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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Cristina and Jason – Glamour and Caribbean Spice at Cavallo Point Resort

Cristina is a powerhouse, a force of nature, a whirlwind. She has a stellar career. And she had finally found her soulmate and was ready to commit herself to that relationship, heart and soul. What I didn’t know when she first approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning her wedding: once Cristina has set her mind to something, she’s unstoppable. She wanted to get married within three months. We started planning. A family emergency forced her to put all her plans on hold and postpone to June 24th. When she was finally able to get back into planning mode, months later, we had about four weeks left to pull everything together.

Almost every bride I’ve been working with so far would have given up. Not Cristina. She was undeterred and more determined than ever! So was I. And we pulled it off – beautifully!

Cristina and her fiance Jason had chosen a spectacular venue for their celebration: Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, with unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. That’s what Cristina saw when her wedding day began…

… with hair and makeup by her longtime stylist Terrell Mullin. In accordance with her glamorous champagne-colored, jeweled wedding dress from Nouvelle Vogue Salon, Cristina opted for finger-waves and a classic “Hollywood style” makeup…

Spectacular, isn’t it? A true “silver screen goddess!” And the cathedral-length veil made Cristina look like a real princess.

Then there were the accessories: her bridal shoes! With a color palette of ivory, blush pink and merlot, Cristina went all out with her merlot suede stilettos:

… and, not to forget, her garters!Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs created Cristina’s dream bouquet of blush and ivory roses and peonies, merlot dahlias and a few wisps of greenery …

… and her church and reception decor as well. The ceremony was held in the onsite chapel – Cavallo Point Resort is housed on the site and in the buildings of a historic military outpost, complete with a beautiful chapel.

For this special day, the chapel was transformed into a garden with blooming trees; the aisle lined with ivory and blush rose petals and lanterns. Guests found little paper cones filled with merlot rose petals on their chairs – you’ll see!

DJ Aykut and the bride’s son Brent – a DJ himself – played all the music that Cristina and Jason had enjoyed together during their courtship, and the ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend of the couple, Rev. Lynne Herod-DeVerges.

Here comes the bride on her brother’s arm…

And here she and her groom are saying their very personal vows to one another:

“You may kiss the bride!” (and he did… )

Just married and SOOO happy! The newlyweds are leaving the chapel, showered with handfuls of fragrant rose petals..

Meanwhile, the Cavallo Point Crew under the leadership of Cheryl Fleming, myself and my two tireless assistants Kelsey Holtzinger and Myrtle Ventura had our hands full with preparations for Cocktail Hour and reception in the Callippe ballroom and patio where the onsite crew of PSAV had installed extensive lighting…

… and tables were gleaming in a variety of shimmering and glittering linens (from Napa Valley Linens). Taking inspiration from the couple’s invitation cards of rose-gold print on pearlescent ivory card stock, we used rose gold as metallic accent throughout…

… with chargers, flatware and even dining chairs playing along (all from Hensley Event Resources). The gorgeous centerpieces and large and small flower arrangements…

 

… mirrored chargers and mercury-gold votives came all from Green Petal Designs.

Guests found their table assignment on a calligraphed mirror and on mirrored table numbers by Mariko Giverink of BeeCurious Designs,

and while all tables looked fabulous, the couple’s Sweetheart Table was, of course, the best!

Over dinner,  Cristina’s and Jason’s sons proposed the first toasts to their newlywed parents, expressing gratitude for making each other happier than they had ever seen them… listening to that, we all had to dab our eyes. It was very emotional, and very beautiful – and then many more impromptu toasts and speeches followed, a veritable love fest for Cristina and Jason! They were both beaming, visiting tables and way too excited to eat. But they did cut their cake (from the in-house patissier at Cavallo Point).

Their first official collaboration as a married couple: completed with bravura!

Guests had so much more to enjoy even after that: the photo booth (by Photo-Matica) was a huge hit, with everyone crowding around it; dancing to a mix of tunes – heavy on Reggae as a nod to both Cristina’s and Jason’s heritage – by DJ Aykut, and late-night snacks… and sitting around the fire pit on the patio under string lights and a huge moon light… Everyone loved this party!

Photographer Tuan Bui and Videographer Andrew Hsu of Studio MSV captured every precious moment – just wait until you see THEIR photos and the wedding video (stay tuned – I’ll update photos in a few weeks and add the video as well!).

While their guests were still lingering around the fire, Cristina and Jason snuck away, hand in hand… Wishing you a lifetime of happiness and priceless memories of this day filled with joy and laughter!

 

 

Victoria’s and Ryan’s Magical Garden Wedding

When Victoria approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for planning help, her wedding was still nearly a year away – and then it had to be postponed by another six months. Plenty of time to get it all perfect! And yesterday, finally, it all came together in a truly magical celebration on a picture-perfect day in May.

For their venue, the couple had chosen a veritable hidden gem in the Wine Country: Sylvan Lake, a private estate tucked away in the mountains above St. Helena. From a narrow, winding mountain road completely encased in dense foliage, you enter through an unassuming gate, and only halfway down the driveway does this garden paradise reveal itself…

Passing through an impressive wrought-iron gate, a vista of manicured lawns and decades-old boxwood hedges opens up, accentuated with a profusion of multicolored roses. It is truly a breathtaking place.

The bride and her bridesmaids got made up and dressed in a cozy cottage on property, hidden from any spying glances – Victoria was adamant: no First Look for her! Ryan would see her at the ceremony for the first time on their wedding day, not a minute earlier!

Here she is getting into her gorgeous lace trumpet dress:

… a true mother-and-daughter moment!

The ceremony was held overlooking the lush vineyards at Sylvan Lake. Here comes the bride, true to tradition on her father’s arm:

The ceremony was officiated by a personal friend of the couple’s. The bridesmaids wore floor length dresses in shades of lilac and mauve, and the groomsmen wore elegant grey suits.

I do! The moment Victoria and Ryan were pronounced husband and wife, the historic bronze bell at Sylvan Lake was rung, its glorious sound carrying through all of Napa Valley – for all the world to know!

While the couple had their photos taken by photographer Megan Reeves, guests were enjoying Cocktail Hour with lawn games and open bar and appetizers by S’Wine Country BBQ – just a glimpse into the hearty dinner to come!

Tables stretched across the lawn in long rows, presided over by the couple’s Sweetheart Table under the low-hanging branches of a centuries-old olive tree.

Fittingly, wedding favors were little bottles of olive oil which adorned the dinner tables, adding extra color to the elegant green garlands, hurricanes, votives and casual arrangements of roses, lisianthus, eucalyptus and wheat stems in antique glass bottles (all by EV Florals, as were the bride’s bouquet and bridesmaids’ bouquets).

Guests were guided to their tables by a handwritten seating chart on an antique window pane:

propped up on an equally antique chair amidst the flourishing greenery.

After dinner, there was yet another surprise for Victoria’s and Ryan’s guests: a donut truck from Johnny Donuts, serving super-fresh pastries and piping-hot coffee. The line literally wound around the block!

Then it was time for dancing, and the Lucky Devils Band under bandleader Jefferson got the crowd going! The result? Nobody wanted to go home!

The bride was beaming and happy… and that is why I love my job so much:

The groom exclaimed, “I LOVE this party – I am staying!” – but everything has to come to an end, eventually… Happy, tired partygoers were safely  shuttled to their hotels by Beau Wine Tours. And everyone agreed with the groom: they all loved this party!

Many happy years together, Victoria and Ryan!

 

Julia and Charlie’s enchanted summer wedding at Hakone Gardens

Julia is an organizer. She does it for a living, and she has a hard time giving up the reins on anything. But for her own wedding day, she was willing to entrust these reins to my company, A Day Like No Other. By that time, she and her fiance had already chosen their venue: Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, the oldest Japanese park in the Western hemisphere. It is glorious, especially in late Spring/early Summer. You’ll see!

Julia’s (and her bridesmaids’) day began early with hair and makeup services by Chau from AListMakeup and a church service for closest family members only. After a photo session with 102Studios, the couple arrived at Hakone Gardens, and for Julia that meant: first dress change! She exchanged her traditional Vietnamese outfit for a voluminous Western wedding dress, all lace, sequins and tulle; and got her makeup changed accordingly. In the meantime, everyone was busy with preparations. Onsite manager Tony Barbatti and his team set up the ceremony chairs (with a giant ruler, no joke!! At right angles and to the millimeter)

and helped us in a thousand ways. Ming and his team from Flourishing Gardens catering got ready for a full Chinese banquet. Crafty set up a full bar. Vicky from Queen Bridals installed incredible floral decor – all in golden yellow and rich, dark blues, a tribute to early summer! –

and hung dozens from lanterns from the tree under whose branches the couple’s Sweetheart Table was to be installed. And she transformed the front of that table into a veritable waterfall of flowers, complete with wisteria blooms. It was epic! I was meanwhile busy with the tabletops and the cute “bride” and “groom” favor boxes the bride had chosen, with setting up the dessert bar

and with coordinating all the vendors. Her bridesmaids assembled a table assignment board

at the last minute. DJ Hugh of XGenereration Entertainment and his crew set up the sound equipment and hung string lights. We were all on an adrenaline rush!

And Julia was just beaming!

Finally – time for the ceremony, officiated by a family friend…

with the most beautiful natural backdrop imaginable.

Just married!

Let the festivities begin…

AND let the guests have cake! This piece of art was made by Sharon Bui:

and at the end of the evening not a single crumb was left. As night fell, the scenery turned magical… what a day, and what a night!

 

The newlyweds are already off for their “mini moon” (to Maui) followed by their real Honeymoon later this year, to – you guessed it! – Japan.

Our best wishes on your lifelong journey together!

Jessica and Chris – a Huge Celebration with Friends and Families

Jessica and Chris have known each other for a long time – twelve years, to be exact. When they decided to tie the knot, it was clear that all their friends and extended families would be a part of it – a good 250 people! They felt a little overwhelmed at the task of planning the biggest party of their lives themselves, with the added complication that they are living out of state AND have demanding jobs – Jessica is a physician and Chris a dentist. Long story short – they hired my company, A Day Like No Other, to assist with the planning, and yesterday all our combined hard work paid off: their Great Day unfolded beautifully, and even the weather played along – after weeks of rain the two enjoyed the first weekend of Spring sunshine for their nuptials.

The couple had chosen First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto for their wedding ceremony and the adjacent Fellowship Hall for their reception, and onsite managers Ann Reddick and Angela Mosqueda diligently organized all the venue preparations.  “Home Base” for the preparations (and for their First Night) was the beautiful Garden Court Hotel, in walking distance from the Church. For Jessica and her bridesmaids, the day began with hairstyling (by the bride’s cousin Lena Garcia) and make-up application by Nikki Ngo:

Next up: a gorgeous bridal bouquet by family friend Betsy Doss (who created floral decor throughout) and a crystal-encrusted wedding dress of stunning elegance:

Nearly ready for her First Look:

The couple had chosen my longtime friend and colleague Vicens Forns for their photographer – and we all can’t wait to see his photos! Vicens is a master of light and of the dramatic moment; he made Jessica twirl her voluminous dress skirt in the hotel’s garden court, with the sun illuminating the layers of tulle and reflecting off the sparkling crystals – you should have seen that bridal smile!

Meanwhile, guests were arriving at the Church – a soaring modernist space, illuminated by stained-glass windows in ethereal shades of blue and green. And here comes the bride, to the sounds of Wagner’s Wedding March played on one of the largest organs in the Bay Area:

It was a really breathtaking experience.

Meanwhile, my two assistants Jessica and Myrtle and myself were working hard on preparations for the reception, alongside the team of Mina Park of Green Fish Catering.

The dining hall had been transformed by hanging draperies and string lights installed by Aaron Feldman and his team from Stuart Event Rentals. Guests were seated at long rows of tables adorned with green garlands accented with fresh garden roses.

For seat assignments, we used hand-calligraphed escort cards (designed and produced by A Day Like No Other), each stuck into a little potted succulent plant for guests to take home and “let love grow.”

Guests found the program for the festivities and the menu choices on handmade chalkboards (all signage designed and produced by A Day Like No Other).

And here is the yummy buffet – as advertised!

Guests dug happily in…

… and enjoyed good company and the uplifting live music by vocalist Kendra McKinley and her band. One highlight of the celebration was yet to come: the dessert buffet and the wedding cake from La Baguette – sweet memories for bride Jessica who as a child always got her Birthday cakes from this local bakery. And at her wedding, we and all her guests learned why she loves their cakes and pastries so much – they are divine!

The newlyweds’ official first task together: cutting the cake!

They did it beautifully, and everyone enjoyed that cake – not a crumb was left over. What a fabulous celebration… wishing Jessica and Chris an eternity of happiness!

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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Dress, shoes and jewelry were waiting…

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… and now Sandra is ready to meet her groom.

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First Look!

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

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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.

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The ceremony took place outdoors …

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… under a rustic chuppah …

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… and “Here Comes the Bride!”

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

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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 …

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… 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!).

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

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

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… and simple garden flower arrangements adorned the tables.

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

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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!

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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!) …

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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!

 

Taryn and Jason – an Enchanted Wedding at the Outdoor Art Club

I just came home from helping one of my couples celebrate their wedding – and I am still in awe of that extraordinary experience I was privileged to be a part of.

First things first… Taryn, the bride, and I had been planning for a whole year. She had approached my company, A Day Like No Other, soon after getting engaged – suddenly feeling overwhelmed with the task of planning her Big Day with all its details and all the moving parts that go into such a celebration.

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She and her fiance Jason were planning to invite about 120 guests, all of them close friends and family, to a venue showcasing the beauty of Nature. As is evident in their beautiful engagement pictures (by Wilson Lee who also photographed the wedding – stay tuned for his professional photos that will eventually replace my “sneak preview” snapshots!), these two really love the forest – the more enchanted, the better! We thought of Redwoods, vistas, gardens… and finally, Taryn and Jason settled for the historic Outdoor Art and Garden Club in Mill Valley, a historic venue surrounded by a mature garden. Founded as a Nature Conservancy, the OAC boasts a beautiful (and newly renovated) Arts-and-Crafts building designed by none less than Bernard Maybeck. It’s a peaceful, blooming oasis in the heart of a quaint little city. Perfect!

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With Taryn’s love of all things Bohemian, slightly offbeat to downright mystical, in mind, we settled on a color scheme of muted warm gray and sage green, accented with sparkling mirrors (after all – mirrors are said to be the portal to other worlds…) calligraphed by Mariko Giverink of BeeCurious Designs

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img_3450The dining tables were adorned with floral centerpieces evoking little enchanted forests, complete with wood slices, mushrooms, crystals, geodes and ferns, artfully created by Katie Chirgotis of Eothen Floral.

For her Great Day, the bride chose a very unusual wedding dress from LoHo Bride

taryns-wedding-dress… and a soft, very feminine hairstyle with a “messy side braid,” perfectly imperfect – by Angela of Edward’s Salon. Taryn’s makeup – natural, dewy fresh, and literally glowing – was applied by her sister Tracy, a  professional makeup artist.

When the Great Day had final arrived, it turned out to be a warm and sunny Golden Autumn afternoon with  blue skies and just a slight breeze – a dream! Taryn’s and Jason’s ceremony was officiated by Reverend Don Mulford in the shaded backyard of the Outdoor Art Club, under towering mature trees.

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Guests then enjoyed Cocktail Hour in the open courtyard, serenaded by Synchronicity Strings

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… while Delicious! Catering took care of yummy food and an open bar.

Inside, string lights on the eaves (by Big4Rentals) set a festive tone, and dining tables beckoned with more sparkle from beaded glass chargers and mirrored table numbers…

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The centerpieces boasted a profusion of ferns, grasses, wildflowers and other delicate blooms …

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and of course the Sweetheart Table got a little extra treatment:

After dinner, there was dancing with music by DJ Woody Miraglia of Big Fun Disk Jockeys, with the couple opening the dance floor with their romantic First Dance to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

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Night Owl Photo Booth provided a lot of fun entertainment, and of course there was one more highlight of the evening: cake cutting! Following time-honored tradition, the new husband and wife team performed their official first task together – cutting their wedding cake (a luscious confection by Krista Juracek of Sainte G. – way too beautiful to eat!) and feeding one another.

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Even the cake played along the mystic “Enchanted Forest” theme with ferns and mushrooms. Guests took home handmade little bundles of sage and matches – to be burned to ward off evil spirits!

If you ask me – evil spirits never stood a chance at this enchanted wedding, filled with warmth, love, and gratitude, with friendship, joy and exuberance. Many happy enchanted years together, Taryn and Jason, and be your journey always as happy as on your wedding day!

 

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…

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:

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The groom and his groomsmen were also getting ready …

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… 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:

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Groom First Look

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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First Look

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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.

Groom and Best Man

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)…

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!

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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.”

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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…)

Cuddling Pepper

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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:

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.

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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:

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

Forecasting Trends at Hamlin Mansion: WIPA kicks off 2016

Last week, months of planning came to fruition in a spectacular event: the WIPA 2016 kick-off meeting at historic Hamlin Mansion in San Francisco. To me, this was extra special because it marked the conclusion of nearly four years as Event Chair and the Regional Director of Programs for the WIPA SF Bay Area Chapter. I absolutely wanted to conclude my tenure on a high note – and that’s what happened.

Our speaker set the theme: Kate Patay of Creative Coverings, acclaimed wedding industry expert and frequent speaker around the nation, presented “Forecasting Trends” – based on a multitude of media channels and, of course, social media. AND in her capacity as Director of Sales and Marketing at one of the area’s pre-eminent linen rental companies, she also set the tone for the design by sponsoring exquisite linens which I used as the jumping-off point for the rest of the event design. True to her theme, she chose from the Pantone Colors of the Year, mainly a dusty rose with lots of sparkle, expanding both into lighter hues up to ivory and down to an elegant mocha and chocolate. It was perfect both for the rich wood paneling in the Mansion’s Great Room – where we enjoyed both Cocktail Hour and later on coffee and dessert – and for the light-filled dining room overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Heavens were literally smiling on us with blue skies and a slight breeze, and the venerable mansion presented itself from its most beautiful side. Misti Layne of Images by Misti Layne (photography) and Kien Nguyen of Kien Pictures (videography) made sure not a single moment was lost!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A mock ceremony setup demonstrated what it could be like for a real wedding… with chairs from Stuart Event Rentals (who also sponsored lounge furniture and the dining setup). Living hedges from Interior Plant Design gave the scene extra polish and elegance.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Guests were serenaded by Matt Roads Trio from Ivy Hill Entertainment and could hang out in the elegant lounge…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco
WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

The bar was stocked with world-class wines from  Wente Vineyards

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Time Capsule Party provided a totally different photo booth experience: guests received their photos printed on vintagey- looking aluminum plaques – outfitted with magnets! I am sure, countless ones are now gracing fridges around the Bay Area!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Two of the most important attendees: caterer Elaine Bell and speaker Kate Patay

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

And here are some of the delicacies that Elaine treated our guests to at Cocktail Hour:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

We had even more to offer to our guests – our own gold-metallic (temporary…) tattoos with the WIPA logo from AnnaBee! They are fully customizable and are such a pretty idea for weddings!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

That’s me greeting guests at the door – with Mr. Shin from Michi’s.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Everything was prepared for the educational part of the day, with Fantasy Sound providing A/V services.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

When Kate Patay began her presentation on “Forecasting Trends,” our guests were riveted. Kate is such an engaging speaker, lively and funny, that you don’t even notice how much you are learning while being entertained! Everybody took home a lot new insights and “food for thought.”

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

After the swearing-in ceremony of the incoming Board of Directors…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… a festive luncheon was awaiting our guests, with tables covered in sequined linens from Creative Coverings, glistening with china, glassware and flatware from Stuart Event Rentals, and gorgeous spring flowers from Green Petal Designs.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Every guest found a pretty favor box at their place setting, chock-full with samples from Kiehl’s.WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Lunch presentation was so artful that one hardly dared to touch it – but on the other hand, the food was way too delicious NOT to dig in!

WIPA-Hamlin-Misti-Layne_108

Following lunch, we all returned to the Great Hall where dessert was waiting for us: delicious fresh meringues from Le Grand Meringue:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco


WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… and fantastic cakes from Perfect Endings:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A lucky winner takes home one of the gorgeous centerpieces…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… and guests just didn’t want to leave!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A shuttle bus from Destination Systems took guests back to their cars in comfort and ease, and everyone agreed: that was a great start into the WIPA year 2016!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Thanks again to all our generous sponsors!

 

 

Shirley and Kevin’s Wedding at the Palace of Fine Arts

Shirley’s and Kevin’s wedding celebration was one of the most unusual ones my company, A Day Like No Other, has ever planned. First, we had a full nine DAYS to pull together what was already in place and fill in what was missing. So that was quite a challenge in itself. Then, Shirley and Kevin are totally unconventional, non-conformist personalities. They do things their way! Let me share with you just how unique their wedding vision was.

For their ceremony, they chose one of the most famous San Francisco landmarks, a staple in every tourist guidebook (I’ll show you which one in just a moment!) – but for their reception, it was a rustic microbrewery in a gritty part of town. Lots of flowers? Nope. Only a bridal bouquet – and that was anything but standard: teal and turquoise-colored orchids with peacock feathers! A traditional wedding cake? Nah…the two were cutting a pie, yummy and messy! A dignified sit-down dinner for their reception? Forget it! Beer and a taco bar, and lots of fun with all their friends!

So here we go. For their 11 am ceremony, the bride (and Katye, her hair and makeup artist) had to get up literally before sunrise.

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

At least the view from their room at the St. Regis Hotel SF was absolutely spectacular!

viewOnce hair and makeup were in place, Shirley got in her gorgeous dress: a champagne-colored, pearl and crystal-encrusted gown with quite a train…

hanging dress

dress detail

…isn’t it spectacular? And her wedding shoes were a perfect match: golden strappy sandals fit for a princess!

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

It took the assistance of all  her seven bridesmaids, all in color-coordinated purple dresses, to get the bride dressed:

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

bride in dress

Here she is in all her finery! What’s missing? That glamorous cascading bouquet by Bella Fiora:

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

… and now Shirley is ready to go meet her groom Kevin for their First Look at the famous Palace of Fine Arts,

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California at sunrise. The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, today we know it as the Worlds Fair. The domed structure was named the Tower of Jewels. The PoFA is currrently undergoing renovation so the onlt access is from the pond. Not sure how long the renovation will take as we left before the Exploratorium open.

– a Roman-ruin-style edifice that was built by none less than Bernard Maybeck for the Panama-Pacific World Exposition in 1915 as a monument to the survival and vibrancy of the City of San Francisco that had been devastated by a horrible earthquake and raging fires in 1906. The setup for the couple’s great moment had been provided by YPR – and so everything was ready and in place for them.

The ceremony took place under the Rotunda:

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

… with only parents and siblings as guests, and with the couple’s closest friends as their attendants. Again, Shirley and Kevin defied convention: they had a total of fourteen attendants but only five guests, all seated around the Bride and Groom in a circle of love and closeness. A longtime friend of the couple officiated a ceremony that could not have been more personal, in a setting that could not have been more spectacular. Harpist Erica Messer accompanied the ceremony on her instrument and sang for them, and everyone was moved to tears.

257 harpJust married!

just married!

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Then, of course, it was photo time with Huy Pham and his team – first at the Palace of Fine Arts,

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

then on nearby Crissy Field close to the Golden Gate Bridge, with an executive bus by Sonoma Sterling Limousine taking everyone around town:

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

… to the Sutro Bath ruins…

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

… and to the Northern Waterfront:

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Meanwhile, reception preparations were under way at Triple Voodoo Brewery:

bar 2

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

… where wine and champagne had been added to the regular offerings of a multitude of specialty beers, in recognition of this very special occasion.

A welcome table – in the couple’s bold wedding colors of teal and purple – displayed their vows for all the reception guests who hadn’t been at the ceremony, and a dessert buffet…

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

… with pies and cupcakes stood in for the standard wedding cake. Wedding favors – playing along the teal-and-purple color scheme – were set out for the guests:

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Here are the newlyweds, happily toasting –

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

They are truly a fun couple! Everyone had a blast at their relaxed beer-and-taco dinner (OF COURSE without seating assignments!) followed by a wild dance party to the tunes of DJ Kevin Combs of Elite Entertainment – with the DJ enthusiastically singing along! The energy was really contagious, and guests only took a break for the bouquet toss (yes, the bride did toss that huge bouquet!), garter toss, and cake cutting (or rather: finger-licking pie-cutting!)

And for those who preferred cupcakes over pie, there were dozens and dozens of cute mini cupcakes from Kara’s!

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

Palace of Fine Arts Wedding, Shirley Chan and Kevin Balkoski Wedding, Triple Voodoo Brewery Wedding, San Francisco Wedding Photographers, Huy Pham Photography, Jutta Lammerts,

What an incredible night… and at the end, the two were whisked away to their official First Night at the St. Regis in a black Escalade from City Express Limousine Services.

Everyone had a great time – and the newlyweds were just tired and happy! Congratulation, Shirley and Kevin, and many happy (and fun!) years together!