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Submitted by Sharon Dexmier
2011 WIPA Vice President

“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.”

  - Herb Caen


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September Meeting Highlights
Palm Event Center
Pleasanton, CA.

Photos: Jessamyn Photography


Pauline Parry
Good Gracious! Events
2010-2011 WIPA President


As September rolls around and the wedding season begins to wind down a little, it’s time to reflect on what was learned and perhaps, rethink our future lesson plan. I can tell you from past experience that learning comes by doing, by being in the thick of it, by taking chances, and by sometimes biting off more than you can chew. In other words, don’t sit in the back row hoping the professor doesn’t call on you!

Of course, when you are just starting out, it’s important to wait, watch and listen. When I opened Good Gracious! Events, I attended every industry event I could, soaking up the knowledge of so many professionals. Little by little, I got to know the people who impressed and inspired me. I joined in the discussions, then the associations, and ultimately found opportunities to sit on the boards of groups where I was able to make a difference.

That’s the process. There is no quick way through it. And while we all like to announce accomplishments on Facebook or Twitter, they all have been preceded by a lot of hard work. It’s just that the process – which is so often the most interesting – is hard to compress into 140 characters! And then there are those moments when we do the hard work, but might not like the outcome. We can often learn more from these times than anything else.

For instance, this past weekend our mixologist Dan Smith was a finalist in a Bloody Mary competition. Personally, I love his Bloody Marys, but for whatever reason, he didn’t win the top prize. What he did win was a wider circle of knowledge, resources and mixology friends. Next year, he’ll try again knowing a lot more about the process of the contest, and his own process. It’s not about going from A to B, it’s about what happens along the way. It’s why we do what we do and continue to stretch ourselves.

As the president of WIPA I meet a lot of people that want to know just how to get to Point B the fastest way possible. They want to know what they will “get” from joining WIPA. I just have this to say to those people – the only member benefit that truly counts is to BE a member. Really BE one. Show up, participate, BE involved. Volunteer to create a tabletop design, be a speaker, become a committee member or chair, run for a board position. The benefits are there for anyone who wants to get off the sidelines, and stretch themselves.

As I’ve now shared with you, I’ve always been a joiner. As a young girl in England, I was one of the original fans in the Beatles Fan Club – No. 807 to be exact! And, the Beatles sum it up quite well from the lyrics of one of their songs, “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” And that is the PERFECT lesson plan for all seasons!

Pauline Parry
Good Gracious! Events / 2010-2011 WIPA President



Luxury Weddings Napa Style

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

CornerStone Sonoma
Kristen Stimpert
23570 Arnold Dr.
Sonoma, CA 95476


11:00 am: Registration and Welcome Reception
12 Noon: Panel Discussion
1:00 pm: Luncheon
2:00 pm: "Face to Face" - a time to connect, meet and share ideas on the speaker's topic

Driving Directions
Click here for Google driving directions.


Non-Member Fees are:
$55 By September 27
$70 After September 27

Members Fees are:
$40 By September 27
$55 After September 27


Luxury Weddings Napa Style
Luxury is soaring again. Brands such as Tiffany and LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) posted high second quarter profits. American Express and MasterCard are also reporting higher luxury-item spending with the emergence of a group dubbed the Newcomers. This market is young, mostly women and while not necessarily rich, they are learning about, and purchasing, more high-end items than ever.

It follows then that the wedding market, especially in specific regions, continues to attract clients who desire the utmost in luxury on their special day. To address this, WIPA has assembled a panel of wedding professionals working in one of the most sought after high-end wedding markets – The Napa Valley. The style being created in this region is one any professional can learn from and be inspired by. Sit back and enjoy as they take you through how current high-end wine country weddings look and feel.

From this program our panel will inspire you by addressing what constitutes an exclusive wedding, how to find and use products, services and resources that will intrigue and delight this client, and how to position your business to attract this discerning bride and groom. Most importantly learn how to exceed the expectations of even the most demanding luxury bride and groom. You will also be privy to the latest exciting new trends from retail and design to floral and food. See how certain details can add a sophisticated touch to your weddings and related events and how to capture more of this client's future business. Finally, learn the best ways to position yourself and the event with the media – which press outlets to avoid and which to romance.

In this session you will :

Find out how to create your own unique niche within the luxury bridal market


Learn how to add detailes that will make your reputation as a wedding professional stand for elegant, tasteful luxury


Get ideas on how to effectively market market yourself from overall image to how to get press after the wedding


Learn how to exceed the expectations of even the most demanding luxury bride and groom


Be inspired with new design ideas, and food and beverage trends

Paula LeDuc

Since 1980 Paula and her company, Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, have had the privilege to cater and inspire some of the most exclusive events for an esteemed list of private, corporate and wedding clients throughout Northern California. Her creative passion and ability to build long-lasting relationships is evidenced by the honors received over the past 31 years. Notable among them: Top 20 Visionary Chefs in the Bay Area by the SF Chronicle, Michael Bauer; the ISES Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence; Distinguished Alumni Award, UC Berkeley; Alumni Hall of Fame, SFSU; and, NAWBO's (National Association of Women Business Owners) "Trailblazer" Award. Paula's eye for quality and palate for excellence has offered her company the opportunity to partner with celebrity chefs such as Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, Tyler Florence and clients Oprah Winfrey and most recently the 40th Anniversary of Chez Panisse.

Paula sits on the Advisory Board for CCA; heads the Paula LeDuc Leadership Society for The Hatlen Center for the Blind of which she was a founder; and is an active member of WPO (Women Presidents Organization) SF Chapter. She and her husband Jim live in San Francisco and the Napa Valley and have two beautiful children.

Ashley Capra

Ashley Capra is a ninth generation New Orleanian who moved to San Francisco in 1992 and began working at the Bay Area's premier catering company, Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, where she still works today as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Ashley has over 20 years of experience in special event production, catering, sales and management, and has worked on many of the most prestigious and important events in Northern California. She is a member and the former president of the Northern California International Special Events Society, as well as an active member of the following associations: Meeting Planners International, Les Dames d'Escoffier, International Caterers Association, National Association of Catering Executives, San Francisco Travel Association, Slow Food International and the James Beard Foundation. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Escuela Bilingüe Internacional. Ashley lives in Berkeley with her husband and son.

Kristi Amoroso

Kristi Amoroso Special Events, is one of the premier event planning companies in Northern California.  Founded in 1998, the company has planned over 250 weddings, social and corporate events. Kristi's work exemplifies professionalism, taste and style in the industry. Her passion for perfection and elegance has elevated her to the top of the event planning business. She maintains impeccable relationships with vendors, a key factor in the success of her events. Her work has been published in every notable wedding and special events magazine in the country. Her client list includes some of the Bay Area's most prestigious individuals. Kristi grew up in the Bay Area, and  makes her home in Sonoma, California.

Kathleen Deery

From her south-of-market studios, Kathleen Deery, creates comprehensive aesthetic looks for weddings, events, and parties. Using flowers, textiles, lighting, paper, and – new on the scene – her signature furniture line, Kathleen not only designs venues, she creates environments. She considers herself lucky enough to have a job that allows her to work from the heart. In fact, at the close of any given year, she doesn't know whether she turned more clients into friends, or more friends into clients.


Non-Member Fees are:
$55 By September 27
$70 After September 27

Members Fees are:
$40 By September 27
$55 After September 27


Paula LeDuc Fine Catering
1350 Park Avenue
Emeryville, CA 94608

CornerStone Sonoma
Kristen Stimpert
23570 Arnold Dr.
Sonoma, CA 95476

Event Design & Floral
Kathleen Deery Designs
45 Lusk Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

Classic Party Rentals
Deirdre Muller
745 Skyway Court
Napa, CA 94558
707.253.2332 x103

Lighting & Visual
Got Light?
Jon Retsky
1970 Carroll Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94124

Delicate Productions
George Edwards
870 Mahler Road
Burlingame, CA 94010

Natasha Miller
Entire Productions
311 California Street, Suite 350
San Francisco, CA 94104

Soirée Valet
Jamie Dyos
1470 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Isabelle Adams
Soda Rock Winery
8015 Highway 128
Healdsburg, CA 95448

James Brian Fidelibus

Misti Layne
Images by Misti Layne
411A Brannan Suite 5
San Francisco, CA 94107



WIPA would like to welcome and thank our newest Members for joining and supporting such a wonderful association, as we continue to expand across the Nation!  We would like to highlight what it is that makes them “Wedding Industry Professionals!”

Brit Bertino
Simply Weddings by Brit Bertino
26 E. Serne Ave. #220
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Simply Weddings is a full service wedding consultation and coordination firm. We take a fresh approach to planning weddings. We infuse our energy, experience, passion, and expertise into every wedding we coordinate. Our goal is to make sure that our couples enjoy the process. This is a milestone event and it is a journey that should be fun filled with great memories.

Ashley Stotts
Darryl & Co.
483 W. 38th Street
Houston, TX 77018
Phone: 713.863.0400

Darryl & Co. provides floral, linen, lounge, event decor, graphics and lighting. We are a wedding stylist specializing in designing your wedding rather than just providing decor.


Written by: Joyce Scardina Becker, CMP
Events of Distinction
WIPA Founding Sponsor and First President

Heather Crabtree and Jennifer Thinnes, WIPA’s Phoenix Regional Directors and Co-Owners of Outstanding Occasions, designed a tabletop that was published in the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine.  Jennifer also gave birth to a very cute little boy, Tate Arthur Thinnes, on June 7!

Lindsay Pitt, CSEP, WIPA’s Atlanta Regional Director and Owner of TOAST Events, had real weddings or interviews featured in the following publications this year:  Atlantan Brides, Atlanta Weddings, Occasions Magazine, Brides Atlanta and Southern Weddings.  Her work was also featured online in Special Events Magazine, Martha Stewart’s Style Circle, and Style Me Pretty.

The following WIPA members will be speaking at The Special Event 2012 Conference, taking place in Tampa, Florida, on January 24-27:

  • Heather Crabtree and Jennifer Thinnes, Outstanding Occasions – “A Critical Review and Evaluation of Your Wedding Business Operations: Where You Are and Where You Want To Go”

  • David Merrell, AOO Events – “Design Dawgs IV”

  • Pauline Parry (WIPA President), Good Gracious! Events and Warren
    , Puff ’n Stuff Catering – “Mythbusters:  Event Planners & Caterers – Oil and Water or Two Peas in a Pod?”

  • Loren Petrowski, Halekulani Hotel – “Luxury Hotels & the Vendor List: Getting On and Staying On”

  • Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction – “Engineering the Experience: Dressing Up the Wedding Stationery Wardrobe”

The following WIPA members will be speaking at the Catersource 2012 Conference, taking place in Las Vegas on February 26-29:

  • Pauline Parry, Good Gracious! Events – “Catering – The Heart and Soul of the Wedding”

  • Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction – “Greater Reputation, Recognition and Sales – Getting Noticed through PR”

The following WIPA members will be speaking at the Event Solutions 2012 Conference, taking place in Las Vegas on February 26-29:

  • Wendy Dahl, Dahl Wedding Company--“Create Your Signature Experience Program To Increase Client Satisfaction and Referrals”

  • Therese Cole-Hubbs, ASC Event Services-Monsoon Weddings--“Forecast for Selling and Planning Indian Weddings”

  • Ali Phillips, Engaging Events by Ali, Inc.--Producing Destination Weddings that WOW!”
In addition, WIPA and the Las Vegas Chapter of ISES are co-sponsoring a Wedding Luncheon for Catersource on Monday, February 27, at Bellagio.  WIPA Leadership Advisory Board members Marcy Blum and King Dahl are graciously serving as the Host and the Designer for this event.


Liese Gardner
Mecca Communications
WIPA Director of Education 2011

The Psychology of Selling
By Liese Gardner

The most interesting part of the wedding and events industry is the diversity of experience. What people did before trading it all in for this creative, yet challenging business always makes for interesting conversation. And so it was in talking to Daniela Ferdico Faget years ago that I learned that before beginning Bella Signature Design in Seattle, she had been a psychologist with a doctorate in neuropsychology.

Her knowledge of how clients think had helped her build a successful wedding floral and design studio and she has been sharing it with the industry as a consultant (The Cerebral Artisan) and as a speaker at Engage and now WIPA.

Her talk on September 8 at the Palm Event Center in Pleasanton had everyone taking copious notes. Some of the points she brought up that we talked about through a beautiful lunch provided by Beets Hospitality in the stunning Barrel Room were:

  • Our reptilian (i.e. old) brain, is where we derive first impressions, and our fight-or-flight instincts. To speak to that brain in your clients, provide contrast. And because the old brain also responds to visual, before-and-after photos deliver both visual information and that all-important contrast.
  • While the old brain knows what it does or doesn’t want, the new brain rationalizes and analyzes everything. “So lean into their objections,” Daniela said. “Don’t back off or shy away. Address them right there and then.”

  • Our brains tune in at the beginning or end of an experience, make sure all the important information is given at those times.
  • And of course, because our old brain is very self centered, 100 percent of your message should be about the client, not about you.

There were so many other great ideas, such as keep high-quality photos running in the background of the consultation, make sure everything you present is absolute perfection and put testimonials not on your web site, but in the form of a story during your meeting.

If you missed this meeting and are a WIPA member, we are in the process of getting the video of Daniela’s presentation on our web site. We’ll e-mail you when it is up!

In the meantime, there is so much to learn at every meeting not just from the speakers but from one another. Networking with the top people in the industry is another huge benefit of these meetings. Which is why I hope you can make it to October 4 in Napa (Luxury Weddings Napa Style) or Orange County in November 1 (The Industry Revolution: Communication in a Brand New World). Showing up is the first – and honestly, the easiest – step to getting the most out of your WIPA membership!

Thank you to our co-chairs: Kimberly Roberts, LVL Weddings and Events, and Sharon Dexmier, Napa Valley Linens

And thank you to our generous sponsors: The Palm Event Center in the Vineyard, Beets Hospitality Group, BBJ Linen, Pleasanton Rentals, Jessamyn Photography, Ingela Floral Design, An Elegant Touch of Strings, RedBliss Invitation Design, Fantasy Sound Event Services, Pink’s Bake Shop



If you have an idea or story to share, tell us about it!

WIPA, we need your input to tell us what you and your colleagues are discussing so we can bring it to the forefront at WIPA meetings and address it together as WIPA professionals. You matter, your feedback matters so we can educate our wedding industry, other event professionals, and most importantly, educate brides and the media as to what we have to say in accordance with our vision and mission and core values! We can't wait to hear from you! Please email your "Hot Topic Ideas" to your Education Director, Liese Gardner at



Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - Crevier Classic Cars, Costa Mesa
Speaker: Lara McCulloch, Ready 2 Spark

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - Park Plaza Hotel, Hollywood
Speaker: Bernadette Coveney Smith, 14 Stories

Monday, February 27, 2011 - Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas
ISES Las Vegas / WIPA Wedding Luncheon for Catersource
Speaker: Marcy Blum, Marcy Blum Events