Let me share with you the absolutely wonderful day I had today, fleeing the San Francisco summer fog for the mediterranean sun of the Wine Country!
My dear friend and mentor Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction, founding president of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), invited me to join her for one of their fabulous events, this time at Annadel Estate Winery in Sonoma (Joyce’s assistant, Pelin, even gave us a ride – and she is a fantastic chauffeuse!) So, off we went, leaving the cold and fog behind to enjoy true joie de vivre.
Annadel Winery itself is a sight to behold – 35 acres of beautiful scenery, old stone walls, and lush greenery; complete with a rustic barn…
and a cozy cottage for the bride (the perfect get-ready spot!)
Guests were greeted at a welcome reception on the scenic lawn, beautifully outfitted with antique items by Wine Country Party and Events, and treated to delicious small plates and wine.
I had the pleasure not only of meeting friends again, like Dina Balatti of Bella Celebrations who co-chaired this gathering (and had to work hard while everyone else was partying…) and Pat Gibbons who just added a line of cute handpainted and kiln-fired glass gem magnets (to go on escort cards) to her creative selection – but also finally met Emily Dreblow, the creative genius behind Soulflower Design. I had admired her floral creations in Ceremony Magazine and finally had the opportunity to tell her that in person! Speaking of Ceremony Magazine: editor-in-chief Amy Harris also attended, radiant as always. (Quite an A-list gathering of the Bay Area Wedding World, I can tell you…)
For lunch we all gathered in the “ruin courtyard,” where the original winery had once been – and the remaining walls lend the space an air of romantic seclusion and nostalgic charm. Round tables and benches under market umbrellas, beautiful tablecloths from Sharon Dexmier’s Napa Valley Linens (who as the current president of WIPA was the hostess of the day) and floral arrangements of green hydrangeas and yellow tea roses – from the extensive flower fields on the Annadel grounds – created an ambiance of carefree, rustic, yet VERY upscale summer leisure.
While we were feasting on a light lunch, Guest Speaker Liene Stevens educated us on the challenges we are facing with the “Millenials,” the current generation of brides and grooms who have grown up with computers, are relying heavily on social media and often base their decisions more on their own research and on the input of their Facebook friends than on established reputations. Often raised in the belief that they not only ARE special but DESERVE special treatment, they expect the best and want a unique, standout event for their wedding; not necessarily to put themselves in the spotlight, but to ultimately WOW their guests. So: custom and one-of-a-kind are becoming the new standard and the unspoken expectation. Get used to it…
Conversation around the tables swirled and proved right away how spot-on today’s lecture topic is! But aside from the learning experience of the lecture, we all had, of course, also the meeting experience: new colleagues and connections, that is! For me it was the team of Here Comes The Guide, everyone’s “bible” of venues and vendors: Denise Auerbach, Jenna Miller, and Angela Mullan. Who wouldn’t want to be in there?! And then I finally came to meet in person event planners Gloria Wong Tritasavit and Jubilee Lau who had invited me to so many great events and whom I had so far only “known” by email. Face-to-face is still better! Young mothers, both of them, they often cooperate which gives them more time around their little ones. That’s the way to do it! Last but not least, I had the pleasure of connecting with Isabelle Adams (also a co-chair of the event), Director of Special Events at Wilson Artisan Wineries, a company that owns several properties in the Wine Country, ALL of them – listen up, “Woof” people among the Wedding Woof crowd! – open for dog-friendly weddings. Can’t wait to do one with her in the beautiful scenery and in the sun… (we’ll provide water and shade for Fido, promise!)
To conclude the festivities, we all raided the dessert buffet, provided by Crisp Bake Shop. My favorites were the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies filled with a beautifully balanced salted dulce de leche cream. Delicious!
And here is a little preview of what a wedding at Annadel can look like:
I think it’s magical… What a day!
Annadel Winery www.annadelestatewinery.com
Events of Distinction www.eventsofdistinction.com
Wine Country Party and Events www.winecountryparty.com
Bella Celebrations www.bellacelebrations.com
Soulflower Design, soulflowersf.com
Ceremony Magazine, www.CeremonyMagazine.com
Napa Valley Linens www.nvlinens.com
Here Comes The Guide www.HereComesTheGuide.com
Gloria Wong Design www.gloriawongdesign.com
Jubilee Lau Events www.jubileelauevents.com
Isabelle Adams www.sodarockwinery.com
Crisp Bake Shop www.crispbakeshop.com
A minute ago I returned home from a FABULOUS event, and I’m still all giddy about it – Duncan’s Downtown Bday party! Duncan – who? Duncan Reyes, of course – who certainly does NOT need any kind of introduction. But, should you by any chance not belong to the 99.9% of people “in the know” who he is: he is the “wedding guru of the Bay Area,” as quite a few of his guests reverently referred to him. And, believe me, he deserves every bit of that honorary title!
Just back from orchestrating a HUGE wedding in Mumbai, India (the talk of the evening was a whispered total cost in the 7-digit range…), Duncan used his regular “Martini Madness” events for colleagues and friends for an early Birthday celebration – and tout le (chic!) monde flocked to Infusion Lounge in downtown San Francisco to join in the celebration. And I was lucky enough to be one of them!
Duncan, the devoted doggie Dad (to his diva, “Bella”) and I, equally devoted doggie Mom to “Buzz,” (the “Woof” in Wedding Woof) immediately found out that we are sharing a big interest! Here he is with his furry muse:
Well, “beautiful” was definitely the motto of the evening… starting with the location: Infusion Lounge, an ultra-hip bar in the heart of San Francisco, bathed in truly magical lighting:
Talk about chic… and the guests were definitely a crowd to match – a Who’s Who of the Bay Area’s foremost wedding professionals: fellow event coordinator Tony White of Extreme Elegance, BluBungalow Event Studio founder Hazel Bourget, Anastasia Alvarado of Grace Street Catering, event and catering managers Cristina Lopez of Kimpton Hotels and Katie Orndorff and Siba Tarassoly of Marriott – who assured me that both all Kimpton Hotels (Argonaut, Harbor Court, and Tuscan Inn in SF) and the downtown Marriott are, in fact, very dog-friendly! So listen up, all the “Woof” fans of Wedding Woof… that’s for you and your four-legged darlings! On to Robbie Schlosser of Magnolia Jazz Band who has been entertaining guests in the Bay Area since 1975 and rightfully considers himself a “veteran” – and whom, in fact, absolutely everyone greeted affectionately – “everyone knows Robbie!” Olympic Gold for the highest presence by sheer numbers, however, goes to the photographers who transform all these incredible events into tangible memories: Alex Ho, Auey Santos, Orbie Pullen and husband-and-wife team Ariel and Samuel Soto-Suver of Bowerbird Photography, “senior statesman” Richard Mayer, and Mike Steelman with the one-of-a kind steel (!) engraved business card… as I said – le Beau Monde, and brimming with creativity!
Birthday Boy Duncan took personal care of each and every one of his guests, inviting them to fun photo shoots in a photo booth with lots of hilarious props (think masks, hats, neon feather boas…) while his Mom and Sis were proudly looking on. He certainly is the quintessential, perfect party host!
Thanks for having us all, Duncan, and have a wonderful, successful and totally happy new year in your life!
Duncan Reyes/ Events by Design, www.duncanreyes.com
Infusion Lounge, infusionlounge.com
Tony White/ Extreme Elegance, extremeelegancebytony.com
Hazel Bourget/ BluBungalow,www.blubungalow.com
Anastasia Alvarado/ Grace Street Catering, www.gracestreet.wordpress.com
Cristina Lopez/Kimpton Hotels, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Orndorff/Marriott SF, email@example.com
Siba Tarassoly/Marriott SF, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robbie Schlosser, Magnolia Jazz Band, MagnoliaJazz.com
Alex Ho, alexhophotography.com
Auey Santos/Photograffiti, www.photograffiti.net
Orbie Pullen, orbiepullen.com
Ariel and Samuel Soto-Suver/Bowerbird Photography, www.bowerbirdphotography.com
Richard Mayer, www.MayerPhoto.com
Mike Steelman, mikesteelman.com