Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event planner Charley King of Bluebell Events and spoke about the endless beauty of Southern California and beyond.
AA: Bluebell is such a lovely name for your business. Can you please tell us about its significance?
CK: Bluebell is the special name my father called me ever since I was a little girl. Ten years ago, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and when considering what to name my company, I wanted a name that would remind me of my father and honor him. Five years ago, my father passed away from the disease. Now, anytime anyone says Bluebell Events, it makes me smile as I think of him and how proud my father would have been.
AA: With a background in theatre and film, how have those talents carried over to your work as an event designer?
CK: It was the next, perfect, seamless transition as both professions are very similar. I approach every event as I would a piece of theatre.or film It has many important facets to consider: lighting, costumes, set, makeup, hair, the cast of characters, the arc of the storyline, and everything in between. The event must flow like a beautifully written play or musical and take the guests on a magical journey. When I was a performer on Broadway and London’s West End, I focused on my piece of the puzzle, the performance. Now, as an event planner, I act as the producer, the director and most importantly, the stage manager.
AA: You’re based in Southern California. What exciting new venues have come on-line and could you name a favorite hideaway that we might not know about?
CK: I am so lucky to live and work in a place where you can have an ocean backdrop, a mountain view, an elegant hotel, or in a rustic vineyard. There are so many incredible wedding venues and estates here and we are completely spoiled. My newest discoveries that I have fallen in love with for events are Big Daddy’s Antiques and Epona Estate. Big Daddy’s takes the vintage trend to a whole new level. Big Daddy’s is a retailer of one-of-a-kind antiques and reproductions from Europe, Asia, and North American markets. It is incredibly eclectic and a designer’s dream blank canvas to work with. Epona Estates on the other end of the scale is a privately owned 40 acre working horse ranch and world class vineyard. It is located in the heart of the Santa Monica mountains adjacent to the Malibu valley. Both these locations allow clients to let me design every single aspect of their wedding.
AA: This has been a crazy year with El Nino, not only for California, but for much of North America. Has it affected any of your wedding days and what last minute changes had to be made to insure a brilliant outcome?
CK: Fortunately, El Nino never really hit us as hard as they expected it to. We always have a Plan B in place for inclement weather anyway. I am fortunate to work with an incredible team of vendors who are able to create solutions at the last minute.
AA: Would you tell us about a client relationship that started out on the cool side but ended up warm and wonderful?
CK: Client relationships are extremely important to me. My couples become like family to me and I become like Mother Bear for them. From start to finish of the planning and beyond, I nurture an open, connected, comfortable relationship with my clients and their families. I can’t imagine planning an event for a client that starts out cool.
AA: What is a favorite destination you’ve designed for and where is a dream locale you’d love to create for but just haven’t had the opportunity to quite yet?
CK: I adored designing a wedding at Emmanuel College, a constituent college of Cambridge University in England. The architecture of the chapel and the University was absolutely striking. I also loved working in Hawaii. My dream locale is a snowy, winter wedding in Aspen. My earmuffs are waiting!
AA: Let’s begin with the end in mind: When the ball drops this next New Year’s Eve, what would you like to say about the year 2016?
CK: Every year, an unexpected destination or fabulous opportunity comes into my life. I would love to be able to hold up my glass of champagne and say, “Wow! That was a phenomenal experience that I will never forget.”