Hotel Nia – the new Game Changer in Silicon Valley

Never heard of Hotel Nia? REALLY? It’s time you did! A brand-new, cutting-edge modern, ultrachic hotel in the heart of Silicon Valley, catering to the young, hip crowd of tech entrepreneurs.

Just opened a few months ago. Top-notch interior design by Colum McCartan in shades of light grey and silver, combined with white oak and many, many beautiful details!

This hotel is DIFFERENT. It starts when you pull up to the valet. You don’t get a paper ticket to retrieve your car later. Paper tickets are so antediluvial!! You share your cellphone number, you get a text with a link – once you want your car back, you simply click on that link, and – voila! WOW…

When you step in, you are immediately surrounded by tranquillity – acoustic (triple window panes, thick carpet…) and visually (light grey and silver tones, light wood, lots of natural light), and it takes a while until the myriad details reveal themselves. The walls in the lobby with their subtle texture and pattern – they are real Venetian plaster. The decor inside the elevator matches the pattern of the custom carpet. And so it goes…

Just step in and sit by the bar, or sit outside in the beautiful courtyard garden – it’s all inside/outside!

Or grab a bite in NIA’s Mediterranean restaurant – just walk down the hallway… no walls that would obstruct the transparency or natural light – just open shelving-like structures that feel utterly modern but certainly not cold. Oh, forgot to mention – don’t be fooled: there are charging stations everywhere. Those mirrors – become TV screens when you switch them on. This is the new techie refuge, after all!

Looking for your meeting room? Just follow the thread…

… up the stairs! That woven thread actually “originates” in a huge (real) ball of yarn on the landing… just one of so many whimsical touches.

Guest rooms are likewise simply beautiful. Have you ever seen a levitating bed? Well, at least it looks like it’s floating…… and a backlit closet with glass doors that elevates your wardrobe to a display in a Dior boutique! It’s serenity, tranquillity, and the luxury of simple lines, perfect proportions and great workmanship. “Simplicity is the utmost sophistication,” as Silicon Valley icon Steve Jobs used to say. He would have loved it…

But the NIA is absolutely not only for work and conferences – it’s for celebrating and partying just as much (their Grand Opening in March was the most coveted event far and wide!). A ballroom for 380 should be good enough for most private parties AND for wedding dinners and dancing!

Yes, you see that correctly: built-in mood lighting in any color you want. A dance floor in matte silver, at your request. Chic and modern cocktail tables in the foyer – no need to rent them. So many possibilities!

Speaking of which: the NIA knows how to decorate – even their Christmas trees are in perfect harmony with their overall design theme…

… big, bold and silver! Hope to see you there!

Our Weddings on Film

An image says more than a thousand words – and consequently, a movie should speak volumes!

Enjoy a selection of our wedding movies here on LoveStoriesTV, and get inspired…

starting with a teaser of Iris’ and Roger’s wedding at Thomas Fogarty Winery.

Let us plan and design YOUR Great Day, too!

Contact us today at jutta@daylikenoother.com.

 

Kristina and Kevin: a Romantic Fall Wedding at Villa Montalvo

Kristina has “Italian roots” and loves everything Tuscan and classical Italian, and Kevin couldn’t agree more (their love of Italy is just one of the many things they have in common!) – and so they found a kindred soul in me! They entrusted their wedding planning and design to my company, A Day Like No Other, about a year ago – and off we went in our shared quest for the perfect venue and the perfect decor to create exactly the elegant, unique celebration they were hoping for.

A full year later, with planning updates on every single Monday (!), it all came together exactly as perfectly as envisioned, on one of those enchanted, golden Fall days that the Bay Area has to offer.

For their wedding venue, I had recommended to Kristina and Kevin Villa Montalvo, a grand mansion in the Italianate style, surrounded by gorgeous formal gardens and a park, complete with love temples, marble fountains, cypress trees, putti – and, in short, anything Italian!

Photo: Auey Santos Photography

They fell for this place head over heels, and once that decision was made, everything else fell into place.

And here is how it all turned out!

After hair and makeup styling (by Nicole Tott-Berger and Catherine Clark) for Kristina and her bridesmaids…

 

… the bridal party transferred to Villa Montalvo, where the bride got into her classic white dress…

 

… and gilded bridal heels…

…. picked up her bouquet of white roses and peonies with green accents of rosemary, olive branches and eucalyptus (by Green Petal Designs)…

… and was ready to present herself to her groom for the first time!

Groom Kevin had likewise dressed up, of course…

… and was ready to meet his bride at the Villa’s formal “Italianate Garden,” a fantasy of a classical Italian park come alive.

 

Photographer Todd Rafalovich and videographer Kevin Chin captured every precious moment.

While the couple was taking many, many photos, also with their bridal party…

… my assistant Amanda and I, together with onsite manager Caitlin Dieni and the catering team of La Bocca Fina under expert leadership of Teri Menchini were busy to get the Villa ready for the arrival of our 150 guests (via shuttles by UCT).

Soon enough it was time for the ceremony in the “Oval Garden” behind the Villa, accompanied by beautiful music by the Garden Strings quartet.

And here comes the bride!

 

The ceremony was officiated by Father Charles Regal of The White-Robed Monks

… in his trademark combination of joy and gravitas in perfect balance. “You may now kiss the bride!”

Just married – and so happy!

Guests were invited to cocktails in the Spanish Courtyard which had been prepared for illumination later that evening with Italian string lights (by Just De’Lights)…

… and whose fountains were decorated with floating white flowers…

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

A photo booth (by SnapFiesta) provided extra guest entertainment throughout the evening and was in high demand from Cocktail Hour on!

Dinner tables had been set up on the front verandah…

… with pewter-colored Chiavari chairs, shimmering linens in shades of platinum and lilac, glamorous china, flatware and glassware (from Hensley Event Resources) and with floral centerpieces in weathered stone urns, again by Green Petal Designs.

The couple’s Sweetheart Table got, of course, the “royal treatment!”

 

While guests were dining, dusk fell, and the twinkling lights on tall potted trees (from Interior Plant Design) lining the perimeter created a festive, golden glow.

 

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

After dinner, it was time for dessert inside…

 

 

… followed by the couple’s First Dance to  tunes by DJ Henry Kim of Big Fun Disc Jockeys. As a surprise for Kevin’s parents who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, the couple had chosen the same song for their First Dance that Kevin’s Mom and Dad had danced to – then it had been “on the radio” for just six years; now it has become a timeless classic: Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.

 

 

But that was, of course, only the beginning of a wild night of dancing!

When the party came to an end, the couple’s Grand Send-Off, was also done in high style: with a glowstick parade sending the newlyweds off to their breathtaking vintage Packard limousine (by Elegant Journey)…

 

 

… to take them to their afterparty. Keep celebrating “amore,” Kristina and Kevin, and our warmest wishes on your way!

 

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure! 

 

The Honor – and the Cost! – of Being a Bridesmaid

Your bestie just got engaged, and of course you’re over-the-moon happy! But maybe you’re also silently dreading the thought of being a bridesmaid. After all, it’s a big commitment that can potentially mean spending a good amount of money on a dress and on wedding-related festivities. While the bride and her family may be covering costs through savings  or a wedding loan, you should make sure you have the budget to cover your obligations as a bridesmaid.

Today we’re going to break down the cost of being a bridesmaid and share some tips for saving money along the way.

The Bridesmaid Dress – Average cost $150

You might think the bridesmaid dress is a “non-negotiable” in terms of spending money. After all, you have to buy whatever the bride picks out, right? While it is true that you shouldn’t go rogue and show up in a random dress, you can still save money while adhering to the bride’s wishes. You may get lucky!  You can find many popular bridesmaid brands like David’s Bridal, Vera Wang, BHLDN and more on secondhand clothing sites like Tradesy and Poshmark. Most people wear a bridesmaid dress only once, so you can rest assured that it will be in like-new condition. Just make sure you get a clear picture, the name and the exact color of the desired dress from the bride so you can verify that you’re purchasing the right one. If that approach doesn’t work, you can still re-sell or donate your “as-new” dress afterwards.

Bridesmaid Accessories – Average cost $120

Your bride might give you a bridesmaid gift of jewelry to wear on the big day, but you could still end up having to purchase special undergarments or shoes to go with your dress. Borrowing accessories is a good way to cut down costs in this area. Just poll your other friends who have been bridesmaids – one of them is sure to have something to help you out! Online retailers like zappos and discount stores like DSW are insider tips for finding gorgeous heels at an affordable price. And if you’re looking for an extra-special accessory, you can also rent designer pieces from Rent the Runway at a fraction of the cost.

Hair & Makeup – Average cost $125

If your bride is requiring that you get your hair and makeup professionally done, etiquette says that she should pay for it. If your bride isn’t requiring that you get your hair and makeup professionally done, consider skipping this expense altogether or only picking one service to save money. There is a large selection of makeup tutorials on YouTube, so do some experimenting and try to master one go-to makeup look that you can rely on for the big day. If you are planning on splurging for professional services, don’t forget to factor a tip into your budget.

The Bridal Shower – Average cost $50-$150+ per bridesmaid

This is one area where it’s great to get the bride’s family and future family involved to help cut costs. Does the bride’s mom have an immaculate garden and patio at her house? Ask if you can host the shower there. Join forces with your co-bridesmaids. Is one of them an amazing baker? Ask if she’d make the dessert for the shower. Most people will be thrilled to honor the bride by contributing their talents in a small way. Co-hosting the event with several bridesmaids or family members also means you can split the cost which allows you to splurge on a few special items.

The Bachelorette Party – Average cost $80-$300+

You can still throw an unforgettable party for your bride without breaking the bank. Picking a local spot for festivities will significantly cut down on the cost, but can be hard if bridesmaids are spread out. If travel is unavoidable, look into splitting an Airbnb with the group rather than booking a swanky hotel. It will be even more fun for the whole group to be sharing the same house and being in a cool place to have your first cocktails and cook your own “morning-after” mimosa brunch together – all the while saving big! Martha Stewart Weddings has even put together a list of some seriously awesome Airbnbs available in popular bachelorette destinations.

 

As you can see, the cost of being a bridesmaid can really add up fast, but it’s one expense that will be more than worth it. The money spent on showers and parties will ultimately translate into quality time spent with your friend during one of the most exciting, most unique – but also most stressful times in her life. Standing next to her as she says her vows will be priceless and will make it all worth it!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… and into her pretty sandals…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just married!

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

the views…

… and the sunset,

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo – Jutta Lammerts

What else?

Bridal slippers…

… and the rings, of course!

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

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

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

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

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

Photo: Jutta Lammerts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just married – and giddy with happiness!

Time for many more photos with photographer Frank…

 

 

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

Tables were resplendent in ivory and peach…

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Lovefest under Majestic Redwoods: Julianne and Grayson

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

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

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

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

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

to a Polaroid guestbook station…

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

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

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

Here is the impressive lineup of bridesmaids and groomsmen…

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

Here is one beautiful snapshot of the couple:

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

Quite a dramatic dress, I’d say!

Here comes the bride:

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

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

“You may now kiss the bride!”

Just married!

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

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

Photo credit: Myrtle Ventura

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

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

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

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

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

Custom Signage by A Day Like No Other

As we all know, planning a wedding involves myriad details – one of them being signage. While having nice signage is certainly not as essential as, say, feeding one’s guests (I freely admit that!!), I still feel that custom signage can add that special touch to any celebration that makes it stand out, makes it personal and memorable.

Whenever I am designing an event, I am trying to tie the whole decor scheme together, and that sometimes involves the creation of custom signage – which is huge fun for me!

Here are some examples…

Table assignment board for a dog-loving couple

This couple is proud parents to a cute Shiba Inu whom they could not bring to their destination wedding. To include him in the festivities, I designed an escort “card” board from a family photo of bride, groom and their fur baby on the steps of the Capitol. The photo was enlarged to poster size and printed on a foamboard; cut into the appropriate number of name cards and reassembled on a stable backing. The individual pieces were inscribed with the names and table assignments of the guests and affixed to the backing with removable stickers. That way, every guest was taking a little piece of the happy family to their seat!

Welcome sign and table numbers with sweet memories of home

For a couple born and raised in the southern part of China, I incorporated artistic motifs of their hometowns into my design for their Welcome sign and for their table numbers – all twelve showing a different motif.

 

Whimsy, charm and elegance in ice blue and silver

This recent couple had chosen a venue with a gorgeous setting in the Great Outdoors for their summer nuptials, and an elegant design scheme of ice blue and silver for their celebration. How to bring it all together? I created an escort card board (to secure the escort cards the bride had chosen and handwritten from flying away in the breeze) with a silver frame and charming bird and flower motifs in shades of pale blue.

Hand-painted cutouts of birds and flowers adorned the complete board, and as guests were taking away their individual escort cards, a backdrop of more vintage birds and flowers on light blue was revealed.

Chalkboards – from simple to elaborate

For rustic and rustic/elegant outdoor weddings, chalkboard signs are still en vogue.

Chalkboards can also be quite elaborate – I created the next ones for a summer wedding with a “Vintage French Country” theme in light French Blue, complete with distressed white wooden frames.

Looking closely, you’ll notice that the tables in the table assignment board above have strange names – these are actually the names of famous algorithms. This bride and groom were not only francophiles, but also math nerds with a great sense of humor!

And here are the table numbers to go with the board:

I hope you are now inspired and ready for your own, unique custom signs! Let me know… can’t wait for the next challenge!

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

 

 

Wuhong and Yingjian: Sweet Southern China Memories at Thomas Fogarty Winery

When Wuhong and Yingjian booked my company, A Day Like No Other, to help with planning their wedding, I found out very soon that they are a very special couple to plan a wedding for. For both bride and groom it was important to honor their Chinese heritage, but in a modern way. They both are very discerning when it comes to food and wine. AND we just had a scant three months for our planning!

Needless to say, it was quite intense! From securing a beautiful venue to brainstorming colors and design elements, we were quite busy day after day. And yesterday it all came together beautifully at Thomas Fogarty Winery, high above Silicon Valley, with endless views under a clear blue sky and a warming sun.

For Wuhong and Shelly, her Maid of Honor, the day began with hair and makeup services by “Princess Sarah.” Once done, bride, groom, their mothers and their children all boarded a white stretch limousine (from Charmed Limousine Service) to take them up a winding mountain road to their wedding venue.

There, my assistants Quan and Stephanie and myself were already busy preparing everything for the great celebration. The Melons Catering team was setting up tables and chairs and preparing food in the kitchen. Florist Katharina Stuart delivered gorgeous flowers and began decorating the ceremony area.

We set up our personalized signage – we had incorporated  Wuhong’s and Yingjian’s custom wedding logo…

into a design featuring Southern Chinese motifs and also created matching table numbers (all designed by A Day Like No Other.)The gift/and guest book table also got a little nod to Chinese traditions with an authentic vintage birdcage.

Meanwhile, Wuhong was getting dressed, including high heels fit for royalty:

… and with that, she was ready to present herself to her groom for their First Look.

Photographer Gavin Farrington and his assistant captured every precious moment – just wait until you see THEIR photos! For the moment, you have to make do with our snapshots…

Then the great moment had come – time for the wedding ceremony. Serenaded by guitarist Chris Adgar-Beal, Wuhong walked down the aisle, toward her expectant groom.

The ceremony was officiated by Rev. John Sullivan who included a Chinese Tea Ceremony and his blessings and congratulations spoken in Mandarin (!) into the very personal  ceremony.

 

Following the ceremony: Off to many more family photos – while guests were enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the open deck. When it was time for dinner, guests found their table assignments in a sea of escort cards…

and then the newlyweds made their Grand Entrance:

Everyone then sat down to a veritable culinary feast, and the newlyweds of course presided over the congregation from their elevated Sweetheart Table.

More deliciousness was awaiting guests after dinner with a gorgeous dessert buffet and wedding cake by La Vie Douce Design.

But the party was by far not over yet! The couple performed their (well-rehearsed) First Dance to “La Vie en Rose,” sung live by the groom’s daughter, to the music provided by DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys.

A dance performance by the “bridal team” (of junior bridesmaids and groomsmen) followed to entertain the guests…

… then funny games and, to conclude the evening, a festive sparkler send-off for the newlyweds.

It was a spectacular celebration! Congratulations and our very best wishes to Wuhong and Yingjian!