Nghi and Jim opening the 2022 wedding season at Gamble Garden

The first wedding of my 2022 wedding season was already a very special one – and I am so honored that my company, A Day Like No Other, was chosen to plan this truly life changing event. For both bride and groom, this was their second marriage – they have children, and they both had taken their time to overcome the heartbreak of their first attempt. Neither was interested in yet another “big affair” – they were both “over that.” Instead, they were hoping for an intimate, deeply meaningful celebration with just their children, their closest friends and family members present – Nghi’s parents and her son, Jim’s sons. They had chosen a venue that embodies exactly this spirit; nothing flashy or glamorous. The venue of their choice was Elizabeth Gamble Garden, a small gem of a public park in the heart of Palo Alto, just large enough to accommodate their 50 guests, and already in bloom in early May with an abundance of rose varietals.

Nghi and her bridesmaids got ready onsite, in the historic Carriage House on the property.

Under the experienced hands of makeup artist Nguyen Ha, the pretty bride was transformed into a drop-dead gorgeous beauty.

Nghi’s two bridesmaids helped her to get into her form-fitting elegant dress …

… with a dramatic train …

… and many tiny buttons – and the bride adjusted her jewelry.

Florist extraordinaire Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered an ethereal bridal bouquet in ivory, blush pink and light blue hues, with bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres and table decor to match.

And here are bride and bridesmaids, with the biggest smiles of their lives!

With that, bride Nghi was ready to step out…

Isn’t she stunning?!

Here with her biggest admirer… her son.

Meanwhile, groom Jim had also gotten ready…

… and here he is with all the boys – Nghi’s and his own.

Time for the “First Look!”

That’s amore! Now the couple was off to many more photos and video footage with acclaimed photographer Kevin Chin and videographer William Cook of Kindlewood Films.

Guests began arriving for the ceremony in the Rose Garden, officiated by Dr. Konrad Hölé of Officially Yours, and serenaded by the Magnolia Jazz Trio led by Robbie Schlosser.

Here comes the bride, accompanied by her parents.

After exchanging rings…

… they were officially declared “husband and wife,” and Jim received permission to “kiss the bride.”

Just married!

And off to more photos and video among a profusion of blooms – including the official photo of the newly united blended family.

All the while their guests enjoyed cocktails and Jazz – and left their “well wishes for the new Mr. & Mrs!”

My production team – Deanna and Stephanie – and the team of Continental Caterers were busy working behind the scenes to get everything ready and set up for dinner.

Dinner tables were set up under a majestic tree…

… it doesn’t get more romantic than that! The table setting reflected the feminine pastel hues of the bridal bouquet…

… and floating candles turned the scene truly magical.

The entrance of the newlyweds officially opened dinner…

The feast that followed was truly memorable – Continental Catering pulled all stops!

The couple was clearly enjoying themselves.

Maybe even more memorable than dinner itself – were the desserts! Have a look:

Following these mouthwatering treats, the newlyweds had time to mingle with their guests. But the last highlight of the evening was still to come: a gorgeous wedding cake by Krumbs Cakes, OF COURSE adorned with the same blush pink and light blue flowers that accompanied the couple and the guests through the whole celebration.

With that, they had accomplished their official joint task as a married couple. The evening concluded with the newlyweds enjoying the company of their handpicked guests, and everyone had a great time.

Wishing you all the happiness in the world, Nghi and Jim!

Courtney and Jesse: a Dream Wedding at Nestldown

These two were one of the many couples who had to reschedule their Great Day by a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And many things can happen in a year! For example, moving to the other side of the continent, buying a house, getting settled… and so, the Mother of the Bride shouldered many of the necessary planning tasks together with my company, A Day Like No Other, to ensure a seamless, perfect celebration.

The couple had chosen Nestldown Estate for their nuptials – a true dream location. Nestled deep in the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains and appointed with any luxury imaginable, it was the perfect venue for a truly memorable celebration.

The bride and her bridesmaids used the elegant onsite guesthouse for getting ready in the morning. Photography wife-and-husband “Team Bre Thurston” and videographer William Cook of Kindlewood Films captured every moment.

Hair and makeup stylist Violet Herod and her team “The Makeup Dolls” transformed these pretty ladies into drop-down gorgeous red-carpet beauties.

Next: the DRESS! An ethereal lace-encrusted confection that fit the bride like a glove.

Then – the shoes! Definitely the right dose of glamour to go with that dress…

… and, not to forget: the rings.

Once the bride had gotten into her regal outfit for the day, all that was still missing was her bouquet (like all florals by Emily of Flowergirl Em),

…and she was ready for official photos. After emotional Mother-Daughter…

… and Father-Daughter photos…

…the venue’s famous original London taxi took Courtney to the location of her First Look, a romantic spot under towering Redwood trees.

Groom Jesse had also gotten ready with the help of his groomsmen…

… and was waiting for permission to finally see his bride in all her finery!

Time for photos and then – time to proceed to the ceremony! This time, Courtney and Jesse rode the London taxi together.

The ceremony spot at Nestldown is the “Chapel” – a natural Redwood clearing of breathtaking beauty. Florist Emily had worked her magic to make it even more special…

… and music by the Amethyst Ensemble gave it an elegant touch.

Here comes the bride, on her father’s arm.

The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple.

“You may now kiss the bride!”

Just married!!

For the newlyweds – time for many more photos…

For the guests – time for Cocktail Hour with entertainment! The Amethyst Ensemble was playing, the Nestldown gardens were to be explored, and the Booth Bus photo booth was waiting.

For the catering crew of La Bocca Fina it was “showtime” after many hours of preparation and setup. The results were spectacular: the glamorous “boho chic” dining tables as much as the delicious food.

Guests found their assigned table through a unique display of calligraphed vases (by Flowergirl Em).

Everyone was having a great time, and as darkness fell, the scene turned magical – illuminated by string lights in the trees and by candlelight on the tables.

After dinner, everyone moved to the Apple Knoll for the couple’s First Dance…

…cake cutting…

… and dancing. And what a dance party that was! Los Gatos DJs got everyone on the dance floor in no time.

And OF COURSE, the newlyweds got a spectacular Send-off to match.

Everyone agreed – that was an event to remember. A lifetime of happiness to Courtney and Jesse!

Amanda & Noah: a Beautiful Wedding in the Times of COVID

What happened to Amanda and Noah is – unfortunately – very typical for many engaged couples looking forward to their once-in-a-lifetime wedding celebration. The two had booked an elegant hotel wedding in Hawaii and could absolutely not wait for their great day to arrive. And then came COVID-19. It ruined everything… so Hawaii had to be called off. That was already a major heartbreak. Amanda and Noah “re-grouped” and started all over. They would have their wedding at the beautiful Marin Art and Garden Center, not far from their new home, and they would invite more than a hundred guests to a charmed afternoon and night in this romantic park. But even this was not going to happen. The COVID-19 lockdown put an end to this plan, too. The couple was deeply disappointed and at a total loss what to do now. They did not want to postpone getting married even longer. So they turned to my company, A Day Like No Other, for help.

It was clear that the maximum number of guests they could have was thirty – so it would be a very intimate celebration. But I wanted this to be a unique, memorable and beautiful celebration for the two – so I recommended a little-known secret to them: the historic Casa Madrona Hotel in Sausalito. Charming, built into a steep hillside and overlooking the yacht harbor and SF Bay with spectacular sunsets, this was the perfect location for their small gathering.

Additional bonus: the teleconferencing capabilities that Casa Madrona is offering! That allowed Amanda and Noah to have all guests from their original list of invitees attend their ceremony, at least virtually. A small consolation, after all…

One other thing: while Marin Art and Garden Center, their previous choice for their wedding celebration, remained closed for social events, the two got permission to have wedding photos taken in this spectacular setting. Another consolation!

And so, the great day final arrived. The bride and her bridesmaids got ready at the couple’s home, with hair and makeup services by Maya Roget. Photographer Anne-Claire Brun captured every moment.

Once all the ladies had their hair and makeup done, it was time for the bride to get into her spectacular dress:

… elegant, feminine and modern at the same time, and it fit her like a glove! This was, of course, a classic mother-daughter moment…

And here is Bride Amanda!

Ready to pick up her romantic bridal bouquet by Fleur Real

… and off to her First Look at Marin Art and Garden Center.

A couple’s First Look is always one of my favorite moments – so special…

And now: many more photos!

One photo with the bridesmaids and groomsmen…

… and off they all go to Casa Madrona for the wedding ceremony and reception.

The teams of Jazmine Herrera at Casa Madrona, of Poggio Trattoria, the in-house caterer, the florist and myself had been busy getting the event space ready. The ceremony was to be held on a balcony overlooking the Sausalito yacht harbor, with guest seating spaced out following social distancing requirements. The Amethyst Duo played wedding classics out on the balcony.

The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom – it could not have been more personal and more heartfelt.

You may now kiss your bride!
Just married!

The video wall in the Junto Suite where the reception was held allowed remote guests to congratulate the newlyweds from afar.

While the onsite guests were enjoying cocktails with a view of the San Francisco Bay, the couple went off for more photos.

And then dinner was ready!

Because of the ongoing pandemic, we had little bottles of hand sanitizer on the dining tables… along with flowers and table numbers!

The couple and their guests were definitely enjoying themselves.

One more highlight of the day: Cake cutting! (The minimalist cake was by Butter&)

Amanda and Noah spent the rest of the evening just chatting with their guests, having fun and having quality time with their nearest and dearest. Although their wedding day unfolded so differently from what they had originally planned – it turned out beautiful, meaningful and very memorable. The newlyweds were simple – happy.

Music by the Espiritu Ensembles

Today I would like to “tip my hat” to a longtime collaborator who has become very dear to me over the years, cellist Suellen Primost, leader of the Espiritu Ensembles.

Suellen is not only a talented musician, through and through and an expert in non-Western music with an extensive repertoire – I admire her as much for who she is as a person. Always in harmony and at peace with herself, she creates an atmosphere of quiet joy for all around her, and that is truly a rare gift. When she fell seriously ill, she accepted it with her usual grace and composure – and then, by a sheer miracle, she recovered, and lately she has even gotten back to playing her beloved cello. I have learned a lot from her, and now I would like to share with you all a sample of her music. Enjoy!

The most beloved wedding songs of all time

Call me old-fashioned – but when it comes to the wedding ceremony I always recommend “classics.” And the most beloved ones of them all are – Canon in D (chosen by at least 80% of all my brides for their processional), Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (a favorite for their recessional) and “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles.

Here they are!

The oldest one of them all is Pachelbel’s Canon. Johann Pachelbel was a German Baroque composer and organist who enjoyed tremendous popularity in his lifetime (1653 to 1706). Most of his extensive body of work is nowadays forgotten outside of musicologist circles – some of you may know his Chaconne in F minor and his Toccata in E minor for organ – but the one piece of music that has survived is his Canon in D – it has literally become synonymous with wedding music.

Here comes the bride – Frank Lee Photography

For the recessional, the “classic” choice is Felix Mendelssohn’s Bartholdy’s Wedding March (from his incidental music to Shakespeare’s play A Midsummernight’s Dream).

Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. A true prodigy, he performed as a pianist at the age of nine, and he wrote his first symphony at the age of 15!! Mendelssohn’s compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music which are all still part of the standard concert repertoire; but even those without ties to classical music love the Wedding March! Here it is, played by the Berlin Philharmonic.

And for those who’d rather go a little more contemporary – but still stick with a timeless classic – for their wedding music, there is the last word on love from The Beatles, here played for us by our own Synchronicity Strings!

The harp how you don’t know it yet!

One of my longest-time collaborators, harpist Erica Messer, holds a very special place in my heart: she is one of the first brides whose wedding I planned with my then-startup company, A Day Like No Other. Erica and I have since done many beautiful weddings together, and over the years I have learned from her that my personal perception of her beloved instrument – as something that is mainly played by angels in Heaven, so to speak – is entirely wrong. Erica is one of those who have brought the harp into the 21st century and proven it the perfect accompaniment for contemporary tunes as well. Here is proof – and, oh, did I forget to say that Erica’s harp is HOT PINK?!!

Magnolia Jazz is playing for us!

You all know my friend Robbie Schlosser and Magnolia Jazz! Robbie is one of the most helpful and warm-hearted people around – you all know that! – and so he immediately offered to contribute to our little series of “COVID-19 support and encouragement.” He is playing “I’m Old-Fashioned,” and you will love it so much that you, too, will declare: “I’m Old-Fashioned!”

Enjoy, and do let Robbie know how you liked it! (robbie@magnoliajazz.com)

Guitar Music by and with Eric Symons

“Eric Symons Presents” is a household name in the SF Bay Area events scene – need a band? Contact Eric Symons! But what probably most of you do NOT know is that Eric is a distinguished musician himself; a classically trained guitarist and composer who has performed and recorded with the Romero family – true “classical guitar royalty!”

As a special treat to our local wedding vendor community, he is sharing with us a recent performance of his beautifully soothing and comforting “Ballata.” Be consoled and inspired as Eric is playing for us!

Laura plays Telemann for us

Many of you will know the Mersonacta Quartet from their performances at Bay Area weddings. Today you can enjoy your very private performance: Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo plays Telemann for you!

For those of you who are not so familiar with the composer… here is a little information (courtesy of wikipedia):

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 – 1767) was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family’s wishes and  worked in Hamburg, Germany, as a musical director of that city’s five main churches.

Telemann is one of the most prolific composers in history and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time, compared favorably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, and to George Frideric Handel, whom Telemann also knew personally. Telemann’s music stands as an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles.

I am sure that will lift your spirits. Enjoy – and let Laura know how you liked it!