Luxurious Design by A Day Like No Other: Tiffany-themed Invitations and Favors

For a very elegant, Tiffany-themed wedding, I designed invitations to set the tone and the expectation for the guests: crystal-embellished ivory silk folders held custom-designed invitations. The folders were ordered directly from the manufacturer in Thailand.

The invitations themselves consisted of layered cards (pearlized ivory cardstock layered on matte chocolate and a wider rim of tiffany blue in a discreet sheen) custom designed for the square folders:

The side inserts in the folder flaps were used as RSVP cards and directions cards. Invitations were wrapped in ivory tissue paper and mailed in white square boxes embellished with custom tiffany-blue address labels matching those used on the – equally custom-made – favors.

For favors, the couple chose home-made organic limoncello in corked and wax-sealed artisan glass bottles, packed “luggage proof” in tissue paper and cardboard tubes and presented in tiffany-blue handlebags with custom labels.

An elegant presentation in keeping with the overall theme and elegance of the celebration – and a hit with the guests!

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Une Grande Affaire – Virginia and Mick’s Wedding

Virginia – Jenna for short, and that’s how her friends call her – and Mick are a busy, quirky, upbeat young couple. They live in a loft, downtown. Jenna zips around on a baby-blue Vespa. When they decided to get married, one thing was clear: it would be “no-frills.” But it would be a great party with all their (many) friends, their parents, a lot of good food, a lot more good stuff to drink, and even more dancing. Very easy.

But even “easy” takes a lot of time, effort, and planning, and so the two turned to A Day Like No Other for help, and I was happy to jump right in! And as weddings go – their wedding, too, became bigger and better,  and – to speak with their French theme and their French friends – “une grande affaire!”

Jenna’s and Mick’s invitation became the theme for the party…

Jenna and Nick chose the brick patio of the historic Forest Hill Clubhouse for their wedding ceremony, and – literally – Heavens (the celestial Weather Department, to be precise) smiled on them: it turned out to be one of those perfect, golden October days when San Francisco is the most beautiful.

Bride and bridesmaids were made even more beautiful in an impromptu onsite beauty salon by Belle by Marine, hidden away from any advance glimpses by the groom, and then, to the  music of cellist Suellen Primost, the bride walked down the aisle on her Dad’s arm to meet her groom:

Friends and family had gathered from far and wide…

A truly romantic setting

Happiness – and a gorgeous dress

The ceremony was officiated by Amanda Bowman, a close friend…

who has just presented the two “for the first time – as husband and wife!”

Jenna and Mick held a champagne reception on site – and guests were invited to take their champagne flutes with them as keepsakes. The couple had lovingly inscribed every single glass with their initials.

From the Champagne reception, the bridal party took stretch limousines (with a surprise of “Just Married” soda cans clattering from behind the rear bumper…), and everyone else boarded a big tour bus to a reception and dance party downtown, at “The Box SF,” a hip urban event space located in a former factory building. Jenna and Mick loved the raw, industrial look and had opted for minimal  (I did not listen and added some nonetheless…). Here the party is already underway:


While DJ Chris took care of the music, everyone feasted on French delicacies by La Bonne Cuisine…

… beautifully presented on raw logs with moss and succulents, from which I took my cue for various centerpieces…

What would a French dinner be without dessert… and La Bonne Cuisine did not disappoint:

Macarons and Creme brûlée presented on suspended “floating” trays

Various performances by friends and family members were the highlights of the evening: the bride’s sister and Maid of Honor had written a song for Jenna and performed it  “en lieu” of the requisite toast- a huge success …

…as was the performance of Jenna’s friend Marie who sung a slightly “risqué” very French couplet “to Jenna and Mick” of her own composition, accompanying herself on the accordion:

And then the bride herself, accompanied by her bridesmaids, let it rip for her new husband… they are all terrific dancers!

… and the party was just HUGE! Everyone had a really good time – and me too…

… because this is why I love my job! Thanks, Jenna and Mick, for making me a part of your Great Day, and have a wonderful marriage!

Wedding Coordination and Design: A Day Like No Other

Many thanks to my Dream Team:

Kelli DeSeelhorst, my assistant

Suellen Primost, Ceremony music

Marine Vaisset, Hair and Makeup 

The Party Staff, Keith Linzey, Champagne Bar

Forest Hill Clubhouse, Ceremony venue

The Box SF, Reception venue, Danielle Amato and team

La Bonne Cuisine catering

Chris Dudzine, DJ, dingdong@gmail.com

United Coach Tours, guest transportation

City Express Limousine Service, bridal party transportation
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A True Fairytale Wedding: Michelle and Philipp

Michelle and Philipp did not only have a fairytale wedding – more of that in a moment – but just as much a fairytale courtship: born and raised at opposite ends of the world (Michelle in Inner Mongolia, Philipp in Germany), the two met in College, at the University of Southern California, literally during their first week in their first semester. Despite all that might have stood in their way, like having no language in common and coming from vastly different cultural backgrounds, they were inseparable from day one. They were truly made for one another! And they did everything together, studying, movies, playing sports:

And that’s why they decided to get married just out of College, and they made me their wedding planner. They entrusted to me the design as well as the organization of their wedding celebration, literally everything from their invitations to their Rehearsal Dinner, choice of venue to guest accommodations, from the dress to the groomsmen gifts, and, of course, the Great Day itself. They choose Tiffany blue as their wedding color – and this idea then carried through to all the details, the invitations, the bridesmaids dresses, the linens, the favors, the jewelry – and even the cake.

The wedding was held at Stonepine Estate, an equestrian estate in Carmel Valley – 330 acres of rolling hills and forests, vineyards and horse trails, and a French-Mediterranean chateau in the middle, surrounded by formal gardens.

Definitely an appropriately magnificent setting for a fairytale wedding!

Here is the dress (by Priscilla of Boston) displayed with gorgeous bouquets from Christine Cater Floral Design:

… and here is the bride getting ready for the great moment:

Bride and groom were transported to the ceremony in style: in a horse drawn carriage:

Guests arrived from all over the world – Germany, France, China, Canada, the East Coast – to attend their outdoor ceremony in the formal gardens of the Chateau:

“You may now kiss the bride!”

Now happily married, the two proceeded to cut their cake (by Cake Coquette) and enjoy their First Dance, but first the husband carried his young wife across the water…

… to the Pool Pavilion, where, serenaded by a String Quartet, the two proceeded to perform their official first task together: cutting the cake which not only resembled a stack of Tiffany boxes, but actually contained ONE real box, filled with a pearl bracelet (the cake had to be guarded until the bride found her special gift!)

Then it was time for their First Dance, traditionally to the tune of Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube,” music that even Michelle’s parents had come to know and love in China. Videographer Andrew Hsu captured every precious moment.

While their guests enjoyed an al fresco reception under blue skies, the couple had a photo shoot with photographer Kevin Chin in the Stonepine park…

… some official ones…

… some right out of “Alice in Wonderland” – but also some riskier poses on the diving board:

The two did NOT take the plunge, but returned to join their guests on the lawn…

… where their beloved four-legged companion, Buzz, was already waiting for them.

Everyone then took a short break…

Peekaboo!

Buzz couldn’t wait to finally sit down with closest friends and family for the wedding dinner on the loggia (well, Buzz, seated with his dog walker, dined a little bit away from the party, but got to enjoy the same entree of Filet Mignon…)

It was a wonderful conclusion to a one-of-a-kind day:

Congratulations and best wishes, Michelle, Philipp and Buzz! Your wedding was a fairytale – may your married life be one, too!

 

Wedding Coordination and Design: A Day Like No Other

Thanks to my Dream Team:

Venue and Catering: Stonepine Estate

Invitations: The Desk Set

Dress: Priscilla of Boston

Jewelry: Tiffany

Cake: Cake Coquette

Hair and Makeup: Triple Twist

Flowers: Christine Cater Floral Design

Photography: Kevin Chin Photography

Videography: Andrew Hsu / Studio MSV

Ceremony and Reception Music: Karsten Windt String Quartet

Dinner Music: Matisse Freimark, ph. 831-722-8131

Transportation: City Express Limousine Service

 

 

 

Cultural Education plus Culinary Revelation at Cavallo Point: a WIPA Event

Today I attended another one of the fabulous professional education events that the Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA for short), a professional organization whose member I am, is organizing several times a year, every time at a spectacular, one-of-a-kind venue. Today was no exception: we met at Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, a short drive from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. And although I have made San Francisco my hometown for more than a decade, I had never been there – what a wonderful opportunity to finally visit this enchanted spot so close by! It was a Golden October day all over the Bay Area, sunny, warm, with a slight breeze from the water, showcasing the gorgeous venue to its best advantage:

A former military outpost guarding the Bay, this already looks like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the City, but turn around and look across the water…

…and turn still a little further and look again:

As you can imagine, in this setting the day already felt like a little vacation – I could have stayed there much longer! Just look at the Reception building:

And here are more rooms in romantic small houses scattered across an expanse of lawn overlooking the San Francisco Bay:

Isn’t that incredibly romantic? But here is the really, totally unbelievable good news for all us dog lovers on Wedding Woof: this property is dog-friendly! Without size restrictions, even… Cavallo Point Lodge is open for dog-friendly weddings with your beloved canine as  part of your ceremony (not only out on the lawn, but even in the chapel!), he/she is allowed around during your champagne reception, and during your festive dinner Fido is permitted to sit outside with his/her handler on the patio and indulge in whatever you want served to your pooch on your Great Day! After dinner, your darling can retire to a dog-friendly room (all the rooms on the first floor are dog-friendly, so take your pick!) with his/her dog sitter while Bride, Groom and guests are dancing the night away. It doesn’t get much better than this! And I can’t wait to put on a dog-friendly wedding (my specialty!) in this gorgeous place.

Now I got totally carried away by the spectacular venue – while at least one part of the purpose of today’s meeting was professional education (the other part was eating, fun, and meeting people!) The subject of today’s lecture was “Your Passport to Success in a Multi-Cultural World,” and who better to talk about it than Therese Cole-Hubbs who is, hands down, the authority on multi-cultural weddings, be it Indian, Thai, Hispanic, Jewish – you name it.

With 27 years of experience and more than 600 multicultural celebrations – many of them huge affairs – “under her belt,” Therese has an inexhaustible wealth of professional wisdom to share. And since the San Francisco Bay Area from Berkeley to Silicon Valley is such a vibrant melting pot of different cultures, all with their own customs, foods, ceremony traditions and so forth, Therese had her audience totally captivated. Core lessons: in many cultures, the fathers are still the decision makers when it comes to the budget; the mothers take pride in doing the “wedding planning” – so call yourself a “wedding designer” rather than a “planner” – be respectful of all cultural traditions, especially the wedding ceremony itself; and never forget: all the decor, design and entertainment, lavish as it might be, only serves the one purpose to create an environment where moments of deep emotion become possible for the couple who are committing to a lifetime with one another, and also for their guests. Therese is certainly a master of that art – and her slides showcased a selection of her extraordinary designs that make a celebration both meaningful and unique, transcultural and unforgettable. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise, Therese!

With our professional education done for the day, WIPA President Sharon Dexmier invited us all to a delicious lunch catered by the Cavallo Point Lodge, where – as always at WIPA events – industry professionals were sponsoring all the aspects of the event. Sharon’s own company, Napa Valley Linens, had contributed the beautiful tablecloths, and Ornamento had arranged the flowers:

Julie Kay Kelly of JK Life Stories Photography and Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services captured every moment of our meeting – and documented how we all enjoyed “Crab Cake Croquettes” (little balls with a crispy, golden crust holding the creamiest, most delicious crab cake filling), mixed greens in truffle vinaigrette, a vegetarian risotto (for me – among the best I’ve ever had, including Italy!) or chicken – and a dessert bar to die for… that alone would have made the trip worthwhile! But – what makes a great party is the great company, and that we certainly had! It was a wonderful setting to reconnect with cherished friends and colleagues and to meet new ones. Let’s see who was there – among many others, fellow wedding planners Isabelle of Bonjour Isabelle and Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction; Interfaith Officiant Yehudit Steinberg, Event Coordinator Molly Quinn of Palm Event Center and Baker Judy Chadwick of True Confections; Kelsey Pavao of Entire Productions Entertainment Company as well as Margret Scott of California Wedding Day Magazine. Plus, of course, the fabulous Jessica Winthrop, Catering Manager at Cavallo Point, who made it all happen!

It was a wonderful day – we learned something, we met friends, we ate well (very well!), and we enjoyed a venue so close and yet so far away from our everyday…  a mini vacation! Thank you!

 

Jessica Winthrop, Cavallo Point Lodge, jessica@cavallopoint.com

Sharon Dexmier, Napa Valley Linens, sdexmier@nvlinens.com

Therese Cole-Hubbs, Electric Karma, www.electric-karma.com

Julie Kay Kelly, JK Life Stories, julie@jklifestories.com

Kevin Dennis, Fantasy Sound Event Services, kevin@fantasysound.com

Ornamento, www.ornamento.com

Isabelle Adams, Bonjour Isabelle, www.sodarockwinery.com

Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction, www.eventsofdistinction.com

Yehudit Steinberg, yehudit@asacredevent.com

Molly Quinn, Palm Event Center, molly@palmeventcenter.com

Judy Chadwick, True Confections, www.trueconfectionscakes.com

Kelsey Pavao, Entire Productions, kelsey@entireproductions.com

Margret Scott, California Wedding Day Magazine, margret.scott@tigeroak.com

 

A Fabulous Family Festivity: Nicole and Isaac’s Wedding Celebration

Every couple dreams of a wedding that’s one-of-a-kind and a reflection of who they are and what they treasure. Nicole and Isaac, the couple whose wedding I had the pleasure of coordinating yesterday, definitely did a fantastic job in making their celebration all their own.

Where to start? With the venue, perhaps – the historic Trocadero Clubhouse, a charming Victorian in a secluded Redwood Grove, a former officer’s club with a slight whiff of all the decadent pleasures of yesteryear still lingering in the brass and dark-red bar…

The 100 guests at their wedding were without exception all their personal friends and family; everyone knew everyone else – no introduction needed! And what’s more, Nicole’s and Isaac’s families came together to help them with all the Do-it-Yourself projects for their decorations. They made all the flower arrangements and the bouquets and boutonnieres for the bridal party.

The bride and groom, as a charming nod to their professional lives – they are both teachers – crafted miles and miles of paper chains for decor…

 

…and they designed, printed and embellished the ceremony programs themselves.

The tiny trees in burlap sacks doubled as escort cards and favors – and will serve guests as a living memory of the beautiful ceremony under the Redwoods for decades to come!

To document their Great Day, the couple enlisted photographer Nima Salimi who from the first portraits and family photos tirelessly captured every moment of the Great Day.

In their ceremony, Nicole and Isaac honored both their close family ties, their Jewish tradition and the bride’s German heritage – under a beautiful chuppah handcrafted by the Mother of the Bride, Officiant Zehava Dahan presided over an intensely personal ceremony that included elements of the Jewish faith as well as a reading of a famous German love poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, “Wie Soll Ich Meine Seele Halten…” – read by Nicole’s beloved Grandmother.

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds joined their guests for cocktails on the loggia of the Clubhouse as dusk fell and the setting turned truly magical:

Guests were treated to delicious organic food – appetizers to accompany the cocktails, followed by dinner in a truly joyous and colorful setting:

(Note: in keeping with the “German” inspiration, the table flowers were arranged in historic beer steins from the Mother of the Bride’s extensive collection!)

After getting started on organic heirloom tomato salad (see above), guests literally devoured the delicious authentic Italian pizza and lasagna prepared by Kristin Houk of All Good Pizza (she learned her trade in Sienna, Italy, and it shows, or – rather – tastes!) While guests were dining, DJ Aaron “Goldmyne” entertained the crowd with music from his collection of original ’45 vinyls – and the rousing favorite was the repeated Bavarian drink song “Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit!” (as far as that can be translated into American culture: “Cheers to – everything like good times, camaraderie, and coziness…”), and that definitely captured the exuberant mood of the evening.

Nicole’s and Isaac’s First Dance…

… was just the beginning of a huge dance party where really everyone joined in, with breaks only for a quick visit to the bar…

… and to grab one of the delicious cupcakes by Elspeth Peliccica- the vanilla ones were my personal favorite – soft, airy cake topped by a luscious, creamy frosting with an intense and really satisfying vanilla flavor, not too sweet – a perfect balance!

The party was so beautiful that guests stayed on until the very last minute…

… to wave the newlyweds goodbye, taking off to their mini-Honeymoon.

Congratulations, Nicole and Isaac, to a wonderful wedding, a fabulous party – and our very best wishes on the way for the two of you!

 

Wedding Coordination and Design Consultation: A Day Like No Other www.daylikenoother.com

Thanks to my Dream Team of the day:

Venue:  Trocadero Clubhouse, Stern Grove, San Francisco

Officiant: Zehava Dahan, Life Cycle Events, zdahan77@gmail.com

Caterer: All Good Pizza, www.allgoodpizza.com

Dessert: Elspeth Peliccica, elspethnp@gmail.com

Photographer: Nima Salimi, info@nimasalimi.com

Florals and Decor: DIY – bride, groom, and families

Entertainment: DJ Goldmyne, djgoldmyne@yahoo.com

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals, www.classicpartyrentals.com

 

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