Monday, October 18, 2010

Wish Upon A Wedding: Blissful Wishes Ball - Making a World of Difference

Wish Upon a Wedding is the world's first nonprofit wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances. Less than one year old, the organization has 16 active chapters, and will have granted 12 wishes by the end of 2010.

During the month of November, they are hosting several fund raising galas and auctions throughout the country, and would like to invite you to participate.

Whether you are a bride or groom to be, a wedding industry professional, or you simply love the concept behind their mission...YOU can help make Wedding Wishes come true, while raising crucial funding needed to sustain this wonderful, new nonprofit organization.

Here's How:

A Gala Celebration to Benefit Wish Upon a Wedding

The Blissful Wishes Ball is a festive way to support Wish Upon a Wedding. Enjoy a nice night out on the town with an elegant dinner, entertainment, music, dancing, and incredible auction items.

Can't make one of the fabulous Blissful Wedding Balls? There's another way you can help! Tell your clients, family, friends and collegues about the wonderful auction items that can be had at on Wish Upon A Wedding's through Wish Upon A Weddings Online Auction!

Bid Your Wish for Wedded Bliss

Online and Live auctions for a Worthwhile Cause

For the first time in history, couples getting married can plan their entire wedding from virtually any city in the United States, knowing that every penny they spend will go directly towards helping a couple in need. It's so EASY to bid. Find everything from invitations to flowers, catering to DJs, photography to wedding planners, honeymoons and more.

Simply visit their online auction site here to choose from hundreds of items from the industry's best vendors. Even if you are not getting married, check it out for other exciting items, such as dinners in top-rated restaurants, entertainment, sporting events and popular autographed memorabilia. Every cent earned goes towards Wish Upon a Wedding and their mission to provide these heartfelt Wedding Wishes.

About Wish Upon a Wedding

Founded in January of 2010 by CA wedding planner, Liz Guthrie of San Jose Wedding Consultants, Wish Upon a Wedding was created to help couples who did not have the time, money, resources or strength to plan a wedding on their own, because of terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances. The organization now celebrates the courage, determination and spirit of these couples by granting their dream wedding wishes. It is their goal that chosen recipients can inspire other couples facing similar situations to find hope and strength, while raising awareness for terminal illness.

Growing up with a sister who was deaf since birth, and raised by parents who ran a board and care home for people facing numerous disabilities and life hardships, Liz learned early on to value the many blessings in life, and the importance of helping others. Volunteering throughout her life for a variety of nonprofit organizations, Liz was looking for a way to combine weddings and community service.

After producing the San Francisco Dream Wedding Giveaway in 2009, a contest in which only one couple would be granted a dream wedding, Liz came up with a way to merge her two passions. While going through the process of giving the wedding "prize" to a woman suffering from stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Liz created Wish Upon a Wedding. Overnight, Liz decided to change wedding history, and the way we give, by launching a nonprofit organization that was totally unique and had never existed before.

Supported by industry leaders such as Sasha Souza, David Beahm, Stella Inserra, Jenny Orsini, Kevin Covey, Stacie Francombe, Sylvia Weinstock, Steve Kemble, Mindy Weiss, Mary Dann, and Ivy Robinson (to name just a few), the organization has experienced rapid growth and seen voracious acceptance throughout the country.

To date, eight couples have benefited from the generous work of Wish Upon a Wedding. Over 4,000 volunteers have signed up to become Wish Granters. Their facebook page has attracted over 10,000 fans. None of this would be possible without public support.

In Loving Memory of Wish Recipients who have Passed On

Dani and Tony married in St Louis on September 1. She passed away September 30th. Dani had suffered from Cystic Fibrosis since age 3, and had recently received a double lung transplant.

Florence and Micheal married near Sacramento on March 13. She passed away on September 28. Florence battled stage IV breast cancer, and was diagnosed with six months to live at the time of her wedding.

Shelly and Jay married in Seattle on May 2. Shelly passed away three weeks later. She had been battling a rare type of cancerous lymphoma, and Jay suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.

Please help Wish Upon a Wedding continue to do great things.

And help them spread the word, by sharing this article with your friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances.

You CAN make a difference in someone's life today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Destination Wedding Location Love: Xcaret (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

I recently went to the Riviera Maya to do a site visit at Xcaret (pronounced esh-caret) for a client who is interested in getting married there next September.

Upon arrival it just seemed like any other theme park - the entrance was nothing to write home about and I kinda got worried about the location and what potential it really had. Well let me tell you...once I walked through those gates - all my expectations from photos I have seen were met and than some! It was kinda mind blowing actually and a little overwhelming. Pictures does not do this venue justice - trust me on this, I've seen many pics of the venue and I was still in awe.

Graciela, one of the in-house wedding planners, walked us through the entire wedding guest experience. From entering through a special gate, to the walk up to St. Francis of Assisi Chapel (which by the way is officially sanctioned as a Catholic Church), to the journey guests will take en-route to reception site including a spiral descent (called the snail path) to a reception cave that has a river running through, it's called La Isla - which serves as one of the parks restaurants as well.

Additionally, we got to see other locations, like The Ponds, an area on the Caribbean Ocean that serves as a ceremony and reception location. We also got to see the Crypt of Souls a humongous dome like cave with an opening on top that houses a large crucifix and crypts (not real) filled with LED candles (pictured above). There's also a walk around the Crypt of Souls that is filled with Santos or figures of Saints. The floor is a huge spiral labyrinth and has water running in between the paved areas. The sound of the trickling water vibrates throughout this experience. It's an awesome location for photos or even an intimate small wedding for say 10 people.

Xcaret was designed as a "majestic park by the sea that features unique activities, where you can have fun while discovering the natural and cultural richness of Mexico. Among its great treasures, in Xcaret, you can find underground rivers, cenotes, a Butterfly Pavilion, recreated Mayan ruins, a beach, inlets and Xcaret’s one of a kind celebration “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular,” an absolutely wonderful show. At Xcaret you can also enjoy the most amazing water activities such as swimming with dolphins, scuba, Sea Trek and snorkeling."

For the destination wedding, Xcaret offers an experience your guests will remember forever! It's the location that destination dreams are made of. Guests will experience so much beauty, history, and see things such as the Bridge of Paradise, which is a representation of a traditional Mexican cemetery. This cemetery is made of 365 tombs that represents a day of the year and the 52 steps leading to it represents the 52 weeks in the year. I am telling you every corner has something amazing at Xcaret. Oh and I almost forgot THE VIEWS are amazing from St. Francis of Assisi Chapel as well as The Ponds. The location is very accommodating to all guests including individuals who may need special assistance.

The entertainers at the park can be hired to perform at your wedding or ceremony. All of them amazing musicians and artists. From conch blowing Mayan natives to an eight-piece Mariachi band - you can get the best of the best from Xcaret's extensive list of live musicians and performers. The parks in-house caterer can also customize your menus or you can select from menu's that already have conceived. They will also work with you to make sure that it fits within your budget! The staff is also wonderful to work with.

Here are a few photos of my Xcaret experience.

St. Francis of Assisi Entrance

Altar in St. Francis of Assisi (the open sided church with thatched roof has beautiful views of the Caribbean Ocean)

The back of St. Francis of Assisi Church and the built in benches

The inside of La Isla Restaurant set in a cave with a river running in between the stage and main dining floor. This restaurant/reception space can sit over 300 people. on two levels.

Part of the Bridge of Paradise

I love this location for a wedding. This venue offers so many possibilities for unique wedding experiences. It will truly add to the wow factor in your destination wedding. We finalized the contract for my client's Xcaret wedding while I was there - I can't wait to execute it next September 2011!

Make your wedding dollars stretch by having an incredible wedding abroad in places like Xcaret! You and your guests will love every moment. If you have questions regarding destination weddings to Riviera Maya Mexico or to other destination in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world to be exact, contact me at! I would love to work with you on your destination wedding!


Photo credit:
Crypt of Souls photo taken by: Pierre Voille
All other photos taken by: Kathy Grate

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Location Love: El Paseo Restaurant, Santa Barbara, CA

I had the pleasure of working with the historic and world famous El Paseo Restaurant this past weekend for a client's wedding. This place is incredible and I forgot how magical this location can be for weddings and events.

El Paseo Restaurant is under new management/ownership (Paul Jakubowski and John Scott co-owners) and has an incredible new chef, Alex Castillo. The food is superb and the service that my clients received were top notch. Guests were raving how accommodating and genuinely nice Paul's staff were throughout the event. Paul, who is also the general manager, has transformed El Paseo Restaurant to its original glory (cuisine and service) and re-establishing it as the place to be in Santa Barbara.

El Paseo Restaurant is set in a Hacienda style courtyard that has a retractable roof, balcony's, and central fountain. The tables and booths are set around the courtyard. There is a large bar area that can accommodate the cocktail hour and the restaurant itself can easily seat 150 people. They have kept the styling true to it's original roots and it really makes this location a gem in Santa Barbara.

El Paseo Restaurant now

If you are looking for a fabulous location, with incredible food, service, and pricing consider El Paseo Restaurant. It truly is a magical place and your guests will leave having a wonderful experience!

El Paseo Restaurant is located at 10 El Paseo (between Anacapa and State at De La Guerra), Santa Barbara, CA (805) 962-6050

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