French Country Charm at Thomas Fogarty Winery: Cristina’s and Dmytro’s Dream Wedding

Please meet one of my favorite clients EVER: Cristina and Dmytro – or Dima, as he is called by his friends. After more than a year of wedding planning with the two of them, they are now Cristina and Dima to me, too!

Cristina and Dima hired my company, A Day Like No Other, last year – to put together a really memorable celebration for them, including decor in a vintage French Country theme. I jumped at the opportunity to do that project! Taking my cues from Cristina’s favorite color – a soft French Blue – and a few Pinterest inspirations, I let my imagination take off, and the most wonderful thing happened: Cristina and Dima were thinking in the same direction, approved my ideas and let me “run with them.” It was a wonderful, shared creative process, bringing together many of my favorite vendors, and culminating yesterday in one of the most memorable weddings I’ve ever done.

I had the opportunity to design their invitations – which set the tone for their decor theme…

For their venue, the two had chosen Thomas Fogarty Winery – a spectacular location with endless views all over Silicon Valley.

Their “home base” for their wedding day was the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto, where both bride and groom and their attendants were getting ready. The ladies started early with hair and makeup styling by Miabel Artistry – and emerged as drop-dead gorgeous, red-carpet-worthy beauties.

And just look at her “princess slippers:” sparkly golden Jimmy Choo heels.

Stretch limousines from Le Grande Affaire – a white one for the ladies and a black one for the gents – pulled up, rolled out that proverbial red carpet (literally) and took everyone up that long, winding country road to the winery.

Up there, not only the onsite events team, but many other vendors were already busy to get everything set up for the great moment – working hard at temperatures over 90 degrees! A glorious, sunny day, with blue skies, but really, really hot…

The catering team of La Bocca Fina set up all the tables and chairs. Linens and napkins – custom-made from blue-and-white Toile de Jouy fabric just for this event – from Wildflower Linens set the light blue French country theme …

… and china, flatware and glassware from Hensley Event Resources completed the look, down to the tiniest details.

Florist/stylist Natasha Kolenko provided flowers reminiscent of French country gardens – light blue, in loose, effortless arrangements, incorporating wildflowers and greenery for an overall charmingly nostalgic, feminine and soft effect. She even had a structure of untreated slender tree trunks custom-made to surround and frame the couple’s Sweetheart Table, with more summer flowers seemingly growing up and around this frame in the most natural fashion.

The arch for the ceremony mirrored this style perfectly; vintage-inspired vignettes of wine barrels and French wrought-iron garden chairs completed the “look.” 

Guests were greeted by a custom-designed “Welcome” sign which I calligraphed myself – along with all the other signage for this wedding.

To add a little whimsy to their guestbook, I found a vintage typewriter for Cristina and Dmytro – with a time-worn sheet of typing paper asking guests to leave the couple a note…

Time for the ceremony! The Mersonacta String Quartet provided beautiful music for prelude and ceremony… and here comes the bride, in an elegant lace wedding dress from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon, accompanied by both her parents.

The setting for the ceremony was nothing short of spectacular.

Our photographer Maria Hedengren (here in action!), who had flown in from Finland just for this wedding, captured every precious moment.

“Minister Maggie” Beretz found the most personal and heartfelt words to unite these two in marriage.

And here they are: JUST MARRIED!

Off to many more photos with Maria,

while guests were directed to Cocktail Hour via custom signage mounted on an authentic vintage French bicycle (from Found Vintage Rentals) with a matching, flower-filled antique basket…

On the open deck, a well-stocked bar and a variety of hors d’oeuvres was waiting for the guests who enjoyed the sunshine and the views from vintage lounge furniture (from One True Love Vintage Rentals). And then there was, of course, Night Owl Photo Booth for added entertainment!

Soon enough, dinner was ready – courtesy of Teri Menchini and her crew at La Bocca Fina, who had incorporated the couple’s favorite childhood foods from their home countries (Romania and Ukraine) into the menu.

Guest tables were not numbered, but named after famous algorithms; after all, the two are software engineers!

Then it was time for the couple’s Grand Entrance:

The newlyweds presided over the congregation of their 80+ guests from their elaborately decorated Sweetheart Table…

Photographer Maria whisked the newlyweds away for sunset photos – after all, we had a spectacular sunset on Wedding Day!

After dinner, guests were invited to the Hill House where Cristina and Dmytro performed their official first task as a married couple: cutting their cake. And that cake was a piece of art as none of the guests (or us vendors, for that matter) had ever seen before! Playing on the couple’s love for traveling and for math, patissier Gabrielle Feuersinger of Cake Coquette had made them a cake in the shape of a vintage suitcase, complete with travel stickers of their favorite destinations, topped with a stack of their favorite math books – and all of that so realistic-looking that more than one guest tried to pick up the books and leaf through them!! Needless to say that the cake underneath was super delicious, too…

Next stop: dancing!

Cristina and Dmytro presented their guests with an elaborate dance routine in the tradition of Russian ballet, dancing their First Dance to Shostakovich’s Valse no. 2 (remember the famous movie Doctor Zhivago? That’s when you swooned over that dance for the first time…) – in an expertly abridged version that DJ Woody Miraglia of Big Fun Dic Jockeys had created especially for them.

With that, the dance floor was officially opened for everyone, and DJ Woody kept the crowd going – and what a wild dance party that was! But eventually even the best party has to come to a close… and guests took home little succulents as favors…

… to see love grow.

Jay of City Express Limousine service chauffeured guests back down the winding mountain road back to their hotels, and George Rose of Elegant Journey Limousines brought his “flagship” – a stunning 1927 Stutz limousine – as Cristina’s and Dmytro’s getaway car. We sent them off to their married bliss with a sparkler parade – that’s what I call an exit in high style!

Keep dancing, traveling and calculating math problems together, Cristina and Dmytro, and stay as crazy happy as you were on your Wedding Day!

 

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.  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.

The bride had chosen a classic white lace dress, strapless, with a “Sweetheart” neckline and rhinestone belt:

 

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!”

Paul had likewise dressed up with the help of his groomsmen…

… made sure he had the rings…

… and so – the First Look of the couple could happen!

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!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

♥ Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure!  ♥

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Cristina and Jason – Glamour and Caribbean Spice at Cavallo Point Resort

Cristina is a powerhouse, a force of nature, a whirlwind. She has a stellar career. And she had finally found her soulmate and was ready to commit herself to that relationship, heart and soul. What I didn’t know when she first approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning her wedding: once Cristina has set her mind to something, she’s unstoppable. She wanted to get married within three months. We started planning. A family emergency forced her to put all her plans on hold and postpone to June 24th. When she was finally able to get back into planning mode, months later, we had about four weeks left to pull everything together.

Almost every bride I’ve been working with so far would have given up. Not Cristina. She was undeterred and more determined than ever! So was I. And we pulled it off – beautifully!

Cristina and her fiance Jason had chosen a spectacular venue for their celebration: Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, with unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. That’s what Cristina saw when her wedding day began…

… with hair and makeup by her longtime stylist Terrell Mullin.

In accordance with her glamorous champagne-colored, jeweled wedding dress from Nouvelle Vogue Salon, Cristina opted for finger-waves and a classic “Hollywood style” makeup…

Spectacular, isn’t it? A true “silver screen goddess!” And the cathedral-length veil made Cristina look like a real princess.

And of course, there was THE RING.

Then there were the accessories: her bridal shoes! With a color palette of ivory, blush pink and merlot, Cristina went all out with her merlot suede stilettos:

… and, not to forget, her garters!Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs created Cristina’s dream bouquet of blush and ivory roses and peonies, merlot dahlias and a few wisps of greenery …

… and her church and reception decor as well.

Groom Jason was busy with his own preparations – and getting his son prepared, as well!

The ceremony was held in the onsite chapel – Cavallo Point Resort is housed on the site and in the buildings of a historic military outpost, complete with a beautiful chapel.

The bride was escorted by her brother…

For this special day, the chapel was transformed into a garden with blooming trees; the aisle lined with ivory and blush rose petals and lanterns. Guests found little paper cones filled with merlot rose petals on their chairs – you’ll see!

DJ Aykut and the bride’s son Brent – a DJ himself – played all the music that Cristina and Jason had enjoyed together during their courtship, and the ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend of the couple, Rev. Lynne Herod-DeVerges.

And here she and her groom are saying their very personal vows to one another:

“You may kiss the bride!” (and he did… )

 

Just married and SOOO happy! The newlyweds are leaving the chapel, showered with handfuls of fragrant rose petals..

The couple had a lot of photos to take with their photographer extraordinaire Tuan Bui.

Meanwhile, the Cavallo Point Crew under the leadership of Cheryl Fleming, myself and my two tireless assistants Kelsey Holtzinger and Myrtle Ventura had our hands full with preparations for Cocktail Hour and reception in the Callippe ballroom and patio where the onsite crew of PSAV had installed extensive lighting…

… and tables were gleaming in a variety of shimmering and glittering linens (from Napa Valley Linens). Taking inspiration from the couple’s invitation cards of rose-gold print on pearlescent ivory card stock, we used rose gold as metallic accent throughout…

… with chargers, flatware and even dining chairs playing along (all from Hensley Event Resources). The gorgeous centerpieces and large and small flower arrangements, mirrored chargers and mercury-gold votives came all from Green Petal Designs.

 

Guests found their table assignment on a calligraphed mirror and on mirrored table numbers by Mariko Giverink of BeeCurious Designs,

and while all tables looked fabulous, the couple’s Sweetheart Table was, of course, the best! In between, the couple stole away for a few moments for sunset photos…

Over dinner,  Cristina’s and Jason’s sons proposed the first toasts to their newlywed parents, expressing gratitude for making each other happier than they had ever seen them… listening to that, we all had to dab our eyes. It was very emotional, and very beautiful – and then many more impromptu toasts and speeches followed, a veritable love fest for Cristina and Jason! They were both beaming, visiting tables and way too excited to eat. But they did cut their cake (from the in-house patissier at Cavallo Point).

Their first official collaboration as a married couple: completed with bravura!

 

Guests had so much more to enjoy even after that: the photo booth (by Photo-Matica) was a huge hit, with everyone crowding around it; dancing to a mix of tunes – heavy on Reggae as a nod to both Cristina’s and Jason’s heritage – by DJ Aykut, and late-night snacks… and sitting around the fire pit on the patio under string lights and a huge moon light… Everyone loved this party!

Photographer Tuan Bui and Videographer Andrew Hsu of Studio MSV captured every precious moment – make sure to watch the wedding video here!

While their guests were still lingering around the fire, Cristina and Jason snuck away, hand in hand… Wishing you a lifetime of happiness and priceless memories of this day filled with joy and laughter!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

♥ Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure!  ♥

 

 

The Magic of Light and Water: Tina and Eric

Both Tina and Eric had taken their time, trying to find the one person to share their lives with… and had already nearly given up! In Eric’s words… he was tired of dating and seriously considering “just to stay home with the cat!” Well, he tried it just one more time, and he’s so grateful he did it. Because that’s when love struck. Unexpectedly, immediately – they both “just knew.” Neither Tina nor Eric could believe their incredible luck right away. But with every time they met, they kept discovering more things to love in one another. And their relationship became a true whirlwind romance: engagement after four months, and wedding after another three – today!

I was honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, for their coordination and design needs. The two had found a spectacular spot on the California Coast – the Beach House Hotel in Half Moon Bay, right on the sand, and Sam’s Chowder House, a time-honored “cult” seafood restaurant next door – for their celebration.

beach house hotel

Their wedding day turned out to be overcast, with the sun only peeking out through the clouds here and there…  the light was sheer magic, light like an impressionist painting… pearly grey, soft, ethereal.

seascape

Tina did not want Eric to see her before the ceremony. Here is her spectacular ruched and beaded dress…

dress

train

… her jeweled Cinderella slippers…

shoes… and her Grandmother’s pearls.

jewelryIn Hollywood-worthy hair and makeup by Vinnia Tjhin and with her bridal bouquet in her signature colors of vivid natural blues and purples by Gingerleaf Floral …

bouquet… Tina was ready for the ceremony, held at “High Noon” directly on the water, officiated by Rev. Raymond Teague and attended by 70 of their closest friends and family members. Harpist Krista Strader‘s beautiful music provided an elegant accompaniment to the intimate ceremony.

harp

ceremony“You may now kiss the bride!”

first kiss

Just married!

just married

For Tina and Eric, it was now “photo time!” with Ryan Willis. After the requisite family photos, they could finally enjoy their  first quiet moment as husband and wife …

quiet moment

… and then, they took a stroll through the dunes…

stroll

… and when a fence got in their way, Eric simply lifted Tina across!

fenceFrom there, the two embarked on their wedded journey together…

journeyFirst stop: Wedding Reception! A long table had been set with a pale blue and tan patterned runner, napkins in blue, turquoise and purple hues in a chic ombre progression (so “of the moment!”) and grouped varied arrangements of blue and purple flowers, decorative shells and hundreds of sparkling glass gems catching the midday light.

dining tble 2The newlyweds presided in the middle…

sweetheart chairs,,, looking out over the shimmering waters of Half Moon Bay. And everyone very much enjoyed the hot chowder that Sam’s Chowder House is rightfully famous for, followed by more delicious seafood and, finally, of course: THE CAKE! A little piece of edible art by Mazzetti’s Bakery, decorated with tiny buttercream flowers in Tina’s and Eric’s wedding colors:

cake

cake cuttingCutting – and eating! – the cake concluded the festivities, and everyone was really happy, me included! Here is why I love my job so much…

jutta

Congratulations, Tina and Eric, and many happy years together!

 

 

 

Whirlwind Wedding Planning – Where to Start?

So you just got engaged – congratulations! And you want to get married right away – great! Only problem if you are living in a metropolitan area like me: most wedding vendors are booked a year in advance. How then to pull it off in, say, three months? Or even less?

It is possible! I have done it in my own wedding planning and design business, A Day Like No Other. The process is intense, and it follows its own rules.

Photo Credit: A Frame Forward

  • Be crystal-clear on what you want.

You need to make a decision right away on the approximate date, the geographic area, the style and size of your wedding celebration, and your budget. For your date, you may have to compromise depending on what is still available in the venues you like. The geographic area will be largely determined by your willingness to travel and/or have a “destination wedding.” Your favorite style will also determine in which geographic areas and for which types of venue you are looking – if you are a fan of beach weddings with your “feet in the sand,” then you will be looking in different areas than if you prefer rolling hills and a Redwood Grove for your ceremony. Maybe you are dreaming of an elaborately decorated hotel ballroom –  that allows for more venues to choose from. Lastly, assess your budget realistically. Will you be paying for all of your wedding yourself, or will your families contribute? Will the cost for big-ticket items like wedding dress, rings and honeymoon be included in your whole budget?

Credit Cooper Carras Photography

 

  • Enlist professional help.

With little time to get it all organized, you should turn to an experienced wedding planner for help. Planning a wedding – even under the best of circumstances and with a lot of lead time – involves myriad details, moving parts and time-consuming research. A good wedding planner will structure the process for you, guide you step by step, make sure that decisions are made in the correct order, and save you endless hours of online research and vendor interviews. First off: your venue and your caterer – the backbone of your event! Your wedding planner will find venues for you that fit your tastes and budget and still have availability in the time frame you are considering. He or she will then assist in finding a caterer unless the venue offers in-house catering; and then all the other vendors you will need to round out your celebration.

Credit Cooper Carras photography

 

  • Be flexible.

Being “late in the game” means that you may not get your first choice of venue and vendors. Your wedding planner will be able to help you prioritize and find a work-around. Did you know that even if all Saturdays are sold out at your favorite venues, you may still be able to book a Friday or a Sunday? (Saturdays always sell out first). On the other hand, if you are considering a weekday wedding, many of your guests may not be able to attend. Considering a dinner/reception at a restaurant? Remember that in many areas good restaurants are closed on Mondays. If your favorite dates fall outside the local “high wedding season,” you have a better chance to secure a date on short notice, and you may even save on your venue fee. In general, when choosing your venue, you may want to prefer one that offers complete wedding packages including food and bar, all rentals, and a venue coordinator onsite on your Great Day. You will in all likelihood not have the time to organize and coordinate an elaborate setup with rental items from various companies, a field kitchen and a tent in “the middle of nowhere.” While certainly unique, such a project calls for a long planning period. Believe me, I’ve done it!

Credit Vicens Forns Photography

 

  • Tackle decisions in the correct order and in a timely manner.

That sounds self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, some decisions need to be made right away – even if they do not feel that urgent to you. One decision that has to be made right away is finding a wedding dress! A dress often takes 6-8 months to make, plus alterations. If you have that much time, great, then choose and order it right away. If not, you need to find floor models off the rack that can be customized to your measurements. Do it right now! And send out your Save-the-Dates immediately to make sure your favorite guests reserve your Great Day for you. Needless to say that you also do not have the luxury of postponing all other decisions. Your vendor pool to choose from is limited, and so you want to lock in your favorites within this selection right away. Again, in order to avoid mistakes, go with your wedding planner’s or your venue’s recommendations. Well-established wedding planners, especially, have an extensive network of industry connections. They know who is reliable and will deliver good value for your money. Listen to their advice!

Credit Kevin Chin Photography

 

  • Enjoy your Great Day!

Your courtship including wedding planning will be a whirlwind, I guarantee it! Come Wedding Day, your wedding planner will make sure that your celebration unfolds around you “like magic,” keeping you out of all the logistics and addressing the inevitable little glitches without you even knowing it. In my practice at A Day Like No Other, I promise my couples that on their wedding day their only job is to celebrate, and to “float through their day on Cloud Nine!” And that’s what I hope will happen on your Great Day, too… enjoy!

Credit Nathan Worden Photography

 

 

Delia and Chris – High Elegance at Thomas Fogarty Winery

Delia’s and Chris’ union is a match – well, made in Heaven. Delia has two beautiful grown daughters from her first marriage and had not expected to get married again in her lifetime. And for Chris it would be the first time EVER.

When Delia called my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning her dream wedding at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, California, I jumped at the opportunity.

I LOVE this venue! And I loved Delia’s “vision” for the design and decor as well. After many months of planning, vendor sourcing, designing and curating, developing floor plans and timelines, all our “labor of love” came together last Saturday on a perfect California summer day under blue skies, a warm sun and a light breeze, on top of the mountain ridge where this beautiful venue is located, overlooking all of Silicon Valley with views up to the San Francisco city skyline.

Delia arrived at Fogarty Winery together with her Maid of Honor, her “flower girl” and her two daughters Alivia and Madeline, in full hair and makeup done by her personal friends Connie Cook and Sofia Collazo. Photographer Megan Reeves and Videographer Justin Ferrar of Weddings on Film captured that precious moment of the bride getting dressed for her great moment… (and everything beyond that, too!)

… and here is a detail of her extraordinary veil, embellished with stunning embroidery and beading…

… plus “Cinderella slippers!”

 

Florist Jeffrey Adair of J Floral Art delivered an elegant, feminine bridal bouquet in shades of ice blue, ivory and silver…… with bridesmaids’ bouquets and boutonnieres to match. Next, he went on to install an incredible wrought-iron arch and to decorate it with matching floral arrangements for the ceremony, complement this with large arrangements flanking the aisle, and finally covering the aisle with a thick carpet of fresh ivory rose petals.

Harpist Erica Messer played prelude music (she brought her newest harp out for us for the first time!)

… as guests were arriving via shuttle bus (by Destination Systems) and welcomed…

… to an incredible setup with endless views.

Fans to combat the summer heat did double duty as ceremony programs.

Groom Chris was also preparing with the help of his brother and Best Man …

 

 

At 4:30 in the afternoon, the great moment had finally come! Delia had been adamant: following strictest tradition, she did not want Chris to see her before the ceremony. 

And here comes the bride, accompanied down the aisle by her daughters.


The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple who found the most personal, moving words for them.

Just married – and so happy! While guests were enjoying Fogarty wines at Cocktail Hour on the deck…

… accompanied by delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Toast Catering,

Chris and Delia had many more photos taken – among them, of course, their official wedding photo!

Soon enough it was time for dinner (by Toast Catering) in the open-air Pavilion, at dining tables beautifully set with silver Chiavari chairs, elegant ivory-moiré linens and stunning china, glassware and silverware from Hensley Event Resources, and with centerpieces from J Floral Art.

 

See’s chocolate candy favor boxes, menu cards and little herb bundles of rosemary and lavender, hand-tied with color-coordinated light-blue ribbon by the bride’s sister, completed the look.

Of course, the newlyweds’ Sweetheart Table, from which they were presiding over the congregation, received special treatment!

Guests were guided to their assigned tables by a whimsical, charming escort card board custom-made and hand-painted by A Day Like No Other.

Next up: the Grand Entrance of the bridal party and of the newlyweds!

After feasting on delicious salad and entrees, guests were treated to a mouthwatering selection of pastries and chocolates by Toast Catering.

 

The last highlight of the evening was Delia’s and Chris’ First Dance to the rousing tunes of DJ Stefano Bortolin of Big Fun Discjockeys.

Outside, as darkness fell, the scene turned downright magical…

 

Fogarty Winery is a very special place for very special moments – like this unforgettable wedding. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Delia and Chris!

Erin and Gabriel – Rustic Elegance with South-of-the-Border Charm

Erin and Gabe are super-busy young professionals – both physicians, working long hours. When they embarked on their wedding planning, they realized immediately that they would need support for all the details, the logistics, the design; in short, pretty much everything. I was honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, to organize their preparations every step of the way.

We started with their exceptional venue, Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean compound surrounded by a beautiful, park-like garden. On Wedding Day, all the lush plantings were in full bloom, and despite a serious threat of rain in the weather forecast, we got incredibly lucky with sunshine and blue skies and were able to hold ceremony, Cocktail Hour and dinner outside, as planned.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Hard to believe that this hidden gem is nestled into a quiet residential neighborhood right in the heart of Silicon Valley!

Erin and Gabe and their bridesmaids and groomsmen all got ready at the nearby Garden Court Hotel

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… with hair and makeup services for the ladies by Fiona and Joey of Urban Beauty Loft.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The bride had chosen a beautiful ivory wedding dress with a lace top and flowing skirt – so young and elegant in its simplicity…

… Helping the bride into her dress is always a true mother-daughter moment…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs brought the bridal and bridesmaids’ bouquets – and they looked exactly like Erin had envisioned them! Not an easy feat as Erin’s favorite flowers are red Bougainvilleas which are notoriously fragile and do not last in bouquets and centerpieces. Not one to ever give up easily, Janelle came up with a master plan to cut these prized blooms onsite from living plants she brought in, only hours before the ceremony… and Erin got her dream bouquet! Here it is…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… accompanied, of course, by matching bridesmaids’ bouquets…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and boutonnieres for the gentlemen.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Groom …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and groomsmen were also dressing up…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Ready for “First Look!” Photographer extraordinaire Vicens Forns and his second shooter Ana Silva captured every precious moment throughout the day and evening.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Bride and groom exchanged gifts right then and there – a wristwatch for the groom and stunning pearl-and-diamond earrings for the bride.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Time for many, many photos, with the bridal party….

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and without!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

All the while, the Day Like No Other team – assistants Lisa, Alexandra, and myself – was working frantically to get everything set up in time for the big celebration!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple’s and accompanied by live music by the Hit Waves Unplugged duo – “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” for the processional.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

It doesn’t get much more romantic than that! The bride was walked in by her Dad, as tradition prescribes…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

During the very personal ceremony with several readings,

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

guests helped to fill a “time capsule” for the couple, to be opened on their fifth wedding anniversary.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

And here they are, JUST MARRIED!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Official wedding photo:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres …

… on the adjacent patio – with a whole menu to choose from:

… with the pretty signage (including a program sign)…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… provided by the bride’s talented friend Jess. Of course, there was more fun waiting for the guests:

… and not only that: guests were also invited to watch dinner preparations: Two spectacular paellas (by Nora’s Spanish Catering) were cooking in the courtyard…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

 

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and long rows of bare wooden tables (from Stuart Event Rentals) decked out with garlands and blooms in fiery reds and oranges (all by Green Petal Designs) were waiting for the guests.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Place settings were adorned with olive branches …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and – of course – the Sweetheart Table got “special treatment!”

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Whimsical “escort cards” showed guests their table assignments:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Everyone was raving about the paella! With background music by DJ Sami Funk of Heart of Gold DJs, lively conversation and free-flowing Spanish wine, everyone was having a great time.

Next up: cake cutting! A pretty lemon-buttercream cake (from Cake Coquette) with more Bougainvilleas for decor was set up inside the “Sunset Room” on an antique table, alongside chocolates and cookies.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The back wall had been decorated with family heirlooms and photos …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and surrounded by all these sweet memories and lots and lots of candlelight, the newlyweds performed their official first joint task as husband and wife – cutting the cake.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

What now? First Dance, of course!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Following that, there was no holding back – everyone hit the dance floor to the tunes of DJ Sami …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… under twinkling string lights from Stuart Event Rentals.

Guests took just one little break in between dancing, and that was when delicious fresh churros with chocolate sauce were served!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

When this party did come to an end – it was on another high note: a sparkler exit to the most beautiful car imaginable, to take Erin and Gabe off to their married bliss:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

A 1927 Stutz chauffeured by owner George Rose of Elegant Journey Limousines

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

With our best wishes on your lifelong journey together, Erin and Gabe, and may all your days be as happy as this one!

 

A Lot to Be Thankful for… Kate and Aaron at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

All weddings are joyous occasions (one of the reasons I like my job so much!) – but Kate’s and Aaron’s wedding, last Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, was truly exceptional in the joy and gratitude it celebrated.

The bride had suffered a near-fatal accident a few months ago (at her Bachelorette Party, of all occasions…) – and against all odds, she survived – paralyzed down from her chin. The unanimous verdict was that she would never be able to walk again. It was, by all measures, a catastrophe. But what none of the experts had factored in is that Kate is a fighter, determined and strong. She learned to walk again. She wore a neck brace for months. When her Mom booked my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning the wedding that would nearly not have happened – Kate said she might have to wear her neck brace with her wedding dress. And that she’d be perfectly content just lounging by the dance floor and watching, grateful for having a wedding and just being there.

Well, let me tell you – even since then, she’s made giant strides, and no one would have suspected what this radiant and happy bride had gone through to get to this point! But, of course, I am getting way ahead of myself. First things first…

The couple’s venue, the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, is dramatically perched high up on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, a gorgeous setting with endless views.

For their wedding day (close enough to the Thanksgiving Holiday), the hotel was resplendent in pumpkin decor:

… and the weather was a perfect “golden October” with blue skies under a warming sun and a slight breeze.

For Kate and her six bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup services by Teri Lacro of The Charismatic Bride.

Everyone was in high spirits! Christina Averkin of A Bud and Beyond delivered gorgeous bouquets…

… in Kate’s favorite colors of blush pink and pale peach, in a loose, feminine style, finished with fluttering silk crepe ribbons. She also brought boutonnieres for the gentlemen and the most gorgeous ceremony decor and centerpieces – you’ll see!

While Kate and her bridesmaids were having their hair and makeup done, Aaron and his groomsmen were already dressing up…

Kate had chosen a glamorous, nearly transparent, very form-fitting Lazaro lace dress (and with her supermodel figure, she pulled it off to a stunning effect!)

 

She did need some help from her Maid of Honor and bridesmaids, though, to put on her golden Jimmy Choo heels…

… but with that done, she was ready for her First Look with her groom, Aaron.

 

 

Photographer Cooper Carras and videographer Spencer Sarson captured it all, from start to finish…

Meanwhile, preparations were underway “behind the scenes” to get everything ready for the great celebration.

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Wedding and Special Events manager Sophie Lelievre, banquet managers Joseph and Juan and their teams set up the ceremony chairs …
…and welcome bar, cocktail tables and linens, and the dining setup in the ballroom; the Stuart Event Rentals crew set up chairs and elegant lounge furniture around the dance floor; florist Christina installed a semicircular wall of flowers as a ceremony backdrop … … Jonathan Metcalf and assistant Taylor of PSAV set up a sound system for the ceremony, and my assistant Annie Chang and myself were busy organizing and putting finishing touches on things.

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Guests arrived by shuttle (from Le Grande Affaire) and were treated to their first glass of champagne right there on the Ocean Lawn. Guitarist Jay Alvarez serenaded them while they were finding their seats for the ceremony and accompanied the festivities with beautiful wedding standards and a few of his own compositions.

Then finally, the great moment was there: Here comes the bride!

The very personal ceremony was officiated by Andrew, the groom’s uncle – and as a close family member he, of course, was keenly aware of what a miraculous moment this wedding actually was.

It was very, very touching and emotional. And full of joy, of course! Here they are, just married!

 

Off to many more photos and video shots… especially as we were getting closer to Sunset, the light turned a magical rose gold color. Kate and Aaron were so beautiful together, literally bathed in a golden glow.

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Time for dinner! The grand ballroom of the Ritz was aglow with shimmering linens, candles, uplights and elegant floral centerpieces…

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

with the Head Table of course getting the extra special treatment!

And – Drumroll! – Grand Entrance of the newlyweds:

Over dinner, the bride’s 93-year old Grandfather gave a song performance in honor of the newlyweds – his way of toasting to their future!

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

More guest entertainment: The Laugh Box photo booth – a total hit with everyone.

And then it was time for the First Dance:

Against her professed plans,  “Amazing Kate” did NOT just lounge and watch her guests dancing – she danced herself and was right in the middle of everything!

What else? Cake cutting! Gabrielle Feuersinger of  Cake Coquette had delivered a glorious classic four-tiered wedding cake…

… and Kate and Aaron accomplished their first official task as husband and wife – cutting that cake together – with bravura.

 

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Then it was off to the dance floor again, where Dan Meblin and the Pop Fiction band was heating it up for the crowd!


Everyone was having a great time, and Kate and Aaron especially were overjoyed and happy. Next up: their Honeymoon on Kauai and Lanai. Have a wonderful trip together, starting off your shared journey of a lifetime!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

♥ Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure!  ♥

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Forecasting Trends at Hamlin Mansion: WIPA kicks off 2016

Last week, months of planning came to fruition in a spectacular event: the WIPA 2016 kick-off meeting at historic Hamlin Mansion in San Francisco. To me, this was extra special because it marked the conclusion of nearly four years as Event Chair and the Regional Director of Programs for the WIPA SF Bay Area Chapter. I absolutely wanted to conclude my tenure on a high note – and that’s what happened.

Our speaker set the theme: Kate Patay of Creative Coverings, acclaimed wedding industry expert and frequent speaker around the nation, presented “Forecasting Trends” – based on a multitude of media channels and, of course, social media. AND in her capacity as Director of Sales and Marketing at one of the area’s pre-eminent linen rental companies, she also set the tone for the design by sponsoring exquisite linens which I used as the jumping-off point for the rest of the event design. True to her theme, she chose from the Pantone Colors of the Year, mainly a dusty rose with lots of sparkle, expanding both into lighter hues up to ivory and down to an elegant mocha and chocolate. It was perfect both for the rich wood paneling in the Mansion’s Great Room – where we enjoyed both Cocktail Hour and later on coffee and dessert – and for the light-filled dining room overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Heavens were literally smiling on us with blue skies and a slight breeze, and the venerable mansion presented itself from its most beautiful side. Misti Layne of Images by Misti Layne (photography) and Kien Nguyen of Kien Pictures (videography) made sure not a single moment was lost!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A mock ceremony setup demonstrated what it could be like for a real wedding… with chairs from Stuart Event Rentals (who also sponsored lounge furniture and the dining setup). Living hedges from Interior Plant Design gave the scene extra polish and elegance.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Guests were serenaded by Matt Roads Trio from Ivy Hill Entertainment and could hang out in the elegant lounge…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco
WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

The bar was stocked with world-class wines from  Wente Vineyards

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Time Capsule Party provided a totally different photo booth experience: guests received their photos printed on vintagey- looking aluminum plaques – outfitted with magnets! I am sure, countless ones are now gracing fridges around the Bay Area!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Two of the most important attendees: caterer Elaine Bell and speaker Kate Patay

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

And here are some of the delicacies that Elaine treated our guests to at Cocktail Hour:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

We had even more to offer to our guests – our own gold-metallic (temporary…) tattoos with the WIPA logo from AnnaBee! They are fully customizable and are such a pretty idea for weddings!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

That’s me greeting guests at the door – with Mr. Shin from Michi’s.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Everything was prepared for the educational part of the day, with Fantasy Sound providing A/V services.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

When Kate Patay began her presentation on “Forecasting Trends,” our guests were riveted. Kate is such an engaging speaker, lively and funny, that you don’t even notice how much you are learning while being entertained! Everybody took home a lot new insights and “food for thought.”

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

After the swearing-in ceremony of the incoming Board of Directors…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… a festive luncheon was awaiting our guests, with tables covered in sequined linens from Creative Coverings, glistening with china, glassware and flatware from Stuart Event Rentals, and gorgeous spring flowers from Green Petal Designs.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Every guest found a pretty favor box at their place setting, chock-full with samples from Kiehl’s.WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Lunch presentation was so artful that one hardly dared to touch it – but on the other hand, the food was way too delicious NOT to dig in!

WIPA-Hamlin-Misti-Layne_108

Following lunch, we all returned to the Great Hall where dessert was waiting for us: delicious fresh meringues from Le Grand Meringue:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco


WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… and fantastic cakes from Perfect Endings:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A lucky winner takes home one of the gorgeous centerpieces…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… and guests just didn’t want to leave!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A shuttle bus from Destination Systems took guests back to their cars in comfort and ease, and everyone agreed: that was a great start into the WIPA year 2016!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Thanks again to all our generous sponsors!

 

 

VENDOR SPOTLIGHT: Gavin Farrington, Photographer – a Man of Many Talents

If you first meet photographer Gavin Farrington with his boyish, slightly rugged good looks, you’ll probably associate “the movies” or expect him to step right out of a high-gloss magazine. Well, you’re not wrong – he has modeled here and there! (And you’ll see him doing exactly that, in Ceremony Magazine Norcal, 2016).

But that’s not how I first met him. I met Gavin in his capacity as a very special and highly successful wedding photographer – one who is traveling the world to provide photo coverage at high-class wedding events, and, more importantly, one who is truly passionate at what he’s doing. Curious as I am, I wanted to know whether Gavin had wanted to be a photographer all his life? And how he became an acclaimed wedding photographer? And so many other things!

Little did I know what surprises he had up his sleeve.

Did he plan to become a professional wedding photographer? “Not at all!” is the response – although even as a schoolkid, Gavin’s favorite toy was his little Kodak box camera with its flash cube. Already then, Gavin was equally fascinated by snapping pictures as he was by the technical side of things. He learned all the mechanics that were then still an integral part of photography, including teaching himself how to develop film in a darkroom. In High School, he became the Yearbook photo editor with the added privilege to use the school’s professional darkroom. He bought his film material in “bulk” and rolled his own film cartridges. Because of him, the school’s long-abandoned photography curriculum was revived.

But still – making this his profession didn’t occur to Gavin. In College, he double-majored in Design and Multimedia/Web design. He worked throughout his College years, and all his jobs took him into the computer/IT field. He drifted more and more into the tech area – “I’m a tech nerd at heart,” he confesses with a smile – and while wrapping up his College degrees, he was approached by the Dean who had unsuccessfully tried to fill an IT/administrator position in the department from which he was about to graduate. Would Gavin be interested? He was! And that’s how he became the Systems Administrator for the graduate and undergraduate art departments of his College – and stayed on for a full five years. Still, that job wasn’t enough. He studied Japanese on the side, just out of interest in the culture and the language.

Eventually, he became restless, seeking new challenges. In a radical change of careers, he moved to Japan to teach English. He became totally immersed in this new world, and he is fluent in Japanese to the present day… another thing I would never have expected! During a visit home to California, a photographer friend of his asked Gavin to quickly help out with one of his assignments – shooting a wedding. And all of a sudden, Gavin knew what he had subconsciously been seeking all these years: the beauty of human relationships, the intensity and at the same time the intimacy of the moment, all revealed on this festive day, the sheer joy of the occasion.

002-yountville-vintage-estates-wedding

For Gavin, there was no turning back from this sudden revelation. He wrapped up his job in Japan, returned to California and started preparing for the new career he had become so passionate about on that momentous day, helping his friend. There was no holding back for him – and let me tell you, if Gavin has made a plan, nothing will stop him. Constantly striving for the highest quality – technically and artistically – Gavin the wedding photographer has made his way to the top over the past years. His unique style has gained him an enthusiastic followership. He is the master of the tender moment, capturing these priceless images that his couples will cherish for the rest of their lives.

002-san-francisco-marriage-proposal-photographer-palace-of-fine-arts

Looking back, what has changed in photography since his early photo adventures and darkroom work? “Digital photography has liberated us,” muses Gavin. “It allows us to shoot as many photos as we want, unencumbered by handling physical film and no longer limited to composing every single photo with deliberation. Digital photography allows us to take a lot more risks and enables us to capture the fleeting moments we might have missed with conventional technology. It gives us so much more flexibility in perfecting every single photo “after the fact.” It does not, however, cut down on the work.”

In fact! For every single wedding event, Gavin (including assistant) takes 6,000 to 8,000 photos. It’s mind-boggling! Then come the long hours of sorting through and perfecting what passes this test – 120 to 180 hours easily. It truly takes dedication, perseverance and passion to do this gargantuan task for every single couple.

I asked Gavin what his favorite wedding locations have been over the years, given that he has done so many destination weddings. His response came as a surprise to me – or maybe not. “Maybe India, or Cancun… or San Francisco City Hall,” he said, and added: “It’s not so much about the location for me. It’s much more about the personal relationships between the bride and her closest family, the groom and his family. My most beautiful weddings were those where the closeness of the families became palpable, and where I felt so privileged and honored to be included in such a pivotal moment in these families’ lives.” And in return, Gavin gives them the lifelong memories of their most beautiful and tender moments, condensed in breathtaking photos. Here are a few of his own favorites. Enjoy!

046-ashley-bryan-wedding-1920x1200

018-st-helena-tresspass-vineyard-wedding-rehearsal

024-nestldown-wedding-photography-with-chinese-tea-ceremony-1200x750

011-thomas-fogarty-winery-jewish-wedding

006-st-lous-wedding