Green Wedding Shoes // Jesi Haack Design // JL Designs // found vintage rentals // Julie Song Ink // Casa de Perrin // The Venue Report // Elysium Productions // La Tavola Linen // Sweet Lucie’s // Sweet and Saucy Shop // Financially Wise Women

Hello again, everyone!!  It’s a big week as I approach opening up registration for my very first workshop (ahhhh!!).  In an effort to pre-emptively answer some questions about the workshop, I’ll be sharing some informative posts here this week with lots of information.  Today I wanted to share WHY I’m hosting this workshop and WHO is invited to join and would benefit from attending.

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WHY are you hosting a workshop?

I’m hosting a workshop because I am passionate about this industry and am eager to instruct, inspire and encourage others who work in the same field.  I don’t consider myself the end-all when it comes to wedding planning and design, but I have certainly gained some valuable experience, knowledge and (by God’s grace) a measure of success over the past 9 years.  I want to share that information with others who are desiring to develop and grow their own businesses.  I also love building community and want to create an environment where you can ask questions without fear and make new connections without pretense.  I want to foster more camaraderie among planners and designers and also see us raise the bar in the biz by pushing each other to reach new heights.  I want to watch others succeed, flourish and find joy in their work.  I want to help others achieve balance between work and home/family life.  I want to make new friends and be inspired by your stories.  I am realllly pumped about this workshop (can you tell??) and like most things in life, if you’re passionate about something, you’re going to succeed at it.  I am pouring my heart into making this experience a game-changer for everyone who attends.

WHY is it different from other workshops out there?

Every workshop is unique simply because each workshop organizer has their own interpretation of how to run one.  A workshop is naturally going to be infused with that organizer’s personality and aesthetic, and will be managed and run based on that organizer’s determination of the most valuable curriculum.  A workshop is also a collaborative effort.  In this case, the Love & Splendor Workshop will feature a carefully-curated roster of speakers and collaborators.  I can assure you there is going to be inspiration galore with the amount of talent we have on board our team.  I am humbled and grateful for each person who is coming alongside me on this endeavor.  Because of this, you will be exposed not only to my perspective, but also those of top wedding experts including Ryan Ray, Jen Campbell of Green Wedding Shoes, Jesi Haack of Jesi Haack Design, Carissa Jowett of JL Designs and many more.

This workshop will focus on both the business side AND the design side of events.  I wanted to make sure the workshop was filled with lots of useful information, focusing on classroom time led by me and other experts in the wedding and event industry.  The material will be practical and eye-opening.  We will also address the design side of the business, giving insight on the “how” of creating a unique event design from start to finish.  Finally, I want to address the personal side of the industry (since hey, it’s a personal business!) and how I manage balancing work-life with home-life.  The workshop will be a blend of both information and inspiration.  You will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and interact with me and the other speakers directly, due to the intimate size and format of the workshop.

I can also promise that the workshop will have INCREDIBLE food (featuring Heirloom LA, Sweet Lucie’s and more!) and stunning attention to detail so our environment can inspire us as much as the education.  ;-)

WHY should I attend?

You should attend if you are looking for information, camaraderie and inspiration in the wedding and event world.  I knew if I ever did a workshop, it had to be a completely special experience.  I am looking forward to providing that to my attendees!

WHO can attend?

I welcome wedding/event planners and designers from all stages in their careers.  Whether you are aspiring to start your own business or have years of experience under your belt, I am working on creating a curriculum that will have challenging and useful information for all.  Maybe you’re looking for all the basics and information to finally get your dreams off the ground.  Or, perhaps you’re a seasoned pro that wants to see the industry from another perspective and refresh your brand and business practices.  I think we can always learn from one another and find new ways to step up our game.  I can’t wait to meet the talented group of attendees who will join me in the fall.

If you are working in another avenue within the event world, you are still certainly welcome to join but the curriculum is definitely geared toward those who plan and design events as the main focus of their work.

I think that’s all for now!!  I’ll share more nitty gritty details in the next few days.  Keep your eyes here and on my Instagram (@loveandsplendor) for additional information.  Thanks for reading and I hope to meet you in October!

Hello everyone!!  I can’t believe it — we completed our EXTREMELY busy June and July and now I have over a month before our next event.  :)  Look forward to lots of blog catch up in the weeks ahead, as well as a deluge of comments on your own blogs if I’m following you!

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that this October I’ll be hosting my very first workshop!!  I’ve already disclosed the dates (October 19-21, 2014), the city (Los Angeles, CA) and some of the speakers and collaborators.  Here are the posts I shared on IG:

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Ryan Ray // Angel Swanson // Jen of Green Wedding Shoes // Jesi Haack Design // JL Designs // Casa de Perrin // Heirloom LA // {found} vintage rentals // center logo by Julie Song Ink

In just a couple of days, I’ll be sharing the final details (exact location, full list of speakers + collaborators, etc.) and we will open registration on Friday, August 1st (eeek!!).  I am so thrilled to finally host my own workshop; it’s been something I’ve had on my heart and mind for a loooong time.  I am working hard to make this experience extremely rich, fruitful, and special for everyone who attends and I’ve been blown away by the support and response I’ve received so far.  If you are curious about learning more, stay tuned!

I’m off to bed early tonight (still recovering from our last wedding!) but will be back soon with more.  I’m soo excited I can hardly take it!!

It seems funny to write a recap post so early in July but I think the last two weeks have been busier than most months.  :)  I always hate to be ‘away’ from the blog for long stretches but I’ve been fully immersed in the summer wedding season these days.  Since my last entry, we’ve completed two weddings, assembled 60 welcome bags, had some beloved guests (Cary and Ryan Ray) in town, enjoyed a holiday weekend, celebrated Michelle’s birthday, worked on an exciting new project (sorry to be so cryptic — more coming soon!!) and you know, the usual: kept on top of an inbox bursting at the seams and cherished every moment with my family.  I am so thankful for what God has brought into my life: my family, my friends, my work.  I am even thankful for the tough circumstances that might come with them on occasion, as I know I am growing and stretching and being refined in those experiences.

I hope to share some fun posts with you in upcoming weeks but for now, let’s get caught up with some snippets from my iPhone as of late…

magical light at Presqu’ile Winery

Love and Splendor ladies on the job!

grateful for my Michy.

phenomenal wedding favors: wine-inspired candles by Rewined.  You need to check them out!

beautiful bites from Heirloom LA

texture and deep red florals for a winery wedding / floral by Twig & Twine

pulling back the dramatic drapes after cocktail hour

helping papa wash the car!  She dressed herself that day.  :)

twilight trike rides

scrumptious sugar snap peas from the garden.  Can you spy Erik and Olive in the background?

with her Ryan <3

red white and blue on the 4th.

A candid snap from a shoot we did with Ryan for a brand new clothing line designed by Cary!!  Are you dying over Olive’s dress or what?  Wait until you see the incredible details; every inch is perfection and I am so honored we got to show off the debut pieces.  My dress is by Free People.

not ready to say goodbye to this one.  Never ever.

Whew!  Now it’s back to work for me.  :)  Hope you’re all having a lovely start to the week!!  Thanks for dropping by and keeping up here; I can’t wait to share more about what else is brewing behind the scenes…