Victoria’s and Ryan’s Magical Garden Wedding

When Victoria approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for planning help, her wedding was still nearly a year away – and then it had to be postponed by another six months. Plenty of time to get it all perfect! And yesterday, finally, it all came together in a truly magical celebration on a picture-perfect day in May.

For their venue, the couple had chosen a veritable hidden gem in the Wine Country: Sylvan Lake, a private estate tucked away in the mountains above St. Helena. From a narrow, winding mountain road completely encased in dense foliage, you enter through an unassuming gate, and only halfway down the driveway does this garden paradise reveal itself…

Passing through an impressive wrought-iron gate, a vista of manicured lawns and decades-old boxwood hedges opens up, accentuated with a profusion of multicolored roses. It is truly a breathtaking place.

The bride and her bridesmaids got made up and dressed in a cozy cottage on property, hidden from any spying glances – Victoria was adamant: no First Look for her! Ryan would see her at the ceremony for the first time on their wedding day, not a minute earlier!

Here she is getting into her gorgeous lace trumpet dress:

… a true mother-and-daughter moment!

The ceremony was held overlooking the lush vineyards at Sylvan Lake. Here comes the bride, true to tradition on her father’s arm:

The ceremony was officiated by a personal friend of the couple’s. The bridesmaids wore floor length dresses in shades of lilac and mauve, and the groomsmen wore elegant grey suits.

I do! The moment Victoria and Ryan were pronounced husband and wife, the historic bronze bell at Sylvan Lake was rung, its glorious sound carrying through all of Napa Valley – for all the world to know!

While the couple had their photos taken by photographer Megan Reeves, guests were enjoying Cocktail Hour with lawn games and open bar and appetizers by S’Wine Country BBQ – just a glimpse into the hearty dinner to come!

Tables stretched across the lawn in long rows, presided over by the couple’s Sweetheart Table under the low-hanging branches of a centuries-old olive tree.

Fittingly, wedding favors were little bottles of olive oil which adorned the dinner tables, adding extra color to the elegant green garlands, hurricanes, votives and casual arrangements of roses, lisianthus, eucalyptus and wheat stems in antique glass bottles (all by EV Florals, as were the bride’s bouquet and bridesmaids’ bouquets).

Guests were guided to their tables by a handwritten seating chart on an antique window pane:

propped up on an equally antique chair amidst the flourishing greenery.

After dinner, there was yet another surprise for Victoria’s and Ryan’s guests: a donut truck from Johnny Donuts, serving super-fresh pastries and piping-hot coffee. The line literally wound around the block!

Then it was time for dancing, and the Lucky Devils Band under bandleader Jefferson got the crowd going! The result? Nobody wanted to go home!

The bride was beaming and happy… and that is why I love my job so much:

The groom exclaimed, “I LOVE this party – I am staying!” – but everything has to come to an end, eventually… Happy, tired partygoers were safely  shuttled to their hotels by Beau Wine Tours. And everyone agreed with the groom: they all loved this party!

Many happy years together, Victoria and Ryan!

 

Julia and Charlie’s enchanted summer wedding at Hakone Gardens

Julia is an organizer. She does it for a living, and she has a hard time giving up the reins on anything. But for her own wedding day, she was willing to entrust these reins to my company, A Day Like No Other. By that time, she and her fiance had already chosen their venue: Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, the oldest Japanese park in the Western hemisphere. It is glorious, especially in late Spring/early Summer. You’ll see!

Julia’s (and her bridesmaids’) day began early with hair and makeup services by Chau from AListMakeup and a church service for closest family members only. After a photo session with 102Studios, the couple arrived at Hakone Gardens, and for Julia that meant: first dress change! She exchanged her traditional Vietnamese outfit for a voluminous Western wedding dress, all lace, sequins and tulle; and got her makeup changed accordingly. In the meantime, everyone was busy with preparations. Onsite manager Tony Barbatti and his team set up the ceremony chairs (with a giant ruler, no joke!! At right angles and to the millimeter)

and helped us in a thousand ways. Ming and his team from Flourishing Gardens catering got ready for a full Chinese banquet. Crafty set up a full bar. Vicky from Queen Bridals installed incredible floral decor – all in golden yellow and rich, dark blues, a tribute to early summer! –

and hung dozens from lanterns from the tree under whose branches the couple’s Sweetheart Table was to be installed. And she transformed the front of that table into a veritable waterfall of flowers, complete with wisteria blooms. It was epic! I was meanwhile busy with the tabletops and the cute “bride” and “groom” favor boxes the bride had chosen, with setting up the dessert bar

and with coordinating all the vendors. Her bridesmaids assembled a table assignment board

at the last minute. DJ Hugh of XGenereration Entertainment and his crew set up the sound equipment and hung string lights. We were all on an adrenaline rush!

And Julia was just beaming!

Finally – time for the ceremony, officiated by a family friend…

with the most beautiful natural backdrop imaginable.

Just married!

Let the festivities begin…

AND let the guests have cake! This piece of art was made by Sharon Bui:

and at the end of the evening not a single crumb was left. As night fell, the scenery turned magical… what a day, and what a night!

 

The newlyweds are already off for their “mini moon” (to Maui) followed by their real Honeymoon later this year, to – you guessed it! – Japan.

Our best wishes on your lifelong journey together!

Glorious Persian-American Fusion at the Fairmont SF: Bita and Walter

When Bita and Walter met – not so long ago – it was instantaneous attraction: they have so much in common! They are both engineers, they both love baseball, food, and above all, traveling. Not much later, Walter proposed – on a Christmas trip to Cuba! Immediately after their return home, Bita jumped into action. She wanted to get married in April. Yes, April. In a little over three months from that day on. When she approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with that whirlwind project, all she knew was that it should be an elegant wedding with good food, and that it should incorporate elements of her Persian cultural traditions.

Long story short – on  April 29th, all of Bita’s (and Walter’s!) dreams came true at the Fairmont Hotel SF. For Bita, the day began with hair styling (by Tony Nash) and make-up application (by Pretty Girl Makeup) with a glorious view of The City…

Then it was time to get into her breathtaking dress that the talented ladies at Nouvelle Vogue Salon had helped her find at the last minute…

accompanied by true Cinderella slippers!

Nicole Reyes of SF Florist supplied the bridal bouquet (and all other flowers for the event), a dream in Spring pastels:

And with that, Bita was ready for Walter’s First Look at her! Simply saying he was overwhelmed would be a gross understatement…

Just seeing these two so deeply in love and devoted to one another was such an honor and a privilege!

After their first photos (by Myrtle Photography), their celebration began in the majestic Crown Room with an authentic Persian sofreh-aghd (designed by Aroosi by Lili),

officiated by Nilou Nouri, and with music by Persian master violinist Pourya Khademi. For the Persian side of the family, this was a real taste of home – and for the American guests, it was a wonderful introduction into the rich cultural heritage of the bride. Pourya stayed on through Cocktail hour in the Pavilion Room while we finished preparations for dinner in the Gold Room. Escort cards for Bita’s and Walter’s 170 guests, adorned with the same Golden Gate bridge motif as the invitations, were displayed on a bed of rose petals…

tables were decorated with beautiful centerpieces and votives from SF Florist,

and on their place settings guests found favor bags filled with typical SF chocolates  lovingly assembled by the bride herself.

Dinner was, you guessed it, a Persian buffet (by Orchid Catering) and well worth the wait…

and after that, there still was the delicious cake courtesy of the Fairmont’s own pastry chef.

After the couple’s First Dance,

DJ Aykut got the crowd going with the perfect mix of Persian and Western favorites.  Bita and Walter were simply happy, happy, happy… and now, as we speak, they are off to their Honeymoon on the Maldive Islands. What a celebration!

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness on your journey together and many more exciting trips!

Jessica and Chris – a Huge Celebration with Friends and Families

Jessica and Chris have known each other for a long time – twelve years, to be exact. When they decided to tie the knot, it was clear that all their friends and extended families would be a part of it – a good 250 people! They felt a little overwhelmed at the task of planning the biggest party of their lives themselves, with the added complication that they are living out of state AND have demanding jobs – Jessica is a physician and Chris a dentist. Long story short – they hired my company, A Day Like No Other, to assist with the planning, and yesterday all our combined hard work paid off: their Great Day unfolded beautifully, and even the weather played along – after weeks of rain the two enjoyed the first weekend of Spring sunshine for their nuptials.

The couple had chosen First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto for their wedding ceremony and the adjacent Fellowship Hall for their reception, and onsite managers Ann Reddick and Angela Mosqueda diligently organized all the venue preparations.  “Home Base” for the preparations (and for their First Night) was the beautiful Garden Court Hotel, in walking distance from the Church. For Jessica and her bridesmaids, the day began with hairstyling (by the bride’s cousin Lena Garcia) and make-up application by Nikki Ngo:

Next up: a gorgeous bridal bouquet by family friend Betsy Doss (who created floral decor throughout) and a crystal-encrusted wedding dress of stunning elegance:

Nearly ready for her First Look:

The couple had chosen my longtime friend and colleague Vicens Forns for their photographer – and we all can’t wait to see his photos! Vicens is a master of light and of the dramatic moment; he made Jessica twirl her voluminous dress skirt in the hotel’s garden court, with the sun illuminating the layers of tulle and reflecting off the sparkling crystals – you should have seen that bridal smile!

Meanwhile, guests were arriving at the Church – a soaring modernist space, illuminated by stained-glass windows in ethereal shades of blue and green. And here comes the bride, to the sounds of Wagner’s Wedding March played on one of the largest organs in the Bay Area:

It was a really breathtaking experience.

Meanwhile, my two assistants Jessica and Myrtle and myself were working hard on preparations for the reception, alongside the team of Mina Park of Green Fish Catering.

The dining hall had been transformed by hanging draperies and string lights installed by Aaron Feldman and his team from Stuart Event Rentals. Guests were seated at long rows of tables adorned with green garlands accented with fresh garden roses.

For seat assignments, we used hand-calligraphed escort cards (designed and produced by A Day Like No Other), each stuck into a little potted succulent plant for guests to take home and “let love grow.”

Guests found the program for the festivities and the menu choices on handmade chalkboards (all signage designed and produced by A Day Like No Other).

And here is the yummy buffet – as advertised!

Guests dug happily in…

… and enjoyed good company and the uplifting live music by vocalist Kendra McKinley and her band. One highlight of the celebration was yet to come: the dessert buffet and the wedding cake from La Baguette – sweet memories for bride Jessica who as a child always got her Birthday cakes from this local bakery. And at her wedding, we and all her guests learned why she loves their cakes and pastries so much – they are divine!

The newlyweds’ official first task together: cutting the cake!

They did it beautifully, and everyone enjoyed that cake – not a crumb was left over. What a fabulous celebration… wishing Jessica and Chris an eternity of happiness!

 

 

 

A & D at Holman Ranch – a very secret affair…

Now that sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? My couple is very, very private, and so all I can do is call them “A” and “D” – by their initials. Don’t be disappointed – there will be no photos of a radiant bride to share (she WAS radiant on her wedding day!)… BUT she and her new husband did allow me to share a few detail shots and of course photos of their romantic venue, Holman Ranch, with you all! (Photographer Lyndsay Undseth elevated all these details to art status – you will see…)

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The couple had invited only closest family and friends – every single guest had played an important role in their lives. Even at a guest count of around 100, their celebration felt close and intimate. The bride had specified a romantic style with blush pink as the accent color in addition to ivory, and our florists, Briana and Krista of Gavita Flora, did a marvelous job!

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Beautifully calligraphed wood and chalkboard signs by HeartPaperSoul added an extra touch…

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Ready for the ceremony – here are the rings!

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… and the dress…

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… a boutonniere…

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… and the breathtaking bridal bouquet.

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Our couple said their vows on the Ceremony Lawn overlooking the valley, with a dramatic backdrop of billowing clouds from wildfires raging on the other side of the mountain range separating Carmel Valley from the Pacific Coast.

80716_0020-copyPaddle fans doubling as ceremony programs were welcomed by all guests – it was a really hot day!

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Guests showered the newlyweds with rose petals from cute little paper cones that they found on their chairs.

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After ceremony and Cocktail Hour, guests were invited to the Rose Patio for a delicious meal by Paradise Catering.

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Tables were set with linens and china from Chic Event Rentals and with gorgeous centerpieces in mercury glass containers by Gavita Flora:

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In lieu of table numbers, tables were named after the groom’s favorite animals –  on watercolor cards!

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Outside, we were treated to a beautiful sunset:

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Following dinner, guests walked over to the Carriage House Lawn…

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where a buffet of wedding cake and Greek desserts (especially Baklava – from Epsilon Restaurant, honoring the bride’s heritage) was waiting.

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… and then, of course, it was time for dancing! The Carriage House was illuminated by myriads of twinkling lights…

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… and the Wonderbread 5 band got the crowd going…

80716_0819-copyNobody wanted to leave! Bride and groom had seen that coming – and so the party continued through the night at a nearby bar. It was truly an epic celebration!

LaRay and Nathan – Couture and Elegance on a Spectacular Cliff

LaRay and Nathan first fell in love with one another – and then, when looking for the perfect place to make their deep commitment official, they fell in love with a place. A private estate, to be precise – perched high up on a cliff above the Pacific, just an hour south of San Francisco, yet looking and feeling as if it were lightyears away.

This unanimous decision was the starting point for all other planning steps – they were not interested in the usual “wedding frills.” They wanted the breathtaking setting of their venue to speak for itself. They wanted high elegance to match the drama of Nature. They wanted only their nearest and closest friends and family members around, everyone with a very special meaning to them (and that included their beloved dog Louis, here with his favorite dog walker Liz).

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And they wanted the evening to conclude with a memorable dinner and wine. How that turned out? Let me show you!

LaRay and Nathan had enlisted my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding planning needs, and we got it all lined up and organized – so when the day of their wedding approached, they were not stressed out but simply – excited.

Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs had erected a tall chuppah-like structure on the bluff dramatically perched above the crashing surf of the Pacific.
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Since Nathan is so tall, Janelle had to build an extra-high structure with extra flowers – a profusion of white and green, mirroring the carpet of white petals on the aisle – and the bride’s Oscar de la Renta wedding dress.
first-look-12 “First Look:” Nathan is overwhelmed!

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Arriving guests were treated to a bar…

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… and then the time had come for the ceremony, officiated by a longtime friend and mentor of the bride.

The bride was preceded by Flower Dog “King” Louis:

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Rings? Yes! presented in style on “something blue:”

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During the ceremony, the couple released Monarch butterflies…

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… who felt right at home among all those flowers!

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Just married! And here is, for the record, the official wedding photo:

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Bride and groom then poured the champagne for their guests themselves – in a classic champagne fountain, overflowing from coupe to couple, until everyone’s glass was filled.

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Following this spectacular Cocktail Hour, the couple and their guests proceeded to Cetrella Restaurant …

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… in nearby Half Moon Bay for dinner – Cetrella has been nominated for a Michelin star several years in a row, and you can imagine what an extraordinary wedding dinner that must have been! The bride literally “let her hair down” again…

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… for the festivities which included (of course!) world-class wine; a photo booth, and…

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… a classic white wedding cake – a tradition that even these two elegant non-traditionalists observed.

Oh happy day…  we are wishing LaRay and Nathan a long happy life together! May you always be looking in the same direction, hand in hand, with a warm Sun shining down on you, just like you did on your wedding day…

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CREDITS:

Ceremony venue: private estate; Reception venue: Cetrella Restaurant; Couple’s accommodations: Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay; Rental items: Classic Party Rentals; Transportation: Skylark Limousine, Black Tie; Photographer: Iran Ramirez (ph: 650-888-7088); Videographer: Thomas Hughes Films; Photo booth: Photo-Matica; Dog walker: Elizabeth Murray; Butterflies: Cloverlawn Butterflies

 

 

Sandra and Jacob at Hidden Villa

Sandra and Jacob had very clear ideas of how their long-anticipated wedding should look and feel – rustic, relaxed, a celebration of the Fall in California, the Great Outdoors. Nothing too formal, a collaboration of their friends and families, just easy. They would do the planning all by themselves! The only help they were going to accept was a wedding coordinator for their Great Day so they could be sure everything would run smoothly. And to that end, they enlisted my company, A Day Like No Other, well ahead of time.

They chose their venue, Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills, right in Silicon Valley, and yet – it feels like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the hi-tech capital of the world. choco-studio-001

choco-studio-196It doesn’t even have cell phone reception! So far, so good. And then life got busy. And suddenly there was a maze of venue rules and regulations to navigate. Nothing was easy. Catering the way Sandra and Jacob had hoped for wasn’t permitted. And so on and so forth. The proverbial devil was in every single detail. At one point, Sandra was totally desperate. So we all decided that a little extra help from their wedding planner would lift the burden – and allow the two to actually enjoy the time leading up to their Great Day!

Look how beautiful it all turned out to be:

While our Senior Coordinator Kelsey was the first one onsite to work her magic behind the scenes, Sandra’s day began with hair and makeup by Nancy Eklund of Miabel Artistry.

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Florist Lanette Anderson of Hidden Villa had created a beautiful bridal bouquet of fresh-plucked garden flowers, all natural-looking and exactly what Sandra had hoped for.choco-studio-012

Meanwhile Jacob was also getting ready.

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Dress, shoes and jewelry were waiting…

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… and now Sandra is ready to meet her groom.

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First Look!

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And after that, it was time for photos with Mike and Nat of Choco Studio.

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The bridesmaids wore nostalgic floral dresses, the groomsmen had grey suits, and everything was “artfully mismatched,” befitting the relaxed and fun vibe of the event.

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The ceremony took place outdoors …

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… under a rustic chuppah …

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… and “Here Comes the Bride!”

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The ceremony concluded with the traditional “breaking of the glass.”

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choco-studio-293 And with that, they are husband and wife – Mazel Tov!

Off to more photos in the beautiful gardens surrounding the ceremony site …

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… while guests were invited to cocktails. The bar was decorated (a labor of love from family members!) with bunting and pennants fluttering in the light autumnal breeze, and lawn games were awaiting the grown-ups (and all sorts of toys for the little guests!).

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Dinner took also place outdoors, and with dusk falling, the scenery under the string lights (by AM Party Rentals) turned magical.

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Guests found their seats following a seating chart crafted by the couple…

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… and simple garden flower arrangements adorned the tables.

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Catering duties were shared by Continental Caterers and the couple’s all-time favorite food trucks: the Waffle Roost and Hiyaaa!

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choco-studio-527Everyone had a really great time!

143 Photo Booth was a hit with the guests, and DJ Turner Hayes of Elite Entertainment rounded out the fun during the later part of the evening with a traditional Hora Dance, followed by a wild dance party for everyone!

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choco-studio-612But that was by far not all!

Jacob’s Dad had brought his band for a very special performance – he’d never been more proud to play music than on this day!

choco-studio-530There were delicious desserts (lots of them!) …

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choco-studio-586… and once that beautiful party came to an end, guests received very practical wedding favors – flashlights for the way back to their cars!

choco-studio-624True to its name, Hidden Villa became engulfed and hidden in darkness, and the sounds of nature took over again… exactly the way that Sandra and Jacob wanted it to be.

A wonderful beginning to a hopefully long and happy journey together – our best wishes on your way!

 

Jean, Mike & Pepper at Sylvan Lake Estate

Jean, Mike and their dog Pepper are inseparable. So when Jean and Mike were planning to get married, OF COURSE they chose a dog-friendly venue, the beautiful Sylvan Lake Estate in the Wine Country, close to St. Helena. jmwedding-155

jmwedding-340 What’s next? A dog-friendly wedding planner! Enter my company, A Day Like No Other, the only wedding planning company specializing in dog-friendly weddings in Northern California. With that in place, we were ready to jump right into planning, design development and decor sourcing, vendor booking and all the myriad details that go into a big wedding.

As it happens, life and the couple’s demanding jobs interfered – planning got delayed – and things got pretty hectic toward the “home stretch!” But the effort was totally worth it. Look here how beautiful it all turned out!

Jean’s and Mike’s “home base” was Silverado Resort in Napa where the two were getting ready…

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… and dressing up for the Great Day…

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… with Pepper literally “underfoot!”

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Soon enough, it was time for the much-anticipated “First Look”…

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… and then for lots and lots of photos by The Shalom Imaginative and video coverage by Usman Baporia.

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The pretty bouquets (and later on, ceremony and reception flowers) were a labor of love by family friends.

Meanwhile, preparations for the festivities to come were underway at Sylvan Lake Estate. An arch was decorated for the wedding ceremony…

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… signage and guestbook were installed…

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jmwedding-194… Bekah Juencke and her team of Smokin’ Yankee’s BBQ Catering was cooking up a storm, Bartenders Unlimited set up the bars, and DJ Qzr installed the sound equipment while my assistant Kelsey, Pepper’s “Doggie Mom for the Day,” took Pepper on extended walks around the property.

jmwedding-183These two bonded immediately – we made sure that this was a fun day for Pepper as well! All the while, I had my hands full with arranging all the decor, coordinating vendor arrivals and deliveries, kitchen and table setup and and and… to get it all done before the guests were arriving.

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Time for the ceremony!

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Here comes the flower girl…

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… followed by the bride.

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Just married! An antique bronze bell was rung to announce the happy news, its sound carrying across the valley – it was truly a memorable moment!

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More photos – call this here the “official wedding portrait…”

While the couple was busy with photos and video, and their guests were enjoying Cocktail Hour, more preparations were underway for yet another ceremony: a traditional Korean Pae Baek (bowing ceremony) arranged by KPOP Party.

jmwedding-442Bride and groom changed into colorful traditional Korean garments.

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… and at the conclusion Mike, following tradition, had to carry Jean away “piggyback” – to the enjoyment of all their guests!

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After that, everyone sat down to dinner at long rows of tables, and the newlyweds and their bridal party were presiding from their Head Table.

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The mouthwatering menu was displayed on pretty signage:

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… and following these yummy choices, the couple’s favorite mochi were served AND there was still a whole cake and dessert bar by Sweetie Pies to “dig into!”

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In between, the photographers “stole away” the bride and groom for a few more romantic sunset photos…

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Following that, there was no holding back – the outdoor LED dance floor (by SF Dance Floors) was waiting, and the newlyweds opened it with their First Dance:

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… followed by an elaborate Father-Daughter dance performance.

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DJ Qzr got the crowd on the dance floor in no time – and what a party that was!

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Many happy years together, Jean and Mike, and our best wishes on your way!

And here is the “live” recap of this magical day, captured by videographer Usman Baporia:

 

 

 

Kerry, Howard and Lilly – Elegance and Fun at Cavallo Point Resort

I just returned from one of my all-time favorite weddings – my last one of this year – and I am still all excited about it! Where even to start? Great venues, a lovely couple, a super-cute doggie – and a wonderful surprise…

Bride Kerry approached my company, A Day Like No Other, in Spring for assistance with planning her wedding in November, and it seemed like a lot of time to go. Well – life happened, and planning got delayed – all of a sudden, things got quite hectic, and the last weeks of planning were quite a whirlwind, but in the end this one-of-a-kind celebration was so well worth all the effort. What was so exceptional? Kerry and Howard did not want a typical “wedding with all the bells and whistles and all the fanfare.” No bridesmaids or groomsmen, no bouquet toss, Grand Entrances or formal announcements, for starters.  They’d very much prefer an elegant dinner party vibe, unstuffy and fun for everyone. Did someone say “fun?” What I haven’t mentioned yet is that these two have a wonderful, slightly offbeat (the bride being British…) sense of humor, and so we had to throw in a super-fun surprise: a Tiki bar!

But I am getting way ahead of myself. Let’s start with the wedding day: an unusually warm, sunny November day that felt more like late Summer – simply perfect, with San Francisco showing itself from its most beautiful side. Kerry started the day with getting her hair done by Ernest Stout of Patrick Richards Salon – an elegant, but not extravagant updo in perfect proportion with her delicate features. Makeup artist Chris McDonald gave Kerry a natural look and accentuated her beautiful eyes with – yes! – faux lashes, and Kerry, although in general not a fan of makeup, could not believe how gorgeous she looked!

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Add to that an elegant, understated lace dress and hot-pink, drop-dead nubuck high heels…

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… AND an elegant bridal bouquet by Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs … in the bride’s favorite colors of soft dusty rose and mauve…

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… and we’re ready to go! Bill Snyder of Bauer’s IT Transportation drove her to the historic Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights District, all decked out with candles,

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and Church hostess Holly Gottschalk snuck her in unseen through the back door, while both groom Howard and many wedding guests were already enjoying an alfresco reception in the Church courtyard with wine, beer and champagne served by Carlos Kronen’s  Bartender Company. Music by members of the Lucky Devils Band – solo guitar for the reception, a string trio for the ceremony – rounded out the happy gathering.

When the time came for the ceremony, the true star of the day – was not the bride (sorry, Kerry!) and not the groom either… but the couple’s dog Lilly, freshly groomed and adorned with a flower collar, who fulfilled her duties as a “flower pup” (dropping silk petals from a tiny basket hanging from her collar) with poise and irresistible charm.

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My assistant Quan, her “doggie Mom for the day,” made sure that Lilly enjoyed the day as much as her parents…

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My other two assistants, Annie and Christine, were meanwhile busy “behind the scenes,” helping me with everything from bar setup and breakdown to putting the finishing touches on our surprise Tiki bar. We were all quite busy!

After their ceremony, the newlyweds mingled with their guests in the Church courtyard for more cocktails, before being driven to their reception venue, the Cavallo Point Resort (the best SF Bay Area hotel by Travel & Leisure – and they do know!), where Catering Manager Lorraine Salceda and her team had prepared the Callippe Ballroom for dining…

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… with shimmering chocolate brown crinkle linens that the bride had purchased specifically for this event, and florist Janelle had adorned the long rows of tables with a profusion of candles and low arrangements mirroring the bride’s bouquet.

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Monique Albert of Just De’Lights had installed uplights that bathed the room in a dark amber glow, and the Lucky Devils were out in full force onstage to keep the whole party entertained, beginning with Cocktail Hour on the patio. Guests were treated to the famously delicious Cavallo Point cuisine, immediately followed by a slice of wedding cake…

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… from the venue’s in-house patissier (of French Laundry fame…). Once that was done, the couple had just a few more things to do: thank their guests…

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…  open the dance floor with their First Dance…

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… and unveil the big fun surprise of the evening: the Tiki bar in the adjacent Silverspot room:

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… complete with thatched umbrellas, a carved Tiki bench, real palm trees (all meticulously planned with Kenzi Blalock of Blueprint Studios) and a real Shuffleboard table (from Video Amusement)!

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Guests donned flower leis and sipped Mai Tais and Pineapple Margaritas from Tiki mugs and Pineapple Coconut martinis from hollowed-out coconuts, all served by bartender Steven clad in a Hawaiian shirt. That’s what I call a party!

Those who needed a break from dancing or a bit of fresh air were lounging around the fire pit on the patio under Monique’s string lights, feasting on a late-night snack of truffle fries, pulled-pork sliders and mini pizza.
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Not to forget, our photographers – Oscar Urizar from Red Eye Collection and his assistant- were tirelessly shooting all day – and night – to record those precious moments. Just wait until you see THEIR photos!

The only fault with this party – it had to come to an end at some point; way too early! One thing’s for sure: everyone had a great time, and this was, hands down, the most “fun” wedding of the year!

Melanie and Sherif at San Francisco City Hall

Melanie and Sherif are very independent thinkers – so it didn’t come as a surprise that their wedding celebration was a bit unusual, too! Not a hotel, not a mansion… but I am getting ahead of myself. Melanie approached my company, A Day Like No Other, months ahead of time for help with her wedding coordination. As a professional event planner herself, she knew how demanding it is to make an event run smoothly and seemingly “all by itself.” And – she wanted to take her Great Day off of her professional duties – which she handed over to me.

For their ceremony, the couple had chosen the probably most iconic San Francisco landmark: City Hall! Rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake of 1906, completed in 1915, this breathtaking Beaux Arts edifice was meant to be a symbol of the City’s irrepressible spirit. Its gilded cupola soars higher (by a full 42 feet!) than the US Capitol. And it’s just as monumental from the inside as it is commanding from the outside. Melanie’s and Sherif’s ceremony took place in the 4th floor North gallery …

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… with the couple’s closest friends and family members in attendance. Many had come from across the nation to share this moment with them.

Programs and personalized cake pops were waiting for the guests as well as Champagne for toasting –

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… and escort cards on antique skeleton keys.

keysJay of City Express Limousine Service got Bride and Groom to City Hall relaxed, comfortable and on time. The very personal ceremony was officiated by Shyamala Littlefield and accompanied by Synchronicity Strings.

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The bride wore an ivory silk backless Pronovias dress from Novella Bridal, a sleek updo and naturally-elegant makeup by Triple Twist, and carried a bouquet from San Francisco Florist (as did her bridesmaids).

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For her bridesmaids, Melanie had chosen coordinating but not identical floor length allover-sequined gowns in harmonious shades of rose gold and champagne – in short, the ladies looked absolutely gorgeous!

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And the groom and his groomsmen stepped up to the fashionable occasion in tux, bowties and classic suits befitting the festive occasion and the impressive architecture.

After the ceremony, there was plenty of opportunity for the couple and photographer Sasha (of Sasha Wedding Photography) to take photos within City Hall (and just wait until you see HIS photos – so far all we have are my snapshots of the day…)

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Leaving City Hall as “Mr. and Mrs.!”

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Everyone then took Cable Car trolleys (another San Francisco icon, of course) to Isa Restaurant in the Marina District for cocktails and dinner. Heaven smiled on the wedding party – after heavy rain the previous days, and despite a gloomy weather forecast, the sun came out, and nobody got wet!

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The private dining room at Isa’s was all aglow with string lights and luminarias…

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… and the newlyweds presided over the party from their Sweetheart Table.

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Guests were treated to a delicious four-course French-Mediterranean dinner, and everyone declared that it was well worth the dietary sin! Melanie had changed into a more comfortable but no less dramatic all-sequined dress:

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After dinner, the whole party walked over to Nectar Wine Lounge next door – the festivities were by no means over yet! The couple had prepared a quirky Polaroid guest book..

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… bridesmaid Bianca had baked “naked” wedding cakes herself for the couple…

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… and one more big surprise was waiting for the guests: bellydancer Heaven Mousalem!

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What a party… And now you know why I love my job so much!

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Melanie and Sherif are off to their Honeymoon already – enjoy that and our heartfelt wishes for many happy years to come!