Today the peony blooms in my garden opened – in glorious pink and in white, reminding me of the wonderful summer weddings of years gone by – when peonies were the stars of bridal bouquets and centerpieces …
– and of the many brides of 2020, anxiously awaiting their postponed wedding celebrations – next year, maybe…?
Here is the first bloom of this summer on the peony bush I inherited with my garden…
… and here is the one I planted myself last year, unsure of whether it’d make it through the winter. Such beauty…
I read up a little on peonies and learned a few things I’d like to share you with you. Where did they get their name? In Greek mythology, actually. They are named after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine who became deadly jealous of his talented student. Zeus, the supreme God, used his divine powers to save Paeon from his boss Asclepius by transforming him into – you guessed it – a beautiful flower. The peony!
Nowadays, the peony comes in 33 known species, mostly herbaceous plants up to 3 ft or shrubs up to 11 ft (!) tall, in colors ranging from white and yellow to pink to dark red. Peonies thrive in temperate regions of Asia, Europe and Western North America, and they bloom for only 7-10 days in early summer.
They have been prized for their beauty in many cultures for centuries – look at these examples:
They have become one of the most desired flowers for weddings – and once their blooming season in OUR area is over, we can still get them from (you would NEVER have guessed that!) Alaska – of all places – where unique growing conditions due to long hours of sunlight create availability when other sources have completed harvest. Late-summer brides, rejoice… we’ll get you your peonies!!
The governmental restrictions during the current COVID-19 pandemic – necessary as they are – have made the lives of young parents especially difficult, and with the upcoming summer break it won’t be getting any easier: no sports programs, no camps, and all public swimming pools closed. What to do to keep the kids happy, busy and entertained?
I have an idea – do constructive projects with them so that they feel pride in their accomplishments, and actually learn practical skills. I received tutorials from zillow.com and would like to share a few of their ideas here.
Here’s an easy one to start with: gardening! A garden not only gives you the benefit of fresh herbs, vegetables or flowers, it’s also a natural outdoor classroom for your kids — helping them learn measurements, basic botany facts and an appreciation of nature.
Raised garden beds are easy to maintain and allow plants to thrive, and they are a great beginner project for children to help with.
To make a 4×4 raised garden bed, you will need:
8 untreated 2x4s (each 4 feet long)
4 untreated 12-inch 4×4 corner posts
1 package of 4-inch wood screws
A power drill
To construct the square box, attach two 2x4s to each corner post (stacking them vertically). Have an (older) child hold the boards securely in place as you drill. When your structure is complete, children of all ages can help to pick a sunny spot in the backyard for your raised garden bed and to pour in the soil and plant whatever you like.
Need more inspiration? Take it from community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley who became famous for planting community gardens in a bleak part of Los Angeles – to make his neighborhood a better place. Ron has a totally relaxed and common-sense approach to gardening, and here is a little introduction to his “Masterclass” lessons.
A while ago, my company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor to work with the rose nursery where the roses for the British royal weddings are grown: Tambuzi in Kenya. Today I would like to share with you a very impressive BBC documentary about this nursery and their operations. It’s fun to watch, plus their roses are simply “out of this world!”
And here is an English country wedding featuring (among others) roses from Tambuzi.
Here’s to International Relations! Bride and groom actually met while studying – you guessed it! – International Relations (plus an MBA on top of that…), and what they entered into was, in fact, a very international (and for the longest time, long-distance) relationship: Marcelo is originally from Argentina, studied in Philadelphia, where he met Katie, originally from the SF Bay Area – but she had lived in West Africa for four years for her work… in no time, the two bridged any international issues and became inseparable, albeit in separate locations; only a few months before their wedding, they actually, finally, were able to move into their first shared home.
Given that they both were living and working far apart and far away, Katie’s parents and family friend Alice stepped in to take the lead for a truly memorable, truly big (280 guests) and extremely elegant wedding celebration for their only daughter, and they brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to come up with ideas and make them a reality for that one glorious day in October when all our yearlong hard work came to fruition.
Katie and her bridesmaids got ready at the house of Katie’s parents.
Fiona Tsang of Urban Beauty Loft and her assistants worked their magic on the bride, bridesmaids and mothers, and photographer Taralynn Lawton (all photos in this feature are by her!) and videographer Jesse Eckel of Owl & Tree Films captured it all, including Katie’s diaphanous wedding dress…
… and all the pretty details.
And here is a timeless mother-and-daughter moment…
Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered Katie’s bridal bouquet and all other personal flowers (and then started floral installation for the festivities)…
Marcelo and his groomsmen were also dressing up…
With that, bride and groom were ready for their First Look at the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose…
Isn’t it romantic?!
While bride and groom were busy taking many, many pre-ceremony photos, my team, multiple vendor crews and family friend Alice were hard at work (actually, everyone had started work in the early morning hours…) to transform the chosen venue – the Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club – for Katie’s and Marcelo’s ceremony and reception. Annette Boyd Kevranian of Method42 Productions and her crew were rigging suspended floral decor and string lights and installing draping; the venue team led by onsite manager Brittany Rieland set up tables, chairs and lounge furniture and set the dining tables; my assistants and I were setting up signage and completing table settings; and…
florist Janelle brought the beautiful parklike surroundings inside by adorning every easel, railing and surface with trailing vines, visually connecting the outdoor ceremony setting with the indoor spaces for the reception.
Once the ceremony setup was in place, DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys installed a sound system, and the Synchronicity String Quartet arrived to serenade the bridal party and the guests at the ceremony.
Hand fans doubled as ceremony programs…
… and soon enough guests were arriving (shuttled in style by Le Grande Affaire), and the ceremony began. Officiated by a longtime friend of the bride’s family, it was heartfelt and authentic – it does not get more personal than that!
The newlyweds had more photos to take…
… while their guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the elegantly appointed patio.
Cozy lounge furniture and color-coordinated blankets beckoned; living green trees were literally bringing the gardens to the patio… and built-in heaters provided warmth against the late Fall evening chill. To keep guests well entertained, a photo booth by The Laugh Box provided unlimited fun!
Indoors, a guest book table was used to display a personal photo gallery…
… whose backdrop, a natural stone wall, was filled with flowers in every niche and “overgrown” by gracefully trailing vines – all the masterpiece of florist Janelle.
Then it was time for dinner! The dining room had been transformed into an indoor garden scenery with string lights, living trees, a giant floral arrangement suspended above the Head Table, stunning tall floral centerpieces, white-washed Chiavari chairs and elegant place settings.
Once all guests were seated, the new Mr. & Mrs. opened the lavish dinner buffet with their Grand Entrance.
Over dinner, Katie’s Dad surprised everyone with an outrageous performance:
He expertly “decapitated” a bottle of Champagne with a saber!
The two clearly enjoyed the evening! What else was there to do? Cutting the wedding cake (from Studio Cake)…
… and opening the dessert buffet of Argentinian cake specialties…
… and dancing, of course! DJ Henry Kim – who also served as our bilingual MC – kept the crowd going with the perfect mix of Argentinian tunes and international favorites.
That opened the dance floor to all guests.
It truly was an “International Summit” and an epic party! Keep celebrating life and love on your shared journey, Katie and Marcelo!
Anna and Etan had chosen Thomas Fogarty Winery for their wedding – a spectacular venue with endless views over all of Silicon Valley right to the San Francisco skyline – and brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to plan everything else – from vendor sourcing to design, ceremony planning to wedding day schedule. Our many months of planning time literally flew by, and on the first weekend of September, Wedding Day was upon us.
Anna and her bridesmaids got ready at the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto where Felicia Chang of Bun Bun Bridal Lab had set up a veritable beauty lounge.
The girls REALLY had fun together… see here!
Then it was time for the bride to transfer to her wedding venue in style – we had reserved a stretch limousine from Le Grande Affaire – and to get into her dress…
… a delicate, diaphanous, lace-encrusted stunner!
Matching the blue-and-silver color scheme, Anna had chosen shimmering silver wedding shoes. Here are the rings….
… and the beautiful bouquets for bride and bridesmaids (by Marie Krick of Laurel & Vine)..
And here is the happy bride…
Groom Etan was also getting ready…
… and he and his groomsmen were outfitted with boutonnieres matching the bridal flowers.
It all turned out exactly as bride Anna had envisioned it – until the weather threw us a curveball: a freak storm forced us to move dinner inside, and the catering team, onsite coordinator Kaitlin Brinton, my assistants Chrissy Wolfman and Stephanie Hui and myself, and even our DJ scrambled to carry everything inside. Incredible but true: it was all done in a mere twenty minutes, and guests could sit down in warmth and comfort to a delicious meal by Toast Catering. The rest of the evening progressed smoothly, including cutting the breathtakingly elegant (and super delicious!) wedding cake (by Cake Coquette).
The remainder of the festivities was dedicated to dancing to the rousing tunes of DJ Woody Miraglia of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys …
… and the newlyweds just snuck out for a moment to take photos with sparklers, despite the howling storm…
Laura and Adnan are anything but conventional. First of all, they reversed the “normal” order of things: after welcoming their first child (baby Adam) together in Spring, they planned on getting married in late summer. And then their wedding celebration wouldn’t follow convention either. For them, it was much more about their growing family (Laura has a young daughter, Eliana, from her previous marriage) than only about the two of them. Since “family” to them is synonymous with “home,” their celebration would also take place exactly there: in the beautiful, green, secluded backyard of their home – as opposed to any commercial venue. O, did I forget to mention that guest entertainment would also not follow customary rules?!
Off we got to an exciting, out-of-the-box planning project, and here is what ultimately happened!
The couple decided to have their actual wedding ceremony separately, ten days before their summer party with friends and family, at the iconic SF City Hall. Call that an elopement of sorts! Photographer Sasha Yevelev captured their happiness with the glorious architecture as backdrop.
After their civil wedding, the two went on tour through San Francisco…
… and had strangers snap photos of their newlywed bliss!
An intimate dinner at their favorite Mediterranean restaurant and a “sleep-over” in an elegant hotel rounded out the “couple’s” part of their wedding festivities. Exactly ten days later, it was time for the “family” and “party” part, in the backyard of their home. Again, photographer Sasha Yevelev preserved it all for their family album – here: the official wedding photo!
… attracting NOT only the youngsters! (Although, of course, the youngest guests got served first). Once everyone had gotten their ice cream taco, the next surprise was a real magician performance (by Magical Nathaniel).
After that, it was getting dark… time to dance! DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys made sure that everyone was on the dance floor…
Quite a party! And most definitely a very personal, totally unique way for Laura and Adnan to start their shared life journey together with their kids. Our best wishes on your way! Keep dancing and celebrating…
When Macy and Josh contacted my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with their wedding planning, one thing was clear from the get-go: with their 70-hour work weeks, they would need help. A lot of help! So I had my work cut out for me. They had chosen a spectacular venue for their nuptials, Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside – an elegant setting surrounded by vineyards, high up on a mountain ridge, with endless views of Silicon Valley and on to the San Francisco skyline.
Their top priority for their wedding day was to spend quality time with their families and friends – the one most precious thing in their lives! Their celebration would be simple and elegant, and, above all, relaxed and comfortable for all their guests. No glitz, no frills. The many months we had for planning simply flew by, and Labor Day weekend – wedding weekend! – was suddenly upon us. On a beautiful, warm, sunny Saturday, under blue skies and a slight breeze, all our planning work finally came to fruition; have a look!
For Macy and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup services by Jira Couture, and then both the ladies and groom Josh and his groomsmen convened at Fogarty Winery. With a little help from her bridesmaids…
… Macy got into her showstopper backless lace dress…
… picked up her summery, feminine bridal bouquet in all purple hues (by Green Petal Designs who provided floral decor throughout)…
… and Josh also dressed up to the nines …
for the bride’s and groom’s First Look and many, many photos by Frank J. Lee.
They are such an attractive couple!
Soon enough, their guests began arriving (by shuttle from Destination Systems), and it was time for the ceremony.
Befitting the location, big wine barrels topped by lush flower arrangements marked the spot where the two were about to say their vows …
… accompanied by the sound of an acoustic guitar version of wedding classics, courtesy of Spanish guitarist Jay Alvarez.
The ceremony was officiated by a family member who had already married a good number of her relatives in years past – a natural choice for Macy and Josh!
After the ceremony, the couple had many more photos to take solo, with their families, and with their bridesmaids and groomsmen…
while their guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour on the open patio ….
… and my team – assistants Stephanie and Melinda and myself – the Toast Catering team and florist Janelle all put the finishing touches on the dining setup in the Winery Pavilion.
For centerpieces, Macy and Josh had opted for elegant potted orchids which guests would take home and enjoy for a long time to come.
After dinner, another surprise was waiting for the guests: Tucker’s Ice Cream was serving delicious flavors from their nostalgic cart, emblazoned with the motto, “Life is Uncertain/Eat Dessert First!” (We couldn’t agree more…)
After that, there was no holding back – from dancing! DJ Woody Miraglia of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys got everyone on the dance floor in no time.
Photographer Frank snuck the newlyweds out for just one spectacular sunset shot – isn’t that a sight to behold?
It certainly was a great party for everyone.
Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Macy and Josh!
First of all, this couple and their families are VERY private – so all we are allowed is a little peek at all the beautiful details of this incredible wedding celebration. My company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor of supporting the Mother of the Bride in creating an epic summer wedding for the couple, and we literally planned and designed over the course of nearly a year. It all paid off on a warm and sunny Sunday in mid-August at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside … have a look!
The bride and her bridesmaids started the day with hair and makeup services by Sarah Hyde, and the bride’s lush bouquet in vibrant summer colors (by Nancy Liu Chin Designs who created floral decor throughout) …
… and her Cinderella slippers…
… complemented her elegant lace wedding dress perfectly.
Photographer extraordinaire Danny Dong captured it all…
After the ceremony, guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Global Gourmet Catering (who also provided dinner and desserts)
– and to dinner in an eye-catching set-up of bare wooden tables, crossback chairs, mixed in with round tables with linens – an evocation of the rustic elegance of Tuscany.
Of course, the Sweetheart Table received extra-special treatment!
… and we also had a cozy, quiet corner to take a little break from the festivities!
After dinner, everyone congregated on the dance floor – DJ Woody Miraglia of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys made sure that entertainment was a great success. In addition to that, bride, groom and all their guests had a blast taking silly pictures at Night Owl Photo Booth. Even such a memorable party has to come to an end… and guests were chauffeured home in comfort by Corinthian Ground Transportation. Everyone agreed – this was the ultimate summer wedding!
… and the real highlight of the evening was the couple’s astounding First Dance – an elaborate dance routine right out of “Dancing with the Stars!” Everyone agreed: these two CAN dance – like professionals!
The bride had changed into dress no. 2 – a lot easier for dancing – and that’s what the remainder of the evening was all about: dance, dance, dance! DJ Stefano of Big Fun Discjockeys got the crowd on the dance floor and kept the momentum going. What a party…
Dance on, Shanna and James… and our best wishes on your way!
Who says an Anniversary Party can never be as stunning as a wedding? Wrong!! Last year, my company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor and the joy to put together Joan’s and Jim’s very unusual wedding celebration – have a look here – and this year we were on board again for an equally unusual First Anniversary celebration, combined with a housewarming party! The couple had meanwhile bought and remodeled a beautiful house together – and the best of it: an incredible garden! What had been a drab backyard, became a lush oasis under Joan’s hands, with the expert help of her extraordinary landscape designer Sharon Finkle ….
Nearly exactly on the day of their anniversary, Joan and Jim opened the doors of their gorgeous new home to 120 friends…
With rental items and lighting from Stuart Event Rentals, elegant yet effortless-looking floral decor from Green Petal Designs that looked as if the flowers had just been cut from Joan’s garden (that’s how perfectly they fit!!)
… complete with a bar stocked with the couple’s favorite wines from local wineries, guests had the ultimate festive experience.
Jim’s son Andy, a professional DJ, put on the couple’s all-time musical favorites, and live painter Talia Koval painted the scene right then and there, to the delight of the guests who kept looking over her shoulder and admiring how the canvas was coming together right under their eyes!
If that hadn’t been enough – guests were also treated to professional portrait photography by Vanity Portrait Studio. Photographer Billy Cole was tirelessly at work staging his subjects and capturing their poses…
… so that everyone could take home their framed portrait as an extraordinary party favor.
And here is Billy’s official photo of our wonderful couple, Joan and Jim!
As darkness fell and the lights came on, the couple had yet one more task to perform: to ceremonially cut their cake – an exact replica of their wedding cake from a year ago…
… and that was also the official opening of the dessert buffet!
The last highlight of this memorable party was the unveiling of Talia’s painting – she had at the last moment added two tiny figures to the scene: Joan and Jim toasting their guests on the lawn. That way, Joan’s words: “Friends are the flowers in the garden of life,” will forever stay with us… Cheers!