Melanie and Sherif at San Francisco City Hall

Melanie and Sherif are very independent thinkers – so it didn’t come as a surprise that their wedding celebration was a bit unusual, too! Not a hotel, not a mansion… but I am getting ahead of myself. Melanie approached my company, A Day Like No Other, months ahead of time for help with her wedding coordination. As a professional event planner herself, she knew how demanding it is to make an event run smoothly and seemingly “all by itself.” And – she wanted to take her Great Day off of her professional duties – which she handed over to me.

For their ceremony, the couple had chosen the probably most iconic San Francisco landmark: City Hall! Rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake of 1906, completed in 1915, this breathtaking Beaux Arts edifice was meant to be a symbol of the City’s irrepressible spirit. Its gilded cupola soars higher (by a full 42 feet!) than the US Capitol. And it’s just as monumental from the inside as it is commanding from the outside. Melanie’s and Sherif’s ceremony took place in the 4th floor North gallery …

architecture

… with the couple’s closest friends and family members in attendance. Many had come from across the nation to share this moment with them.

Programs and personalized cake pops were waiting for the guests as well as Champagne for toasting –

program-and-cake-pops

… and escort cards on antique skeleton keys.

keysJay of City Express Limousine Service got Bride and Groom to City Hall relaxed, comfortable and on time. The very personal ceremony was officiated by Shyamala Littlefield and accompanied by Synchronicity Strings.

vows

The bride wore an ivory silk backless Pronovias dress from Novella Bridal, a sleek updo and naturally-elegant makeup by Triple Twist, and carried a bouquet from San Francisco Florist (as did her bridesmaids).

ceremony

bouquet

For her bridesmaids, Melanie had chosen coordinating but not identical floor length allover-sequined gowns in harmonious shades of rose gold and champagne – in short, the ladies looked absolutely gorgeous!

bridal-party

And the groom and his groomsmen stepped up to the fashionable occasion in tux, bowties and classic suits befitting the festive occasion and the impressive architecture.

After the ceremony, there was plenty of opportunity for the couple and photographer Sasha (of Sasha Wedding Photography) to take photos within City Hall (and just wait until you see HIS photos – so far all we have are my snapshots of the day…)

dramatic-back

Leaving City Hall as “Mr. and Mrs.!”

just-married

Everyone then took Cable Car trolleys (another San Francisco icon, of course) to Isa Restaurant in the Marina District for cocktails and dinner. Heaven smiled on the wedding party – after heavy rain the previous days, and despite a gloomy weather forecast, the sun came out, and nobody got wet!

trolleys

The private dining room at Isa’s was all aglow with string lights and luminarias…

isa

… and the newlyweds presided over the party from their Sweetheart Table.

swtht-tbl

Guests were treated to a delicious four-course French-Mediterranean dinner, and everyone declared that it was well worth the dietary sin! Melanie had changed into a more comfortable but no less dramatic all-sequined dress:

second-dress

After dinner, the whole party walked over to Nectar Wine Lounge next door – the festivities were by no means over yet! The couple had prepared a quirky Polaroid guest book..

guestbook

… bridesmaid Bianca had baked “naked” wedding cakes herself for the couple…

cake

… and one more big surprise was waiting for the guests: bellydancer Heaven Mousalem!

heaven1

heaven2

What a party… And now you know why I love my job so much!

me

Melanie and Sherif are off to their Honeymoon already – enjoy that and our heartfelt wishes for many happy years to come!

 

 

 

Lauren and Matt – full sail ahead at the Corinthian Yacht Club!

Lauren and Matt are a high-powered young professional couple,

couple

and when they decided to tie the proverbial knot, they had very clear ideas of what their celebration should look and feel like.

Fresh, modern, no frills. BUT classy and elegant. A church ceremony. Lots of friends and family members around. Glorious views. Fun and lots of dancing! When Lauren approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with her wedding preparations, I was immediately on board.

With these ideas in mind, the couple chose St.Hilary’s Church in Tiburon for their ceremony and the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon for their reception. As a nod to the maritime setting (after all, Tiburon used to be a fishing village, in the “olden times”), the only color accents in addition to bridal white were a tiny bit of metallic gold and then, of course, classic navy. That’s what the seven bridesmaids wore (the groomsmen were all in tuxes – as I said, an elegant affair!), that was the color of the sash the bride wore with her dramatic Hailey Paige dress, and navy and blue stripes turned up again as accents on the handle of the bridal bouquet, the napkin rings, and on the wedding cake.

Come Wedding Day, the weather was just perfect – a crisp but sunny day, blue skies, a slight breeze… it couldn’t have been better. For bride and bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup by Lindsay Davis at the Water’s Edge Hotel in Tiburon, while the groom and groomsmen were getting ready at The Lodge at Tiburon very close by. And since this occasion was not only festive – everyone also wanted to have a little fun: the gentlemen wore fire-engine red suspenders under their tuxes, believe it or not!

While the bridal party rode to Church in a Cable Car Trolley, guests were shuttled by Chariot Charters, and everyone arrived on time and totally relaxed.

The Church was beautifully decorated with altar pieces by Fantasy Florals …

church

 

altar-arrangement-cropped

and cellist Charles Wang together with the Church Music Director filled the sanctuary with uplifting music. The bride walked down the aisle on her father’s arm to the tune of “Plaisir d’amour…” – it was a truly moving moment.

After the ceremony (officiated by Father Roger Gustafson and orchestrated by Church coordinator Diana Rittenhouse), it was photo time with Jihan Cerda (just wait until you see HER photos!). Between her and Peek Media videography, all those precious moments during the day were captured – and soon enough we’ll also have a beautiful wedding video!

Guests were meanwhile enjoying Cocktail Hour on the patio off the ballroom, again serenaded by Charles Wang, and were feasting on shrimp and oysters…

oyster-bar

… and enjoying priceless views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline.

views

Time for dinner! The CYC team together with my team – assistants Amanda, Annie and myself – had meanwhile set the tables…

dining-room

… where blue-and-white striped napkin rings, handmade by the mother of the bride, and gold-toned Chiavari chairs established a very elegant maritime feel.

table-setting

Calligraphed place cards (blue on white, of course!) and high and low centerpieces by Fantasy Florals completed the polished look.

What else? The cake! It took its clues from the nautical theme as well:

cake

After the delicious dinner, it was time for dancing! Of course, the couple came first…

first-dance

first-dance-2

… but then, band leader Marty Johnson and the AllStar Jukebox “let it rip!”band

Guests stormed the dance floor…
dance-party… and everyone was having a great time.

mantel

The only regret? That the party had to end, ultimately… but I am told there was still an afterparty going on down the street!

Many happy years together on your voyage, Lauren and Matt – fair winds, and “full sail ahead!”

 

Rain on Wedding Day: Good Luck for Briana and Andy!

When Briana and Andy approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding planning, they had already settled on a venue and a date: Villa Montalvo in Saratoga in May. I was immediately on board – it doesn’t get any better than that!

andy-and-briana-678

Villa Montalvo, built as a stately private residence and now converted to an arts center and event venue, is an architectural gem in the Italianate style, and it is surrounded by breathtaking formal gardens, the most impressive among them the “Italianate Garden.” And that is where our couple was envisioning their ceremony to take place: on the steps of the “Love Temple” that is the focal point of the garden.

So far – the plan. Well, to make a long story short, the weather gods planned otherwise. While May was a sunny and warm month overall and especially in the Saratoga area, Briana’s and Andy’s wedding day was rained out. The good news? Across many cultures, rain on Wedding Day is considered a positive omen, portending fertility, renewal, cleansing and unity. If so, the two got a lot of all these good things!

The day began with “getting ready” – both for the bride and her many bridesmaids…andy-and-briana-031

andy-and-briana-038

with hair and makeup services by Teri Lacro of The Charismatic Bride

… and for the groom and his groomsmen – at the Tollhouse Hotel in Los Gatos.

andy-and-briana-099

andy-and-briana-094

Everyone then transferred to Villa Montalvo where the ladies got dressed.

andy-and-briana-049

The bride had chosen an elegant lace dress for her Big Day.

andy-and-briana-051

andy-and-briana-187

andy-and-briana-211

andy-and-briana-204

The rings were waiting…

andy-and-briana-725

… and the bride received her elegant bouquet from Karen Chang Burling of  Huckleberry Karen (who provided floral design throughout.)

The bride stole a quick father-daughter moment to adjust her Dad’s boutonniere:

andy-and-briana-297

Meanwhile, the “guys” got ready as well:

andy-and-briana-171

… and here is the bride:

andy-and-briana-252

… with her entourage:

andy-and-briana-249

Ready for “First Look!” By that time it had already started raining. Actually – pouring, by the bucketfuls! An outdoor ceremony in the Italianate Garden was now out of the question. But nothing could dampen the spirits of bride, groom and bridal party. They had their First Look and photo session indoors while “behind the scenes” my assistant Amanda and I, together with onsite managers Kathleen Kirkpatrick and Tiffany Ferrante, florist Karen and our DJ Turner Hayes of Elite Entertainment were scrambling to implement “Plan B.” What that meant? Rescue all the sound equipment and ceremony decor from the Italianate Garden and move the whole ceremony setup to the tented side verandah of Villa Montalvo, move the Cocktail Hour setup from the side verandah to the library, move the dining setup from the verandah to the Great Room, morning room and adjacent alcoves.

andy-and-briana-572

andy-and-briana-577

andy-and-briana-346

andy-and-briana-564

andy-and-briana-549

andy-and-briana-358

andy-and-briana-340

andy-and-briana-679 Phew! It was a Herculean task, but against all odds we managed it all just in time before the ceremony was to begin. All guests were comfortably seated in the tent-protected side verandah, with the ceremony area looking out into the lush gardens. The elaborate altar decor for the Italianate Garden had been taken apart “on the fly” and reimagined to fit the new space. It was beautiful!

andy-and-briana-411

andy-and-briana-448

When Briana and Andy said their vows, the rain abated, and the Sun began to come out.

andy-and-briana-464

“You may now kiss your bride!”

andy-and-briana-478

Just married! While their guests were enjoying Cocktail Hour and  The Laugh Box photo booth, the newlyweds were off to many, many photos with Brandon Wehman of wanderlust photo co.

andy-and-briana-627

andy-and-briana-652

… and of course, one photo in the Italianate Garden – which was still dripping wet from the recent rainstorm!

andy-and-briana-676

andy-and-briana-619

Dinnertime! Guests were treated to a delicious 3-course menu by Cafe Primavera, followed by…

andy-and-briana-787Wedding Cake, of course! The newlyweds’ traditional “first shared task” is cutting the cake, then…andy-and-briana-798feeding one another and sharing the rest with their guests. After that, there was nothing left to hold  them back from their First Dance:

andy-and-briana-810… opening the dance floor to a wild dance party for everyone! Guests were having a fabulous time.

andy-and-briana-877

Way too soon the party had to come to an end – but with a huge flourish!

The newlyweds were sent off with a bubble parade, down the Grand Staircase:andy-and-briana-909

… where George Rose of Elegant Journey was waiting for them in their gorgeous getaway car, a 1933 Packard limousine:

andy-and-briana-907

andy-and-briana-908

andy-and-briana-914

andy-and-briana-916

And off they go to their lifelong journey together! Best wishes, Briana and Andy!

 

 

 

 

WIPA at the Cuyana Showroom, SF

What do wedding industry professionals and a high-end leather-goods and clothing design company in common? They both create beauty – be it beautiful events to remember for a lifetime, or be it beautiful items that brighten every day! So it was a natural match when Cuyana San Francisco hosted our WIPA networking event last night.

Cuyana’s motto is, “fewer, better things,” and that shows in pretty much everything: from their simple, perfectly proportioned purses and garments (all done in natural materials – leather, silk, cotton, wool – and in impeccable workmanship) to the midcentury-modern style of their showroom overlooking Union Square in the heart of San Francisco.

store

Store manager Caroline Madden and her team graciously invited us to a relaxed evening gathering for networking, catching up with long-time colleagues and meeting new ones.

Mr. Shin of Michi’s served his signature super-fresh sushi…

img_3470

… accompanied by an elegant Chardonnay, courtesy of Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards.

img_3471

Everyone just loved it! And if that hadn’t been enough, Amanda Fein of Handheld Catering brought out platters and platters of oh-so-yummy Panna Cotta shooters and lemon and chocolate tartlets…

img_3469

Of course nobody could resist! And in between we all found ourselves browsing the beautiful merchandise on the tables, racks and shelves.

img_3475

img_3473Hadn’t we planned to replace this old weekender duffel for a long time already? Here was the perfect successor! And wouldn’t this elegant, streamlined leather purse elevate any wardrobe for Fall? Especially in conjunction with this incredible, reversible  double-face wool coat in grey and tan? Many internal battles about “want” and “need” were fought last night, and some were lost… but all of us left as dedicated Cuyana fans!

Enjoy this little peek preview – snapshots to be replaced by beautiful professional photos by Emily Jean of Clane Gessel Photography. Stay tuned!

Thanks again to all, and it was such a lovely evening!

 

Taryn and Jason – an Enchanted Wedding at the Outdoor Art Club

I just came home from helping one of my couples celebrate their wedding – and I am still in awe of that extraordinary experience I was privileged to be a part of.

First things first… Taryn, the bride, and I had been planning for a whole year. She had approached my company, A Day Like No Other, soon after getting engaged – suddenly feeling overwhelmed with the task of planning her Big Day with all its details and all the moving parts that go into such a celebration.

tarynandjasonepre-7-copy
tarynandjasonepre-43-copy

She and her fiance Jason were planning to invite about 120 guests, all of them close friends and family, to a venue showcasing the beauty of Nature. As is evident in their beautiful engagement pictures (by Wilson Lee who also photographed the wedding – stay tuned for his professional photos that will eventually replace my “sneak preview” snapshots!), these two really love the forest – the more enchanted, the better! We thought of Redwoods, vistas, gardens… and finally, Taryn and Jason settled for the historic Outdoor Art and Garden Club in Mill Valley, a historic venue surrounded by a mature garden. Founded as a Nature Conservancy, the OAC boasts a beautiful (and newly renovated) Arts-and-Crafts building designed by none less than Bernard Maybeck. It’s a peaceful, blooming oasis in the heart of a quaint little city. Perfect!

img_3453

With Taryn’s love of all things Bohemian, slightly offbeat to downright mystical, in mind, we settled on a color scheme of muted warm gray and sage green, accented with sparkling mirrors (after all – mirrors are said to be the portal to other worlds…) calligraphed by Mariko Giverink of BeeCurious Designs

img_3452

img_3450The dining tables were adorned with floral centerpieces evoking little enchanted forests, complete with wood slices, mushrooms, crystals, geodes and ferns, artfully created by Katie Chirgotis of Eothen Floral.

For her Great Day, the bride chose a very unusual wedding dress from LoHo Bride

taryns-wedding-dress… and a soft, very feminine hairstyle with a “messy side braid,” perfectly imperfect – by Angela of Edward’s Salon. Taryn’s makeup – natural, dewy fresh, and literally glowing – was applied by her sister Tracy, a  professional makeup artist.

When the Great Day had final arrived, it turned out to be a warm and sunny Golden Autumn afternoon with  blue skies and just a slight breeze – a dream! Taryn’s and Jason’s ceremony was officiated by Reverend Don Mulford in the shaded backyard of the Outdoor Art Club, under towering mature trees.

img_3457

Guests then enjoyed Cocktail Hour in the open courtyard, serenaded by Synchronicity Strings

img_3455

… while Delicious! Catering took care of yummy food and an open bar.

Inside, string lights on the eaves (by Big4Rentals) set a festive tone, and dining tables beckoned with more sparkle from beaded glass chargers and mirrored table numbers…

img_3443

The centerpieces boasted a profusion of ferns, grasses, wildflowers and other delicate blooms …

img_3444

and of course the Sweetheart Table got a little extra treatment:

After dinner, there was dancing with music by DJ Woody Miraglia of Big Fun Disk Jockeys, with the couple opening the dance floor with their romantic First Dance to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

img_3462

Night Owl Photo Booth provided a lot of fun entertainment, and of course there was one more highlight of the evening: cake cutting! Following time-honored tradition, the new husband and wife team performed their official first task together – cutting their wedding cake (a luscious confection by Krista Juracek of Sainte G. – way too beautiful to eat!) and feeding one another.

img_3458

Even the cake played along the mystic “Enchanted Forest” theme with ferns and mushrooms. Guests took home handmade little bundles of sage and matches – to be burned to ward off evil spirits!

If you ask me – evil spirits never stood a chance at this enchanted wedding, filled with warmth, love, and gratitude, with friendship, joy and exuberance. Many happy enchanted years together, Taryn and Jason, and be your journey always as happy as on your wedding day!