Sandra and Jacob at Hidden Villa

Sandra and Jacob had very clear ideas of how their long-anticipated wedding should look and feel – rustic, relaxed, a celebration of the Fall in California, the Great Outdoors. Nothing too formal, a collaboration of their friends and families, just easy. They would do the planning all by themselves! The only help they were going to accept was a wedding coordinator for their Great Day so they could be sure everything would run smoothly. And to that end, they enlisted my company, A Day Like No Other, well ahead of time.

They chose their venue, Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills, right in Silicon Valley, and yet – it feels like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the hi-tech capital of the world. choco-studio-001

choco-studio-196It doesn’t even have cell phone reception! So far, so good. And then life got busy. And suddenly there was a maze of venue rules and regulations to navigate. Nothing was easy. Catering the way Sandra and Jacob had hoped for wasn’t permitted. And so on and so forth. The proverbial devil was in every single detail. At one point, Sandra was totally desperate. So we all decided that a little extra help from their wedding planner would lift the burden – and allow the two to actually enjoy the time leading up to their Great Day!

Look how beautiful it all turned out to be:

While our Senior Coordinator Kelsey was the first one onsite to work her magic behind the scenes, Sandra’s day began with hair and makeup by Nancy Eklund of Miabel Artistry.

choco-studio-024

Florist Lanette Anderson of Hidden Villa had created a beautiful bridal bouquet of fresh-plucked garden flowers, all natural-looking and exactly what Sandra had hoped for.choco-studio-012

Meanwhile Jacob was also getting ready.

choco-studio-055

Dress, shoes and jewelry were waiting…

choco-studio-003

choco-studio-005

choco-studio-017

… and now Sandra is ready to meet her groom.

choco-studio-030

choco-studio-047

First Look!

choco-studio-089

And after that, it was time for photos with Mike and Nat of Choco Studio.

choco-studio-101

choco-studio-107

choco-studio-109

choco-studio-127

choco-studio-134

The bridesmaids wore nostalgic floral dresses, the groomsmen had grey suits, and everything was “artfully mismatched,” befitting the relaxed and fun vibe of the event.

choco-studio-139

The ceremony took place outdoors …

choco-studio-185

… under a rustic chuppah …

choco-studio-215

… and “Here Comes the Bride!”

choco-studio-220

choco-studio-253

The ceremony concluded with the traditional “breaking of the glass.”

choco-studio-270

choco-studio-293 And with that, they are husband and wife – Mazel Tov!

Off to more photos in the beautiful gardens surrounding the ceremony site …

choco-studio-315

choco-studio-332

choco-studio-305

… while guests were invited to cocktails. The bar was decorated (a labor of love from family members!) with bunting and pennants fluttering in the light autumnal breeze, and lawn games were awaiting the grown-ups (and all sorts of toys for the little guests!).

choco-studio-336

choco-studio-193

choco-studio-191

choco-studio-343

choco-studio-355

choco-studio-376

choco-studio-372

choco-studio-375

Dinner took also place outdoors, and with dusk falling, the scenery under the string lights (by AM Party Rentals) turned magical.

choco-studio-404

Guests found their seats following a seating chart crafted by the couple…

choco-studio-377

… and simple garden flower arrangements adorned the tables.

choco-studio-370

choco-studio-367

Catering duties were shared by Continental Caterers and the couple’s all-time favorite food trucks: the Waffle Roost and Hiyaaa!

choco-studio-190

choco-studio-371

choco-studio-195

choco-studio-527Everyone had a really great time!

143 Photo Booth was a hit with the guests, and DJ Turner Hayes of Elite Entertainment rounded out the fun during the later part of the evening with a traditional Hora Dance, followed by a wild dance party for everyone!

choco-studio-598

choco-studio-597

choco-studio-612But that was by far not all!

Jacob’s Dad had brought his band for a very special performance – he’d never been more proud to play music than on this day!

choco-studio-530There were delicious desserts (lots of them!) …

choco-studio-563

choco-studio-561

choco-studio-586… and once that beautiful party came to an end, guests received very practical wedding favors – flashlights for the way back to their cars!

choco-studio-624True to its name, Hidden Villa became engulfed and hidden in darkness, and the sounds of nature took over again… exactly the way that Sandra and Jacob wanted it to be.

A wonderful beginning to a hopefully long and happy journey together – our best wishes on your way!

 

Jean, Mike & Pepper at Sylvan Lake Estate

Jean, Mike and their dog Pepper are inseparable. So when Jean and Mike were planning to get married, OF COURSE they chose a dog-friendly venue, the beautiful Sylvan Lake Estate in the Wine Country, close to St. Helena. jmwedding-155

jmwedding-340 What’s next? A dog-friendly wedding planner! Enter my company, A Day Like No Other, the only wedding planning company specializing in dog-friendly weddings in Northern California. With that in place, we were ready to jump right into planning, design development and decor sourcing, vendor booking and all the myriad details that go into a big wedding.

As it happens, life and the couple’s demanding jobs interfered – planning got delayed – and things got pretty hectic toward the “home stretch!” But the effort was totally worth it. Look here how beautiful it all turned out!

Jean’s and Mike’s “home base” was Silverado Resort in Napa where the two were getting ready…

jmwedding-34

jmwedding-59

… and dressing up for the Great Day…

jmwedding-75

jmwedding-175

jmwedding-15

… with Pepper literally “underfoot!”

jmwedding-25

Soon enough, it was time for the much-anticipated “First Look”…

jmwedding-93

jmwedding-102

… and then for lots and lots of photos by The Shalom Imaginative and video coverage by Usman Baporia.

jmwedding-132

jmwedding-136

The pretty bouquets (and later on, ceremony and reception flowers) were a labor of love by family friends.

Meanwhile, preparations for the festivities to come were underway at Sylvan Lake Estate. An arch was decorated for the wedding ceremony…

jmwedding-205

… signage and guestbook were installed…

jmwedding-198

jmwedding-194… Bekah Juencke and her team of Smokin’ Yankee’s BBQ Catering was cooking up a storm, Bartenders Unlimited set up the bars, and DJ Qzr installed the sound equipment while my assistant Kelsey, Pepper’s “Doggie Mom for the Day,” took Pepper on extended walks around the property.

jmwedding-183These two bonded immediately – we made sure that this was a fun day for Pepper as well! All the while, I had my hands full with arranging all the decor, coordinating vendor arrivals and deliveries, kitchen and table setup and and and… to get it all done before the guests were arriving.

jmwedding-166

Time for the ceremony!

jmwedding-165

jmwedding-243

Here comes the flower girl…

jmwedding-251

… followed by the bride.

jmwedding-264

jmwedding-322

Just married! An antique bronze bell was rung to announce the happy news, its sound carrying across the valley – it was truly a memorable moment!

jmwedding-377

More photos – call this here the “official wedding portrait…”

While the couple was busy with photos and video, and their guests were enjoying Cocktail Hour, more preparations were underway for yet another ceremony: a traditional Korean Pae Baek (bowing ceremony) arranged by KPOP Party.

jmwedding-442Bride and groom changed into colorful traditional Korean garments.

jmwedding-482

jmwedding-387

jmwedding-459

… and at the conclusion Mike, following tradition, had to carry Jean away “piggyback” – to the enjoyment of all their guests!

jmwedding-495

After that, everyone sat down to dinner at long rows of tables, and the newlyweds and their bridal party were presiding from their Head Table.

jmwedding-405

jmwedding-400

jmwedding-526

The mouthwatering menu was displayed on pretty signage:

jmwedding-508

… and following these yummy choices, the couple’s favorite mochi were served AND there was still a whole cake and dessert bar by Sweetie Pies to “dig into!”

jmwedding-582

jmwedding-592

In between, the photographers “stole away” the bride and groom for a few more romantic sunset photos…

jmwedding-532

Following that, there was no holding back – the outdoor LED dance floor (by SF Dance Floors) was waiting, and the newlyweds opened it with their First Dance:

jmwedding-602

… followed by an elaborate Father-Daughter dance performance.

jmwedding-629

DJ Qzr got the crowd on the dance floor in no time – and what a party that was!

jmwedding-668

jmwedding-674

Many happy years together, Jean and Mike, and our best wishes on your way!

And here is the “live” recap of this magical day, captured by videographer Usman Baporia:

 

 

 

Lauren and Matt – full sail ahead at the Corinthian Yacht Club!

Lauren and Matt are a high-powered young professional couple,

couple

and when they decided to tie the proverbial knot, they had very clear ideas of what their celebration should look and feel like.

Fresh, modern, no frills. BUT classy and elegant. A church ceremony. Lots of friends and family members around. Glorious views. Fun and lots of dancing! When Lauren approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with her wedding preparations, I was immediately on board.

With these ideas in mind, the couple chose St.Hilary’s Church in Tiburon for their ceremony and the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon for their reception. As a nod to the maritime setting (after all, Tiburon used to be a fishing village, in the “olden times”), the only color accents in addition to bridal white were a tiny bit of metallic gold and then, of course, classic navy. That’s what the seven bridesmaids wore (the groomsmen were all in tuxes – as I said, an elegant affair!), that was the color of the sash the bride wore with her dramatic Hailey Paige dress, and navy and blue stripes turned up again as accents on the handle of the bridal bouquet, the napkin rings, and on the wedding cake.

Come Wedding Day, the weather was just perfect – a crisp but sunny day, blue skies, a slight breeze… it couldn’t have been better. For bride and bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup by Lindsay Davis at the Water’s Edge Hotel in Tiburon, while the groom and groomsmen were getting ready at The Lodge at Tiburon very close by. And since this occasion was not only festive – everyone also wanted to have a little fun: the gentlemen wore fire-engine red suspenders under their tuxes, believe it or not!

While the bridal party rode to Church in a Cable Car Trolley, guests were shuttled by Chariot Charters, and everyone arrived on time and totally relaxed.

The Church was beautifully decorated with altar pieces by Fantasy Florals …

church

 

altar-arrangement-cropped

and cellist Charles Wang together with the Church Music Director filled the sanctuary with uplifting music. The bride walked down the aisle on her father’s arm to the tune of “Plaisir d’amour…” – it was a truly moving moment.

After the ceremony (officiated by Father Roger Gustafson and orchestrated by Church coordinator Diana Rittenhouse), it was photo time with Jihan Cerda (just wait until you see HER photos!). Between her and Peek Media videography, all those precious moments during the day were captured – and soon enough we’ll also have a beautiful wedding video!

Guests were meanwhile enjoying Cocktail Hour on the patio off the ballroom, again serenaded by Charles Wang, and were feasting on shrimp and oysters…

oyster-bar

… and enjoying priceless views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline.

views

Time for dinner! The CYC team together with my team – assistants Amanda, Annie and myself – had meanwhile set the tables…

dining-room

… where blue-and-white striped napkin rings, handmade by the mother of the bride, and gold-toned Chiavari chairs established a very elegant maritime feel.

table-setting

Calligraphed place cards (blue on white, of course!) and high and low centerpieces by Fantasy Florals completed the polished look.

What else? The cake! It took its clues from the nautical theme as well:

cake

After the delicious dinner, it was time for dancing! Of course, the couple came first…

first-dance

first-dance-2

… but then, band leader Marty Johnson and the AllStar Jukebox “let it rip!”band

Guests stormed the dance floor…
dance-party… and everyone was having a great time.

mantel

The only regret? That the party had to end, ultimately… but I am told there was still an afterparty going on down the street!

Many happy years together on your voyage, Lauren and Matt – fair winds, and “full sail ahead!”

 

Nancy and James’ Epic Fall Wedding – Luxury, Elegance and FUN!

When Nancy and James – partners in life and in profession – were ready to tie the knot, they were, as usual, in agreement about pretty much everything.

Engagement 1

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

They would get married in Church. They would have a very elegant reception. They would have lots of guests. It would be in Fall, with early dusk and lots of candlelight. They would be dancing the night away. And so it was – but so much more!

The two engaged my company, A Day Like No Other, early in 2015, giving us a good nine months until Wedding Day in November. And as it turned out, we needed that time – because Nancy’s imagination took flight in the most beautiful way… Starting from “Old San Francisco glamour” at the famous Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel (a historic landmark originating from the opulent private residence of one of the infamous railroad barons), we kept adding more and more personal touches, and come Wedding Day, Nancy’s and James’ celebration had become unique, quirky and unmistakably “them.”

Elegant invitations from Hyegraph set the tone for what was to come:

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

The day began with an extensive “beauty session” (by Wowpretty Salon) for Nancy, her bridesmaids and the mothers, all at a suite high up in the Mark Hopkins tower.

view with shoes

Invitationimage by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

Here Nancy’s wedding shoes take center stage…

shoes

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

… and here is her elegant bridal bouquet, handmade by her Aunt… a long-standing family tradition.

bridal bouquet

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

Bridesmaids were treated to some bubbly that morning, and that got everyone in a festive mood right away!

bridesmaids champagne

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

And here is our radiant bride in all her finery (dress by Novella Bridal), ready to meet her groom:

bride portrait

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

Following another time-honored tradition, bride and groom decided NOT to see one another before the Church ceremony; and so they both traveled the couple of blocks from the Mark Hopkins to Old St. Mary’s Church (one of the oldest ones in San Francisco) separately via Cable Car trolley.

cable car

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

The Church itself is very impressive…

Church nave

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

… and it had been adorned with large altar arrangements and ivory bouquets along the aisle.

Church Aisle

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

And here they are: just married!

Just married

Time for photos… a lot of them! JC Page was tireless… and look what beautiful photos we got here! Cecil Bonifacio served as our videographer, and we can’t wait to see what he’ll create for us.

Couple colonnade

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

flyaway veil

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

bridal party

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

Once back, the couple joined their many guests for an elegant reception in the Peacock Ballroom with gorgeous florals by Green Petal Designs and Lighting by Just DeLights..

Dining room

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

centerpiece

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

Cake table

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

In lieu of a traditional guest book, the couple went for Hollywood glamour and had their guests sign magnum bottles of their favorite Pinot Noir instead:

Guest book bottle

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

The first dance of the newlyweds…

First Dance bw

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

… kicked off a wild dance party with Mariachi

Mariachis

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

… a twirling flower girl…

Flower girl dancing

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

… glowsticks, purple lighting – and lots of fun for everyone…

Groomsmen dancing

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

… with the bride serving as the DJ (at least for a little while – a longtime secret wish of hers came true on her wedding day!)

More personal details? Popcorn snacks and cotton candy in “grown-up” flavors from Sweet Puff Candy!

bride dancing

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

True to the bride’s Mexican heritage, each guest received a very personal favor: a package of coffee handpicked by the new “Mrs.”

Favors

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

It was, just simply – unforgettable! Many happy years together, Nancy and James!

5L1A0454

image by www.jcpagephotography.com, @jackieplusjay

 

 

Nicole’s and Rob’s Sweet Spring Wedding

Nicole and Rob are two highly trained, super-organized, super busy young professionals, Nicole a scientist completing her PhD, and Rob an engineer. Getting married was something they approached with their usual efficiency. Venue? A community center at walking distance from home. Priorities? Friends, family, fun. Deprioritized: fuss and frills!

Nicole approached my company, A Day Like No Other, mainly to pull all her ideas and planning details together and to oversee the wedding day itself – which we did. As is common with weddings, we found quite a few more things to work on in preparation for the Great Day.

Nicole’s and Rob’s wedding would become so very special through the many personal touches – friends and family contributing and planning surprises, for example – and that started way ahead of time: for her wedding dress, Nicole chose her mother’s – both of them are tall and slender, and with some modernizing and streamlining (the bottom ruffles had to go…) this storied dress turned out perfect for a modern young bride:

bride

Short and sweet – no veil; just a pretty, sparkly headpiece tucked into the bride’s simple updo – no make-up… well, she doesn’t even need any, as pretty as she is!

Getting ready at home…

Dressing up

… with her bridesmaids helping – they all deserve a toast! (As does our tireless photographer, Megan Reeves, who captured every precious moment…)

Bride and bridesmaids

Bridesmaids toast

Beautiful bouquets of Calla lilies in vibrant orange from Nature’s Alley (who delivered all floral decor for the wedding) complemented the beauty and upbeat spirit of these young ladies:

Bridal bouquet

Bridesmaids bouquet

The groom and his groomsmen were also getting ready …

Neckties

… donning matching neckties…

Groom buttoning up

… and now everyone is ready for the First Look at their wedding venue, the Lucie Stern Community Center – a beautiful Spanish-Mediterranean complex set amid a lush park:

Venue sign

Groom First Look

Waiting for his bride – and here she approaches:

Bride approaching 2

As was to be expected, Rob was completely blown away by Nicole’s youthful beauty:

Couple First Look

First Look

Kiss

Time for photos! Bridesmaids, groomsmen, family…

Bride and bridesmaids 2

Groom and groomsmen 2

… and the groom with his Best Man – who would share many a funny story of their long friendship later that day.

Groom and Best Man

Guests were already gathering,

bicycle… welcomed with the homemade Meyer lemonade provided by a friend (and insiders got the hint…)

lemonade

… in the courtyard where the ceremony was going to take place –

Flower girl 2

Preceded by a very excited flower girl – Here Comes the Bride, accompanied by music from DJ Jeremy Productions (who provided music and entertainment throughout)…

Here comes the bride

The ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend of the couple, an ordained minister. It doesn’t get more personal and more meaningful than that!

holding hands 2

Rings

Bridesmaids bouquets

Just married!

Just married

… and definitely time to party and share cocktails with their many guests, provided by Mills Wine Group and expertly poured by Pour Girl Bartenders. And of course everyone had a blast with the photo booth by Photomatica! One very important guest, however, had been missing so far: the couple’s beloved Viszla puppy “Pepper.”

Pepper

To the big surprise of the newlyweds, a neighbor brought her for a cameo appearance (a carefully orchestrated “grand conspiracy” in which we, the planners, also had a hand…)

Cuddling Pepper

Couple and dog

So… is THIS the official wedding photo? Or the next one?

Official photo 2

Soon enough, dinner was ready in the ballroom decked out with string lights:

Dining setup

Bouquets

Centerpiece

From centerpieces of floating flowerheads and candles to coffee mugs: everything played along the couple’s wedding colors of blue and orange.

Coffee mugs

Dinner was a rustic taco bar buffet from Prochaine Oaxacan Kitchen,

Taco barand everyone was digging in, barely leaving a little space for dessert – THE CAKE (from The Prolific Oven)! In this case, a yummy carrot cake with a personalized topper:

Cake 2

Honoring tradition, the newlyweds cut the cake together – officially their first collaboration as a married couple:

Cake cutting

With more cakes in various flavors to choose from – everybody’s “sweet tooth” got satisfied, that’s for sure. And then, after the newlyweds’  First Dance and the traditional Father-Daughter Dance, nothing held the crowd back from dancing:

First Dance

Father Daughter Dance

Dance Party 2

Dance Party

It was such a fun party for everyone! Guests took home unforgettable memories AND stemless wine glasses engraved with the couple’s names.

Embrace

Many happy years together, Nicole and Rob, and keep walking hand in hand!

Walking together

Kiss bw

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.

2d4b3a8b-00c3-4a95-a837-f1a27f231bd5~rt_0-cr_0.164.1602.965-rs_1800

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!

MGA_1669

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:

MGA_1326

MGA_1541

MGA_1387

MGA_1733

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!!

MGA_1794

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

MGA_2605

MRG_2215

MGA_1328

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

MGA_1102

MRG_2153

… 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…

MGA_3507

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!

Timeless Elegance in San Francisco – Liz’ and Tom’s Dream Wedding

After a full eight years of courtship, Liz and Tom were ready to tie the knot – together with their extended families and many, many friends from all over the country. That made for a big wedding celebration – a guest list of 180, no less… and both Bride and Groom felt strongly that this celebration should mark the occasion in high style. Timeless elegance, no frills – those were my “marching orders” when the couple, together with the Mother of the Bride, enlisted my company, “A Day Like No Other” to help plan and design their wedding.

A few elements were already in place: the ceremony would be held at historic St. Patrick’s Church in downtown San Francisco – one of the oldest churches in town, and a very beautiful one at that. A reception would follow at the equally storied City Club of San Francisco, housed in a former Stock Exchange building, with an Art Deco interior, gold-leaf ceilings and murals by none less than Diego Rivera. It doesn’t get much more elegant than that!

The bride and her bridesmaids would get ready at the Bridal Suite in the nearby Marriott Marquis Hotel, actually next door to the church, with absolutely stunning views of the City and the San Francisco Bay:

view2

 

Make-up artist Jessica Morton of Miabel Artistry and her assistant took care of the Bride:

makeup

while gowns were steamed and finishing touches applied…

dresses

The bride wore a couture gown by designer Trish Lee, and for the bridesmaids’ dresses, we had come up with midnight blue as the color of choice (the lighter blue dress is the stylish dress of the Mother of the Bride) as an attractive backdrop to bouquets in ivory and blush pink by Melissa Comito-Aakre of A Simple Ceremony:

bouquet

Bridesmaids' bouquet

The Bride would be all ivory, from her stunning lace dress  …

jewelry

 

bride and city2to her princess heels …

shoes

And here she is, with the City at her feet! (And with photographer Elisabeth Millay capturing all those precious moments throughout the day).

stairs and view

Finally, the great moment had come to walk over to Church with her bridesmaids –

Bridesmaids

unseen by the Groom whom my trusted Senior Assistant Angeliki Menig had already whisked away together with his groomsmen.

Groomsmen

The service at St. Patrick’s was truly moving and very personal, with readings by relatives – and even the cantor was a dear friend of the couple, soprano Liz Goedecke, whose beautiful voice soared and filled the nave.

Church

Just married!

Just Married!

Leaving Church

And here is our radiant, oh-so-happy, beautiful bride:

Bride

Aren’t they a stunning couple?

Couple close

Time for the “Day Like No Other” team (enforced by trainee Quan Wu) to rush to the City Club, while Liz and Tom were already there on the rooftop for more photos – the view is just incredible up there!

rooftop

We three hurried to get everything prepared for the reception, together with the incredible City Club crew. Tables were set with ivory linens from Napa Valley Linens, centerpieces by A Simple Ceremony and favors (quintessential San Francisco chocolates – Ghirardelli! – in embellished organza bags) handmade by the couple. Napkins were midnight blue like the bridesmaids’ dresses and favor bags and embellished with a profusion of (faux…) pearls.

napkins

Dining Room

Tables were not only numbered, but also named for the many places meaningful to the couple, from Denver to Dubrovnik… so many personal touches!

Bride Groom signs

Bride and Groom presided over an enormous Head Table but barely took the time to grab a bite themselves – so many friends and relatives to greet!

head tble And there were gorgeous flowers and candlelight everywhere:

flowers and candles

 

Ancestor tbl

escort cards

What else? Fabulous food and drink (of course!)

Foodand music – a lot of it! Tom, the Groom, had booked the KJ Allstars, a 7-piece band who kept the party going…

Dancing

… and who accompanied the newlyweds’ First Dance.

First Dance

And with that the dance floor was officially opened. Guests barely took a little break to watch the cutting of the gorgeous signature Wedding Cake (from Chef Bala of The Cakemaker), clad in ivory folds of the same pattern as the linens (!)

Cake

Cake cutting

and of the Groom’s Cake (from SusieCakes) showing the logo of Northwestern University where the couple first met eight years ago.

grooms cakeAnd yes, of course, for watching the bouquet toss! The Night Owl Photo Booth was a huge hit – as was the stylish Cigar Lounge. And even more dancing to follow – until it was time to say goodbye and send the radiant couple on their way. Guests lined up by the front door and waved hundreds of sparklers, as Liz and Tom boarded a breathtaking silver 1947 Rolls Royce limousine by a private collector.

Rolls Royce

Grand Send-Off

Our best wishes on your way, and many happy years together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun on the Ranch: Pam’s and John’s Wedding on Mt. Diablo

After seven years together and a full year of planning and do-it-yourself projects, Pam’s and John’s dream finally came true: Wedding Day! I am so happy they allowed my company, A Day Like No Other, to accompany their journey from first ideas to ceremony and celebration, from preliminary sketches to planning memos and vendor sourcing to final timelines.

invitation

From our very first planning and brainstorming session on, one thing was clear: this wedding would be a big fun affair. Both Pam and John are fun-loving, quirky personalities who don’t care a bit for convention, but very much for their families – all just as upbeat and fun-loving as they themselves. There would be lots of kids in the wedding, and of course their own “baby” (or rather: fur baby) Cody. So what emerged was the idea of a carnival-themed wedding on a dog-friendly farm. Now, that’s definitely not your “run-of-the-mill wedding!” Far from it… what else? Lots of DIY projects – hand-crocheted boxes, centerpiece decor, and even little birdies for the wedding cake. Handmade paper flowers for the centerpieces. A color scheme of nostalgically muted, slightly faded pastel colors, mainly mint and peach and a dusty rose. And no conventional catering, please!

Look what we put together:

Our venue: Diablo Ranch, a working ranch at more than 1,000 ft of altitude high up on Mount Diablo in the San Francisco East Bay, with miles and miles of views…

location

welcome sign

… and a romantic farmhouse with a shady courtyard…

barn

… and real farm animals…

Emu

horse… and a beautiful pool for poolside dining:

dinner setup

On wedding day, we were all tempted to jump in – with temperatures soaring to more than 100 degrees!

The bride (already in full hair and make-up by Nini’s Epiphany) and her bridesmaids were getting ready in a cool tack room…

dress

bouquet

brideshowing off the dreamy bouquets by Green Petal Designs:

bridesmaidsThe groom and groomsmen dressed up as well:

groomsmen

The fantastic ranch team …

IMG_2650

(and my assistant Angeliki and I) were all busy putting final touches on the setup. Arriving guests were greeted with beautiful Chinese hand fans (their wedding favors) – very much appreciated on this hot day!

fansPhotos of the couple (and more yummy favors, little “honey bears” hand-filled by the bride) led the way…

favors

… to the table assignment board – handmade by bride and groom:

seating assignment

Then it was time for the First Look:

in the fields… and bridal party photos (by Majesta Patterson),

The ceremony, officiated by Rev. John Sullivan (rev@johnsully.com), took place in a magical spot under an old gnarly tree, overlooking a valley…

ceremony… while I was taking care of fur baby Cody:

Cody 2And here they are: Just married!

couple nuzzling

First one to congratulate his Mom – was Cody:

bride cody

It was a glorious day for charming couples’ portraits and bridal party photos:

swing

Just married

tractor

Time to party! With music by Love in the Mix, guests – young and old! – enjoyed real Carnival games by FunServices:

carnival… and Photo Booth shots by Night Owl photo booth.

As promised, food and drink were “off the beaten path” as well: since “Life is short – eat dessert first!” guests (as well as the newlyweds, of course!) were first treated to yummy ice cream from the Garden Creamery ice cream truck!

ice cream truckAnd after that – the “Yummi BBQ” Chinese  food truck served more substantial fare.

food truck

Dining tables by the pool were decorated with centerpieces (of course!) handmade by the bride: pastel-colored jars filled with paper flowers crafted from coffee filter paper… a true labor of love!

centerpiece

Everyone simply had a blast – kids and grown-ups alike! Everything was captured on video by Luke and Pamela Goodman – like the cutting of the cake (and cupcakes by Cupkates):

cake cake cutting

… the couple’s First Dance and the most glorious sunset ever – a fitting end to an unforgettable day!

sunset

Many happy, fun-filled years together, Pam and John – and our very best wishes!

And here is their wedding video – for the fun of it!

WEDDING: Pamela and John Short film at Diablo Ranch from Luke Goodman on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Art and Nature: Alan’s and Miles’ Wedding at the Monterey Aquarium

This weekend, my company, A Day Like No Other, had the pleasure and the honor to coordinate a really extraordinary wedding – a wedding of two artists, in one of the most spectacular venues imaginable: the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And what a celebration that was!

aquarium sign

It meant a lot to them, that’s for sure. Alan had admittedly nearly given up hopes to find his soul mate one day… but as we all know (or at least hope…) miracles still happen. And in this case, the miracle was Miles, and it was love at first sight. They complement each other perfectly. One is quirky and super-energetic, and the other is calm and keeps him grounded; and they deeply care about each other. After four years together, they were both sure that they were, indeed, meant for one another.

couple 1

rings

Alan and Miles, the grooms, are both incredibly creative (Alan is a graphic artist and designer, and Miles has a degree in Fine Arts), and so they wanted a visually compelling surrounding for their Great Day, AND they absolutely insisted on creating most of the decor themselves. Leave it to the artists!

shoesThey came up with a color scheme in hues of lavender and purple which they carried through from the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s shirts and neckties and to the flowers – which Alan handcrafted himself! Each of them a little work of art – he made his own bouquet (a giant rose)

giant rose

and a toss bouquet; bridesmaids’ bouquets with the most delicate “wax flowers”

Bouquet

and elegant boutonnieres

boutonniere

and a cake topper

cake topperand and…

Here  is Alan with his “grooms maid” Lisa:

Alan LisaHidden behind Lisa’s bouquet is her gift from the grooms: a golden filigree pendant in the shape of their initials, designed – of course! – by the grooms themselves for all members of their bridal party.

Which was as unusual as nearly everything about this wedding: defying any rules and traditions, the grooms had picked a “Best Woman” and a “Grooms Maid,” along with more traditional roles – and they had a super-cute ring bearer (dressed up in a miniature version of the grooms’ suits!) and flower girl:

ringbearer flowergirl

IMG_8503_edited

ring bearer

Here comes the groom

Their ceremony under the “fish dome” was officiated by Miles’ Godmother Gail who has played an integral role in his life since his childhood – and so their ceremony was a deeply personal one.

ceremonyWhen it came to the vows, Alan surprised Miles with something literally “unheard of:” he expressed his feelings in a song. In his beautiful, mellow, professionally trained tenor voice, he sang the lyrics to the melody of Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird:”

For you/the sun will be shining/’cause I feel that when I’m with you…

To you/I would give the world…

And I love you, I love you, I love you…

interspersed with everything else he wanted to say and promise to Miles. Needless to say, we all had moist eyes… So beautiful!

you may kiss

Just married!

just married

The eighty guests – handpicked closest friends and family members, every single one a trusted companion in the grooms’ lives – formed a spontaneous receiving line after the ceremony – and then proceeded to a delicious dinner (by in-house 886 Catering) in front of the huge shark tank. A truly spectacular setting!

dining tables

dining tables 2

fish tank

IMG_8624

And more was to come –  cutting the cake in front of the giant orange jellyfish exhibit…

cake jellyfish tank 1

cake

cake cutting

…. and a traditional bouquet toss (equal opportunity for gals and guys, in this case!)

Bouquet tossand a beautifully choreographed First Dance to  the music of “A Thousand Years:”

First Dance 3

First Dance

After that, the dance floor was open to everyone, and DJ Collin from DNA Entertainment kept the crowd going!

dance party

dance party 2

IMG_8790

Those who took a break from dancing had a chance to admire the gorgeous exhibits, from the puffins…

Puffins.. to the jellyfish:

Jellies 2

Jellies 1

jelly bed…and there is also the “hanging overhead” version – artificial and very artistic:

hanging jellies

 

All that beauty was captured in lasting memories – by Breeann Hollon Photography  and by Alan’s nephew on video.

Before they left, guests signed a very unusual “guest book” (well, nothing was “usual” at this wedding!) – a double portrait of the couple, painted by Miles:

guest book… and as wedding favors, they took home wood blocks, all designed and hand-made by Miles:

favorsWhat an abundance of beauty, both from Art and from Nature – and what a deeply moving experience that celebration was for everyone attending, me included!

love my job

Many happy years together, Alan and Miles!official wedding photo

 

 

 

 

 

Starstruck – Erica’s and Lincoln’s Heavenly Nuptials

Dear readers: before you even start, grab your hanky. Here comes one of those “The stars were aligned…” love stories. A real, true one!

Just a few years ago, Lincoln, the groom, had given up on getting married. He told a friend, “Since I won’t get married – let’s just throw a party. A big one – in lieu of a real wedding party!” Which she did, in fact… (and at that real wedding yesterday, she was his decorator!)

Erica, as her Dad said, had already faced a number of challenges in her life… but the moment she met Lincoln, she was transformed. Utterly, completely – and he knew, she had met “the one!”

How they met: through one of their shared passions – dancing! Music lovers, both of them (Erica is a professional harpist, and Lincoln plays in a mandolin orchestra), they met at a ballroom dance, and Lincoln fell for Erica immediately, and hard. Erica, more cautious by nature, took a little longer, but after all, Lincoln can be very persuasive. Done deal!

And – you have to know – Lincoln is very elegant, even a little bit old-fashioned, in the best sense. Following tradition, he proposed on one knee – at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that!

guest book table

And of course, a photo of this momentous occasion had to be present at their wedding…

Just 18 months after their first encounter, the two got married, and I was so honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding coordination and design. They wanted an elegant, formal wedding, and they wanted  – stars! Erica, the bride, is an amateur astronomer, and so we set out to incorporate the Moon and the Stars into this exquisite affair.

First step: find a venue! The two chose the Brazilian Room, a historic building in Tilden Regional Park in the hills above Berkeley. (Was that choice, maybe, inspired by the location of the proposal?)

bust

brazilian room

An open Great Room with exposed wooden beams and a soaring ceiling opens onto a ceremony lawn that seamlessly flows into the verdant hilly landscape.

The bride got ready at the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley with hair and makeup expertly styled by her friend Kim Denny.

bride window 2

 

bride window

Meanwhile her groom was getting ready as well…

groom getting readyCoit Limousine service delivered her to the Brazilian Room where Lincoln was already waiting…

dapper groom… dressed in a traditional morning suit, fitting for this elegant occasion. But the bride insisted on remaining unseen until the ceremony, so we literally snuck her into the building!

Erica had chosen an embroidered ivory A-line gown that literally floated around her and whirled with every step, complemented by a crystal-encrusted belt and elegant veil.

I doFinally, the great moment had come! Eighty of their closest friends and family members witnessed the very personal ceremony officiated by their friend Karryn Nagel, which incorporated a “Passing of the Rings” ritual. The groom’s nephew (stylishly outfitted in a 3-piece suit like his older brothers and his Dad) passed the rings to all guests present, to impart on them all their good wishes…

ring passingAll the while, harpist Jessica Schaeffer provided a beautiful musical background.

harp

And then, they were pronounced husband and wife, and the real fun was about to begin…

Just married!

first kiss

chapeau

Now come the myriad personal touches that made this wedding celebration so unique: the bride had styled her wedding shoes herself – with a star motif on a midnight-blue background:

shoesFriends of the couple, Kris, a former actor proficient at stagecraft, and Anne (who would catch the bouquet later that night …), had built them a photo booth, and what a spectacular one at that!

moonEvery single guest took a turn, and then signed the guest book  – which, of course, was also special. In lieu of a conventional book, we came up with the idea of a historic typewriter…

typewriter

To direct guests to their assigned tables, we did not use conventional escort cards (of course not…) – Erica found antique-looking picture frames which doubled as wedding favors, and combined them with handwritten star-studded name cards.

escort cards

During Cocktail Hour, Silver Strings Mandolin Orchestra (the groom’s ensemble) played for the guests…

mandolins

Meanwhile, the Great Room was ready for dinner, with centerpieces by the couple’s friend Lizzie Maxwell…

centerpiece 2

and decor by another of their friends, Jane Dougherty – think custom-made sconces of midnight-blue tulle with sparkling lights… speaking of which: the bride and I had found sparkling stars from Glimmers Inc. which, floating in the guests toasting glasses, added a truly heavenly touch to all those good wishes!

The duo “The Harpoons” (Harp and Bassoon – did you guess it?) kept guests entertained over dinner,

dining hall

and Morningstar Entertainment took over for dancing.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. During dinner, guests were asked to propose one impromptu toast per table, and since most of this artistic couple’s guests were artists themselves, musicians, actors, performers – these toasts turned into artistic improvisations of the highest order. From hilarious skits to funny poems (in perfect meter and professional intonation) and rock star impersonations with slightly tweaked lyrics: it was rather a cabaret than mere toasts! In these moments, all the depth of personal connections, the warmth of long-time friendships, and the commitment of all these friends and family members to an extraordinary couple became apparent. Every single guest contributed to their happy union in a personal way… a rare and precious moment to behold.

Another case in point: the star-shaped gold-and-blue cake, home-baked in professional quality by the couple’s friend Effie Seiberg (complemented by some more from Sweet Adeline Bakeshop):

cake

Once the cake cutting (and -eating) was done, Erica and Lincoln enjoyed their First Dance to “Never Stop Falling in Love” by Pink Martini. These two are professional grade ballroom dancers, and just watching them twirl and lead and follow and twirl again was a treat all in itself.

danceDancing with the stars, definitely! And that’s what they all did for the rest of the evening… and photographer extraordinaire Amy Carr (just wait until you see HER photos!) and videographer Adrian Quintero captured every precious moment.

Wishing our stars Erica and Lincoln “happily ever after” from the bottom of our hearts! And have a wonderful Honeymoon in Maui!