Melanie and Sherif at San Francisco City Hall

Melanie and Sherif are very independent thinkers – so it didn’t come as a surprise that their wedding celebration was a bit unusual, too! Not a hotel, not a mansion… but I am getting ahead of myself. Melanie approached my company, A Day Like No Other, months ahead of time for help with her wedding coordination. As a professional event planner herself, she knew how demanding it is to make an event run smoothly and seemingly “all by itself.” And – she wanted to take her Great Day off of her professional duties – which she handed over to me.

For their ceremony, the couple had chosen the probably most iconic San Francisco landmark: City Hall! Rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake of 1906, completed in 1915, this breathtaking Beaux Arts edifice was meant to be a symbol of the City’s irrepressible spirit. Its gilded cupola soars higher (by a full 42 feet!) than the US Capitol. And it’s just as monumental from the inside as it is commanding from the outside. Melanie’s and Sherif’s ceremony took place in the 4th floor North gallery …

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… with the couple’s closest friends and family members in attendance. Many had come from across the nation to share this moment with them.

Programs and personalized cake pops were waiting for the guests as well as Champagne for toasting –

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… and escort cards on antique skeleton keys.

keysJay of City Express Limousine Service got Bride and Groom to City Hall relaxed, comfortable and on time. The very personal ceremony was officiated by Shyamala Littlefield and accompanied by Synchronicity Strings.

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The bride wore an ivory silk backless Pronovias dress from Novella Bridal, a sleek updo and naturally-elegant makeup by Triple Twist, and carried a bouquet from San Francisco Florist (as did her bridesmaids).

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For her bridesmaids, Melanie had chosen coordinating but not identical floor length allover-sequined gowns in harmonious shades of rose gold and champagne – in short, the ladies looked absolutely gorgeous!

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And the groom and his groomsmen stepped up to the fashionable occasion in tux, bowties and classic suits befitting the festive occasion and the impressive architecture.

After the ceremony, there was plenty of opportunity for the couple and photographer Sasha (of Sasha Wedding Photography) to take photos within City Hall (and just wait until you see HIS photos – so far all we have are my snapshots of the day…)

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Leaving City Hall as “Mr. and Mrs.!”

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Everyone then took Cable Car trolleys (another San Francisco icon, of course) to Isa Restaurant in the Marina District for cocktails and dinner. Heaven smiled on the wedding party – after heavy rain the previous days, and despite a gloomy weather forecast, the sun came out, and nobody got wet!

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The private dining room at Isa’s was all aglow with string lights and luminarias…

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… and the newlyweds presided over the party from their Sweetheart Table.

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Guests were treated to a delicious four-course French-Mediterranean dinner, and everyone declared that it was well worth the dietary sin! Melanie had changed into a more comfortable but no less dramatic all-sequined dress:

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After dinner, the whole party walked over to Nectar Wine Lounge next door – the festivities were by no means over yet! The couple had prepared a quirky Polaroid guest book..

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… bridesmaid Bianca had baked “naked” wedding cakes herself for the couple…

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… and one more big surprise was waiting for the guests: bellydancer Heaven Mousalem!

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What a party… And now you know why I love my job so much!

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Melanie and Sherif are off to their Honeymoon already – enjoy that and our heartfelt wishes for many happy years to come!

 

 

 

Nataly and Derek’s Joyful Wedding Celebration at Nella Terra Cellars

A schoolteacher from Bolivia. A product manager (with a bioengineering background) from China. These two couldn’t have come from any more different backgrounds. And yet – they are so much more similar than different, and that is what ties them together. They met five years ago, both foreigners to this country, but with so many shared values and interests… they both care deeply about others. They are immensely curious and love to travel and experience new cultures, adopting the best of everything. They are happy with simple things, love to discover “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants and to walk with ice cream. They both love dogs and have just adopted “Peanut,” a tiny furry bundle of joy.

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The two took their time of courtship until it was clear to absolutely everyone that they should stay together forever, and on Valentine’s Day this year, Derek proposed in Puerto Vallarta. Yes, he is a romantic at heart!

Having been a friend of Derek’s for years – and an immediate fan of Nataly’s as well, as soon as we were introduced to one another! – I was so happy that the two entrusted their wedding planning to my company, A Day Like No Other. Hands-on people that they are, they had already found their venue: Nella Terra Cellars in Sunol, a hamlet in the SF East Bay. “Nella Terra,” meaning “into the Earth,” is exactly what Nataly and Derek were looking for. An oasis in the middle of vineyards and rolling hills –

MGA_2615… a curvy white tent to host a big celebration and an adjacent ceremony arbor overlooking a pond and well-trimmed greenery and pathways, and a beautiful patio for cocktails; just the right thing for extended families and friends gathering from as far as China, Canada and Bolivia – two hundred of them!

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True to her Latin American heritage, Nataly wanted vibrant color for her wedding: warm yellow, orange and a little red, and turquoise a a counterpoint. From ceremony decor to favor boxes, from bouquets (from The Flower House) to lanterns – everything displayed her favorite colors for a very cohesive, joyful and upbeat look. Nataly’s Dad had added his own personal contributions –

MGA_1116… a handmade wagon to hold much-needed parasols for ceremony guests, and a whimsical seating chart of antique picture frames. Videographer Martin Meyer of martinFILMS and Photographer Professor Matthias Geiger worked their magic with the camera:

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Reverend Dr. Lili Goodman Freitas of Weddings of Heart officiated the ceremony, made intensely personal through readings of poems both in Spanish and in Mandarin, and accompanied by guitarist Bruce Brill.MRG_2396And here they are: Just married!!

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While the couple had many, many more pictures taken all over the property …

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my assistant Kelsey and the venue coordinators were busy getting everything ready for dinner in the tent:

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… where guests were treated, among other things, to a traditional Chinese roast pig (a contribution from Derek’s Dad) and to live Bolivian traditional songs by the authentic Bolivian band Kumara – again a nod to the bride’s heritage (plus, her cousin Gonzalo plays the charango and guitar in the band!) It was fascinating to see how these two diverse cultural backgrounds seamlessly merged into one warm and joyful celebration! Including the cake from Margaret’s French Bakery, of course, dressed up for the occasion –

MGA_1365– which was accompanied by the couple’s other favorite dessert: Smitten’s ice cream! (Tcho chocolate was my all-time favorite flavor…). Everyone was having a great time –

MRG_2493… among other things, with Night Owl Photo Booth. The evening continued with dancing to the music of DJ Steve McDowell of Fantasy Sound, and as darkness fell, myriad string lights and chandeliers in the tent turned the scene downright magical…

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MGA_3412And my favorite photo? Here it is:

MGA_2408“Love does not mean looking into each other’s eyes all the time, but looking in the same direction.”

Next destination for the two: Italy! Have a fabulous Honeymoon, and Arrivederci!

Krista and Ben: a Glamorous “Aussie” Wedding in Big Sur

Big Sur, that stretch of California coastline between the Monterey Peninsula to the North and the Central Coast to the South, is definitely one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth. It’s famous as a retreat for spiritual seekers, for alternative lifestyle, artists – and celebrities! Model Karlie Kloss comes hiking here to decompress, and actress Natalie Portman got married here at a private estate.

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As did my beautiful couple, Krista and Benjamin! When they first set foot on Wind and Sea Estate in Big Sur, perched high on a cliff above the sea,  it was a done deal for them… this is where they would get married.

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At Wind and Sea, a striking wrought-iron gate opens to reveal a stunning property…

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… even with its own beach access! (It’s a bit steep, admittedly…)

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I am so happy that Krista and Ben brought me in right away to organize it all for them through my company A Day Like No Other. It would be a “long-distance planning” process, that was clear – because these two are living in Australia! Krista had been working in the SF Bay Area and fallen in love with the beauty of California, when she met Benjamin, an attractive young businessman from Australia, at a conference in San Francisco – and fell in love again, right away… with Ben! It didn’t take her long to follow him to Sydney. For their wedding, they chose this spectacular spot to show Krista’s family from Ohio and Ben’s family from Australia the breathtaking beauty of California. We started planning early in 2015 – Thank God for email, Skype and Pinterest! – and couldn’t even imagine that date of September 26. But suddenly, we were there… and it was a glorious day.

Krista had requested a “rustic glam” style for her wedding. We translated that in:  Wooden harvest tables with gold Chiavari chairs (by CHIC Event Rentals), sequined runners in blush and gold (from Napa Valley Linens), cream and blush mixed floral arrangements with a lot of texture and lots and lots of mercury gold votives and vases (by Green Petal Designs). And the “icing” on it? Gilded Australian animal figurines from kangaroos to wombats, doing duty as place card holders and table decor!

The pretty invitations already set the tone for the celebration to come:

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… and finally, the Great Day had arrived. The forty “nearest and dearest” guests who had come from all over the world to be with the couple on their wedding day,  were brought in from Monterey by shuttle bus (from Discovery Charters) and welcomed in style:

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For Krista, the day began with a hair and makeup session with Jessica Morton of Miabel Artistry who transformed a pretty young woman into a glamorous beauty. Krista had chosen a sequined, diaphanous Jenny Packham dress from Nouvelle Vogue, and with that, her crystal-encrusted headpiece and her romantic bouquet (also from Green Petal Designs), she literally moved Benjamin to tears…

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And here come the real stars of the day: the couple’s children! Macy wore a romantic flower crown:

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… and her brother Toby dazzled in an all “grown-up” outfit matching his Dad’s:

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Here’s Krista’s dapper groom Ben getting ready, boutonniere and necktie and all …

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The ceremony was held at a natural amphitheater in the expansive garden of the property, overlooking the endless Pacific, and officiated by a longtime friend of the couple.

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Krista_Ben_September_26_2015__0452It turned out to be a glorious, sunny day with a light breeze – simply perfect!

Finally, it was time – Krista was escorted to the ceremony by her Dad…

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The moment could not have been more beautiful and more intimate.Krista_Ben_September_26_2015__0453

And then it was definitely time to party – on the wraparound patio that follows the house from North to South end with unobstructed views of the Ocean and of the sunset:

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The bride had requested an oyster bar to accompany cocktails on her special day:

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… and that was followed by a farm-to-table dinner by Amy Padilla of Feel Good Foods Catering.

Krista_Ben_September_26_2015__0460Together with the oyster bar, it was, hands down, the ultimate dining experience! The cake was “imported” from Layers Sensational

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… and it was cut as the first official “joint venture” of the newlyweds!

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Guitarist Richard DeVinck serenaded the wedding party from ceremony through Cocktail Hour and dinner and then transitioned seamlessly to DJ’ing for a joyful dance party inside, while dusk fell…

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… and the garden, illuminated by myriad lanterns, turned downright magical.

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On their special day, the couple and their guests were even treated to a technicolor sunset:

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Photographer extraordinaire Sandra Fazzino captured it all for us … including the couple dancing the night away:

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Congratulations on a truly memorable wedding, Krista and Ben – and enjoy your Honeymoon in Paris!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Touch of Tuscany in Napa Valley: Laura and Dennis


Laura and Dennis originally approached my company, A Day Like No Other, with the request to help them find a venue in the Wine Country for an intimate wedding with closest family only… and then, later, maybe to help organize a party for everyone else at their home. After brainstorming with them – hotels? wineries? all too impersonal, too public… – I knew the exact right place for them: Sylvan Lake, a secluded private estate tucked away in the mountains above St. Helena. Off they went for a site visit! And on their way back home that same day, they texted me: “Change of plans! So beautiful that we’ll have a big party for everyone right there!”

And so we started planning together: an outdoor ceremony onsite, good food and wine, an Italian/Tuscan theme, and sage green with pops of orange for their wedding colors. Last Saturday, it all came together on a glorious summer day, warm with a slight breeze, and  under a cloudless blue sky.

Bride and groom made Sylvan Lake Estate theirs for the day with their initials on the gate:

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Laura had chosen an elegant yet simple ivory lace sheath for her wedding gown:

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… complemented by delicate diamond earrings and a sparkling diamond bracelet. She was radiant in hair and makeup by Teresa Reynolds

bride waiting… and she carried a bridal bouquet by Tulips & Toadstools in ivory and orange …

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… while her wedding party wore boutonnieres and corsages to match:

boutonnieres… and the ring bearer (the niece of the bride) got a moss ring pillow …

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… and a charming hair wreath.

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For the ceremony, our florist had adorned a simple arch with lush greenery and bunches of flowers in the wedding colors …

arch … and topped it all off with a carpet of petals in delicate hues of orange.

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And photographer Megan Reeves captured every precious moment, for example the bride with her bridesmaids (her stepdaughters):

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… and her groomsmen (her sons!)

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The brother of the bride officiated the very personal ceremony in front of eighty guests…

ceremonyAnd here they are… Just Married!!

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Time to party!

While the newlyweds had their mandatory photos taken,

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guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour…

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… and the team of An Affair to Remember (catering) and myself were busy preparing tables and food stations for a Tuscan-inspired festive dinner:

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Centerpieces were wine crates planted with a variety of succulents, and tables were named after the couple’s favorite wine varietals:

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The Sweetheart Table got, of course, the special treatment!

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Place settings were decorated with herb bundles tied with orange ribbon…

herb bundle 2… and the food stations all looked like scenes right out of the Italian countryside:

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Beautifully calligraphed signeage throughout by Steele My Heart helped guests find their tables and choose from bar and dining options.

While guests were dining, night fell…

dinner at dusk… and the scene turned downright magical. The newlyweds still had some work to do: cut the beautiful cake (from Model Bakery in St. Helena):

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After that, they opened the dance floor under the stars…

first dance… with their First Dance – and everyone joined in to the vibrant tunes put up by DJ Vadim of DJ Jeremy Productions…

Everyone agreed: a truly memorable feast it was! Many happy years together, Laura and Dennis!

Starstruck – Erica’s and Lincoln’s Heavenly Nuptials

Dear readers: before you even start, grab your hanky. Here comes one of those “The stars were aligned…” love stories. A real, true one!

Just a few years ago, Lincoln, the groom, had given up on getting married. He told a friend, “Since I won’t get married – let’s just throw a party. A big one – in lieu of a real wedding party!” Which she did, in fact… (and at that real wedding yesterday, she was his decorator!)

Erica, as her Dad said, had already faced a number of challenges in her life… but the moment she met Lincoln, she was transformed. Utterly, completely – and he knew, she had met “the one!”

How they met: through one of their shared passions – dancing! Music lovers, both of them (Erica is a professional harpist, and Lincoln plays in a mandolin orchestra), they met at a ballroom dance, and Lincoln fell for Erica immediately, and hard. Erica, more cautious by nature, took a little longer, but after all, Lincoln can be very persuasive. Done deal!

And – you have to know – Lincoln is very elegant, even a little bit old-fashioned, in the best sense. Following tradition, he proposed on one knee – at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that!

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And of course, a photo of this momentous occasion had to be present at their wedding…

Just 18 months after their first encounter, the two got married, and I was so honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding coordination and design. They wanted an elegant, formal wedding, and they wanted  – stars! Erica, the bride, is an amateur astronomer, and so we set out to incorporate the Moon and the Stars into this exquisite affair.

First step: find a venue! The two chose the Brazilian Room, a historic building in Tilden Regional Park in the hills above Berkeley. (Was that choice, maybe, inspired by the location of the proposal?)

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An open Great Room with exposed wooden beams and a soaring ceiling opens onto a ceremony lawn that seamlessly flows into the verdant hilly landscape.

The bride got ready at the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley with hair and makeup expertly styled by her friend Kim Denny.

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Meanwhile her groom was getting ready as well…

groom getting readyCoit Limousine service delivered her to the Brazilian Room where Lincoln was already waiting…

dapper groom… dressed in a traditional morning suit, fitting for this elegant occasion. But the bride insisted on remaining unseen until the ceremony, so we literally snuck her into the building!

Erica had chosen an embroidered ivory A-line gown that literally floated around her and whirled with every step, complemented by a crystal-encrusted belt and elegant veil.

I doFinally, the great moment had come! Eighty of their closest friends and family members witnessed the very personal ceremony officiated by their friend Karryn Nagel, which incorporated a “Passing of the Rings” ritual. The groom’s nephew (stylishly outfitted in a 3-piece suit like his older brothers and his Dad) passed the rings to all guests present, to impart on them all their good wishes…

ring passingAll the while, harpist Jessica Schaeffer provided a beautiful musical background.

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And then, they were pronounced husband and wife, and the real fun was about to begin…

Just married!

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Now come the myriad personal touches that made this wedding celebration so unique: the bride had styled her wedding shoes herself – with a star motif on a midnight-blue background:

shoesFriends of the couple, Kris, a former actor proficient at stagecraft, and Anne (who would catch the bouquet later that night …), had built them a photo booth, and what a spectacular one at that!

moonEvery single guest took a turn, and then signed the guest book  – which, of course, was also special. In lieu of a conventional book, we came up with the idea of a historic typewriter…

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To direct guests to their assigned tables, we did not use conventional escort cards (of course not…) – Erica found antique-looking picture frames which doubled as wedding favors, and combined them with handwritten star-studded name cards.

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During Cocktail Hour, Silver Strings Mandolin Orchestra (the groom’s ensemble) played for the guests…

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Meanwhile, the Great Room was ready for dinner, with centerpieces by the couple’s friend Lizzie Maxwell…

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and decor by another of their friends, Jane Dougherty – think custom-made sconces of midnight-blue tulle with sparkling lights… speaking of which: the bride and I had found sparkling stars from Glimmers Inc. which, floating in the guests toasting glasses, added a truly heavenly touch to all those good wishes!

The duo “The Harpoons” (Harp and Bassoon – did you guess it?) kept guests entertained over dinner,

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and Morningstar Entertainment took over for dancing.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. During dinner, guests were asked to propose one impromptu toast per table, and since most of this artistic couple’s guests were artists themselves, musicians, actors, performers – these toasts turned into artistic improvisations of the highest order. From hilarious skits to funny poems (in perfect meter and professional intonation) and rock star impersonations with slightly tweaked lyrics: it was rather a cabaret than mere toasts! In these moments, all the depth of personal connections, the warmth of long-time friendships, and the commitment of all these friends and family members to an extraordinary couple became apparent. Every single guest contributed to their happy union in a personal way… a rare and precious moment to behold.

Another case in point: the star-shaped gold-and-blue cake, home-baked in professional quality by the couple’s friend Effie Seiberg (complemented by some more from Sweet Adeline Bakeshop):

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Once the cake cutting (and -eating) was done, Erica and Lincoln enjoyed their First Dance to “Never Stop Falling in Love” by Pink Martini. These two are professional grade ballroom dancers, and just watching them twirl and lead and follow and twirl again was a treat all in itself.

danceDancing with the stars, definitely! And that’s what they all did for the rest of the evening… and photographer extraordinaire Amy Carr (just wait until you see HER photos!) and videographer Adrian Quintero captured every precious moment.

Wishing our stars Erica and Lincoln “happily ever after” from the bottom of our hearts! And have a wonderful Honeymoon in Maui!