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!

 

Whirlwind Wedding Planning – Where to Start?

So you just got engaged – congratulations! And you want to get married right away – great! Only problem if you are living in a metropolitan area like me: most wedding vendors are booked a year in advance. How then to pull it off in, say, three months? Or even less?

It is possible! I have done it in my own wedding planning and design business, A Day Like No Other. The process is intense, and it follows its own rules.

Photo Credit: A Frame Forward

  • Be crystal-clear on what you want.

You need to make a decision right away on the approximate date, the geographic area, the style and size of your wedding celebration, and your budget. For your date, you may have to compromise depending on what is still available in the venues you like. The geographic area will be largely determined by your willingness to travel and/or have a “destination wedding.” Your favorite style will also determine in which geographic areas and for which types of venue you are looking – if you are a fan of beach weddings with your “feet in the sand,” then you will be looking in different areas than if you prefer rolling hills and a Redwood Grove for your ceremony. Maybe you are dreaming of an elaborately decorated hotel ballroom –  that allows for more venues to choose from. Lastly, assess your budget realistically. Will you be paying for all of your wedding yourself, or will your families contribute? Will the cost for big-ticket items like wedding dress, rings and honeymoon be included in your whole budget?

Credit Cooper Carras Photography

 

  • Enlist professional help.

With little time to get it all organized, you should turn to an experienced wedding planner for help. Planning a wedding – even under the best of circumstances and with a lot of lead time – involves myriad details, moving parts and time-consuming research. A good wedding planner will structure the process for you, guide you step by step, make sure that decisions are made in the correct order, and save you endless hours of online research and vendor interviews. First off: your venue and your caterer – the backbone of your event! Your wedding planner will find venues for you that fit your tastes and budget and still have availability in the time frame you are considering. He or she will then assist in finding a caterer unless the venue offers in-house catering; and then all the other vendors you will need to round out your celebration.

Credit Cooper Carras photography

 

  • Be flexible.

Being “late in the game” means that you may not get your first choice of venue and vendors. Your wedding planner will be able to help you prioritize and find a work-around. Did you know that even if all Saturdays are sold out at your favorite venues, you may still be able to book a Friday or a Sunday? (Saturdays always sell out first). On the other hand, if you are considering a weekday wedding, many of your guests may not be able to attend. Considering a dinner/reception at a restaurant? Remember that in many areas good restaurants are closed on Mondays. If your favorite dates fall outside the local “high wedding season,” you have a better chance to secure a date on short notice, and you may even save on your venue fee. In general, when choosing your venue, you may want to prefer one that offers complete wedding packages including food and bar, all rentals, and a venue coordinator onsite on your Great Day. You will in all likelihood not have the time to organize and coordinate an elaborate setup with rental items from various companies, a field kitchen and a tent in “the middle of nowhere.” While certainly unique, such a project calls for a long planning period. Believe me, I’ve done it!

Credit Vicens Forns Photography

 

  • Tackle decisions in the correct order and in a timely manner.

That sounds self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, some decisions need to be made right away – even if they do not feel that urgent to you. One decision that has to be made right away is finding a wedding dress! A dress often takes 6-8 months to make, plus alterations. If you have that much time, great, then choose and order it right away. If not, you need to find floor models off the rack that can be customized to your measurements. Do it right now! And send out your Save-the-Dates immediately to make sure your favorite guests reserve your Great Day for you. Needless to say that you also do not have the luxury of postponing all other decisions. Your vendor pool to choose from is limited, and so you want to lock in your favorites within this selection right away. Again, in order to avoid mistakes, go with your wedding planner’s or your venue’s recommendations. Well-established wedding planners, especially, have an extensive network of industry connections. They know who is reliable and will deliver good value for your money. Listen to their advice!

Credit Kevin Chin Photography

 

  • Enjoy your Great Day!

Your courtship including wedding planning will be a whirlwind, I guarantee it! Come Wedding Day, your wedding planner will make sure that your celebration unfolds around you “like magic,” keeping you out of all the logistics and addressing the inevitable little glitches without you even knowing it. In my practice at A Day Like No Other, I promise my couples that on their wedding day their only job is to celebrate, and to “float through their day on Cloud Nine!” And that’s what I hope will happen on your Great Day, too… enjoy!

Credit Nathan Worden Photography

 

 

The Perfect Bridesmaids’ Gift!

Here at A Day Like No Other, we are used to being asked all sorts of questions about any wedding detail imaginable. One regularly recurring question, however, is in regard to appropriate gifts for bridesmaids. Given that etiquette demands a lot from bridesmaids – from planning a bridal shower to paying for their travel to the wedding, accommodation and attire themselves – our brides feel that a special gift to these special ladies is in order. It should be beautiful, personal, meaningful; it should be worn for the wedding day, but also beyond. Some brides gift their bridesmaids the dress they are supposed to wear at the wedding ceremony, some gift a robe and hair/makeup services.

I personally have always been a fan of giving a piece of beautiful jewelry that can be worn way beyond wedding day. And now I’ve finally come across the perfect choice!

It is a personalized necklace from brevity with the name of the recipient rendered  in a variety of materials and at different price points – something for every taste and for every budget. Founder and lead designer Anna Corpron is most definitely up to something here! You can have individual signatures translated into necklaces – just email them a photo of the signature, and they’ll do it!

Or you can have the name of the intended wearer hand-calligraphed (they have a calligrapher on staff who is doing nothing else!) in a modern, flowy style.

You can even combine two names in one piece (I would say that’s the perfect bride-and-groom version!) for an impressive statement piece.

OR you can have four names, or a phrase, or or or…

All these pretty pieces come in steel, pure or gold-dipped (the most affordable versions) or in sterling silver or in solid gold… so, which one is your favorite? As I said – something for everyone! Actually, YES. Also for celebrities! Kylie Jenner, Francesca Eastman and Malin Akerman, to name just a few, have been spotted wearing their names or signatures as jewelry courtesy of brevity.

And the best thing is… our brides at A Day Like No Other even get a discount! So – what are you waiting for?

 

Blueprint Studios Winter Showcase: WOW!!

Yesterday, Blueprint Studios invited again to their annual Winter Showcase, and I was among the lucky ones to receive an invitation. My only comment in one word: WOW! In the heat of summer, the Blueprint designers had pulled out all stops to create a whimsical homage to winter decor – be it glitzy and glamorous or more woodsy or modern… or a genius combination of all of the above!

There was natural birch with Freesias and golden candlelight, and …

… there were also sparkly green and turquoise Christmas ornaments nestled in white summer blooms.

My favorite? The dramatic suspended orchid arrangements!

The Blueprint team did again what they do best: come up with show-stopping setups! A modern white-chrome-and-glass lounge combination against the backdrop of a winter forest…

… and table decor to die for! First up: “Vintage Napa:”

… showcasing all those beautiful pieces from Hensley Event Resources; then…

… an homage to the late Kate Spade, in preppy red, ivory and gold, with giant dahlias, as well as a glamorous Moroccan-inspired fantasy.

Since Blueprint always throws not only an impressive showcase, but also a great party, guests were treated to drinks from a chic custom bar…

… accompanied by savory little bites and finally: dessert! That came in two varieties: edible…

… waffle pops with rich chocolate sauce and delicious toppings; and visual…

… with bright pink carnations imitating old-fashioned ice cream sundaes!

What totally sold me? Chandeliers. Believe it or not… with all the “eye candy,” it took me until the very last moment to look upward and notice an assortment of chandeliers in a hallway – one more glamorous than the next. Here are my special favorites…

I am still absorbing all those inspirations! All the new chairs I’d love to use, the linen and tabletop collections that just beg to be displayed in ever new combinations… I can’t wait to be back in the showroom with new clients and dreaming up another unique wedding decor! Thank you, thank you, Blueprint!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erin and Gabriel – Rustic Elegance with South-of-the-Border Charm

Erin and Gabe are super-busy young professionals – both physicians, working long hours. When they embarked on their wedding planning, they realized immediately that they would need support for all the details, the logistics, the design; in short, pretty much everything. I was honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, to organize their preparations every step of the way.

We started with their exceptional venue, Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean compound surrounded by a beautiful, park-like garden. On Wedding Day, all the lush plantings were in full bloom, and despite a serious threat of rain in the weather forecast, we got incredibly lucky with sunshine and blue skies and were able to hold ceremony, Cocktail Hour and dinner outside, as planned.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Hard to believe that this hidden gem is nestled into a quiet residential neighborhood right in the heart of Silicon Valley!

Erin and Gabe and their bridesmaids and groomsmen all got ready at the nearby Garden Court Hotel

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… with hair and makeup services for the ladies by Fiona and Joey of Urban Beauty Loft.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The bride had chosen a beautiful ivory wedding dress with a lace top and flowing skirt – so young and elegant in its simplicity…

… Helping the bride into her dress is always a true mother-daughter moment…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs brought the bridal and bridesmaids’ bouquets – and they looked exactly like Erin had envisioned them! Not an easy feat as Erin’s favorite flowers are red Bougainvilleas which are notoriously fragile and do not last in bouquets and centerpieces. Not one to ever give up easily, Janelle came up with a master plan to cut these prized blooms onsite from living plants she brought in, only hours before the ceremony… and Erin got her dream bouquet! Here it is…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… accompanied, of course, by matching bridesmaids’ bouquets…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and boutonnieres for the gentlemen.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Groom …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and groomsmen were also dressing up…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Ready for “First Look!” Photographer extraordinaire Vicens Forns and his second shooter Ana Silva captured every precious moment throughout the day and evening.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Bride and groom exchanged gifts right then and there – a wristwatch for the groom and stunning pearl-and-diamond earrings for the bride.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Time for many, many photos, with the bridal party….

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and without!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

All the while, the Day Like No Other team – assistants Lisa, Alexandra, and myself – was working frantically to get everything set up in time for the big celebration!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple’s and accompanied by live music by the Hit Waves Unplugged duo – “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” for the processional.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

It doesn’t get much more romantic than that! The bride was walked in by her Dad, as tradition prescribes…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

During the very personal ceremony with several readings,

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

guests helped to fill a “time capsule” for the couple, to be opened on their fifth wedding anniversary.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

And here they are, JUST MARRIED!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Official wedding photo:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres …

… on the adjacent patio – with a whole menu to choose from:

… with the pretty signage (including a program sign)…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… provided by the bride’s talented friend Jess. Of course, there was more fun waiting for the guests:

… and not only that: guests were also invited to watch dinner preparations: Two spectacular paellas (by Nora’s Spanish Catering) were cooking in the courtyard…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

 

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and long rows of bare wooden tables (from Stuart Event Rentals) decked out with garlands and blooms in fiery reds and oranges (all by Green Petal Designs) were waiting for the guests.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Place settings were adorned with olive branches …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and – of course – the Sweetheart Table got “special treatment!”

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Whimsical “escort cards” showed guests their table assignments:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Everyone was raving about the paella! With background music by DJ Sami Funk of Heart of Gold DJs, lively conversation and free-flowing Spanish wine, everyone was having a great time.

Next up: cake cutting! A pretty lemon-buttercream cake (from Cake Coquette) with more Bougainvilleas for decor was set up inside the “Sunset Room” on an antique table, alongside chocolates and cookies.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The back wall had been decorated with family heirlooms and photos …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and surrounded by all these sweet memories and lots and lots of candlelight, the newlyweds performed their official first joint task as husband and wife – cutting the cake.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

What now? First Dance, of course!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Following that, there was no holding back – everyone hit the dance floor to the tunes of DJ Sami …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… under twinkling string lights from Stuart Event Rentals.

Guests took just one little break in between dancing, and that was when delicious fresh churros with chocolate sauce were served!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

When this party did come to an end – it was on another high note: a sparkler exit to the most beautiful car imaginable, to take Erin and Gabe off to their married bliss:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

A 1927 Stutz chauffeured by owner George Rose of Elegant Journey Limousines

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

With our best wishes on your lifelong journey together, Erin and Gabe, and may all your days be as happy as this one!

 

Elopement a la Cote d’Azur – a Styled Photoshoot

For my last styled photoshoot for my company, A Day Like No Other (commissioned by Ceremony Magazine   and published on Ceremony Blog) with photographer extraordinaire Vicens Forns, I let my imagination run wild… I had always admired the effortless elegance and jet-setter lifestyle of the likes of Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon, as depicted in magazines like Vogue – especially the luxury and leisure of the Cote d’Azur. Why not bring some of this joie de vivre and sophistication to present-day weddings? An idea was born – and everything else developed from there.

Based on the San Francisco Bay, we are blessed with vistas very much reminiscent of the Cote d’Azur – especially on a sunny September day as the one we had chosen for our shoot. What else did we need? A story! What about this: a jet-setting couple elopes to a wedding ceremony on the water – performed by the captain of a historic schooner, under billowing sails. They are getting ready in a luxurious hotel suite overlooking the water – where they also retire after the ceremony for an intimate dinner and some quiet time together.

Look where this story took us…

Our “couple” (our gorgeous models, Whitney Heleker from HMM Model Agency and Maxwell Ross Manesh) has chosen the Alexandrite Suite (recently named one of the Top 101 Suites in the World by Elite Traveler) at the Casa Madrona Hotel in Sausalito as their “home base” for their wedding weekend. Overlooking the yacht harbor and San Francisco Bay, this ultra-modern suite has the elegance befitting a jet-setting couple…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

… and their wedding announcements, created in the blue hues of the wedding decor as a reflection of the nearby San Francisco Bay, hand-calligraphed and cut by Sally Laporta of Monks of Age, are a reflection of who they are: chic, young, bold, unconventional!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

The bride’s day begins with hair and makeup by celebrity stylist Nicole Perez, with the “bride” putting on finishing touches herself…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

She had a succession of three equally breathtaking wedding dresses (all from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon) to wear on that day:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

… and Bhuvan Sahney of Gleim Jewelers provided exquisite pieces of fine jewelry, both vintage and modern.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

One of these breathtaking pieces was used as an extraordinary hair pin on the bride’s classic French updo:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

What else does a bride need? Flowers, of course! For this extravagant and modern bride, Edgar Martinez of Flowers by Edgar had created something never seen before: a sculptural bouquet of white Calla lilies, their petals highlighted with the accent color of this wedding:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Isn’t this an absolutely stunning dress?

Meanwhile, our “groom” was also getting ready – in a slim-cut grey suit (from Tuxedo Wearhouse) with a boutonniere matching the bridal bouquet:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

While waiting for the bride to get ready, he took advantage of the incredible patio of the Alexandrite Suite – who can tell this is NOT the Cote d’Azur?!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

And here they are, together – ready for their Great Day to begin:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Cheers!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

For their wedding ceremony, our couple had chosen a historic schooner, the “Freda B.,” (operated by SF Bay Adventures) moored at walking distance from the Casa Madrona in the Sausalito yacht harbor. The bride changed into dress no. 2 for this adventure – simpler but on the boat it would be accompanied by a dramatic veil catching the breeze …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

The captain would serve as their officiant, out on the Bay…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

… and he soon set sail, assisted by the couple.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

While photographer Vicens captured every precious moment on the Freda B., second shooter Victoria followed on a chase boat to give us her perspective of things from the water.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

… Like this!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Then it was time for the two to say their vows “on the captain’s bible!”

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

“Just Married!!”

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

You have to admit – it doesn’t get much better than this for an elopement!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

With the sun slowly setting, the Freda B. returned to the yacht harbor in the golden evening glow…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

… and the newlyweds retired to their suite where dinner, a wedding cake and more was waiting for them.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Dining tables were kept in a cool blue color scheme reflecting the colors of the Bay beyond, with ultramodern floral arrangements by Edgar Martinez of Flowers by Edgar, square white china, modern glassware and glamorous flatware (rose gold for the couple, black for everyone else) from Hensley Event Resources.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

The linens came from Napa Valley Linens, and the architectural wrought-iron chargers and napkin rings from Classic Party Rentals.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

The couple’s Sweetheart Table got the extra special treatment with an all-white sequined linen (from Napa Valley Linens) and with rose gold-colored “his and hers” chairs from Blueprint Studios.

The bold, modern menu cards were created by Monks of Age, complementing the wedding announcements …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

The “newlyweds” seem to be very happy!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

They still have things to do: cutting their cake – a piece of art from Patissière Morgane Ric of Joli Cakes

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

… reminiscent of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (speaking of  “modern” here!) and of the Art Deco silhouettes of the grand Ocean Liners of the early 20th century – effortlessly merging the blues of the Bay and the rose gold accents of the dining table and furniture.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

And it’s yummy, too!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Time for yet another dress change into a diaphanous ball gown for the exchange of gifts (again from Gleim Jewelers):

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

An intimate First Dance…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

After that, it was definitely time for some romantic one-on-one out on the patio, by the Fire Table…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

So romantic, and so beautiful… maybe even better than real life!

Thanks to all our wonderful collaborators who made it happen, and who captured these moments of stunning visual drama. Be inspired for your own wedding!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure! 

 

 

Urban Glamour at the Westin St. Francis: Abigail and Mike’s Elegant Year-End Wedding

When Abigail and Mike approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with their wedding coordination, I was immediately on board: an elegant year-end evening affair at one of San Francisco’s storied landmarks, the Westin St. Francis. They had already booked the two ballrooms – Victor’s Palace and Alexandra’s – on the famous “Imperial Floor” with gorgeous views of the City and the Bay. And they had decided that their wedding would be both elegant and a fun party, but without the usual “frills.” No bridesmaids or groomsmen, for starters – all their siblings would simply walk down the aisle before them. The groom’s stepdad would play for the processional. And the couple’s beloved canine, Hutch, would be carried down the aisle (he is a senior…) as the ringbearer. And yesterday was THE DAY!

As we all know, the invitation sets the tone for the whole event – and this elegant card showed guests that this would be an homage to the City by the Bay which Abigail and Mike call home and love.

For Abigail, the day began with hair and makeup services (by Carla Malia and Jenna Fontanilla)…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

…and Arlene Boyle from Violetta Flowers delivered a gorgeous bridal bouquet (as well as altar arrangements and centerpieces).

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

What’s missing? Shoes, jewelry…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Ready for  “First Look!”

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

While Abigail and Mike were taking many, many photos with photographer Marc Blondin…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

… frantic preparations were underway to get ceremony setup and cocktail area in “Victor’s Palace” ballroom and dinner/dancing in “Alexandra’s” guest-ready. Catering manager Selma Santoyo and her team and Angeliki Menig and Mary-Kate Greenberg (who took all our snapshots here for a peek preview) from A Day Like No Other were busy putting the finishing touches on everything.

The ceremony setup was completed…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

… with the elegant altar arrangements from Violetta Flowers

A “photo gallery” was set up to greet arriving guests…

… and a table assignment board was installed to guide guests to their assigned seats – a true love letter to San Francisco!

And here are the corresponding table numbers:

In lieu of a standard “run-of-the-mill” guestbook, a Polaroid and scrapbook station was waiting for the guests’ creativity:

Verducci Event Productions set up the sound for the ceremony and for dancing, DJ and MC were prepared, and with that we were ready when guests arrived…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

… for the 5 pm ceremony – with darkness falling and the city lights sparkling in the background.

Everything went according to plan, and after ceremony and cocktails, guests proceeded to Alexandra’s ballroom for a lavish dinner and an epic dance party. The newlyweds presided over the elegant room from their Head Table…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

What else? The cake, of course! Susan Morgan of Elegant Cheese Cakes had outdone herself and delivered another “Homage to San Francisco” masterpiece, decorated with the City skyline and with a very personal cake topper…

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

… and the last highlight of the celebration: the couple’s First Dance.

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Photo credit: Marc Blondin

Everyone agreed: it was a great, great party! Keep celebrating, Abigail and Mike, and our best wishes for many happy years on your way!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure! 

Persian Glamour at the Fairmont: Shifteh’s and Hassan’s Elegant Nuptials

As seen on Carats & Cake!

 

Shifteh and Hassan were truly meant for one another – their families have been best of friends for ages, and the only surprising thing is how long it took the two to progress from “just friends” to dating and engagement! Fast-forward four years, and the two were ready to tie the knot – elegant Persian style, of course! They had booked their venue – the storied Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco – when they realized that they’d need a lot more elements to make their celebration festive and unique, and that they did not have the time to do all the necessary research, come up with the design and so many more things. They approached my wedding planning company, A Day Like No Other, for help, and we jumped right in. Design decisions, color palette, inspiration photos, vendors, entertainment ideas… a true whirlwind in the scant five months we had!

Finally the Great Day had arrived – and the Weather Gods were looking upon us very favorably with one of those golden San Francisco October days with clear skies, a warming sun and a slight breeze.

Shifteh’s day began with hair and makeup by Adelina Eidelman

…who transformed a pretty young woman into a radiant, glamorous exotic beauty. Mr. Siasi of Rose Express Florist delivered a lush cascading bouquet of pink roses and white Phalaenopsis orchids, a perfect match for Shifteh’s luxurious Rosa Clara wedding dress …… with exquisite beading and a breathtaking illusion back:

…  here is the veil…

… and the princess heels to go with it!

Not to forget: headpiece, earrings and of course – the rings and other jewelry …

 

Hassan was meanwhile busy getting ready himself…

For their First Look, bride and groom were allowed into the famous  Fairmont Penthouse – where so far every president of the United States has stayed when visiting San Francisco.

This is the view a president would enjoy from the patio….  Definitely a very, very special spot for a First Look!

From there, Shifteh and Hassan went onto an extended photo tour with their photographers Evonne and Darren  and videographers of Mario & Fran Productions.

Meanwhile, frantic preparations by the Fairmont team led by Jenni Rowe, my assistant Lisa and myself were underway to get everything ready for the Persian wedding ceremony, Cocktail Hour and dinner reception.

The ceremony was held in the Pavilion Room, with a sofreh by Lili Ghazian of Aroosi by Lili, centered under an enormous Beaux-Arts chandelier.

Here comes the bride on her father’s arm, preceded by Persian violinist extraordinaire Pourya Khademi:

The traditional ceremony was officiated – bilingually! – by Dr. Payman Amiri, with a very lighthearted touch that made everyone smile!

Following tradition, the bride’s sisters and sisters-in-law showered the couple with “sweetness” by rubbing sugar over their heads.

After the ceremony, the couple was showered with precious gifts – mostly jewelry – another beloved Persian custom. Guests were meanwhile enjoying cocktails in the adjacent Rooftop Garden, a little urban oasis, to the accompaniment of violinist Pourya – whose familiar Persian tunes literally touched the heartstrings of all guests with sweet memories.

Dinner was served in the Crown Room on the top, 24th floor of the Fairmont Tower, all decked out in champagne linens, gold toned draperies, and glorious tall centerpieces of roses, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums and orchids from Rose Express Florist

… and chargers and chairs from Hensley Event Resources. Everything came together just perfectly.

For favors, the Mother of the Groom had prepared glittery organza bags filled with white and gold Jordan almonds, tied with personalized ribbon – a true labor of love! A memorial table was also part of the arrangements.

A mini sofreh adorned the room…

… and another table was literally bending under trays and trays of delicious Persian sweets:

As dusk fell outside…

….guests found their seats with elegant escort cards lined up in the foyer of the Crown Room:

 

… and with that, we were ready for the Grand Entrance of the newlyweds. These two gave a whole new meaning to the “grand” in “Grand Entrance!” Like royalty, they were accompanied by violinist Pourya…… and dancers from Niosha Dance Academy, one of them the bride’s younger sister, dancing in honor of the couple.

After that, it was time for a lavish four-course dinner, toasts and speeches, while darkness fell and the City below began to sparkle like a box of jewels:

The couple quickly stole away for a few dramatic photos  …

 

… on the Grand Staircase. When they returned, it was already time for their First Dance as a married couple:

 

With that, the dance floor was officially open! Guests had the choice between rousing music by DJ Alireza and fun at the SnapFiesta photo booth. Most of them did, of course, both!

Another highlight of the evening was cake cutting…

… which in the Persian tradition is by far not as easy as it sounds: the groom first has to obtain the cake knife from a succession of dancing ladies who are teasing him and expect to be paid off generously before surrendering the knife! Eventually, after an extended Knife Dance, they let Hassan have the knife, and the couple’s first official task of cutting the cake together proceeded without a hitch. What else? Bouquet Toss, of course!

Shifteh tossed, and a single young lady caught it – so she is next in line for a celebration as glorious as Shifteh’s and Hassan’s. The evening came to a close far too soon, and everyone went home tired and happy.

Many happy years together, Shifteh and Hassan, and dance on…

Shifteh and Hassan Wedding Day

 

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

♥ Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure!  ♥

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Kathryn and Jeff’s wedding: simplicity and joie de vivre!

Kathryn and Jeff are young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, partners in business and partners in life. They love extreme sports (and are darn good at them), they are doggie parents, and the Great Outdoors is literally their second home. When they decided to get married, one thing was clear from the get-go: this would NOT be any conventional, slightly stuffy affair. It would be all relaxed, and all fun. My company, A Day Like No Other, helped Kathryn to bring that vision to life and to make it a reality.

For their venue, the couple had chosen Walden West Nature Preserve – gorgeous forests, meadows and a pond, no surprise here! From there, things became even more unconventional, with friends and family chipping in and making this celebration as personal as it could possibly be. On wedding day, our coordinators  – Senior Coordinators Kelsey Holtzinger and Haneen Saideh assisted by Jessica Buse – were super busy behind the scenes, setting up decor and flowers and juggling the myriad details that go into a celebration as unconventional as this one.

For the bride and her nine bridesmaids, the day began with hair by Angela Cattaneo of Beyond the Ponytail and makeup services by Michele Orozco of Brush by Michele:

Kathryn complemented her classic ivory wedding dress with pearl jewelry and – unconventional, simple and comfortable wedges!

Bridal bouquet (and all other bouquets and floral decor)? A crafty friend made everything onsite from bulk-bought summer flowers in a riot of happy, bright colors, totally unpretentious and totally fun!

And here is the bride, ready to meet her “Prince Charming:”

Lots of photos from First Look on, but this is hands-down one of my favorites:

Shortly before the ceremony – officiated by a friend of the couple, of course! – the bridal party was complete and photo-ready:

Then finally the great moment had come…

And here they are – just married!

While more family photos by Daniel Neal ensued for the couple, guests were treated to cocktails and lawn games, followed by a rustic dinner by Caterman (under the expert leadership of Kayla Grizzle) complete with yummy desserts:

and a candy bar courtesy of yet another friend of the couple.

 

Photographer Daniel Neal and videographer Amy Heater of Sweet Tea Films stole the newlyweds away for spectacular sunset photos…

before everyone hit the dance floor, to the tunes of DJ Frank Loera of Sound in Motion and illuminated by lots and lots of string lights (by A Party Place).

 

Everyone agreed – it was a fabulous party, and Kathryn and Jeff were simply overwhelmed and happy. Off to this new adventure for many, many happy years together!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

♥ Visit A Day Like No Other and enjoy our brochure!  ♥