French Country Charm at Thomas Fogarty Winery: Cristina’s and Dmytro’s Dream Wedding

Please meet one of my favorite clients EVER: Cristina and Dmytro – or Dima, as he is called by his friends. After more than a year of wedding planning with the two of them, they are now Cristina and Dima to me, too!

Cristina and Dima hired my company, A Day Like No Other, last year – to put together a really memorable celebration for them, including decor in a vintage French Country theme. I jumped at the opportunity to do that project! Taking my cues from Cristina’s favorite color – a soft French Blue – and a few Pinterest inspirations, I let my imagination take off, and the most wonderful thing happened: Cristina and Dima were thinking in the same direction, approved my ideas and let me “run with them.” It was a wonderful, shared creative process, bringing together many of my favorite vendors, and culminating yesterday in one of the most memorable weddings I’ve ever done.

I had the opportunity to design their invitations – which set the tone for their decor theme…

For their venue, the two had chosen Thomas Fogarty Winery – a spectacular location with endless views all over Silicon Valley.

Their “home base” for their wedding day was the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto, where both bride and groom and their attendants were getting ready. The ladies started early with hair and makeup styling by Miabel Artistry – and emerged as drop-dead gorgeous, red-carpet-worthy beauties.

And just look at her “princess slippers:” sparkly golden Jimmy Choo heels.

Stretch limousines from Le Grande Affaire – a white one for the ladies and a black one for the gents – pulled up, rolled out that proverbial red carpet (literally) and took everyone up that long, winding country road to the winery.

Up there, not only the onsite events team, but many other vendors were already busy to get everything set up for the great moment – working hard at temperatures over 90 degrees! A glorious, sunny day, with blue skies, but really, really hot…

The catering team of La Bocca Fina set up all the tables and chairs. Linens and napkins – custom-made from blue-and-white Toile de Jouy fabric just for this event – from Wildflower Linens set the light blue French country theme …

… and china, flatware and glassware from Hensley Event Resources completed the look, down to the tiniest details.

Florist/stylist Natasha Kolenko provided flowers reminiscent of French country gardens – light blue, in loose, effortless arrangements, incorporating wildflowers and greenery for an overall charmingly nostalgic, feminine and soft effect. She even had a structure of untreated slender tree trunks custom-made to surround and frame the couple’s Sweetheart Table, with more summer flowers seemingly growing up and around this frame in the most natural fashion.

The arch for the ceremony mirrored this style perfectly; vintage-inspired vignettes of wine barrels and French wrought-iron garden chairs completed the “look.” 

Guests were greeted by a custom-designed “Welcome” sign which I calligraphed myself – along with all the other signage for this wedding.

To add a little whimsy to their guestbook, I found a vintage typewriter for Cristina and Dmytro – with a time-worn sheet of typing paper asking guests to leave the couple a note…

Time for the ceremony! The Mersonacta String Quartet provided beautiful music for prelude and ceremony… and here comes the bride, in an elegant lace wedding dress from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon, accompanied by both her parents.

The setting for the ceremony was nothing short of spectacular.

Our photographer Maria Hedengren (here in action!), who had flown in from Finland just for this wedding, captured every precious moment.

“Minister Maggie” Beretz found the most personal and heartfelt words to unite these two in marriage.

And here they are: JUST MARRIED!

Off to many more photos with Maria,

while guests were directed to Cocktail Hour via custom signage mounted on an authentic vintage French bicycle (from Found Vintage Rentals) with a matching, flower-filled antique basket…

On the open deck, a well-stocked bar and a variety of hors d’oeuvres was waiting for the guests who enjoyed the sunshine and the views from vintage lounge furniture (from One True Love Vintage Rentals). And then there was, of course, Night Owl Photo Booth for added entertainment!

Soon enough, dinner was ready – courtesy of Teri Menchini and her crew at La Bocca Fina, who had incorporated the couple’s favorite childhood foods from their home countries (Romania and Ukraine) into the menu.

Guest tables were not numbered, but named after famous algorithms; after all, the two are software engineers!

Then it was time for the couple’s Grand Entrance:

The newlyweds presided over the congregation of their 80+ guests from their elaborately decorated Sweetheart Table…

Photographer Maria whisked the newlyweds away for sunset photos – after all, we had a spectacular sunset on Wedding Day!

After dinner, guests were invited to the Hill House where Cristina and Dmytro performed their official first task as a married couple: cutting their cake. And that cake was a piece of art as none of the guests (or us vendors, for that matter) had ever seen before! Playing on the couple’s love for traveling and for math, patissier Gabrielle Feuersinger of Cake Coquette had made them a cake in the shape of a vintage suitcase, complete with travel stickers of their favorite destinations, topped with a stack of their favorite math books – and all of that so realistic-looking that more than one guest tried to pick up the books and leaf through them!! Needless to say that the cake underneath was super delicious, too…

Next stop: dancing!

Cristina and Dmytro presented their guests with an elaborate dance routine in the tradition of Russian ballet, dancing their First Dance to Shostakovich’s Valse no. 2 (remember the famous movie Doctor Zhivago? That’s when you swooned over that dance for the first time…) – in an expertly abridged version that DJ Woody Miraglia of Big Fun Dic Jockeys had created especially for them.

With that, the dance floor was officially opened for everyone, and DJ Woody kept the crowd going – and what a wild dance party that was! But eventually even the best party has to come to a close… and guests took home little succulents as favors…

… to see love grow.

Jay of City Express Limousine service chauffeured guests back down the winding mountain road back to their hotels, and George Rose of Elegant Journey Limousines brought his “flagship” – a stunning 1927 Stutz limousine – as Cristina’s and Dmytro’s getaway car. We sent them off to their married bliss with a sparkler parade – that’s what I call an exit in high style!

Keep dancing, traveling and calculating math problems together, Cristina and Dmytro, and stay as crazy happy as you were on your Wedding Day!


Joan and Jim: They Did It Their Way

When Joan and Jim approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning their wedding, one thing was immediately clear: this would be a very unusual wedding planning project, indeed! For starters – only 8 weeks to go. Then: wedding day would not be a weekend day, but a Monday. The bride would not be wearing white. There would be only 3 guests – the couple’s adult children. No DJ, no dancing, but an extended photo tour through San Francisco. And so it went…

I was immediately on board, and, given the short time frame, jumped  into planning right away. What had initially looked like an easy, super-small project soon turned out to be trickier than expected. A dinner reservation in a San Francisco restaurant with a view? Not on a Monday – all leading restaurants are closed! The solution? An intimate dinner in the couple’s 21st floor suite at the Fairmont, with, hands down, the best views in the City. Wedding flowers – a gift from the couple’s rose-growing friends in Kenya – were supposed to arrive in time for the wedding, but the logistical challenges proved insurmountable. In the nick of time, we had to switch to “Plan B”, and florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs worked her magic on beautiful “replacement” roses very similar to those that didn’t make it to San Francisco. In short – the proverbial devil was in the details, and I had my hands full every single day of our 8-week planning phase!

Time flew by, and yesterday was Joan’s and Jim’s Great Day – expected to be an overcast, cold “SF summer” day, but turning out to be glorious and sunny.

As their “home base,” the couple had chosen a suite in the tower of the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel, with 270 degree views of the City, the Bay and three bridges…

For Joan and her daughter-in-law Jordan, the day began with makeup application by Adelina Eidlman of Glam by Adelina who had an opportunity to show off the whole spectrum of her abilities with a bride who is rarely wearing makeup and asked for a natural look – and her daughter-in-law who was going a little more glamorous. The result? Fabulous in both cases! Have a look…

The bride then slipped into her wedding dress – a soft lilac formal dress by St.John accompanied by sparkly Jimmy Choo heels – picked up her spectacular rose bouquet (by Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs -more of that later), and with that, she was ready for the day!

First off: an extended tour around San Francisco in a stretch limousine by City Express Limousine Service, chauffeured by Jay, the owner, himself, who took the bridal party to Union Square, the Palace of Fine Arts and even up a winding country road on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge for the most spectacular views of the Bridge, the Bay and the City. Photographer Gavin Farrington was riding along with them and recorded every precious moment (just wait until you see HIS photos – until then, all we have are my iphone snapshots…)

3 o’clock sharp – we all had to be at City Hall for Joan’s and Jim’s 3:30 ceremony.

The two had fallen in love with the spectacular architecture and the vibrant atmosphere of City Hall, and while waiting …

…  they witnessed quite a few other weddings taking place. Then it was finally their turn… and here they are, JUST MARRIED!

Raising a glass with their nearest and dearest:

… and, of course, one Mother-and-Son photo:

After their ceremony, the limousine took the bridal party to Joan’s and Jim’s sailboat at the South Beach Yacht Club for more photos – a very special moment for them, given how much time they are spending on the water!

While the bridal party was on photo tour, enjoying this sunny and windy San Francisco day, preparations were underway at the Fairmont to get everything ready in time for their intimate dinner for five in their suite. A table was set by the picture windows, with incredible views of the City…

… and adorned with the most beautiful roses, all arranged by Janelle of Green Petal Designs. These roses were a wedding gift from Joan’s and Jim’s friends whose Tambuzi rose farm in Kenya provides spectacular rose varietals to the British royals for THEIR weddings –  it does not get any better than that! Getting the roses from Kenya to San Francisco, however, proved much more complicated than getting them to Westminster Abbey – little did we know about the obstacles and regulations of international flower trade… In the end, we had to resort to a little ruse – since the Kenyan originals couldn’t be delivered to us in time, Green Valley Florals (local friends and colleagues of the Kenyan rose growers) stood in with their, very similar product – and it was glorious!

David Austin rose varietals in all shades of peach and pink, with enticing fragrance, adorned the dinner table, presided over the bedroom, and, of course – were the stars of the bridal bouquet. Florist Janelle took all these twists and turns in stride and made the room “shine” with her arrangements.

Time for a toast!  Joan’s and Jim’s cut-crystal champagne flutes were another present from dear friends…

An impromptu “First Dance” right then and there…

… and then it was time for dinner, accompanied by wines… you guessed it! also gifted by friends (Vidovich Vineyards). Joan and Jim are so well-loved!

And after that, the last highlight of the day was THE CAKE:

The newlyweds accomplished their first official task as a married couple with bravura:

Joan said it was an amazing day, shared with their children in a relaxed atmosphere, exactly how she and Jim had hoped it would be. They did it their way… keep on dancing, smiling, and sailing together, Joan and Jim, with the same happiness as on your wedding day!


Tuxes and other formalities – Then & Now!

The Black Tux just put together this lovely Then & Now comparison – and they are so right! Things have changed A LOT over the years when it comes to weddings; we here at A Day Like No Other – Wedding Coordination and Design have seen it happening! To me, maybe the most striking change that has happened over the years is the change from a  “standard/traditional” to a “totally unique/personalized” style. Two or three decades ago, couples prided themselves in having a “white wedding” in Church followed by a formal sit-down dinner, First Dance, and ballroom dancing, in compliance with all rules of etiquette. No more! Ceremonies are now taking place in the most unexpected spots. I did one wedding ceremony on deck of a historic tallship and one on a schooner in the SF Bay.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Most of my wedding ceremonies these days are held outside – in a Redwood grove, on the beach, or some other scenic spot.

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Most of my wedding celebrations have a design and decor theme, anything from “Tuscany Elegance”…

Photo credit: Megan Reeves

Photo credit: Megan Reeves

…to “Vintage French Country” and Art Deco glamour. The food might come from an ethnic caterer and the late-night snacks (another trend) from a food truck.

Photo credit: Majesta Patterson

Guest entertainment is HUGE. (Who ever imagined that guests would be treated to a complete show?) A photo booth is standard, live caricature artists or a strolling “Champagne Skirt” are nice add-ons,

Photo credit: Colson Griffith

… and wine and whisky tasting experiences, a cigar roller and a perfume bar are among the other popular choices.

Having a furry family member in the celebration was unthinkable just 2 decades ago but has become mainstream now…

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Redeye Collection

The getaway car could be anything from the groom’s own beloved “MINI”…

Photo credit: Augie Chang

… to a vintage 1927 Stutz limousine.

Photo credit: Alexandra Schall

And, yes, the exit has to be “grand” as well…

Needless to say that the bride’s and groom’s attire have also undergone significant changes!

Brides might wear anything but white, or go for a really bold, Haute Couture style…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine

Photo credit: Vicens Forns for Ceremony Magazine


… and grooms have many more options now beyond the bespoke tuxedo of times past. While renting wedding attire used to be frowned upon (probably because of mediocre quality and fit in the olden days…) – online companies like The Black Tux have changed that perception for good and are making renting suits and tuxedos easy.

Even unusual sizes can be accommodated to perfect fit … see here one of my VERY tall grooms at a VERY upscale wedding – in a perfectly fitting tux by The Black Tux!

It’s really exciting to see things evolve – and to grow with these new trends!

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.

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

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

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…

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…

… accompanied, of course, by matching boutonnieres for the gentlemen.

Ready for “First Look!” Photographer extraordinaire Vicens Forns and his second shooter Ana Silva captured every precious moment – just wait until you see THEIR photos! (For the time being, all we have are snapshots by the wedding planner crew!)

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

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

… and without!

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!

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

During the very personal ceremony with several readings, guests helped to fill a “time capsule” for the couple, to be opened on their fifth wedding anniversary. And here they are, JUST MARRIED!

Guests were treated to cocktails on the adjacent patio – with a whole menu to choose from:

… with the pretty signage 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…

… 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.

Whimsical “escort cards” showed guests their table assignments:

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, cookies, and freshly baked churros with chocolate sauce.

The back wall had been decorated with family heirlooms and photos, 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.

What now? First Dance, of course!

Following that, there was no holding back – everyone hit the dance floor to the tunes of DJ Sami, under twinkling string lights from Stuart Event Rentals.

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:

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

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


Kelly, Chris, Kay and Franklin: an Intimate Lovefest with Friends and Family

When Kelly and Chris decided to get married, it was clear from the get-go that they would need support for their planning: they both have high-powered jobs, they just moved to the Bay Area and are in the middle of a remodel, they have a young daughter, and they have a rambunctious puppy. In short, they have their hands full!

Enter A Day Like No Other to help organize and design… and everything came together beautifully yesterday. Even the Weather Gods took pity in us – despite all threats it did not rain, and it was not quite as unseasonably cold and windy as the days before; we even had some sunshine!

For Kelly, the day began with hair and makeup by Ming (Dreamcatcher Artistry) who transformed a pretty young woman into a stunning, red-carpet-worthy star. Kelly’s dramatic “backless” lace dress did the rest!

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Crystal of Sweet Peas Floral Designs delivered a classic white bouquet …

… (and the floral décor throughout), and with that, Kelly was ready for First Look.

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

For their celebration, the couple had chosen the Portola Valley Community Hall, a strikingly modern architectural gem with soaring ceilings and lots of daylight…

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

…and with a small Redwood Grove just steps away that was perfect for their intimate ceremony, just large enough for their small congregation of only 40 guests.

A string trio of members of the SF Music Conservatory under the leadership of Cynthia Ryan provided a festive atmosphere.

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

The couple’s daughter Kay attended on the Matron of Honor’s arm, and their doggie Franklin, stylishly outfitted with a bow tie, had a front-row seat and was on his very best behavior!

The bride’s uncle officiated with personal words and a great sense of humor, and as a nod to the groom’s heritage, the couple exchanged jamalas (flower garlands) – a core element of weddings in the Hindu culture.

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

And here they are: JUST MARRIED!

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Juniper Spring


Time for photos with Liza Head of Juniper Spring Photography (her photos have a “photo credit” line, my iPhone snapshots don’t…) while guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Elaine Bell Catering (and sometimes huddling under the heatlamps provided by Stuart Event Rentals – responsible for all rentals and lighting throughout). The courtyard where the cocktail reception was held had been decorated with string lights and  living 8ft Ficus trees (from Interior Plant Design) – and more trees flanked the couple’s seats at their dinner table – to bring the gorgeous outdoors inside.

A handwritten table assignment board by A Day Like No Other helped guests find their way…

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

When we opened the doors to the Great Room, guests sat down to a delicious family-style dinner by EBC, and they were entertained by DJ Cyrus (of DJ Jeremy Productions).

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Juniper Spring


Photo credit: Juniper Spring

What else? Cake Cutting, of course! In accordance with their overall “green” and rustic theme, mirroring the surrounding woods and nature, the couple had chosen a “naked” cake (from Rachel’s Cakes), sitting on a tree slice…

… which was accompanied by delicious fresh ice cream by EBC.

After their First Dance…

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

… everyone gleefully joined them on the dance floor.

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

Every party eventually has to end – but this one, guests agreed, could easily have gone on forever!

Photo credit: Juniper Spring

May your life together, Kelly and Chris, go on as one joyful party – forever…

Amy and Nick – High Elegance at the Peninsula Golf & Country Club

When bride Amy approached my company, A Day Like No Other, more than a year ago for help with planning her wedding at the prestigious Peninsula Golf & Country Club

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

I was immediately on board – it would be an elegant affair in navy and gold for 120 guests, a ballroom wedding and sit-down dinner in the soaring space of the Club’s Great Room, with huge crystal chandeliers and lots and lots of candlelight – shimmering linens, flowers and greenery… and so it was!

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Guests already got a glimpse of what was to come through the elegant invitations (from Paper Caper) which literally set the tone for a memorable fete.

All our work came together beautifully on a perfect Spring day under blue skies and a slight breeze.

Onsite coordinator Susie Bertolozzi and her team had everything ready for us – even the dining tables were pre-set in an adjacent room so they could be carried into the Great Room immediately after the ceremony that would take place there as well. Incredible! It was a remarkable feat – the room was guest-ready in less than 45 minutes. Susie and team: you are great!

For bride Amy and her three bridesmaids and, of course, for the mothers, the day began early with hair and makeup services by Violet Prather of the  Makeup Dolls – and everyone was positively glowing! 

The bride complemented her stunning, cascading wedding dress…

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

… with shimmering “Jimmy Choo” heels fit for a princess:

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

… and her bridesmaids looked their best in navy floor-length lace dresses.

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Amy was close to tears of joy when she first saw her gorgeous cascading bouquet of ivory and blush roses (by Marisa Tsikounas of Revel Floral Design – who created the floral arrangements throughout).

And here is our radiant bride!

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photographer David Kim and his assistant captured every precious moment –  – from getting ready to all the pretty details, from ceremony till the end of the evening.

Nick and his groomsmen were also ready and dressed “to the nines” ….

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

… even the littlest ones looked totally “cool!”

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Don’t forget the rings!!

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

… and we were ready for the guests!

The dramatic double-height ballroom with its enormous crystal chandeliers had been set up for the wedding ceremony…

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography… and here  are Amy and Nick, saying their vows.

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Just married!

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

The ceremony was officiated by Sanford Marshall aka The Wedding Coach – lighthearted and personal, with laughter and with warmth, and when Amy and Nick said their “I Do’s,” everyone was deeply moved. So happy!

The Garden Strings, a string trio led by Pauline Metzgar, played the couple’s favorites for processional (Canon in D) and recessional (Cold Play) and made everyone’s hearts sing!

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails – especially the “Harley,” named after the couple’s doggie, in the Oval Bar ….

… while the dining room was being prepared and the couple had many more photos taken – here is the ultimate, official wedding photo:

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

… followed by the most romantic, timeless sunset photo:

When the doors to the ballroom – now transformed into an elegant dining room – opened again, guests just stood speechless, admiring all those tables with flowers and candlelight, and the newlyweds literally danced in at their Grand Entrance.

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Following dinner, Amy and Nick shared their First Dance…

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

followed by Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance.

The newlyweds also honored another wedding tradition by cutting – a giant cupcake (from Sibby’s)!

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Guests were treated to delicious mini cupcakes from Sibby’s as a dessert, and everyone just “dug in.”

Then Wonderbread 5 opened the dance floor with their rousing live performance that brought everyone on the dance floor in no time.

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

Photo credit: David Kim Photography

What a party! When it concluded, the newlyweds were sent off into their “married bliss” in style: with a sparkler parade!

All the happiness in the world to Amy and Nick – and keep celebrating!

An Intimate Wedding Celebration in High Elegance: Wei and Thomas at Stonepine Estate

When Wei and Thomas approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for assistance with planning their wedding, they had already decided on the overall framework: they would invite only their parents, siblings, and closest friends; they wanted to provide their guests with a whole weekend of shared quality time and fun activities; and more than anything else, they wanted total privacy.  That already ruled out their original idea of a ceremony in their favorite public park… and a hotel wedding as well. I began to compile a list of suitable venues – and Wei and Tom went on many, many site visits. Nothing seemed really perfect. While they had specified a “modern” venue, and under no circumstances a Spanish-Mediterranean architecture, I kept thinking of my all-time favorite wedding venue: Stonepine Estate in Carmel Valley. It was the perfect fit except for one little thing: its mansion is built in Spanish-Mediterranean style. So I gathered my courage and sent Wei and Thomas there to have a look. To their own biggest surprise, they fell “head over heels” for this extraordinary venue.

A former ranch, Stonepine Estate is situated on 33o acres of rolling hills, pristine gardens, a vineyard, and an Equestrian Center. It can accommodate only around 30 guests – talk about seclusion and privacy! (No wonder that it’s a secret among Hollywood celebrities trying to escape the paparazzi…). An unassuming gate opens to a mile-long driveway through one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen:

… with mature trees and lush plantings…

The narrow driveway leads up to a horse sculpture….

… flanking an imposing wrought-iron gate with the initials “C” and “N” for “Chateau Noel,” the name of the central mansion on property.

This gate grants access to the real “inner sanctum,” the Chateau itself.

Wei and Thomas would get married here on March 11, a Sunday. We had a mere three months to plan together with Stonepine Special Events Director Gail Quinnan …

… and last weekend, it all came together beautifully.

Guests had arrived in San Francisco ahead of time and were treated to a relaxing shuttle ride (by Main Event Transportation) on the Saturday before the wedding. Unfortunately the weather forecast was correct this time – Saturday was completely rained out. (BUT, more importantly, the forecast was again correct for Sunday, the day of the wedding: sunshine!). Stonepine is so elegant and cozy and offers so many beautiful areas to “hang out,” that everyone was just staying in, chatting, catching up, and having a good, quiet time. The first real event of Wei’s and Thomas’ wedding weekend was the Rehearsal Dinner onsite, at Blacksmith’s in the Equestrian Center. Just shortly before six, our start time, the rain abated, and a beautiful double rainbow appeared – what a great start to our festivities!

Inside, a rustic BBQ dinner was awaiting the guests, in a real “Western” setting, complete with a fully functional carriage:

After dinner, games in the huge former hayloft were awaiting – shuffleboard, pool, foosball, board games, and a ping-pong table for a heated tournament!

Everyone had a really great time.

Next morning, the sun came up to a clear, blue sky and a slight breeze. It was the perfect day for an outdoor wedding! Finally the guests could take full advantage of all the outdoor activities Stonepine has to offer, from croquet and tennis to horseback riding.

For Wei, the day began with  hair and makeup styling by Tiffany Chiang of Design Her Image, and then she slipped into her classic all-lace dress…

… with matching elegant heels…

Wei’s Mom helped with the adjustments – a true mother-daughter moment!

Vena Tse of Flor de Monterey had made her a classic bouquet of all-white roses… (and boutonnieres for the gentlemen, wristlets for the mothers, ceremony and dining decor)

Ready to grant her “Prince Charming” a First Look, all captured by photographer extraordinaire Kevin Chin

The ceremony area in the “Cherub and Swan” garden was set up and beautifully decorated with flowers by Flor de Monterey…

… and the Mersonacta String Quartet was ready to play. Beautiful bilingual programs in the wedding colors, prepared  by A Day Like No Other, made it easy for all guests to follow the proceedings.

The bride and her father were chauffeured to the ceremony in high style, in the signature Stonepine Rolls Royce:

… and here comes the bride, on her father’s arm, to the sounds of Johan Pachelbel’s “Canon in D:”

In his very personal wedding ceremony, Officiant Rev. Brian Lyke struck the perfect balance between lightheartedness and words of wisdom, and every guest was deeply moved. Even the youngest of all guests, 6-month-old puppy Yuki on her Mom’s lap, was perfectly well behaved!

Just married, showered with rose petals, and ready for their official first kiss!

The newlyweds were whisked away in their Rolls Royce…

… for more photos with Kevin Chin:

While their guests were enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the patio, serenaded by the Mersonacta String Quartet…

… we were putting the finishing touches on the setup for the couple’s Tea Ceremony, a nod to the bride’s Chinese heritage.

The couple had changed into elegant Chinese attire…

… and in order to share this rich cultural tradition with all guests, a bilingual  “Mistress of Ceremonies” (aka Zheng, the Fortune Woman) guided the ceremony.

Wei and Thomas put their own spin on the tradition by including elements of the Korean Pae Baek: catching dates and other fruit symbolizing fertility, tossed to them by their parents, in a big red cloth to ensure many, many babies! It was a joyful experience for everyone.

Again, behind the scenes, we were frantically working and preparing dinner and the dining room for the couple and their guests.

The celebratory speeches of the Dads were again translated for everyone to follow and to cheer on the newlyweds!

After dinner, the whole party retired to the elegant living room of the Chateau to witness the couple’s official first joint venture: cutting the wedding cake – a delicious strawberry-cream confection from Patisserie Parker-Lusseau.

While enjoying this luscious dessert, guests were treated to the last highlight of the evening: a professional slideshow on Wei’s and Thomas’ story – complete with subtitles, but totally self-explanatory with cute drawings and photos. What a day… what a weekend!

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Wei and Thomas – accompanied of precious memories of a very special weekend in Carmel Valley.


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! 

Caroline’s and Merrick’s Wedding: Chinese Tradition with a Fresh Twist

Caroline and Merrick are a true Silicon Valley power couple, working crazy hours, jetting around for business all the time – a really hectic lifestyle. When they decided to tie the proverbial knot, they realized quickly that they would not have the time nor the bandwidth to do the planning themselves. In comes my wedding planning company, A Day Like No Other! Already in our first planning meetings (e-meetings, of course!!), a few things about the couple’s vision for their Great Day emerged: a traditional Chinese banquet, in honor of their shared cultural heritage and their families, was a “must.” To that end, they had booked one of the “mainstays” of Chinese cuisine on the SF Peninsula, Koi Palace in Daly City. A Tea Ceremony and a Western wedding ceremony at a pretty, picturesque location – also a “must.” And for that, they had settled on the beautiful Allied Arts Guild, a Spanish-Mediterranean compound set amidst manicured gardens, serving as  the home to multiple artisans, art galleries – and as an event space. The rest still had to be filled in… and so we got started! Given that we only had three months of planning time, we needed to move quickly. But then – life intervened, and business travel, and the Flu season… and all of a sudden, things got really hectic…

Last Saturday, all our work came together in exactly the wedding celebration that Caroline and Merrick had been hoping for, and despite the end-of-November date, Lady Luck and the Weather Gods were smiling upon us, and the predicted rain held off until a few hours after the Great Day.

For Caroline, her bridesmaids, junior bridesmaids and flower girls, the day began early with hair and makeup services by Tiffany Chiang of Design Her Image.

Florist Shannon LaVoie of Rare Sparrow had made elegant bouquets in the bride’s chosen color of wine red with blush pink and a tiny dose of peach; and altar arrangements to match.

Caroline slipped into the first of her three (3!) dresses, a stunning red-and-gold embroidered Chinese sheath dress, for the traditional Tea Ceremony: serving their parents tea as a symbol of their gratitude and devotion.

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Augie Chang, our photographer extraordinaire for the whole day, and his assistant Luisa captured every moment and shared the first few of their many beautiful photos with us for a little preview (and I will supplement with my own iPhone snapshots as needed, for the moment….)

After that, it was time for the couple’s First Look in a white Western wedding dress..

Photo credit: Augie Chang

…which fit the bride to a “T.” Isn’t she beautiful?

Photo credit: Augie Chang

… and here comes Caroline in her white dress to show herself to her “Prince Charming” for the first time!

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Photo credit: Augie Chang

This could be their official wedding photo, don’t you think? Off they went for many more romantic portraits in the gardens…

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Photo credit: Augie Chang

… with and without flowergirls and junior bridesmaids!

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Meanwhile, frantic preparations were underway to get the ceremony and reception space guest-ready in time. Stuart Event Rentals had delivered chairs and tables; hors d’oeuvres came from Draeger’s delicatessen, and my assistant Quan and I were busy pulling it all together and installing the whimsical ceremony backdrop of suspended paper rosettes …

… setting up gift and guest book tables, signage and a myriad of other things!

Caroline and Merrick had provided a multitude of family photos for a true photo gallery which served as a backdrop to our Welcome Table. Time flew, our guests were arriving, and our ceremony musicians, cellist Stephanie and pianist Jenton, friends of the couple, began playing – their personal wedding present to Caroline and Merrick.

Here comes… not the bride, but the true little stars of the day – our twin flowergirls!

Photo credit: Augie Chang

And now, finally, comes the bride on her mother’s arm:

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Officiant Chris Thielen welcomed the congregation and directed a ceremony that could not have been more personal, warm and lighthearted – everyone was smiling and laughing, and sharing the happiness of the moment.

Here they are: Just married!!

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Photo credit: Augie Chang

What followed? More photos. And for the guests: Cocktail Hour on the patio with a special surprise that made everyone’s (not only the little ones’) hearts skip – a real cupcake food truck (Kara’s Cupcakes’ KaraVan) serving fresh and yummy mini cupcakes, hot chocolate, tea and coffee. Not a crumb was left at the end! Go have a look for yourself:

Photo credit: Augie Chang

As I said – tradition with a twist, and that was not the only one! The newlyweds made their exit in the cutest getaway car EVER -the husband’s vintage Mini…

Photo credit: Augie Chang

Fast-forward to our Chinese banquet at Koi Palace, famous for its indoor Koi pond:

Tables were being set…

… the couple’s Sweetheart Table was being decorated…

… a Sign-in Table and Seat Assignment Board installed…

… and the DJ and our bilingual MC Jackson (from TDE Wedding) completed their setup and got ready.

Maid of Honor Michelle, my assistant Quan and I set up the cake-and-candy table…

…with a cake and French macarons from Paris Baguette and a lot more delicious sweets. What you have certainly spotted in the middle is another one of Caroline’s and Merrick’s personal twists: a Chinese “double happiness” symbol built from LEGO bricks!! The two are LEGO fans… talk about “personal and unique!”

With that, we were ready for the guests and for an epic seafood banquet, many speeches and toasts… and for a lot of fun with the next surprise of the evening: Giggle & Riot photo booth producing cute little flipbooks as wedding favors!

Then it was time for Caroline’s and Merrick’s first official task as a married couple – cutting the cake:

And finally – the couple’s First Dance, of course!

Photo credit: Augie Chang

It was a long day filled with happiness, warmth and laughter, and everyone went home with a big smile… Wishing you a lifetime of happiness together, Caroline and Merrick, and may you always find the time for shared laughter and a LEGO project!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

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

Chiew’s and Justin’s Neverland – an Epic Party

“Neverland?” Wasn’t that Michael Jackson’s famous 100 million dollar dream estate? Oh yes, and Chiew’s and Justin’s epic wedding celebration was inspired by just that fantasy. A guest list of 500. A seafood station with an ice sculpture, an 8-course banquet dinner and a dessert buffet at least 30 yards long. A succession of four dresses for the bride. An LED dance floor. A profusion of white orchids. Oh – and as fantasies go, they are sometimes a little unreal: we had a mere eight weeks of planning time!

When Alicia, the groom’s sister, approached my company, A Day Like No Other, with her plan of a 500-person wedding “2 months from today,” I made a big leap of faith and said YES. I am so glad I did! It was intense, it was exciting, and the result of all our efforts… even better than I could have imagined! Come look for yourself!

Wedding Day began early for the bride and her bridesmaids: hair and makeup (by cousin and beauty professional Angela Le Tatsumi) had to be done before the traditional Tea Ceremony at 11 am.

That and a family luncheon at the the house of the groom’s sister were followed by the bride’s first dress change of the day: with the help of her bridesmaids, she slipped into an elegant traditional white wedding dress (by Helen Miller)…

Personal flowers (as well as all altar pieces at church and centerpieces at the reception) were created by Ivy Vuong of Flowers by Ivy…

The bridal bouquet consisted of roses in palest blush pink and ivory, with ivory berries, and the gentlemen got matching elegant boutonnieres:

Meanwhile, Justin and his groomsmen had also dressed up…

… and with that, everyone was ready to go to Church…

…. in a white stretch limousine by Le Grande Affaire. The wedding mass was held at St. Francis of Assisi Church in San Jose, a modern, light filled structure decorated with ivory and light green flowers.

And here comes the bride, escorted by her Dad:


After church, the couple went on an extended photo tour with their photographers, Danny and Julia of Danny Dong Photography  and videographers from Solace Studio.

My assistants Jessica, Lisa and Myrtle and I were meanwhile busy setting up the reception venue, Villa Ragusa in Campbell, together with the venue team under the leadership of venue manager Hilary Carpeneti. The huge ballroom had already been draped and decorated all around by Terry Dudley and her team of Fine Linen Creations who also provided the linens, clear Chiavari chairs and tabletop items.

The Head Table, presiding over the room and the LED dance floor, got special treatment, of course.

Bloom Catering had prepared an enormous seafood bar topped with a dramatic ice sculpture – which was filled with delicious scampi!

They had also set up a beautiful cheese-and-fruit station…


with their own exotic floral decor by Duc Quach of Flower Decor...

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

… and the same was true for the spectacular dessert buffet of individual cups of custards – at least a dozen flavor varieties! – chocolates, small cookies and and and…

With that we were guest-ready! And this is what arriving guests got to see:

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

Posters at the entrance – unmistakably the right wedding! Then the stairs leading up to the ballroom foyer, glamorously transformed with draping, flowers and lanterns by Fine Linen Creation in collaboration with Flowers by Ivy…

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

A “guest book” (actually framed photos of the couple in a shadowbox, with little heart-shaped cards to write on and drop into the shadowbox) and dramatic flower arrangements were awaiting in the foyer…

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts


… and an impressive table assignment board for all 500 guests!


A flowery “selfie wall” was a hit with all guests…

Modern white lounge furniture (by Stuart Event Rentals) rounded out the elegant setup – and at the far end of the foyer was the seafood bar. An absolute stunner to welcome guests with!

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

I nearly forgot to say that the “real” bar – the one serving alcohol – was about 30 ft long… then guests took their seats, and in came the newlyweds in a truly Grand Entrance!

Guests were served a delicious 8-course Vietnamese-fusion dinner by Bloom Catering. Bride and groom were the only ones who didn’t get to enjoy much of it – they went visiting tables after the bride had changed into a traditional Vietnamese dress:

After dinner, the newlyweds had one more task to take care of: the traditional cake cutting.

Photo credit Jutta Lammerts

The rest of the evening was sheer fun: First Dance on the glamorous LED dance floor…

… and a wild dance party for everyone with music by DJ Paul Goyena. And then, of course – a photo booth from Night Owl Photobooth, a true crowd magnet! The bride found the time to change yet again – this time into an eggplant-colored short cocktail dress in which she was dancing the night away. Don’t you agree – this was the party of the decade!

Many happy decades together to Chiew and Justin! And many more epic parties…

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

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