Welcome! So Happi You're Here!

This blog shares the latest news about {So Happi Together}, an event design and planning firm, along with my personal inspirations, ideas and love musings.

My hope is that it can serve as a resource to anyone who loves weddings as much as I do. If you're looking for more or just want to chat, please do not hesitate to contact me or simply leave a comment! I am always thrilled to meet new people and hear new love stories!

Happi Planning!


Going Back to my Roots & Giving Back - 1st Giveaway of 2016!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hello! Hello!! So happi you're here! ;)

This is my first blog post in a very long time and I am super excited to welcome new readers and followers in this new year! A few months back, we reached 5000 followers on Instagram and since then, I have been brainstorming ideas of how I can give back to all of you and share a bit about myself to people who have recently begun following along for pretty imagery and inspiration. Our company is so much more than just that, and it has truly become my own little passion project, and I hope that I can convey some of that in this post. I apologize in advance for the length! If you are just here for the giveaway - feel free to scroll all the way down to everything in bold and skip my story! ;) For everyone else who wants to know a little more about me and the story behind my business - here we go!

To start this business, I left behind a PhD in cultural studies and a career in teaching, research and social activism. I know it sounds like such a jump, but at the end of the day the two career paths are really not that different. I truly loved what I was doing when I was an Instructor at universities ranging from UCLA, to Cal State Fullerton, to the Claremont Colleges. I had so much fun designing and teaching in departments ranging from Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies, Media Studies and American Studies - with courses like Race in Media, The Politics of Food, Asian American Women, American Popular Culture, Asian American Media, Art as a Social Movement... the list goes on and on. I made my own schedule (I loved teaching evening classes!) and cherished the fact that I was able to meet and inspire a new batch of students every semester! Creating new syllabi and curriculum, taking my students to hands on learning experiences like urban farming, spoken word nights, slam poetry sessions, volunteering with after school programs, etc. kept me on my toes and was so gratifying. I was never bored and always inspired. On warm days, you would find my classes (ranging from 10 to 200 students) outside on the university lawn, journaling and sketching; constructively debating important issues of politics, love and race; or partaking in exercises that encouraged them to find one's voice and be brave enough to use it. Several students credited my classes for changing their career choice from marketing/advertising to law or working in the non-profit sector. I felt blessed to be a part of such a pivotal point in my student's individual lives and found so much joy in making a difference in this way. 

After 3 years of teaching and event planning for several non-profits, I became engaged to my high school best friend in 2007 and started this blog as a way to journal my own engagement journey and share any tips for wedding planning that I came across. I was all about building community (I still am!) and I wanted to share all I knew about event planning on a budget and designing an event/wedding with purpose and heart. I wanted to give back to others for all the help I was receiving with my own wedding planning, from family and friends.

The blog community back then was amazingly fresh and unassuming. Not many blogs had flashy or professionally designed logos. People were not trying to quit their day-jobs or appearing to come off as insta-perfect or insta-famous. People were just sharing what they could and building a community with others when they felt a connection with a story or a post. 

Suddenly, I was "meeting" other bloggers who were also planning their weddings and some of them starting to ask me for advice, outside of the blog. Some even requested help in planning their actual wedding day! At first, it was just a fun and creative outlet and I thought, "Hey! I can totally help out this gal from NYC in planning her Cali wedding!" When people offered to pay me for my services, I never thought of it as a business. It was simply a reimbursement for the time and money I was spending in helping them and paying for my day-of assistant (who still works with our weddings today!). By the time I was married in 2009, I was working with 4 other brides in planning their weddings! 

In 2010, our first official year in business, we had 18 weddings in our calendar. It quickly became clear that I needed to choose between teaching and wedding planning. Obviously, I chose the latter and here we are today. On a side note: California was experiencing some major budget cuts in education at that time and the academic landscape was heading in a direction that I was not comfortable with. Plus, I figured I could always go back to teaching if this whole wedding planning thing didn't work out. ;) 

So Happi Together grew (between 2011-2013, we were booking an average of 25-30 weddings per year) and I became busier with marriage, the birth of two children and running an actual business with several employees. Over time, I sadly lost touch with this blog. Admittedly, I lost touch with a lot of things that personally brought me so much joy before. Not that my family and business don't bring me joy... but I felt like I didn't have time for things that were JUST for me. This blog used to be the heart of my business. Many of my early brides told me that they booked me based on the Nancy they "met" on my blog, through my personal posts. Rather than keeping this in mind, as my business matured, I strangely felt compelled to censor myself here. To come off more professional - not as personal. To share pretty weddings and inspiration, not so much the non-pretty that is usually the reality of life. For this reason, I think the passion was removed from my blogging and it became more of a chore or duty, rather than an outlet. When I say that this blog used to be the heart of this business, it's not to say that I lost my heart when I stopped blogging on the regular. It's more that I felt hesitant to just wear that heart on my sleeve, and in the process, maybe I lost my voice? Along with other personal passion projects in my life, I felt like I could no longer make time for blogging, because there were "more important" things to tend to.

Being a mom and entrepreneur is truly a difficult juggling act. Some of my readers know what I am talking about. It's easy to "lose yourself" and the things that once made you happy before the happiness of the business and the kids... Remember?! There were other things that gave you a different kind of happiness. Things that were just for YOU - with no ulterior motive of how it would or could benefit your business or even your children's future. Not that those things are bad endeavors! But I am realizing that they shouldn't completely trump the personal happiness you pursue just for yourself. You know, the things you did before... simply because you wanted to do it and it made you happy. 

My husband always encourages and challenges me to make the time for these things that used to bring me so much personal joy. For me, it was dance/ballet, writing/journaling (i.e. blogging), reading and scrapbooking. My husband reminds me about them all the time and asks why I don't do them anymore. 

"Who has the time?!" I ask him. 
"People who make the time..." he answers back. 
I sure do love the guy.

This brings us to 2015. It was a rough year for me, personally. As a business, I could not have asked for more. We booked out our calendar with great weddings for amazing couples and worked with some stellar vendors that I am proud to call friends. However, I was stretched in ways that I could have never imagined. 

I have always envisioned Eddie and myself having a large family with at least 3 children to cherish and call our own. This past year, we lost 2 sweet babies in miscarriages that were unexpected, complicated, and have left me despondent and even a bit scared to try for another. I may be able to share more specifics, as time creates more distance between myself and pain of these moments... but suffice it to say, I have realized that as a planner, I don't have the control to plan every aspect of my life. I am giving it to God and trusting that His plan is so much better than my own. And in the meantime, I plan to make the time that my husband keeps talking about... 

In 2016, I want to spend more time in prayer, more time with my family, more time with myself, and more time on this blog. I plan to blog more, not for the good of my business, but for the good of my soul. I want to spend more time on each of my individual weddings by cutting down the overall number that we take on. We are going to max out our calendar at 12 weddings for 2016. We are 2 weddings away from this goal, with 3 inquiries in my inbox as I write this post. Even if we don't book any more weddings for this year, I am SO happy with the ones that we already have in store. My couples really are the best people on this planet and I am honored to share in such a special time in their lives together. Really. I have the best job in the world.

As I was soul searching and coming to these decisions, my husband asked me if I am still happy doing what I do. Without hesitation, I answered, YES! Cutting back on the number of weddings we produce doesn't mean that I don't value each one that I work on. It actually exemplifies how much I cherish each wedding and the work that I am allowed to do. Every wedding I design and plan is unique and different and keeps me inspired and on my toes. I have seen a lot of sadness and experienced heartache, knowing that we don't always have a choice in what life brings our way. But in the midst of all that, I get to work with couples who make a conscious decision, every day, to make a commitment to a person that they have chosen to love and honor and spend their life with. How beautiful is that? In a world that can seem pretty yucky at times, I get to work with people who celebrate life, love and a union of families. Pretty darn incredible, right? If you envy my job - you have every right! And with that... I finally get to how I want to give back for all that this industry and my couples have given me.

This GIVEAWAY is 2-part. As I look through my followers and commenters on Instagram, I find that they are largely in 2 camps (aside from fellow wedding industry friends). I am grateful to those of you who don't personally know me or work with me, but still follow our journey! Since most of you are brides-to-be or young/aspiring planners-to-be, I have something for each of you!

1. Bride-to-be Giveaway
If you are getting married in 2016 and follow us on Instagram, I assume you feel a connection with our aesthetic. With that in mind, if your wedding venue is in the SoCal area (from San Diego to Paso Robles), I will meet with you at your venue to do a walk-through of the site and give you my take on the layout and flow of your celebration. We will meet over coffee/lunch afterwards for a Design and Details Session where we can discuss everything from your budget, timeline, vendor referrals, wedding etiquette, design, colors, etc. This is obviously most beneficial for brides who do not already have a wedding planner and are possibly considering someone just for day-of coordination. But it is really open to any bride who just wants our take on how to make your wedding celebration feel intimate, timeless, effortlessly beautiful, memorable to your guests and so happi together!

This giveaway is limited to California brides only because I honestly feel like I can be of most help to these brides. Although I provide destination wedding planning packages, when limited to just 1 meeting, I feel that my expertise will be of most use to Southern California brides. If you feel differently, please feel free to comment about it and perhaps I can reconsider for a future giveaway!

2. Planner Giveaway
If you are a planner (of any level, really) you know how important it is to find a good support group of other planners and industry vendors. People who will keep it real and keep you grounded.  People who will cheer you on when you are wondering if you are going to book enough weddings in the coming year, give their honest opinion on if your pricing is right, be your sounding board when you need advice on how to deal with a particular client or vendor...  you know. Just be a good friend who understands the unique struggles on this industry. Let's be friends! :) I am in NO way saying that I am an expert planner and have all my sh*t together. But I strongly believe in the power of community and the power of story. Let's get together and share our stories. 

I'll buy you lunch or dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the LA or OC area and chat with you about how I handle inquiries, consultations, bookings, couples, employees, wedding day scenarios, etc. I will share with you my packages, my contracts, my budget spreadsheet, wedding planning checklist and wedding day timeline . I will answer any and all questions you may have about me, my business and anything else that I may have an opinion about. :) I really am an open book and just hope that I don't scare you with my hugs and loud laughter. (I really have no volume control)

This giveaway is open to just about anyone. If you aren't local to Southern California, we can always meet via Skype or Facetime! Sadly, I won't be able to buy you lunch or dinner, but I will send you a care package instead! :)


If you have managed to stick it out and read through all of this... Thank you! 

If you feel like something from my own story resonates with you, I'd love to hear from you! The hope of giving back is how I started this blog and I realized that is how I want to continue. Not to gain followers, or see how many comments I can get, or even be a marketing tool. But simply because it makes me happy. This is my passion project. 

SO! In order to enter, please leave a comment here or on my Instagram post telling me what is YOUR passion. Meaning - what would you do if you had all the time in the world to split between your family, your work and yourself? If you didn't have to worry about income? What brings you happiness? And how will you try to pursue it this year? 

*** IMPORTANT: Please begin your comment with the word "BRIDE" or "PLANNER" so that I know which giveaway you are entering.***

You don't have to follow me to win - but if you DO win, you can be sure that I will be following you and hoping to continue our friendship beyond this one giveaway. :) 

Entries for both giveaways will be accepted until 12pm PST on Wednesday 1/20/16. Winners will be announced on Thursday 1/21/16.

Have a happi Monday! Thanks for stopping by! And because every post is better with some pictures!

our family holiday photo by Amelia Lyon Photography
(our wedding photography, now friend and family photographer!)

This was meant to be a part of the announcement that we were expecting a baby in 2016.
I cherish it will all my heart and elle still talks about how she will meet her baby sister one day.
Thank you, Amelia Lyon, for capturing this special moment in our lives.

Malibu Rocky Oaks Inspiration Shoot

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's been rather quiet on the blog-front, but if you follow me on Instagram, you know that we have been busy busy!

I finally made my way back over to the blog to announce how ecstatic I am about our feature on Style Me Pretty today!!! We love any time that SMP Weddings features our work on their lovely pages - but this particular shoot was such a labor of love, that I am super excited to share it with you all! I hope it can provide you with endless amounts of inspiration and ignite the love that goes into planning a wedding and that I know you will feel on your own special day!

For now, I will let the beautiful images by Sally Pinera speak for themselves... but check back again later this week and I will be adding my own notes on what the process was behind the design and styling and all of the amazing vendors involved, who made the shoot possible. Along with how you can achieve some of these details for your day!!

Please check out the full post on Style Me Pretty! Thank you!!




So Happi Wedding Workshop

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hello! Hello!

We are SO excited to officially announce the very 1st So Happi Wedding Workshop! It actually consists of 3 parts and 4 days!

Workshop: July 26-27, 2014; 10:30-4:30 at the Unique Space in LA
Wedding: August-December 2014; shadow a REAL So Happi Together Wedding*
Wrap-up Reunion: December 2014; based on availability of all attendees

* Real Weddings will be taking place at Saddlerock Ranch (Chateau le Dome), Terranea Resort, Saddlerock Ranch (Oak Grove), The Langham, The Smog Shoppe and Pelican Hill. Attendees will choose their real wedding to shadow in the order that they register for the workshop .

Before I became a planner I taught college courses in Media Studies, Women's Studies, Ethnic Studies, American Studies and Cultural Studies as I worked on my PhD. I love teaching and impacting change and growth so I am honored to marry this love with my love for planning and designing weddings! I can't wait to share my knowledge, experience and vendors with you! Please contact me for more detailed information (including a beautiful information packet) or visit The Unique Space Event Calendar to sign up today! Space is limited!!

Follow our Instagram profile for the most recent updates! We will be new information regarding the vendors involved and the Real Weddings you can shadow, every day!

And if there is something YOU would like to learn at the workshop, please comment below!! I would love to keep it as interactive as possible in order to make sure it is relevant for each attendee! I want us to be able to build a support network with each other and keep in touch as our respective businesses mature! It will be a place to learn, but more importantly, a place to build relationships and garner inspiration.

With that said, one of the most inspiring and talented people I know, Jana Williams, will be providing a special tutorial on Social Media and Marketing!!! In under 5 years, she has grown her business with over 60K Facebook followers, nearly 40K Instagram followers and features in numerous print and web media outlets. She is one of the most sought after and recognized wedding photographers and yet, so incredibly humble and beautiful, inside and out! I am sure you will love her as much as I do and can't wait for everyone to meet her!!

Lunch will be provided on each Workshop Day by Urban Palate LA on tablescapes that are made beautiful by Casa de Perrin, Heavenly Blooms and La Tavola Linens. Believe me, you won't want to miss this and the other goodies we have in store!

That's just a taste for now, but I will certainly be updating with more information soon!!

Hope to meet you in person in the very near future! :)

Gallery Sneak Peek #1

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone!

We are in the process of reworking our branding and website (I know - it is LONG overdue!) and as we gather images for the Gallery Section, I am coming across so many beauties that I can't believe we haven't shared yet! Birth to 2 babies and nearly 100 weddings (yes, I consider wedding planning a birth process too!) over the past 4 years has made it difficult to focus on submitting these gorgeous weddings for publication or update our website. So, as we work on sending these out for feature and organizing them for our website, I thought I would provide a few sneak peeks here!

Let's start with a throwback to this lovely fete from 2013. We were obviously early to the Radiant Orchid pantone party of 2014. I love being ahead of the trend, rather than following it. ;)

We transformed this private estate into a luxurious, yet intimate, party for 400+ guests. The youngest daughter of the Panda Inn/Panda Express empire was getting married to the love of her life and we were honored to help plan and design the amazing celebration, held at her parent's home. Of course, it was Panda catered and you can bet the food was off the charts, amazing! Michelle and Ben were the sweetest couple and wanted to fill their day with meaningful details that were unique to them and their relationship. We had so much fun designing the day around their story and are honored to now call these two our friends. Custom twiggy-branch chandeliers, custom-colored round dance floor, vintage cut-crystal glassware, specialty linens and bountiful florals made the day oh-so perfect. 

Thank you to Cat from Next Exit for the beautiful images! We will be sharing more shortly!! 

2013 Bride's Choice Award!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

We have quite a bit of catch up to do with our blogging and announcing, but for now, I wanted to let everyone know that once again, we have been awarded a Bride's Choice Award by WeddingWire!

This means we are among the top 5% of wedding planners within the WeddingWire network. We are humbled by our 5 star ratings and motivated to continue to earn the love and praise of our brides.

Weddings, Wedding VenuesSo Happi Together, Best Wedding Planners in Orange County - 2013 Bride's Choice Award Winner