A Love Fest for Shannon and Brian at the Santa Lucia Preserve

Shannon and Brian are not people to rush into things.  So – when they decided to get married after three years of courtship, they took their time finding the perfect venue for their celebration. It should be set in beautiful, untamed Nature, but still have a certain elegance. It should be large enough for the 270 guests they were going to invite. It should offer accommodations for their closest family members to stay there for an extended wedding weekend. Together with Shannon’s mother, they visited a number of venues… and when they first set foot on the Santa Lucia Preserve, it was love at first sight, head over heals. Nothing else could compare. A private nature preserve on 20,000 acres nestled in the mountains above Carmel Valley, untouched forests and rolling hills with endless views, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean mansion (the “Hacienda” )…

… with a flock of deer grazing on the front lawn…

… and an adjacent guest house to accommodate their nearest and dearest, a subtly renovated barn for their party and a majestic Redwood grove for their ceremony – it was simply perfect! When Shannon and her mother enlisted the help of my company, A Day Like No Other, for the planning of their Great Day, I jumped right in!

Fast-forward nearly a full year… and finally all our planning came together last weekend on a perfect autumn day, warm, sunny, under blue skies and with a slight breeze. We could not have chosen a better date! Shannon’s and Brian’s wedding celebration, anticipated for so long, was to incorporate many, many very personal touches which made it unmistakably “theirs” and gave it all a deeper meaning.

For Shannon, her bridesmaids (her two sisters), the two mothers and Shannon’s grandmothers, the day began early with hair and makeup services by Sarah and Kami of the Hair and Makeup Company.

The ladies emerged looking their best ever – in a very natural and elegant way. Everyone was just glowing!

Britt Waddell of Britt Rene Photo and her assistant captured every precious moment from beginning to end – wait until you see HER photos! (For the time being, all I have for you is my iPhone snapshots…)

Darcy Craig of Seascape Flowers delivered an abundance of beautiful blooms for the bridal party (and also for ceremony and reception)…

… to complement the bride’s breathtaking Carolina Herrera dress from Jin Wang Bridal… worn with her mother’s veil:

Many of the bride’s longtime friends from College and beyond had come from far and wide to share her Great Day with her, more than fit on a single photo! Here they are…

Ready to go….a real mother-daughter moment…

To me, this is the epitome of classic beauty.

A fleet of shuttle buses from Main Event Transportation then took the couple’s guests from their hotels in nearby Carmel up into the mountains, into the Preserve and to the ceremony at the majestic Redwood Grove where the Preserve team under Catering and Events Director Aubrey Yeakel and Banquet Manager Francisco had set up for the ceremony. Sound was provided by Peter Burkhard of Kelly Productions, and the ceremony was accompanied by solo guitar music by Rich Armstrong.

Guests were handed elegant program books which the mother of the bride had hand-bound with leather – the wedding flowers were modeled after the floral motif on the invitation suite:

The elegance and natural beauty of this program (by Ruby the Fox and  Papineau Calligraphy)set the tone for the whole celebration and especially for the ceremony which was officiated by the couple’s friend Michael who had actually brought them together – talk about personal touches here!

And here comes the bride, on her father’s arm:

The couple said their vows flanked by two huge flower arrangements set on natural tree stumps, and the only other floral decor were hand-tied wreaths on the back row of chairs – wreaths are a traditional symbol of wedding celebration in Lithuania, as a nod to the Groom’s cultural heritage (and again, more of that to come!)

After the joyful ceremony, guests were shuttled to Cocktail Hour on the expansive lawn adjacent to the Hacienda where they enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres (like Ahi tuna tuiles…) to go with their libations. The sun cast a golden glow over the scene… and flower girl Helen, a mere four years old, took her job very seriously to call everyone to dinner with a handbell:

Guests took a leisurely walk over to the Barn where the venue staff and my two wonderful assistants Myrtle and Lisa had set everything up for dinner.

When the doors opened, guests were greeted with more – oversize! – wreaths:

… and an elegant setup under twinkling lights:

 

As yet another personal touch, guests found little bags of Lithuanian cookies (from Mama Papa Lithuania bakery)  as their wedding favors. Dinner was served family-style and accompanied by heartfelt speeches by the sisters of the bride, the brother of the groom, and the father of the bride who disclosed how intertwined the couple’s lives had been from the get-go… unbeknownst to them, their fathers had shared college days!

After his Welcome speech, the bride’s father and the bride shared a dance, all by themselves…

… followed by the Mother-Son dance and then – the official First Dance of the newlyweds:

After dinner, there was no holding back the crowd from the dance floor! The 415s band (through Entire Productions) literally “let it rip,” and, as one guest aptly put it, “I’ve never been to a party where not a single person was in their chairs, but everyone on the dance floor!”

Guests only took a little break for Cake Cutting – the bride’s younger sister had made a small cake with cute decorations; talk about personal touches! And then the ice cream bar was opened, with delicious toppings and fresh-baked cookies – a true crowd pleaser!

One more unexpected (and likewise truly personal) highlight was to come as a surprise to everyone: one of the bride’s grandmothers, 93 years young, led the groom on the dance floor for a Tango! She danced beautifully – and  got a well-deserved standing ovation from all guests.

For those in need of a bit of fresh air in between, blanket-cushioned hay bales (by LA Hearne Company) surrounding two brightly lit fire-pits were beckoning in front of the entrance. One thing is sure: everyone was having a great time… what a party! It was a true love fest for bride and groom.

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Shannon and Brian, on your journey together!

 

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A Union of Two Globetrotters – Tina and Paul at Thomas Fogarty Winery

If there is one thing that ties Tina and Paul together (aside from their love for one another, of course!) it’s traveling and good food. They have been to places most people can only dream of: Iceland, Galapagos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kilimanjaro. Always out for an adventure! So when they decided to tie the proverbial knot, it had to be at a special place, of course. They found it at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside – a spectacular venue with endless view of vineyards and all of Silicon Valley in the distance. Needless to say, they also chose a great caterer – Toast Catering – and to add to their impressive gallery of photos taken all over the world, they picked a fantastic wedding photographer, Todd Rafalovich. (Our snapshots here, taken by my assistant Lisa, are only a little preview – wait until you see Todd’s photos!)  My company, A Day Like No Other, helped with all these myriad choices and details and with pulling it all together into that one Great Day with my Coordinator Mary-Kate in charge – last Sunday!

It turned out to be an unusually warm and sunny autumn day, blue skies, a slight breeze – just perfect for Tina’s and Paul’s celebration. For Tina and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup styling by Elizabeth Chang of Skyla Arts. Her bridal bouquet and all other flowers were provided by her personal friend Sarah Fisher – a true labor of love!

… and with that, Tina was ready to meet her “Prince Charming!”

The ceremony was held on a lawn with endless views,  officiated by a personal friend of bride and groom, and with soft music provided by DJ Kevin Combs of Elite Entertainment.

Guests then enjoyed Cocktail Hour on an expansive patio, followed by an alfresco dinner in the open-air pavilion. In lieu of a conventional guest book, Tina and Paul had chosen artwork showing a tree, with guests signing along its branches.

For their table assignments, Tina and Paul got inspired by another shared passion: Lego! Each guest got to take home a little Lego figurine. Let’s see who else gets “bitten by the Lego bug!”

 

And here is the dining pavilion, from above…

… with beautifully set tables awaiting the couple’s guests:

Table numbers? Quirky, whimsical and “original Tina and Paul” of course! Simple table numbers would not do for these two world travelers – they named their tables after their favorite destinations! Have a look:

The favorite of all guests was the Dim Sum station with a constant waiting line of at least 20 people!

Tina and Paul snuck out one more time with their photographer for sunset photos…

… before it was time to cut their super-cute “Wanderlust” cake by Cake Expressions:

… and everyone got to dig into delicious cupcakes!

After that, there was no holding back the crowd from the dance floor where DJ Kevin “let it rip”.. what a party!

Many happy years and exciting travel adventures on your journey together, Tina and Paul!

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An Homage to San Francisco – Olivia’s and Jake’s Nuptials

Olivia and Jake love their city. They are living in a historic neighborhood, they are exploring the city via bike, they are fully immersed. Small wonder then that for their wedding day, they chose iconic locations to make it truly meaningful to them and to their loved ones – some of whom (the bride’s parents, to start with) had come as far as from Taiwan.

When Olivia approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help in her wedding planning, I realized very quickly that this would not be a “run-of-the-mill” affair. It would be very personal, very intimate, and very “San Francisco.”

And finally, last Saturday, it all came together beautifully on a glorious autumn day under a blue sky and a light breeze – San Francisco at its very best!

For Olivia and her Matron of Honor, the day began with hair and makeup services by Chau of A-List Hair and Makeup. She transformed two pretty young women into drop-dead gorgeous red-carpet stars! Olivia had chosen a classic ivory  lace dress and a bouquet from Le Bouquet Flower Shop in elegant dark reds, blush pink and eucalyptus greens:

Ready to present herself to her fiance with a First Look! Adam of City Express Limousine chauffeured her to the Legion of Honor Museum – one of San Francisco’s most iconic institutions, with one of the largest collections of Rodin sculptures worldwide:

What better spot for their First Look but the classic colonnades of the courtyard…

Photographer Frank Lee with assistant and the video team of Amor in Motion captured every moment, as Olivia gently tapped Jake on the shoulder…

And here they are!

Off to many more photos and video footage – to Fort Point (at the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Lyon Street Steps (with breathtaking views of the Bay) – just wait until you see the professional photos!!

Meanwhile, frantic preparations were underway to get both the ceremony site – a lawn in the historic Fort Mason area overlooking the Bay – and the reception venue – the Captain’s Room at the iconic McCormick & Kuleto’s restaurant at Ghirardelli Square – ready on time. The team of YPR delivered the ceremony chairs. DJ Ron Israel of Legendmakers made sure we had sound and music both out on the lawn and at the restaurant. My assistant Myrtle held out in the cold (wind and fog came up in the afternoon) guarding the fully set-up ceremony site. I was busy at the restaurant setting up decor. Team captain Larissa at the restaurant had the tables set up perfectly and the bar going.

Finally, Bride and groom arrived at their ceremony site shortly before their ceremony which was officiated by Minister Maggie Beretz – so personal and so warm! Here comes the (windswept) Bride:

After the ceremony, guests walked over to McCormick & Kuleto’s for cocktails and yummy hors d’oeuvres (Tuna tartare wontons and crab cakes – need I say more?!), and for the incredible views of the Aquatic Park with the historic tall ship “Balclutha” and of Alcatraz.

It was the “Golden Hour” before sunset, and the newlyweds took their time walking over with lots and lots of more photos.

Guests were meanwhile busy finding their table assignments by Olivia’s handmade chart…

… sharing their words of wisdom on prepared Q & A cards…

… and admiring Olivia’s and Jake’s engagement photos displayed in a huge, impressive coffee-table book.

Dinner time! Everyone swooned about the fresh seafood for which McCormick & Kuleto’s is famous. But that was not all. In addition to the elegant dessert (a rich espresso custard), there was THE CAKE! This beauty in the bride’s favorite colors, ombre from blush pink to deepest wine red, came from Cake Coquette:

The new husband and wife were clearly reluctant to even cut into it – but when they did, they revealed a luscious red velvet cake with buttercream filling underneath. So delicious!

To the amusement of all guests, Olivia and Jake sat down for the traditional “shoe game” of guessing their similarities and differences as a couple. Each one held one shoe of the bride and one of the groom in their hands and answered questions by holding up the appropriate shoe: “Who of you takes longer in the shower?” “Who is the better driver?” “Who is the better cook?” – Let’s say, Olivia and Jake did well in that game – with just a few very funny disagreements. And when the party came to a close, everyone went home happy. It was a great celebration of love and togetherness.

Many, many years of shared happiness to Olivia and Jake!

 

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