In the Press: An Interview with Jesse Tombs of Alison Events on Borrowed & Blue

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Photos by Leo Patrone

We recently had the chance to speak with Stephanie, a Napa & Sonoma Market Specialist for Borrowed & Blue, about what we do, why we do it, and what we love most. She spoke with managing partner Jesse Tombs, and we’re so excited to share the interview with you! Here’s a little peek into the world of Alison Events.

If you’ve ever sat down and thought about everything that goes into planning an event—let alone, your wedding day—then you know why it’s sometimes just best to leave it all to the professionals. Enter: your very own wedding planner and designer.

“Trust us when we say that wedding planners and designers will make your life a WHOLE lot easier. That’s why Borrowed & Blue loves Alison Events, who time and time again proves they’ve earned the title of one of the top wedding planners in the world (as instituted by Vogue Magazine). Today we’re doing an exclusive interview with Alison Events and after working closely with Jesse Tombs, Managing Partner of Alison Events, we’re going to give you a peek into the stunning, spectacular world of an event planner.”  – Stephanie, Borrowed & Blue’s Napa & Sonoma Market Specialist

Here’s Borrowed & Blue’s Q&A with Jesse Tombs of Alison Events:  

If you could possibly narrow it down, what is your favorite moment of a wedding day?
I love watching the client as they see the whole picture come to life, seeing the excitement in their eyes and on their faces. We see weddings as a way to tell stories from the beginning of the guest experience (usually a mailed save the date) to the final goodbye at the end of a wedding weekend. I want to help our clients create a vision that gives their guests a glimpse into who they are, both individually and as a couple. It can be a challenge for some of our clients to visualize the concept we’re creating, so the most gratifying moment for me as a wedding planner and event designer is when they see all the details and beauty come together on their wedding day and can truly understand the vision we have brought to life for them.

How’d you get into wedding planning?
I have an extremely mixed professional background. I worked in catering in high school and college, and then after in the fashion industry. I returned from New York to the Bay Area and worked in restaurants and hotels. I have always loved taking care of people and feel like hospitality runs in my veins. I also love to create and make things with my hands. When I was six or seven, I moved all the furniture in my parents house and re-hung all the pictures on the walls. I’ve always had an innate design capacity and enjoy using the skills I have gained over the years to provide unparalleled personalized service to my clients. My background enables me to bring a truly hands-on approach to design and aesthetics. I’m not the type of wedding planner that sits in a corner barking orders. I am a servant leader: In the room, moving furniture, folding napkins, and personally making sure that every detail is seen to so that the client’s vision can be brought to reality.

Describe your event aesthetic in three words.
Effortless, Innovative, Rich.

The first thing you ask when you sit down with a couple?
Who are you? What turns you on? What makes you laugh?

Top three pieces of advice for couples who just got engaged?
Don’t rush into anything. Enjoy the planning process, it should be fun. Spend what feels right to you.

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What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My team and the people I get to work with. I love our vendors and consider many of them dear friends, if not family.

What’s the best thing about having your wedding in Napa?
The weather, the views and the amazing local vendors and venues.

What about Sonoma?
I really enjoy the relaxed, laid back feel of Sonoma, it is less pretentious than Napa, and also provides beautiful backdrops for weddings and events.

Most important detail of wedding decor?
Paper Materials. Guests come in direct contact with these, and they make a huge impact. Paper sets the tone for the whole event so take that into consideration when you’re deciding on the design and materials. The invitation can be simple, with the majority of the information for guests on an inexpensive custom website, but the feel of the piece of paper they do receive is important, and that usually costs a bit more.

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Photos by Christina McNeill

The celebrity wedding you wished you planned?
Carolyn Bessette & John F. Kennedy Jr.

Your thoughts on DIY weddings?
I certainly don’t have anything against clients making things themselves for their wedding. I had a client this year design the invitations and they are stunning, however he is a graphic designer by trade, so that was a project that made sense for him to take on. If you are not a painter or a sculptor, don’t paint a backdrop or create a sculpture for your alter. Hire professionals to do the jobs that aren’t in your wheelhouse. But if there is something that you love doing, like making granola, by all means make granola as the parting gift for each guest. In my opinion, doing it yourself should be a way to to make things more personal, not more affordable.

Your favorite out of all the Napa wedding venues?
Z Modern.

What about Sonoma wedding venues?
Annadel Estate Winery.

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Photos by Elizabeth Messina

Tell the story of the biggest day-of disaster and how you swooped in to save the day.
I worked my first wedding when I was 15 and worked for a caterer, and I dropped the wedding cake. I was able to save the top and ran to the closest store to buy frosting and another cake. I pieced it back together and did the best I could with frosting and flowers. It wasn’t beautiful, but the couple saw the amount of effort (as well as the tears) that I’d put into fixing it. They forgave me and ended up having the best day of their lives! It was a day I’ll never forget. After the wedding, the client sent a thank you note and specifically thanked me for all of my hard work. They said their cake was one of the things they would never forget, which was terrifying but also made me realize that my hard work will be remembered, even in the shadow of an embarrassing error.

Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding would be small, with my closest family and friends. It would feel authentic to me and the location, as well as intimate and personal in both size and details. I want all the weddings I plan and design to feel like a dinner party —not overly produced or overthought, but specific and planned with thoughtfulness, clarity and purpose. Design should be a big factor, but practicality is also at the top of my list. I want everything you need, and none of the things you don’t, so everything is just right.

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