Why Would I Need a Wedding Planner?!

Good question, dear brides-to-be!

And since I happen to be a wedding coordinator and designer (my company is A Day Like No Other), I also happen to have a few answers for you.

I do 2

Your wedding is a one-in-a-lifetime event, your celebration of your commitment to the person you are going to share your life with.

It should be the best day in your life, in the truest sense of the word.

And you, the couple, should be able to enjoy every moment and cherish these memories forever.

The average wedding can take more than 250 hours to plan. With today’s hectic lifestyles, most couples do not have that amount of time to research venues and vendors, compare the options, and make sure all details are taken care of.

A wedding coordinator saves you valuable time and money (yes, money!). The coordinator will not make decisions for you, but will pre-select your options, take advantage of discounts not available to private parties and avoid costly mistakes. And on your wedding day, your coordinator shoulders the responsibility for a smooth event flow, keeps to the timeline, quietly solves problems big and small “behind the scenes” and ensures that you, the couple, can indeed simply enjoy your great day.

bouquet

CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING COORDINATOR

In my opinion, the most important qualities you should be looking for in your coordinator are a degree from a wedding coordinator school, experience, membership in professional organizations, and a personality matching your own.

Why is that? You need someone with a solid understanding of the art of wedding planning, and a degree from a reputable school guarantees that amount of extensive training. You want your coordinator to run your event like a well-oiled machinery; the more often he or she has done that before, the better for you. Membership in a leading professional organization demands adherence to highest professional and ethical standards – your coordinator has proven to be trustworthy and good at the job. (Since I am an active member in both ACPWC and WIPA, I know that for a fact). Inquire whether you’d be working with the same person throughout, and what this person’s average response time is – it can make your life difficult if you have to explain your questions to a different associate every time, or if you have to wait for several days until you get your answers… And for the rest, let your heart speak! Your coordinator will become part of your life for months, maybe a year. He or she should be like a trusted friend and confidant. Only you can feel who among your selection of “finalists” will fill that role. I feel so blessed that at my weddings this relationship has always worked out … and here’s my reward at the end of the evening: it was the best day of their lives! (see “Praise!”)

love my job

DO WE REALLY NEED AN INDEPENDENT WEDDING PLANNER? WE ALREADY HAVE OUR (ONSITE COORDINATOR/FLORIST/ CATERER…)

Many couples are wondering what the differences are. So many vendors claim that they can act as wedding planners in addition to the services they offer and they are hired for.

BUT… that’s often only part of the truth. While some floral design companies and catering businesses do, indeed, offer full-service wedding planning (at an extra fee, of course), most of this “free wedding planning” is a far cry from what an independent coordinator will do for you.

An onsite coordinator, be it for your ceremony or for your reception venue, will plan and coordinate exactly that part of your celebration and nothing else. Who helps you stay on time and on budget during the planning stages, making sure no detail is overlooked? Not your onsite coordinator…

Your florist might be a gifted designer in his or her medium, but who is going to design your décor scheme to a cohesive whole, from linens to china, lighting and escort cards? Let alone doing any planning along the way…  Your caterer is certainly a fantastic chef, but don’t expect him or her to find you the right DJ or band – and so it goes.

centerpiece

You, the couple, are probably specialized in your professions, hard-working and good at what you do. You certainly appreciate the value of a specialist in a different field – wedding coordination and design. You would not even think of conducting a lawsuit without the help of a lawyer, or a house construction without the help of an architect. Your wedding day is of equal importance and deserves the same level of attention by a trained specialist. Entrust it to a trained professional.

DESIGN-WISE WE ARE TOTALLY OVERWHELMED WITH SO MANY IDEAS AND POSSIBILITIES. WE REALLY DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.

In the era of the Internet, dozens of glossy wedding magazines and Pinterest, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Sometimes there is, indeed, too much of a good thing. Let a specialized wedding designer  help you sort through all your various ideas. Some will be very close to your hearts, others not so much; some can be combined, and others can maybe play a role in the design of the Rehearsal Dinner – or bachelorette party, or bachelor party, bridesmaids’ breakfast, bridal shower… you get it. There is so much going on before and around your wedding that many of your great ideas and inspirations can find a home in one of these events if they don’t make the final cut for wedding décor. A wedding designer can definitely guide you from this first stage of vague inspirations to a distinct décor plan for each of your festivities. Here is one recent example: my bride Erica, an amateur astronomer… starstruck! Here’s what we came up with:

A Moon-and-Stars-themed photo booth:

fly me to the moon

… a cake to match…

cake… glimmering stars in the guests’ champagne glasses, and even the wedding shoes playing along!

shoesWell, convinced?

If you now think you might, after all, need a wedding planner – email me! jutta@daylikenoother.com

I am very much looking forward to hearing back from you!

 

A Gala Evening to Remember: French-American Business Awards

The San Francisco Bay Area is a veritable melting pot of cultures, and so it’s not surprising that businesses here have their roots in many different countries. One example is the French-American community, spread out from the Wine Country to the City and further south, with its own support system: the French-American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco, FACCSF. In an effort to further encourage this already thriving and vibrant business community, FACCSF created a business award to honor outstanding local French-American businesses in various categories. The first such award ceremony was planned to take place in 2014, and of course this occasion called for a polished event. FACCSF turned to my event planning business, A Day Like No Other, to make that happen. Truly an honor!

Yes, and a challenge … I always love a good challenge! Why that was? As a non-profit organization, FACCSF devotes all its funds to the community it supports, so events like our awards night need a lot of sponsors. What to do? 1.) Ask friends and colleagues in the event planner community for their assistance, and 2.) replace funds with creativity! Now have a look how it turned out last night!

GRWe chose a historic landmark as our venue, the General’s Residence at Fort Mason. Not only is it an ornately decorated mansion…

IMG_2402… it also has unsurpassed views of the San Francisco Bay right across to Alcatraz.

IMG_2408But of course we didn’t stop there! We added “son et lumiere” (sound and light), food and wine, flowers and other decor to make it an elegant party to remember.

My friend Dan Rosenbach of Love in the Mix provided both background music and lighting…

IMG_2420… while Mega Event Production provided the stage and dining room A/V and lighting.

dining roomArriving guests were greeted with the quintessential French welcome drink: a glass of champagne…

champagne

… accompanied by delicacies from Michi’s – my friend Mr. Shin had brought his famous sushi bar where guests enjoyed his creative Asian-Fusion cuisine, freshly prepared to order.

sushi bar cropped

And here we are all together (Mr. Shin formally invited me to be a member of the Michi family!):

Michi team

Following the initial Cocktail Hour, guests were invited into the festively decorated dining room where tables glistened with silver-rimmed plates on silver-toned chargers, glasses and silverware (all sponsored by my dear friend Mike Seramin of Abbey Party Rentals)…

tablescape

and elegant centerpieces by another friend of mine, Annette Shulman of Petals Flower Studio, anchored the tablescape amidst a profusion of votive candles and matching shimmering glass gems.

centerpiece

What followed was a delicious dinner, a “joint venture” of my friends Maureen Kelly of Knights Catering and Hugh Groman of Hugh Groman Catering.

Here is Maureen’s fanciful presentation of a seasonal salad with goat cheese…

salad

… followed by Hugh’s deceptively simple-looking Mediterranean salmon packages (just imagine: salmon steamed on a bed of potatoes, lentils, mushrooms and pesto aioli in a sealed parchment package… open and inhale deeply! So delicious…)

entree

After that luxurious meal, guests were ready for the revelations of the evening: the winners of the FABA awards 2014 in the categories: High-Tech, Agribusiness/Gastronomy/Wine and Sustainability/Life Sciences. Our tireless photographer extraordinaire, Shhivika Chauhan, captured all the festivities in high style.

And now, of course, there was even more reason to celebrate!

Desserts and more champagne were awaiting in the lounge, among other things intensely flavored rainbow macaroons from L’Artisan Macaron

Mr. Shin has just discovered the macarons .... much to his joy!

Mr. Shin has just discovered the macarons …. much to his joy!

macarons

dessert

… and guests enjoyed it all in good company and high spirits. Our greatest compliment? Guests simply refused to leave!! Thank you to all my good friends and other sponsors whose enthusiasm and generosity made this splendid gala possible!

 

 

 

Starstruck – Erica’s and Lincoln’s Heavenly Nuptials

Dear readers: before you even start, grab your hanky. Here comes one of those “The stars were aligned…” love stories. A real, true one!

Just a few years ago, Lincoln, the groom, had given up on getting married. He told a friend, “Since I won’t get married – let’s just throw a party. A big one – in lieu of a real wedding party!” Which she did, in fact… (and at that real wedding yesterday, she was his decorator!)

Erica, as her Dad said, had already faced a number of challenges in her life… but the moment she met Lincoln, she was transformed. Utterly, completely – and he knew, she had met “the one!”

How they met: through one of their shared passions – dancing! Music lovers, both of them (Erica is a professional harpist, and Lincoln plays in a mandolin orchestra), they met at a ballroom dance, and Lincoln fell for Erica immediately, and hard. Erica, more cautious by nature, took a little longer, but after all, Lincoln can be very persuasive. Done deal!

And – you have to know – Lincoln is very elegant, even a little bit old-fashioned, in the best sense. Following tradition, he proposed on one knee – at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that!

guest book table

And of course, a photo of this momentous occasion had to be present at their wedding…

Just 18 months after their first encounter, the two got married, and I was so honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding coordination and design. They wanted an elegant, formal wedding, and they wanted  – stars! Erica, the bride, is an amateur astronomer, and so we set out to incorporate the Moon and the Stars into this exquisite affair.

First step: find a venue! The two chose the Brazilian Room, a historic building in Tilden Regional Park in the hills above Berkeley. (Was that choice, maybe, inspired by the location of the proposal?)

bust

brazilian room

An open Great Room with exposed wooden beams and a soaring ceiling opens onto a ceremony lawn that seamlessly flows into the verdant hilly landscape.

The bride got ready at the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley with hair and makeup expertly styled by her friend Kim Denny.

bride window 2

 

bride window

Meanwhile her groom was getting ready as well…

groom getting readyCoit Limousine service delivered her to the Brazilian Room where Lincoln was already waiting…

dapper groom… dressed in a traditional morning suit, fitting for this elegant occasion. But the bride insisted on remaining unseen until the ceremony, so we literally snuck her into the building!

Erica had chosen an embroidered ivory A-line gown that literally floated around her and whirled with every step, complemented by a crystal-encrusted belt and elegant veil.

I doFinally, the great moment had come! Eighty of their closest friends and family members witnessed the very personal ceremony officiated by their friend Karryn Nagel, which incorporated a “Passing of the Rings” ritual. The groom’s nephew (stylishly outfitted in a 3-piece suit like his older brothers and his Dad) passed the rings to all guests present, to impart on them all their good wishes…

ring passingAll the while, harpist Jessica Schaeffer provided a beautiful musical background.

harp

And then, they were pronounced husband and wife, and the real fun was about to begin…

Just married!

first kiss

chapeau

Now come the myriad personal touches that made this wedding celebration so unique: the bride had styled her wedding shoes herself – with a star motif on a midnight-blue background:

shoesFriends of the couple, Kris, a former actor proficient at stagecraft, and Anne (who would catch the bouquet later that night …), had built them a photo booth, and what a spectacular one at that!

moonEvery single guest took a turn, and then signed the guest book  – which, of course, was also special. In lieu of a conventional book, we came up with the idea of a historic typewriter…

typewriter

To direct guests to their assigned tables, we did not use conventional escort cards (of course not…) – Erica found antique-looking picture frames which doubled as wedding favors, and combined them with handwritten star-studded name cards.

escort cards

During Cocktail Hour, Silver Strings Mandolin Orchestra (the groom’s ensemble) played for the guests…

mandolins

Meanwhile, the Great Room was ready for dinner, with centerpieces by the couple’s friend Lizzie Maxwell…

centerpiece 2

and decor by another of their friends, Jane Dougherty – think custom-made sconces of midnight-blue tulle with sparkling lights… speaking of which: the bride and I had found sparkling stars from Glimmers Inc. which, floating in the guests toasting glasses, added a truly heavenly touch to all those good wishes!

The duo “The Harpoons” (Harp and Bassoon – did you guess it?) kept guests entertained over dinner,

dining hall

and Morningstar Entertainment took over for dancing.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. During dinner, guests were asked to propose one impromptu toast per table, and since most of this artistic couple’s guests were artists themselves, musicians, actors, performers – these toasts turned into artistic improvisations of the highest order. From hilarious skits to funny poems (in perfect meter and professional intonation) and rock star impersonations with slightly tweaked lyrics: it was rather a cabaret than mere toasts! In these moments, all the depth of personal connections, the warmth of long-time friendships, and the commitment of all these friends and family members to an extraordinary couple became apparent. Every single guest contributed to their happy union in a personal way… a rare and precious moment to behold.

Another case in point: the star-shaped gold-and-blue cake, home-baked in professional quality by the couple’s friend Effie Seiberg (complemented by some more from Sweet Adeline Bakeshop):

cake

Once the cake cutting (and -eating) was done, Erica and Lincoln enjoyed their First Dance to “Never Stop Falling in Love” by Pink Martini. These two are professional grade ballroom dancers, and just watching them twirl and lead and follow and twirl again was a treat all in itself.

danceDancing with the stars, definitely! And that’s what they all did for the rest of the evening… and photographer extraordinaire Amy Carr (just wait until you see HER photos!) and videographer Adrian Quintero captured every precious moment.

Wishing our stars Erica and Lincoln “happily ever after” from the bottom of our hearts! And have a wonderful Honeymoon in Maui!

 

 

 

Angie’s and Michael’s Dream Wedding at Kohl Mansion

Angela and Michael are not only deeply in love – they also share values and many common interests. They are both deeply connected to their families. They are both music lovers; Angie is even a violinist in a community orchestra and devotes a good part of her free time to practicing and rehearsing. They both appreciate good food. And on and on…

When they embarked on their first big common project – their wedding! – my company, A Day Like No Other, was honored to be booked for the wedding coordination. Bride and groom are very organized and systematic and had a good part of all the “wedding puzzle” pieces in place already, first and foremost their gorgeous venue: Kohl Mansion in Burlingame.

kohl mansionOn Wedding Day, May 31st, all weather gods were smiling broadly upon Angie’s and Michael’s outdoor celebrations… the day was summery, warm but not too hot, under a cloudless blue sky with a light breeze. Simply perfect!

For the Bride, the day began with a beauty session for herself and her bridesmaids with hair stylist Elaine Nicdao and makeup artist Ally Kennedy. And look what a fabulous job they did:


Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_236
The bride wore a diaphanous, etherial, crystal-embroidered couture dress by Rosa Clara from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon, complemented by an elaborate, sparkly headpiece, also from Nouvelle Vogue.

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_718

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_724

And the bridesmaids were lovely, too!

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_293

In accordance with her wedding colors of blush pink and ivory, Angie chose her bridal bouquet…

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_237

… as well as ceremony flowers, an elaborate chuppah and centerpieces from Floral Design Studio, and they were all equally stunning.

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_319

The couple’s more than one hundred and fifty guests from all over the world were greeted with music by Turnaround Jazz Trio and DJ CAMS Scott Campbell, and the very personal ceremony was co-officiated by their friends Laura Shih and Suneel Gupta, incorporating elements of both the bride’s Chinese and the groom’s Jewish cultural backgrounds.

Here comes the Bride!

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_431


Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_577

No Jewish wedding would be complete without breaking a glass (which Michael did) and the guests’ shouting the traditional blessing of Mazel Tov (which they all did)… and here they are, just married:

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_586

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_596While the newlyweds disappeared for their mandatory family photos…

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_141

…. with photographer Sandra Fazzino, guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour with delicious treats from Toast Catering – and that was just the beginning of all the fabulous food provided by Toast! To keep everyone entertained, the couple had provided a special guest book: a scrap book with cards, markers, stickers… to be completed by the guests; and Say Ya Photo Booth, which turned out to be a true guest magnet.

cocktail buffetAt the conclusion of Cocktail Hour, the newlyweds and their Bridal Party had a truly Grand Entrance, every moment captured by Ocean Blue Videography

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_847…immediately followed by another honored Jewish tradition: the exuberant Horah Dance…

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_884

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_871… during which the couple is hoisted high up on chairs to the delight of the cheering crowd!


After so much excitement, it was definitely time for dinner – and what a dinner that was! In the candle-lit double-height main hall of Kohl Mansion and within a sea of flowers, guests enjoyed their gourmet food…

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_810

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_776

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_933

… as well as a surprise performance of the groom and the bridal party who sang and enacted a Disney medley for the bride; and a slide show to follow. Dinner concluded with a delicious cake from Cakes by Maggie and an ice cream bar:

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_1002

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_1009

After dessert, Angie and Michael enjoyed their First Dance as a married couple:

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_1158…opening the dance floor for everyone. The bride quickly changed into an elegant qipao as a nod to her Chinese heritage – and danced the rest of the night away. What a fantastic party!

And here is why I love my job so much:

love my job

Let’s wish the couple what they promised each other in their vows – to build a happy, healthy long life together. Mazel Tov!