Ali and Rick: Friends, Family, Food and Fun for a Fall Wedding

Ali and Rick are wonderfully unconventional. Their wedding would NOT follow the common scheme of “wedding venue, garter toss, bouquet toss…” and a lot of other “frills.” They had their own vision – but they needed help to pull it off. When they asked my company, A Day Like No Other, for support, I was immediately on board.

They would have their ceremony and reception at a private residence – a “backyard wedding.” Well – until I saw that “backyard!” Perched high on a hillside with endless views and breathtaking sunsets, the Tuscan-style residence is surrounded by a lush garden, sheltered patios and porches, and a large dining patio under dense, mature trees. A dream! And off we went with our preparations. Last Saturday, it all came together on a beautiful, sunny and warm September day under blue skies and with a slight breeze. The Weather Gods were clearly playing along!

So many personal touches went into this wedding that I don’t even know where to begin… Ali’s dress had been handsewn by her mother and grandmother, and hand-embroidered and beaded – a true labor of love!

Ali’s mother, an artist, had also created all floral arrangements, had built the arch from birch logs,

… and put endless personal touches on the decor – from handwritten signage …

…. to lanterns lining the walkways and twinkling hanging lights in the trees.

For Ali and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup by Lindsay and Sarah from Miabel Artistry,

Then, Ali slipped into her dress, assisted by her bridesmaids…

… and into her pretty sandals…

… picked up her summery bouquet of her favorite flowers – sunflowers – in her favorite colors of yellow and light blue…

… and was ready to meet her “Prince Charming,” Rick.

Time for many, many photos with photographer Sandra Fazzino – just wait until you see HER photos! (So far, all we have to offer are our snapshots…)

Meanwhile, my team (assistants Alexandra and Stephanie, and myself), the delivery crew from Stuart Event Rentals, the catering crew from Elaine Bell Catering, and our DJ Henry Kim from BIG FUN Disc Jockeys were all hard at work to get our preparations done before the first guests were arriving.

The motor court of the residence had been transformed into something resembling an Italian “piazza” with living trees to disguise the garage doors, market umbrellas for shade and string lights for the later part of the evening.

Soon enough, our first guest shuttle from El Paseo Limousine arrived. Guests were greeted by more handmade signage and much-needed hand fans!

Time for the ceremony! Again, a personal touch – the ceremony was officiated by the groom’s younger brother. It couldn’t have been more personal and more lighthearted.

Just married!

Party time, and time for dinner! While our guests were enjoying their cocktails, the decor,

the views…

… and the sunset,

the ceremony area was quietly transformed into an open-air nightclub. A professional dance floor was installed, the string lights overhead came on, and DJ Henry had his disco lights ready before our guests even sat down to dinner on the back patio.

Inspired by the Tuscan atmosphere of the residence, guests were dining at beautiful bare wooden tables…

During dinner, dusk fell, and the twinkling lights in the tree made the scene truly magical.

And the glorious food served by EBC made this dinner all the more memorable!

Next up – dessert! Mini cupcakes and fruit accompanied the couple’s presentation cake (again lovingly decorated by the mother of the bride).

 

After that, there was no holding back! Without further ado (like a First Dance, or Special Dances, or the like…) the dance floor was opened, the disco lights came on, and the party went into overdrive!

We even had wedding crashers!! A bunch of eleven-year olds had escaped from their slumber party next door (in their pajamas!!) and snuck right onto the dance floor… Of course they were welcomed and invited to stay on until 10 pm when the music had to conclude (per local noise ordinance…) – otherwise everyone would gladly have stayed on!

Congratulations, Ali and Rick, to a truly unforgettable wedding celebration! Party on… and stay as unconventional as you are!

 

“At Last….” – Nana and Raymond are Getting Married!

Nana’s and Raymond’s courtship had been long and anything but straightforward… Fate definitely played tricks on those two! Having known each other for more than a decade, having lived and studied on the same university campus for several years without even being aware of one another, striking up a friendship – then ending up on different sides of the continent, until finally, at long last, they did find one another. As Nana said in her vows – she suddenly realized during their long-distance relationship that she wanted nothing more than being with Raymond, even if it meant moving from Boston to San Francisco. From then on, nothing held the two back any more. Fast-forward to wedding planning: Here is where my company, A Day Like No Other, came in. After all that wait time, Nana and Raymond jumped into preparations in high gear!

After eight months of high-intensity planning and more than 600 emails back and forth, all our hard work came to fruition last Saturday on a perfect Bay Area September day – sunny, warm, blue skies, a slight breeze. A dream!

For Nana and her bridesmaids, the day started with hair and makeup services by Wowpretty Salon – owner Jira personally took care of the bride who otherwise never, ever wears makeup… and transformed her into a classic beauty with an embellished updo and a very natural-looking makeup.

This style fit perfectly with the gorgeous wedding dress Nana had chosen at Novella Bridal Salon: heavy ivory silk duchesse in a ballgown style, its only embellishment (in addition to its perfect proportions) a long row of tiny buttons running the whole length down the back of the dress and unto its impressive train.

With that, Nana became a modern-day Grace Kelly!

Photo – Jutta Lammerts

What else?

Bridal slippers…

… and the rings, of course!

Nana’s bouquet, as well as the bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres, ceremony decor and centerpieces, had been created by Marie Krick of San Francisco Bay Blooms, in a summery palette of ivory, peach and orange, with David Austin roses the stars of the flower lineup …

… and with her updo, dress and flowers Nana resembled a fragile porcelain doll!

Of course, Raymond and his groomsmen were likewise dressing up for the occasion!

For their ceremony and reception venue, Nana and Raymond had chosen the Peacock Gap Clubhouse (on the Peacock Gap golf course with endless views of green rolling hills) in San Rafael. Fittingly, the bride traveled to her First Look location in an embellished golf cart!

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

First Look! That one “butterfly-fluttering” moment when the bride presents herself to her groom in all her finery…

While the couple was out for photos with their photographer Frank J. Lee and video team of Love Unique Studios, the Peacock Gap venue crew under leadership of events director Moira Gubbins, DJ Ron Israel of Spotlight Occasions, and my assistant Trisha and myself were busy putting the finishing touches on the setup. The ceremony area needed to be prepared, and florist Marie and her team adorned the wooden arbor with gorgeous summer flowers.

Soon enough, the first guests were arriving.  Ceremony time! Here comes the bride on her father’s arm…

… and then comes the moment for her Dad to “let go” and “give her away” to Raymond.

Officiant “Minister Maggie” (Maggie Beretz) had prepared a very personal ceremony text for the couple and conducted the ceremony in her typical warmhearted, charming way with a dose of good humor.

Nana and Raymond had both prepared their own vows in the format of a personal letter which they read to each other – for the very first time! – during the ceremony.

Just married – and giddy with happiness!

Time for many more photos with photographer Frank…

 

 

After conclusion of Cocktail Hour, guests were invited into the dining room. Even the escort card table had received a little sprinkle of rose petals in the couple’s wedding colors.

Tables were resplendent in ivory and peach…

The rest of the evening went by way too fast… with a surprise slideshow that the couple’s friends and families had put together for them, table visits and a lot of fun for everyone with the infamous “Shoe Game!”

What else? Cake cutting, of course! Krumbs Cakes had created a mouthwatering confection topped with fresh berries…

… and Nana and Raymond performed their official first task as husband and wife – cutting that cake – with bravura.

 

 

The cake was a huge hit – at the end of the evening not a crumb was left!

Once  Cake Cutting was done, Nana and Raymond enjoyed their First Dance as a married couple, and they actually performed a complicated routine. At the last moment, it turned out that this dance routine was hard to execute in Nana’s “big” wedding dress – so she quickly slipped into a simple short dress. It looked a bit plain without embellishment… but: we were surrounded by the most beautiful flowers! A ribbon and an exquisite orange rose were our friends, and voila: here they are!

The couple’s First Dance opened the dance floor for everyone, and the ensuing dance party to the tunes of DJ Ron Israel completed the evening. Guests agreed: it was beautiful. Everyone left with a big smile on their faces.

Nana and Raymond: may you forever be as happy together as on your wedding day, and keep dancing!

 

 

 

Lovefest under Majestic Redwoods: Julianne and Grayson

Bride Julianne contacted my company, A Day Like No Other, ten months ahead of time for help with coordinating her wedding – and even then she already knew exactly what she wanted. She and her fiance had just chosen their venue – Deer Park Villa in Marin County, a secret garden, hidden behind a long driveway, and shaded by tall Redwood trees:… and they had also decided on the overall style of their celebration: rustic-elegant, with an outdoor ceremony and reception and a dance party inside the “villa” (mostly because of the local noise ordinance), relaxed and fun, but with some formal elements: metallic rose gold accents to complement their wedding colors of grey, blush pink and dark red.

Aside from that, guest experience was very important for them, and they added a lot of fun elements into the mix.

Last Friday, it all came together on a balmy summer evening.

Julianne and her bridesmaids began the day with hair and makeup services (by Girl with a Curling Iron), while Grayson and his groomsmen had free time. When their black SUVs arrived to take them to Deer Park Villa, they were in high spirits and, inspired by those “presidential” looking vehicles, mimicked a bunch of Secret Service agents!

Meanwhile, the Deer Park Villa team, my assistant Myrtle and I and most of our vendors were already busy getting all the elaborate decor set up that bride Julianne had pulled together throughout her planning time – from various signs..

to a Polaroid guestbook station…

Then there was the ceremony setup to be completed, with seat assignments for guests and with a chuppah that got draping and gorgeous flower decor from Angella Floral Arts.

The bride had requested to reserve a special seat for her mother whom she had lost way too early… such a sweet touch, and so moving…

The team of Ray’s Catering was busy preparing food and pre-setting the dining tables, the venue team readied the bars, our DJ (Runaway DJs) set up sound for all ceremony areas. Our photographer (Alexander Richardson of Love Tribe Weddings) and videographer (Ron Tse of FilmorePro) were capturing every moment, from First Look on throughout the evening. (Just wait until you see THEIR photos and video – until then, all we have are snapshots by me and my assistant).

Here is the impressive lineup of bridesmaids and groomsmen…

… with the bridal bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets and groomsmen’s boutonnieres likewise created by Angella.

Here is one beautiful snapshot of the couple:

Then guests began arriving, and the great moment had come, the ceremony was about to begin. DJ Amin of Runaway DJs played all the wedding music the couple had personally chosen. Julianne was escorted in by her father.

Quite a dramatic dress, I’d say!

Here comes the bride:

The ceremony was officiated by a personal friend of the couple, under the beautifully decorated chuppah.

Following tradition, the ceremony was concluded by breaking a glass – and contrary to tradition, that was done by bride and groom together!

“You may now kiss the bride!”

Just married!

What followed was a long and joyful party – starting with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a delicious sit-down dinner under twinkling string lights …

… and with elegant place settings of rose-gold plates and cutlery on soft-grey linens…

Photo credit: Myrtle Ventura

…. and then: THE CAKE (by Kara’s Cupcakes).

Guests were then treated to ice cream sandwiches with fresh-baked cookies prepared onsite by The Pink Turtle Shoppe. Then it was time for dancing, and DJ Amir kept the crowd in high spirits! For additional guest entertainment, the couple had booked a Say Ya! photo booth which proved to be a real hit. And for those who needed a break, a S’mores station was set up outside around the fire pits…

… while in the now-deserted dining area a “special guest” made his appearance to pick up any dinner leftovers!

The party went on into the wee hours of the morning, and all guests agreed – that was unforgettable! For bride and groom, the festivities were not over yet – they were off to their Honeymoon on the Maldive Islands and to Thailand. Call that a “once-in-a-lifetime” occasion!

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness and many more celebrations together, Julianne and Grayson!