Friday, February 20, 2015

"Featured Friday" : Gainey Ranch Golf Club

(Photo By Rachel Solomon Photography)

Meet Nora, Private Events Director

(Photo By John Cho, Distinction Photography)

Growing up, Nora was very fortunate to live and travel all over the world.  She was constantly the new kid in school and as a young girl it was hard to move around and start over every 2 years.  As she grew older, she appreciated the amazing experience and has great friends and relationships all over the world that she still connects with.  She is the 2nd oldest of four children and would not change growing up internationally with brothers and sisters.  She believes her experience oversees has shaped her ability to balance creative "out of the box" thinking, which evolved into having such a passion for event planning. Nora loves what she does every day and being part of the ClubCorp family.  She's had the pleasure of working with some amazing peers and clientele.  Nora started as the Assistant at The Metropolitan Club in Chicago and grew into the Private Events Director position in 2011, leading her to where she is today at the lovely Gainey Ranch Golf Club. 

(Photo By Rachel Solomon Photography)
 (Photo By Rachel Solomon Photography)

Gainey Ranch Golf Club is nestled in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona and has two unique ceremony sites couples may choose from.  Their 20 foot waterfall hosts an intimate patio for guests.  The Event Lawn gives the option to face either a serene lake with picturesque fountains for the majestic Superstition and McDowell mountains at sunset.  Inside the Ballroom features ceiling floor windows that wrap around connecting to an outdoor patio and lounge area, giving guests the views of the lush green golf course and the mountains.  Gainey Ranch Golf Club was once known as an historic Arabian Horse Ranch owned by Daniel C. Gainey.  The Golf Club is more than just a golf club, it's a home away from home.  Gainey offers an intimate private club setting and a one of kind experience, to all couples.  Whether you desire great views of the mountains, a serene lake, a stunning waterfall, Gainey's dedicated team will fulfill all your needs for a wedding day that has YOU written all over it!

(Photo By Rachel Solomon Photography)
(Photo By Rachel Solomon Photography)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear Dream Chasers, Keep Chasing....

{Flashback to....the 2nd Styled Shoot I every Designed/Coordinated....Flash forward 4 years and add in many lessons learned + 2 babies later, here I am, still chasing dreams} 

Truth be told, I'm a little stumped on what to share today.  My head and my heart have been spinning with ideas, and at times are at war with each other.  Growing a business is a trip...there's so much to it.  I can't believe that a few years ago I actually thought (for a minute) that all I needed to know was "How to be a Wedding Planner"...I thought if I had those skills and experience,  I could easily run my own business.  WRONG.  Oh so wrong, that was just step one.  Along with that, there's legal documents, insurance, finances/accounting, bookkeeping, marketing (lots of marketing), systems, workflow, networking, project management, and the list goes on. 

Along my journey, I've learned a few things....
These are things I tell myself when I don't always know the next step to take:

1.) Stay hungry for knowledge, keep asking questions.
2.) Be humble, remember where you started, and how much further you want to go.
3.) Self doubt is good, but don't let it limit your capabilities.
4.) Keep going.  Doors will close, but others will open. Believe (I have stories)
5.) Reach out to your loved ones for support, they see qualities in you, that you need to be reminded of.
6.) Write down ideas, on paper.  Get them out of your head and put them into actions.
7.) Music, always music.  I cannot create or feel inspired without it. 
8.) Being "vulnerable" is okay.
9.) Share your successes, it's important.
10.) Meet people, like really get out there and meet people.  Relationships are powerful.

Here's Hoping You Keep Chasing,

Saturday, February 14, 2015

{A Letter to My Valentines} Dear, Hannah, Emma & Justin

 Dear Hannah, Emma & Justin,
Happy Valentine's Day My Loves....
 Life has been so busy lately that I didn't have time to prepare a fancy breakfast this morning and decorate the house with hearts everywhere, like I had day dreamed of doing.  But while you nap, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts with you time is just flying by these days.

Dear Hannah,
My dearest little Hannah Bear.  Oh how your smile melts me.  You make me work a little harder for it...but when you do smile, you light up the room.  You may look more like me, but you're intense like your daddy.  You're little mind is constantly're always deep in thought.  When you're MAD, you're MAD, When you're SAD you're SAD, and when you're HAPPY, you're HAPPY.  Each emotion you express is very clear and  intense.  You love to give running tackle hugs....and whenever you see me and daddy hugging, you always nuzzle your little body right in between us and reach up to be picked up. You LOVE a group hug from both of us. You love to dance with me in the kitchen....the minute the music is on you come running looking for me.  You have the BEST laugh and the SWEETEST little voice. You run very fast, you love to climb.  My little Hannah you are so brave, my little girl.  I love you.
Dear Emma,
Oh my little Emmie Lou Who.  What can I say, you are the cutest little odd duck ever.  You're constantly making funny faces and weird sounds.  You look just like your daddy, but daddy swears you act just like me.  You're always in your own little world... you're determined (and stubborn). When you have an idea...there's no stopping you. (like the other day when you wanted to wear my  heels to the park.)  Oh Emma, you're scaring us a you give very passionate kisses (grabbing our faces with your hands, pulling us in and holding that sweet little kiss for a long time....where did you learn this?!) And you walk way to well in my high heels.  You keep me laughing little girl. You are also very tender hearted.  It's not often but if you feel treated wrongly (like that little girl who pushed you on the playground the other day) you freeze up, your lips start to quiver and the tears start to BREAKS my heart, I can't handle it.  Emma, you are my determined precious little goofy baby. I love you.
Dear Justin,
What to say, what to say.  Wow.  What is this, our 11th Valentine's Day together? This season of life we're in is certainly different than 11 years ago.  "Love" now, is so different than it was in the's true what they say about "love" changing and growing over time.  Our first Valentine's Day was complete with all the romantic "staples"...the ballet, fancy dinner on the town, expensive gifts...the "wow" factor. 
I doubt either of us even bought cards this year.(at least I haven't, sorry babe) But that's okay...because this is our "season" right now.  A season when most of our time, money and energy go to our little loves.  I know we will have fancy times again...but right now it's just about survival and being together. 
"Love" to me now is simply you being you...It's when you make me coffee every morning. It's when you come home from work to see dishes in the sink and laundry in piles and never make me feel guilty,  because you know I spend every minute that the babies are sleeping (in the wee hours of the morning + nap time) working on growing my business.  It's the way you love our daughters, it's the way you make your "to do lists" and "packing lists", it's the way you love to show me random You Tube clips you think are funny, it's the way you take beautiful photos of our family, it's the way you believe in me when I doubt myself, it's the funny accents you speak in so well, it's the way you still hug and kiss me goodnight (even if I'm passed out), it's just they way you are. I love you.  "Our dreams, they are made out of real things."

Friday, February 13, 2015

{Featured Friday}: On Newstands Now, J.Starr Styled & Coordinated Cover

Happy Friday Sweet Peeps!
A little less than a year ago I was asked to style & coordinate a cover, along with a 4 page editorial shoot for Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites magazine.  At the time this was my second time doing this, since then I've added two more covers to my portfolio, truly such an honor. 
The amount of work that goes into a magazine editorial shoot is mind blowing, these breath taking images just don't happen. There is a ton of planning, designing, communicating, and executing with large teams of creative professionals. 
Although, when you see the final product come to life, it's exhilarating.  I posted the full 4 page editorial on my blog previously, you can view it here.  I couldn't share the cover until it's currently hot off the press and currently on newsstands. 
Event Design/Coordination: J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Venue, Drinks & Desserts: JW Marriott Ridge Resort & Spa
Floral Design: Flower Bar
Photography: Brooke Photography
Paper Details: Paper Crown Designs
Hair & Make Up: Rolfs
Groom's Attire: Mr. Formal

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

{Wedding Wednesday}: "Going with Your Gut, When Choosing Vendors"

(Photo By: Brie Marie Photographers)
After the date is set, the venue is selected, your wedding "foundation" is's time to select your vendors.  Start with the core vendors, the vendors you must have. 

1.) Photographer
2.) Caterer (if the venue does not provide on-site catering)
3.) Entertainment
4.) Florist

Before doing this be sure to consult with your Wedding Planner (if not myself, then another fabulous planner.) Wedding Planners usually have preferred vendor lists of creative professionals they've worked with in the past who provide incredible talent and great service to their couples.  Review each companies' online portfolio, reviews, online presence.  Do you like what you see?  Do they seem like people that would take great care of you on one of the most expensive days of your life?  Because they certainly should. 

After narrowing down the vendors who's work your admire most, then review pricing. Do not look at pricing first.  Often times couples will allow pricing to interfere with their first impression, and by doing so will overlook the vendors personality, style, and reviews.  Next consult with a planner on your Wedding budget and the cost of each vendor.  Your Planner will educate you on which vendor you should allow more money for depending on your overall Wedding Day vision. 

Next, meet with your vendors.  When you book my full service collection, I actually attend your meetings with your "core" vendors.  Meeting your vendors face to face is incredibly important.  It's a chance to get to know their personalities, potentially see their work "in person", hear their voices, listen to their stories, advice, and ideas.

Lastly and most importantly, go with your gut.  How did the vendors make your feel?  Did you feel special?  Did you feel welcomed?  Do you feel like you trust these people?  Did this vendor make you feel comfortable.  I can't tell you how many times I've talked to couples who booked vendors that didn't make them feel these things.  Instead they simply booked them because they were inexpensive, or their friend used them, or the vendor was pushy and you felt obligated to book after meeting with them. 

Let's Recap:
1.) Review Wedding Planner's Preferred Vendor List
2.) Review Each Companies' Online Presence (Portfolio, Reviews, Personality)
3.) Review Pricing with Wedding Planner
4.) Meet in Person
5.) Go With Your Gut

I'll say it again...go with your gut.  These people will be in your lives for a long time during the planning process, they need to make your Wedding Planning experience easier, not more difficult.  You only get to throw one Wedding Day, and it's the most expensive celebration you will ever deserve to have a vendor team who genuinely cares about your Wedding Day as much as you do. 

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