Persian Glamour at the Fairmont: Shifteh’s and Hassan’s Elegant Nuptials

Shifteh and Hassan were truly meant for one another – their families have been best of friends for ages, and the only surprising thing is how long it took the two to progress from “just friends” to dating and engagement! Fast-forward four years, and the two were ready to tie the knot – elegant Persian style, of course! They had booked their venue – the storied Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco – when they realized that they’d need a lot more elements to make their celebration festive and unique, and that they did not have the time to do all the necessary research, come up with the design and so many more things. They approached my wedding planning company, A Day Like No Other, for help, and we jumped right in. Design decisions, color palette, inspiration photos, vendors, entertainment ideas… a true whirlwind in the scant five months we had!

Finally the Great Day had arrived – and the Weather Gods were looking upon us very favorably with one of those golden San Francisco October days with clear skies, a warming sun and a slight breeze.

Shifteh’s day began with hair and makeup by Adelina Eidelman

…who transformed a pretty young woman into a radiant, glamorous exotic beauty. Mr. Siasi of Rose Express Florist delivered a lush cascading bouquet of pink roses and white Phalaenopsis orchids …

… a real match for Shifteh’s luxurious Rosa Clara wedding dress …… with exquisite beading and a breathtaking illusion back:

Here is a detail of the incredible beadwork…

… and here are the princess heels to go with it!

For their First Look, bride and groom were allowed into the famous Presidential Suite – the Fairmont Penthouse – where so far every president of the United States has stayed when visiting San Francisco.

This is the view a president would enjoy from the patio – and here is the library with the hidden escape route (accessible through a movable bookshelf in the upper story)…

… a route that was purportedly used by Marilyn Monroe for her secret rendezvous with J.F. Kennedy. Definitely a very, very special spot for a First Look!

From there, Shifteh and Hassan went onto an extended photo tour with their photographers Evonne and Darren (wait until you see THEIR photos – until then, all we have are my snapshots…) and videographers of Mario & Fran Productions.

Meanwhile, frantic preparations by the Fairmont team led by Jenni Rowe, my assistant Lisa and myself were underway to get everything ready for the Persian wedding ceremony, Cocktail Hour and dinner reception.

The ceremony was held in the Pavilion Room, with a sofreh by Lili Ghazian of Aroosi by Lili, centered under an enormous Beaux-Arts chandelier.

Here comes the bride on her father’s arm, preceded by Persian violinist extraordinaire Pourya Khademi:The traditional ceremony was officiated – bilingually! – by Dr. Payman Amiri, with a very lighthearted touch that made everyone smile!

Following tradition, the bride’s sisters and sisters-in-law showered the couple with “sweetness” by rubbing sugar over their heads.

After the ceremony, the couple was showered with precious gifts – mostly jewelry – another beloved Persian custom. Guests were meanwhile enjoying cocktails in the adjacent Rooftop Garden, a little urban oasis…… to the accompaniment of violinist Pourya – whose familiar Persian tunes literally touched the heartstrings of all guests with sweet memories.

Dinner was served in the Crown Room on the top, 24th floor of the Fairmont Tower, all decked out in champagne linens, gold toned draperies, and glorious tall centerpieces of roses, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums and orchids from Rose Express Florist

… and chargers and chairs from Hensley Event Resources. Everything came together just perfectly.

For favors, the Mother of the Groom had prepared glittery organza bags filled with white and gold Jordan almonds, tied with personalized ribbon…

… a true labor of love! A mini sofreh adorned the room…

… and another table was literally bending under trays and trays of delicious Persian sweets:

Guests found their seats with elegant escort cards lined up in the foyer of the Crown Room:

… and with that, we were ready for the Grand Entrance of the newlyweds. These two gave a whole new meaning to the “grand” in “Grand Entrance!” Like royalty, they were accompanied by violinist Pourya…… and dancers from Niosha Dance Academy, one of them the bride’s younger sister, dancing in honor of the couple.

After that, it was time for a lavish four-course dinner, toasts and speeches, while darkness fell and the City below began to sparkle like a box of jewels:

The couple quickly stole away for a few dramatic photos with Pourya …

… on the Grand Staircase. When they returned, it was already time for their First Dance as a married couple:

With that, the dance floor was officially open! Guests had the choice between rousing music by DJ Alireza and fun at the SnapFiesta photo booth. Most of them did, of course, both!

Another highlight of the evening was cake cutting…

… which in the Persian tradition is by far not as easy as it sounds: the groom first has to obtain the cake knife from a succession of dancing ladies who are teasing him and expect to be paid off generously…

… before surrendering the knife! Eventually, after an extended Knife Dance, they let Hassan have the knife…

… and the couple’s first official task of cutting the cake together proceeded without a hitch. What else? Bouquet Toss, of course!

Shifteh tossed, and a single young lady caught it – so she is next in line for a celebration as glorious as Shifteh’s and Hassan’s. The evening came to a close far too soon, and everyone went home tired and happy.

Many happy years together, Shifteh and Hassan, and dance on…

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

A Union of Two Globetrotters – Tina and Paul at Thomas Fogarty Winery

If there is one thing that ties Tina and Paul together (aside from their love for one another, of course!) it’s traveling and good food. They have been to places most people can only dream of: Iceland, Galapagos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kilimanjaro. Always out for an adventure! So when they decided to tie the proverbial knot, it had to be at a special place, of course. They found it at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside – a spectacular venue with endless view of vineyards and all of Silicon Valley in the distance. Needless to say, they also chose a great caterer – Toast Catering – and to add to their impressive gallery of photos taken all over the world, they picked a fantastic wedding photographer, Todd Rafalovich. (Our snapshots here, taken by my assistant Lisa, are only a little preview – wait until you see Todd’s photos!)  My company, A Day Like No Other, helped with all these myriad choices and details and with pulling it all together into that one Great Day with my Coordinator Mary-Kate in charge – last Sunday!

It turned out to be an unusually warm and sunny autumn day, blue skies, a slight breeze – just perfect for Tina’s and Paul’s celebration. For Tina and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup styling by Elizabeth Chang of Skyla Arts. Her bridal bouquet and all other flowers were provided by her personal friend Sarah Fisher – a true labor of love!

… and with that, Tina was ready to meet her “Prince Charming!”

The ceremony was held on a lawn with endless views,  officiated by a personal friend of bride and groom, and with soft music provided by DJ Kevin Combs of Elite Entertainment.

Guests then enjoyed Cocktail Hour on an expansive patio, followed by an alfresco dinner in the open-air pavilion. In lieu of a conventional guest book, Tina and Paul had chosen artwork showing a tree, with guests signing along its branches.

For their table assignments, Tina and Paul got inspired by another shared passion: Lego! Each guest got to take home a little Lego figurine. Let’s see who else gets “bitten by the Lego bug!”

 

And here is the dining pavilion, from above…

… with beautifully set tables awaiting the couple’s guests:

Table numbers? Quirky, whimsical and “original Tina and Paul” of course! Simple table numbers would not do for these two world travelers – they named their tables after their favorite destinations! Have a look:

The favorite of all guests was the Dim Sum station with a constant waiting line of at least 20 people!

Tina and Paul snuck out one more time with their photographer for sunset photos…

… before it was time to cut their super-cute “Wanderlust” cake by Cake Expressions:

… and everyone got to dig into delicious cupcakes!

After that, there was no holding back the crowd from the dance floor where DJ Kevin “let it rip”.. what a party!

Many happy years and exciting travel adventures on your journey together, Tina and Paul!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

An Homage to San Francisco – Olivia’s and Jake’s Nuptials

Olivia and Jake love their city. They are living in a historic neighborhood, they are exploring the city via bike, they are fully immersed. Small wonder then that for their wedding day, they chose iconic locations to make it truly meaningful to them and to their loved ones – some of whom (the bride’s parents, to start with) had come as far as from Taiwan.

When Olivia approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help in her wedding planning, I realized very quickly that this would not be a “run-of-the-mill” affair. It would be very personal, very intimate, and very “San Francisco.”

And finally, last Saturday, it all came together beautifully on a glorious autumn day under a blue sky and a light breeze – San Francisco at its very best!

For Olivia and her Matron of Honor, the day began with hair and makeup services by Chau of A-List Hair and Makeup. She transformed two pretty young women into drop-dead gorgeous red-carpet stars! Olivia had chosen a classic ivory  lace dress and a bouquet from Le Bouquet Flower Shop in elegant dark reds, blush pink and eucalyptus greens:

Ready to present herself to her fiance with a First Look! Adam of City Express Limousine chauffeured her to the Legion of Honor Museum – one of San Francisco’s most iconic institutions, with one of the largest collections of Rodin sculptures worldwide:

What better spot for their First Look but the classic colonnades of the courtyard…

Photographer Frank Lee with assistant and the video team of Amor in Motion captured every moment, as Olivia gently tapped Jake on the shoulder…

And here they are!

Off to many more photos and video footage – to Fort Point (at the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Lyon Street Steps (with breathtaking views of the Bay) – just wait until you see the professional photos!!

Meanwhile, frantic preparations were underway to get both the ceremony site – a lawn in the historic Fort Mason area overlooking the Bay – and the reception venue – the Captain’s Room at the iconic McCormick & Kuleto’s restaurant at Ghirardelli Square – ready on time. The team of YPR delivered the ceremony chairs. DJ Ron Israel of Legendmakers made sure we had sound and music both out on the lawn and at the restaurant. My assistant Myrtle held out in the cold (wind and fog came up in the afternoon) guarding the fully set-up ceremony site. I was busy at the restaurant setting up decor. Team captain Larissa at the restaurant had the tables set up perfectly and the bar going.

Finally, Bride and groom arrived at their ceremony site shortly before their ceremony which was officiated by Minister Maggie Beretz – so personal and so warm! Here comes the (windswept) Bride:

After the ceremony, guests walked over to McCormick & Kuleto’s for cocktails and yummy hors d’oeuvres (Tuna tartare wontons and crab cakes – need I say more?!), and for the incredible views of the Aquatic Park with the historic tall ship “Balclutha” and of Alcatraz.

It was the “Golden Hour” before sunset, and the newlyweds took their time walking over with lots and lots of more photos.

Guests were meanwhile busy finding their table assignments by Olivia’s handmade chart…

… sharing their words of wisdom on prepared Q & A cards…

… and admiring Olivia’s and Jake’s engagement photos displayed in a huge, impressive coffee-table book.

Dinner time! Everyone swooned about the fresh seafood for which McCormick & Kuleto’s is famous. But that was not all. In addition to the elegant dessert (a rich espresso custard), there was THE CAKE! This beauty in the bride’s favorite colors, ombre from blush pink to deepest wine red, came from Cake Coquette:

The new husband and wife were clearly reluctant to even cut into it – but when they did, they revealed a luscious red velvet cake with buttercream filling underneath. So delicious!

To the amusement of all guests, Olivia and Jake sat down for the traditional “shoe game” of guessing their similarities and differences as a couple. Each one held one shoe of the bride and one of the groom in their hands and answered questions by holding up the appropriate shoe: “Who of you takes longer in the shower?” “Who is the better driver?” “Who is the better cook?” – Let’s say, Olivia and Jake did well in that game – with just a few very funny disagreements. And when the party came to a close, everyone went home happy. It was a great celebration of love and togetherness.

Many, many years of shared happiness to Olivia and Jake!

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Stephanie and Josh: Family, Friends, Food and Fun

When Stephanie and Josh approached my company, A Day Like No Other, to help them with their wedding planning, they had set a date and booked their venue… and we had five months to go. They would have their ceremony at the spectacular Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, the bride’s home parish. And then they would celebrate at the nearby Portola Valley Town Center, a modern event hall with stunning architecture.

So far, so good! Bride and groom are both super busy – both are physicians – so the time they could realistically devote to planning was limited. And so… our planning and design work got quite intense! Luckily we were able to pull together a stellar team of vendors, and yesterday all that hard work paid off, big time! The weather gods were also smiling upon us with blue skies and sunshine. It was a glorious summer day.

For Stephanie and her five bridesmaids the day began with hair and makeup services by Nancy and Kathryn of Wowpretty Salon – and the six pretty ladies and two mothers emerged ready for the red carpet – just glamorous!

Stephanie complemented her classic white wedding dress …… with a summery, feminine bouquet in ivory, blush pink and peach …

… by Vicky of Queen Bridal – not only our florist for all floral decor throughout, but also our decorator who worked true magic on the reception spaces inside and out… more of that later.

Meanwhile we were joined by Dusty and Amy of Drozian Photoworks (cum assistant) and by the team of Pure Devotion video. They captured all the precious moments during the day – just wait until you see THEIR photos and video! (Until then – we only have my little iPhone snapshots…)

At the church, our hostess Becky Preimesberger was waiting for us, organizing the bride’s party, the groom’s party, parents, flower girl and ring bearer with poise and calm precision, while the church musicians played prelude music for the arriving guests. And here comes the Bride! A wonderful mother-daughter moment…

… shortly before Stephanie was walking down the aisle …

… toward the spectacular, all-glass altar space where her groom was waiting.

The service was officiated by Jeff Gaines, a Presbyterian pastor, and James Baraz, a Buddhist monk – and it was one of the most personal, heartfelt and joyful ceremonies I’ve ever seen. Just beautiful!

At the nearby Town Center, frantic preparations were meanwhile under way. Vicky’s team from Queen Bridal had installed dramatic draperies around the entrance (to hide several unsightly pillars)…

… and on the inside (to hide an equally unsightly extendable partition that marred the middle of the prominent wall in the reception hall). But Vicky didn’t stop at just hiding. She made everything look elegant and polished, including a lighted canopy over the couple’s Sweetheart Table:

Next: beautiful centerpieces…

… and “Save the Bees” favors made of seeded paper (the nature-loving couple had made a donation to this organization in honor of their guests).

Jessica, Savannah and the whole team from Elaine Bell Catering had set up a large buffet…

… of mouthwatering dinner options – followed by the absolute showstopper: a mini donut machine!

And – not to forget: a beautiful cake was awaiting the guests as well! The cute cake topper actually gave away one of the favorite hobbies bride and groom have been sharing for years: they both love to dance!

On the patio, decorated with string lights by Queen Bridal, a well-stocked bar was waiting  for guests to arrive for Cocktail Hour. DJ Sammy Lam provided music throughout, starting with Cocktail Hour on the patio. My assistants Jessica  and Lisa and myself were busy coordinating the setup and a lot of personal decor items, from guest book to family photos…

Hand-calligraphed table assignment boards by A Day Like No Other helped guests to find their seats, and fluffy pillows in the wedding colors – ivory, blush pink and sage green – made the built-in benches on the patio cozy and comfortable.

During the evening, Phil’s photo booth was open, and guests had a lot of fun with outrageous props and poses. Over dinner, the bride’s family entertained the guests with an Ukulele performance…

… and the groom’s mother and sister (both professional musicians) gave a rousing rendition of an Andrea Bocelli love song.

The last highlight of the evening: the couple’s First Dance, an elaborate dance routine that they had been practicing for months! (Forgive the blurry picture – they were twirling so fast!)

It was a true love fest for the newlyweds! And all guests had the time of their lives. It was an unforgettable celebration.

Stephanie and Josh: dance on – into a lifetime of happiness!

Liz and Nicco – Sheer Elegance at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins

When Liz and Nicco asked my company, A Day Like No Other, for assistance with planning their wedding celebration – a Black Tie event for 150 guests, all in ivory, gold and navy blue, at the IC Mark Hopkins in San Francisco – I was immediately on board. This was exactly what I love: a historic landmark and high elegance!

Last weekend it all came together beautifully, and the Weather Gods were also all in favor: we had a glorious, warm and sunny summer day (a rare exception in San Francisco!) with a slight breeze and endless views. It was simply perfect.

For Liz and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup services by.Kathryn Horen of Bay Area Beautiful and her team in a penthouse suite at the Mark Hopkins – with million-dollar views across downtown San Francisco and the SF Bay.

Jinger Leonard of The Flower House had created gorgeous bouquets for the bride and her bridesmaids (and equally stunning arrangements for ceremony and reception as well).

Liz had chosen a breathtaking Sottero Midgley dress …… with lace appliqué and crystal embroidery, a gorgeous veil edged with crystals …

… and matching strappy sandals. Ready to meet her groom!

The elegant Room of the Don’s was outfitted for the ceremony and adorned with lavish flower arrangements.

Following time-honored tradition, Liz was escorted in by her father, … with Nicco waiting in front with their officiant, Father Charles Regal of the White Robed Monks. His very personal ceremony was warm, lighthearted and full of joy – truly contagious to everyone present! And for a special “polished” touch, the Mersonacta string quartet played all ceremony music, accompanying the bride’s processional with a string version of Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D.

Afterwards, Liz and her Dad shared a “Proud Dad and happy daughter” moment… Then it was off to many photos with Jackson Tyler Eddy and Amy Stemper of A Frame Forward for the couple, their bridesmaids and groomsmen. (Just wait until you see these photos… for the time being all we have are our snapshots!) Dakota Baylacq of Thomas Hughes Films was meanwhile capturing every precious moment on video.

Meanwhile, Chrissy Wolfman, Mario Montenero and the whole Mark Hopkins team had completed the setup of the Peacock Court for cocktails and of the Peacock Ballroom for dinner, Jason Nall and team leader Martin of Impact Lighting had installed uplights that bathed the ballroom in a soft golden glow, the Flowerhouse crew had installed centerpieces, and our own Day Like No Other team with myself, Kelsey Holtzinger, Mary-Kate Greenberg and Lisa Siyuan had taken care of all the details, from escort and menu cards …  … to the golden favor boxes (filled with 0h-so-yummy See’s chocolates).

Steve Bloom and his band HipService had set up on the stage of the Peacock Ballroom – in short, we were ready for Liz’ and Nicco’s guests!

After dinner, it was time for Cake cutting – traditionally the newlyweds’ first task together, which these two executed with bravura.

What else? Their First Dance, of course! Such an emotional moment…

… followed by a wild dance party – for which the couple had wisely provided comfortable footwear (of course in their signature colors of blue and gold!)…

What a party!

And as we speak, Liz and Nicco are honeymooning in Italy. Buon viaggio e molta felicita!

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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!