Jenny · Married on 06/16/2012
Without Chara and the rest of the amazing people behind Open Box Designs our wedding day would not have been so incredibly special. We asked for help planning our day without knowing that we would be getting a %100 personalized event complete with creative brilliance and love put into every detail. Weddings are a stressful process but Chara made it as enjoyable and easy as it could ever be with her intense organization, thoughtfulness and efficiency. She is incredibly knowledgeable and very inspiring. Every element and product of Open Box Designs was delivered beautifully and exceeded our expectations. We can't imagine having done it without Chara!Sent on 08/02/2012
Ashley · Married on 11/19/2011
We had planned a mini California wedding ceremony and happened to "let her (Chara) know" about it. She miraculously whipped up an intimate and classy ceremony for us in THREE DAYS! Set us up with a photographer, and a cool art gallery as our ceremony's setting. It was amazing!Sent on 04/01/2012
We've witnessed her work at several of our friend's weddings here in SoCal, and they were all done in excellence. So when it was time to plan our Hawaii ceremony/reception, we knew we had to have Chara plan it! She knew exactly what had to get done, and get them done in a professional and orderly fashion. She also worked through many wedding day "surprises" that arose, and handled them with poise and integrity.
It truly takes special gifts to be able to handle the stresses of wedding planning. Chara is a gift. She has a lot of wedding planning experience (and even teaches courses on wedding planning), so you know you're prepared for anything with Chara on your side. Plus, she has a smile that puts you at ease. And when it's time to hit the dance floor at the end of the reception, you just can't help but be happy everything looked amazing, and that your special day went smoothly.
We highly recommend Chara and Open Box Designs! Let your memories last a lifetime!
Open Box Designs's reply:Mahalo nui loa Ashley & Junior...you two are amazing! You are one of the sweetest couples I've ever worked with, which makes my job less of a job...its why I love what I do. I can provide for a well deserving couple like yourself - a wonderful, memorable experience with minimal stress. I appreciate you letting me come in and be part of your intimate gallery ceremony and trusting me to come to Hawaii with you for your huge family celebration. (I now have stories to last a lifetime) ;) Me ka ha`aha`a.
Amy · Married on 11/06/2010
I wouldn't exactly have called myself a "bridezilla," during the time I was planning my wedding, but do have to admit I was a bit of a control freak and had a difficult time letting go of the reins. My then fiance and now husband and I searched for the perfect wedding planner, first in Hawaii (as we planned on marrying there originally) and then in California. To be perfectly honest, we must have met with over a DOZEN planners both here in California and in Hawaii. We found Chara of Open Box Designs through Wedding Wire, did some research and decided to send her an e-mail. When we first met up with her, we knew we found our planner! She was super friendly, easy to get along with and genuinely cared about the vision we had for our wedding. I remember her diligently taking notes as we spoke about the many ideas we had envisioned for our special day. It was because of Chara, we were able to make our dream of having a FABULOUS wedding into a reality.Sent on 02/03/2011
We hired Chara, May of 2009 and she helped us throughout each step of the planning process. We spent numerous hours with her driving up and down Southern California looking for the perfect venues for our wedding and reception. On one particular trip, she had suggested we check out this place called, Casa Romantica in San Clemente. I had heard of it before, but thought it would be out of our price range and was hesitant to even see it. She suggested we check it out anyway since we were in the neighborhood. When my husband and I first saw the place, we KNEW this was the place to have our reception! It was beautiful. A lovely estate sitting on top of bluff looking over the ocean and San Clemente Pier. I would never in my life have dreamed of having our reception at such an awesome place, but because of Chara we did! She helped us find awesome vendors too and made the whole process of planning a wedding fun and less stressful. I can honestly say that my hubby and I looked forward to days we would meet up with Chara as she was so fun to work with!! :)
One of the things I loved about Chara was that she wanted to make sure we as a couple were happy. When meeting with vendors or talking about ideas, she would always ask us if we "Loved it? Liked it? Gotta have it ? Or is it just mehh?" This is very important as often times, couples will just settle on things just for the sake of not having to deal with a certain subject anymore. But for Chara, this was not acceptable. She wants to make sure you are getting what you want and are happy and sure of your decision. If things were not to our liking, Chara always wanted to know, so she could make things right. I always felt comfortable being able to share my thoughts or concerns with her, knowing that she would come up with solutions or ideas to fix any issues that came up. One of the things I noticed about Chara was that she was always good at reading her client's facial expressions or vibes. She always knew when I was uncomfortable or unhappy with something, even if I never verbalized anything. I guess you can say that she can add mind reading as one of her talents. :)
Another thing that I loved about Chara was that she used a program called Basecamp to help the communication process between her and her clients. With Basecamp, you as a client can log on and share pictures, ideas, messages and sooo more. Basecamp helped keep us on track with our budget and meeting deadlines and overall kept everything ORGANIZED!!! I loved Basecamp so much, I can honestly say, I think I was addicted. :) :) I must have sent Chara over a THOUSAND messages (and I am being completely serious here!) between e-mail and Basecamp and drove her insane. LOL! LOL! :)
As for the actual wedding day, everything went off quite smoothly. There were a few glitches, but nothing major and nothing that Chara couldn't handle. It was comforting to know that we had her and her assistants at our side and making sure we were comfortable and happy. It was an amazing thing to see how everything we had planned, envisioned, worked so hard for was playing out before our very own eyes. Every little detail from the decor, to the martini bar, Polynesian dancers, lighting, music, food, dessert/coffee station, wedding cake and bubble machine in the end was fabulous! Many of our guests told us that this was probably one of the best weddings they had ever attended as it seemed like there were always surprises for them throughout the evening. One of our guests commented, "This was the best wedding ever! We had so much fun!! It was the wedding of the century!"
If my husband and I were ever to get married again, we would hire Chara in a heartbeat. Hiring Chara was probably one of the best decisions we made when we were planning our special day. I can honestly say, that my husband and I are blessed as not only did we have an awesome and memorable wedding, but also gained a wonderful friend in the process.
Open Box Designs's reply:Oh my goodness, Amy and Marc you were so amazing and are officially going down in the history books. I absolutely loved working with you and really do miss my midnight messages on Basecamp and especially our San Clemente foodie sessions.
R · Married on 01/23/2009
We really put Chara to the test by asking her to put our special day together in just a few short weeks. We knew that if there was anyone who could do it, it would be her because of her vast experience, commitment to clients, diligence, and her network of vendors. Of course, she not only put it together so quickly, but it was incredible! From day one her commitment to us was amazing. She kept in constant contact with us and made everything so much easier. Despite sustaining a serious injury through the process, she remained focused and didn't miss a beat. Our wedding was everything that we had prayed for and we're so thankful to Chara and Open Box Designs for helping make it so amazing. We highly recommend her to to anyone looking to make their big day extra special.Sent on 03/31/2009
Sarah · Married on 09/14/2008
Chara was fabulous! We couldn't have done it without her. She was such a life saver. I will recommend her to anyone who wants to have an amazing wedding or party. I can't say it enough that Chara made everything so easy for us. We didn't have to worry about anything. She took care of any problems, we had no idea of any problems at all during our wedding. We love you!!!Sent on 10/02/2008
Joseph and Monet · Married on 06/13/2008
Okay if I could describe our experience with Openbox Designs in word. It would be "Wow". Seriously. Not only did the ceremony go better than we expected, but the level of personal care and support was amazing. From planning to budgeting Chara of Openbox Designs had it covered. She also did a great job of making sure we were happy and not stressed out. I hate to think what our ceremony would have looked like without the planning and ideas provided by Openbox. It was just so "us", and that's what made it perfect.Sent on 06/26/2008
On top of that Openbox Designs ensured that we were getting the most for the money in our budget which provided us with peace of mind and little to no stress. I highly recommend working with Chara Swodeck and Openbox Designs to anyone wanting to plan a unique, creative, beautiful, and personal wedding.
Make sure to be completely honest and open about how you want your wedding to look like and your budget and you will have a great experience.
-Joseph and Monet Romero
ernst · Married on 12/30/2007
Chara Nicole and her staff were outstanding, especially with last minute changes. They were directly responsible for our wedding running smoothly and truly being fun. Chara has an exceptional eye for detail and remained calm during some of the most stressful moments. Open Box Designs was able to get to get high quality materials while saving us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars! I highly recommend Open Box Designs!Sent on 12/29/2008
Aaron · Married on 12/22/2006
The most amazing wedding planner I've ever met!Sent on 07/03/2008
Stephanie · Married on 10/15/2006
Well where should I start?? Chara was AMAZING!!! We made a decision from day 1 to have a STRESS FREE WEDDING DAY! And it sure was. I put my total faith in Chara and her team. Letting go of control ended up being THE BEST THING EVER!!! I didn't have to worry about anything. I didn't lift ONE finger AT ALL, NOT ONCE!!!!!!!! Our wedding was fairly large, about 200 guests and everyone had a blast! Our wedding was over a year and a half ago and people are still talking about it, saying that it was the funnest wedding that they've ever been to!! We owe it ALL to OPENBOXDESIGNS!!!Sent on 03/17/2008
Marji · Married on 06/05/2004
I thought I could do this on my own, but shortly figured out...I needed help. I went to Chara knowing she would have my best interest in mind. She took care of the little things I didn't think about, like cute favors that were unique to us. We had a Melon Bar (our last name is Mellon), M&M candies (for Marji & Milano), Pepperidge Farm Milano and Bordeaux cookies, and a signature drink...Melon Margaritas!My wedding was at home overlooking the pool. I wanted a celebration that felt like us, however I didn't want it to feel like a backyard wedding. So Chara created just what we were looking for - an elegant jazzy scene. When guest arrived, they were escorted to the tented front lawn, entertained by a smooth Jazz band. We had cocktails and hors'doeurves. Milano and I came out to mingle with our guest before the actual ceremony.The ceremony itself was in the backyard surrounding the flower-filled and candlelit pool. It was so romantic. Our wedding is still the talk of the town. Friends come over and remember how the place was really transformed, it felt like our own little jazz lounge.Chara paid attention to all the details. I never once had to worry about anything, and if I did, she reminded me shortly thereafter that everything was taken care of. She listened to us, she took what we wanted for our wedding and made it happen. We can't thank her enough!We've used her since for my 50th Birthday (well, my 25 x 2 Birthday), my youngest son's wedding and recently our oldest daughter's wedding. Any event we have we just give her a call. We will always recommend Chara to our friends.Sent on 04/21/2008
Meachelle · Married on 08/02/2013
Chara was simply just amazing in every way a moment in my life I will always be able to cherish because of her beautiful, creative visions. She is remarkable in every way.....Sent on 09/06/2013
Open Box Designs's reply:Thank you so much, Mea. It was a pleasure to share my birthday with your wedding celebration. I'm so happy you chose to celebrate at The Loft and so glad we were able to support you and your family. Congratulations again.
Michael · Married on 03/02/2010
Everything I could ask for in a Wedding planner/ coordinator.Sent on 06/01/2010
Kim · Married on 01/11/2008
Most brides look back at their wedding and have thoughts of stress, panic or even disorder. I dont share the same experience because of openboxdesigns. I in fact did not dream large enough to have met the beauty and breath taking wedding that my planner was able to achieve. Chara was professional, she took care of my husband and I, she was ready to handle any unexpected situations that may have occurred with confidence, and she was a lot of fun. We had 6 months to plan the wedding and I was 100% stress free! Now how many brides can say that? The best part was getting to know Chara. She is an awesome person with a great personality, fun to be around and professional! I wish I can go back and do it all over again! Thank you so much OPENBOXDESIGNS!Sent on 03/15/2008
Paola` · Married on 04/03/2010
Chara....was totally flexible and did an amazing job. The cost was a little over but that was my falt since I wanted something grand!!! Overall it was a dream wedding and reception. I will never forget those days.....WOW it was great!Sent on 06/01/2010
Thank you all!
Paul and Paola