Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. I hope that at this moment you've sent your last email before the holiday, or completed your shopping for tomorrow's meal, or just landed back in your home town, or...

I'm giddy with the excitement of celebrating Thanksgiving with dear friends who really are like family to me. I'm also very much looking forward to mashed potatoes with butter and gravy.

I'll admit; I've been reflective today. There's an infinite number of things to be grateful for daily, but the day before Thanksgiving gets me every year. Quite obviously that which is top of the list for both Mia and me is Red Letter Days, an entity that continues to bestow endless possibilities and dreams fulfilled. It is our brain child, but thriving because of the amazing people who have breathed life in to it: Christina, Jennifer, Taylor, Scarlett, and Jessica. Mia and I are so darn fortunate to have them as colleagues, but much more so as friends.

So in conversation with each of them today, I asked "What are YOU thankful for?"

Christina is thankful for her friends and family. In her speaking you could hear her giddiness over the anticipation of her mom arriving this evening for the holiday weekend. It was a joy to witness and a true testament to Chrissy's generous, kind spirit.

Jennifer's response was deeply heartfelt -- "I'm thankful for so many things, especially the bright, intelligent, gifted, genuine people I have surrounded myself with." All I have to say is "Backacha, Jen" -- what Jen sees in others is absolutely what we all see in her.

Taylor's retort was immediate -- "I'm definitely thankful for my family." The emotion behind her words was very powerful, and exemplified Tay's perpetual sweetness. Her vibrancy is something we all appreciate and receive so much joy from.

Scarlett's response brought a tear to my eye, and was a fine showing of her care and consideration for others. She said she is most thankful for her mom. To quote Scarlett: "She is near and dear to my heart, and I'm just so grateful that she's my mom."

Jessica was quick to respond with thoughtfulness and gracious ease. She is thankful for her house, family, job, and well-being. What we love about Jess is that she appreciates everything that makes her life full and gives each entity her fullest consideration.

I was able to corner Mia for an answer (hard to do when she's wearing her chef's hat and ordering speciality cheeses for tomorrow's feast). In her easy, southern California drawl: "Other than our Thanksgiving turkey being defrosted on time? I'm most thankful for the love and support I've received from my family and friends through my many journeys in life."

Guess that leaves me. And having to answer the big question myself, I realize why Chrissy, Jen, Tay, Scarlett, Jess, and Mia put forth such genuine feeling. It's hard not to.

I'm thankful for my mother and father's love, my grandfather's example, my friends who just get it, music that stirs my soul, and my cat, Lucy.

And I'm grateful for mashed potatoes with butter and gravy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christina Franklin

Photography: Cary Pennington ~ Cary Pennington Photography
Makeup styling: Sarah Price ~ Couture Makeup Artistry

I was so lucky the other day to get to meet Red Letter Days general manager Christina Franklin for coffee. She is awesome! Christina is one of the sweetest and nicest people you can imagine, and she is a complete pro at her work.

She got started in this industry more than nine years ago. New to San Diego, she got lost in La Jolla and parked in front of the Grande Colonial hotel to ask for directions. It turns out they were hiring, and the rest is history!

Christina worked in many different departments over the years, including the front desk, reservations, catering, sales, and events -- her true love. In fact, she often went above and beyond her regular duties for brides and other clients who needed a bit of help, stepping in to offer the kind of assistance an outside event planner usually provides. She loves people and always wants to lend a hand.

In addition to countless weddings, Christina also has a strong background in corporate events. She helped lots and lots of companies throw celebratory receptions when they hit business goals, as well as holiday events and other parties. She said, "I love learning about different companies and meeting different people. I always ask a million questions when I'm doing events." That's the best way to make sure every element is just right.

In her position at the hotel, Christina worked with Red Letter Days right from the beginning -- and was impressed right off the bat, too. She always noticed how passionate everyone was and how they put themselves out there doing things that were different. She said, "We just clicked. They are genuine and good and have so much creativity."

She knew that she wanted to be involved. "I've been on the venue side for so long. I'm excited to be on the other side. At the hotel, I always jumped in to help and plan." No matter what work Christina has done, she's always come back to events.

She laughed when she told me that she sometimes thinks her job should feel harder -- but it doesn't. "It's just natural for me. I'm always thinking about how happy [the clients] are going to be." She explained that she loves being there for people and seeing them happy. She confessed, "I become friends with almost all of my brides."

And it might sound silly to some, but Christina thinks that the work that she and the rest of Red Letter Days are doing can even be a small step toward saving the world. "It's so important to society for people to come together and have celebrations. I love being involved in seeing people get together, because that doesn't happen all the time. Weddings turn into family reunions." And with all that joy going around, you know the world is just a bit happier!

Behind the suit . . .

Christina moved around a lot growing up since her father was in the military, but spent the most time in Arizona and Washington. She met her husband after moving to San Diego and is familiar with the entire area, having lived in East County and the beach communities.

With her amazing smile and sweet, sweet heart, Christina is a wonderful person to have involved in your event. Red Letter Days is so lucky to have her!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Naomi Katagai to Geoffrey Gamble

Red Letter Days was privileged to plan and coordinate the wedding of Naomi Katagai to Geoffrey Gamble on August 25, 2007. This was a fantastic event from start to finish and is featured in Ceremony San Diego Weddings & Events 2008 Magazine on pages 272-274. You can view it online here! What a thrill to be involved with a couple with such exquisite, uncompromising taste!

As you can see from this wonderful photo of Naomi and her bridesmaids, the event was elegant and modern.

The ceremony was held by the pool, overlooking the ocean.

Beaming and ready to enjoy the rest of the evening, everyone was seated at these gorgeous tables to party and feast.

The beautiful image below of Naomi in her kimono illustrates one of her favorite elements of the day. She loved "the diversity of our guests. Having Swedish toasts, Japanese kimonos, American food, and guests from literally all over the world. I loved our first dance."

And Naomi isn't one of those brides whose wedding went by in a blur. She says, "I actually remember everything pretty well. It has been pretty much etched into my brain!"

With an event like this, it's easy to see why!

The photo below, taken while guests were enjoying their meals, shows more of the amazing setting. Geoff says his favorite moment was "the view/ambiance from the balcony before sunset while eating dinner."

It wasn't all serene elegance, however. There was plenty of fun, too! One moment in particular sticks out in Geoff's memory: "Mr. Katagai, hands in the air, jumping up and down on the dance floor in the center of a sea of younger folk dancing to 'Living on a Prayer.'"

Congratulations to Naomi and Geoff! Red Letter Days is so happy to have helped bring about your special day. Best wishes for years of happiness to come!

Venue: Private Bird Rock residence on Windansea Beach
Photographer: Tande Di Lanatta / Di-Lanatta's Photography
Videographer: Uncle of Groom
Florist: Sue Merrill / Suzan M. Florals
Caterer: Axel Dirolf / Chef Axel Fine Catering
Rentals/lighting/linens: Concepts Party Rentals

Officiant: Pastor Mike Mitschke
Entertainment: DJ miz sku, Mike Tagart

Gown designer: Pronovias, kimono from Japan
Bridesmaids' dresses: Bari Jay
Men's formal wear: A Better Deal Tuxedo
Hair/makeup: Claire Young / Clairestyle
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Save the Dates: Dinky Designs

Childcare: Panda's Domestic Service Agency