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Top Tips From Southern California Wedding Planners

Southern California's top wedding planners share their juiciest insider info for planning a wedding in Southern California.

Photo: Courtesy of the Montage Beverly Hills

The Planner

Theresa Shlimanoff, Hustle & Bustle Wedding Day Coordination, Studio City, (310) 597-2374
Years in the biz
She started event planning as a side job a decade ago, but as of four years ago, "It's my only gig."
Secret Weapon
Her experience as a costume designer: "With my live production background, I know that things must happen backstage that the audience -- or guests, in our case -- can never find out about."

The Planner

S Susan White and Kathy Mazza, Bella Weddings & Events, Los Angeles, (310) 476-0516
Years in the biz
Susan started planning weddings nine years ago, while Kathy got started after her 2004 wedding. They launched their company together in 2005.
Secret Weapon
Each other! "Two are always better than one. We bring our individual styles and strengths together."

The Planner

Alison Howard, One & Only Events, San Diego, (619) 623-5436
Years in the biz
After planning her wedding for 300+ guests in 2002 -- and dealing with some hardcore stress -- Alison made it her mission to help other brides relax on their wedding day.
Secret Weapon
Covering all bases. "The key to a flawless event is making sure the couple, vendors and wedding consultant are all on the same page."

Fashion finds

"Check out Olympic Boulevard in the LA Fashion District (213-488-1153) for adorable dresses, suits, pillows, flower baskets and parasols for your flower girl and ring bearer. Head to Wall Street and Maple Avenue for trims. You can also find amazing deals on birdcages, cake cutting sets, cake stands and champagne flutes along 10th." -- Theresa

Flowers for less

"Merchants in LA's Flower District (213-622-1966) give great discounts on arrangements, or you can buy the flowers, vases, gemstones and more here for DIY d├ęcor. Arrive early, though -- the market closes around noon -- and bring one of your wedding vendors because then you'll get wholesale prices." -- Theresa

Green venue

"The new Montage Beverly Hills (310-860-7800) is an elegant hotel that has gold-level certification from the US Green Building Council. The large Marquesa ballroom has two-story high ceilings with theater-style balconies that overlook the space, and the hotel also has two beautiful outdoor spots for a ceremony." -- Susan and Kathy

Local late-night eats

"A hot trend in LA is to end the night with food brought in on a truck or cart. Some of our area favorites are the In-N-Out Cookout Trailer (626-813-8295), Sprinkles Cupcakes (310-274-8765 in Beverly Hills and 949-760-0003 in Newport Beach), The Fry Girl Inc doughnuts (213-590-1710) and All American Softy Ice Cream Service (818-881-8890)." -- Susan and Kathy

Free beach ceremonies

"Brides planning weddings with fewer than 25 guests can hold a standing ceremony on most beaches in San Diego County for free! You only have to get a permit when more than 25 people will be there or if you need to set up chairs. If the ceremony is only going to be 15 minutes long, why spend hundreds of dollars on it?" -- Alison

Weather warning

"Watch out for June! It's such a popular month for outdoor weddings, but June Gloom almost always hits and leaves brides disappointed because their wedding day is overcast, foggy, drizzly or cold. Always make sure to have a backup plan for June weddings -- and ones in May and the winter too." -- Alison

-- Alison Goldman