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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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.

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. 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.

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.

Here comes the bride on her brother’s arm…

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..

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!

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 – just wait until you see THEIR photos and the wedding video (stay tuned – I’ll update photos in a few weeks and add the video as well!).

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!

 

 

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…

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

 

 

 

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!

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 (just wait until you see THEIR photos and video footage! For now, all I have to offer are my own snapshots…).

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

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.

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.

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


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

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!

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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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What I Learned about Love, I Learned from my Dog

It’s about time to honor the “woof” in “Wedding Woof” again! One of my recent couples provided a gentle reminder… Krista and Ben, at home in Australia, could not bring their beloved dog Sophie to their destination wedding in Big Sur – but they knew to honor Sophie with a ceremony reading dedicated just to her. And that was so beautiful and true that I want to share it with you, my readers.

I will dedicate my version to our beloved Buzz who has shared our lives for 13 and a half years and is still making us smile every single day.

with Buzz in Snow

Here it goes:

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride together. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

When you want treats, practice obedience.

Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

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Take naps together and stretch before rising.

Run, romp and play daily.

Be loyal.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

snuggling

Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout – run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk together.

Love each other unconditionally.

portrait in meadow copy

 

Nataly and Derek’s Joyful Wedding Celebration at Nella Terra Cellars

A schoolteacher from Bolivia. A product manager (with a bioengineering background) from China. These two couldn’t have come from any more different backgrounds. And yet – they are so much more similar than different, and that is what ties them together. They met five years ago, both foreigners to this country, but with so many shared values and interests… they both care deeply about others. They are immensely curious and love to travel and experience new cultures, adopting the best of everything. They are happy with simple things, love to discover “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants and to walk with ice cream. They both love dogs and have just adopted “Peanut,” a tiny furry bundle of joy.

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The two took their time of courtship until it was clear to absolutely everyone that they should stay together forever, and on Valentine’s Day this year, Derek proposed in Puerto Vallarta. Yes, he is a romantic at heart!

Having been a friend of Derek’s for years – and an immediate fan of Nataly’s as well, as soon as we were introduced to one another! – I was so happy that the two entrusted their wedding planning to my company, A Day Like No Other. Hands-on people that they are, they had already found their venue: Nella Terra Cellars in Sunol, a hamlet in the SF East Bay. “Nella Terra,” meaning “into the Earth,” is exactly what Nataly and Derek were looking for. An oasis in the middle of vineyards and rolling hills –

MGA_2615… a curvy white tent to host a big celebration and an adjacent ceremony arbor overlooking a pond and well-trimmed greenery and pathways, and a beautiful patio for cocktails; just the right thing for extended families and friends gathering from as far as China, Canada and Bolivia – two hundred of them!

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True to her Latin American heritage, Nataly wanted vibrant color for her wedding: warm yellow, orange and a little red, and turquoise a a counterpoint. From ceremony decor to favor boxes, from bouquets (from The Flower House) to lanterns – everything displayed her favorite colors for a very cohesive, joyful and upbeat look. Nataly’s Dad had added his own personal contributions –

MGA_1116… a handmade wagon to hold much-needed parasols for ceremony guests, and a whimsical seating chart of antique picture frames. Videographer Martin Meyer of martinFILMS and Photographer Professor Matthias Geiger worked their magic with the camera:

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Reverend Dr. Lili Goodman Freitas of Weddings of Heart officiated the ceremony, made intensely personal through readings of poems both in Spanish and in Mandarin, and accompanied by guitarist Bruce Brill.MRG_2396And here they are: Just married!!

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While the couple had many, many more pictures taken all over the property …

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my assistant Kelsey and the venue coordinators were busy getting everything ready for dinner in the tent:

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… where guests were treated, among other things, to a traditional Chinese roast pig (a contribution from Derek’s Dad) and to live Bolivian traditional songs by the authentic Bolivian band Kumara – again a nod to the bride’s heritage (plus, her cousin Gonzalo plays the charango and guitar in the band!) It was fascinating to see how these two diverse cultural backgrounds seamlessly merged into one warm and joyful celebration! Including the cake from Margaret’s French Bakery, of course, dressed up for the occasion –

MGA_1365– which was accompanied by the couple’s other favorite dessert: Smitten’s ice cream! (Tcho chocolate was my all-time favorite flavor…). Everyone was having a great time –

MRG_2493… among other things, with Night Owl Photo Booth. The evening continued with dancing to the music of DJ Steve McDowell of Fantasy Sound, and as darkness fell, myriad string lights and chandeliers in the tent turned the scene downright magical…

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MGA_3412And my favorite photo? Here it is:

MGA_2408“Love does not mean looking into each other’s eyes all the time, but looking in the same direction.”

Next destination for the two: Italy! Have a fabulous Honeymoon, and Arrivederci!

Trends in Wedding Bouquets – 2014 and Beyond

A “trend” is defined as a direction – and mostly understood as “something new,” like in “Fashion Trend.” Looking back on the 2014 wedding season, and especially on the variety of beautiful and unexpected dress choices my brides had made, I was wondering about their flowers. Trends? Not really. When it came to their wedding flowers, my brides were surprisingly conservative! The undisputed winner of the year 2014 was the classic hand tied bouquet – mostly based on ivory and green, with accent colors. Very, very few exceptions… have a look for yourself.

Here’s the first textbook classic:

bouquetAngie’s ivory-and blush pink bouquet of roses and peonies to accompany her elegant summer wedding.

Here are more in a similar style:

shaina's bouquet

Shaina had likewise chosen pink hues for her accent color, and her and her bridesmaids’ bouquets (see those below) were based on English roses and hydrangeas in ivory and various shades of pink.

Shaina's bridesmaids bouquets

Erica's bouquet cropped

Erica added fresh green accents with Bells of Ireland and green-tinged hydrangea…

Pam's bouquet2

Pam opted for peach (English roses, dahlias) for her rustic-nostalgic nuptials…

Lauren's bouquet

Lauren added a tina touch of blue to her otherwise elegantly simple and classic bouquet of ivory Vendela roses…

064_laura_tyler_07_19_2014 … and Laura chose hot pink as one of her accent colors, and her hand-tied bouquet consisted of stargazer lilies, roses and hydrangeas all in this color family.

Last but not least, one bride went for ultra-classical with a spherical all-red, all-rose bouquet with a glass handle and matching bridesmaids’ bouquets:

Amy Lin's bouquets

Which shows the versatility of this style! But still – wasn’t there a more adventurous style out there?

A little…

Laura's bouquet1

My “other” Laura went for a more relaxed, “wild” style for her outdoors vineyard wedding, with eucalyptus, succulents and berries mixed into the roses and lisianthus flowers. If any “trend” crystallizes here, it’s the succulents which have gained favor not only in table arrangements, but have made their way into the bridal bouquets, too.

Here’s another one:

Amy Lovinger's bouquet-750x1024

Amy fell in love with a combination of succulents, eucalyptus, ranunculus and exotic protea blooms in saturated pinks for her nostalgic outdoor celebration.

michele's bouquet cropped

Michele had variegated euonimus greenery added to her summery bouquet for her garden wedding, with sunny yellow as her accent color…

Vannie's bouquets

… and Vannie took it one step further: her bouquets were really “hand-tied” by herself, and with twine!

Only two couples did something totally unique. One, Alan, was actually a groom in a same-sex wedding who hand-crafted paper flowers:

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… and the other one was bride Courtney’s handcrafted brooch bouquet:

PaCoWedding205What was NOT chosen? Well… no elegant straight bouquet of sculptural flowers (like calla lilies or long-stemmed roses); no cascading bouquets; and nothing “outrageous” like a flower lei in lieu of a bouquet.

Maybe you, dear readers, are up for that? Let me know your favorites!

 

Amy and Tec: a Happy Marriage of Chinese and Korean Traditions in San Francisco

Amy and Tec are super organized. When they began to plan their wedding, they did it one and a half years in advance. When they first contacted my company, A Day Like No Other, they already knew where they wanted to get married: in San Francisco, at a venue linked to the military history of the City. The groom’s father had served and lived with his family on the Presidio of San Francisco, the historic military outpost.

Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

It would be a destination wedding for about 150 guests, with the couple living on the East Coast and nearly all their guests coming from all over the country, Korea and Taiwan.  I was really grateful to have, in the end, a full 16 months for the planning!

The two fell in love with the Golden Gate Club on the Presidio, the former officers’ club – double-height Great Room with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and located in the heart of the Presidio. Added bonus: the couple and the bridal party would stay at the Inn at the Presidio, a nearby building on campus that has been converted to an elegant boutique hotel and whose decor reflects the military past. Full immersion!

Inn at the Presidio

Inn at the Presidio

Antique Bugles at the Inn

Antique Bugles at the Inn

For the bride and her bridesmaids the day began with Hair and Makeup by Vinnia Tjhin. Then it was time for Amy to get into her elegant lace dress.

dress

bride getting ready

Add to that a beautiful engagement ring and elegant headpiece…

ring

headpieceIn keeping with her wedding colors – the saturated “lucky” Chinese red of her own heritage complemented by the additional vivid blue of the Korean flag (to honor Tec’s heritage), Amy had chosen a luxurious, formal bridal bouquet of 3 dozen red roses, and smaller bridesmaids’ bouquets to match (all from Tutti Fiori).

bouquetsThe bridesmaids wore a rich blue …

bridesmaids

… and the prettiest strappy heels they could find!

shoesThe groom was meanwhile getting ready as well:

groom getting ready

… and of course he couldn’t do without a little touch of whimsy!

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Here he is with his groomsmen, all of them in high spirits:

groomsmenAnd off they went with photographer Hardy Wilson for their “First Look”…

first look… and many, many photos  on the beautiful Presidio Campus, under a cloudless blue sky.

in the woods kissing

in the woods posing

hands

Meanwhile, Ava and her catering team from Le’s Kitchen (and I, too) were super busy setting everything up for a Western ceremony, a Korean Bowing Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Dinner and Dancing.

Arriving guests were greeted with sweets for good luck (a Chinese tradition) and a real “family tree” I had designed, decorated with fresh orchids (more of those later!) and childhood and family photos from the two people whose families would be joined today. In lieu of a standard guest book, we had prepared photo books for guests to sign:

family tree

 

cards and guest book

Following the Western ceremony, officiated by a personal friend of the couple,

here comes the bride

altar arrangement

“You may now kiss your bride!”first kiss

… guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour with specialty cocktails…

cocktails… and musical entertainment by the Corelli Trios. Bride and Groom meanwhile prepared for a traditional Pae Baek or Bowing Ceremony typical of Korean weddings with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Hong, professional Pae Baek organizers. They donned ceremonial clothes …

Korean shoes and practiced the ritual of bowing to their parents and other honored family members as an expression of their respect and gratitude.

korean ceremony

This ceremony sealed their marriage in the Korean tradition, as well!

korean ceremony 2In the meantime, the dining room got its finishing touches. Tables were set with elegant, shimmering platinum grey linens and napkins alternating in red and blue; with tall centerpieces of red orchids (a profusion of 180 stems of orchids by Tutti Fiori!),

dining room

centerpiece

place setting

and very personal menu cards: on the reverse, the bride had printed assorted photos and stories from the couple’s courtship and travels for all the guests to enjoy, mix and match. The wedding favors were just as personal: the animal-loving couple had made a donation to an animal protection agency on behalf of their guests who found little thank-you cards on their place settings.

To help guests find their assigned tables, I had come up with another personal idea: a mounted, enlarged photo of the couple with their beloved dog, Cody (who could not be with them on their Great Day), on the steps of the Capitol – that way Cody was present, after all! The photo could be taken apart into individual escort cards and proved to be a great conversation starter!

escort cards

escort cards 2

Immediately following their Grand Entrance, announced by DJ Shawn of Storm Productions

grand entrance… husband and wife enjoyed their First Dance:

first danceGuests meanwhile enjoyed a traditional ten-course Chinese banquet by Le’s Kitchen, followed by a dessert of traditional Taiwanese pineapple cakes – a nod to the bride’s heritage:

dessertAfter dinner, it was time for a huge dance party under the auspices of the Chinese “Double Happiness” symbol (a custom-made gobo by Just De’Lights),

gobo

and everyone had a fantastic time!

dance party

dance party 2

 

The Golden Gate Club was literally glowing from within, like an enchanted glasshouse!

glasshouse 2And here is why I love my job so much:

love my jobMany happy years together, Amy and Tec, and a long life!