Two weeks before their scheduled engagement party last August, event planner Andrea Wyn Schall's impulsive clients came up with an interesting idea-surprising their guests with an impromptu wedding.
Schall, owner of A Wynning Event in Los Angeles, told the client she would need more time to plan; they agreed to push the event back two weeks. She immediately sent out invitations and began full-scale production. "Fortunately, we hadn't sent out invitations for the engagement party yet because they hadn't officially confirmed the date," Schall says.
The couple had gotten engaged in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, and wanted to re-create a Polynesian setting in the back yard of their Encino, Calif., home.
"As soon as the 75 guests arrived for the evening event, they walked down a sand-filled aisle and up to a tiki bar where they were served mai tais and pina coladas in coconut cups," Schall says. In the background, Los Angeles-based Island Heat II performed island music.
The coconut cups were Schall's biggest challenge. "I went through everyone from produce suppliers to restaurants to prop houses," she says. "Finally, five days before the event, a set designer at a prop house told me about a Polynesian supply house."
Eight-foot lighted palm trees, bamboo trees and banana leaf trees enhanced the island look. Boulevard Greenhouse of Los Angeles provided the greenery.
Passed hors d'oeuvre included skewers of citrus-cured scallops and pineapple chunks, spicy tuna rolls, orange-flavored chicken served on endive feathers, crab cakes, gingered beef on skewers with teriyaki dipping sauce, and quesadillas filled with brie and mango. Dr. Cook's Gourmet Galley of Los Angeles supplied food, drinks and staffing for the tropical feast.
The menu underwent a few alterations when the engagement party became a wedding reception. "We changed it from a passed hors d'oeuvre menu to more of a substantial dinner," Schall says.
After cocktails, the groom made the wedding announcement while the bride changed into her gown-a floor-length silk floral dress. She also wore a white orchid lei and a head lei. Oleta Lynn Stanfield of Los Angeles-based Floral Works designed all floral.
"We created an aisle for the bride to walk down by asking the guests to part," Schall says. "The female lead singer sang the Hawaiian wedding song, and the bride followed her down the aisle."
Dinner included cold and hot buffets, which offered grilled ono, curried chicken and vegetable kabobs.
The guests dined on white chop plates at 60-inch round tables covered in poppy-colored linen. Centerpieces of coconut, stargazer lilies, anthurium, parakeet heliconia, torch ginger, orchids, palm leaves, ti leaves and bear grass adorned each table. Abbey Event Services of Burbank, Calif., provided rentals.
Tropical flowers and white frosting topped a tiered wedding cake with layers of vanilla cake with mocha chips and chocolate cake with raspberry filling. Tarzana, Calif.-based Hansen's Cakes created the cake.
Schall pulled off the event in four weeks by jumping on the phone and securing commitments. "Because it was high season for summer parties, a lot of my first choices were already booked," she says. "I just had to follow up with referral after referral."
The wedding was kept secret until the ceremony. "All the people involved were dressed casually," Schall says. "Even the minister showed up in a muumuu."
A Wynning Event 1650 Federal, Suite 113 Los Angeles, CA 90025 310/473-8791