Category Archives: Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings

Creating Pretty Displays for Dessert and Food Tables

dessert table styling by amy atlas

Dessert table by the amazing Amy Atlas

Before people taste food with their mouths, they devour it with their eyes. This is the driving force behind why chefs at top restaurants put so much effort into making dishes look elegant and well put together, and even explains why burger commercials make everything look so crisp, fresh and enticing. Your eyes will tell you whether it should taste good before you ever take that first bite. And this is precisely why a well styled dessert table, buffet table or appetizer table is so important – it will actually make the food more enjoyable for your guests (not to mention it makes for a really pretty picture).

Some of the things you’ll want to consider when styling a dessert or food table include the theme of the event (for colors, cute design and decor details), the type of food you’ll be serving, the ease of eating (best to use things that can be picked up and eaten in one or two bites, or put items in single serving size containers so guests can grab and go mingle), and varying heights of the dishes so you can see everything on the table clearly.

Paper wooden cone stand - bambooAll of the beautiful dessert and food tables you see popping up on sites like Pinterest and Style Me Pretty are so visually enticing because of a consistent theme and great styling. And one of my favorite items to use for styling a dessert or food table are cones and stands  to create visual interest and height difference in the food on display (see left photo of a fabulous – and totally affordable – bamboo cone stand from (they also supply the pretty little cones that hold the food and fit neatly inside each slot).

What I love about cone stands and cones is that they are so incredibly versatile. You can use the stand again and again a million ways (for french fries, popcorn, cotton candy puffs, veggie spears, to hold ice cream cone cupcakes, to hold favors, the list goes on and on…), and they also come in different shapes to suit what you are looking for. A big square cone stand with a ton of slots (like this one) is perfect in the middle of a table with low platters around it and elevated boxes with platters on top behind it, while the smaller semi-circle cone holders might work best flanking the center item on the table (use two for this – one on each side).

Finally, don’t forget to dress up your cone stands and cones so they match the overall look and feel of your event! Why not spray paint the bamboo stand, and wrap your cones in a wallpaper or wrapping paper that coordinates with your event’s theme for a completely custom look? You can always paint over the stand again for another event later on – the customization options are endless, so get creative!

I hope I’ve given you some fun ideas on how to style up a pretty dessert or food table… how do you plan on styling your tables? Share your ideas below in the comment section!

Note: This post was sponsored by (an amazing resource for the cone holders and paper cones), although I would never share anything with our readers that I wouldn’t love and use myself. Happy Table Styling!


Leave a comment

Filed under Budget Friendly & Fabulous, Delectable Desserts, Do It Yourself, Party Food, Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings


iPhone sneak peek from a shoot I did this fall - a Ralph Lauren inspired tablescape

Happy 2011, all! So, I’ve been a very bad blogger for the past few months but I promise it’s with good reason. I’ve been insanely busy with some fabulous weddings, events, styled shoots, a big move, buying our first home AND renovating it – phew! The past few months have been an amazing journey, and I’m excited to announce that we are now officially settled in the Northern California Bay Area.

This move has been a long time coming; the hubby is from SF originally and we longed to move from the entertainment-industry centric city of Los Angeles to San Francisco for a few years now. To prepare, I started taking San Francisco and Napa wedding bookings two years ago and spent 30% of my time in NorCal and 70% in SoCal. Now that The Stylish Soiree is officially a San Francisco-based event planning and wedding design firm, I spend 70% of my time up here and 30% of my time catering to my fabulous Los Angeles and San Diego clientele. It’s been a whirlwind of a year and quite the transition, but I can honestly say I have never been happier. 🙂

With that said, I am still on the hunt for a perfect office space in Los Angeles, and in the meantime am meeting with clients wherever is most convenient for them. I do not charge travel fees for Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco or Napa events, and love planning long distance or destination weddings for clients. Plus, since I’m down in Southern California each and every month I still see my SoCal clients just as often as my NorCal clients – it’s a really great situation and I’m feeling super excited and blessed about how everything turned out.

Now that the holidays are over and we’re settling into our home, I promise to catch up on all the beautiful wedding design eye candy I haven’t posted on yet, as well as little glimpses into our own journey to home design and renovation. Thank you for all the readers who have stuck out the long dry spell – there are lots of pretty things in store coming your way for 2012.

Warm Wishes,

Yelena Johnson | Creative Director | The Stylish Soiree

1 Comment

Filed under Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings

I love cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling…

For those of you who recognize the line from SNL’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ short, you’re my kind of people. You know, the kind who would trek miles through a city just to have a taste of your favorite brand of Magnolia Bakery cupcake deliciousness. Since it’s Friday and I’m a little loopy due to this heat, here’s a true story to illustrate my dedication to cupcakes…

The year was 2006. Mike and I were in New York with his parents to celebrate his mom’s birthday in her favorite city. The first night was spent at a great dinner and a Broadway show, and we went to bed early with lots of festivities planned for the following day. What happened next was dubbed ‘The Blizzard of ’06” by news reporters. Overnight, the skies dumped a whopping 3 feet of snow that blanketed the Big Apple in a cloud of white, and the city fell silent.

For two California dwellers, the snow was a treat. With most stores closed because of the snow, the hubby and I spent the day doing what we do best – dreaming, talking about and pursuing food. A trip to a famed Greenwich Village pizzeria was followed up with a trek to Magnolia Bakery for some cupcakes. I have numerous pictures from that trip bundled up in a parka, scarf, pants and UGGs, stuffing a pretty pink cupcake into my mouth. It was heavenly, and I’ve oft dreamed about those cupcakes ever since.

Cut to about a year ago, when one of my favorite neighborhood organic dry cleaners closed its doors. I was admittedly peeved, until I saw a small sign go up in the window announcing that my former dry cleaner was to become the future home to a Los Angeles outpost of Magnolia Bakery. Things were looking up.

Since then I’ve driven by my old dry cleaners about a hundred times, but each time the windows were still covered up for construction. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw today’s Daily Candy email about Magnolia Bakery Los Angeles FINALLY opening – woot!

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while it’s safe to assume I’m languishing in a pastel hued cupcake-coma, buried beneath a pile of empty boxes from Magnolia’s.

Have a cupcake-alicious weekend,

XOXO Yelena

Leave a comment

Filed under Party Food, Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings

Unique Wedding Ceremony Reading

Finding unique readings can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Here’s one reading I love, from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It’s everything a reading should be – romantic, poetic and meaningful.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

*Image via Once Wed… I apologize but I don’t have the photographer credit – if this belongs to you, please let me know so I can give credit 🙂

XO, Yelena | The Stylish Soiree


Filed under Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings

The Stylish Soiree Featured on San Francisco Style Unveiled

Today was an exciting day, as The Stylish Soiree was featured on San Francisco Style Unveiled! I’ve always loved Style Unveiled’s beautiful article layouts and the gorgeous San Francisco and Los Angeles weddings they feature, so I was thrilled when Meg Perotti told me they were going to run the story.

San Francisco Style Unveiled relies on interviewing the bride for the article, and I was so touched by bride Elle’s sweet words about my wedding planning services! Elle and Nima were such a joy to work with, and it didn’t hurt that I loved the other vendors involved in making their big day a success. I also have to thank the super talented Meg for referring me their way when Elle began to get overwhelmed in the planning process. And if you’re in San Francisco or the Bay Area and need catering, definitely check out Global Gourmet – their food really is that good. 🙂

Here is the sweet review Elle wrote about working with me as her wedding coordinator, but definitely click on over to Style Unveiled to see the rest of the gorgeous images from their wedding at the Bentley Reserve, and for more stylish wedding inspiration.

One reason it’s great to have a wedding planner is that we’re there to handle any problems or issues on the fly. In this wedding, for instance, Elle had a wonderful, albeit overzealous relative who really, really wanted to videotape Elle and Nima at their sweetheart table, as well as during their first dance – while less than a foot away from them, hehe.

I kindly invited him to take his seat during the dance, which he did. But, had I not stepped in, the photographer probably wouldn’t have been able to get great shots of Elle and Nima’s first dance – not to mention that they were feeling a bit uncomfortable about the up close video, and it would have looked kind of silly to the other guests as well. Also, after taking pictures all over the city, Elle’s dress had a 6 inch rip – but with my sewing kit in my emergency bag, my assistant and I were able to completely sew up the rip before the Grand Entrance and first dance, and in the end Elle’s dress looked like nothing had ever happened.

So, while it may be easy to discount the importance of a wedding planner since everything happens behind the scenes, sometimes the true value is in what you don’t see – the tear in a dress, the last minute change of place cards or tables, the stealthy cues to a DJ or band to avoid silence or awkward gaps in music (or a bride in the bathroom while the Grand Entrance in announced), rounding up a rowdy bridal party for pictures, repeatedly applying Blister Block to a bride’s feet so she can dance the night away comfortably, or gently persuading a loving uncle to take video from his seat instead of six inches away from the bride and groom.:)

Though I LOVE wedding design more than anything, working with my clients on the day of the wedding is my next favorite part of wedding planning – I love being the behind the scenes miracle worker who makes the day go smoothly, easily and joyfully for the bride and groom, and I’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with fabulous, warm and positive clients and families to work with. The End.

1 Comment

Filed under Press, Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings

More Details from our Chanel-inspired wedding shoot…

Some of my very favorite details from our Chanel wedding inspiration shoot included the bridal and bridesmaid accessories. The white enamel and gold bangles, the Kenneth Jay Lane oversize flower ring, gloves, lace tights and the big floral headpieces injected the ‘wow factor’ into the bridal and bridesmaid looks. That is precisely why I love styling brides – it truly is an art, and you have to have a well honed sense of balance, taste, color and proportion to get it just right. Every new outfit I set out to create for this shoot felt like an exhilarating new challenge… especially since the store that originally promised us pieces for the bridesmaids fell through a day before and I picked out all new the pieces seen in the shoot in an hour.

Doing a wedding shoot like this once again reminded me that beauty really is all around, and I am so grateful to have a career that I am deeply passionate about. Hope you have enjoyed all the eye candy. Until next time…


Yelena Johnson

Creative Director & Principal Consultant, The Stylish Soiree

Vendor Credits: Styling, planning & design development: Yelena Johnson, The Stylish Soiree / Photography: Allison & Kyle Richter of Studio 28 Photo / Floral Design: Carissa Jones, JL Designs & Events / Paper Goods: Calligraphy Katrina and Maison du Papier / Hair & Makeup: Dedra Whitt / Venue: Brookside Equestrian Center, Walnut, CA; Contact Lisa Walton-Cortes / Wedding Dresses: L’ezu Atelier in Beverly Hills, CA; Contact Patricia Nevil / Dresses Used in Shoot (from L’ezu): Acqua di Rosa (blush silk gown with chiffon detail at neck), Acqua di Giglio (silk with chiffon overlay, one shoulder and black pearl/floral details), Alonso (short dress) / Rentals: Party Rental King; white ladderback chairs, mirror and black French glass chargers / Linens: Wildflower Linens

Leave a comment

Filed under The Style Files, Wedding Fashion, Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings

Wedding Planning & More in 2010

So far 2010 has been so busy, exciting and full of life for  The Stylish Soiree that I’ve hardly had time to create new posts! Keep your eyes peeled for some top-secret but super stylish wedding photo shoots we’re working on that will be bursting with fashion & decor inspirations, as well as more tips on finding that dream dress while on a budget, and fabulous guest blog posts from wedding industry experts.

I honestly couldn’t be more excited for this year. If the past few weeks are any indication, 2010 is shaping up to be a year of intense momentum with lots of big, exciting projects & scintillating surprises in store. I’m so glad you are sticking with me, and I can’t wait to share the ride with all of you, my dear readers.  Stay tuned for stunning aesthetics!

Happy Planning & Warm Wishes,


*image by Rodney Smith

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, Wedding Planner Thoughts & Musings