We’ve got such a fun interview to share with you today–one that features our beloved Nira! If you haven’t heard, she got engaged a little over a month ago. Yes, the wedding planner is getting wed! We thought it’d be fun to ask her to share her story with her now fiancé, Sonny. Read on for the journey leading up to the proposal, plus some invaluable advice from the boss lady who knows a thing or two about wedding planning.
How did you and Sonny meet?
Sonny and I met working at a country club years ago. I had been working as a bartender/cocktail server for a few years at this location, and then comes in this cute red head with freckles, speaking with a very odd (was it a British…?) accent. I had no idea. I just knew I should flirt with him at some point. I think he had a similar agenda. I asked him one day where he was from. He said Zambia. I thought, “Who? Where? Why are you in California? How mysterious! Oh gosh, keep talking–you sound so cute…” That was the start of it all.
Describe him in just three words.
Patient. Stoic. Personable.
What does a typical date night look like for the both of you?
We typically do one of two things: go out for a night on the town, or binge watch Game of Thrones whilst cooking up an exotic recipe we googled earlier that evening. It usually involves a run to the grocery store, to buy the eccentric ingredients, but it makes it all the more exciting. Our love of new cultures and cuisines keeps us on our toes even when we choose not to leave the house. It’s a hit or miss with new recipes but even if it’s a miss, we can easily laugh it off.
If we do go out, you may find us on a rooftop bar overlooking the ocean or our epic city view. Lately we’ve frequented Hotel Erwin, Shangri-La in Santa Monica, Perch, or the Standard in Downtown L. A. Oh, and sushi–just about every time we go out to dinner. We are so L. A. Isn’t that common?
If you could go on a double date with a celebrity couple, who would it be?
Oh that is a really cool question. I first would think, “Who would Sonny enjoy?” My criteria would narrow it down to someone I think has an equal or more interesting life than his. I mean, it’s difficult to compete with! He’s an Irish man born and raised in Africa. He went to missionary school on a volcano in Kenya and worked alongside his family’s wildlife reserve, which helps give back to the local communities through tourism. He flies small planes and designs cars of the future.
Okay, I’ve gone on a tangent, but in all seriousness, I think someone he looks up to. Perhaps an Anthony Bourdain? He’s worldly and calls it out as it is. He also eats spicy food and drinks to no end. Sonny and I would appreciate that.
How has your relationship evolved over the years?
We have always had fun with each other. Oddly enough, never a fight! Is that strange? I think he’s just so intuitive that he can tell if I’m upset before I vocalize it. He’s gotten to know me so well and is so attentive. I hope I’m the same way for him by now… or at least I strive to be that way for him. Having the foresight to anticipate what your partner likes or dislikes gives you a huge advantage to smooth sailing in the relationship. I think that’s been one of the best parts of getting closer over the years. That inner sense of connectedness.
Besides proposing, what’s the most romantic thing Sonny has done for you?
In 2014, we went to Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. His family was sweet to take us out on this family trip. It was a dream month exploring all of Africa’s treasures. On my birthday, which also fall on Christmas (hence the holiday nickname for me, “birth-mas”), Sonny handed me a card to open. In it was a photo of a french bulldog. It was an older frenchie (which I later learned was the parent). The card read that we were to pick up one of their babies in Ojai! That was the beginning of our story with Stitch! Sonny giving me my dream puppy was one of the most touching gestures I’ve ever recieved! It was the unofficial start of our life together.
Okay, tell us how he proposed!
We had just both gotten back from a road trip. We drove from Toronto to Los Angeles in three days. Right when we got back, we had a mountain of work we had to attack. Sonny was finishing up his last term of school, and I was working on some very VIP productions on the horizon. We were both swamped! Then on a Monday, Sonny texted me and asked if I want to go on a picnic. My first thought was, “Awww… random especially being a Monday… inconvenient being that it’s one of the hottest days…” But my response was, “Yes, of course! I miss you!” Sonny picked me up having already filled a jute bag with fun, delectable goodies. We arrived at a walking trail. One of our favorites actually–it’s called TreePeople. I expected to sit at one of the picnic tables at the start of the trail but he insisted we keep walking. We came upon a really quiet, private area that was overlooking the gorgeous canyons. Blanket down, frolicking pup, and some wine and cheese later, he suggested I pick out a chocolate. I picked one out and underneath it was THE RING!
I instantly started crying of course, as it was all really unexpected. The sun was setting and the man of my dreams was proposing! Just a few moments later, a hiker passed by. She profusely apologized for wrecking our picnic, but when he told her it was an engagement she just missed, she was excited for us and so sweet to offer to take our photo. That was the one proof of evidence that we were able to post later the next morning on Facebook and Instagram. It was so perfect for us. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
What’s your approach to planning your own wedding?
We are so early on in the planning process, so it’s hard to see what will end up happening, but I do know what I don’t want to forget doing.
One lesson I’ve learned from being in this industry so long, is that intimacy with your guests and family trumps all of the “show.” You know what I mean. The Pinterest/Instagram photos you oogle over. I’m not saying large events are bad. I’m simply emphasizing the fact that whether you pick a guest count of 30 or 330, remember that the point of this union is that you share it with THEM.
The flowers, the food, the cake… are all important, but don’t lose sight of your true intent.
The mania on social media. Don’t listen to it.
Don’t feel the need to compete with it all, because you will drive yourself nuts in doing so.
Honor your family, honor your guests, and most importantly, honor your new spouse. Because when all the vendors strike at the end of the night (and your Amber Events team is wrapping up with them), all that is really left are the memories you chose to cultivate that evening. Be happy. Be in the moment.
Photos | The Vondys