1. Where are you originally from? And how long have you been in Portland?
I was born and raised in the sunny region of the great Southwest, being raised in equal parts Southern California (Long Beach) and Phoenix Valley. Being an offspring of Oregonians, I was always drawn to the Pacific Northwest, and about 10 years ago I finally took the leap to mosey up here and start a new life, leaving my family in their home cities (sweating in the 120 degrees)!
2. What is your favorite thing about Portland?
The food and cocktails. It’s accessible to anyone and arguably, our food scene was at the helm of the current food trends/movement. What’s cool about Portland is that we take things at a casual pace and service. So, the top-notch fine dining restaurants are still relaxed places where you feel like family. Take Nostrana, for example. For 14 years, we’ve been serving classic Italian dishes for 300+ people a day. We have groups that come in for many special occasions, dressed to the nines. Or, we have neighborhood friends that stop by for their favorite pasta in more casual clothes. We’re accessible to anyone and we’re grateful peeps want to spend their time with us!
3. What is your favorite spot or thing to do in Portland?
Straight up… fishing. You can find me on rivers, lakes, and bays pulling up fish and crab whenever possible!
4. How long have you been working as a wedding professional?
I’ve produced big events, weddings included, for over 10 years. Now, settled into my Italian cork barstools at Nostrana and Enoteca Nostrana, I am doing less big events in the city and focusing on smaller, intimate events at the restaurant. But my experience gives me a better vision of where brides and grooms are coming from — and how best to help them take a load off at their rehearsal din-din.
5. What people/training/experiences/ opportunities led you to this career path?
Once I landed in PDX, I started folding myself into the food and beverage world, eventually taking on projects of experiential events and adventure tours (think moonlight snowshoeing and bartender summer camps). After making some stellar connections in the craft bar world, I landed a job doing events, marketing and management for a high-profile restaurant (Raven & Rose) which opened doors to my working with Multnomah Whiskey Library and now Nostrana+Enoteca Nostrana. Woven between the restaurant roles, I’ve also produced some of Portland’s most groovy independent events: Shuck Portland oyster festival, Maialata pig festival, Negroni Social+Negroni Week, Whiskeytown, Portland Cocktail Week, PDX Nog-Off, IPNC and more!
6. How would you describe the importance of your role & why do you feel a couple should hire a wedding professional for their wedding day?
We’re in the business of hospitality (like, “Welcome to our party! Here’s the bathroom, here’s the food, kick your feet up and stay a while!”) When you book a rehearsal dinner at a place that plans, organizes and executes your dinner — all you have to do is show up, feel beautiful, and enjoy the company of your friends and family who are celebrating you! At Enoteca, we’re cranking out nights like that all the time. The rehearsal dinner can be an easy event, and after a long day of wedding planning and family wrangling, it’s so comfortable to be able to walk into a beautiful space, have a glass of champagne, take a seat and a deep breath before the big day.
7. What is the best part of your job?
Think of hanging out with your besties eating Italian food, drinking good wine and listening to funky music…did your face inadvertently just pop a smile? Mine did! And, I get to come to Nostrana every day, surrounded by all of those things AND I can eat and drink them if I want to (the food and wine, not the friends). It’s like a dream…but true, Plus, Cathy Whims is one of the best employers I’ve ever known. She spends a lot of time focusing on the happiness of her staff. From full medical benefits, to travel and events, she takes care of the morale of each of us (and there are around 90 on staff)! It’s a truly delightful place to spend my days.
8. What do you find most challenging about your specific line of work or weddings in general?
We all have expectations and *sometimes* they land in realm of unreasonable. Managing those expectations can be hard. I remember doing a wedding for a couple that had their first date over a firecracker dahlia, of which they wanted at the wedding (so cute)! But, their wedding was in January and, well, dahlias just aren’t dahlia-ing during the cold months!
9. What do you attribute to your success as a wedding professional? What do you think makes you stand apart from others in your field?
I like getting to know people and hearing what excites them! I’m not trying to reinvent the rehearsal dinner or event planner game. I’m just doing a good job maintaining my guests’ experiences no matter the occasion. Every event is a unique snowflake that we have to keep frozen (until the end of the booking). 🙂
10. At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
As soon as you know when your rehearsal is booked — get on our calendar for dinner following! You can wrangle the family at the rehearsal, and when you get here…we’ll take over so you don’t have to lift a finger.
11. What is the most important thing that couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
“What do you do for fun?” I think establishing a rapport, and getting to know the person in charge of your vision is critical in feeling confident that they can execute what you’ve dreamt up.
12. What is your best advice for wedding clients?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. I have a saying “Life or death issues on the color of napkins” that I tell my staff when we’re executing big events. Which means, when you think about it… does LIFE and DEATH really rest on the color of napkins? Nope. Not even a little. So, when we feel ourselves in those moment where the little things are failing, and our blood pressure is increasing, just take a step back and wipe the brow. It’s all going to be okay. Being nimble, and appreciating that while many people want to produce the wedding to every last specified detail, sometimes the napkins get delivered in the wrong color — but the show must go on!
13. What other local wedding professional (s) are currently inspiring you?
I have a lot of florists in my life! One beautiful human is Arielle Zamora — @SmallYardFlowers — who just so happens to be OUR IN HOUSE FLORIST and a The Art of Weddings vendor! Events that book with us have the option to add floral designs to the table — then take them with them at the end of the night. These arrangements can land at the wedding, or just be favors to guests at dinner.