Victoria’s and Ryan’s Magical Garden Wedding

When Victoria approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for planning help, her wedding was still nearly a year away – and then it had to be postponed by another six months. Plenty of time to get it all perfect! And yesterday, finally, it all came together in a truly magical celebration on a picture-perfect day in May.

For their venue, the couple had chosen a veritable hidden gem in the Wine Country: Sylvan Lake, a private estate tucked away in the mountains above St. Helena. From a narrow, winding mountain road completely encased in dense foliage, you enter through an unassuming gate, and only halfway down the driveway does this garden paradise reveal itself…

Passing through an impressive wrought-iron gate, a vista of manicured lawns and decades-old boxwood hedges opens up, accentuated with a profusion of multicolored roses. It is truly a breathtaking place.

The bride and her bridesmaids got made up and dressed in a cozy cottage on property, hidden from any spying glances – Victoria was adamant: no First Look for her! Ryan would see her at the ceremony for the first time on their wedding day, not a minute earlier!

Here she is getting into her gorgeous lace trumpet dress:

… a true mother-and-daughter moment!

The ceremony was held overlooking the lush vineyards at Sylvan Lake. Here comes the bride, true to tradition on her father’s arm:

The ceremony was officiated by a personal friend of the couple’s. The bridesmaids wore floor length dresses in shades of lilac and mauve, and the groomsmen wore elegant grey suits.

I do! The moment Victoria and Ryan were pronounced husband and wife, the historic bronze bell at Sylvan Lake was rung, its glorious sound carrying through all of Napa Valley – for all the world to know!

While the couple had their photos taken by photographer Megan Reeves, guests were enjoying Cocktail Hour with lawn games and open bar and appetizers by S’Wine Country BBQ – just a glimpse into the hearty dinner to come!

Tables stretched across the lawn in long rows, presided over by the couple’s Sweetheart Table under the low-hanging branches of a centuries-old olive tree.

Fittingly, wedding favors were little bottles of olive oil which adorned the dinner tables, adding extra color to the elegant green garlands, hurricanes, votives and casual arrangements of roses, lisianthus, eucalyptus and wheat stems in antique glass bottles (all by EV Florals, as were the bride’s bouquet and bridesmaids’ bouquets).

Guests were guided to their tables by a handwritten seating chart on an antique window pane:

propped up on an equally antique chair amidst the flourishing greenery.

After dinner, there was yet another surprise for Victoria’s and Ryan’s guests: a donut truck from Johnny Donuts, serving super-fresh pastries and piping-hot coffee. The line literally wound around the block!

Then it was time for dancing, and the Lucky Devils Band under bandleader Jefferson got the crowd going! The result? Nobody wanted to go home!

The bride was beaming and happy… and that is why I love my job so much:

The groom exclaimed, “I LOVE this party – I am staying!” – but everything has to come to an end, eventually… Happy, tired partygoers were safely  shuttled to their hotels by Beau Wine Tours. And everyone agreed with the groom: they all loved this party!

Many happy years together, Victoria and Ryan!

 

Julia and Charlie’s enchanted summer wedding at Hakone Gardens

Julia is an organizer. She does it for a living, and she has a hard time giving up the reins on anything. But for her own wedding day, she was willing to entrust these reins to my company, A Day Like No Other. By that time, she and her fiance had already chosen their venue: Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, the oldest Japanese park in the Western hemisphere. It is glorious, especially in late Spring/early Summer. You’ll see!

Julia’s (and her bridesmaids’) day began early with hair and makeup services by Chau from AListMakeup and a church service for closest family members only. After a photo session with 102Studios, the couple arrived at Hakone Gardens, and for Julia that meant: first dress change! She exchanged her traditional Vietnamese outfit for a voluminous Western wedding dress, all lace, sequins and tulle; and got her makeup changed accordingly. In the meantime, everyone was busy with preparations. Onsite manager Tony Barbatti and his team set up the ceremony chairs (with a giant ruler, no joke!! At right angles and to the millimeter)

and helped us in a thousand ways. Ming and his team from Flourishing Gardens catering got ready for a full Chinese banquet. Crafty set up a full bar. Vicky from Queen Bridals installed incredible floral decor – all in golden yellow and rich, dark blues, a tribute to early summer! –

and hung dozens from lanterns from the tree under whose branches the couple’s Sweetheart Table was to be installed. And she transformed the front of that table into a veritable waterfall of flowers, complete with wisteria blooms. It was epic! I was meanwhile busy with the tabletops and the cute “bride” and “groom” favor boxes the bride had chosen, with setting up the dessert bar

and with coordinating all the vendors. Her bridesmaids assembled a table assignment board

at the last minute. DJ Hugh of XGenereration Entertainment and his crew set up the sound equipment and hung string lights. We were all on an adrenaline rush!

And Julia was just beaming!

Finally – time for the ceremony, officiated by a family friend…

with the most beautiful natural backdrop imaginable.

Just married!

Let the festivities begin…

AND let the guests have cake! This piece of art was made by Sharon Bui:

and at the end of the evening not a single crumb was left. As night fell, the scenery turned magical… what a day, and what a night!

 

The newlyweds are already off for their “mini moon” (to Maui) followed by their real Honeymoon later this year, to – you guessed it! – Japan.

Our best wishes on your lifelong journey together!

Glorious Persian-American Fusion at the Fairmont SF: Bita and Walter

When Bita and Walter met – not so long ago – it was instantaneous attraction: they have so much in common! They are both engineers, they both love baseball, food, and above all, traveling. Not much later, Walter proposed – on a Christmas trip to Cuba! Immediately after their return home, Bita jumped into action. She wanted to get married in April. Yes, April. In a little over three months from that day on. When she approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with that whirlwind project, all she knew was that it should be an elegant wedding with good food, and that it should incorporate elements of her Persian cultural traditions.

Long story short – on  April 29th, all of Bita’s (and Walter’s!) dreams came true at the Fairmont Hotel SF. For Bita, the day began with hair styling (by Tony Nash) and make-up application (by Pretty Girl Makeup) with a glorious view of The City…

Then it was time to get into her breathtaking dress that the talented ladies at Nouvelle Vogue Salon had helped her find at the last minute…

accompanied by true Cinderella slippers!

Nicole Reyes of SF Florist supplied the bridal bouquet (and all other flowers for the event), a dream in Spring pastels:

And with that, Bita was ready for Walter’s First Look at her! Simply saying he was overwhelmed would be a gross understatement…

Just seeing these two so deeply in love and devoted to one another was such an honor and a privilege!

After their first photos (by Myrtle Photography), their celebration began in the majestic Crown Room with an authentic Persian sofreh-aghd (designed by Aroosi by Lili),

officiated by Nilou Nouri, and with music by Persian master violinist Pourya Khademi. For the Persian side of the family, this was a real taste of home – and for the American guests, it was a wonderful introduction into the rich cultural heritage of the bride. Pourya stayed on through Cocktail hour in the Pavilion Room while we finished preparations for dinner in the Gold Room. Escort cards for Bita’s and Walter’s 170 guests, adorned with the same Golden Gate bridge motif as the invitations, were displayed on a bed of rose petals…

tables were decorated with beautiful centerpieces and votives from SF Florist,

and on their place settings guests found favor bags filled with typical SF chocolates  lovingly assembled by the bride herself.

Dinner was, you guessed it, a Persian buffet (by Orchid Catering) and well worth the wait…

and after that, there still was the delicious cake courtesy of the Fairmont’s own pastry chef.

After the couple’s First Dance,

DJ Aykut got the crowd going with the perfect mix of Persian and Western favorites.  Bita and Walter were simply happy, happy, happy… and now, as we speak, they are off to their Honeymoon on the Maldive Islands. What a celebration!

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness on your journey together and many more exciting trips!