WIPA Kickoff Meeting 2015 – Food, Wine and Education at Tank18!

Not to forget the fun and the networking, of course! As the Regional Director of Programs for WIPA, I had – again! – the pleasure to put together a great start into the year, our annual kickoff meeting. This year, the meeting was hosted by Tank18,  an urban winery in San Francisco (yes, that does exist!), whose motto is “Food, Wine and Fun!”

Tank18 venue photoThat about sums it up – except that WIPA is all about education, and so we have a speaker at every meeting. This time was no exception – except: we had none less than the famous Sasha Souza!

sasha souza smallEvent planner to the “rich and famous,” frequent speaker and book author, Sasha shared some of her insider tips with us: “Vision (the bride’s and groom’s) to Reality” (here  is where the event planner comes in!). Sasha is so knowledgable as a planner and at the same time so engaging as a speaker! We all took away valuable insights – how to read between the lines, how to find the right color for those who actually don’t have a favorite color (or so they say…) and generally to express the couple’s wishes in their wedding celebration more elaborately and distinctly than they knew them themselves. Which is an art form in its own right…

Well, in our case the “vision” was triggered by the unique venue we were invited to: a huge space with exposed beams, raw concrete floors and walls exuding “industrial charm,” and wine bottles lining the walls. My first idea was – we need a huge, striking floral arrangement hanging from the rafters! The highly creative team at Mandy Scott Events made that a stunning reality …

hanging arr 3… with a 20-foot arrangement of manzanita branches adorned with countless yellow tulips. These found their match in rows of small, matching but not identical, centerpieces lining the axis of the dining tables …

centerpiece… and occasional arrangements throughout the event space:

bar arrangementWe certainly brought the “vision” of “Spring in the City” to life here!

But an urban winery still has its roots in viniculture, which evoked in me “visions” of harvest tables and simple wooden chairs… Stuart Rental Company made that a reality …

dining tbl 2

… with rows and rows of wooden tables and chairs, china, silver flatware, Riedel stemware and amber water goblets – it all fit perfectly! To make it look even fresher, we provided a subtle aqua accent with  runners and coordinated linens and napkins from Napa Valley Linens.

place settingYou might be wondering where these patterned plates came from? Where to Start Wedding and Event Management sponsored them (it works with clings from underneath!) – a really nice touch for our kick-off meeting!

More visions… Cocktail Hour in such an industrial-cool looking space? That needs some “shabby-chic” accents – which came, courtesy of Designer8 Furniture Rentals, in the shape of vintage sofas…

loungeGuests got to enjoy their delicious hors d’oeuvres (by Global Gourmet Catering) here (fantastically juicy little bites – no one could stop noshing!) together with cocktails from the bar:

barThe menu for our festive lunch? The three gourmet entree choices were created for us by up-and-coming chef Chris Kronner of Kronnerburger, and guests kept raving about the food. The “menu card,” true to our overall “vision,” took a whimsical shape as well. In true wine-country style, chalkboard artist Ryanne Steele of Steele My Heart painted it on an oversize blackboard …

menu(just read that and get envious!!) – and threw in some large-scale art on yet another chalkboard, as a striking backdrop to Sasha Souza’s book signing table:

GG bridgeWhat you haven’t seen yet is the stunning accompaniment to after-dinner coffee:

macarons…and …

petits fours cropped… petit fours, both from Chantal Guillon next door, converting our “color vision” of green, brown and yellow into oh-so-delicious reality!

And there was so much more – live music (singer/guitarist Marcus Cappellazzo) was provided by Entire Productions, and beautiful custom-designed printed programs in our “Wine Country” theme came from Invitation Story:

programPhotographer Clane Gessel and  videographer James Ferrandini of Thomas Hughes Films recorded our 2015 spring celebration on film – just wait until you see THEIR finished products! Guests were treated to a prize drawing, and many went home with gifts ranging from wine to golf vouchers. And of course everyone got the latest edition of Today’s Bride Magazine (our media sponsor – so that everyone out there always knows what the SF Bay Area WIPA Chapter is up to!) What guests couldn’t decide, though, was what they liked best – the food? the wine? the decor? the networking? the fantastic speaker? But everyone agreed it was a super fun event, and our next one will be on May 12 at the Omni Hotel in San Francisco. Hope you are coming!

Fanfare Wedding Faire at Kohl Mansion: One-stop Shopping for the Elegant Bride!

Never heard of Fanfare Weddings? No? Then it’s about time!

Fanfare Weddings is a group of luxury wedding vendors in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area whose specialties cover everything a couple might ever need for their wedding celebration – one high-end business of each category (me being the wedding planner/designer). And for more than two decades, this group has hosted its own elegant, well-curated wedding fairs twice a year, mostly at the historic Kohl Mansion in Burlingame.

kohl mansion The Winter Show 2015 took place on January 29 – and it was the best-attended winter show ever. Nearly a hundred brides, grooms, future bridesmaids and proud parents came to sip champagne, find  elegant vendors for their upcoming wedding, win prizes and enjoy performances. It was more an elegant soiree than a classic wedding fair and everyone literally wore a big smile along with a goodie bag packed with glossy magazines and little favors.

Right at the entrance, they were greeted by a shiny white Maserati courtesy of Club Sportiva – the ultimate getaway car for the newlyweds!

maserati

And they were invited inside in style by Gabriel’s Trumpets Trio (Brassworks)  – a truly regal sound.

fanfares

Step into the grand mansion, and find gorgeous flowers by Plan Decor (and many more breathtaking arrangements to come – you’ll see!)…

entrance tbleRight in the first room, I was waiting at my booth with armfuls of roses for those brides …

my booth

booth1

… and photo books of my many weddings for inspiration.

booth2I was flanked by Jessica Morton of Miabel Hair and Makeup Artistry and by Aria Bella, a classical trio of harp (Anna Maria Mendieta), Violin (Joyce Lee) and soprano (Gloria Mendieta Gazave).

Then there was a display of breathtaking wedding dresses by my friends Saida and Chantal from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon:

Guests admired the beautiful light effects by Enhanced Lighting and got to enjoy yummy food by La Bocca Fina

… accompanied by wine and champagne by Mills Wine Group, with dessert (cake bites) from Have Your Cake:

cake bites… the exact same delicious cake that’s hiding under these gorgeous wedding cake confections:

Bill Choy of Travelin’ Joe served the most delicious coffee varieties to go with these cakes, and guests then proceeded to meet officiant Minister Maggie and the team from the nearby Westin SFO hotel, and to swoon over classic invitations by Hyegraph …

… and a beautiful dining table designed by Classic Party Rentals …

… with flowers from Plan Decor:

centerpiece

florist 1

florist2

Then it was time for the vendor presentation in the mansion’s soaring double-height Great Room – with Woody Miraglia of BigFunDJs as our MC – but not just some presentation!

There were musical performances by Gabriel’s Trumpets and Aria Bella Trio, there was a mini dance lesson by choreographer and dance instructor Cynthia Glinka of Dance with Glinka (get ready for your First Dance, brides and grooms!) …

dance instruction2

… Plan Decor raffled away a dreamy white bridal bouquet…

bridal bouquet

…and Have Your Cake gave away a cake… and, yes, the Westin gave away a weekend stay for two! Of course we also have a world-class videographer (Thomas Hughes) and photographer (Teresa Halton) to round it all off – as I said, one-stop shopping for the luxurious bride… and now we’ll all go to work planning these elegant weddings, and that’s the most fun work ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff and Adam, inseparable

Partners in life and partners in business, there was not a hint of a doubt for Jeff and Adam that they belong together – and so getting married was just the logical next step. Easy? Well, yes – somehow. What the two found out pretty quickly is that there is a big difference between the idea and its actual execution… and that’s where my company, A Day Like No Other – Wedding Coordination and Design, comes in.

Jeff and Adam had pretty clear-cut ideas of how they wanted their wedding to look and to feel. Being the super busy businessmen that they are, the one thing most precious in their lives is – quality time, together, and together with their families. So they were envisioning a long wedding weekend with their families, in complete privacy and tranquillity, with fabulous food and wine. They found their dream venue at the far end of beautiful Carmel Valley – Mesa del Sol Vineyards, a private estate among rolling hills and verdant vineyards, with a beautifully restored luxury farmhouse big enough for their families, with a courtyard shaded by mature trees, a professional outdoor BBQ, a bocce ball court, a swimming pool… heaven!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0010 copyJeff and Adam had rented the property from Thursday to Monday, and they had already planned for a whole succession of family events … but with their busy schedules of (separate!) worldwide traveling there was simply no way they could do all the planning by themselves. And that’s how my team came to work with one of our favorite couples ever!

We helped Jeff and Adam finalize their plans from a welcome BBQ to wedding day to a send-off brunch, and the two even knew who would cook up a veritable storm for them and their guests: their personal friend, caterer Ben Lillywhite, who would move in with them and take over the state-of-the art kitchen to pamper their 45+ guests.

Speaking of guests… while Mesa del Sol is beautifully equipped, it’s not equipped for that many guests! From ceremony seating under a huge old olive tree (hay bales from a local feed store, hand-woven saddle blankets) to long farm tables for an outdoor dinner (Chic Party Rentals)…

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0224 copy… from lighting to music (DNA Entertainment) and beautiful floral decor (Natasha Kolenko) – not to forget a first-rate photographer (Sandra Fazzino) – there was a lot to plan and design in a mere 10 weeks!

Invitations were sent out… And then the Great Day had come!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0098Here the two are getting ready together…

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0060…dapper and stylish as they both are!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0112They had requested a masculine version of the classic boutonniere, and that’s what they got…

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0115Ready to go!

vowsLast minute checkup on the vows…

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0376… and then the moment had come!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0383Sheer happiness… I Do!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0503Time for a true farm-to-table dinner:

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0249

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0243

The kids were having fun, too…

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0610… but definitely returned to the table when Ben’s incredible pies were served!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0665

As dusk fell, the scene turned downright magical:

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0688

… and everyone around the table shared memories of the couple and funny stories!

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0817

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0690

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0727

Jeff_Adam_October_11_2014_0691Jeff, Adam and their guests truly enjoyed a day like no other… Many happy years together!

 

Your Personal Wedding Ceremony Planner – by A Day Like No Other!

Congratulations – you are engaged! And you are beginning that whirlwind called “wedding planning.” Venues, caterers, florists, DJs… and then thousand other things. Believe it or not, the planning of the ceremony is rather a “second thought” for many couples. BUT… it’s at the core of the whole celebration – it’s the reason for the party! It’s the moment when you two are committing the rest of your lives to one another. So better focus on it right away!

rings copy And since it’s such an important moment in both your lives, the person sealing your bond, your officiant, should be someone you trust, cherish, admire, or have been a friend with for a long time.

The first and most important decision you have to make is whether you want a religious or non-religious ceremony. Both the Catholic and Protestant Church require the ceremony to take place in a house of worship; Jewish ceremonies may also take place outside a synagogue (at your reception venue, for instance). If you wish to get married in a Church of your faith, you will probably contact your parish or ask your parish priest to be your officiant at a different church; but in any case, you’ll follow the framework that applies within your religious community. You may choose one ceremony with a priest of each religion present, or two separate ceremonies (only one will then be legally binding by the signing of the marriage certificate). In many cases, premarital religious instruction is required, especially in the case of an interfaith marriage, and in some cases a Church ceremony even requires that the partner who is not member of this specific religious group needs to convert and become a member first, a process that can easily take up to a year. So better check this out, first thing!

church

Your other option is to have a civil ceremony – and here the options are nearly limitless. To clarify: “civil” does not mean “non-religious;” it only means “not recognized as binding by an established Church.” You can have a non-religious, simple courthouse ceremony, or you can have a spiritual ceremony, even a ceremony following the Catholic rite, just not inside a Catholic Church, without the strict regulations, and consequently not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church (the White-Robed Monks of St. Benedict, for example, are monks following Catholic beliefs who will perform a Catholic wedding mass for you, anywhere you choose… it will be a legally binding marriage, but not one recognized by the Roman Catholic Church). If you do not wish to be married by an ordained minister, even outside a house of worship, most judges or justices of the peace can officiate; and if you’d rather have a trusted friend or relative be your officiant, this person can become deputized for just this one day (at a very moderate cost, by the way). Or you may have observed an officiant at a wedding you attended and liked the way he or she conducted the ceremony – by all means, ask for referrals!
Sounds quite complicated, right? If you have a wedding planner (always recommended… after all, I am one myself!), he or she can help you find exactly the right solution AND the right person.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, I recommend that you meet each of the “possibles” with enough time to get a good impression of what this person is like and whether you feel well understood with your specific wishes and in your personal situation, and appreciated as persons. Ask about the way this person would conduct your ceremony or wedding mass, whether you can write your own vows, include rituals that are meaningful to you, readings by persons close to your heart; in short, find out what it would be like to be married by this person. Take your time; don’t rush it. No one can make that decision for you – this is intensely personal, and you’ll have to follow your heart here.
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Your chosen officiant may recommend premarital counseling (many actually offer this service) – and you should seriously consider this option. I assume your first reaction will be – “WHY??” The two of you are deeply in love, committed to one another – what is there to counsel? Well, of course you are right… but the sad reality is that about half of all marriages in the US fail and end in divorce, and it is safe to assume that all these couples were equally deeply in love when they said their vows, and still… and because this is so and because you do not want this to happen to you, it’s a good idea to at least consider premarital counseling.
A bit of etiquette – depending on how close you are with your officiant, it would be a nice gesture to invite him or her to the Rehearsal Dinner and to the Reception. In many cases, officiants will politely excuse themselves due to “other commitments,” but it’s at least a nice gesture to offer it. And if they accept, they get a seat at one of the parents’ tables or other position for honored guests. If your officiant is a parish priest, a donation toward the Church is appropriate, and if he/she is not affiliated with a specific Church, you should show your appreciation with a personal gift.
ceremony craig mike
With your officiant and ceremony venue in place – whatever you choose – it’s time to think about your vows. Of course you can always follow the standard “I Do’s” – nothing wrong with that – but if you’d rather express your own unique and personal feelings, you have to put these in words, and, believe me, that’s not easy! Take your time for that. A good starting point is to write a love letter to your partner; leave it in your drawer for at least 24 hours, and then read what you wrote. That will be the essence of what to say in your vows.
vows
More details to think of: would you like to include readings in your ceremony? A favorite poem? Or maybe a favorite song or instrumental interlude? (And who would play or sing?) Would you like to include symbolic rites, like hand washing, ring warming, a sand ceremony, pouring wine ceremony, candle-lighting ceremony? There are so many ways to include your loved ones and even all of your guests and make them a real part of your ceremony and your union… just give it some thought!
handwashing
And with that, I’ll let you go, because I know you’ll be super busy… and you’ll have a wonderful, meaningful, unforgettable wedding ceremony!

 

Feminine Charm and Grace – with Parasols by Design!


I have lately come across the most charming accessory for summer weddings: paper parasols! Not just any… but parasols by the design of Grace Dougan. They are surprisingly sturdy, they provide much-needed shade at summery outdoor weddings, and they are simply pretty!

Have a look:

2 parasols Bride and Maid of Honor hiding behind elegant taupe swirls…bride and bridesmaidand “peekaboo!” here they are – it’s just such a playful accessory!
PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-11 Of course, wedding photographers love it as it frames the face and mitigates harsh light.PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-25 Just look at these beautiful patterns – they come in taupe, peach, gold, green, yellow or porcelain blue on ivory, in peach or porcelain blue solids AND even with the inscription of the couples’ names and wedding date!PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-65 View the collection… plus they make fantastic wedding favors! They can be personalized with a hangtag on the handle, reminding the recipient of the couples’ names and wedding date.PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-69 One more close-up…PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-107

… and even little princesses love them!

toddlerI am sure you are now totally smitten, too! Look them up on Parasols by Design. I showcased them at my last festive WIPA event, and they were a real hit! I’ll definitely use them in my own wedding designs, that’s for sure – and if I’ll hang them from the ceiling for a whimsical decor!

Trends in Wedding Bouquets – 2014 and Beyond

A “trend” is defined as a direction – and mostly understood as “something new,” like in “Fashion Trend.” Looking back on the 2014 wedding season, and especially on the variety of beautiful and unexpected dress choices my brides had made, I was wondering about their flowers. Trends? Not really. When it came to their wedding flowers, my brides were surprisingly conservative! The undisputed winner of the year 2014 was the classic hand tied bouquet – mostly based on ivory and green, with accent colors. Very, very few exceptions… have a look for yourself.

Here’s the first textbook classic:

bouquetAngie’s ivory-and blush pink bouquet of roses and peonies to accompany her elegant summer wedding.

Here are more in a similar style:

shaina's bouquet

Shaina had likewise chosen pink hues for her accent color, and her and her bridesmaids’ bouquets (see those below) were based on English roses and hydrangeas in ivory and various shades of pink.

Shaina's bridesmaids bouquets

Erica's bouquet cropped

Erica added fresh green accents with Bells of Ireland and green-tinged hydrangea…

Pam's bouquet2

Pam opted for peach (English roses, dahlias) for her rustic-nostalgic nuptials…

Lauren's bouquet

Lauren added a tina touch of blue to her otherwise elegantly simple and classic bouquet of ivory Vendela roses…

064_laura_tyler_07_19_2014 … and Laura chose hot pink as one of her accent colors, and her hand-tied bouquet consisted of stargazer lilies, roses and hydrangeas all in this color family.

Last but not least, one bride went for ultra-classical with a spherical all-red, all-rose bouquet with a glass handle and matching bridesmaids’ bouquets:

Amy Lin's bouquets

Which shows the versatility of this style! But still – wasn’t there a more adventurous style out there?

A little…

Laura's bouquet1

My “other” Laura went for a more relaxed, “wild” style for her outdoors vineyard wedding, with eucalyptus, succulents and berries mixed into the roses and lisianthus flowers. If any “trend” crystallizes here, it’s the succulents which have gained favor not only in table arrangements, but have made their way into the bridal bouquets, too.

Here’s another one:

Amy Lovinger's bouquet-750x1024

Amy fell in love with a combination of succulents, eucalyptus, ranunculus and exotic protea blooms in saturated pinks for her nostalgic outdoor celebration.

michele's bouquet cropped

Michele had variegated euonimus greenery added to her summery bouquet for her garden wedding, with sunny yellow as her accent color…

Vannie's bouquets

… and Vannie took it one step further: her bouquets were really “hand-tied” by herself, and with twine!

Only two couples did something totally unique. One, Alan, was actually a groom in a same-sex wedding who hand-crafted paper flowers:

giant-rose

… and the other one was bride Courtney’s handcrafted brooch bouquet:

PaCoWedding205What was NOT chosen? Well… no elegant straight bouquet of sculptural flowers (like calla lilies or long-stemmed roses); no cascading bouquets; and nothing “outrageous” like a flower lei in lieu of a bouquet.

Maybe you, dear readers, are up for that? Let me know your favorites!

 

Hooray, Erik and Shaina – we are on Ceremony Blog!

20140222-DHP-055

Congratulations to our elegant couple Shaina and Erik! We all made it onto Ceremony Blog – check it out… it was a gorgeous, glamorous, big wedding. Sheer eye candy!

Small Business Marketing Gone Glam: WIPA at the Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley

As the Regional Director of Programs at WIPA, Wedding Industry Professionals Association, I have the pleasure (and the obligation…) to organize four festive events throughout the year, and we just concluded the year of 2014 on a really high note: with an elegant luncheon in the Crystal Ballroom of Berkeley’s storied Shattuck Plaza Hotel.

facadeAs always, we offered both fun and education – our speaker, Carolyn Higgins, founder of Fortune Marketing Company and an expert advisor for small businesses, presented “Four Pillars of Small Business Marketing Success,” and all attendees agreed: they were taking home valuable insights!

But we are getting ahead of ourselves! After registration and a display of our numerous sponsors…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… guests received beautiful program books (by Wedcrafted.com)

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel
… and then the event began with an elegant Cocktail reception:

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

… with my friend (and recent bride!), Erica Messer, playing the harp for us.

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Guests were treated to delicious hors d’oeuvres…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and to a big surprise: Liz Smith of Beau Ties of Vermont, purveyor of the finest handmade silk bow ties, presented a variety of options for the stylish groom, groomsmen, fathers etc. AND gave away one classic black bow tie to every guest!

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza HotelThat put a big smile on everyone’s face!

As did the elegant decor to match the extraordinary character of the Crystal Ballroom – walls covered in bold black-and-white stripes and adorned with oversized mirrored panels, reminding me of a huge conservatory. With that, the decor idea was born: we decorated with huge palm trees (courtesy of Interior Plant Design) and hedges (from Stuart Rental Company) and added to these charming firefly lights (from Firefly Magic). Centerpieces and smaller arrangements (from Katharina Stuart Floral Art and Design) throughout picked up the “green and white/modern conservatory” theme beautifully…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and reached truly glamorous heights on the dining tables which were all aglitter in “Paris” silver sequined linens from Napa Valley Linens.

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Add to that chic and modern dining chairs (from Hartmann Studios – as was the stunning lounge furniture we used for our dessert lounge; more of that later…) – and beautifully calligraphed menu cards in charcoal and silver (by Sally Laporta of Monks of Age)…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and handmade traditional Hungarian gingerbread heart favors (by Tunde’s Creations) …

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

… and you see – it’s quite stunning! Even more so thanks to the elegant ceiling wash (provided by our A/V sponsor, Fantasy Sound):

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Then it was time for speeches (here it’s me in action…)

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and of course for the speaker presentation we had all been eagerly awaiting. Carolyn Higgins proved to be not only a highly knowledgeable expert in her field, but also an engaging speaker, with the rare gift of making a “dry” topic come alive and be real fun to learn!

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza HotelThat’s the presentation style everybody just loved!

And then we had a fabulous lunch… and the much-anticipated prize drawing (probably the biggest one in WIPA history!) with chalkboard art (from Steele My Heart) and fused-glass “sun catchers” (from Pat Gibbons) for the home, a wine gift (from Wente Vineyards), a big box of top-of-the-line skincare from my favorite Kiehl’s store at the San Mateo Hillsdale Mall, an elegant bridal headpiece (from Poppyhearts) and beautiful parasols for weddings (by Parasols by Design). There were also coveted “Travel and Leisure” prizes: a “Vine to Wine” experience (at Holman Ranch), a Foursome of Golf (at The Bridges Golf Club), and a stay for two at Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort and Spa, and at two five-star resorts: Cavallo Point and Four Seasons San Francisco. All of our guests decidedly enjoyed this type of lunch entertainment!

But our event was far from over: it concluded with coffee and dessert in our elegant dessert lounge …

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… where a glamorous silver and white multi tier cake from Torino Baking was waiting:

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Pastry artist Julie Durkee herself cut her creation to reveal an oh-so-delicious super-rich chocolate cake underneath:

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza HotelI can say, all our guests…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… were having a good time! It definitely was a special event – documented in photos by Gustavo Fernandez and videotaped by Level 2 Productions.

Our next festive event will be on February 24 of 2015 – we sure hope to welcome you there!

 

 

A Year in Wedding Dresses – 2014

Wedding season is wrapping up, and I am looking back at all the beautiful events I was privileged to create, all my radiant brides who shone brightly in all their finery… and I realize how very individual and unique most of the wedding gowns were that they chose for their Great Day. More individual than last year, even! For 2013, the undisputed winner was the classic A-line dress, universally flattering and always right. This year, it has to take second or even third place after other styles. Curious?

Bear with me!

The ones whose dresses came closest to the A-line style were…

Michele’s ruffled confection for her oceanside wedding:

michele

… Laura’s sateen dress with a sweetheart neckline and ruffles:

laura c

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…  and Erica’s breathtakingly beautiful creation:

erica

Then there was Lauren’s sweetly nostalgic and demure, lacy three-quarter sleeve dress:

LaurenMy bride Amy went for drapey Thirties silver screen goddess drama:

amy lThen there was a trend towards the not-at-all simple sheath dress – each of them unique in its own way.

The “other” Laura chose exquisite ivory lace and a charming button detail:

laura m

bride waitingA different take on the sheath – Angie’s ephemeral diaphanous fluid layers of embroidered tulle:angie…. as well as Shaina’s simple and elegant version with lace appliqué:

shaina

Two of my brides went for a ball gown-inspired style – Pamela…

bride… and “the other” Amy, hers with a nearly cathedral-length train and crystal-encrusted belt:

amy lin

in the woods posing

And finally – two more that are truly one-of-a-kind:

Vannie’s fluid draped-silk dress with crystal-encrusted cap sleeves…

vannie… and Marissa’s Grecian-column inspired, exquisitely adorned Empire dress with an oh-so-feminine bow in back:

marissa

dress from behind

 

What a show! And the common denominator? Classic white and floor-length… and other than that, totally individualistic. Anything goes!

I can’t really decide which one is my absolute favorite… you? Drop me a line!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Performance: Marissa’s and Jordan’s Wedding at Studio Trilogy

What’s the most unusual, most hip and chic wedding venue you’ve ever been to? I bet you’ve never been to a wedding at a professional recording studio!

Well, I was the lucky one! When Marissa and Jordan approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with their wedding coordination, they had already booked Studio Trilogy in San Francisco – a professional recording studio with a long list of illustrious clients, among others Willie Nelson, and every free spot on the walls adorned with photos of pop and rock luminaries “in action.”

To my great surprise, Studio Trilogy offers much more than the recording studios themselves – there is a dramatic double-height Great Room with exposed wood beams and a fireplace, a cozy media room, a secret room hidden behind a movable built-in shelf, a gallery, a bridal preparation area complete with a separate bathroom, a patio, two kitchens… in short, a spacious, chic venue with all the bells and whistles!

The couple had made sure there were many personal touches and a lot of consideration for guests throughout: arriving guests left their cars with California Valet Parking (no hassles with that) and, instead of signing a guest book, took Polaroid snapshots and clipped them to wire frames in the foyer.

Speaking of photos – the guests got to see a lot of those! The built-in library shelves of the Great Room had been filled with at least a hundred family and couples’ photos, interspersed with as many candles…

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Embroidered handkerchiefs “for your happy tears” and yarmulkes (the traditional Jewish skullcaps) were set out for the guests..

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For her great day, the bride had chosen an exquisite lace Empire dress with a crystal-encrusted sash and straps …

 

dress from behind

… with a feminine bow in back, complemented by gorgeous strappy, glittery high heels…

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…and  an artfully “undone” updo. The proud Mother of the Bride placed the veil herself on her daughter.

Marissa’s good friend Jo Newman was the hair and makeup artist for the day for bride, mothers, and bridesmaids, and all looked equally radiant! Another good friend, acclaimed wedding, portrait and lifestyle photographer Laurie Smith, had come all the way from Los Angeles to capture every precious moment of  her friends’ wedding.

For the ceremony, Marissa’s Dad had handcrafted a Chuppah …

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… which was then decorated with a lush flower arrangement by Aili Ice Designs:

… and the bride carried a beautiful bouquet to match:

The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom, with parents, closest family members and a good hundred friends surrounding the Chuppah. The star of the day? Ringbearer dog Max! Here he is, front and center, sporting a white bow tie and cuffs, in the official wedding photo:

He really did a good job, assisted by two more ring bearers, Avi and Mikayla.

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DSC_3052Marissa’s niece, 14-year old Allie, a gifted pianist, contributed in her own way – she played the bride’s processional, Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D, on the grand piano:

DSC_4508 and for the couple’s First Dance it was their friend Steve playing.

Guests mingled in the gallery and on the patio …

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… with cocktails from two bars, hors d’oeuvres from TipTopTapas …

DSC_3000… and traditional Jewish music by the Stanford Klezmer Band who went on to intonate the time-honored melody of Hava Nagila for the mandatory Hora Dance – and the crowd exuberantly danced along and lifted the newlyweds high up on chairs.

DSC_3502The party got off to a great and joyful start – and did not stop ever that night! There were, of course, toasts and speeches from so many loved ones, and then the dancing and dining resumed. For the “dance party” of the night, the couple had enlisted a fantastic band, “Love Fool.”

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DSC_4869They kept the crowd going – on and on – clapping, stomping and singing along. And – did I mention the candy bar?

It was supplemented by decorated wedding cookies and cake pops in four flavors (a labor of love by Marissa’s Mom) and Jordan’s favorite  ice cream sandwiches: “It’s It,” a local SF specialty. To-go bags invited guests to take candy home as their wedding favors, and many rediscovered their “sweet tooth!”

What a wonderful day… and that is why both I and my tireless assistant Kelsey love our jobs so much!

Many happy years together, Marissa and Jordan (and Max!)

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