At Last: Roxanna and Clay are Getting Married!

A wedding a full three years in the making – hard to believe! But like so many other couples, Roxanna’s and Clay’s planning got derailed first by the COVID pandemic, and then by an accident and surgeries… and all that added up to three years of planning and replanning. I was so honored that my company, A Day Like No Other, was chosen for this task, with Clay’s mother deeply involved in all design decisions – and she did a FABULOUS job! Finally, the Great Day had arrived, and Heavens literally smiled on Roxanna and Clay, with a glorious summer day at Nestldown Estate in the Redwoods of Los Gatos.

Roxanna and her bridesmaids had spent the night before together at the luxurious onsite guesthouse, so the morning of Wedding Day went off to a leisurely start with hair and makeup services by Fiona and team of Urban Beauty Loft.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

While the ladies were being transformed into the most beautiful versions of themselves…

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… all vendor teams were hard at work behind the scenes to make the couple’s vision a reality.

The Nestldown venue team was preparing the ceremony site and all the whimsical features that the venue offers – from the life-size train to the authentic London taxis – while orchestrating a multitude of vendor deliveries.

Florist Natasha from Golden Fields Floristry decorated the hexagonal arch the couple had chosen with a profusion of gorgeous summer flowers in their favorite shades of pink, mauve and ivory.

Photo credit: ADLNO
Photo credit: ADLNO

The Betty Zlatchin Catering team under the leadership of Norema Salinas supervised the setup of the rustic bare wooden dining tables and chairs (from Bright Event Rentals) …

Photo credit: ADLNO

… which florist Natasha then decorated with lush green garlands, pink and ivory blooms and candles. Elegant place settings in gold and pink and laser-cut name “cards” completed the rustic-elegant look.

Photo credit: ADLNO

Then, of course, the catering team had to prepare food and set up the bars and and and…

All the while, our photographers (Bre Thurston and team) and videographer (Will Cook of Kindlewood Films) captured the preparations and then took the couple out into the Redwoods for their First Look.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

For the time being, we only have a few preview photos from Bre in addition to our iPhone snapshots, but wait until you see ALL their photos and video!

Soon enough, guests began arriving, and our ceremony musicians – the Mersonacta string quartet under the leadership of Laura Jeannin – serenaded the guests as they were being seated in the “chapel” – an impressive natural Redwood grove.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

Here comes the bride, on her father’s arm, to the sounds of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple, with just the right mix of lightheartedness and gravitas.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: ADLNO

And here they are – JUST MARRIED!!!

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

Off to many more photos, while guests were treated to drinks and delicious hors d’oeuvres.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

For extra entertainment, the couple had booked The Booth Bus, an authentic vintage VW bus outfitted with a state-of-the-art photo booth.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

Next up – dinner on the Main Lawn! Guests found their table assignments on the escort card table.

Photo credit: ADLNO
Photo credit: ADLNO

The newlyweds had a beautifully decorated Sweetheart Table all to themselves, overlooking the romantic Koi Pond and presiding over the long rows of guest tables.

Photo credit: ADLNO
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

DJ and MC “King” Raffi of Sound in Motion invited guests to dinner and took over musical entertainment from then on. BZC Catering served a delicious farm-to-table menu, toasts were proposed …

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… and as dusk fell and the string lights in the trees surrounding the Main Lawn were coming on twinkling, the scene turned truly magical.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

After dinner, guests were invited to the Barn – the big indoor event space at Nestldown – which had been set up with elegant lounge furniture (from Blueprint Studios) for dancing and desserts…

Photo credit: ADLNO

and, of course, for the cutting of THE CAKE…

Photo credit: ADLNO

… a true showstopper by BethAnn Goldberg of Studio Cake. What followed was the couple’s First Dance…

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… a wild dance party to the sounds of DJ Raffi’s music …

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… and a Grand Send-off to the London Taxi getaway car with guests waving LED sparklers.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

What a party!! Wishing Roxanna and Clay a lifetime of happiness – keep celebrating!

Nghi and Jim opening the 2022 wedding season at Gamble Garden

The first wedding of my 2022 wedding season was already a very special one – and I am so honored that my company, A Day Like No Other, was chosen to plan this truly life changing event. For both bride and groom, this was their second marriage – they have children, and they both had taken their time to overcome the heartbreak of their first attempt. Neither was interested in yet another “big affair” – they were both “over that.” Instead, they were hoping for an intimate, deeply meaningful celebration with just their children, their closest friends and family members present – Nghi’s parents and her son, Jim’s sons. They had chosen a venue that embodies exactly this spirit; nothing flashy or glamorous. The venue of their choice was Elizabeth Gamble Garden, a small gem of a public park in the heart of Palo Alto, just large enough to accommodate their 50 guests, and already in bloom in early May with an abundance of rose varietals.

Nghi and her bridesmaids got ready onsite, in the historic Carriage House on the property.

Under the experienced hands of makeup artist Nguyen Ha, the pretty bride was transformed into a drop-dead gorgeous beauty.

Nghi’s two bridesmaids helped her to get into her form-fitting elegant dress …

… with a dramatic train …

… and many tiny buttons – and the bride adjusted her jewelry.

Florist extraordinaire Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered an ethereal bridal bouquet in ivory, blush pink and light blue hues, with bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres and table decor to match.

And here are bride and bridesmaids, with the biggest smiles of their lives!

With that, bride Nghi was ready to step out…

Isn’t she stunning?!

Here with her biggest admirer… her son.

Meanwhile, groom Jim had also gotten ready…

… and here he is with all the boys – Nghi’s and his own.

Time for the “First Look!”

That’s amore! Now the couple was off to many more photos and video footage with acclaimed photographer Kevin Chin and videographer William Cook of Kindlewood Films.

Guests began arriving for the ceremony in the Rose Garden, officiated by Dr. Konrad Hölé of Officially Yours, and serenaded by the Magnolia Jazz Trio led by Robbie Schlosser.

Here comes the bride, accompanied by her parents.

After exchanging rings…

… they were officially declared “husband and wife,” and Jim received permission to “kiss the bride.”

Just married!

And off to more photos and video among a profusion of blooms – including the official photo of the newly united blended family.

All the while their guests enjoyed cocktails and Jazz – and left their “well wishes for the new Mr. & Mrs!”

My production team – Deanna and Stephanie – and the team of Continental Caterers were busy working behind the scenes to get everything ready and set up for dinner.

Dinner tables were set up under a majestic tree…

… it doesn’t get more romantic than that! The table setting reflected the feminine pastel hues of the bridal bouquet…

… and floating candles turned the scene truly magical.

The entrance of the newlyweds officially opened dinner…

The feast that followed was truly memorable – Continental Catering pulled all stops!

The couple was clearly enjoying themselves.

Maybe even more memorable than dinner itself – were the desserts! Have a look:

Following these mouthwatering treats, the newlyweds had time to mingle with their guests. But the last highlight of the evening was still to come: a gorgeous wedding cake by Krumbs Cakes, OF COURSE adorned with the same blush pink and light blue flowers that accompanied the couple and the guests through the whole celebration.

With that, they had accomplished their official joint task as a married couple. The evening concluded with the newlyweds enjoying the company of their handpicked guests, and everyone had a great time.

Wishing you all the happiness in the world, Nghi and Jim!

Linnea & Curtis – a Party despite the Pandemic

Like so many couples who had planned to get married in 2020, Linnea’s and Curtis’ plans had to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They decided to get married as planned (in a small ceremony) and to postpone their party… and for that party, they enlisted the help of my company, A Day Like No Other.

For their venue, they had chosen Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean-style compound amidst lush gardens, housing boutiques, art galleries and studios.

The bride got ready onsite in the bridal suite… with photographer Trung Hoang capturing all the precious moments throughout the day.

… and here she is, ready with her bouquet from Orange Blossom’s Floral Design.

Groom Curtis had likewise dressed up and was ready for the First Look.

As they already WERE “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, Linnea and Curtis skipped a ceremony and jumped right into Cocktail Hour with their guests. Two caricature artists sketched guests’ portraits – a beautiful favor for everyone to take home.

Cozy lounge vignettes from Seventh Heaven Vintage furniture rental offered quiet retreats from the party.

The team of Cafe Wisteria, the inhouse catering operation at Allied Arts Guild, had set up dinner tables, clothed in vibrant colors.

Dessert came in the form of irresistible donuts by Johnny Doughnuts.

After dinner, it was time for Sunset photos for the couple, while guests were having a great time socializing as darkness fell.

After dinner, the couple’s First Dance to tunes by Elite Entertainment opened the dance floor. The new “Mr.” and “Mrs.” had finally had the party they deserved all along!

Courtney and Jesse: a Dream Wedding at Nestldown

These two were one of the many couples who had to reschedule their Great Day by a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And many things can happen in a year! For example, moving to the other side of the continent, buying a house, getting settled… and so, the Mother of the Bride shouldered many of the necessary planning tasks together with my company, A Day Like No Other, to ensure a seamless, perfect celebration.

The couple had chosen Nestldown Estate for their nuptials – a true dream location. Nestled deep in the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains and appointed with any luxury imaginable, it was the perfect venue for a truly memorable celebration.

The bride and her bridesmaids used the elegant onsite guesthouse for getting ready in the morning. Photography wife-and-husband “Team Bre Thurston” and videographer William Cook of Kindlewood Films captured every moment.

Hair and makeup stylist Violet Herod and her team “The Makeup Dolls” transformed these pretty ladies into drop-down gorgeous red-carpet beauties.

Next: the DRESS! An ethereal lace-encrusted confection that fit the bride like a glove.

Then – the shoes! Definitely the right dose of glamour to go with that dress…

… and, not to forget: the rings.

Once the bride had gotten into her regal outfit for the day, all that was still missing was her bouquet (like all florals by Emily of Flowergirl Em),

…and she was ready for official photos. After emotional Mother-Daughter…

… and Father-Daughter photos…

…the venue’s famous original London taxi took Courtney to the location of her First Look, a romantic spot under towering Redwood trees.

Groom Jesse had also gotten ready with the help of his groomsmen…

… and was waiting for permission to finally see his bride in all her finery!

Time for photos and then – time to proceed to the ceremony! This time, Courtney and Jesse rode the London taxi together.

The ceremony spot at Nestldown is the “Chapel” – a natural Redwood clearing of breathtaking beauty. Florist Emily had worked her magic to make it even more special…

… and music by the Amethyst Ensemble gave it an elegant touch.

Here comes the bride, on her father’s arm.

The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple.

“You may now kiss the bride!”

Just married!!

For the newlyweds – time for many more photos…

For the guests – time for Cocktail Hour with entertainment! The Amethyst Ensemble was playing, the Nestldown gardens were to be explored, and the Booth Bus photo booth was waiting.

For the catering crew of La Bocca Fina it was “showtime” after many hours of preparation and setup. The results were spectacular: the glamorous “boho chic” dining tables as much as the delicious food.

Guests found their assigned table through a unique display of calligraphed vases (by Flowergirl Em).

Everyone was having a great time, and as darkness fell, the scene turned magical – illuminated by string lights in the trees and by candlelight on the tables.

After dinner, everyone moved to the Apple Knoll for the couple’s First Dance…

…cake cutting…

… and dancing. And what a dance party that was! Los Gatos DJs got everyone on the dance floor in no time.

And OF COURSE, the newlyweds got a spectacular Send-off to match.

Everyone agreed – that was an event to remember. A lifetime of happiness to Courtney and Jesse!

Lisa and Alex at Fogarty Winery – finally!

These two were among the many couples whose wedding got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Undeterred, they tied the knot in an intimate ceremony close to their originally planned date (so meanwhile they have already been legally married for a good year!) and my company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor of planning afresh with them in 2021. The venue of their choice was still Thomas Fogarty Winery, perched high atop a mountain ridge with million-dollar views over all of Silicon Valley and up to the San Francisco skyline to the North.

Once the bride and the mothers had completed their hair and makeup styling (by Brides by Lydia), the bridal party and closest family was taken to the venue by shuttle (Destination Systems) for pre-ceremony photos (by Hazel Photo – all photos in this blog post except otherwise noted) and video (by Weddings on Film).

When they arrived, the teams of Fogarty Winery, Global Gourmet Catering and Green Petal Designs were already hard at work to prepare everything for the formal Chinese Tea Ceremony.

Bride and groom dressed up for this festive occasion in traditional Chinese gold-embroidered garments.

A friend of the bride explained the cultural meaning and history of the Tea Ceremony to non-Chinese guests and served as an expert Mistress of Ceremonies.

An oversized “Double Happiness” symbol formed the perfect backdrop for the ceremony.

Post-ceremony, the couple changed into lighter outfits for post-ceremony photos, and the predicted rain, thankfully, was late in coming.

Guests were meanwhile enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the open deck, and various crews put the finishing touches on the dinner setup inside the Hill House.

Photo by ADLNO
Photo by ADLNO

The Sweetheart Table, of course, received extra-special flower treatment!

After dinner, the couple enjoyed their official First Dance…

… opening the dance floor for everyone – to the tunes by DJ Stefano of Big Fun Disc Jockeys.

Everyone enjoyed a really great time…

… and in between, the newlyweds snuck out for a private moment outside.

It was a magical day – congratulations, Lisa and Alex, and our best wishes on your lifelong journey together!

And here you can see the day coming to life… courtesy of Weddings on Film!

Amanda & Noah: a Beautiful Wedding in the Times of COVID

What happened to Amanda and Noah is – unfortunately – very typical for many engaged couples looking forward to their once-in-a-lifetime wedding celebration. The two had booked an elegant hotel wedding in Hawaii and could absolutely not wait for their great day to arrive. And then came COVID-19. It ruined everything… so Hawaii had to be called off. That was already a major heartbreak. Amanda and Noah “re-grouped” and started all over. They would have their wedding at the beautiful Marin Art and Garden Center, not far from their new home, and they would invite more than a hundred guests to a charmed afternoon and night in this romantic park. But even this was not going to happen. The COVID-19 lockdown put an end to this plan, too. The couple was deeply disappointed and at a total loss what to do now. They did not want to postpone getting married even longer. So they turned to my company, A Day Like No Other, for help.

It was clear that the maximum number of guests they could have was thirty – so it would be a very intimate celebration. But I wanted this to be a unique, memorable and beautiful celebration for the two – so I recommended a little-known secret to them: the historic Casa Madrona Hotel in Sausalito. Charming, built into a steep hillside and overlooking the yacht harbor and SF Bay with spectacular sunsets, this was the perfect location for their small gathering.

Additional bonus: the teleconferencing capabilities that Casa Madrona is offering! That allowed Amanda and Noah to have all guests from their original list of invitees attend their ceremony, at least virtually. A small consolation, after all…

One other thing: while Marin Art and Garden Center, their previous choice for their wedding celebration, remained closed for social events, the two got permission to have wedding photos taken in this spectacular setting. Another consolation!

And so, the great day final arrived. The bride and her bridesmaids got ready at the couple’s home, with hair and makeup services by Maya Roget. Photographer Anne-Claire Brun captured every moment.

Once all the ladies had their hair and makeup done, it was time for the bride to get into her spectacular dress:

… elegant, feminine and modern at the same time, and it fit her like a glove! This was, of course, a classic mother-daughter moment…

And here is Bride Amanda!

Ready to pick up her romantic bridal bouquet by Fleur Real

… and off to her First Look at Marin Art and Garden Center.

A couple’s First Look is always one of my favorite moments – so special…

And now: many more photos!

One photo with the bridesmaids and groomsmen…

… and off they all go to Casa Madrona for the wedding ceremony and reception.

The teams of Jazmine Herrera at Casa Madrona, of Poggio Trattoria, the in-house caterer, the florist and myself had been busy getting the event space ready. The ceremony was to be held on a balcony overlooking the Sausalito yacht harbor, with guest seating spaced out following social distancing requirements. The Amethyst Duo played wedding classics out on the balcony.

The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom – it could not have been more personal and more heartfelt.

You may now kiss your bride!
Just married!

The video wall in the Junto Suite where the reception was held allowed remote guests to congratulate the newlyweds from afar.

While the onsite guests were enjoying cocktails with a view of the San Francisco Bay, the couple went off for more photos.

And then dinner was ready!

Because of the ongoing pandemic, we had little bottles of hand sanitizer on the dining tables… along with flowers and table numbers!

The couple and their guests were definitely enjoying themselves.

One more highlight of the day: Cake cutting! (The minimalist cake was by Butter&)

Amanda and Noah spent the rest of the evening just chatting with their guests, having fun and having quality time with their nearest and dearest. Although their wedding day unfolded so differently from what they had originally planned – it turned out beautiful, meaningful and very memorable. The newlyweds were simple – happy.

Down the Rabbit Hole with Reds: Pinot Noir and Syrah

A guest post by Henry Trione of Trione Winery

I reached for the tapered Burgundian wine bottle in the cellar, thinking it was a Pinot Noir to serve my guests. Pinot, the classic safe choice to share; a varietal ubiquitous to the typical Californian wine cellar, and a versatile selection for food pairings from pâté to dessert. Many wine connoisseurs enjoy a good Pinot, especially Marin County residents, as were my company. As I brought the bottle into the light it became immediately apparent that it was in fact not a bottle of Pinot Noir, but actually… Syrah.

It was too late. The Marinites saw the bottle. I couldn’t put it back. I suddenly realized I had given away the last bottle of Trione Pinot Noir as a Christmas gift to a friend who had unexpectedly stopped by. My mind raced. ‘The Pinot is gone; the Syrah is all I have. The Syrah is good, to be sure, but was it too exotic for the sensibilities of my guests?’ Seconds passed, it seemed like eternity. I recovered well, though.

“I have a lovely 2013 Russian River Valley Syrah for you try. I chose it specially to pair with the cheese.”

I must confess, even growing up in Sonoma County in a family involved in the business of wine, Syrah was not a common sight. Pinot and Cabernet comprised the extent of my red wine knowledge. To be fair, I was only five years old. Still, I have noticed even today that when perusing the wine list at a restaurant, there are often more labels of Pinot Noir than Syrah. I personally enjoy them both, and yes it depends on the situation, the food pairing and even the weather. Or sometimes, as it appeared in my story above, that is simply what is available.

Let’s look a little into the historical geographical incidence of the two varietals. Pinot Noir originates from the Burgundy region of France, an east-central region of the country with a cooler climate conducive to growing the thin-skinned grape. With weather much like the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, it is not a coincidence that the River Road Ranch is where Trione produces the fruit for it’s Pinot, hand selecting the top three percent of the crop that finds its way into bottles with the Trione Vineyards & Winery label. In the old world, Syrah has historically been grown in the Rhône Valley of France. The climate varies from the north to south of the valley, with the northern part cooler than the southern end. As you may have guessed, the conditions of the Russian River Valley AVA are somewhere in between. At Trione, the top three percent is siphoned off to the winemaker, Scot Covington, before the balance of the crop is sold to other local wineries.

Scot employs a French style in winemaking, so all things being equal on the production end, it is fascinating to taste just how different these wines are and why Syrah is deserving of respect. While Scot describes the Trione Pinot Noir as “Fresh tilled earth, clean, rich and… a walk through a medieval forest, dark but with layer upon layer of blackberry compote.” He describes the Syrah as smoky and “peaty, wet earth with hints of plum, blueberry and wild blackberry preserves.” In his tasting notes, he goes on to say that the Trione Syrah is “Pinot lover’s Syrah.”

Wait a minute.

Describing the Syrah in reference to Pinot is no mistake. People just know and love an earthy, peaty tasting Pinot, so why not compare the lesser known to the standard of excellence in the field? But is it fair to compare two such different wines? This is not what Scot was doing, but I believe I was guilty of this thought process when I was entertaining my guests with the bottle of 2013 Syrah. Syrah should not be considered the less gifted sibling compared to the superstar kid wonder Pinot that went to an Ivy League, rowed on the crew team and achieved a 4.0, while Syrah went to a respectable Junior College and did just fine. The point has been made that the two varietals are distinctly different, and Scot has cued us in with the tasting notes. So, how are they really different and what to pair with?

As we see in the tasting notes, Syrah is classically smoky. It is full bodied and spicy. It is bold, and I have heard it described as “barbecue wine.” At this juncture, I should add that the Trione Syrah contains 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier. This is a stylistic choice, and does not in my opinion obscure the true nature of the varietal. Pinot, on the other hand, is high in acidity, earthy, red fruit notes but lighter. So, when we really break it down to their simplest descriptions, Syrah is bold and Pinot Noir is lighter. This gives us an idea of how to pair.

Pinot Noir is indeed versatile, and the range of foods with which it pairs is generally determined by how tannic or conversely light it is. The bolder more tannic Pinots stand up well to wild game and heavier dishes, while the lighter fruitier variants are more appropriate for poultry, pastas, and seafood like salmon. At a Trione Winemaker Dinner, I even enjoyed the Russian River Pinot Noir with a fruit-based dessert. Syrah, while a significantly different to its Pinot Noir counterpart, actually pairs with similar foods as an elegantly tannic Pinot. For example, Syrah is a good partner to gamey-tasting meats, lamb, and anything barbecue. And cheese? That’s a gouda. Just steer clear of most seafood dishes, and delicate flavors that are overpowered by this full-bodied red.

There you have it. Pinot Noir and Syrah. We have barely scratched the surface of these two red varietals. They represent an intriguing comparison in my opinion because of the spectrum on which they lie. On opposite ends they are just that – diametric reds with the light, highly acidic Pinot Noir on one end and the smoky tannic Syrah on the other. Tangentially close but never quite overlapping on the spectrum, we find fuller-bodied Pinots and less toasty Syrahs. With the multitude of labels available for both varietals, there is seemingly endless opportunity to test the merits of each and to explore one’s preference. To quote The Matrix, “You take the red pill… and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

How did Father’s Day come into being – do you know?

Per Wikipedia, Father’s Day is a day of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic countries of Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 as Saint Joseph’s Day since the Middle Ages. In America, Father’s Day was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd and celebrated on the third Sunday of June for the first time in 1910. It is held on various days in many parts of the world all throughout the year, often in the months of March, May and June.

On June 19, 1910, the very first Father’s Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington, by Sonora Smart Dodd whose father, a single parent, had raised his six children there. She felt that fathers should have a similar holiday like Mother’s Day to honor them, and on June 19, 1910, sermons honoring fathers were presented in churches throughout the city.

Ms. Dodd raised awareness for the new holiday at a national level with the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional presents for fathers. 

 In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

So – now you know! What are you doing for Father’s Day?

Photobooth fun. All virtual!

Hard to believe, but one company here in the Bay Area has found a way to take photobooth fun “all virtual!” – Giggle & Riot. Here is how it works.

Want to book? Contact studio@giggleandriot.com!

OR would you rather go for some simple, informal fun? That works, too. Make a DIY backdrop (e.g. paper flowers strung on fishing line)

… craft a few fun props…

… and take selfies! That’s it – then share online or on a photo sharing app. So easy these days! Have fun!

The Fairmont – an icon of San Francisco history

Everybody knows “The Fairmont,” right? It’s one of those truly iconic San Francisco landmarks. But do you know where it got its name? And who built it?

I was curious, and here is what I found out (courtesy of Wikipedia and my personal contacts).

Gavin Farrington Photography

The hotel was named after mining magnate and U.S. Senator James Graham Fair (1831–94) by his daughters, who built the hotel in his honor.

The hotel was nearly completed before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Although the structure survived, the interior was heavily damaged by fire, and opening was delayed until 1907. Architect and engineer Julia Morgan was hired to repair the building because of her then innovative use of reinforced concrete, which could produce buildings capable of withstanding earthquakes and other disasters.

Gavin Farrington Photography

In 1945, the Fairmont hosted international statesmen for meetings which culminated in the creation of the United Nations. The United Nations Charter was finalized in the hotel’s Garden Room, and a plaque at the hotel memorializes the event.

Evonne and Darren Photography

The Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel was where Tony Bennett first sang his famous “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in December 1961.

The Fairmont has been “the stuff of legends” – especially surrounding its famed Penthouse suite where all presidents visiting San Francisco have stayed.

Evonne and Darren Photography

The suite houses among other “follies” the Moroccan-themed Billiard Room – all walls adorned with artful mosaic.

Evonne and Darren Photography

The 2-story suite also houses a double-height library with a secret passageway to the roof (hidden behind a swiveling bookshelf on the upper level) which used to serve as an emergency escape route for the dignitaries lodging in the suite.

Photo: ADLNO

Rumor has it that the passageway was also used to smuggle President John F. Kennedy’s mistress, the actress Marilyn Monroe, in and out unseen when the president was in residence.

The Fairmont has been featured in many films, including The Rock, starring Sean Connery. My longtime friend and colleague, event planner Duncan Reyes, happened to be the Events Director at the Fairmont just then. I asked him what the most memorable event was when the movie was filmed. You will not believe this: for the escape scene (through the hotel kitchen) at the beginning of the movie, the entire hotel had to be shut down for a whole week!! Go watch the movie and enjoy!