Monday, November 16, 2009

on the hunt...wait a sec, we finally found it

so, by now you are probably sick of looking at potential reception venues. believe me, you couldn't possibly be as sick as we were and all you had to do was read about it and look at pretty pictures. but. i'm sure the three of you reading this blog are wondering if we ever found the right place for us. well, we did.

reception location:
The Wilshire Ebell of Los Angeles

this place has some major awesome happening to it. first of all, it's old. from the '20's. which for l.a., that's old. so, hard wood floors, all dark, and the ceiling in one of the rooms is absolutely spectacular. it's the one shown in the picture on the right. beautiful!

david was the one to initially give us a tour of the location. there are two options for rental, a) the dining room/garden and b) the lounge and salon. both were beautiful, but since both casey and i have a tendency to sneeze at grass (me) or the sun (casey), we decided that a completely indoor reception would be preferable. so, the combination of lounge and art salon it was. plus, there is a killer staircase leading into the main room with the bridal suite right at the top of the stairs. plus, shuttered windows to peek into the room with!

well, finally, i could tell the moms loved it. in fact, she walked around the location a lot, which was more than she gave any of the other venues we saw. my uncle like it too, and since it seemed rather good in terms of rental (half the price of the marvimon or the smog shoppe for a lot more space) we decided to go ahead and book it.

*added bonus*- the ebell requires you to use their catering, which w
as fine with us, especially since the head chef had previously worked for the patina group. and everyone knows that their food is wonderful. i can recall a tuna tartare i sampled at a bride expo last year, and i still remember how heavenly it was. casey too! (yes, i dragged casey to a bridal expo. shoot me.) plus, despite the ebell's vast menu, we were told that we could go off menu if we required/needed/wished for something else. gaah!

and that, dear reader, was the long and arduous journey to securing our beautiful, vintage-y, wood-filled, not-a-hotel-ballroom reception venue. hope it's worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

on the hunt for a reception venue/day 3.1 3.2

(we are still knee deep in interruptions here, people.)

four months later, we revisit our search for the reception venue. mom and frank visit yet again and we take them so a couple places that i just love love love. so, without further ado:

location #1 at 1pm:
the SmogShoppe

first of all, love this! so pretty, so neat, so eco-friendly (they are LEED certified). The place used to be an actual smog-check center, but is now a special-events place. it has solar panels, vertical gardens, desert plants- it's awesome. look how awesome it is:

pros: awesome/fancy and would be a real interesting conversational piece at the reception. i mean, who has their reception at a reinvented smog-check center? no one! more pros: has a screen at one end of the room, has a dj station, led lights, some rocking bathrooms- it's just cute and kitchsy and awesome. (awesome count: 3)

cons: the kitchen is outside, pretty much right next to the open room where we'd be eating. so clean up and cooking would be exposed to all the guests. also. it's freaking expensive and they charge extra for little things, like the use of said kitchen. also they require a valet, so more cash.

the 'rents pretty much hated it. so the site manager, jeff, assured us that we'd like the sister site, the marvimon, much more than the smogshoppe. so off we went to:

location #2 at 2pm:

the Marvimon

well, jeff was right. i loved this place so much more than smogshoppe. it's more intimate, more warm, freakin' brick and wood all over the place. le sigh. i was in heaven. to overuse the word, it was awesome (4). so full of potential. so, basically all the same pros as the smogshoppe and some interesting cons: the kitchen is right in the middle of the floor, so if we hired caterers, they'd be in the middle of everything. take a look.

casey was really not a fan of that. and as suspected, the moms hated it. so i was outvoted. but look at how neat it is! there is a goat's head on the wall, for pete's sake!

so this was a hard one, too folks. but never, fear, we did finally choose a reception locale. and it's the very next post!*

*maybe. there might be more interruptions. you never know with us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

on the hunt for a reception venue/day 2.4

the last stop of the day! plus it was in pasadena, so it simply had to be cool! on we went to-

location #4 at 3pm:
the Pasadena Civic Center

so i probably need to provide some much needed background for this particular location. as i regularly peruse, the pasadena gold room came up in one of the postings. and i fell in love.

where have you been all my life!?!?

the hardwood floor, soft lighting, and check out the ceiling!! so yeah, i saw this and called the pasadena civic center immediately. and spoke to a lady about said room of wonder. i'm going to call her carolynn (it's not her real name). she unfortunately told me that the capacity for this particular room was only for 100, but that she had some new rooms being constructed and would i like to visit those? my answer was of course! if that room was any indication, then i would be in love with just about anything that came out of the civic center.
i think you can guess what happened when we actually visited. we arrived at our apointment time only to have to wait for half an hour because carolynn was late. when she finally did arrive, she told me i was pretty and then ushered us into a small conference room to go over rates, packages, etc. carolynn is a bubbly, hyper-active and tiny little Asian woman with a killer fashion sense. she talked a mile a minute- how great it was that i was seeing the venue with my parents, how quiet i was, how nice everyone else was. i might add that not once did she talk or even look at casey, except to tell him how pretty i was. i did inquire about looking at the gold room, but carolynn managed to talk us out of it, saying that since we wouldn't be able to fit there anyways, what was the point of going?

then she handed out our hard hats. i might add that the additional rooms were under construction, so hard hats were neccesary. after telling me how pretty i looked with the hard hat on, she led us to the construction area.
at this point, my mom and frank and taken to fits of laughter every time carolynn opened her mouth. they casually drifted to the back of the group and fell quite behind, no doubt gossiping on my continuing misery. this woman did not stop talking the whole time. i was trying to keep an interested look on my face the whole time, but it was a losing battle. casey bravely kept up with me, despite carolynn acting like he wasn't there the whole time. once we got to the room, we were even more disapointed: it was a freaking banquet hall! complete with foldaway walls so we could choose the space we wanted + super ugly carpet and florescent lighting. as soon as we walked in, mom and frank lost interest and took to wandering around whilst i had to endure a twenty minute lecture on the value of the room and all the perks we get. after telling carolynn for the third time that we had to leave for another appointment, we finally exited said sorry building. mom and frank handed their hats to carolynn and took off for the car, leaving me with say our goodbyes. i tried to extrapolate myself from her clutches as quickly as i could, but not before she told me how pretty i was two more times.

as soon as i entered the car, we all erupted into laughter. it was a disasterous way to end our day of venue searching, but at the very least there was no argument about whether or not to hold the reception there. even if we were able to score the gold room somehow, i'm not sure it's worth it to go through carolynn again. we still tease each other about it to this day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to go on reading the blog, there were ... futher interuptions! Oh noes!!1!

Hi all, Casey here. So one good thing that I would like to interject regarding the weddings and all, is the food. We watch a lot of Top Chef and Food Network (not that we are going to get all pretentious and call ourselves foodies or anything) so we get all kinds of crazy ideas about food in our heads. And one of the best things about a wedding* is having an excuse to try all the tasty things we see on TV. For instance, prior to the wedding we are going to have a rehearsal. And after the rehearsal apparently it is customary to have a dinner. And we couldn't just take our friends and family in the wedding party to an untested venue of questionable quality, could we?* Therefore we have taken it upon ourselves to scour the fine city of LA for reputable dining establishments in which to sup.

We began our culinary adventure at The Abbey in West Hollywood. The attendees were Janine, her mom Anna, her uncle Frank and myself. The Abbey is housed in a wonderful red brick building on Robertson just South of Santa Monica blvd. The decor is eclectic and charming with touches of religious iconography but still a bit of edge to it since it is a club and bar as well as a restaurant.*
Given that much of their business comes from the bar/club aspect, I was not expecting that much of the food. It is pretty centrally located in WeHo and so I thought that they would do more than enough business on drinks and the nightclub scene such that the food would be an after thought. The menu seemed to enforce my initial impression as it looked like dressed up bar food with items such as burgers, nachos, burritos and some salads. Mind you, from the TV I had learned that high end food had to have ingredients like cardamom and currant gelee. Here, I saw none of that.

We ordered drinks which included a key lime martini and a mango mojito, both of which were very well done. The mojito I was particularly surprised at since I don't normally like mango. On top of the drinks we got the nachos and calamari as appetizers. Well actually we got the "Abbey Nachos Supremacy" and calamari as appetizers. The calamari was good and had a light breading that was not oily like some can get and the nachos were exceptional. Even though they just consisted of tortilla chips, melted cheese, salsa, guacamole and meat, much like every other serving of nachos made since time began, they stood out from the hundreds of other nachos I had eaten mainly due to the high quality ingredients and the well thought out execution. Everything melded together well without being a soggy mess. The cheese and toppings were well distributed, not merely piled on top. All in all a very good start to the meal and a good step toward changing my initial suspicions about the food.

In light of the success with the nachos I decided to follow a similar vein for the main course and ordered "the Abbey Big one," which is a giant burrito stuffed with beef, cheese, black beans and rice, served with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. So again not reinventing the wheel but once again crafting it with high end ingredients and skill. It was quite big and so I had to eat it with a knife and fork, but it did not fall apart and all of the flavors still hung together well. Usually I don't like rice in burritos because it tends to dry them out but here the rice was moist and had absorbed some of the steak flavor of the beef so that it blended harmoniously.

Janine ordered their Southern Fried Chicken salad and enjoyed it as well. It was also of a formidable size and so I had to help some with the finishing of it. Frank had a chicken quesadilla and Anna had a salad.

All in all the dishes were all excellent and by the end everyone was so stuffed they had no room for dessert. And yet we ordered dessert anyway. We had to think of our future guests after all. What if we chose this as the location for our rehearsal dinner and everyone ate all the excellent food only to be accosted by a less than acceptable dessert leaving a bad taste in their mouths for the entire remainder of the wedding celebration? Why some of them may leave and never speak to us again. And so we bravely soldiered on.* We could not decide between the Oreo cheesecake or the Raspberry cheesecake so we ordered both and shared. They were both creamy and decadent without being too heavy and made an excellent end to the meal.

Overall I was delightfully surprised and felt this was a good start to our search. The food was great and the establishment was chic* yet fun. The only thing I can think of that may discount it by the end is the food and style may not be in keeping with the look and menu we go with for the rest of the wedding, but all of that can be decided later as we have more gloriously appetizing adventures awaiting us in the near future.

To Be Continued...

*I mean aside from the whole looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my beautiful and charming best friend. Obviously that goes without saying ... till I just said it. So. There you go. Now we are all on the same page.

*Answer: No*
* It was rhetorical but sounded odd without an answer so that is why I provided an answer down here. Aren't these footnotes helpful?*
*Also rhetorical but the answer would be 'yes' and yes this is a footnote on a footnote. (and this is a footnote explaining that. Which would make it a footnote^3. Try and keep up.)

This maybe the definition of the word "chic" and I could use that word here to describe the decor. Though I am not 100% sure that is in fact the definition, so on second thought I am not going to use that word. Forget that you saw it there.

*Eating dessert when you actually full is not in truth one of the primary duties of a soldier. It is used here metaphorically.*
*This footnote is not as strong as the others but I hadn't used one in a while and didn't want you to think I had forgotten about them. They can't all be winners.

* I went ahead and used it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

on the hunt for a reception venue/day 2.3

the third venue my family and i visited was one that i had heard from a couple of girls in my alumnae group. so-

location #3 at 2pm:
City Club(source)

we parked on the street and entered this ginormous building. after passing security, we entered this death trap called an elevator, which proceeded to shoot us up 52 floors in under ten seconds. i believe we achieved mach 1 in our journey. once clear of the elevator 'o' death, we met with our sales associate, kim. she was very nice and very thorough, giving us a great tour of the venue.

background: city club is literally a private business club on the top floor of the wells fargo building, where for a nominal fee, businesses can have lunch/dinner, rent meeting rooms, or hold conventions in one of the larger banquet halls. the fact that the building towers above the rest of los angeles provide or some killer views.

no, the center image is not an illusion. the room really does come to a singular point, making the aisle and arch a totally excellent focal point. the left image is the main part of the room and the right one shows the crazy view one gets from the top floor.

one of the great things about city club is the fact that the catering is included with the rental. in fact, kim showed us a few package deals that we could choose from that would include things like the rental of one room or two, different menu options, parking or no parking, etc. and the good thing was the packages were a good deal. a very good deal, actually. my mom was pretty impressed with them.

me, however? not so much. while the views were spectacular and the pointy-ness was awfully unique and i couldn't deny that the price was certainly right with this location...i didn't love it. i didn't love it at all, in fact. i think the top floor looked very corporate and i didn't think any amount of floral or draping artistry could hide that fact. so despite a tiny bit of pressure from my mom, i had to say no. it didn't have many tenants of my original thesis of venues- it wasn't particulary charming, rustic or dramatic, and it made me feel like i was in a hotel.

so we moved on...

Monday, August 17, 2009

we interrupt this interruption for some celebratin'!

hey peeps- guess what last friday was? it was our -1 wedding anniversary! (yes, we have many -versaries) never one to be shy about celebrating, casey purchased some wine, cheese, crackers and tulips for our lil' party.

but just any wines did my beloved purchase- he took it upon himself to figure out which wines our future reception venue would be serving and bought a chardonnay, a pinot noir and a champagne.

we started with the chardonnay and this resulted:

fun was indeed had by all. in fact, we enjoyed it so much, we did it again on sunday with the bottle of champagne. no photos of that debauchery exists for your own protection. all in all, good weekend for celebratin'!

we now return you to your regularly scheduled interruption.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

on the hunt for a reception venue/day 2.2

after leaving the WDCH, we ventured to-

location #2 at noon:

The Vibiana(source)

now, this place is snazzy. background: the vibiana was/is a catholic cathedral, scheduled to be demolished before a historical group stepped in and restored it, turning it into a venue for parties and the like. it is staggeringly beautiful- simply so so gorgeous. you know that palpable reverence you can feel when you step into a church or cathedral? well, the vibiana still has that, and it's awesome. they've also just finishing a lot of maintenance to the location, including resurfacing their floors, rebuilding their garden area to the side of the cathedral and much more.

-um, it's stunning.
-when you rent the vibiana, you're getting the entire property for your use. this includes the cathedral, the garden area, a bridal suite, a groom's suite, a kitchen area, and one large parking lot. it's a lot of space, people.
-there are confessional booths still built into the walls of the cathedral. can anyone say awesome photo ops?
-the rental period for the vibiana is 24 hours. that means you don't have to worry about another party intruding on your time, and there is plenty of time to get stuff setup and toredown.
-there's a mezzanine/balcony floor- great for wide-angle photos of the whole venue.
-i really don't know how many times i can say that this place is awesome. so i'll say it's magnificent instead. Magnificent!

con (and it's a doozy):
-it. costs. a. LOT. my inital proposal cost was well over $17,000. and that was just for rental and personel. it didn't even cover the cost of food, rentals of tables and chairs, literally everything else, etc.

so the price right there negated any chance of having our reception at that lovely place. even we if decided to forgo our church and have the ceremony at the vibiana (since it was a church to begin with) as well as the reception, it still wouldn't be worth it. unless we win the lottery in the next year, the vibiana was out.

this was a hard one, folks. i cried when i realized it wasn't feasible to have our wedding here. i moped around the apartment and swore off wedding magazines for like a good three days because of my loss. i mean, how can you hate this:

it'd be like hating puppies or rainbows!

anyways, people, we had to let this one go and keep on bigger (but not necessarily better) reception venues.

next up: location three of the day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

on the hunt for a reception venue/day 2.1

with the huron substation of awesome out of the picture, casey and i turned to plan b. so it happened, my mom and uncle decided to visit me for my birthday for the first time in nine(!) years. since they were staying for a few days, we decided to devote one day to traipsing around la and pasadena in search of reception locales. i planned the whole day, setting up four appointments with four possibilities to host our reception.

location #1 at 11:00am:

the walt disney concert hall

how can you not like it? frank gehry designed it! on a napkin! it's so shiny and wavy and can you imagine having a reception there?!? it has the total wow-factor, though not necessarily the rustic charm, but we were ok with that.

we met up with our sales associate who took us to two locations inside that we could potentially use as reception areas. first up was bp hall:
when i saw this room, all i could think of was how effing dramatic it was. beautiful, right? all wood curves and an enormous ceiling that had giant skylights peeking through wood panels. plus, those fancy steps in the first picture? well, that is the entryway to get to bp hall. cool!

the second place we saw was the founder's room:

this one had a really neat ceiling/art piece with wavy panels and all those naked light bulbs that you can see in the photo. not as dramatic as the bp hall, but did have it's own bar, a patio/garden area for a cocktail hour and it's own private elevator from the parking garage. it reminded me very much of a vintage-y gentelman's bar, both in terms of colour palatte and the overall design of the room.

the third room we saw was not in the WDCH, but in the neighbouring building- the music center. it's simply called the fifth floor, and it's a much more typical banquet hall with a killer view (floor-to-ceiling windows!) of the music pavilion and some of downtown los angeles. the cheapest of all three rooms, it was the most generic. since this dangerously crosses into my no-hotels rule, we had to discard it. plus, the 'rents weren't too thrilled with it, which I understood.

while we loved the look and the overall drama of the WDCH, the overall cost was proving too high, so we ended up not going with this great location.

next up: location two! or would that be location three?

on a lighter note...

let's take some time away from the church/ceremony/vows stressfest to focus on something that took up quite a bit of our time early 2009: the reception locale. casey and i searched diligently- and i mean we scoured that internets with some comet and one of those metallic scrubbing pads that scratch up just about anything they come into contact with- to find the perfect reception location.

so, let's begin at the beginning with some ground rules.

1. NO hotels. i cannot take the generic blahness one gets from holding their gig at a hotel. yes, it's convenient to have all of your guests to stay there and the catering usually is included and all that goodness, but seriously people. a hotel..? unless it's the Ritz (not affordable in the janine/casey household), a hotel simply won't cut it.
2. must be in la or pasadena. will not have family travel through southtorrancewood to get to our reception.
3. must have charm/rusticness/ je ne sais pas about it that we fall in love with

ok. rules are done. now for the fun!

the Huron Substation(source)

first of all/*swoon*/ so gorgeous i can't stand it. has everything i wanted in a venue and more- exposed brick, a staircase to a second floor, large and fantastic barn doors that open out to a quaint courtyard with bbq pits and bench seating. LOVES IT. great architecture! exposed rafters! charm, whimsy, rusticness! all check!

so casey booked us a reservation and we went and visited said palace of wonderfullness. and left dejected. see dear readers (all three of you), there are a few problems with this castle.
  • one bathroom. yes, you read that right. only. one. the size of a closet.
  • the space only holds about 100 people max and there isn't a real good fix on how many people will actually make it there. questions as to where to put the dance floor arose, and when the manager suggested putting away the dining tables to make room for it after dinner, i knew we were done.
  • the proprietress of this mecca lives there. with her son. and while i love and jealously admire her awesome taste in living abodes, there is something slightly off about having a rip-roaring party in someone else's house. at least while they are there.
  • the second story of casa awesome is off-limits to everyone except the area right at the top of the stairs. also so is the kitchen. that puts a slight damper on things.
so. while it broke my heart to say goodbye to this gem, we had to say no and look elsewhere.

goodbye, fantastic lighting opportunities. so long, clever seating arrangements. we'll miss you, open floor plan. le sigh.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

securing the date aka pandering to our priest

yeah, you read that right. we had to jump through some pretty darn big hoops to get this date. (and don't get me started on the next set of hoops, which are apparently lit on fire and hanging over a pit of alligators)

so. case managed to secure a meeting time with our monseigneur only after we had to meet with weird-counselor-lady for a second time. loved us, "approved us" and we were set to meet with the monseigneur. secret to the win? me wearing a freakin' dress. i kid you not.

that strategy obviously working in our favour, i wear same magical dress to meet with the monseigneur. and decide that it's a better idea if casey talks to him instead of me, cause it's hard for me to talk around the foot that's apparently permanently lodged in my mouth. guess what? the priest applauds my deferral to him. AS IF I WOULD, p.s.

so he hands over a large folder containing the aforementioned hoops. first, we need letters from our close family members signed in front of a priest to prove that neither casey nor i have been previously married. cause we would lie about that for sure.

then we need to sign up for pre-cana for a whopping $250, get copies of our baptismal certificates, get copies of our confirmation certificates and choose our readings/vows/prayers to be used in our wedding ceremony.

then some awkwardness ensues the moment casey asks about using another priest to be our celebrant. ok, a lot of awkwardness. but says we'd have to check with that guy. then some more awkwardness and finally we get the hell out of there.

on the way home, i decide to peek through the little booklet of readings that we can choose from. each part of the mass has about eight or so readings that we can pick from, one that best suits us. well, let me enlighten you: they all suck. some of my favourites?

"when one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls...Charm is deceptive and beauty feleting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." - eek

"a woman is like a fertile vine" - wtf?!?

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything." - ummm, pass.


yeah, so we're struggling with that particular hoop. though one shining light amidst all that anti-woman sentiment: one awesome reading that i really can't share with you because it'll spoil all the fun for the wedding. oh, a hint, you ask? it contains references to both stalking and wild animals. well you asked.

silver lining #2 - this will make whittling down which readings/vows/prayers to choose for the wedding super easy. we just have to eliminate the ones referring to women as a lesser sex. which does happen to be the majority of these readings. yay...?

we got our date!

and by date, i mean the day in which we are to be wed which, very surprising to me, was extremely difficult to nail down.

first / and let me just say duh right here / my cute-faced bridesmaid will be going to college next year, and my original plan of having a september wedding was crushed in the face of her pending education. so backing up to an august wedding. perhaps late august? that's still september, right? labour day counts!

second / the rest of my family with small childrens would not be able to make a late august wedding due to their super awesome private schools starting before labour day. and being the good parents that they are, they can't justify pulling their kids out of school for an extended period of time. *sorry kiddos i feel your pain*

so. date got pushed to august 14th of 2010. to which it has held for the past couple of months. but no, dear reader, it's not official until the priest says it is. in an official meeting and all. he needs to write it in his official planner. does he do it?*

next up, the details of...Meeting with the Monseigneur...bum bum BUM! it's very dramatic. i would advise all three of you reading this blog to be seated before viewing our next post.

*um, yeah, he did. hence the title of this post. sheesh, people, pay attention!

happy date-iversary!

not to be confused with our proposal-versary or our soon-to-be wed-iversary.

so we've been dating for eight years people. eight. years. if we were actors, we'd deserve some award for the longevity of our togetherness.

take that, renee and kenny!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

engagement pictures part II

hey, long time no blog. miss us?

not too much was happening on the wedding front, what with christmas, the rose bowl, my birthday and all sort of work craziness happening at once.


we found a great deal on engagement pictures from the ever-so-helpful weddingbee blog and hired one matthew nistor to photograph us trapeezing around pasadena. we had three (yes, we're vain, but you already knew that) costume changes and lots and lots of fun! check out the goodness below:

first of all, people, a public service announcement: we are effing models.

costume change number 2:

costume change number 3 plus best photo of the day (my opinion):

the obligatory ds shot. cause we love our ds'. and our xbox. and our ps2. not so much the 64 in casey's opinion, but it will always be my baby.

we spent two hours cavorting around oldtown pasadena and we had a blast. stay tuned for the next installment of the engagement shoot series 'we love ourselves', coming up next year. maybe we'll do a themed shoot. suggestions?