The Perfect Performance: Marissa’s and Jordan’s Wedding at Studio Trilogy

What’s the most unusual, most hip and chic wedding venue you’ve ever been to? I bet you’ve never been to a wedding at a professional recording studio!

Well, I was the lucky one! When Marissa and Jordan approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with their wedding coordination, they had already booked Studio Trilogy in San Francisco – a professional recording studio with a long list of illustrious clients, among others Willie Nelson, and every free spot on the walls adorned with photos of pop and rock luminaries “in action.”

To my great surprise, Studio Trilogy offers much more than the recording studios themselves – there is a dramatic double-height Great Room with exposed wood beams and a fireplace, a cozy media room, a secret room hidden behind a movable built-in shelf, a gallery, a bridal preparation area complete with a separate bathroom, a patio, two kitchens… in short, a spacious, chic venue with all the bells and whistles!

The couple had made sure there were many personal touches and a lot of consideration for guests throughout: arriving guests left their cars with California Valet Parking (no hassles with that) and, instead of signing a guest book, took Polaroid snapshots and clipped them to wire frames in the foyer.

Speaking of photos – the guests got to see a lot of those! The built-in library shelves of the Great Room had been filled with at least a hundred family and couples’ photos, interspersed with as many candles…

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Embroidered handkerchiefs “for your happy tears” and yarmulkes (the traditional Jewish skullcaps) were set out for the guests..

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For her great day, the bride had chosen an exquisite lace Empire dress with a crystal-encrusted sash and straps …

 

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… with a feminine bow in back, complemented by gorgeous strappy, glittery high heels…

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…and  an artfully “undone” updo. The proud Mother of the Bride placed the veil herself on her daughter.

Marissa’s good friend Jo Newman was the hair and makeup artist for the day for bride, mothers, and bridesmaids, and all looked equally radiant! Another good friend, acclaimed wedding, portrait and lifestyle photographer Laurie Smith, had come all the way from Los Angeles to capture every precious moment of  her friends’ wedding.

For the ceremony, Marissa’s Dad had handcrafted a Chuppah …

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… which was then decorated with a lush flower arrangement by Aili Ice Designs:

… and the bride carried a beautiful bouquet to match:

The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom, with parents, closest family members and a good hundred friends surrounding the Chuppah. The star of the day? Ringbearer dog Max! Here he is, front and center, sporting a white bow tie and cuffs, in the official wedding photo:

He really did a good job, assisted by two more ring bearers, Avi and Mikayla.

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DSC_3052Marissa’s niece, 14-year old Allie, a gifted pianist, contributed in her own way – she played the bride’s processional, Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D, on the grand piano:

DSC_4508 and for the couple’s First Dance it was their friend Steve playing.

Guests mingled in the gallery and on the patio …

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… with cocktails from two bars, hors d’oeuvres from TipTopTapas …

DSC_3000… and traditional Jewish music by the Stanford Klezmer Band who went on to intonate the time-honored melody of Hava Nagila for the mandatory Hora Dance – and the crowd exuberantly danced along and lifted the newlyweds high up on chairs.

DSC_3502The party got off to a great and joyful start – and did not stop ever that night! There were, of course, toasts and speeches from so many loved ones, and then the dancing and dining resumed. For the “dance party” of the night, the couple had enlisted a fantastic band, “Love Fool.”

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DSC_4869They kept the crowd going – on and on – clapping, stomping and singing along. And – did I mention the candy bar?

It was supplemented by decorated wedding cookies and cake pops in four flavors (a labor of love by Marissa’s Mom) and Jordan’s favorite  ice cream sandwiches: “It’s It,” a local SF specialty. To-go bags invited guests to take candy home as their wedding favors, and many rediscovered their “sweet tooth!”

What a wonderful day… and that is why both I and my tireless assistant Kelsey love our jobs so much!

Many happy years together, Marissa and Jordan (and Max!)

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

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

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

Look what we put together:

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

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… and a romantic farmhouse with a shady courtyard…

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… and real farm animals…

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horse… and a beautiful pool for poolside dining:

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

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

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brideshowing off the dreamy bouquets by Green Petal Designs:

bridesmaidsThe groom and groomsmen dressed up as well:

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The fantastic ranch team …

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

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

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

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Then it was time for the First Look:

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

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

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

Cody 2And here they are: Just married!

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First one to congratulate his Mom – was Cody:

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

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Just married

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and elegant boutonnieres

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and a cake topper

cake topperand and…

Here  is Alan with his “grooms maid” Lisa:

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

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

ringbearer flowergirl

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ring bearer

Here comes the groom

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

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

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

To you/I would give the world…

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

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

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Just married!

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

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fish tank

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

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

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

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First Dance

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

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

Puffins.. to the jellyfish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

WIPA 2014 Kick-Off at the Mandarin-Oriental, San Francisco

It doesn’t get much more elegant than that, you agree, right? The Mandarin-Oriental Hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District is truly the epitome of sleek East-meets-West sophistication… plus: it offers, hands down, the best view in all of the City!

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As the Events Chair Northern California for WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), I jumped of course at the opportunity to hold our first festive luncheon of the year at this prestigious venue. Together with my co-chair Melanie Leinweber and with Emily Cross,our gracious hostess at the Mandarin Oriental, I dove headfirst into planning – and finally  the Great Day arrived, and we found ourselves manning the registration desk!

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The festivities began with a Cocktail Hour up on the 40th floor Sky Deck with views of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and with the Transamerica Pyramid seemingly at arm’s length.

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Contrary to all forecasts, the Sun came out, and guests thoroughly enjoyed the incredible setting, enhanced by delicious hors d’oeuvres (by the Mandarin-Oriental chef),

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a selection of top-notch wines (courtesy of Foley Family Winery)

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and wedding-themed music by the Espiritu Ensembles.

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Adding to the delightful experience was a jewelry show with stunning pieces by Gleim the Jeweler

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…  artfully modeled by the gorgeous Aryan Omar:

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Following Cocktail Hour, guests were treated to a welcome by new Board President Kevin Dennis…

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and an inspirational lecture by “radical educator” Cindy Novotny.

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Her theme was, “Building YOUR Brand –

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… more important than ever in the increasingly competitive landscape of the Wedding Industry.  How do I set MY business apart from the competition? “Treat all your clients as if they were the only ones, and give them your full attention;” “Follow up and recap immediately after a client contact;” “It only takes one client encounter with a thoughtless or inconsiderate associate of yours to ruin your reputation…” many valuable insights to take away! And her engaging and entertaining style earned Cindy an instant fan club..

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All of it was captured real-time by Thomas Hughes Films:

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… and by Indulge Wedding Photography (whose beautiful photos you are admiring right now!)

Then it was time for a formal luncheon in the Embassy ballroom:

wipa-5… set with elegant linens by Napa Valley Linens and dramatic floral arrangements by Mandy Scott Flowers:

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SONY DSCPlace settings were adorned with menu cards by Gwenn Connolly Designs (who also created the chic program books) and chocolate favors by ChocoVogue.

wipa-8And the food was simply stellar…

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Cindy, our speaker, was my “Lady Luck” at the biggest raffle in WIPA history…

wipa-82with prizes by Poppyhearts, Nikki Boyle Fitness, Mandy Scott Flowers, Sweet Lauren Cakes, and two hotel stays at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley and the Mandarin-Oriental, San Francisco. That made people smile!

We wrapped up the joyous occasion in the Library, outfitted with chic lounge furniture by Hartmann Studios

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… over coffee and delicious European mini pastries by Patisserie Gerhard Michler:

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It was a wonderful event, thanks to all our charming guests and generous sponsors, and that made the hostess very happy!

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Tara and Michael: Elegance Choreographed to Perfection

“Come Dance With Us!” was the motto of Tara’s and Michael’s exquisitely elegant wedding in Carmel-by-the-Sea, last weekend. And their celebration was, in fact, a perfectly choreographed affair – in every sense.

Tara and Michael have so much in common, their love of dancing only one among many things. As Michael said, “Tara and I – we are of the same feather…” And what “feather” is that? To start with, each of them is a Math wiz. They love the perfection of numbers. They are super smart. They are both perfectionists. They are extremely organized, analytical and detail-oriented. Small wonder they expected their wedding day to be just as perfect and organized! I feel really honored that they entrusted that all-important “project” to my company, A Day Like No Other, as their wedding planner.

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The two met only in February this year, but they both knew right away that they had met their perfect mates (unbeknownst to each other, that’s what they told their best friends that same evening!). A true whirlwind romance ensued. Following time-honored tradition, Michael formally asked Tara’s father for her hand in marriage – and got it! After that, nothing held them back to set their wedding date. As Tara put it so aptly (on her sign explaining her puzzle piece “guest book”), “It may have taken us a while, but we finally found the perfect fit.” Just 9 months from their first date, the two got married last Saturday in one of the most romantic places I know – Carmel-by-the-Sea. After the bride’s mandatory Hair and Makeup session (Caitlin at Spa on the Plaza),

Getting ready

… both bride and groom were busy getting ready…

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… at Quail Lodge Resort in Carmel Valley…

Quail groundsIt was a glorious, golden late Autumn day, and the pond full of the namesake quail was glittering in the sun…

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Veil

The two had their “First Look” moment on a bridge crossing the pond… it could have been right out of an Impressionist painting, Monet perhaps, and it was most definitely the pinnacle of romance. Photographer Ken Kato and videographer James Ferrandini of Thomas Hughes Films captured all those special moments throughout the day – First Look:

Bridge

… and a stroll through Carmel-by-the-Sea with storybook charm:

Carmel

Carmel walk

Then it was time for a stretch limo transfer to their wedding mass in the historic Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel-by-the-Sea…

Church of the Wayfarer

 

Church

… The bride carried a breathtaking bouquet (by Swenson and Silacci) in her wedding colors – purple hues from pale mauve to lavender and a deep eggplant color.

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The Bride had chosen ceremony music with very special meaning and memories attached, all flawlessly performed by BellaQuattro Strings and rounded out by a soprano solo – sung by bridesmaid Landra.

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It is official:

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Following the wedding mass, a couple “official wedding photos” were in order:

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While the new Mr. and Mrs. had their photos taken, an elegant cocktail reception was awaiting Tara’s and Michael’s more than 100 guests at Quail Lodge…

Cocktail decor 2… on the patio overlooking the extensive park and golf course surrounding the venue.

Center tableGuests enjoyed browsing a veritable photo gallery of the couple from babyhood to engagement photos (see above) along with three signature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Tara and Michael were meanwhile rehearsing one more time the intricate steps of their First Dance – as a surprise for their guests, they had prepared and practiced over and over a choreographed dance performance on a medley of songs, accompanied by DJ John of DNA Entertainment

First Dance

… which was literally jaw-dropping proof that these two are, indeed, a perfect match AND professional-grade dancers!

The ensuing elegant sit-down dinner took place around the central dance floor – with tables dominated by tall centerpieces of large mauve roses, white orchids and hydrangea, purple lisianthus and and… just have a look for yourself:

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Table numbers

In lieu of conventional table numbers, tables were named after the couple’s favorite dances.

Centerpiece

Candlelight

In accordance with her purple wedding colors and the elegance of her whole celebration, Tara had designed a suite of classic wedding stationery – from invitations to programs, menu and escort cards to favor wrappers and various signage – in purple and ivory colors, and she had accented every single piece with a hand-stamped border of romantic scrollwork.

Place settingAnd after dinner? More dancing, of course! And cutting the cake (by Patisserie Bechler), too…

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Cake cutting 2Guests enjoyed creamy, berry-studded cheesecake and coffee, more dancing, and finally – a whimsical sendoff of the couple! During the reception, groomsmen and bridesmaids had sneaked away to secretly decorate the couple’s car with paper flower garlands, purple tulle ribbon and “Just Married” signs, not to forget dozens of empty soda cans tied to the rear bumper… So the whole merry party sent the two off right into their Honeymoon – “down under!”

And here is why I love my job so much…

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Congratulations, Tara and Michael, and keep dancing together for many, many happy years to come!

 

Luxurious Design by A Day Like No Other: Tiffany-themed Invitations and Favors

For a very elegant, Tiffany-themed wedding, I designed invitations to set the tone and the expectation for the guests: crystal-embellished ivory silk folders held custom-designed invitations. The folders were ordered directly from the manufacturer in Thailand.

The invitations themselves consisted of layered cards (pearlized ivory cardstock layered on matte chocolate and a wider rim of tiffany blue in a discreet sheen) custom designed for the square folders:

The side inserts in the folder flaps were used as RSVP cards and directions cards. Invitations were wrapped in ivory tissue paper and mailed in white square boxes embellished with custom tiffany-blue address labels matching those used on the – equally custom-made – favors.

For favors, the couple chose home-made organic limoncello in corked and wax-sealed artisan glass bottles, packed “luggage proof” in tissue paper and cardboard tubes and presented in tiffany-blue handlebags with custom labels.

An elegant presentation in keeping with the overall theme and elegance of the celebration – and a hit with the guests!

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