Listen to the Podcast About Three Sisters Event Planning

Podcast for Three Sisters Event Planning

Podcast Summary

In this episode of Eventful Endeavors, Shawn Grindle speaks with Heather Arena from Three Sisters Event Planning, a successful wedding planning business with a unique story. Heather gives an interesting account of how three sisters with diverse backgrounds discovered their passion for shaping the perfect wedding experiences.

Heather Arena humorously describes their journey into wedding planning as something they ‘tripped and fell’ into. With her background in music, sales of skincare and cosmetics, and teaching, Heather found a natural transition into wedding planning. The skills she learned in service and customer-oriented professions played a significant role in their successful foray into the event planning industry.

Her sister, Brittany, the second sister in Three Sisters Event Planning, brought her degree in communication to the table. With a specialty in PR and event planning, Brittany handles the administrative sector of the business, capitalizing on her educational background in organizing the team’s multifaceted roles.

Courtney, the third sister, initiated her career as a supermarket florist. This experience gave her the opportunity to navigate the floral aspect of their weddings, contributing a significant skill to the team’s arsenal.

Heather emphasizes that their joint venture into the wedding industry came after planning their own weddings. Encouraged by this experience, Heather led the charge, suggesting they take it up as a professional venture. They started with a few weddings alongside their regular jobs but quickly fell in love with the process of creating memorable experiences for couples.

After completing their first ten weddings, the sisters became more involved, refining their roles within the company. Heather now manages marketing, bookings, and team training, while Brittany supervises administrative tasks from afar in Vegas. Their distinct yet cohesive roles underpin the Three Sisters Event Planning success story, and they continue to grow with their deep passion for this industry.

Learn more about Three Sisters Event Planning

This interview was provided by Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos

Podcast Transcript

Shawn Grindle (00:24)
right, welcome back to another episode of Eventful Endeavors. Today we are back talking wedding planning. Today we’re with Heather Arena of Three Sisters Event Planning. Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.

Heather Arena (00:37)
Thanks for having me. This is fun.

Shawn Grindle (00:39)
Yeah, so first thing I want to ask we always start off that in the same way which is how you got into this industry and also with you it’s gonna be simultaneous because you are not just three sisters isn’t a clever name there are actually three sisters so tell us the story of kind of how you guys got started what all your roles is and just give us that little bit of background.

Heather Arena (01:00)
Yeah, so we really like to say that we tripped and fell into wedding planning. It wasn’t naturally, I think, what we all thought we would be doing. I actually studied music and I was in sales of skincare and cosmetics before I started this. I was also a music teacher for seven years. So just like a lot of different jobs, but all kind of service.

performative, like being in front of people, customer service, that kind of like vibe. So that felt really like a natural bend to head towards wedding planning. My sister, Brittany, who’s the second sister, is our administrator and she actually has a degree in communications with an emphasis in PR for like event planning. So she actually studied a lot about like public relations, event planning.

Shawn Grindle (01:46)

Heather Arena (01:55)
We’ve all, again, we all grew up working in the service industry. So, busing tables, coffee shops, things like that. Totally, that’s where we all got our start.

Shawn Grindle (02:05)
Me too, yeah.

Heather Arena (02:07)
And then my sister Courtney was a full -time Vons supermarket florist. So she kind of like learned everything about the skill of floristry at Vons, but for very, I think, obvious reasons, like didn’t want to stay there forever. And so it was like, okay, how do I kind of, how do I take this experience and kind of move forward with it? And again, we all just kind of like, at one point…

Shawn Grindle (02:24)

Heather Arena (02:34)
We had been asked to help some friends with wedding planning. We had planned my wedding. We had planned my sister Courtney’s wedding. And it was like, okay, so do we do something with this or do we just say like, this was a fun experience and move on? And I was the one, of course, as the oldest, I’m always like leading the charge. I was like, let’s do this as a business. Let’s just like quickly make some business cards. Let’s just like…

Shawn Grindle (02:52)
Sure. Yeah.

Heather Arena (03:02)
see if we can get like 10 weddings over like a year and let’s just see what happens. And so I was still working my other job, selling skincare and cosmetics as I was like building this business. And we did 10 weddings and after that I was hooked. I was like, I’m doing this forever. I love it so much. Sisters weren’t quite ready to leave their jobs. So I kind of took on the helm of like, I’m gonna make this happen and…

Shawn Grindle (03:21)

Heather Arena (03:29)
Now, both of them are way more involved than they were before.

Shawn Grindle (03:33)
Cool. So when you guys do this, are you like, show up, tell me how it works. So obviously I’m guessing Courtney is involved in the florals for the wedding. And then are you kind of the onsite planner and then Brittany’s kind of just managing the overall structure and like doing all the like administrative stuff.

Heather Arena (03:53)
It’s kind of like that, yeah. So I own the company, so I do all of the marketing, all of the booking, all of the training of the teams. Yeah, yeah. And I do this full time, like this is my full time job. This is the only thing that I do. So I was able to kind of like flesh out other things so that I could focus on this. My sister Brittany actually lives in Vegas, so we don’t get to see her all the time.

Shawn Grindle (03:58)

He could be all this. Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Yeah.

Heather Arena (04:20)
But she is our administrator, so she does all of our contracts. And she’s our timeline liaison. So anyone who’s ever worked a wedding with us and has complimented us on how great our timelines are, that’s because of my sister Brittany. She’s the timeline queen. And I like to think of her as like our chief communications officer. Like she just is so good with words. She’s helped me write, you know, articles that are, you know, going for marketing.

Shawn Grindle (04:20)

That’s Brittany. Cool.


Heather Arena (04:50)
and she’s in a marketing position at her full -time job in Vegas. So she’s like, that’s her thing. Courtney is obviously our florist. So we, we encourage our clients to hire her, as kind of like an adjacent part of our business, two separate contracts for very, again, obvious reasons, but part of the team. and then she’s also one of our lead coordinators. So she’ll lead weddings as well when she’s not doing flowers.

Shawn Grindle (05:06)

Sure, sure, sure.

Heather Arena (05:19)
And then we have five other leads and we have a total of 16 employees. Yeah.

Shawn Grindle (05:25)
Wow! How long has it been since you started this?

Heather Arena (05:29)
eight and a half years.

Shawn Grindle (05:31)
Eight and a half years, wow, that’s pretty, that’s good growth for eight and a half years, that’s awesome.

Heather Arena (05:35)
It’s good. It feels good. Like, I think we’re finally in a place where we all kind of have seen the fruits of our labor and it’s kind of starting to come into fruition and we’re feeling really good about where we’re at. So.

Shawn Grindle (05:43)

So you started with 10 weddings that first year or whatever. Like how many you guys do it now? What’s your year look like?

Heather Arena (05:55)
Last year we did 85.

Shawn Grindle (05:58)
Whoa, wow, that’s a lot of weddings.

Heather Arena (06:01)
I don’t, yeah, I don’t want to do that many this year. I think we’re closer to like 70 this year. Yeah.

Shawn Grindle (06:05)
Sure. Are you gonna try to cap yourself? Be like, all right, I need to learn to say no sometimes.

Heather Arena (06:12)
Yeah, I think the other thing that’s important too, when it comes to wedding planning, and especially in this industry, I really feel like it’s vitally important that clients hear, we’re not the best planner for every client. And every client is not the best client for us. So there is a lot of like, kind of again, this, this interview, like fleshing out, like, is this going to be a good fit? And

Shawn Grindle (06:32)
Mm -hmm.

Heather Arena (06:41)
If it’s not, it’s okay. Like there’s no hard feelings. It’s just, we want you to go find the best team of vendors for you and what that looks like. And again, we really, really pride ourselves on like service, just like compassion and caring for people really well. That’s like a huge part of our culture is we say when you’re a three sisters bride, your family forever. Grooms too, you know, can’t forget those grooms.

Shawn Grindle (06:44)


Sure, yeah, of course. We’re here.

Heather Arena (07:11)
Yeah, totally. And being LGBTQ affirming, you know, for us that’s really important. Like everyone deserves to have the wedding that they imagined, regardless of gender, sexuality, any of that. So that’s really vitally important to us too. And the way we treat people in our business is important. So yeah, I mean, I think that goes back into like,

Do we cap our business? I mean, we have to in order to give people the quality of service that we’re hoping for.

Shawn Grindle (07:42)
Right, right. So I mean with that many weddings too, so you have a pretty large team, so you’re oftentimes probably doing more than one on a given Saturday night, you know? I mean what’s the most you’ve done on one day?

Heather Arena (07:51)
That’s exactly right.


Shawn Grindle (07:56)
Three, three is kind of the thing. Okay. Yeah, I was gonna say, yeah. Three sisters, three weddings. That’s what we got going on. I love it. And I’m glad you said that, because I always feel like when I talk to brides and grooms too, I always feel like I’m auditioning them too. I’m not gonna bullshit you. If I don’t think this is gonna work, then if it’s not for you, I’m not gonna lie to you. I’ll give you, there are sometimes people tell me their wedding and they ask about us doing the dueling pianos and.

Heather Arena (07:58)
Yeah, he sisters, three weddings.

Shawn Grindle (08:26)
after the conversation, if it doesn’t make sense, I’m like, cool, you want to DJ? I got DJ friends. Like, you know, I’ll help you out. Like, you know, I’m not gonna, I want everybody to get what they want. Yeah. And I think the industry has a lot of, needs a lot of that where it’s like, you know, understanding your vendors actually do care. They don’t want you to have a bad day just so they can make a buck, you know. So I’m glad you said it.

Heather Arena (08:34)
Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Yeah, I like to say it like this. There are so many people in this industry, right? Like there’s so many wonderful vendors, wonderful vendors, but just like anywhere in the world, there’s shitty people too. I don’t think I’m a shitty person, but I also know I’m like, I have a capacity and a threshold of like the kind of services I can offer and the way my team works. And it’s just not.

Shawn Grindle (08:55)
Yeah, a lot.

Heather Arena (09:17)
going to be right for everyone. So I like to say, if you’re on a call with a vendor and you’re totally vibing with them and you feel good about it, they’re probably vibing with you too. Like they probably feel good about the potential experience of working with you. But if something doesn’t quite click or feel right, honestly, probably the vendor is feeling the same way on the other side of the phone. And so like it’s okay to just…

Shawn Grindle (09:28)

Heather Arena (09:40)
say, hey, this is not for us, we’re moving in a different direction. And I wish that more people would feel confident to do that instead of just ghosting vendors that they reached out to. Because I think it’s so much nicer to just hear like, hey, I went in a different direction.

Shawn Grindle (09:49)
Yeah, because that does happen a lot.

Yeah, then I don’t have to waste my time with the follow -up. Just tell me, I’m not gonna be butthurt about it, it’s fine. Yeah, I love it. All right, so let’s talk some specifics about weddings. So what’s one piece of advice you would kind of give a newly engaged couple who’s just starting their wedding planning journey?

Heather Arena (10:01)


Shawn Grindle (10:18)
early on kind of advice, like, you know, step one.

Heather Arena (10:19)
Yeah. Number one, hire a wedding planner. Like, just do it. Find the money somewhere, do it. Because it… I look at it like this. Your wedding planner is like your new best friend that you put in your pocket and you take with you everywhere you go when you’re making wedding planning decisions. Like, they have great experience. They have good advice. They know what is the high end.

Shawn Grindle (10:25)

Heather Arena (10:49)
of the industry, what’s the low end of the industry. They’re going to help you stick to your budget. Like, there’s just so many stressful things that happen for a bride and groom in the planning process that if they start with a planner, a lot of those stressful things like go away very quickly or don’t even come up because your planner is like protecting you from those things. That’s number one, I would say. Number two, really like enjoy the process of being engaged. Like,

Shawn Grindle (11:11)

Heather Arena (11:19)
It feels very much like in limbo, like you’re in limbo, like you’re not boyfriend and girlfriend anymore, but like you’re not husband and wife or wife and wife, groom and groom, husband and husband, right? I want to use as much inclusive conversation as I can, but like you’re in limbo, but you should relish this time that you’re in together because you’ll never get it back. There will never be another time where you’re in this period. And some of my suggestions are like,

Shawn Grindle (11:26)

from the ground.

Of course, of course, yeah.


Heather Arena (11:50)
start some wedding playlists that are collaborative between you and your partner, where you drop songs into the playlists. And like, as you’re cooking dinner together, like turn on the first dance playlist and like see if any of these songs that you’re dancing to in your kitchen while you’re making dinner together, like do they feel like the song you’d want to have your first dance to at your wedding? And I think like just finding these things where you can like do real life together, but also be doing some wedding planning at the same time.

Shawn Grindle (12:10)

Heather Arena (12:20)
is really, it’s vital because you’re like getting shit done, but you’re also like spending time together, which you’re not going to marry this person if you don’t want to spend time with them. So like continuing to foster that relationship, because I know some couples like they get to us and they’re so at the end of their rope with wedding planning. It’s like why didn’t you call me earlier because I could have helped you like de -stress some of that. So I think that’s like my big advice.

Shawn Grindle (12:27)

Just stressed, yeah.


I love these. I mean, I loved planning my wedding. It was some of the best years we had. I mean, and like you said, coming up with the playlist and being like, just listening to songs, like, we got to put that song at cocktail hour. We got to do this. Like, you know, just finding a way to make it us. And then when it happened to just being like, we did this, you know, we did this. And I also love, you know, obviously hiring a wedding planner should be an early thing. And I almost notoriously, when I got married, I wasn’t quite in the industry yet.

Heather Arena (12:57)


Shawn Grindle (13:14)
So I was like, I don’t need a wedding planner. I was one of those scrooms who quickly learned I was wrong. And we did end up obviously getting one. But, you know, I always say like, they’ll no matter what the cost of the wedding planning is, is I truly believe it will save you money. You know, I got, we got our caterer canceled on us last minute and it was a caterer we found on our own before we had a wedding planner. And there goes that deposit. You know what I mean? Like it’s one of those things where it’s like,

Heather Arena (13:30)
Yeah. Yeah.

Shawn Grindle (13:44)
It’s like a financial advisor. They’re there to help you get the best bang for your buck. They might take a percentage of it, but they’re going to get you those deals. I’ve got wedding planner friends that when they reach out to me, they oftentimes will get a different price than what I’ll just send people to reach out directly. Because, you refer me like 10 times a year? Yeah, I got you. You know what I mean? So.

Heather Arena (13:48)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And just working with vendors that your wedding planner already knows, chances are, A, they’re gonna show up, they’re gonna do a kick -ass job, you’re gonna get a deal, usually, you know, there’s the part of that. And the vendor team, when it works, it works, it’s the best. I mean, when you’re working with people that are just good at their jobs and they’re good communicators and they’re good collaborators,

Shawn Grindle (14:15)


Heather Arena (14:33)
That’s going to be the best experience for your wedding day. And we hear that more often than not, that clients come back to us and go like, man, killer vendor team, like so great. And that’s, I love that. It’s like best compliment.

Shawn Grindle (14:48)
Yeah, when your vendors are all friends, it just shows everything works really well. And those are the fun weddings for us to work to when I know everybody that I’m just like, this is, this is easy. This is going to be an easy one. So, yeah, that’s, that’s good. That’s good. so let me ask you this, in, since you’ve started doing weddings to now, what are some, you know, changes in wedding trends that you’ve noticed? Either things that may be used to happen a lot and now you don’t see or things that nobody ever used to do. And now they’re doing all the time.

Heather Arena (14:54)

God bless you.

Shawn Grindle (15:18)
And I know like TikTok and Instagram has made this a whole thing. So is there anything you’re noticing happening a lot or not happening a lot?

Heather Arena (15:25)
Yeah, I would say, you know, one of the things that I think used to be really popular that’s not popular anymore is we used to get a lot of people doing like bouquet toss and garter relt, and they just don’t, we don’t really see that happening very often anymore. I think it’s kind of an antiquated ritual.

Shawn Grindle (15:45)
Big order, yeah.

Heather Arena (15:53)
So that’s kind of a big one. And I would say a lot of times it’s the decor that changes a lot. So from when we started our business eight and a half years ago, what was in was very like ranch style, rustic, like Western burlap and lace and pearls kind of weddings. And now, and then we went through to this like really kind of crazy boho, Bohemian, like pompous grass kind of time.

Shawn Grindle (16:12)
Mm -hmm.

Heather Arena (16:23)
And now I think we’re kind of in more of like a modern kind of classic traditional wedding style, which is a lot of like light and green and black and ivory and just keeping it like very traditional and classic. I think that’s really in right now. But that’s part of the fun of what I love about the job is that like every client is different. Even if they have similar like decor or similar ideas, it always kind of comes out in a different.

Shawn Grindle (16:29)


Heather Arena (16:51)
direction because of their different personalities. So it’s fun. It’s fun to see like all of the similarities and differences as we work with clients.

Shawn Grindle (17:00)
Yeah, and a lot of those older traditions I do notice are kind of leaving like the bouquet and garter toss I hardly ever see anymore. And you know, I didn’t even know this like, you know, like the the garter toss used to be the whole thing where like, whoever caught the garter had to then put the garter on whoever got the bouquet. Like, that’s gross. That’s like so so gross. Like, and that was a thing for years.

Heather Arena (17:20)
Hold up. Cover.


Shawn Grindle (17:27)
Like probably up until like even like the, you know, early 2000s. And it’s like, I’ve never, I’ve never seen that since I’ve been in the industry, but that was a thing. And thank God that’s gone because.

Heather Arena (17:39)
I married 10 years ago and I was looking, well 10 years in October it’ll, we’ll have been married. And I was looking back at photos recently and it’s just so funny like some of the stuff that we did because 10 years ago it was like what was popular, it was what was in. Yeah, so.

Shawn Grindle (17:53)
Yeah. That was it. Yeah. Yeah, it’s always it’s always interesting to see. I’m also noticing and maybe I don’t know if you are like a lot less people are doing bridal parties. Are you seeing I’m seeing a lot of just like I didn’t do one. And I’m noticing a lot of people are just no, it’s just us. We don’t want to pick our favorites. I don’t need the right yesterday. He was like, I’m good. I don’t need eight girls standing next to me. I just do this. Okay. Cool.

Heather Arena (18:06)
Yes. Yeah.

Yeah, I think some of it is exactly what you’re saying. Like they don’t want to choose their favorite friends and then have anybody’s feelings get hurt. But also like sometimes you have so many people that you love and care about. You just want them to all come and party and have a good time. Or you have like a few besties but you’re like I don’t want to make them spend the extra money to like buy a dress and show up early and be in the party and do the thing and…

Shawn Grindle (18:32)



Heather Arena (18:47)
So I think there’s so many good reasons why to not do it, but also as a person who is like an extroverted extrovert, I mean, I had seven bridesmaids and I easily could have had 10.

Shawn Grindle (18:56)

Sure. Yeah, you’re like, I’ve got a lot of friends. I load them up. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s true because they all they do have to spend money. They have to buy their dress. They have to do all this stuff. And I think the bride I talked to yesterday was also like, I’ve been a bridesmaids 10 times. And she was like, I’m not doing that to any of my friends. Yeah, it’s a thing I’m noticing, which is great as the guy who has to MC because if it’s just the two of them, I love it. I think weddings are getting a little bit easier.

Heather Arena (19:02)
Yeah. Yeah.

Totally. I totally get it. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah, 17 names and you’re like, I don’t even know how to say half of these people’s names. Yeah. We also…

Shawn Grindle (19:29)
in some capacity, so.

yeah, that’s it’s a lot. I always go up to them. Like, you guys cool with just first names? You good? Yeah, we don’t even do first and last, right? Let’s let’s keep it cash. You know? Yeah.

Heather Arena (19:40)
Yeah. Right. That’s way easier. Way easier. Yeah. We also like to make sure that our clients really hear from us. Like we fully believe in kind of the industry and like in society where we are now, there’s no right or wrong way to do a wedding. It’s only ever what’s most authentic to the bride and groom and their families. And…

one of the things we started doing, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a feminist or just because, you know, I wanted to try to be as neutral as possible for everybody, but we don’t do the whole like handing off of the bride from her father to the groom anymore. Like we, we will do it if they ask us to, but we found like a really kind of fun, neutral, almost kind of like non -traditional, traditional way of doing it. We, we have the…

Shawn Grindle (20:25)

Heather Arena (20:38)
the bride and whoever she’s walking down with, you know, father, grandpa, brother, whoever, we have them walk down the aisle and she actually walks on the opposite side of where she’s gonna go stand, right? So she’s gonna stand here. She walks on this side, which, because of how we set up the families, we actually started setting up like the bride’s family’s on this side, but she’s standing on this side so that they can actually see her face across the, right?

Shawn Grindle (20:51)


Heather Arena (21:06)
instead of being on the same side as her because then they see the back of her head the whole time. So because of where we have the family seated, when the bride and whoever’s walking her down comes up, she’s standing right next to her mom or her mother figure. So she’s gonna hug her mom while her groom comes up and hugs dad or gives him a high five or shakes hands or whatever, whatever’s authentic to their relationship. Fist bump.

Shawn Grindle (21:10)
Right. Yeah.

Fist bump. Yeah.

Heather Arena (21:31)
And then they switch. He goes and hugs the bride’s mother or mother figure, and she gives one more hug to her dad, brother, grandpa, uncle, whoever’s walking her down. Then where they end up is now he’s on the side to take her hand and walk her straight forward, and she hands off her bouquet to the maid of honor or whoever’s standing there. And then they’re right in their position to like start ceremony. So it’s really great for photos. It’s really good for like…

Shawn Grindle (21:34)


Heather Arena (21:59)
It’s not awkward. It feels like I’m just, I’m, I’m hugging these people that I love already. The groom is being welcomed into their family or partner, you know, partners being welcomed into their family. And then they walk up to you.

Shawn Grindle (22:09)
Yeah, and then it’s also yeah, and then it’s not like hey this woman was your property now. She’s your property. It’s like Let’s just not do that Yeah

Heather Arena (22:18)
It’s so weird, it’s so weird. It’s such an old, I mean again, I’m either like, this is because I’m a feminist or because I’m just trying to be like chill with everybody.

Shawn Grindle (22:23)
outdated. Yeah.

Yeah, it is outdated. And we even like my wife was like, we’re not doing that. Nobody owns me. I was like, Yes, right. You know. So yeah. Sure.

Heather Arena (22:34)
Yeah, my father is really, really traditional, so we did that. But yeah, I just, I think it’s all about like finding new ways to meet as many people’s needs as possible in the industry and just kind of going with the flow. If someone’s like, I don’t like that, it doesn’t feel good because I have weird stuff with my family. Can we do something else? It’s like, yes, of course, what feels good, you know? So.

Shawn Grindle (22:57)

Yeah, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. But that being said, what are some of the things that you think you should never do at a wedding? Or let me rephrase it, what’s the cringiest thing you’ve ever seen done at a wedding? Where you’re just like, this is awkward. This was maybe not the best idea.

Heather Arena (23:20)
gosh, gosh that’s so hard. cringiest thing I ever saw at a wedding. Well some people just don’t have good style. They just, they just don’t. So they’re like I want these colors and these colors with these colors and we’re like wait really? Like we’re, we almost think we’re being punked.

Shawn Grindle (23:36)

Heather Arena (23:47)
because it’s so bad. You’re like, you shouldn’t do this. Needless to say, none of those weddings are like on our Instagram or galleries.

Shawn Grindle (23:56)
Sure. So they, but you give it, I mean, they want it. So you’re like, we’re going to do it, you know.

Heather Arena (24:02)
100%. Like I’ll give any client what they want. Obviously there’s times where I try to like lean them away from stuff where I feel like this is not a good idea. Let’s not do this. I mean, honestly, I think we try really hard to make our clients feel like they’re seen, you know? I do think that some, this doesn’t happen very often, but I do think like that some people think that…

Shawn Grindle (24:06)

Heather Arena (24:31)
their wedding is an opportunity for them to like entertain everybody. So we’ve done weddings where like they’re playing games on the dance floor, which to me feels very like high school party or like, you know, bar mitzvah, kinsanera. Like it feels like a birthday party, not like a wedding. So those are some of the things that I think like I find them a little bit cringy because I just don’t, I’m like, it’s not your job to entertain everybody, you know?

Shawn Grindle (24:47)

That your thing. Yeah.

Heather Arena (25:01)
We had a wedding where they did karaoke.

Shawn Grindle (25:03)
How was that? People have asked me about that because we do the dueling piano. Some people have asked like, can you do live band karaoke? And I’m always like, we can, but I want you to understand you’re giving a mic to anybody who wants it at your wedding. So how was the karaoke?

Heather Arena (25:17)
Yep. Yep.

Actually, the reason why they did it is because, like, the groom and a couple of his really close friends and family members were really good singers. So it was actually cool. I actually got up and, like, sang a song at the wedding.

Shawn Grindle (25:28)
Okay, cool.

I was gonna ask, yeah. Because we’re gonna get into that too, because I know you’re into music, but.

Heather Arena (25:35)
Yeah. But, but I wouldn’t, I, to be honest, I wouldn’t do karaoke at your wedding. Like, I just think, I just think that’s like, maybe at the after party.

Shawn Grindle (25:45)
Yeah, sure. Well, I did one where we did karaoke and I said, I have a plan. If we’re going to do karaoke, get the songs ahead of time. Get the list of people ahead of time. Don’t put it in, you know, the stratosphere, you know, just like you would the speeches, you know, you don’t give, I’m sure you’d agree. You don’t do open speeches. Anybody who holds a microphone at your wedding, it needs to be planned because you know, weird uncle Al is coming out and something’s going to make it really cringy and awkward.

Heather Arena (25:58)
their hands.

And I don’t like things that I can’t control at a wedding. Like, I do not like that at all. Like, I am in control of this wedding. If something is out of my control, I start to get a little like, how can I reel this back in? yeah.

Shawn Grindle (26:14)
So plan it.



Yeah. And people try every wedding I do, every wedding without fail, somebody will come up to me as the guy who, as the holder of the microphone and they’ll say something like, can I do this? Can I do this? Or they’ll ask for a song that’s on the brides do not playlist or whatever it might be. And I’m like, if you get the bride to come up here and tell me it’s okay, we’ll do it. And then they disappear into the abyss. And I never see them again because they know that’s not going to happen. You know, so they’re not even going to ask.

Heather Arena (26:54)
That’s exactly right. Yeah. Yeah.

I mean, if you want to ask me about horror stories at weddings.

Shawn Grindle (27:02)
Yeah, I wanna hear a horror story.

Heather Arena (27:04)
Well, I got punched at a wedding.

Shawn Grindle (27:08)
What? okay, I need to know what happened here.

Heather Arena (27:09)
Yeah, so…

Well, we’re at this really nice hotel resort in my area. And I mean, it’s like, it’s definitely like resort, right? So, but I think at the time, this was maybe four years ago. I think at the time it was, there wasn’t a great like security.

Shawn Grindle (27:19)

Heather Arena (27:41)
coming from the beach, because it’s like the hotel literally lines up to the beach. So I’m standing inside the ballroom. I’m waiting for the bride and her father to finish their father -daughter dance. And it’s just as the mother -son dance is starting. And I’m like standing over in a corner of the room, like looking at the dance floor, right?

Shawn Grindle (27:47)


Heather Arena (28:04)
behind me, all of a sudden I feel this like energy come up behind me. It’s my sister. She’s working the wedding with me and I immediately can like feel her stress. And I’m like, turn around and like, are you okay? She’s like, there is a woman in the bathroom who is seriously on one. Like she is high as a kite and she’s trying to get into the party. Yeah. So I don’t think she was like homeless. I honestly think she was just…

Shawn Grindle (28:14)

just came in from the beach or something.

Heather Arena (28:34)
She was on a trip because she had like a really nice bathing suit on and jeans, but she was like soaking wet. Like she had literally just come out of the ocean, put her jeans on, come into the hotel to use the bathroom. She’s talking crazy talk. Like my husband’s in there, he’s marrying someone else. Like, and, and she was just, yeah, crazy. So I kind of come out of the ballroom into the hallway where she is.

And as I come out of the ballroom door, she is like right here. She’s in my space. And I’m like, okay, well, I don’t want to put my hands on her. I want to be like very conscious of like the situation. So I just kind of like took a step forward and closed the ballroom door behind me so that we’re literally like she had to take a step back. And I’m talking to her. There’s no reasoning with her because she’s on drugs. She’s just totally out there. And I’m like, I really I need you to leave. I’m so sorry. This is a private party. Like I need you to leave.

Shawn Grindle (29:24)
She’s out there, yeah.

Heather Arena (29:31)
So she looks, she kind of goes as if she’s gonna head for the outside door and comes around me and opens up the ballroom door. So there’s a table of people that’s right in front of those ballroom doors. All they see is me like grabbing her around the middle and like yanking her back out the door. And as I’m yanking her back out the door, she swings around and punches me.

Shawn Grindle (29:58)

Heather Arena (29:58)
And I mean, it was like, it wasn’t hard. She was clearly just like, get off of me. But the girls who were at this table, their boyfriends were all like bouncers at bars and stuff. They all literally like, it was like a timed dance. All three of them get up, come out in the hallway. They like pull her off of me by her hair. And of course, then my brain is like, okay,

Shawn Grindle (30:11)
So they saw it and they were like, we’re up. Like, let’s.

my god.

Heather Arena (30:27)
I don’t want anybody getting arrested or injured.

Shawn Grindle (30:31)
and still working somebody’s wedding. We don’t want the bride and groom to know this is happening. Get her out of here, we don’t want to let her marry him.

Heather Arena (30:32)
Totally, and I’m like, not at all. So I’m like yelling down the hallway. I’m like, call 911, like get the police. It was just a, it was a bad situation from the beginning just because I think the security was a little low for that venue. The next two times I worked there, I hired my own security.

Shawn Grindle (30:46)


Smart, smart, that’s wild. Yeah, that is pretty wild. Well listen, we’re coming close to the end of time, but I do wanna talk quickly about, so you came from music, so tell me about, just really quickly about like your background music, like were you, did you play, were you just singing? What’s kind of your musical history, I’m curious.

Heather Arena (30:56)
But that was like, that was the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me at a wedding.

Yeah, so I started doing musical theater and like singing in choirs and at church, like from the time I was five, six years old. I was in my first musical at my school when I was in first grade, had my very first solo on stage. And then just that, that like love of music and performance grew for me. And I was an extra in some movies. I mean, I just, I wanted to do everything.

Shawn Grindle (31:43)

Heather Arena (31:45)
When I went to college, I studied musical theater. So my degree is in music and theater, and I’m a classically trained vocalist. When I got out of college, though, I really like, I went into teaching music and there were a lot of reasons why personally in my life I didn’t go pursue theater. And so I had a friend who said,

you know, you really should learn how to play an instrument. Guitar is pretty easy. Like you should learn how to play guitar. So a couple of my friends bought me a guitar, like as a gift and started teaching me how to play. And I wrote a whole bunch of music. It was like for the first time in my life, it just kind of like came out of me. So much fun. And then I recorded an album like about 10, 11 years ago.

Shawn Grindle (32:17)
Nice. So much fun. Yeah.


Heather Arena (32:38)
Yeah, and I’ve just been like singing and performing ever since. I sing at weddings sometimes, like I always offer it as an option to my clients. 99 % of them don’t take me up on it, which is fine. But it’s just kind of fun to know, like to know. And it’s, it’s interesting because, you know, I’ve lived in this area of Ventura County for 27 years. And the first half of those like 27 years, I was like Heather the singer, Heather the performer.

Shawn Grindle (32:51)


Right. Right.

Heather Arena (33:08)
Now it’s fun to see like I’m Heather the wedding planner and like most people don’t know that I even sing. So it’s kind of fun.

Shawn Grindle (33:14)
Yeah, I love it. Last thing because I’m just curious because I’m also a musical theater nerd at heart. What’s your what would you say your favorite musical is?

Heather Arena (33:20)

I knew you were gonna ask me that.

Shawn Grindle (33:25)
You know, I’m just curious because sometimes it’s the same as mine because I know mine if anybody ever asked like, I mean, it changes probably every couple of years, but I know what my top three is. I think I know my number one is.

Heather Arena (33:34)
It’s so I think that this is a hard question because I have classical musical theater shows that are like my faves and then like more contemporary and even like more modern. So classical favorite Broadway musical forever and ever and ever has been Carousel. Rogers and Hammerstein. The story is the story is like horrible, but the music is so beautiful. And then.

Shawn Grindle (33:43)

Carousel, OK.

Yep, that’s great.


Heather Arena (34:04)
I would say like more contemporary, anything by Jason Robert Brown. He did, last five years, yeah, last five years, Parade, Songs for a New World, like he’s just amazing. And then I would say like modern, it’s gotta be between Hamilton and Hadestown.

Shawn Grindle (34:10)
Last five years, that was one of mine, yeah. Not my favorite, but it’s in my top three.

I was trying to roll, yeah. Yep.

Yeah, Hamilton’s incredible and Hague’s town is also really good. My favorite’s always been Into the Woods. I’ve always been an Into the Woods guy. It’s just, I don’t know why. I love Into the Woods. I think it’s so cool. Yeah. It’s wild. Yeah.

Heather Arena (34:37)
Okay, okay. Sondheim is hard, man. I auditioned for one of the colleges, one of the universities I wanted to go to in New York. I auditioned for their program with a song from Into the Woods. It was a Little Red Riding Hood song.

Shawn Grindle (34:56)
Yeah, that’s one of my favorites. But anyway, I could talk music with theater all day. And we’re already over our time, but I’ve been having so much fun talking to you, so we went a little long. So is there anything else before we wrap it up? Anything else you want to say about the business? Obviously, we’ll link to your social medias, all that stuff, so people know where to find you. But is there anything else you kind of wanted to mention before we call it quits?

Heather Arena (34:58)

Well thanks, Sean.

No, just, you know, we’re excited to hear from anybody that wants information about what we do. We’re pretty much booked for 2024. We maybe have one or two more dates, but we’re fully, you know, into 2025 booking. So, yeah.

Shawn Grindle (35:31)
Yeah, great. Well yeah, we’ll make sure people know where to find you. And then yeah, this has been great. Thank you so much for doing this and I hope you have a great rest of your day. I know you’re going on a little vacation this weekend so enjoy your time off and I’m glad to hear everything’s going so well with the company and the business and everything. You got it. No problem, you have a great rest of your day. Bye.

Heather Arena (35:44)
Thank you.

Thank you. Thanks so much, Sean. Look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thanks, bye.

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