Karin and Andy, a Celebration with Friends and Family at Allied Arts Guild

When Karin and Andy decided to tie the proverbial knot, they realized pretty quickly that with their busy professional lives they would not really have the time to plan their celebration themselves. They brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board early on to help with planning, logistics, design and decor. A few priorities were clear from the get-go: an intimate venue for their 70 guests, elegance but without the usual “frills,” a cozy celebration with good food and good company. When looking for the perfect venue, the couple fell head over heels for Allied Arts Guild, a lush garden setting with a beautiful Spanish-Mediterranean style building and adjacent courtyard – all conveniently located, yet a little world of its own.

Design-wise, we complemented the impressive architecture with a “farm style” outdoor dinner setup of long rows of bare wooden tables with antiqued cross back chairs, a rustic floral decor based on shades of green with dark eggplant-color accents, and string lights and candles.

For the celebration, Karin and Andy focused on what is so essential to them: a Jewish ceremony, contributions of their closest family members and friends – and having a good time! Speaking of family members: the couple’s super cute doggie “Sawyer” would of course be attending!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Murray

 

Photo credit: Elizabeth Murray

 

Last Saturday, all our planning came together on a glorious Autumn day, under blue skies and a warm golden October sun. For Karin and her Maid of Honor, Andy’s teenage daughter Julia, the day began with hair and makeup by Jessica Morton of Miabel Artistry.

The bride complemented her classic lace dress with an elegant bouquet of sculptural flowers by Ingela Floral Design (who supplied floral decor throughout)…

Ready for her First Look!

All these precious moments were captured by Juan Pinnel of  Pinnel Photography – wait until you see HIS photos! Right now, we are grateful to have the first snapshots of the Great Day by my assistant Lisa Siyuan Li (thank you, Lisa!)

Meanwhile, preparations were underway for the ceremony on the lawn to the left of the Rose Allee. AAG manager Tiana Wong and her team set up ceremony chairs, Carol Attia of Under the Chuppah installed a beautiful rustic birch chuppah …

Photo credit Carol Attia

… and Ingela Ruschin of Ingela Floral Design decorated it with an asymmetrical arrangement of dark eggplant and wine red flowers. The Day Like No Other team, led by Mary-Kate Greenberg with assistance by Lisa Siyuan Li, was busy putting the finishing touches on everything.

Ceremony music – acoustic guitar – was the contribution of Andy’s neighbor Roger Jones, a truly heartfelt wedding gift to the couple!

The Processional began with Julia, the Maid of Honor, accompanied by ring bearer Sawyer:

Here comes the radiant bride, escorted by her father:

The traditional ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Lisa Kingston (of the Peninsula Temple Beth El) with the prescribed seven readers and the ritual of breaking a glass at the conclusion. Mazel Tov! Here they are – just married!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Murray

Time to party! TJ Solarski of JW Catering and his team was waiting for the couple and their guests with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Courtyard… 

Doesn’t that look delicious?!

The couple’s friend Carla Helmbrecht and her Jazz combo entertained and delighted guests with hours and hours of music – another very personal touch in this celebration of family and friendships. Guests left their good wishes and marital advice in the guest book:

Everything was lovingly put together and accessorized for an elegant yet relaxed, summery rustic look…

Doggie Sawyer, having fulfilled his ring bearer duties with bravura, and having starred in scores of family photos, then took some leisure time with his Doggie Mom of the Day, dog walker (and dog enthusiast) Liz Murray – for walking, playtime, dinner and a nap, until his humans would be done partying and take him home with them.

Dinner tables with matching Hickory Crossback chairs (from Stuart Event Rentals) were set up in the Sunset Patio …

… for a rustic yet sophisticated ambiance with eucalyptus garlands running down the length of the tables, interspersed rustic lanterns and  amber water goblets – and with string lights hung overhead…

As guests were dining, darkness fell, and the scene turned downright magical. After dinner, everyone moved inside to the Sunset Room whose whole back wall had been converted into a family photo gallery…

… and where the wedding cake (from Susie Cakes) was holding pride of place:

Bride and groom tackled their official first task as a married couple – cutting the cake together – with gusto!After that, there was no holding back the guests from the dance floor…

Everyone was having a really great time, and nobody wanted to go home… Many happy years together, Karin and Andy! Again – Mazel Tov!

 

 

 

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A Love Fest for Shannon and Brian at the Santa Lucia Preserve

Shannon and Brian are not people to rush into things.  So – when they decided to get married after three years of courtship, they took their time finding the perfect venue for their celebration. It should be set in beautiful, untamed Nature, but still have a certain elegance. It should be large enough for the 270 guests they were going to invite. It should offer accommodations for their closest family members to stay there for an extended wedding weekend. Together with Shannon’s mother, they visited a number of venues… and when they first set foot on the Santa Lucia Preserve, it was love at first sight, head over heals. Nothing else could compare. A private nature preserve on 20,000 acres nestled in the mountains above Carmel Valley, untouched forests and rolling hills with endless views, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean mansion (the “Hacienda” )…

… with a flock of deer grazing on the front lawn…

… and an adjacent guest house to accommodate their nearest and dearest, a subtly renovated barn for their party and a majestic Redwood grove for their ceremony – it was simply perfect! When Shannon and her mother enlisted the help of my company, A Day Like No Other, for the planning of their Great Day, I jumped right in!

Fast-forward nearly a full year… and finally all our planning came together last weekend on a perfect autumn day, warm, sunny, under blue skies and with a slight breeze. We could not have chosen a better date! Shannon’s and Brian’s wedding celebration, anticipated for so long, was to incorporate many, many very personal touches which made it unmistakably “theirs” and gave it all a deeper meaning.

For Shannon, her bridesmaids (her two sisters), the two mothers and Shannon’s grandmothers, the day began early with hair and makeup services by Sarah and Kami of the Hair and Makeup Company.

The ladies emerged looking their best ever – in a very natural and elegant way. Everyone was just glowing!

Britt Waddell of Britt Rene Photo and her assistant captured every precious moment from beginning to end – wait until you see HER photos! (For the time being, all I have for you is my iPhone snapshots…)

Darcy Craig of Seascape Flowers delivered an abundance of beautiful blooms for the bridal party (and also for ceremony and reception)…

… to complement the bride’s breathtaking Carolina Herrera dress from Jin Wang Bridal… worn with her mother’s veil:

Many of the bride’s longtime friends from College and beyond had come from far and wide to share her Great Day with her, more than fit on a single photo! Here they are…

Ready to go….a real mother-daughter moment…

To me, this is the epitome of classic beauty.

A fleet of shuttle buses from Main Event Transportation then took the couple’s guests from their hotels in nearby Carmel up into the mountains, into the Preserve and to the ceremony at the majestic Redwood Grove where the Preserve team under Catering and Events Director Aubrey Yeakel and Banquet Manager Francisco had set up for the ceremony. Sound was provided by Peter Burkhard of Kelly Productions, and the ceremony was accompanied by solo guitar music by Rich Armstrong.

Guests were handed elegant program books which the mother of the bride had hand-bound with leather – the wedding flowers were modeled after the floral motif on the invitation suite:

The elegance and natural beauty of this program (by Ruby the Fox and  Papineau Calligraphy)set the tone for the whole celebration and especially for the ceremony which was officiated by the couple’s friend Michael who had actually brought them together – talk about personal touches here!

And here comes the bride, on her father’s arm:

The couple said their vows flanked by two huge flower arrangements set on natural tree stumps, and the only other floral decor were hand-tied wreaths on the back row of chairs – wreaths are a traditional symbol of wedding celebration in Lithuania, as a nod to the Groom’s cultural heritage (and again, more of that to come!)

After the joyful ceremony, guests were shuttled to Cocktail Hour on the expansive lawn adjacent to the Hacienda where they enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres (like Ahi tuna tuiles…) to go with their libations. The sun cast a golden glow over the scene… and flower girl Helen, a mere four years old, took her job very seriously to call everyone to dinner with a handbell:

Guests took a leisurely walk over to the Barn where the venue staff and my two wonderful assistants Myrtle and Lisa had set everything up for dinner.

When the doors opened, guests were greeted with more – oversize! – wreaths:

… and an elegant setup under twinkling lights:

 

As yet another personal touch, guests found little bags of Lithuanian cookies (from Mama Papa Lithuania bakery)  as their wedding favors. Dinner was served family-style and accompanied by heartfelt speeches by the sisters of the bride, the brother of the groom, and the father of the bride who disclosed how intertwined the couple’s lives had been from the get-go… unbeknownst to them, their fathers had shared college days!

After his Welcome speech, the bride’s father and the bride shared a dance, all by themselves…

… followed by the Mother-Son dance and then – the official First Dance of the newlyweds:

After dinner, there was no holding back the crowd from the dance floor! The 415s band (through Entire Productions) literally “let it rip,” and, as one guest aptly put it, “I’ve never been to a party where not a single person was in their chairs, but everyone on the dance floor!”

Guests only took a little break for Cake Cutting – the bride’s younger sister had made a small cake with cute decorations; talk about personal touches! And then the ice cream bar was opened, with delicious toppings and fresh-baked cookies – a true crowd pleaser!

One more unexpected (and likewise truly personal) highlight was to come as a surprise to everyone: one of the bride’s grandmothers, 93 years young, led the groom on the dance floor for a Tango! She danced beautifully – and  got a well-deserved standing ovation from all guests.

For those in need of a bit of fresh air in between, blanket-cushioned hay bales (by LA Hearne Company) surrounding two brightly lit fire-pits were beckoning in front of the entrance. One thing is sure: everyone was having a great time… what a party! It was a true love fest for bride and groom.

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Shannon and Brian, on your journey together!

 

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Ann and Ed’s Wedding – their Once-in-a-Lifetime Event!

Ann and Ed approached my company, A Day Like No Other, more than a year ago for help with planning their wedding. Their BIG wedding, actually. They both have large, extended families, and with their wonderful cultural tradition (both are of Filipino heritage) of relatives sponsoring weddings – acting as primary sponsors, secondary sponsors, veil and cord sponsors… – and many children participating – as ring bearers, coin bearers, sign and bible bearers, flower girls – the guest list quickly went way beyond 200!

The two had chosen their home parish, St. Elizabeth’s Church in Milpitas, for their wedding ceremony, and the elegant San Jose Downtown Marriott hotel for their reception. With that as a starting point, we began pulling things together. Fast-forward to July 8: finally the Great Day had arrived, and everything was coming together beautifully.

For Ann and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup services by Fiona Tsang of Imagi and assistants.

Ann had chosen an elegant lace dress with illusion back and complemented that with bridal shoes fit for a queen:

Her breathtaking cascading bouquet (by Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs, who created the floral decor throughout) featured white and blush garden roses, peonies, dahlias, orchids and wisps of climbing jasmine, trailing and fluttering in the breeze.

And here is Ann, being helped into her dress by her bridesmaids (many, many tiny buttons…)

With that, Ann was ready for church, where Ed and his groomsmen were already waiting.

The two had a full Catholic wedding mass, with an impressive defilee of sponsors, attendants, coin bearer, ring bearer, sign bearer and flower girls. And when they exited the church as newlyweds, their two doggies Koni and Bear were waiting for them with their “Doggie Mom for the Day” Liz Murray in tow! The videographers from Collideskope captured it all throughout the day and evening.

From there, it was off to photos in a nearby park with their photographer extraordinaire Duy Ho (he already shared a few of his artistic photos with us for this feature – see his signature on the bottom – and the rest are just snapshots from me… just wait until you see Duy’s whole collection!).

Meanwhile, frantic preparations were under way at their reception venue, the San Jose Marriott, with Emily Heiler and her team setting up the ballroom and foyer for cocktails and dinner, Terry of Fine Linen Creation draping the entire walls of the ballroom, all three entrances and the Sweetheart Table, and setting up lighting…

… and florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs installing her gorgeous centerpieces on the dining tables.

The Day Like No Other team was busy putting the finishing touches on, from distributing the pink, navy and gold-colored macaroon favors…to setting up signage (all by Ryanne Steele of Steele My Heart)

Oran Cohen of Night Owl Photo Booth and DJ Eugene Macala of Macala Entertainment were ready as guests were arriving for Cocktail Hour, and the fun started right there!

Next up: dinner! And what a dinner that was… in between, the newlyweds stole away for sunset photos…

… then joined their guests again for this joyful celebration…

What else? A cake from Cake Expressions. And ice cream! Ann and Ed are huge ice cream fans, and so they invited Tucker’s Ice Cream, their all-time favorite vendor, to serve their best flavors:

And, of course, dancing, dancing, dancing! Including the traditional Money Dance where guests “pay” for dancing with the bride and the groom, by pinning bank notes on them. But the best of all was Ann’s and Ed’s First Dance. So romantic… 

It truly was a “once-in-a-lifetime” celebration. And from there, our newlyweds went on to their “once-in-a-lifetime” Honeymoon: to the St.Regis in Bora Bora!

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Ann and Ed!

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LaRay and Nathan – Couture and Elegance on a Spectacular Cliff

LaRay and Nathan first fell in love with one another – and then, when looking for the perfect place to make their deep commitment official, they fell in love with a place. A private estate, to be precise – perched high up on a cliff above the Pacific, just an hour south of San Francisco, yet looking and feeling as if it were lightyears away.

This unanimous decision was the starting point for all other planning steps – they were not interested in the usual “wedding frills.” They wanted the breathtaking setting of their venue to speak for itself. They wanted high elegance to match the drama of Nature. They wanted only their nearest and closest friends and family members around, everyone with a very special meaning to them (and that included their beloved dog Louis, here with his favorite dog walker Liz).

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And they wanted the evening to conclude with a memorable dinner and wine. How that turned out? Let me show you!

LaRay and Nathan had enlisted my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding planning needs, and we got it all lined up and organized – so when the day of their wedding approached, they were not stressed out but simply – excited.

Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs had erected a tall chuppah-like structure on the bluff dramatically perched above the crashing surf of the Pacific.
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Since Nathan is so tall, Janelle had to build an extra-high structure with extra flowers – a profusion of white and green, mirroring the carpet of white petals on the aisle – and the bride’s Oscar de la Renta wedding dress.
first-look-12 “First Look:” Nathan is overwhelmed!

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Arriving guests were treated to a bar…

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… and then the time had come for the ceremony, officiated by a longtime friend and mentor of the bride.

The bride was preceded by Flower Dog “King” Louis:

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Rings? Yes! presented in style on “something blue:”

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During the ceremony, the couple released Monarch butterflies…

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… who felt right at home among all those flowers!

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Just married! And here is, for the record, the official wedding photo:

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Bride and groom then poured the champagne for their guests themselves – in a classic champagne fountain, overflowing from coupe to couple, until everyone’s glass was filled.

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Following this spectacular Cocktail Hour, the couple and their guests proceeded to Cetrella Restaurant …

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… in nearby Half Moon Bay for dinner – Cetrella has been nominated for a Michelin star several years in a row, and you can imagine what an extraordinary wedding dinner that must have been! The bride literally “let her hair down” again…

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… for the festivities which included (of course!) world-class wine; a photo booth, and…

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… a classic white wedding cake – a tradition that even these two elegant non-traditionalists observed.

Oh happy day…  we are wishing LaRay and Nathan a long happy life together! May you always be looking in the same direction, hand in hand, with a warm Sun shining down on you, just like you did on your wedding day…

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CREDITS:

Ceremony venue: private estate; Reception venue: Cetrella Restaurant; Couple’s accommodations: Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay; Rental items: Classic Party Rentals; Transportation: Skylark Limousine, Black Tie; Photographer: Iran Ramirez (ph: 650-888-7088); Videographer: Thomas Hughes Films; Photo booth: Photo-Matica; Dog walker: Elizabeth Murray; Butterflies: Cloverlawn Butterflies

 

 

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…

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… and dressing up for the Great Day…

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… with Pepper literally “underfoot!”

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

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

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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…

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… signage and guestbook were installed…

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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.

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Time for the ceremony!

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Here comes the flower girl…

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… followed by the bride.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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The mouthwatering menu was displayed on pretty signage:

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… 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!”

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

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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:

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… followed by an elaborate Father-Daughter dance performance.

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

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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:

 

 

 

Kerry, Howard and Lilly – Elegance and Fun at Cavallo Point Resort

I just returned from one of my all-time favorite weddings – my last one of this year – and I am still all excited about it! Where even to start? Great venues, a lovely couple, a super-cute doggie – and a wonderful surprise…

Bride Kerry approached my company, A Day Like No Other, in Spring for assistance with planning her wedding in November, and it seemed like a lot of time to go. Well – life happened, and planning got delayed – all of a sudden, things got quite hectic, and the last weeks of planning were quite a whirlwind, but in the end this one-of-a-kind celebration was so well worth all the effort. What was so exceptional? Kerry and Howard did not want a typical “wedding with all the bells and whistles and all the fanfare.” No bridesmaids or groomsmen, no bouquet toss, Grand Entrances or formal announcements, for starters.  They’d very much prefer an elegant dinner party vibe, unstuffy and fun for everyone. Did someone say “fun?” What I haven’t mentioned yet is that these two have a wonderful, slightly offbeat (the bride being British…) sense of humor, and so we had to throw in a super-fun surprise: a Tiki bar!

But I am getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start with the wedding day: an unusually warm, sunny November day that felt more like late Summer – simply perfect, with San Francisco showing itself from its most beautiful side. Kerry started the day with getting her hair done by Ernest Stout of Patrick Richards Salon – an elegant, but not extravagant updo in perfect proportion with her delicate features. Makeup artist Chris McDonald gave Kerry a natural look and accentuated her beautiful eyes with – yes! – faux lashes, and Kerry, although in general not a fan of makeup, could not believe how gorgeous she looked!

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Add to that an elegant, understated lace dress and hot-pink, drop-dead nubuck high heels…

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… AND an elegant bridal bouquet by Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs … in the bride’s favorite colors of soft dusty rose and mauve…

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… and we’re ready to go! Bill Snyder of Bauer’s IT Transportation drove her to the historic Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights District, all decked out with candles,

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and Church hostess Holly Gottschalk snuck her in unseen through the back door, while both groom Howard and many wedding guests were already enjoying an alfresco reception in the Church courtyard with wine, beer and champagne served by Carlos Kronen’s  Bartender Company. Music by members of the Lucky Devils Band – solo guitar for the reception, a string trio for the ceremony – rounded out the happy gathering.

When the time came for the ceremony, the true star of the day – was not the bride (sorry, Kerry!) and not the groom either… but the couple’s dog Lilly, freshly groomed and adorned with a flower collar, who fulfilled her duties as a “flower pup” (dropping silk petals from a tiny basket hanging from her collar) with poise and irresistible charm.

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My assistant Quan, her “doggie Mom for the day,” made sure that Lilly enjoyed the day as much as her parents…

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My other two assistants, Annie and Christine, were meanwhile busy “behind the scenes,” helping me with everything from bar setup and breakdown to putting the finishing touches on our surprise Tiki bar. We were all quite busy!

After their ceremony, the newlyweds mingled with their guests in the Church courtyard for more cocktails, before being driven to their reception venue, the Cavallo Point Resort (the best SF Bay Area hotel by Travel & Leisure – and they do know!), where Catering Manager Lorraine Salceda and her team had prepared the Callippe Ballroom for dining…

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… with shimmering chocolate brown crinkle linens that the bride had purchased specifically for this event, and florist Janelle had adorned the long rows of tables with a profusion of candles and low arrangements mirroring the bride’s bouquet.

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Monique Albert of Just De’Lights had installed uplights that bathed the room in a dark amber glow, and the Lucky Devils were out in full force onstage to keep the whole party entertained, beginning with Cocktail Hour on the patio. Guests were treated to the famously delicious Cavallo Point cuisine, immediately followed by a slice of wedding cake…

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… from the venue’s in-house patissier (of French Laundry fame…). Once that was done, the couple had just a few more things to do: thank their guests…

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…  open the dance floor with their First Dance…

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… and unveil the big fun surprise of the evening: the Tiki bar in the adjacent Silverspot room:

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… complete with thatched umbrellas, a carved Tiki bench, real palm trees (all meticulously planned with Kenzi Blalock of Blueprint Studios) and a real Shuffleboard table (from Video Amusement)!

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Guests donned flower leis and sipped Mai Tais and Pineapple Margaritas from Tiki mugs and Pineapple Coconut martinis from hollowed-out coconuts, all served by bartender Steven clad in a Hawaiian shirt. That’s what I call a party!

Those who needed a break from dancing or a bit of fresh air were lounging around the fire pit on the patio under Monique’s string lights, feasting on a late-night snack of truffle fries, pulled-pork sliders and mini pizza.
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Not to forget, our photographers – Oscar Urizar from Red Eye Collection and his assistant- were tirelessly shooting all day – and night – to record those precious moments. Just wait until you see THEIR photos!

The only fault with this party – it had to come to an end at some point; way too early! One thing’s for sure: everyone had a great time, and this was, hands down, the most “fun” wedding of the year!

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:

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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…

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

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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:

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The groom and his groomsmen were also getting ready …

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… donning matching neckties…

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… 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:

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Waiting for his bride – and here she approaches:

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

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Time for photos! Bridesmaids, groomsmen, family…

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

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Guests were already gathering,

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

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

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

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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!

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Just married!

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… 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.”

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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…)

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

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

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

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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:

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

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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:

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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.

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

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Elopement of a Glamour Heiress – A Stylized Photoshoot

A few weeks backs, my company, A Day Like No Other, created exactly that – if only for a stylized photo shoot! Once in a while, I let my fantasies run wild and make these daydreams a short-lived reality, just for long enough to take photos and preserve these flights of fancy.

So here is the daydream that we set to scenes and pictures AND to music (and all published in Ceremony Magazine of Spring 2016!).

A glamorous young heiress, super-wealthy, beautiful and spoiled (yes! She can have anything she wants, and she’s used to that!), elopes to San Francisco with her fiancé (who is just as beautiful and not poor, either…) to get married at one of the City’s most iconic venues: the Imperial Floor of the Westin St. Francis Hotel in the heart of the City. Said young heiress is all into 1920s silver screen goddess glamour – that’s her style; nothing less.

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To bring this vision of elegance, style and beauty to life, I rounded up more than a dozen collaborators, and all of them did a fabulous job in what they do best – so the results are, I believe, spectacular. But have a look yourselves!

Our couple is traveling to San Francisco in style – in a vintage silver Rolls-Royce, chauffeured by a driver in uniform (who in real life happens to be a private collector and owner of three more of these beauties, and who just loves to put on a great show with me!). Bride and groom ask for a road stop on the Presidio, in front of a historic chapel and amidst the typical San Francisco fog.

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Photo shoot Ceremony Westin-151Their chauffeur sets out an elegant picnic for them, with tea, pastries and champagne, and their violinist (!!) who is traveling with them, serenades them from the background.

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The bride is wearing an Italian silk travel wedding dress and a vintage mink shrug, and the groom is dapper in his classic tuxedo.

After their picnic, they proceed to the Westin St. Francis hotel…

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Photo shoot Ceremony Westin-141…to get ready on the Imperial Floor (the ballroom floor that is only accessible by private elevator key…) where everything is being prepared for their ceremony in Alexandra’s Ballroom. The bride needs to change, of course, have hair and makeup done according to her ceremony look, and to don some exquisite vintage jewelry – Art Deco pieces set in platinum.

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For their ceremony, floral arrangements and classic wedding tunes played by their traveling violinist form a fitting backdrop, and once married, the two are showered with rose petals.

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Time for portraits – and of course, our bride has brought her cute little dog; the two are inseparable!

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Once all the photos are done, the couple can finally sit down at their sweetheart table,

Photo shoot Ceremony Westin-104… which is lavishly decorated with elegant linens, stunning floral arrangements, an antique menorah candelabra, and exquisite china, glassware and flatware befitting the occasion. Their table offers a spectacular view, overlooking the heart of San Francisco from 34 stories up…

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Photo shoot Ceremony Westin-23And, yes, of course there are custom-designed, calligraphed menu cards as an extra touch of excellence!

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The best is still to come: a dessert table with not one, but two wedding cakes in true Art Deco style, but with a delicate surprise: elegant ladies’ shoes (all edible, including the label on the insole!!) as toppers.

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After so much enjoyment, the couple tops it off with their First Dance – which is, of course, just as spectacular as everything that came before. A Dream Day Like No Other in pictures…

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We would like to thank all our contributors who made this folly possible:

Ceremony Magazine

Our photographer: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Our models, Lindsay Knox, and her manager, Mom Casandra Knox, Gavin Farrington and Sherlock the dog

Our venue: The Westin St. Francis Hotel

Hair and Makeup: Miabel Artistry

Wedding dresses and accessories: Nouvelle Vogue

Vintage jewelry: Gleim the Jeweler

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals

Linen rentals: Napa Valley Linens

Calligraphy: Monks of Age

Wedding cake and pastries: Morgane Ric, 510-776-1643. info.jolicake@gmail.com

Floral décor: A Loves in Bloom

Violinist: Joyce Lee

Antique candelabra and candlesticks: Poetica Art and Antiques

 

 

 

What I Learned about Love, I Learned from my Dog

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

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

with Buzz in Snow

Here it goes:

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

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

When you want treats, practice obedience.

Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

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Take naps together and stretch before rising.

Run, romp and play daily.

Be loyal.

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

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

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Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.

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

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

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk together.

Love each other unconditionally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MGA_3412And my favorite photo? Here it is:

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

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