Eco Chic Events

Best of The Best 2016 San Diego Bridal Bazaar

February 16, 2016
wedding, head, table, banquet, dinner, dramatic, glam, purple, party

The first San Diego Bridal Bazaar of the year attracted thousands of glowing fiancés to the convention center downtown. Over 330 specialty vendors showcased their latest offerings, and The Eco Chic Event was there to assess them all. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are our top picks from San Diego Bridal Bazaar 2016!succulent, bouquet, bridal, modern, wedding, water

table, dinner, banquet, reception, succulent, floral, centerpiece

poppy, wild, succulent, California, bouquet, wedding

modern, flowers, wedding, baby's breath, white, green, decor, garland

roses, romantic, garland, arbor, chandelier, wedding, backdrop, floral, white, pastel


Flowers everywhere!

Our favorite florist of the entire show was Rhapsody in Bloom. The ladies of Rhapsody were by far the sweetest and most informative of the bazaar; they had turned their booth space into a tiny magical garden full of surprises, and they had the most handsome succulent boutonnieres we’ve ever seen. Our favorite featured thistle and feathers (see the top left of the sample board below)! Seriously, contact them for some excellent suggestions.

boutonniere, boutineer, thistle, succulent, lapel, floral, wedding, buttonhole, men

boutonniere, succulent, feather

succulent, boutineer, boutonniere


Mood lighting

We liked San Diego SociaLights for their genuine friendliness, their charitable aspirations, and their open mindedness toward alternative energy. They have extensive LED offerings, and they are a proud member of 1% For The Planet!  Not one vendor of the hundreds there offered solar, so we spoke with Socialights about the possibility of incorporating solar options into their selections.

lighting, marquee, san, diego, social, lights, booth, bridal, bazaar, wedding

Fashion rundown

One gown entirely stole the show for us. The Bustle Bridal Boutique in Del Mar told us that it was created by Anne Barge specially for one client who wanted a removable skirt rather than the traditional bustle. This is what she came up with:

blue willow, line, anne barge, wedding, dress, gown, bridal, couture, designer, jenny, removable, dupioni,

Oui s’il vous plaît!

Raw Dupioni silk, Alencon lace, a bateau neckline, and a removable overskirt fastened with a bow. It is called “Jenny” and it is in Anne Barge’s Blue Willow line. Très élégant!

The runway show brought nothing new in silhouettes or styles. Nevertheless, here’s a quick replay:

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D’Angelo Couture featured mint green accents, large flower hair pieces, and a long, Spanish-style mantilla veil. The unfortunate model wearing the final dress had considerable difficulty walking in the heavy buttercream frosting-like skirt.

Demetrio’s went dramatic with drapey, full-length dresses and deep V backs. The models were accompanied by flower girls in sweet ballet-style  dresses complete with full tutu skirts.

David’s Bridal featured 1920’s inspired fascinators with draping ribbon, tulle flower fascinators, and plenty of the cutout backs you’ve been seeing on tweens all over town.

Dapper Dames, providing custom suits for women, walked with Unveiled Bridal, a plus-size designer. Together they showed a couple great suits that were fitted, feminine, and looked comfortable, as well.

Bridal & Veil had the most daring costumes, with feather fans of all sizes, dropped waists, mermaid and trumpet skirts, and sparkles everywhere. We particularly liked the sparkly shoulder caps of one gown.

PreVue put on the best show, if not the best dresses. The models performed a fun routine, and a ham of a ring bearer got a standing ovation for pure cheek.

gelato, cake, wedding, reception, dessert, ice cream, alternative, modern, italian

Let’s eat … or just have gelato

While we didn’t care for any of the caterers, Gelato Paradiso had a charming staff and a pretty sweet (get it?) catering cart. They also make gelato-filled cakes! Be still, our hearts. We’d choose a custom gelato cart over the cute but undelicious cookies from Joybaked any day.

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Flour Power Cakery gets our award for best in show. They had a wide selection of styles that showed their prowess with a pastry tube.

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pearl, yellow, rose, cake, wedding, tiered, white, fondant

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Eccentric International Chefs definitely win best in taste, and friendliest food exhibitors.

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white, chocolate, wedding, cake, dessert, ruffled, pastry, elegant, simple


Only one stationer had any recycled paper products available. This was Designs by Lenila, which offers island-inspired invitations for the beachy bride. Lenila was knowledgeable, and kind enough to share a few sample thank you notes with me. I’ll be bringing them to Earth Fair in Balboa Park April 17th for those who’d like to see them in person. Otherwise, Designs by Lenila is by appointment only. A portion of this company’s sales go to Jeremiah’s Ranch, a future community for developmentally disabled adults.

glitter, sparkle, invitation, stationery, wedding, bridal, party, art, deco, gold, square, bold, roaring

sparkle, invitation, stationery, wedding, mail, stripe, striped, envelope, glitter, belly, band, modern


Our top two venue picks from this show: If you’re thinking of staying ultra local, The Lafayette Hotel has serious vintage cred, and accommodations for parties of all sizes. Honestly, who doesn’t love this ballroom:

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No one. That’s who.

If you’re leaning more toward a getaway event, Rancho Tecate Hotel and Resort is a short drive, yet still a world away in Mexico. They’ve got all-inclusive packages and English-speaking staff for a streamlined celebration. This venue was recommended to us last year by Chef Kenji of Restaurante Amores Tecate (more on Chef Kenji and his creations in an upcoming Artist Spotlight post), and we are planning a visit soon.

Mexico, Tecate, Baja, California, rustic, wine, ranch, rancho, wedding, cater, event, special, hotel, retreat, table

We love surprises

The vendor we were most surprised to like this year was Old Town Trolley Tours. If you know The Eco Chic Event, you already know how we feel about fossil fuels; however, you might also guess that we are totally into carpooling. This beautiful trolley is a seriously fun way to carpool with your entire bridal party and then some … and it comes with a tuxedo-clad driver.

trolley, san diego, old town trolley tours, bella, felicity, wedding, carpool, bus, cable car, rental

san diego, old town trolley tours, wedding, rental, felicity, bella, cable car, bus, carpool, bridal bazaar

Honorable mentions

The Princess Project, for supporting the Five R’s by collecting used dresses and accessories, and offering them to high school girls who can’t otherwise afford them. They are nonprofit and oh so sweet. Not a bad place to send the ghosts of bridesmaid dresses past.

games, tosso, bocce, ball, giant, event, rental, custom, wedding, chess, party

Tosso glow in the dark bocce ball, giant Connect Four (“Mega Four”), and they offer laser engraving on their giant Jenga (“tumble tower”). Do you need these in your life as much as we do?

Farm Fresh to You, the popular local CSA, also receives an honorable mention from us. The staff has never been overly friendly, but this CSA offers fresh produce at reasonable rates. On top of that, you can choose from a number of different box sizes, delivery frequency, and your boxes are more customizable than we’ve seen anywhere else. We can’t think of a better gift for a newlywed couple.

marquee, lights, custom, wedding, bridal, cake, dessert, table, bold, modern, striped

2016 wedding outlook

If this bazaar gives any indication, the overarching trends for weddings in 2016 include: club-style dj’s with lots of bass; sparkles, sparkles everywhere, especially on table linens and invitations; statement chandeliers; dramatic floral displays; lacy laser cut stationery; and you haven’t seen the last of those photo booths.

wedding, reception, party, chair, cover, bow, flower, fabric, table, ruffled

The rustic country look is still popular, but there is movement toward more drama and glamour. Think opulence, lots of reflective materials, and oversized furniture. Pastels and roses, sheer curtains, and lights – lots of them. Marketplace string lights, fairy lights, custom marquee lights, the sky is the limit.

chandelier, flowers, bouquet, wedding, decor, floral, pastel, roses, hanging, curtain

feminine, wedding, table, design, decor, floral, pink, purple, arch

Thanks for reading our top picks of the 2016 San Diego Bridal Bazaar – check back in later for an upcoming post on the latest French wedding trends!


Rethinking Valentine’s Day

February 10, 2016
vespa, date, moped, scooter, romantic, beach, valentine's, engagement

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is coming. It’s impossible to avoid the tacky tidal wave once it has swept through your favorite shops, but let’s imagine a February 14th free of hideous cardboard boxes of waxy chocolate-flavored candies (looking at you, Russel Stover), free of the overwhelming and sickly sweet decorations, and free of the obligations that mar an otherwise – admit it – perfectly charming concept.

ugly, tacky, decor, decorations, valentine's, romantic

Make it stop

Picture a simple and elegant alternative of your own design. Picture less and better. Were you able to imagine something nice? If you don’t plan on opting out of Valentine’s Day entirely, it is possible to make the holiday beautiful and – you guessed it – more eco-friendly. Read on for sustainable alternatives for Valentine’s Day 2016 from The Eco Chic Event!

picnic, romantic, hike, park, spring, grass, trees,

If it’s going to be just you and your sweetie this year, talk about how you’ll be spending the day. Skip the balloons – they’re rotten for the earth. Instead, give in-season flowers. If you’re too cute for words, you can take a walk with your sweetheart and gather your own tiny, wild bouquet. Très adorable! My personal favorite, give the gift of an outing! A hike and picnic, a facial or massage, a trip to the symphony. Say no to diamonds (really. They are not any girl’s best friend. Stay tuned for next week’s post to learn why, and about greener – and more beautiful – options).

couple, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, cooking, together, date, romantic, dinner, home
If you’re going out to eat, stay local. However, Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants, so I highly recommend cooking at home. A simple salad and home-baked pizza feel special when you set the table, turn down the lights, and share a bottle of something while paying chef and sous.
red, velvet, cupcakes, valentine's, baked

Got kids? Instead of perforated paper cards, this year try passing out baked treats from home. Your child can decide what he’d like to share with his classmates, then you can make it together from local, organic ingredients. His friends – and his teacher – will thank you.

Our last tip – or call it a request – go easy on the pink and red. Seriously, less is more.


Happy (Modern) Lunar New Year!

February 6, 2016
monkey, lunar, new year, chinese, 2016, year of, horoscope

Gung xi fa cai!

2016 is the year of the monkey. The monkey represents one of the brightest and most inquisitive animals of the Chinese zodiac. It’s considered a great year to innovate, so take a page out of the monkey’s book and make some bold choices in 2016! Here are a few tips from The Eco Chic Event to help you be monkey-bold and innovative when planning your Chinese New Year celebration.


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Calm yourself, China.


  1. There’s no denying it: our people enjoy lavish decorations. Gold and red are the traditional colors of Chinese new year, symbolizing good luck, prosperity, beauty, and joy. This intense palette doesn’t have to be tacky and overwhelming, though. The key is choosing accents where they will make a big impact. For example, take advantage of the recent reemergence of fabulous gold-colored flatware, or make a real statement with bright red plates. Keep the rest simple for a truly modern table.


blossoms, gold, table, setting, flatware, party, dinner, pink, spring

That’s better.


  1. Bring spring to your party with branches of blossoms. Cherry is a customary favorite, but you can use whatever grows nearby. For an updated look, instead of displaying them in a vase, suspend them over your table horizontally. This is fresh, beautiful, and visually interesting. Use large eye-catchers like these and more decorations aren’t even necessary!


spring, festival, cherry, blossom, branch, chinese, lunar, new year


  1. Plan your menu around what’s in season, of course! Thinking of modernizing your menu? Start with traditional banquet staples and offer them in a surprising form. How about pea and ginger won tons, cold soba with black sesame vinegar, and line-caught ono seared and served with Asian microgreens and pomelo segments? Alongside the moon cakes, why not have some refreshing kumquat sorbet? Top it all with sparkling libations for a memorable feast!





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  1. Green your beloved traditions. Everyone who celebrates this holiday knows it revolves around family and food. Let that center hold and monkey-innovate with the details! Some ways we’re doing this in 2016: carpooling to dinner; wrapping lucky money in recycled envelopes; giving the kids fair trade chocolate gold coins; sending people home with food in non-plastic reusable containers; buying organic potted kumquat and mandarin trees. 

Are you celebrating the lunar new year? How are you keeping it green?


Two Tiny House Tours

January 26, 2016
tiny, small, house, cabin, cottage, snow, forest, minimalist

Hello, eco chic readers. This week we’re opening eyes and challenging the status quo of your living situation. Did you know that the average American spends a third of his income on housing, a tenth of it on home maintenance … and only regularly uses one quarter of the space! Well, some people knew and decided to change. Simplify, simplify, and thus was born the tiny house movementThere are many resources and shows for those interested, but in short, it’s a way of life that requires drastic downsizing and eventually moving into a home typically just a couple hundred square feet.

Many of these homes are mobile, and many are green in design, utilizing solar power and recycled materials. This past weekend The Eco Chic Event met up with a group of interested San Diegans to learn exactly what it feels like to go tiny.

tiny, small, house, home, trailer, mobile, loft, yellow

The first house we toured belonged to Danielle: a 266 square foot home tucked away behind a 4000 square foot residence. The owners of the expansive house support the “tiny house movement” and have cleared three plots on their estate to rent out to people like Danielle.

With the help of a few other tiny house enthusiasts, Danielle spent just under a year constructing her home from the ground up (with no previous building experience!). The whole project cost just under $30,000, including all the appliances. She designed it herself, first drawing a floor plan on the ground in chalk, and sitting in its confines with her daughter. After they’d determined that they could handle it, the real planning began. Was it difficult? “Once you understand basic grid framing, it’s easier than you realize – you’re just building a big box.”

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What’s this?

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Pocket door! With storage!

Here’s what her time, money, and sweat bought her: a double-high trailer with two loft areas and a shed roof (that’s shed the style). With plenty of windows, modular storage, and pocket doors that double as rolling shelving, the feeling on the inside is much more spacious than you might expect.

octopus, hanger, rack, towel, bathroom, door, cute, creative

Both Danielle and her daughter have a private loft area; one of them has filled it with a full-size bed, but the other has chose to create a lounge atmosphere, complete with twinkle lights. Frankly, we find it adorable.

Danielle and her daughter spend a lot of time outdoors, riding bicycles or Girl Scouting. “I think you might need to be that kind of person. If you’re a homebody, you might need more space. Know the people you’re going to live with.” Sound advice.

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The small garden that Danielle’s daughter planted is growing beautifully, with basil and more. Lilies border the French drain to absorb some of the runoff toxins; the drain runs from both the sinks and the shower, and filters through two feet of gravel before reaching the earth. Danielle’s primarily vegan diet and use of sulfate-free shampoos minimize the bad right from the start.
The composting toilet contains a mixture of fine wood shavings and coconut fiber, and an uninitiated person might never have guessed that this was no ordinary appliance. It is, put simply, a comfortable bucket, and therefore not for everyone, but those in the know might be interested to learn that there has been no difference in performance between this setup and a thousand dollar Nature’s Head option.

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Not an inch to waste

The only thing Danielle didn’t tackle herself was the electric, which is connected to the larger house’s solar grid via an extension cord. Water is piped in through a 100-foot hose. Happily, their electric demand is low, and their water is heated with propane (to use as little electricity as possible). What gas is consumed is done so on demand: battery-powered, so there is no constant pilot light. One tank of propane has lasted over a month already.

Curious about the stats? The home is 13 feet high on its wheels, and 7 feet wide on the inside. They would have built wider if they’d known a permit was available: a “wide load” would have allowed about three extra feet! The 266 square footage count includes the loft space, and all of this rests on top of a 24-foot utility trailer. The walls are insulated with R19 fiberglass, and the roof with R30, the maximum possible in such a space. That shed roof we mentioned earlier is a 2 and 12 – not good for snow, and it got a run for its money during this past season’s El Nino. “A lot of things sound like they’re going to be daunting, but you just do them one at a time,” said Danielle.

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Being built in the side yard

The second stop on our tiny tour was still in the process of being built … in a driveway. This adorable future home measured only 16 feet long and 7 and a half feet wide, with an extra 3 feet tacked on for the porch. A Dutch Colonial-Craftsman house in miniature, this house featured dormers, bare wood finish, and a gas stove. “Finding a place to put it and neighbors who don’t mind is definitely the hardest part,” says builder Ryan, which is why he’s tried to make this tiny home look as much like a standard house as possible. As it stands, it wouldn’t look terribly out of place in North Park.

Although he began from a set of Tumbleweed plans, Ryan abandoned them soon into the project in favor of his own ideas. His previous construction experience? “Middle school wood shop.”

tiny, house, small, home, trailer, cabin, loft, pocket, door

Like Danielle’s double-high trailer, Ryan’s home features pocket doors, two lofts, and as many windows as allowed (for those interested, it’s a 2:10 window to floor space limit). Soon to come in this tiny home: a fold-down hideaway table and a composting toilet. Unlike the first home, this one features rigid foam board insulation and lots of propane power. The goal is to keep electric demand low.

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Expansive loft space

For a total of about $20,000 Ryan and his fiance will have 126 square feet, not including the considerable loft space.

A member of the Tiny House Enthusiasts Meetup warned us to think hard before committing to a project like this, “Every time you buy a new shirt, you’ve gotta pick up an old one and throw it away. It changes your lifestyle.”

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Danielle and Charlie


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Many thanks to Danielle and her daughter, and Ryan and his fiance, for graciously inviting us into their homes. Representatives of the tiny house movement will be at Earth Fair San Diego this April with an example or two – come check them out for yourself, then swing by The Eco Chic Event booth. We’ll see you there!



Raising an Eco Baby

January 19, 2016
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Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the home tour (if you missed it, click here)! Wouldn’t you know it, now we’re getting questions about babies. Specifically, is it possible for busy, working families to lower the environmental impact of raising a child? To answer your questions, we are postponing the Chinese New Year celebration article until next week to assure you: of course it’s possible. It’s not easy, but nothing about parenting is easy. A few key decisions can drastically lessen your impact on the planet without adding too much additional hassle (or cost) for you. Read on for a few of The Eco Chic Event’s earth-friendly baby tips!

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1. If you’re preparing a nursery, make sure the paint you choose is zero VOC. We highly recommend the water-based Natura line by Benjamin Moore – it comes in all the nicest colors and is pretty much the safest thing out there. We used it all over the house.

If you’re using a crib or bassinet, choose a mattress from organic lambswool or cotton. I like the wool because it’s naturally water resistant, but there is a greater selection of cotton mattresses and pads. These should contain no petrochemicals or other toxic materials that can offgas. Happily, there are more and more sustainable, breathable options out there.

diapers, cloth, all in one, pocket, triangle, baby, sustainable, green, eco-friendly, earth-friendly, velcro, cute2. If you have a baby, it’s got to be done. Diapers account for about 2% of all landfill garbage generated in the US. We aren’t a negative-focused blog, so we won’t get into all the nasty things put into disposable diapers these days. Google it if you want details. Maybe you’ve already guessed our advice: cloth diapers all the way. Try to get over the “ick” factor, because by age three, using cloth diapers will save you around $3,000. These days they don’t even require fiddly pins – they come with velcro or snaps, and in all different colors. Frankly, they’re adorable. Your options, in ascending order of cost: prefolds, fitteds, all-in-ones, and pockets. Just rinse before tossing them into the wash, and it’s easy as that. *In case this is your first baby and you’re cringing, baby poo is not grownup poo. Your washing machine is more than up to the task.

The second-best option if you just can’t bring yourself to use cloth: biodegradable disposables. Buy the kind that hasn’t been bleached with chlorine. As an added bonus: green diapers have been shown to perform better in trials of absorbency, leakage, and comfort than their non-green counterparts. Surprised? Now, along these same lines….

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Wipes. Many women I know love them, for quickly cleaning faces and sinks as well as bottoms. However, they are neither eco-friendly nor a one-time expense. Instead of constantly reaching for more disposables, try wiping the mess with a cloth and tossing it into the laundry. It’s really not that bad. If you still yearn for the convenience of one-time-use wipes, opt for the biodegradable ones made from bamboo. These are great; we sometimes use them while hiking.

3. Baby accoutrement. We’re sure you know BPA-free bottles are the way to go, but have you considered glass? You might think that glass and babies don’t mix, but companies like Born Free have been offering glass bottles with non-slip silicone sleeves for years. To parents’ delight, they are also dishwasher safe and your baby can control milk flow just like when breastfeeding.

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These veggie crayons are the best for very young children who might put them in their mouths. They’re free of toxins, wheat, sugar, etc. and are perfectly harmless if ingested. The same company also makes veggie sidewalk chalk. As your kids get older, there are other options with a greater variety of colors.

BPA-free toothbrushes are gaining in popularity, and there are a number of great options readily available. Radius is my current favorite. When your babies have grown a bit, bamboo toothbrushes are another great choice, and very hip.

These are just a few ideas to get you headed in the right direction. With a bit of creativity, it is possible to keep your baby toxin-free and at the same time support a healthier planet. Keep the questions coming, and as always, share your insights on our Facebook page for all to see! Keep it green, friends!