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. 🧡
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…
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!
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!
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!
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!)
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:
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 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!
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!
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.
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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.
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!
Here’s to International Relations! Bride and groom actually met while studying – you guessed it! – International Relations (plus an MBA on top of that…), and what they entered into was, in fact, a very international (and for the longest time, long-distance) relationship: Marcelo is originally from Argentina, studied in Philadelphia, where he met Katie, originally from the SF Bay Area – but she had lived in West Africa for four years for her work… in no time, the two bridged any international issues and became inseparable, albeit in separate locations; only a few months before their wedding, they actually, finally, were able to move into their first shared home.
Given that they both were living and working far apart and far away, Katie’s parents and family friend Alice stepped in to take the lead for a truly memorable, truly big (280 guests) and extremely elegant wedding celebration for their only daughter, and they brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to come up with ideas and make them a reality for that one glorious day in October when all our yearlong hard work came to fruition.
Katie and her bridesmaids got ready at the house of Katie’s parents.
Fiona Tsang of Urban Beauty Loft and her assistants worked their magic on the bride, bridesmaids and mothers, and photographer Taralynn Lawton (all photos in this feature are by her!) and videographer Jesse Eckel of Owl & Tree Films captured it all, including Katie’s diaphanous wedding dress…
… and all the pretty details.
And here is a timeless mother-and-daughter moment…
Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered Katie’s bridal bouquet and all other personal flowers (and then started floral installation for the festivities)…
Marcelo and his groomsmen were also dressing up…
With that, bride and groom were ready for their First Look at the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose…
Isn’t it romantic?!
While bride and groom were busy taking many, many pre-ceremony photos, my team, multiple vendor crews and family friend Alice were hard at work (actually, everyone had started work in the early morning hours…) to transform the chosen venue – the Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club – for Katie’s and Marcelo’s ceremony and reception. Annette Boyd Kevranian of Method42 Productions and her crew were rigging suspended floral decor and string lights and installing draping; the venue team led by onsite manager Brittany Rieland set up tables, chairs and lounge furniture and set the dining tables; my assistants and I were setting up signage and completing table settings; and…
florist Janelle brought the beautiful parklike surroundings inside by adorning every easel, railing and surface with trailing vines, visually connecting the outdoor ceremony setting with the indoor spaces for the reception.
Once the ceremony setup was in place, DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys installed a sound system, and the Synchronicity String Quartet arrived to serenade the bridal party and the guests at the ceremony.
Hand fans doubled as ceremony programs…
… and soon enough guests were arriving (shuttled in style by Le Grande Affaire), and the ceremony began. Officiated by a longtime friend of the bride’s family, it was heartfelt and authentic – it does not get more personal than that!
The newlyweds had more photos to take…
… while their guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the elegantly appointed patio.
Cozy lounge furniture and color-coordinated blankets beckoned; living green trees were literally bringing the gardens to the patio… and built-in heaters provided warmth against the late Fall evening chill. To keep guests well entertained, a photo booth by The Laugh Box provided unlimited fun!
Indoors, a guest book table was used to display a personal photo gallery…
… whose backdrop, a natural stone wall, was filled with flowers in every niche and “overgrown” by gracefully trailing vines – all the masterpiece of florist Janelle.
Then it was time for dinner! The dining room had been transformed into an indoor garden scenery with string lights, living trees, a giant floral arrangement suspended above the Head Table, stunning tall floral centerpieces, white-washed Chiavari chairs and elegant place settings.
Once all guests were seated, the new Mr. & Mrs. opened the lavish dinner buffet with their Grand Entrance.
Over dinner, Katie’s Dad surprised everyone with an outrageous performance:
He expertly “decapitated” a bottle of Champagne with a saber!
The two clearly enjoyed the evening! What else was there to do? Cutting the wedding cake (from Studio Cake)…
… and opening the dessert buffet of Argentinian cake specialties…
… and dancing, of course! DJ Henry Kim – who also served as our bilingual MC – kept the crowd going with the perfect mix of Argentinian tunes and international favorites.
That opened the dance floor to all guests.
It truly was an “International Summit” and an epic party! Keep celebrating life and love on your shared journey, Katie and Marcelo!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org); 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 email@example.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!