Wedding Postponement – not the End of the World…

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So you got engaged, and you’ve jumped headfirst into planning your Great Day. You were full of joy and anticipation, and maybe you were overwhelmed at first by the sheer amount of “moving parts” that go into the probably biggest party you’ve ever planned in your life. Your Spring 2020 wedding date is drawing close – and suddenly EVERYTHING comes crashing down. COVID-19 has hit many, many couples. Hard. As a wedding planner, I am in the middle of all this heartbreak, disappointment and frustration, trying to help my couples as much as I can.

And now I’m trying to help everyone else out there as well by sharing my professional expertise and advice. I can’t make the situation go away – but maybe I can ease it a little bit for you…

Let me start by saying that I’ve had a couple of wedding re-schedulings over the years, mostly due to illnesses in the family. These situations did not leave my couples any choice, either, so they had to cope as best they could. I would like to share the story of Kate … with its double complication. Her wedding date had been set and her venue booked, in Carmel Valley. Everything seemed to be “on track.” Then, at her Bachelorette Party (!), Kate had a near-fatal accident. Her doctors prepared her parents for the worst. A miracle happened: not only did Kate survive, contrary to all expectations she made a nearly full recovery. Of course, nothing else counted at that time! When Kate was well enough to think of her wedding again – wildfires were engulfing Carmel Valley. Following through with her original wedding plans or even with her original venue was out of the question. At that point, her mother booked my company, A Day Like No Other, to help with rescheduling and actually, starting over again. A few months later than planned, Kate had a dream wedding at a dream venue (the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Half Moon Bay), and she was able to be on the dance floor with her new husband and join back into “normal life” which had become – the most unexpected and most precious gift of all to her.

The downside? One deposit of several thousand dollars was lost. That, in the end, was the only real damage. Needless to say, Kate, her husband and her parents are simply thankful.

Let’s take our cue from that. Please, let’s simply be thankful to be safe and healthy. We can make everything else work!

Here are a few ideas, developed in discussions with those of my couples who had to reschedule… maybe one of them might be a good idea for you as well?

If you have a valid marriage license (chances are: you do!), then you can get married at your home or a friend’s home in a small, intimate ceremony; something like an elopement – you two, your officiant plus parents and siblings only. The “big party” could then be rescheduled to a later date when everything’s back to normal.

If you want to go that route – contact me (jutta@daylikenoother.com); I am happy to help you organize that, together with my extensive network of trusted vendors in the SF Bay Area. Here is how: I’ll find you an officiant; many of the top-notch catering companies that you might have booked for your wedding now deliver their delicious food to private homes. There’s your wedding menu! I can get you a photographer to capture the moment (wearing a face mask, if you wish!), a florist who makes you a beautiful bouquet from whatever is available right now, and leaves it on your doorstep – no direct contact necessary, and we can even get you a small wedding cake. Have a glass of champagne and savor the moment… Whether this has ever been done, you want to know? Oh yes, by choice, actually… look at this couple, and how beautiful their wedding day was. The smallest wedding I’ve ever done!

Rescheduling the big party – maybe to the Fall of this year – might even have its advantages. One of my couples had originally planned for an outdoor wedding in early April at a beautiful venue – with notoriously fickle weather due to its exposed location. We were already discussing tenting (a costly proposition), heat lamps, bad weather plans… when the couple was forced to postpone their wedding date due to the shelter-at-home ordinance, the venue offered them a Saturday in early September at no extra cost – with the most glorious, stable weather conditions imaginable. Guess what? My couple is actually happy, relieved and full of new anticipation!

So far, all the venues and vendor in my network have been extremely flexible and accommodating, so do not hesitate to ask YOUR venue and vendors! Most couples will want to keep their venue, so that’s where you ask first. Then you try to line up your vendors and find solutions with those who are unavailable on your new date. Even if your contract stipulates non-refundability of your deposit, your vendor might make an exception or agree to “share the damage” with you. Again, we are happy to help with all of that – contact us at jutta@daylikenoother.com. Your initial consultation is actually free!

Hard as it may be at this point – let’s try to see the proverbial silver lining and make your wedding unique, personal and unforgettable, no matter what!

Hannah and Matt: A Glorious Fall Wedding on the Coast

Here is my last wedding of the 2019 season, and a beautiful one at that! Hannah and Matt decided to tie the knot pretty much on the day of their two-year anniversary. Matt had nearly sworn off relationships completely, and Hannah had simply taken her time – but when the two met, the attraction was instantaneous. Very soon, the two became loving parents to rescue dog Kiki, a 10-lb furry white ball of love. One thing led to another – and ultimately everything led them to getting married!

Many months of planning with my company, A Day Like No Other, did pay off last Saturday at Mavericks House in Half Moon Bay, beautiful, nautical-inspired event space right on the water.

Hannah got ready next door, at the Inn at Mavericks, with gorgeous views over the Half Moon Bay harbor. Hair and makeup stylist Hanh Cao worked her magic on a bride who otherwise rarely wears makeup – and the results were downright stunning!

Hannah admitted that every time throughout the day when she looked at herself in the mirror – she smiled. That says it all!

Her bridesmaids dressed in beautifully coordinated seaglass colors…

… then they all, including the bride’s sister/Maid of Honor, helped Hannah into her wedding dress…

… elegant, timeless and unfrilly as Hannah prefers it, with a lace top and a soft and feminine tulle skirt – so pretty!

A true “sister-to-sister” moment!

Then there were Hannah’s princess slippers with a LOT of “bling…”

… and her stunning bridal bouquet (from Green Petal Designs – who created floral decor throughout) in Fall colors.

Hannah had requested a loose, effortless, feminine style, and florist Janelle Jacky-Litt “delivered” with an unexpected combination of rust-colored orchids and roses, astilbe, grasses and even air plant in the bouquet, all finished with a teal wrap around the stems as a little peek preview to the couple’s favorite color as the star of their decor.

The groom and groomsmen got matching boutonnieres – just as pretty (only a lot smaller…).

Ready for their “First Look” – always a very emotional moment…

The wooden ceremony arch (with its spectacular backdrop of endless views over the Pacific) was decorated in similar style with large sprays of Fall flowers.

The ceremony was officiated by a family member who found the most personal words – half fun, half gravitas – for Hannah and Matt, while their favorite music was played by DJ Ron Israel of Spotlight Occasions.

While the couple was taking many, many photos with photographer Frank J. Lee (wait until you see HIS photos! So far all we have are my cellphone snapshots…), guests flocked to the Cocktail patio and the fire tables and heat lamps as the sun began to disappear and it was getting quite chilly.

The Mavericks team under leadership of Lisa Graye, florist Kelly of Green Petal Designs, and my assistant Melinda and I were busy putting finishing touches on the dining room decor.

The couple had chosen their favorite color, teal, for table cloths, a perfect complement to the colors of the sea outside and the muted blues and greys of the venue; and Fall colors in hues of rust and orange with lots of candlelight for their table decor – a beautiful combination.

Seasonal pumpkins played table card holder…

… and gourds and mini pumpkins “rubbed shoulders” with exquisite roses and rustic leaves, grasses and thistles.

The couple’s delicious all-vegan wedding cake (by Christian Roeder of Krumbs Cakes) played along with textural details… and unexpected flowers!

The couple’s First Dance opened the dance floor…

… and DJ Ron kept the joyful, upbeat vibe going for the late-night revelers.

The newlyweds were headed to their “mini moon” (to be followed by their “real” honeymoon later), and guests were shuttled back to their hotels in style (by Le Grande Affaire Transportation).

What a party! Wishing Hannah and Matt a lifetime of happiness!

Macy and Josh’s Great Day: Family & Friends at Fogarty Winery

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!

Just married – a quiet moment …

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 ….

Specialty tea containers did double duty as escort “cards” and as wedding favors

… 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?

Photo credit: Frank J. Lee Photography

It certainly was a great party for everyone.

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Macy and Josh!

The Ultimate Summer Wedding: L & J at Thomas Fogarty Winery

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!

Photo: Danny Dong Photography
Photo: Danny Dong Photography

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…

Photo: Danny Dong Photography

… 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.

Photo: Danny Dong Photography
Photo: Danny Dong Photography
Photo: Danny Dong Photography

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!

Mazel Tov to our wonderful, happy couple!

Audrey’s and Niko’s Epic Wedding Celebration

After a more than seven-year courtship, Audrey and Niko decided to make their union official – and to do that in the presence of more than 300 guests. An epic party, in short! Their longtime friend, my assistant Quan at A Day Like No Other, had taken on the huge task of planning every detail of their Great Day.

The couple had chosen a venue with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline: the Seminary at Strawberry in Mill Valley, just across the SF Bay, and last week it all came together on a beautiful sunny Spring day under blue skies and with a slight breeze. Absolutely perfect!

Bride Audrey and her bridesmaids started very early in the day with hair and makeup services by Maya of Dreamcatcher Artistry.

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She and her bridesmaids definitely had a great time together!

Audrey received a gorgeous diamond necklace as a wedding gift from her groom…

… and it was the perfect complement to her low-cut, elegant lace wedding dress.

Next – high heels (gorgeous lacy ones) and the rings…

Photo: ADLNO

… and finally, her pretty bridal bouquet by Willow Floral Design (who also provided the ceremony florals). Photographer Kat Ma and videographer Jeremy Quans captured it all, all day long! (All photos by Kat Ma Photography, unless noted otherwise).

Niko and his groomsmen were also dressing up “to the nines…”

Ready for the traditional Tea Ceremony (for which Audrey wore a beautiful red lace dress)!

The bride traveled in style to her “First Look” location (her Dad chauffeured her in his fire-engine-red Corvette!)…

… and then it was time for many, many photos of the couple and the bridal party.

Very soon, the first ones of the couple’s 300 guests were arriving…

… an arbor (from Bright Party Rentals) had been set up and decorated with flowers (by Willow Floral Designs)…

… and then the great moment was there: Audrey and Niko were saying their vows in a beautiful ceremony officiated by Niko’s uncle, Father Ringo Perez.

Meanwhile, the teams of A Day Like No Other (assistants Trisha, Stephanie, and myself), Standard Party Rentals (for draping and chairs), Joe Squared Productions (lighting) and Zen Peninsula Catering were hard at work to get the cocktail area and dining room ready for the big party.

Now, how do 300 guests find their assigned tables? Here it was a whimsical display of pretty name lists on vintage shutters.

Time for the Great Entrance of the couple and their bridal party – BUT with a huge, unexpected twist: an authentic Lion Dance by Tenny Lee and his troupe!

The couple presided over it all from their Sweetheart Table.

The groom and his groomsmen had prepared a surprise performance for the bride:

More surprises were awaiting their guests: with reverence for the Star Wars movies (the couple’s all-time favorite), guests received “chop sabers” (light-up chopsticks) for their 10-course Chinese Banquet dinner!

Trulee Memorable provided their photo booth as additional guest entertainment – a HUGE hit!

In between, the newlyweds quietly “stole away” for Sunset photos…

And when they returned and had completed their traditional table visits, they went on to cut their cake (by Tony’s Cakes) …

… toss a bouquet…

… and a garter…

… and then the dance floor was opened to everyone. Oh – I nearly forgot – we had a traditional Money Dance as well…

It was an epic dance party to the tunes of Chemistry DJs!

Everyone had a great time… wishing you a lifetime filled with joy, happiness and many more epic parties, Audrey and Niko!

Stacey and Michael – at Last…!

… at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside! The two had been together a full seven years, were parents to three cats (the youngest kitten having been adopted two weeks before their wedding!) – so all their friends agreed: it was about time! Stacey and Michael are super busy young professionals, so when they decided in Spring to “make it official” in October of 2018, they were looking for help. A lot of help! My company, A Day Like No Other, was entrusted with all the preparations, and off we went…

The two had chosen their venue, a spectacular winery overlooking all of Silicon Valley with endless views, and a day that turned out to be proverbial “Bay Area Golden October:” sunny, with blue skies, and warm. Just perfect.

The bride arrived at the venue in full hair and makeup (by A-List Makeup) and all she needed to do was get into her gorgeous wedding dress with the help of her bridesmaids…

… pick up her vibrant, Fall-colored, richly textured bridal bouquet (from Laurel & Vine)…

… and here she is, ready for her First Look:

Groom Michael and his groomsmen were meanwhile also getting ready…

… donned their boutonnieres, and the Best Man took care of the rings.

With that, Bride and Groom were ready for their official First Look:

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Time for many, many photos with bridesmaids and groomsmen (by Sandra Fazzino Photography) and video (by Sway Media) while the teams of Thomas Fogarty Winery, Laurel & Vine Florals, and Toast Catering were busy with preparations. DJ Justin of JustIntertainment set up their sound systems while my assistant Trisha and I set up decorations and made sure that all went smoothly and on time.

Very soon, the first guests were arriving – they were greeted by a vintage baby-blue typewriter to leave their messages and well-wishes for the couple.

In addition to the (already quirky) typewriter in lieu of a conventional guestbook, we had provided a map for all guests to mark from where they had traveled to be with Stacey and Michael on their special day…

… and here they see the first of many kittens that would pop up throughout that whole wedding celebration in honor of the couple’s beloved felines!

Time for the ceremony which was officiated by a longtime friend of the couple, aided by more friends who read passages from Antoine de St. Exupery’s “Le Petit Prince” during the ceremony.

You may now kiss the bride! And here they are, just married… and so happy!

For the couple, it meant… more photos! And for their guests, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the open deck, with gorgeous views.

For “escort cards,” the couple had come up with yet another quirky and unexpected idea: custom cookies decorated in the “College colors” of each particular guest! A smart idea as most of their guests were their friends from college…

Dining tables in the beautiful open “Pavilion” were adorned with centerpieces matching the bride’s bouquet, and the table numbers were another loving nod to the couple’s cat babies.

The couple’s Sweetheart Table got, of course, a little extra-special treatment!

Time for the Grand Entrance of the newlyweds!

… and for speeches…

… and then, for dessert! Another quirky choice: delicious, fragrant mini donuts (by Harvey’s Donuts) – everyone decided to “re-start the diet tomorrow!”

The couple “wowed” everyone with their elaborate First Dance …

… which opened the dance floor to everyone and to an epic dance party!

Everyone – young and old – had a great time, and then we gave the newlyweds a Grand Send-Off in style, with glowsticks:

Dance on, Stacey and Michael … for a lifetime of happiness!

The glorious St. Francis Heights Reveal at the Westin St. Francis

Exciting news! One of SF’s most storied landmark hotels – the Westin St. Francis on Union Square – just completed the remodel and renovation of its equally famous “Imperial floor” ballrooms. It took three months, and the result, as revealed two days ago with an elegant cocktail party for event professionals, is just gorgeous!

The way time-honored traditions go is that they hold on to the glories of the past – and that is good and comforting for a long time. Here are the two ballrooms on the “Imperial” (32nd) floor before the remodel – Alexandra’s in golden hues…

… and Victor’s, a folly in soft pinks and baby blues…

Holding on to this turn-of-the-century glamour was a comforting tradition and had become a “gold standard” in San Francisco , until, of course, it was time to bring everything up to today’s standards and esthetic sensibilities and start a new tradition and standard of excellence! And that is exactly what happened here.

Riding up the glass elevators to the 32nd floor and taking in gorgeous City views has not changed…

… but once you step out on the “St. Francis Heights” floor ( that’s what the 32nd floor is called now) – everything is breathtakingly new!

Mirrored walls with a subtle etched Art Deco pattern with matching consoles set the tone in the elevator lobby – everything now in elegant cool shades of silver, grey and shimmering glass and mirror.

Turn to your right, and there is the new “Golden Gate Room” (formerly Alexandra’s) transformed into glamorous modernity:

… with boldly-patterned grey carpeting, silvery-grey draped curtains (reminiscent of the flowy gowns of silver-screen goddesses…) and stunning modern chandeliers creating a “sky of glittering stars” overhead. The views are, of course, gorgeous as always!

But you haven’t even see half of it! Return through the elevator lobby to the other side of the building to where Victor’s Ballroom used to be – now it’s called “Mission Bay” …

Mission Bay has a large foyer, spacious enough to be a function room in its own right, for example to host a good-sized Cocktail Hour:

… and maybe offer wedding cake, dessert bar (delicious verrines and mini desserts by the onsite patissier) or a candy bar (here by SF Candy Bar):

… of course, everything with that breathtaking “million-dollar” view!

Now – isn’t that drop-dead gorgeous?!! I can only recommend to go and see it for yourself. It’s even more impressive in reality, and I can’t wait to design events in this new beautiful space. “St. Francis Heights” is definitely the new gold standard for elegant events in the City.

The Honor – and the Cost! – of Being a Bridesmaid

Your bestie just got engaged, and of course you’re over-the-moon happy! But maybe you’re also silently dreading the thought of being a bridesmaid. After all, it’s a big commitment that can potentially mean spending a good amount of money on a dress and on wedding-related festivities. While the bride and her family may be covering costs through savings  or a wedding loan, you should make sure you have the budget to cover your obligations as a bridesmaid.

Today we’re going to break down the cost of being a bridesmaid and share some tips for saving money along the way.

The Bridesmaid Dress – Average cost $150

You might think the bridesmaid dress is a “non-negotiable” in terms of spending money. After all, you have to buy whatever the bride picks out, right? While it is true that you shouldn’t go rogue and show up in a random dress, you can still save money while adhering to the bride’s wishes. You may get lucky!  You can find many popular bridesmaid brands like David’s Bridal, Vera Wang, BHLDN and more on secondhand clothing sites like Tradesy and Poshmark. Most people wear a bridesmaid dress only once, so you can rest assured that it will be in like-new condition. Just make sure you get a clear picture, the name and the exact color of the desired dress from the bride so you can verify that you’re purchasing the right one. If that approach doesn’t work, you can still re-sell or donate your “as-new” dress afterwards.

Bridesmaid Accessories – Average cost $120

Your bride might give you a bridesmaid gift of jewelry to wear on the big day, but you could still end up having to purchase special undergarments or shoes to go with your dress. Borrowing accessories is a good way to cut down costs in this area. Just poll your other friends who have been bridesmaids – one of them is sure to have something to help you out! Online retailers like zappos and discount stores like DSW are insider tips for finding gorgeous heels at an affordable price. And if you’re looking for an extra-special accessory, you can also rent designer pieces from Rent the Runway at a fraction of the cost.

Hair & Makeup – Average cost $125

If your bride is requiring that you get your hair and makeup professionally done, etiquette says that she should pay for it. If your bride isn’t requiring that you get your hair and makeup professionally done, consider skipping this expense altogether or only picking one service to save money. There is a large selection of makeup tutorials on YouTube, so do some experimenting and try to master one go-to makeup look that you can rely on for the big day. If you are planning on splurging for professional services, don’t forget to factor a tip into your budget.

The Bridal Shower – Average cost $50-$150+ per bridesmaid

This is one area where it’s great to get the bride’s family and future family involved to help cut costs. Does the bride’s mom have an immaculate garden and patio at her house? Ask if you can host the shower there. Join forces with your co-bridesmaids. Is one of them an amazing baker? Ask if she’d make the dessert for the shower. Most people will be thrilled to honor the bride by contributing their talents in a small way. Co-hosting the event with several bridesmaids or family members also means you can split the cost which allows you to splurge on a few special items.

The Bachelorette Party – Average cost $80-$300+

You can still throw an unforgettable party for your bride without breaking the bank. Picking a local spot for festivities will significantly cut down on the cost, but can be hard if bridesmaids are spread out. If travel is unavoidable, look into splitting an Airbnb with the group rather than booking a swanky hotel. It will be even more fun for the whole group to be sharing the same house and being in a cool place to have your first cocktails and cook your own “morning-after” mimosa brunch together – all the while saving big! Martha Stewart Weddings has even put together a list of some seriously awesome Airbnbs available in popular bachelorette destinations.

 

As you can see, the cost of being a bridesmaid can really add up fast, but it’s one expense that will be more than worth it. The money spent on showers and parties will ultimately translate into quality time spent with your friend during one of the most exciting, most unique – but also most stressful times in her life. Standing next to her as she says her vows will be priceless and will make it all worth it!

 

 

Ali and Rick: Friends, Family, Food and Fun for a Fall Wedding

Ali and Rick are wonderfully unconventional. Their wedding would NOT follow the common scheme of “wedding venue, garter toss, bouquet toss…” and a lot of other “frills.” They had their own vision – but they needed help to pull it off. When they asked my company, A Day Like No Other, for support, I was immediately on board.

They would have their ceremony and reception at a private residence – a “backyard wedding.” Well – until I saw that “backyard!” Perched high on a hillside with endless views and breathtaking sunsets, the Tuscan-style residence is surrounded by a lush garden, sheltered patios and porches, and a large dining patio under dense, mature trees. A dream! And off we went with our preparations. Last Saturday, it all came together on a beautiful, sunny and warm September day under blue skies and with a slight breeze. The Weather Gods were clearly playing along!

So many personal touches went into this wedding that I don’t even know where to begin… Ali’s dress had been handsewn by her mother and grandmother, and hand-embroidered and beaded – a true labor of love!

Ali’s mother, an artist, had also created all floral arrangements, had built the arch from birch logs,

… and put endless personal touches on the decor – from handwritten signage …

…. to lanterns lining the walkways and twinkling hanging lights in the trees.

For Ali and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup by Lindsay and Sarah from Miabel Artistry,

Then, Ali slipped into her dress, assisted by her bridesmaids…

… and into her pretty sandals…

… picked up her summery bouquet of her favorite flowers – sunflowers – in her favorite colors of yellow and light blue…

… and was ready to meet her “Prince Charming,” Rick.

Time for many, many photos with photographer Sandra Fazzino – just wait until you see HER photos! (So far, all we have to offer are our snapshots…)

Meanwhile, my team (assistants Alexandra and Stephanie, and myself), the delivery crew from Stuart Event Rentals, the catering crew from Elaine Bell Catering, and our DJ Henry Kim from BIG FUN Disc Jockeys were all hard at work to get our preparations done before the first guests were arriving.

The motor court of the residence had been transformed into something resembling an Italian “piazza” with living trees to disguise the garage doors, market umbrellas for shade and string lights for the later part of the evening.

Soon enough, our first guest shuttle from El Paseo Limousine arrived. Guests were greeted by more handmade signage and much-needed hand fans!

Time for the ceremony! Again, a personal touch – the ceremony was officiated by the groom’s younger brother. It couldn’t have been more personal and more lighthearted.

Just married!

Party time, and time for dinner! While our guests were enjoying their cocktails, the decor,

the views…

… and the sunset,

the ceremony area was quietly transformed into an open-air nightclub. A professional dance floor was installed, the string lights overhead came on, and DJ Henry had his disco lights ready before our guests even sat down to dinner on the back patio.

Inspired by the Tuscan atmosphere of the residence, guests were dining at beautiful bare wooden tables…

During dinner, dusk fell, and the twinkling lights in the tree made the scene truly magical.

And the glorious food served by EBC made this dinner all the more memorable!

Next up – dessert! Mini cupcakes and fruit accompanied the couple’s presentation cake (again lovingly decorated by the mother of the bride).

 

After that, there was no holding back! Without further ado (like a First Dance, or Special Dances, or the like…) the dance floor was opened, the disco lights came on, and the party went into overdrive!

We even had wedding crashers!! A bunch of eleven-year olds had escaped from their slumber party next door (in their pajamas!!) and snuck right onto the dance floor… Of course they were welcomed and invited to stay on until 10 pm when the music had to conclude (per local noise ordinance…) – otherwise everyone would gladly have stayed on!

Congratulations, Ali and Rick, to a truly unforgettable wedding celebration! Party on… and stay as unconventional as you are!