Tuesday w/ the Pros: Rachel Coffin

Tuesday with the Pros is an ongoing blog series featuring experts in the wedding and event industry. Today’s authority is Rachel Coffin, catering sales manager at Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa in Dana Point, CA.Rachel LI: What is your job like?Rachel: I do corporate and social events and handle many wedding occasions here at Laguna Cliffs.LI: What is it that makes this resort unique among other event venues in Southern California?Rachel: Aside from our fantastic view?  Well, we're a Marriott, for starters....so for clientele who want to use their Marriott points, or want the level of comfort that they're accustomed to at a Marriott, they can be assured that they'll receive that here.  At the same time, we are also a franchise and therefore given the authority by Marriott to stretch our legs a little, which allows us to have this beautiful resort atmosphere but still furnish Marriott rewards points and service at a familiar Marriott standard.

Laguna Cliffs resort

LI: How did you become involved with the event team here at the resort?Rachel: I used to work at a trade show technology company and while I loved doing events and tradeshows, I really hated technology.  So it was time for a change...I started revisiting the hotels that I'd worked with as a trade show event specialist and talking with the staff and was eventually fortunate enough to be hired on as an event specialist here!LI: What are some of your favorite things about being a catering manager here?Rachel: Working with people, not being stuck in a cubicle all day...and I get to meet all different types of people and hear all these interesting stories!LI: Do you work exclusively with brides?Rachel: No, we have a pretty fair mixture here.  I work with wedding clientes as well as associations and businesses who host awards, parties, and fundraisers here.LI: What do you think would be a dream event to host here?Rachel: A themed, outdoor dinner party would be fun. Something where we get to exercise our creative idea muscles and stray from traditional concepts about what a party should be like and focus on how different and interesting it could be.LI: What do you recommend to the wedding couples or corporate clientele out there who are looking to save some money on their event?Rachel: Use sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Etsy to your FULL advantage.  You'll want to be careful because some things like photography and wedding attire are probably best left up to thoroughly-researched professionals and NOT uber-cheap Craigslisters, but many details like invitations, jewelry, hairpieces, etc you can buy unique, and high quality items online without totally breaking your bank.  You also don't have to do favors at all...party favors are old-fashioned, unappreciated by most guests, and the money could be put towards so many other things for the event instead.LI: Are there any exciting events coming up here at Laguna Cliffs?Rachel: We're hosting a joint Chamber of Commerce event here soon, and in June we're doing an event for the Ocean Institute of Dana Point.Laguna Cliffs ballroomsLI: What would your professional advice be a festive, stress-free event?Rachel: Just let go and enjoy your day.  You don't have to be SO involved that you're detached from the moments you should really be savoring or enjoying---hire true professionals and let them handle it!  Let go of the reins on the day of the event, and understand that not everything is going to be EXACTLY as planned, either. Just remember that the calmer you are the more smoothly everything will run regardless of what snags we might hit.  It's all about focusing on the importance of the fact that this is the day that you're finally getting married, not how late your ceremony is starting or whether the ring bearer pillow was forgotten at home!  Because that is all trivial in comparison to the big, lifelong step you are about to take with your fiancée!For more on Rachel and the Laguna Cliffs Resort, visit:The Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa official website.Laguna Cliffs' official Facebook pageLaguna Cliffs on Twitter

Tuesday with the Pros: The Ladies of La Quinta Resort

Tuesday with the Pros is an ongoing blog series featuring experts in the wedding and event industry.  Today's authorities are Jessica, Christy, and Michelle, event and banquet managers at the La Quinta Resort in La Quinta, CA.

la quintaL-R: Jessica, Christy, and Michelle

LI: Describe your position at La Quinta Resort.Michelle: I am the assistant director of catering, so I oversee the banquets and events here at the resort as well as at our golf club, PGA West.Jessica: I am the on-site venue coordinator for weddings here at the resort.Christy: I manage non-wedding events at the resort, such as corporate events, private parties, memorials, quinceñeras, etc.ladies of la quintaLI: What makes La Quinta Resort unique from other Palm Springs getaways, or perhaps other resorts in general?Michelle: Despite being such a large resort, it is very quaint and very quiet here.  It's lush and peaceful and has a lot of history---La Quinta Resort has been in operation since 1926.  We have 41 pools, 53 hot spas, 23 tennis courts, and nine golf courses---once you're here, there's no need to go anywhere else for anything!  Based on many of these features this resort also happens to be an original hideaway for Hollywood stars.Jessica: Privacy and seclusion is valued here.  We have so many pools spread throughout the resort that often no matter where you stay it will be like you have your very own pool right outside your door!Christy: I think of this property as a true resort. This is THE place to come to relax.  It's why so many brides choose us as a wedding venue, but then also choose to return for anniversary getaways and family vacations as well.la quinta resort and spaLI: What inspired your career as a coordinator here?Michelle: You've got to really love the place you work in order to sell it to potential clientele for events, and one of the things I love about working here at the La Quinta Resort is that the property sells itself.  Once you're here and you see it, you'll fall in love!Jessica: I'm a local.  My husband and I took our engagement photographs here and I was also a bridesmaid in a couple weddings at this venue.  Eventually I just applied for a job!Christy: I began in culinary arts and at one point I held jobs in the kitchen, but worked my way up to a front position heading events.  Now I enjoy the client contact, as well as still being able to work with food.  It's also nice to watch an event blossom into whatever a client has envisioned.LI: What are some of your favorites aspects of your job?Michelle: I like to see peoples' faces when they first see this property for the first time, or when people return here for vacations. It's just so peaceful and luxurious and has been around for so long, many of our clientele feel like returning here is coming home.Jessica: I enjoy being a part of client's most memorable day of their lives.Christy: I like how every day, every client, and every phone call is different.lawnLI: What sort of profile do most of your event clientele fall under?Michelle: La Quinta Resort used to be known for its group corporate event business, however in the last couple of years we've really begun to attract families arriving for vacations and wedding clientele seeking to take advantage of our beautiful grounds and professional event services.  We also welcome quite a few concert-goers during Stagecoach Festival and Coachella, as we are the closest hotel to both.Jessica: My clientele are exclusively brides. Who wouldn't want to get married here?Christy: Usually private parties, and sometimes memorial receptions.  I know that a resort like this may not initially be the first place you think of for a memorial reception, but actually do do quite a few "Celebrations of Life" here from time to time.  It's nice because it's peaceful, which allows mourners to relax, mingle, and reflect on life amid bright, beautiful scenery.la quinta villaLI: Describe what you would consider a dream event to design here!Michelle: We'd love to put together a Platinum Wedding; we've recently been named one of WeTV's top 10 wedding venues, so hopefully it will happen soon!  Personally think any event that would incorporate a classic Hollywood style would be so much fun to see here at La Quinta.  Just because this property already has so much old Hollywood history--Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Frank Capra---this resort was a favorite among many classic movie stars, so it would be great to see an event that could revive that spirit here.Jessica: I've never had a "dream event" in mind, I'm always just looking forward to great clients who are fun to work with.  It's the people who make the event what it is.Christy: I tend to agree with Jessica; a truly fantastic event would be a phenomenal client with a phenomenal budget, so we can easily make their dream come true for them without cutting corners or scaling back on anything.  A lot of creativity on a big budget goes a LONG way.LI: As event managers, what do you recommend to interested parties out there looking to save some money on their wedding or other function?Michelle: Lose the favors.  Unless you come up with some really amazing idea for favors, don't do them.  Pictures last longer anyway, so lose the favors and put the money you save towards a professional and talented photographer.Jessica: Remain open to the idea of hosting your event on any day besides Saturday. Here at La Quinta Resort, we can actually offer a discount on the site fee for Friday, Sunday, or other-day-of-the-week events.Christy: I think it benefits clients to focus on what is most important to them and making sure they have the money for those areas, and if not, perhaps channeling funds from lesser aspects of their event towards the important things, like the venue, or food, or photography. It really helps in the long run to organize and repurpose your budget.  Any experienced coordinator can help you with this, as well.fountainLI: Do you have any exciting events coming up?Michelle: Our whole world is exciting here!Jessica: I have a really cool wedding that I'm excited about on May 1st.  This couple will be completely transforming La Casa villa, one of my favorite sites here at the resort, so I'm eager to see how it turns out.Christy: I'm excited to see that, too!LI: What vital piece of advice would you impart to wedding clientele everywhere for a fun, festive, and stress-free event? Michelle: Don't settle on someone else's dream. Do what you want to do, where and how you want to do it.  Also, hire a wedding coordinator.  Whether they are a full-service coordinator or just a day-of planner, they will lift a huge burden off your shoulders when it comes to putting everything together.Jessica: I second hiring a wedding planner.  I mean, if you really want to be able to enjoy your day and take it all in without popping your "bridal bubble," that blissful state of wedding day excitement and joy, then someone needs to be doing the legwork for you.Christy: I agree.  It's nice if a bridesmaid or relative steps up to the plate to coordinate some details for you, but unfortunately that means they won't be enjoying themselves to the fullest at your event, either.  It really is best to just hire a professional.cactus gardenFor more on La Quinta Resort, check out:La Quinta Resort's blog, Life At La QuintaLa Quinta Resort on TwitterLa Quinta Resort Weddings on TwitterLa Quinta Resort Weddings on FacebookLa Quinta Resort on Facebook