Amanda & Noah: a Beautiful Wedding in the Times of COVID

What happened to Amanda and Noah is – unfortunately – very typical for many engaged couples looking forward to their once-in-a-lifetime wedding celebration. The two had booked an elegant hotel wedding in Hawaii and could absolutely not wait for their great day to arrive. And then came COVID-19. It ruined everything… so Hawaii had to be called off. That was already a major heartbreak. Amanda and Noah “re-grouped” and started all over. They would have their wedding at the beautiful Marin Art and Garden Center, not far from their new home, and they would invite more than a hundred guests to a charmed afternoon and night in this romantic park. But even this was not going to happen. The COVID-19 lockdown put an end to this plan, too. The couple was deeply disappointed and at a total loss what to do now. They did not want to postpone getting married even longer. So they turned to my company, A Day Like No Other, for help.

It was clear that the maximum number of guests they could have was thirty – so it would be a very intimate celebration. But I wanted this to be a unique, memorable and beautiful celebration for the two – so I recommended a little-known secret to them: the historic Casa Madrona Hotel in Sausalito. Charming, built into a steep hillside and overlooking the yacht harbor and SF Bay with spectacular sunsets, this was the perfect location for their small gathering.

Additional bonus: the teleconferencing capabilities that Casa Madrona is offering! That allowed Amanda and Noah to have all guests from their original list of invitees attend their ceremony, at least virtually. A small consolation, after all…

One other thing: while Marin Art and Garden Center, their previous choice for their wedding celebration, remained closed for social events, the two got permission to have wedding photos taken in this spectacular setting. Another consolation!

And so, the great day final arrived. The bride and her bridesmaids got ready at the couple’s home, with hair and makeup services by Maya Roget. Photographer Anne-Claire Brun captured every moment.

Once all the ladies had their hair and makeup done, it was time for the bride to get into her spectacular dress:

… elegant, feminine and modern at the same time, and it fit her like a glove! This was, of course, a classic mother-daughter moment…

And here is Bride Amanda!

Ready to pick up her romantic bridal bouquet by Fleur Real

… and off to her First Look at Marin Art and Garden Center.

A couple’s First Look is always one of my favorite moments – so special…

And now: many more photos!

One photo with the bridesmaids and groomsmen…

… and off they all go to Casa Madrona for the wedding ceremony and reception.

The teams of Jazmine Herrera at Casa Madrona, of Poggio Trattoria, the in-house caterer, the florist and myself had been busy getting the event space ready. The ceremony was to be held on a balcony overlooking the Sausalito yacht harbor, with guest seating spaced out following social distancing requirements. The Amethyst Duo played wedding classics out on the balcony.

The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom – it could not have been more personal and more heartfelt.

You may now kiss your bride!
Just married!

The video wall in the Junto Suite where the reception was held allowed remote guests to congratulate the newlyweds from afar.

While the onsite guests were enjoying cocktails with a view of the San Francisco Bay, the couple went off for more photos.

And then dinner was ready!

Because of the ongoing pandemic, we had little bottles of hand sanitizer on the dining tables… along with flowers and table numbers!

The couple and their guests were definitely enjoying themselves.

One more highlight of the day: Cake cutting! (The minimalist cake was by Butter&)

Amanda and Noah spent the rest of the evening just chatting with their guests, having fun and having quality time with their nearest and dearest. Although their wedding day unfolded so differently from what they had originally planned – it turned out beautiful, meaningful and very memorable. The newlyweds were simple – happy.

Timeless style icons: Jackie Kennedy

 “Fashions come and go, but style is timeless.” How often have we heard this! We all remember “Lady Di” whose fashion influenced a whole generation of young women worldwide. But there were others before her, most notably “Jackie O.”

Born Jacqueline Bouvier and nicknamed “Jackie,” she married John F. Kennedy, and with his presidency became the youngest US First Lady in history, at a mere 31 years old.

Her tenure lasted only three years, until the fateful day her husband was assassinated in Dallas, dying in her arms, on November 22, 1961.

As the First Lady, Jackie was expected to choose an American designer to design her official wardrobe, and she chose the then-darling of Hollywood’s greatest stars – Oleg Cassini. Together, the two were to create a “Thousand Days of Magic” (the aptly chosen title of Oleg Cassini’s gorgeous book on their collaboration).

In stark contrast to the matronly looks of previous (much older) First Ladies, Cassini created for Jackie Kennedy clean, simple silhouettes in sumptuous fabrics – geometric lines, big buttons – a total of 300 outfits in just three years. He made her the most copied woman in the world.

Probably the most famous dress of all Cassini creations was a white Swiss double satin gown which Jackie wore to the Inaugural Gala Ball in 1961 as her first appearance as First Lady. The dress was soon named one of the 50 Dresses that Changed the World by the Design Museum in England.

Interested? This book is worth reading – I have it and still enjoy it tremendously!

Hair spray!!

Have you ever wondered where hair spray comes from? We are using it day in, day out (at least many of us) – so… here are your answers, courtesy of Wikepedia!

Hair sprays typically consist of several components for the hair – concentrate, plasticizers, luster agents, and fragrances, as well as propellants (unless a pump mechanism is used to deploy the product). Polyvinylpyrrolidone is a common component of hair spray that confers stiffness to hair.

The concentrate comprises only a small volume of a can of hairspray. Most of a canister is filled solvents such as isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) and ethanol.

Early hair sprays were developed in Europe in the 1920s. In the US, hair sprays were developed around the time of the aerosol can in the 1940s, and the first patents describing copolymers for hair styling were also published at that time.

In the US, hair spray became increasingly popular and mass-produced from the late 1940s, as updos and other such hairstyles were created – from “Bouffants” – see below – to the infamous “Beehives.” By 1964, it became the highest selling beauty product on the market.

Bouffant hairstyle
Beehive hairstyle (through Pinterest)

Sales of hairspray declined in the 1970s as hairstyles became predominately worn straight and loose. By the 1980s, hairspray’s popularity came back as big hairstyles resurged with the glam metal scene.

In 2007, hair spray (the product) became famous as Hairspray (the movie) starring John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer. So – now you know! What’s YOUR favorite hairstyle, with or without spray?

Get perfect skin – now!

A guest post by Tiffany Chiang, founder and owner of Design Her Image, bridal hair and makeup design

I’d love to share with you these easy ways to get gorgeous skin – perfect Beauty Tips for At-Home Skin Care!

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Use a Sheet Mask Before Bed
Sheet masks are great for skin hydration. I like to layer on a serum before a sheet mask to help double the absorption and for extra moisture. My favorite is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask, which contains Pitera™: a combination of over 50 micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and natural acids to condition skin. Another great product with 2X Hyaluronic Acid will give you a glowing, dewy appearance – Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask.  Try it! 

Best time to use Vitamin C Serum 
Also, apply Vitamin C both in the AM and PM to renew your skin – especially around the eyes. Vitamin C brightens dark under-eye circles while improving the look of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. This is the product for brighter, healthier-looking skin that I recommend:  MURAD Vitamin C Glycolic Brightening Serum.
Hope everyone is safe and healthy! Looking forward to accentuating your natural beauty!!! 

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Dreamcatcher Maya teaches make-up application

We all know that we immediately FEEL good when we know we LOOK good! And as we all can use a little bit of “uplift” these days – here’s to you, courtesy of hair and makeup artist Maya of Dreamcatcher Artistry.

Looking perfect and professional on video calls – the “Five-Minute Makeup!”

Here comes a lifesaver for all you ladies working from home via videoconferencing – you are already juggling ten thousand tasks, from household to homeschooling to keeping everyone “sane” – AND you need to look polished on screen. We know that you don’t have the time for an elaborate makeup, so here is a simple tutorial by our own Jessica Morton of Miabel Artistry. Five minutes flat, and you are ready to face the world!!

Let us know how it went!!

Ladies: Channel your inner Barbie Doll!

As we are preparing you for your next virtual cocktail party, we thought of including a tutorial on a really stunning makeup! My longtime friend and colleague Jira of Wowpretty Salon (whose hair and makeup stylists have transformed countless brides into red carpet-worthy beauties) is contributing a tutorial on how to do it – one of her stylists is taking you through it step by step:

What about you try it out and send us “before and after” photos? We want to see it!!

Everybody LOVES Kiehl’s!!

Do you know Kiehl’s? Do you use their products? I guess you do!

Did you know that Kiehl’s started as a single pharmacy in Manhattan at Third Avenue and East 13th Street in 1851? And these days, they are EVERYWHERE and offering pretty much everything (even including dog care products!!).

I am a super lucky person, as I have a special friend. Susan is not only a wonderful neighbor, friend, confidante; caring, warm-hearted and generous… she is also the Kiehl’s Sales and Training Manager for the Bay Area and Northern California (that’s HUGE, actually). AND she is offering free Kiehl’s samples to our local wedding vendor community!!

Susan has samples of the following:

Cannabis cleanser, Ultra Facial Cream, Midnight Recovery, Powerful Strength line reducing serum for the face,  Rare Earth Mask (shown in action on Susan, below), Pure Vitality cream.

All you have to do is to email her at susan.ciacchella@kiehls-usa.com, and she’ll ship the samples of your choice to you. Isn’t that fantastic?! All she is asking in return is your permission to pass your email on to Kiehl’s for future promotions.

UPDATE on 4/21/20: due to overwhelming response, Susan is currently unable to fulfill further requests – BUT she’ll be back with more samples in a couple of weeks, and she’ll have Mother’s Day specials for you, too! STAY TUNED!!

Katie and Marcelo – International High Elegance at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club

Here’s to International Relations! Bride and groom actually met while studying – you guessed it! – International Relations (plus an MBA on top of that…), and what they entered into was, in fact, a very international (and for the longest time, long-distance) relationship: Marcelo is originally from Argentina, studied in Philadelphia, where he met Katie, originally from the SF Bay Area – but she had lived in West Africa for four years for her work… in no time, the two bridged any international issues and became inseparable, albeit in separate locations; only a few months before their wedding, they actually, finally, were able to move into their first shared home.

Given that they both were living and working far apart and far away, Katie’s parents and family friend Alice stepped in to take the lead for a truly memorable, truly big (280 guests) and extremely elegant wedding celebration for their only daughter, and they brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to come up with ideas and make them a reality for that one glorious day in October when all our yearlong hard work came to fruition.

Katie and her bridesmaids got ready at the house of Katie’s parents.

Fiona Tsang of Urban Beauty Loft and her assistants worked their magic on the bride, bridesmaids and mothers, and photographer Taralynn Lawton (all photos in this feature are by her!) and videographer Jesse Eckel of Owl & Tree Films captured it all, including Katie’s diaphanous wedding dress…

… and all the pretty details.

And here is a timeless mother-and-daughter moment…

Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered Katie’s bridal bouquet and all other personal flowers (and then started floral installation for the festivities)…

Marcelo and his groomsmen were also dressing up…

With that, bride and groom were ready for their First Look at the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose…

Isn’t it romantic?!

While bride and groom were busy taking many, many pre-ceremony photos, my team, multiple vendor crews and family friend Alice were hard at work (actually, everyone had started work in the early morning hours…) to transform the chosen venue – the Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club – for Katie’s and Marcelo’s ceremony and reception. Annette Boyd Kevranian of Method42 Productions and her crew were rigging suspended floral decor and string lights and installing draping; the venue team led by onsite manager Brittany Rieland set up tables, chairs and lounge furniture and set the dining tables; my assistants and I were setting up signage and completing table settings; and…

florist Janelle brought the beautiful parklike surroundings inside by adorning every easel, railing and surface with trailing vines, visually connecting the outdoor ceremony setting with the indoor spaces for the reception.

Golden October sun bathing the rolling hills of the PAHGGC
A detail of the lush floral decor of the arch – a rich texture of hydrangeas, roses, dahlias, lilies and wildflowers, in shades ranging from ivory and blush pink to peach, mauve and wine red

Once the ceremony setup was in place, DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys installed a sound system, and the Synchronicity String Quartet arrived to serenade the bridal party and the guests at the ceremony.

Hand fans doubled as ceremony programs…

… and soon enough guests were arriving (shuttled in style by Le Grande Affaire), and the ceremony began. Officiated by a longtime friend of the bride’s family, it was heartfelt and authentic – it does not get more personal than that!

The bridesmaids were wearing subtle shades of mauve and pale lavender, accentuated by their bouquets which picked up this color scheme and complemented it with deep burgundy, magenta and ivory.
You may now kiss the bride!
Just married!

The newlyweds had more photos to take…

… while their guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the elegantly appointed patio.

Cozy lounge furniture and color-coordinated blankets beckoned; living green trees were literally bringing the gardens to the patio… and built-in heaters provided warmth against the late Fall evening chill. To keep guests well entertained, a photo booth by The Laugh Box provided unlimited fun!

Indoors, a guest book table was used to display a personal photo gallery…

… whose backdrop, a natural stone wall, was filled with flowers in every niche and “overgrown” by gracefully trailing vines – all the masterpiece of florist Janelle.

Then it was time for dinner! The dining room had been transformed into an indoor garden scenery with string lights, living trees, a giant floral arrangement suspended above the Head Table, stunning tall floral centerpieces, white-washed Chiavari chairs and elegant place settings.

Every guest table enjoyed a giant version of the bridal bouquet as its exquisite centerpiece
Mauve velvet napkins were adorned with simple green sprigs and a little wedding favor: a personalized wine cork to commemorate the occasion

Once all guests were seated, the new Mr. & Mrs. opened the lavish dinner buffet with their Grand Entrance.

Over dinner, Katie’s Dad surprised everyone with an outrageous performance:

He expertly “decapitated” a bottle of Champagne with a saber!

The two clearly enjoyed the evening! What else was there to do? Cutting the wedding cake (from Studio Cake)…

… and opening the dessert buffet of Argentinian cake specialties…

… and dancing, of course! DJ Henry Kim – who also served as our bilingual MC – kept the crowd going with the perfect mix of Argentinian tunes and international favorites.

The newlyweds’ First Dance…
… was followed by a spectacular Father-Daughter Dance routine (which both of them clearly had sheer joy in performing!)

That opened the dance floor to all guests.

It truly was an “International Summit” and an epic party! Keep celebrating life and love on your shared journey, Katie and Marcelo!

D and J: an Elegant Affair at Flood Mansion

D. and J. are a young power couple, accomplished and hardworking – one a wealth advisor, one an attorney, and they value their privacy (hence – initials only!). When they decided to start the New Year by tying the knot after four years of courtship, they chose one of the iconic San Francisco grand mansions for their venue – the historic James Leary Flood Mansion with an unrivaled view over the San Francisco Bay, marble columns inside and out – in one word, true grandeur. They chose a catering company befitting this elegant setting (Melons Catering) and they chose their photographer (Anna Hogan Photography), but then their long hours at work took over, day after day. Suddenly, their wedding date was just a few weeks away, with the Christmas holidays in between… and they realized that it was time to accept a little help.

At the recommendation of Sheldon Sloan of Melons Catering, my company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor of completing the planning of this unique event. When we could get started “for real,” we had only two weeks left. Time to hurry! Not only that – the forecast of inclement weather forced us to move the whole party inside at the last moment. But given the classic architecture of Flood Mansion, this only made the event even more glamorous!

And it certainly did not dampen the spirit of the bride and her bridesmaids. Everyone got ready in style at the prestigious Fairmont Hotel SF…

The bride wore an ethereal dress…

… to accompany the spectacular rings.

All the ladies looking stunning in hair and makeup by A Toast to Beauty (Savanna Allen) and with their bouquets by Poppy Cart Flowers, they were ready for the party to begin.

It did begin – with the couple’s First Look in the courtyard. While groom J. was waiting, bride D. stepped out and gently tapped him on the shoulder from behind.

What an emotional moment… leading immediately to the best photo of the day! Let’s call it “the official wedding photo…” (but we can’t show…sorry!)

Then the two took many more photos with bridal party and family, and both Anna Hogan Photographers and videographer Martin Meyer of martinFILMS captured those precious memories.

Meanwhile, many teams were working frantically behind the scenes, not only my assistant Nimy and I. The crew of Melons Catering were setting up the kitchen, the bar, tables and chairs.

Isn’t that regal? The bride had chosen rich jewel tones accompanied by metallic gold accents. What a sight!

Florist Jacqueline Devins was busy decorating the chapel, dinner tables, cocktail tables, sconces, railings; Megan Woods of Enhanced Lighting worked her magic to bathe the walls in soft shades of peach and to project a custom gobo on the dance floor; a string duo under the leadership of Rocio Lopez Sanchez (SF Conservatory of Music) arrived, DJ Sami Funk of Heart of Gold DJs prepared musical entertainment, and Night Owl Photo Booth set up a booth for even more fun.

Then the great moment had arrived. Here comes the radiant bride, accompanied by her parents:

The ceremony was officiated by a personal friend of the couple, and soon enough, the groom broke a glass (in Jewish tradition), the couple was pronounced husband and wife, and Jeff received official permission to kiss his bride!

Guests were asked to a group photo outside, then enjoyed Cocktail Hour in the Reception Room, while dusk fell outside and the view turned really magical. Following the bride’s family’s Persian tradition, we had set up a sofreh-aghd (wedding spread) showcasing many symbols of the sweetness of married life.

Then everyone was invited to dinner in the Great Hall – surrounded by classic architecture, marble columns and floors, illuminated by candlelight – a truly splendid sight.

Each place setting was topped with a little rosemary sprig, and a “program” card welcomed guests to the remaining festivities of the evening.

At the beginning of the festive dinner, the newlyweds honored the Persian tradition of feeding each other a little honey from the sofreh, and then delicious dishes began to appear… Champagne toasts, speeches, table visits – time passed by so quickly! Next highlight: the couple’s First Dance as husband and wife on their personalized Dance Floor: and that set the dance party off! Guests only took a short break for just another special moment: the traditional cutting of the wedding cake (by Susie Cakes).

The newlyweds accomplished this “traditional first task as a married couple” with bravura, and all guests got to enjoy all the various flavors (each layer was different!) with coffee and tea. But that was not all…

The couple had arranged bus transportation (by United Coach Tours) for their guests to an afterparty. Everyone agreed – this was EPIC! Keep celebrating, D. and J., and a lifetime of happiness to you!