Independence Day

Fourth of July – Independence Day. Who wouldn’t know? Every school child learns about it. It is the National Day of the United States. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, the motherland of the colonists. It commemorates the end of the American Revolutionary War, in which many thousands paid the ultimate price to attain their new country’s independence.

Independence thus is a value deeply rooted in American history and culture. It is a defining element of the American self-image.

The idea of independence, though, is not restricted to the political realm alone. It is likewise perceived as a value in its own right in the fabric of our society: women have fought a valiant battle for their legal and financial independence from their male family members – fathers, brothers, husbands – for their right to make their own decisions, choose their husbands themselves or live on their own, be the masters of their own fate. The idea of independence is ranking high in our perception of moral values.

And yet – every single day more than 12,000 US citizens voluntarily give up a good part of their personal independence: they get married!  (Which brings us to our main subject here at Wedding Woof).Have you ever looked at weddings from this aspect? Bride and groom are giving up the freedom to do as they like, to go out when they feel like it without asking anyone, to travel whenever wanderlust strikes without having to consider someone else’s feelings or schedules. Thankfully by today those tying the knot do so on their own accord and from their own free will. So – why are they doing it?

Photo credit Andre Vega

Brian Lyke, a minister in Carmel-by-the-Sea who officiates at many weddings, put it this way: ” When we get married, we’re not just fulfilling a social expectation. “Everybody my age is getting married, so that is the normal thing to do!” No, I firmly believe that the reason for getting married lies a lot deeper. Most human beings feel a deep loneliness, feel that something is missing from their lives without a counterpart. Knowingly or unconsciously, they are longing for another human being to share their joys big and small, their frustrations, their successes and failures, in short, their everyday lives. Without this partner, they feel incomplete, and they are searching for completeness, looking for wholeness…for fulfillment, and I believe that that longing for wholeness is part of our nature.  Simply put, we’re made for each other, we’re made for relationship.” And that entails a mutual give-and-take, entails voluntarily giving up some of our hard-earned independence – for love.

And that’s not the only area where people give up part of their independence for love: every month more than 7000 dogs are brought into someone’s household, be it adopted from a shelter or bought from a breeder. (Which brings us to the other focus of Wedding Woof…) Taking up responsibility for a pet automatically means a dramatic change in lifestyle: you can’t leave the house any more for hours at a time, you can’t travel as you used to… you always have to be mindful of your pet’s needs and happiness. And yet – ask any dog owner, and they will assure you that relinquishing part of their independence is double-and triple-rewarded by the love their pet gives them every single day. Here you have it again: sometimes love trumps independence.

Cheers to all those who courageously relinquish some independence in favor of love – for someone two-legged or four-legged… Which should not preclude you from celebrating Independence Day as well!

Delicious home-made dips

As promised, here are more ideas for your upcoming (small…) summer gatherings, especially for bridging the time from guest arrival to food coming sizzling hot off the grill!

Nothing is better to keep guests entertained than delicious snacks – these days served as “portion packages…” – but just as yummy. A fresh dip goes with so many things – from celery and carrot sticks to pretzel rods, toasted baguette slices to breadsticks.

Get inspired by this relaxed approach to mixing a fresh dip!

First: select your base, be it a creamy (full-fat) yoghurt, creme fraiche, or sour cream.

Next: stir in fresh chopped herbs, and let your own preference guide you. The sky is the limit: chives, parsley, cilantro, sage… whatever you have on hand, BUT fresh!

Then: season to taste! Salt, pepper, cayenne are a must. Balance the taste with acidity with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Finish: by adding an eye-catching garnish on top – crunchy nuts, for example, also add texture.

Now that you’ve gotten the hang of it – what about a dessert dip of your own creation?!

Say it with flowers!

My friend, artist Shaochen Wu of Monstera Gold Calligraphy, is branching out into new territory: preserving beautiful flowers in resin – as fridge magnets and paperweights – so they withstand the rigors of everyday life forever, and we can enjoy their beauty and freshness every day!

FLORAL-INSPIRED ART FOR A CAUSE
Bloom + Breathe sprung from the desire to share something beautiful with the world, encourage you to pass that positivity on, all while helping our caretakers on the front lines.



15% of all proceeds from the Bloom + Breathe collection are donated to GetUsPPE.org, a non-profit mobilizing nationwide efforts to keep our front-line healthcare workers safe. Bloom + Breathe supports small businesses, your friends, and those keeping us healthy. 🧡 

See the Collection!

Shaochen Wu, Owner & Calligrapher

Monstera Gold

www.monsteragold.com

Pets & People Gallery

Here comes the first installment of – hopefully – an ongoing series of pet portraits from our SF Bay Area wedding vendor community, proof of what a big heart (for furry friends and otherwise) you all have!

The first one to share a photo for this gallery was harpist Erica Messer, with husband Lincoln in the background. I know them both really well – because I was their wedding planner! Since then, Erica and I have done many, many weddings together…

Erica, Lincoln & kitty
Erica & Lincoln, just married!

Next up are Leah and Vader, doggie siblings living with my longtime assistant Quan Wu. Vader (a Corgi boy) came first, and he helped to pick his new sister, Husky girl Leah. They have become inseparable!

Doggie Mom Quan – formerly at Thomas Fogarty Winery, now working for Taste Catering

Here is a real outdoor girl: Abby, a red merle Australian Shepherd (WITH tail!), living and hiking with her Mom, real estate whiz Manon Celaya, in the Tahoe area. Despite her outdoorsy and adventurous nature, Abby is super well behaved and calm – a true lady!

Abby, queen of the mountain…
… and her Mom, Manon

To mix it up, here’s the next kitty: Sherbert, an orange tabby girl (I am told that’s a rarity among tabbies!) – and while she’s looking sooo young, she’s actually ten years old. Her “human,” violinist Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo of the Mersonacta quartet (who played for us lately) got her when she was just 6 months old, and she could not be happier with “Sherbs” who has both an Instagram and a TikTok presence!

Playful “Sherbs” in action
… and her Mom Laura at work!

On to more doggies! Here is Bacci, the sweet King Cavalier Spaniel boy living with “Kiehl’s Queen” Susan Ciacchella (thanks again, Susan, for all the samples you sent to so many Kiehl’s fans in our community!)

Bacci thoughtful…
… and coming home from a snow hike with his Mom

More dogs! Next up is Junebug, an English Terrier, here with her “waitstaff,” caterer Janay McCullough of Avocado Catering (look up her Quarantine Cakes!) and her husband:

Junebug “holding court”…
… and cuddling with her parents

Another Aussie for you: four-year-old Cosmo, a blue merle Aussie boy, living with my friend and assistant (and “Doggie Mom for the Day” at my events), Melinda Meier:

Cosmo on his way to his favorite place: a doggie ranch in Half Moon Bay

Cosmo is a personal friend of mine, because he is MY dog’s best friend! The two are currently missing each other very much – normally they share playdates in my backyard every few days, tearing through the greenery at full speed for 45 minutes… so here is the other half of this “Duo Infernal,” our own Bear, three years old, a black-tricolored Aussie, truly Cosmo’s brother!

Waiting for his friend…
Helping his Dad with woodchopping…
… and in action in our backyard!

Lastly, an incredible cat family and cat story by Teri Menchini of La Bocca Fina Catering (who recently contributed a delicious breakfast recipe). In her own words…

“The past 20 years have brought me:

~  A family of newborn kittens whose mother was found dead in the fields.

~  Fast-forward 10 years later to a mommie with 4 babies, left behind by her owner in a move…  Can you believe that!

~ 6 years later, the cutest little orange kitty who needed a home, even though I said ‘let’s find it a home’!  Her mommie kittie dropped it off at a friend’s home.

~  And lastly the cutest fluffy kitten that just showed up at my back door at just about 6 weeks of age…  I think a stray mommie must have dropped her off.  The word was out, ‘We take kittens here’!  

With a current count of 7, I found the sign and took it down!”

Thank you all for sharing your wonderful companions and heartwarming stories!

Get fit while sheltering at home!

I am probably speaking for all of us – sheltering at home doesn’t do much good for our fitness, nor for our slender figure! Desperate fitness attempts have shown up on social media (think “Kitchen Climbing!!”) – so I turned to my longtime friend and generous supporter from my days as WIPA Events Director, Beachbody fitness coach Nikki Boyle.

Needless to say – she knows a thing or two about fitness – and as some of you may remember, she is her own best poster child!

Here is what she shared with me.

Want to lose weight? Learn healthy habits? Burn serious calories? Target any goal and see how Beachbody On Demand can help transform you from the comfort of your own home!  Beachbody on Demand makes fitness simple, accessible, and doable, no matter how busy life gets.

You’ll get online access to complete fitness programs for any body type and any fitness level.

• You can stream over 800+ workouts & you get to choose from World-class Beachbody programs!
• Yoga, cardio, dance, strength & more
• Download workouts for offline use
• Workout calendars & progress trackers, Fitness PLUS Nutrition

https://share.coach.teambeachbody.com/?lang=en-US&postId=1100187&coachId=230126

I am a true Beachbody success story!  After the birth of my second child, I wanted desperately to get back into shape and feel good in my own skin again.  With the support of Beachbody’s health and fitness programs I was able to lose over 20 pounds and 17 inches.  Today I am happy, health and fit!  I know Beachbody can work for you too!

Nikki Boyle

650-400-6085

website: https://mysite.coach.teambeachbody.com?coachId=230126&locale=en_US

Do you know Quarantine Cakes?

I didn’t know either – believe me! That is until my colleague Janay McCullough of Avocado Catering explained it to me.

With the announcement of the “shelter-in-place” mandate, all catering businesses were suddenly facing an unprecedented situation. They all began offering meal delivery as a way to salvage what business they could, and Janay was no exception.

She knew she had to set herself apart to survive. When Butter& bakery posted a photo on Instagram of their PSA cakes, Janay knew what to do. As a pastry chef by training, she is always ready to solve the world’s problems with dessert! She got the blessing from Butter& and set to work.

A laser engraver made the stencils for the cakes – “don’t touch your face” and “wash your hands” and Janay’s own sayings such as “channel your inner introvert” and “you can’t spell quarantine with U-R-A-Q-T” (the latter being particularly popular with couples who are unable to see each other at the moment).

Even in these trying times, people are craving connection and closeness, and that is more important now than ever before. The majority of people are not purchasing Janay’s cakes for themselves, they’re sending them to friends and loved ones that they cannot physically be present with. Through Quarantine Cakes, Janay’s Avocado Company is able to fulfill a need that reaches so much further than a text or Facebook post.

Do you want to order your own Quarantine Cake? Here you go: https://www.avocadosf.com/quarantine-cakes

DIY Face Masks – by Stephanie

My resourceful assistant Stephanie unearthed her sewing machine and made her own face masks for her whole family!

She is sharing which tutorial she used:

And here is the result of Stephanie’s efforts:

Bravo, Stephanie – and happy sewing to everyone in our community!

Polynesian Dance with Myrtle Ventura

Here comes a true highlight of our “inspiration” series, starring members of our SF Bay Area wedding vendor community with all their talents!

My longtime assistant Myrtle Ventura is performing with the acclaimed, award-winning Polynesian dance troupe Te Pura O Te Rahura’a (“Spark of Creation”). Be amazed by this incredible performance:

And here is how the dancers are practicing these days, sheltering at home.

Bravo to Myrtle and all dancers of Te Pura O Te Rahura’a!

Shelter at Home – Week 3: Making Yoghurt!

Like everyone else, I am sheltering at home – and like many colleagues in the wedding industry, all my projects are on hold. Never one to sit still and twiddle my thumbs, I had to come up with something to do: something constructive. Stranded without my regular work and without any crafts supplies, I found my creative outlet in my kitchen!

One of my motivations – the shortage of our fresh grocery supply, something we used to take for granted… Now suddenly it’s NOT a given to get everything I want in the one grocery trip I’m doing every two weeks. Yoghurt, for example. Here’s our favorite:

Comes in pretty little glass jars, too – and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away anyways, darn cute as they are. So I now have a whole collection of them… why not refill them with my own concoction?!

So, bear with me. Half a gallon milk and two tablespoons of probiotic yoghurt as a starter, and six hours (of Instantpot incubation) later…

… my milk had thickened – but not enough yet. Still too runny. Next step: drain through a cheesecloth for a good 2 hours!

That worked! The result was very much like creamy yoghurt – which I enriched with a little heavy cream. However… the yield was only about half my original volume. The rest was just liquid.

Time to fill my little glass pots. Bottom layer: two heaping teaspoons of our favorite jams (Bonne Maman Black Cherry and Smucker’s Sweet Orange), topped with my precious yoghurt.

That’s all I got from half a gallon of milk to start with – so that better be good… off to the fridge, and after chilling overnight, we’ll have the “moment of truth” tomorrow morning. (This is my third time – it IS good!!)

Oh, BTW: if you try it yourself, don’t discard the yoghurt liquid. It’s perfect for my Irish Soda Bread recipe which I’ll share in a day or two. Put your whey liquid in the fridge until then!

Katie and Marcelo – International High Elegance at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club

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.

Golden October sun bathing the rolling hills of the PAHGGC
A detail of the lush floral decor of the arch – a rich texture of hydrangeas, roses, dahlias, lilies and wildflowers, in shades ranging from ivory and blush pink to peach, mauve and wine red

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 bridesmaids were wearing subtle shades of mauve and pale lavender, accentuated by their bouquets which picked up this color scheme and complemented it with deep burgundy, magenta and ivory.
You may now kiss the bride!
Just married!

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.

Every guest table enjoyed a giant version of the bridal bouquet as its exquisite centerpiece
Mauve velvet napkins were adorned with simple green sprigs and a little wedding favor: a personalized wine cork to commemorate the occasion

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.

The newlyweds’ First Dance…
… was followed by a spectacular Father-Daughter Dance routine (which both of them clearly had sheer joy in performing!)

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!