A Monique Affair Wedding Blog
Meet the AMA Dream Team
Dream Team

All Images by Adeline & Grace Photography

It goes without saying that I couldn’t do what I do without the help of my amazing dream team. We’ve had a great journey getting to where we are today and as a team we have the ability to work flawlessly together to create once in a lifetime events that you and your guests will always remember. Without further ado, I would like you to meet that people that make up the AMA Dream Team!

Dream Team


CHANDA MONIQUE DANIELS Creative Director and Owner

Chanda is the Founder of A Monique Affair and assumes the role of Executive Designer and Owner. A born natural at planning, styling, and coordinating her 17 years of experience have established her as an expert in the event planning industry. A graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Hospitality Management, she’s been featured on notable websites such as H&H Weddings, Equally Wed, Style Me Pretty, Munaluchi Bridal and Pretty Pear Bride. Chanda has worked with some of the most prestigious venues and creative partners in the industry and is currently booking speaking engagements. When it comes to celebrations, her signature style is timeless and classic.

Dream Team

KRISTY MEINHARDT Wedding Day Director

Kristy feels passionately that wedding details and traditions are the most beautiful when there is meaning behind them, and experiencing Chanda’s deep commitment to her clients, her team and the wedding industry, is what moved her to join the AMA dream team. Kristy began her career as an Event Coordinator at the Elliston Vineyards in Sunol, and then completed the ACPWC Wedding Consultant Course in 2010. She has spent the last few years working as an independent contractor/planner while staying at home to raise her two kids. With each AMA event, she aims to deliver the feeling of confidence that the details of the event are in good hands. According to Kristy, the best satisfaction is watching clients enjoy this special time carefree with friends and family.

Dream Team


Syronda would consider herself the creative-partner-wrangler of the group because developing good relationships is one of her strengths. She is great at communicating with the partners on the day of the event to ensure flawless delivery. Before joining the dream team she worked as a Catering Coordinator at a hotel, where she also helped execute social events. Her true passion is weddings and so when she saw an opening at AMA she jumped at the opportunity to gain more planner experience. Syronda really enjoys working with Chanda whom she says has a great eye for design and is a born natural at events. Beside enjoying the team experience and being a part of creating someone’s dream wedding, she loves seeing clients walk away with a big smile.

Dream Team

QUINN HARRIS Event Manager

Quinn is very familiar with the demands of event planning. Having managed an array of event types over the years she can easily navigate her way through planning a public event, or a private wedding. Prior to joining A Monique Affair, Quinn worked for San Francisco City Hall where she coordinated both community and private events; it’s also where she met Chanda, while working on the YMCA Youth Warrior event. Seeking new event opportunities and a change of pace, she joined the AMA team where she manages every event with the goal of providing a relaxed planning experience. The highlight for her is getting to work with such an amazing team, and ensuring that each client is having the time of their life.

Dream Team

 SARAH MONTOYA Bridal Concierge

Sarah likes to keep her cool, especially around the brides, because she knows emotions are flying high on the big day. Besides her commitment to the AMA team, she graduated from San Francisco State University where she is studied Hospitality and Tourism Management. Working alongside Chanda, she feels excited about being a part of something bigger and finds it rewarding to share the unique event experience that comes with each client’s personality. She’s never experienced a team more supportive than the AMA dream team and loves working with them to accomplish an unforgettable experience for each and every client.

Dream Team

YOLANDA THAI Event Technician

Yolanda thrives when it comes to event set-ups, ensuring the vision is exact down to the last detail. Meeting strict event deadlines is her forte and making sure that every aspect of an event falls under the AMA standard is where she takes pride. Prior to joining AMA, Yolanda studied at San Francisco State University where began to work toward a career in event planning. It was through her association with an event planning club at school that she ended up getting connected with A Monique Affair. She sees her role as the bridge between the initial concept and the final production, Yolanda aims to create a real life version of what a client envisions with each and every celebration.

Dream Team

KIMBERLY TAKEDA Event Technician

Kimberly is a problem solver and knows that’s an important job when it comes to planning events, because even when you plan far enough in advance, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. A graduate of San Francisco State University, her first experience with the dream team was as an intern, but she loved it so much, she joined the team permanently shortly after her term ended. Kimberly is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to provide an event that clients will always look back and remember, with her main goal being to keep them coming back for more.

Have we piqued your interest? Get to know our team a little bit better and find out if we are the perfect match for your event. Visit our “Let’s Get Started” page and fill out a little information about yourself and your event and we’ll contact you to set up a meeting.






The Premium Wedding Investment


Wedding Budget

Photography in this Post by Christine Glebov Photography

In our last blog post we dove into the realistic wedding budget and covered what we felt was a fair investment for the luxury wedding. As a follow up to that, and in response to the feedback and comments received from our readers, we saw the need to cover the topic in more detail; to elaborate for those that aren’t necessarily in luxury wedding territory. It prompted us to dig a little deeper and what we found was an amazing blog post by our friends at Think Splendid that we felt fairly breaks down realistic wedding budget ranges. These ranges speak to the latest wedding market reports resulting in more accurate numbers.

wedding budget

At Think Splendid, Liene breaks her wedding investment tiers fairly into four categories as follows:

  • Luxury – Investments of $96,000 or greater.
  • Premium – Investments of $31,000 – $95,000.
  • Standard – Investments of $11,000 – $30,000.
  • Economic – Investments of $10,000 or less.

Based on a lot of the figures we’ve seen online, we think these ranges are the most realistic. To elaborate, in this post we want to focus on the premium range. We dive in to show you a breakdown of what the premium wedding investment gets you, with a budget in the range of $95,000.

In a premium investment scenario, what you find is that sometimes the cost figures are interchangeable or can be combined. What we mean is that perhaps you are eyeing one of your favorite high end hotels as an option for the reception. Sometimes these hotels offer collections that could include the ceremony and reception venue, in addition to food and beverage. If that’s the case than those costs can be combined. There is a great benefit to opting for a “hotel wedding” in addition to combining a few costs. Hotels do a lot to stay current and trendy which means that you can often use the ambiance to your advantage, and even pair it with your chosen décor for an additional punch of glamour.

Interchanging and combining can be done with a few of the other costs within a category. For example, under attire, costs can be reduced especially if the couple shops at sample sales, or it could be the bride already has a dress that is a family tradition. If you get creative, there are a few ways to interchange or combine some of the cost. Take a look at our breakdown an tell us what you think.


wedding budget


Our main motivation is to bring information to you that reflects what budgets are requiring these days and what that means for you and your milestone celebration. Planning a wedding usually only happens once, so you want to make it count. Nevertheless the most important thing to you is having the resources to create an experience that your guests will forever talk about.

Tell us what you think? What do you consider a realistic wedding investment and what elements did you have to compromise to make it happen? Tell us in the comments below, lets start a conversation.

The Realistic Wedding Budget
Wedding Budget

Photography by Natarsha Wright

The cost of planning a wedding has been the topic of much discussion, and more so now that social media gives you an easy way to glance at what others are doing. Without having any idea as to the type of investment it takes to produce these pristine weddings that couples now see on Pinterest and Instagram, I can’t describe how awkward the situation becomes when I meet a couples for the first time and I have to break the news that her $10,000 budget won’t buy them the type of production they are seeing on social media.

Once I started to notice that this was beginning to happen more often, I set out to find out what type of wedding budget information couples are encountering on the web and what I found was shocking. It’s what prompted me to come up with a series of blog article that share various perspectives on a few realistic price points and from a professional’s perspective. We start, by exploring the type of money it takes to produce a truly flawless and worry free wedding. Welcome to our article detailing the realistic luxury wedding budget.

Wedding BudgetThere’s been a lot of recent talk floating around the web about wedding budgets. What’s reasonable, what’s realistic, about the average amount of money people invest, and we couldn’t believe how misleading the figures out there are; and even coming from some bigger more trusted sources. Comments on popular blogs, over the subject of “the average wedding budget” have proven that many are outraged, and not just wedding professionals are commenting, but even brides themselves.

It was easy for me to get emotion over the whole thing but instead, I decided to reach into my bag of wedding resources and come out with a true representation of the amount of investment it would take to host a top-of-the-line, worry and stress free wedding; one that rivals those pretty weddings being shared over social media.

Now, I find it important to mention that these figures are not about wedding professionals wanting a bigger pay check. What this particular budget does is represent the amount of money that you should plan for each element of a wedding, without limiting what you truly want. In other words, not eliminating your dream venue, or your favorite caterer, or giving up getting the pinworthy flowers, because you’re trying to save money. Today we’re providing you with the information to be informed about your wedding investment so that you can be confident in the amount you want to spend for this once in a lifetime milestone.

Weddings are budgeted at varying levels. Our budget represents figures derived by an experienced professional, these number represent years of experience. However, you should keep in mind that some of the elements listed are interchangeable and some could also be eliminated. For example, the estimated $5,000 for a wedding dress might be eliminated if the bride perhaps already has a family heirloom dress, or jewelry, for example.

wedding budget

Our top figure represents the top-of-the-line, worry free wedding production that is flawless and buys you what your heart desires. To get an idea for a more “average” figure for a wedding in the Bay Area, split our top figure in half ($96,000). For an even more mid-ranged wedding still, divide the average figure in half again ($48,000), and you’d be arriving at a more realistic figure then what you find on the web right now.  Any figure below $20,000 refers to a, DIY production which is not worry free and a whole lot of work and requires a whole lot of compromise.

Please tell us what you think, what do you consider a realistic wedding budget, or share the range of your own wedding investment? We want to open up a dialogue to inform couples planning a wedding what to really expect and to be confident with their investment. Plus, remember that whatever you see on the web may be misrepresented and the best way to figure out what you’re getting into is to consult with a professional wedding planner.

wedding trends

Image by Meagan Moura Photography

In keeping our eye on the industry to see what the next big wedding trends will be, we are always excited about comparing notes with some of my favorite creative partners. You might remember the previous post we did in which we dove into the makings of the lesbian wedding with Laura Leigh Abby of 2 Brides to 2 Be. Doing so provides an opportunity to introduce you to some of the great wedding (and same sex wedding) resources out there, because hey, we all need a little inspiration from time to time.

In today’s post, we introduce you to Kate Schaefer, founder and editor of one of our favorite websites here at AMA, called H and H Weddings. Born and raised in the land of 10,000 lakes, Kate decided to move to New York to study photography at the School of Visual Arts. On her journey Kate discovered a ton of interesting facts about life. She learned that beer can fix almost anything, that a run along the East River is the best way to clear the mind, and that LGBT wedding resources were seriously lacking during that time.

It was while at her internship at Gothamist that she realized this last fact about LGBT weddings. Combine that with her deep desire for equality, and a passion for online shopping, and it became her trinity of reasons for launching the website.

For your entertainment we caught up with Kate to do a little brainstorming about future wedding trends and find out what motivated her to create such an awesome website. We think you’ll find what she had to say very interesting.


Wedding Trends

This is Kate Schaefer, Founder & Editor of H&H Weddings

A MONIQUE AFFAIR: When did you first launch H & H Weddings and what was your main motivation for doing so?

KATE SCHAEFER: I first started working on H&H Weddings in 2012, while interning at Gothamist. I happened to read a Huff Post piece written by a bride-to-be who was venting about how few resources existed for her because she was a lesbian. I couldn’t believe what I was reading so I did a little research, and found out that she was absolutely right. So, I took it upon myself to change that!

AMA: We personally love the name H&H, which stands for His and His, and Hers and Hers. It’s quite clever, how did you arrive at the name?

KS: I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the exact moment we came up with the name, but we did go through endless rounds of name ideas. We wanted it to be gender neutral, of course. We wanted something that didn’t sound like anything else we had ever heard before while also being smart. We also wanted the branding to be neutral which meant we had to carefully consider the name from every angle. We didn’t want it to scream “we’re a gay wedding website,” and have rainbows all over it. In the end I think we achieved it all.

AMA: You feature a great mix of both lesbian weddings and gay weddings on the website. From a design and décor perspective, can you share what major trends you’re seeing among these couples and is there a difference with what lesbian couples are doing for their wedding décor as opposed to what the males are choosing to do?

KS: From what I see, gay males tend to have smaller, simpler weddings. Also, I get far fewer content submissions from as opposed to females. My favorite thing about LGBTQ weddings is that the couples use it as an opportunity to create one-of-a-kind events. There aren’t as many predetermined factors, as with straight weddings allowing for a lot of flexibility design wise. I see so many people throwing traditions out the window to do just what they want to do, which is really great.

AMA: Of course we absolutely LOVE romance, indulge us by sharing your absolute favorite part about same-sex weddings?

KS: Two words: First. Look. This gets me every single time. It’s the most emotionally raw moment (that I see) at almost any wedding and I absolutely adore it. It’s a culmination of so much work and so much planning and then, all of a sudden, the world freezes around you because the person that you are committing your life to is standing there in front of you, ready to commit their life to you! It’s so beautiful and intimate.

AMA: Have you ever faced a same-sex wedding etiquette question that has ever stumped you? How did you go about finding the right answer?

KS: I have not! The fun thing is, we really just get to make up the answers as we go because there is no Emily Post for same sex weddings.

AMA: What do you foresee as being major wedding trends in 2016?

KS: I think we’ll see colored smoke bombs, mismatched wedding parties, fall weddings (I think we’re seeing richer hues, over the pastels we were seeing a couple of years ago),  and geometric patterns.

We think she might be onto something.

wedding trends

Image by Megan Moura Photography

The Hosted Bar Wedding Article of Your Dreams
cash bar

Image by D. Lilian Photography


When it comes to weddings, there are a ton of decisions to make. Like whether to go with a hosted bar or a cash bar, there is a difference. The difference being exactly what you might have guessed, that a hosted bar defers the bill for all beverages to the marrying couple, as opposed to a cash bar, which requires the guests to pay for their own drinks.

Without stepping on anyone’s toes, because I know planning for the perfect wedding is tough, when I’m asked by my couples what they should do, I always recommend they lean toward a hosted bar.  Especially because it’s the much classier choice, but before I go sparking a huge debate (trust me when I say that this is a very sensitive subject) many seem to have an opinion about it. I want to break it down for you and explain why I’m pro hosted bar wedding, and it just comes down to following some basic rules of hospitality.

I believe that when you host a huge celebration like a wedding, you want to treat your guests well by going above and beyond for them. You’ve invited the closest people to you, to celebrate you, and so you definitely want to create an experience your guests will never forget. In order to do that, you’ve got to make  your guests feel special. Part of “feeling special” means that things have been taken care of for you and  this is the position I take when it comes to going with the hosted bar option.

There are many determining factor for the decisions you make when it comes to your wedding, but there are some ways to create a little wiggle room. For example plenty of venues offer some decent drink packages which give you some options. Also, make sure to review your guest list and realistically envision each person’s drink style, this can help you gauge what to spend. Then there’s always the option of trying to trim the guest list a little, but that can get emotional.

In the end, all you’ll remember is the good time you had. Plus, you’ll live in the good graces of the amazing celebration you were able to provide for your loved ones.


Cash Bar

Image by Bethanie Hines Photography