Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Brenda Cali, Owner & Creative Director with Gatherings for Good at the Central Coast Bride Wedding Expo. Although Brenda has planned events in California for years, she’s now branching into the San Luis Obispo market. We decided to get to know each other a bit better and to find out what makes Gathers for Good stand out from the rest. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
Tell me about Gatherings for Good. What do you do? Who is your typical client?
Gatherings for Good is a full-service event and wedding planning company based in Santa Barbara, CA but we can travel anywhere and are currently expanding to other parts of the Central Coast and Santa Ynez Valley. We offer planning, design and coordination services for many types of events which include events such as corporate events, non-profit events, private parties, birthdays, reunions, milestone events, baby showers, and of course, weddings. I started the company in 2014. I was working full time and decided to quit my job to pursue my dream of having my own business.
The name Gatherings for Good combines my love of event planning and giving back. I wanted to start my own event planning business that combined event planning with a charitable giving aspect. That was important to me and a way for me to separate myself from other event planners. It is also a way to connect with my clients – by supporting causes that they care about. I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering for various non-profits over the years and I wanted a way to support them and highlight all the important work they do.
What book are you reading now? Would you recommend it?
I am reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I would highly recommend any of her work but this one, in particular, is very good. I also enjoyed reading The Four Winds and The Great Alone. She is an incredibly talented writer and her style really transports you to another place and time.
What’s a common myth about your job?
That anyone can do it! Ha! A lot of people think we just show up on the wedding day and things magically come together. They don’t realize how much work is being done behind the scenes and how much preparation there is to do in the days and weeks leading up to the wedding day. It really does take a very detail-oriented person that can multi-task and who is able to see things from all angles. It really is an important role in the wedding that often gets overlooked. People don’t always see the value in what we do until after the wedding happens. That’s when they notice and appreciate how much work went into it and how their day was so much less stressful because we were there to manage all the details.
What is your best piece of advice for planning an event?
Hire professionals! Don’t rely on friends and family. They should really be there to enjoy the wedding or event, not to work. Things will go much better when you have a professional team of vendors on who you can rely on. It’s in their best interest to make sure things go well. Weddings especially are those times when professional vendors should be used. It’s such an important day and not worth the risk of trying to cut costs. You may need to spend a bit more but it is well worth it in the end.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I have been very lucky to have had some wonderful clients to work with in the past and I am always so grateful after the wedding when they tell me how much they enjoyed their wedding and how seamless everything was. It’s a great feeling to know that they didn’t have to stress over any details because they put their trust in me. The best compliment is when they say “we couldn’t have done this without you.”
What are some of your favorite event venues on the central coast?
I’m still finding hidden gems all around the central coast! I love living and working here not only for the great weather we have, but also because there are so many beautiful places to visit and it’s the perfect location for a wedding. There are so many options for wedding venues to choose from. There truly is something for everyone here!
What’s something you’ve achieved that you’re most proud of?
My two children, Henry and Poppy. I consider them an achievement and a blessing.
What are your favorite types of events?
I love all types of gatherings and celebrations that bring people together. Right now I’m doing a lot of smaller, intimate weddings and I”m really enjoying that. Since the pandemic, I’ve noticed a shift in the way people see weddings now and am noticing that more couples are choosing to elope or have micro-weddings where they are surrounded by only their closest family and friends. Smaller weddings were brought on by restrictions that were put in place during the height of the pandemic for safety reasons, however, I see it as a nice change because it really allows us to focus more on the couple and their love for each other. Sometimes we get lost in all the big lavish weddings, fancy food, and elaborate decorations so this is a welcome change.
What’s something about the wedding industry that’s surprised you lately?
The wedding industry here in particular is very welcoming and supportive. When I first got started I didn’t expect to feel so welcomed especially amongst other wedding planners. It was surprising how helpful and friendly everyone was and it truly feels like one big family. There isn’t really any competitiveness and the people here genuinely want you to be successful. It’s something I’ve always appreciated.
How do you balance life and work?
This is a constant juggling act that I am still trying to figure out. Since having my kids I have had to adjust how I run my business and the amount of work I take on. I try not to over-schedule myself especially on weekends so that we can have family time together. Luckily this job allows me to work as much or as little as I want to and has a lot of flexibility.
What makes you feel inspired or like your best self?
I feel like the best version of myself when I know I am making a difference and being of service to someone. Whether that is through volunteer work, making a donation, delivering baby clothes to a new mom, or a meal to a friend in need. I always like to do my part to help out when I can. I don’t do things because I expect something in return, I genuinely just want to be useful and to help someone in need. That is a very satisfying feeling to me.
What is your best tip for making the world a better place?
It sounds cliche but I think the world could use more love and kindness. People have become so divided lately and there is so much hate in the world. I really want my children to grow up in a world that is more accepting of everyone’s differences. To be able to appreciate that we are all here on this earth together and we must learn to get along and help one another. We are here for such a short time and the things we say and do make a difference.