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 bridesmaids had smaller versions with green berries and eucalyptus.

With that, Chiew 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 (just wait until you see THEIR photos!!) 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...

… 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:

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…

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…

… and an impressive table assignment board for all 500 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!

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.

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…

 

 

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

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

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

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

…who transformed a pretty young woman into a radiant, glamorous exotic beauty. Mr. Siasi of Rose Express Florist delivered a lush cascading bouquet of pink roses and white Phalaenopsis orchids …

… a real match for Shifteh’s luxurious Rosa Clara wedding dress …… with exquisite beading and a breathtaking illusion back:

Here is a detail of the incredible beadwork…

… and here are the princess heels to go with it!

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

This is the view a president would enjoy from the patio – and here is the library with the hidden escape route (accessible through a movable bookshelf in the upper story)…

… a route that was purportedly used by Marilyn Monroe for her secret rendezvous with J.F. Kennedy. Definitely a very, very special spot for a First Look!

From there, Shifteh and Hassan went onto an extended photo tour with their photographers Evonne and Darren (wait until you see THEIR photos – until then, all we have are my snapshots…) and videographers of Mario & Fran Productions.

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

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

Here comes the bride on her father’s arm, preceded by Persian violinist extraordinaire Pourya Khademi:The traditional ceremony was officiated – bilingually! – by Dr. Payman Amiri, with a very lighthearted touch that made everyone smile!

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

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

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

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

For favors, the Mother of the Groom had prepared glittery organza bags filled with white and gold Jordan almonds, tied with personalized ribbon…

… a true labor of love! A mini sofreh adorned the room…

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

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

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

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

The couple quickly stole away for a few dramatic photos with Pourya …

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

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

Another highlight of the evening was cake cutting…

… which in the Persian tradition is by far not as easy as it sounds: the groom first has to obtain the cake knife from a succession of dancing ladies who are teasing him and expect to be paid off generously…

… before surrendering the knife! Eventually, after an extended Knife Dance, they let Hassan have the knife…

… and the couple’s first official task of cutting the cake together proceeded without a hitch. What else? Bouquet Toss, of course!

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

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

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A Lot to Be Thankful for… Kate and Aaron at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

All weddings are joyous occasions (one of the reasons I like my job so much!) – but Kate’s and Aaron’s wedding, last Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, was truly exceptional in the joy and gratitude it celebrated.

The bride had suffered a near-fatal accident a few months ago (at her Bachelorette Party, of all occasions…) – and against all odds, she survived – paralyzed down from her chin. The unanimous verdict was that she would never be able to walk again. It was, by all measures, a catastrophe. But what none of the experts had factored in is that Kate is a fighter, determined and strong. She learned to walk again. She wore a neck brace for months. When her Mom booked my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning the wedding that would nearly not have happened – Kate said she might have to wear her neck brace with her wedding dress. And that she’d be perfectly content just lounging by the dance floor and watching, grateful for having a wedding and just being there.

Well, let me tell you – even since then, she’s made giant strides, and no one would have suspected what this radiant and happy bride had gone through to get to this point! But, of course, I am getting way ahead of myself. First things first…

The couple’s venue, the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, is dramatically perched high up on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, a gorgeous setting with endless views.

For their wedding day (close enough to the Thanksgiving Holiday), the hotel was resplendent in pumpkin decor:

… and the weather was a perfect “golden October” with blue skies under a warming sun and a slight breeze.

For Kate and her six bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup services by Teri Lacro of The Charismatic Bride.

Everyone was in high spirits! Christina Averkin of A Bud and Beyond delivered gorgeous bouquets…

… in Kate’s favorite colors of blush pink and pale peach, in a loose, feminine style, finished with fluttering silk crepe ribbons. She also brought boutonnieres for the gentlemen…

… and the most gorgeous ceremony decor and centerpieces – you’ll see!

Kate had chosen a glamorous, nearly transparent, very form-fitting Lazaro lace dress (and with her supermodel figure, she pulled it off to a stunning effect!)

She did need some help from her Maid of Honor and bridesmaids, though, to put on her golden Jimmy Choo heels…

… but with that done, she was ready for her First Look with her groom, Aaron.

Photographer Cooper Carras and videographer Spencer Sarson captured it all (just wait until you see THEIR photos and video footage! For now, all I have to offer are my own snapshots…).

Meanwhile, preparations were underway “behind the scenes” to get everything ready for the great celebration.

Wedding and Special Events manager Sophie Lelievre, banquet managers Joseph and Juan and their teams set up the ceremony chairs …
…and welcome bar, cocktail tables and linens, and the dining setup in the ballroom; the Stuart Event Rentals crew set up chairs and elegant lounge furniture around the dance floor; florist Christina installed a semicircular wall of flowers as a ceremony backdrop … … Jonathan Metcalf and assistant Taylor of PSAV set up a sound system for the ceremony, and my assistant Annie Chang and myself were busy organizing and putting finishing touches on things.

Guests arrived by shuttle (from Le Grande Affaire) and were treated to their first glass of champagne right there on the Ocean Lawn. Guitarist Jay Alvarez serenaded them while they were finding their seats for the ceremony and accompanied the festivities with beautiful wedding standards and a few of his own compositions.

Then finally, the great moment was there: Here comes the bride!

The very personal ceremony was officiated by Andrew, the groom’s uncle – and as a close family member he, of course, was keenly aware of what a miraculous moment this wedding actually was. It was very, very touching and emotional. And full of joy, of course! Here they are, just married!

Off to many more photos and video shots… especially as we were getting closer to Sunset, the light turned a magical rose gold color. Kate and Aaron were so beautiful together, literally bathed in a golden glow.

Time for dinner! The grand ballroom of the Ritz was aglow with shimmering linens, candles, uplights and elegant floral centerpieces…


with the Head Table of course getting the extra special treatment! 

Over dinner, the bride’s 93-year old Grandfather gave a song performance in honor of the newlyweds – his way of toasting to their future!

More guest entertainment: The Laugh Box photo booth – a total hit with everyone. And then it was time for the First Dance:

Against her professed plans,  “Amazing Kate” did NOT just lounge and watch her guests dancing – she danced herself and was right in the middle of everything!

What else? Cake cutting! Gabrielle Feuersinger of  Cake Coquette had delivered a glorious classic four-tiered wedding cake…

… and Kate and Aaron accomplished their first official task as husband and wife – cutting that cake together – with bravura.

Then it was off to the dance floor again, where Dan Meblin and the Pop Fiction band was heating it up for the crowd!


Everyone was having a great time, and Kate and Aaron especially were overjoyed and happy. Next up: their Honeymoon on Kauai and Lanai. Have a wonderful trip together, starting off your shared journey of a lifetime!

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Karin and Andy, a Celebration with Friends and Family at Allied Arts Guild

When Karin and Andy decided to tie the proverbial knot, they realized pretty quickly that with their busy professional lives they would not really have the time to plan their celebration themselves. They brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board early on to help with planning, logistics, design and decor. A few priorities were clear from the get-go: an intimate venue for their 70 guests, elegance but without the usual “frills,” a cozy celebration with good food and good company. When looking for the perfect venue, the couple fell head over heels for Allied Arts Guild, a lush garden setting with a beautiful Spanish-Mediterranean style building and adjacent courtyard – all conveniently located, yet a little world of its own.

Design-wise, we complemented the impressive architecture with a “farm style” outdoor dinner setup of long rows of bare wooden tables with antiqued cross back chairs, a rustic floral decor based on shades of green with dark eggplant-color accents, and string lights and candles.

For the celebration, Karin and Andy focused on what is so essential to them: a Jewish ceremony, contributions of their closest family members and friends – and having a good time! Speaking of family members: the couple’s super cute doggie “Sawyer” would of course be attending!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Murray

 

Photo credit: Elizabeth Murray

 

Last Saturday, all our planning came together on a glorious Autumn day, under blue skies and a warm golden October sun. For Karin and her Maid of Honor, Andy’s teenage daughter Julia, the day began with hair and makeup by Jessica Morton of Miabel Artistry.

The bride complemented her classic lace dress with an elegant bouquet of sculptural flowers by Ingela Floral Design (who supplied floral decor throughout)…

Ready for her First Look!

All these precious moments were captured by Juan Pinnel of  Pinnel Photography – wait until you see HIS photos! Right now, we are grateful to have the first snapshots of the Great Day by my assistant Lisa Siyuan Li (thank you, Lisa!)

Meanwhile, preparations were underway for the ceremony on the lawn to the left of the Rose Allee. AAG manager Tiana Wong and her team set up ceremony chairs, Carol Attia of Under the Chuppah installed a beautiful rustic birch chuppah …

Photo credit Carol Attia

… and Ingela Ruschin of Ingela Floral Design decorated it with an asymmetrical arrangement of dark eggplant and wine red flowers. The Day Like No Other team, led by Mary-Kate Greenberg with assistance by Lisa Siyuan Li, was busy putting the finishing touches on everything.

Ceremony music – acoustic guitar – was the contribution of Andy’s neighbor Roger Jones, a truly heartfelt wedding gift to the couple!

The Processional began with Julia, the Maid of Honor, accompanied by ring bearer Sawyer:

Here comes the radiant bride, escorted by her father:

The traditional ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Lisa Kingston (of the Peninsula Temple Beth El) with the prescribed seven readers and the ritual of breaking a glass at the conclusion. Mazel Tov! Here they are – just married!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Murray

Time to party! TJ Solarski of JW Catering and his team was waiting for the couple and their guests with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Courtyard… 

Doesn’t that look delicious?!

The couple’s friend Carla Helmbrecht and her Jazz combo entertained and delighted guests with hours and hours of music – another very personal touch in this celebration of family and friendships. Guests left their good wishes and marital advice in the guest book:

Everything was lovingly put together and accessorized for an elegant yet relaxed, summery rustic look…

Doggie Sawyer, having fulfilled his ring bearer duties with bravura, and having starred in scores of family photos, then took some leisure time with his Doggie Mom of the Day, dog walker (and dog enthusiast) Liz Murray – for walking, playtime, dinner and a nap, until his humans would be done partying and take him home with them.

Dinner tables with matching Hickory Crossback chairs (from Stuart Event Rentals) were set up in the Sunset Patio …

… for a rustic yet sophisticated ambiance with eucalyptus garlands running down the length of the tables, interspersed rustic lanterns and  amber water goblets – and with string lights hung overhead…

As guests were dining, darkness fell, and the scene turned downright magical. After dinner, everyone moved inside to the Sunset Room whose whole back wall had been converted into a family photo gallery…

… and where the wedding cake (from Susie Cakes) was holding pride of place:

Bride and groom tackled their official first task as a married couple – cutting the cake together – with gusto!After that, there was no holding back the guests from the dance floor…

Everyone was having a really great time, and nobody wanted to go home… Many happy years together, Karin and Andy! Again – Mazel Tov!

 

 

 

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A Palace right out of a Fairytale for Deanna’s and Jeffrey’s Glamorous Wedding Celebration

After a full ten years of courtship, Deanna and Jeffrey took the plunge and decided to get married, and they brought my wedding planning company, A Day Like No Other, on board right at the beginning. We had about a year to put together a celebration for their 300 guests, and of course the two wanted it to be extra special!

They would have their ceremony in their home parish, but then, for their reception,  we would “put on the glitz!”

Finally, on my birthday (!!), it all came together in a memorable celebration. Have a look…

For Deanna and her bridesmaids, the Great Day began very early with hair and makeup services …

… expertly done by bridesmaid Merica and by the Mother of the Bride herself! (Just the first one of so many personal touches at this wedding… you’ll see).

Florist Natasha Kolenko delivered the most beautiful bouquets for bride and bridesmaids, soft and feminine, with unexpected touches like bicolor lilies and snowberries, the handles finished with antique silk ribbon…

The gentlemen got matching boutonnieres…

.. and while the ladies were busy with hair and makeup, the gents helped one another with their bow ties…

Deanna meanwhile got into her breathtaking, form-fitting lace dress with the help of her Maid of Honor…

… slipped into her golden high heels…

… and was ready to head off to Church! They had chosen their home parish, Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara, where Church Coordinator Genevieve Van Tuyl organized the processional and guided the bridal party.

And here comes the bride, escorted by her parents… 

One hour later: Just married!

Off they went to many more photos by Tuan and Bradley of Tuan B. & Company and video footage by Kien Nguyen of Kien Pictures!

Meanwhile, frantic preparations were underway to get their reception venue ready for their reception: Dynasty Seafood Restaurant in Cupertino, a fixture for fine dining in the local Asian community. Terry Dudley and her team from Fine Linen Creations transformed a standard dining room into a fantasy of golden glitz and glamour – with miles of draperies, uplights, linens, gilded chairs and and and…

an impressive walkway for the couple …

… a custom white dance floor personalized with the couple’s names in gold script …… a Sweetheart Table fit for royalty, complete with gilded thrones …

… a matching dessert table…… sign-in table, and a dramatic flower wall as a “selfie backdrop!”

My assistant Myrtle Ventura and I were busy setting out the various decor elements, completing the candy bar, and putting finishing touches on the table settings with beautiful centerpieces by Natasha Kolenko in the center of the traditional “Lazy Susans…”The groom’s cousin Bernard Balaoing, a professional DJ, had offered his services “within the family” and was busy putting together a sound system and stage lighting.

Then the dining room doors opened, and guests simply marveled at the golden opulence awaiting them.

More cousins of the bride’s and groom’s pitched in as greeters at the sign-in table. Anna Tran and Jamal Fedalizo, friends of bride and groom, performed MC duties throughout the evening (on a professional level, at that!)… so there was lots of help from friends and family to make this celebration both perfect and very personal.

After cocktails, guests were treated to a traditional 10-course Chinese banquet accompanied by an open bar. Entertainment? Plenty. Jacqueline, the sister of the bride gave the first song performance of the evening…… followed by a dance performance by the Flower Girl (yes! At a mere four years of age she mustered the courage to step on the dance floor and dance in front of 300 guests!), and another song performance by the groom’s talented cousin KC Frando…

In between, the couple changed into Vietnamese attire as a nod to the bride’s heritage…

… and with so much going on, Deanna hardly found time to catch her breath for a quiet Mother-Daughter moment…

Then we dimmed the lights, and the palatial dining room turned downright magical…

What else? Cake cutting, of course! What a glorious cake that was… Another piece of edible art from Gabrielle Feuersinger of Cake Coquette, pale yellow, flecked with edible 24 karat gold and decorated with artistic sugar flowers…

… accompanied by a song performance by the bride’s aunt. Two very musical families, indeed!

Throughout the evening, caricature artists Michael Rosenthal and his Dad, working as a duo, sketched caricature drawings of all guests – as special wedding favors for the guests to keep.

The waiting line literally wound “round the block!” And the newlyweds got THEIR portraits done even without sitting for the artists – Mike can do that from afar and just from an iPhone snapshot, adding the serious “BLING” on the bride’s finger, of course, with a big arrow pointing to it. So much fun!

The couple’s First Dance…

… followed by Father-Daughter, Mother-Son and Money Dances…

… opened the dance floor to the crowd, and then there was no stemming the flood any more. Dance, dance, dance!!

At the conclusion of the event, nobody wanted to go home. Everyone agreed – that was, hands down, one of the best parties ever!

Wishing you, Deanna and Jeffrey, many more parties and a lifetime of happiness!

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A Love Fest for Shannon and Brian at the Santa Lucia Preserve

Shannon and Brian are not people to rush into things.  So – when they decided to get married after three years of courtship, they took their time finding the perfect venue for their celebration. It should be set in beautiful, untamed Nature, but still have a certain elegance. It should be large enough for the 270 guests they were going to invite. It should offer accommodations for their closest family members to stay there for an extended wedding weekend. Together with Shannon’s mother, they visited a number of venues… and when they first set foot on the Santa Lucia Preserve, it was love at first sight, head over heals. Nothing else could compare. A private nature preserve on 20,000 acres nestled in the mountains above Carmel Valley, untouched forests and rolling hills with endless views, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean mansion (the “Hacienda” )…

… with a flock of deer grazing on the front lawn…

… and an adjacent guest house to accommodate their nearest and dearest, a subtly renovated barn for their party and a majestic Redwood grove for their ceremony – it was simply perfect! When Shannon and her mother enlisted the help of my company, A Day Like No Other, for the planning of their Great Day, I jumped right in!

Fast-forward nearly a full year… and finally all our planning came together last weekend on a perfect autumn day, warm, sunny, under blue skies and with a slight breeze. We could not have chosen a better date! Shannon’s and Brian’s wedding celebration, anticipated for so long, was to incorporate many, many very personal touches which made it unmistakably “theirs” and gave it all a deeper meaning.

For Shannon, her bridesmaids (her two sisters), the two mothers and Shannon’s grandmothers, the day began early with hair and makeup services by Sarah and Kami of the Hair and Makeup Company.

The ladies emerged looking their best ever – in a very natural and elegant way. Everyone was just glowing!

Britt Waddell of Britt Rene Photo and her assistant captured every precious moment from beginning to end – wait until you see HER photos! (For the time being, all I have for you is my iPhone snapshots…)

Darcy Craig of Seascape Flowers delivered an abundance of beautiful blooms for the bridal party (and also for ceremony and reception)…

… to complement the bride’s breathtaking Carolina Herrera dress from Jin Wang Bridal… worn with her mother’s veil:

Many of the bride’s longtime friends from College and beyond had come from far and wide to share her Great Day with her, more than fit on a single photo! Here they are…

Ready to go….a real mother-daughter moment…

To me, this is the epitome of classic beauty.

A fleet of shuttle buses from Main Event Transportation then took the couple’s guests from their hotels in nearby Carmel up into the mountains, into the Preserve and to the ceremony at the majestic Redwood Grove where the Preserve team under Catering and Events Director Aubrey Yeakel and Banquet Manager Francisco had set up for the ceremony. Sound was provided by Peter Burkhard of Kelly Productions, and the ceremony was accompanied by solo guitar music by Rich Armstrong.

Guests were handed elegant program books which the mother of the bride had hand-bound with leather – the wedding flowers were modeled after the floral motif on the invitation suite:

The elegance and natural beauty of this program (by Ruby the Fox and  Papineau Calligraphy)set the tone for the whole celebration and especially for the ceremony which was officiated by the couple’s friend Michael who had actually brought them together – talk about personal touches here!

And here comes the bride, on her father’s arm:

The couple said their vows flanked by two huge flower arrangements set on natural tree stumps, and the only other floral decor were hand-tied wreaths on the back row of chairs – wreaths are a traditional symbol of wedding celebration in Lithuania, as a nod to the Groom’s cultural heritage (and again, more of that to come!)

After the joyful ceremony, guests were shuttled to Cocktail Hour on the expansive lawn adjacent to the Hacienda where they enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres (like Ahi tuna tuiles…) to go with their libations. The sun cast a golden glow over the scene… and flower girl Helen, a mere four years old, took her job very seriously to call everyone to dinner with a handbell:

Guests took a leisurely walk over to the Barn where the venue staff and my two wonderful assistants Myrtle and Lisa had set everything up for dinner.

When the doors opened, guests were greeted with more – oversize! – wreaths:

… and an elegant setup under twinkling lights:

 

As yet another personal touch, guests found little bags of Lithuanian cookies (from Mama Papa Lithuania bakery)  as their wedding favors. Dinner was served family-style and accompanied by heartfelt speeches by the sisters of the bride, the brother of the groom, and the father of the bride who disclosed how intertwined the couple’s lives had been from the get-go… unbeknownst to them, their fathers had shared college days!

After his Welcome speech, the bride’s father and the bride shared a dance, all by themselves…

… followed by the Mother-Son dance and then – the official First Dance of the newlyweds:

After dinner, there was no holding back the crowd from the dance floor! The 415s band (through Entire Productions) literally “let it rip,” and, as one guest aptly put it, “I’ve never been to a party where not a single person was in their chairs, but everyone on the dance floor!”

Guests only took a little break for Cake Cutting – the bride’s younger sister had made a small cake with cute decorations; talk about personal touches! And then the ice cream bar was opened, with delicious toppings and fresh-baked cookies – a true crowd pleaser!

One more unexpected (and likewise truly personal) highlight was to come as a surprise to everyone: one of the bride’s grandmothers, 93 years young, led the groom on the dance floor for a Tango! She danced beautifully – and  got a well-deserved standing ovation from all guests.

For those in need of a bit of fresh air in between, blanket-cushioned hay bales (by LA Hearne Company) surrounding two brightly lit fire-pits were beckoning in front of the entrance. One thing is sure: everyone was having a great time… what a party! It was a true love fest for bride and groom.

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Shannon and Brian, on your journey together!

 

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A Union of Two Globetrotters – Tina and Paul at Thomas Fogarty Winery

If there is one thing that ties Tina and Paul together (aside from their love for one another, of course!) it’s traveling and good food. They have been to places most people can only dream of: Iceland, Galapagos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kilimanjaro. Always out for an adventure! So when they decided to tie the proverbial knot, it had to be at a special place, of course. They found it at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside – a spectacular venue with endless view of vineyards and all of Silicon Valley in the distance. Needless to say, they also chose a great caterer – Toast Catering – and to add to their impressive gallery of photos taken all over the world, they picked a fantastic wedding photographer, Todd Rafalovich. (Our snapshots here, taken by my assistant Lisa, are only a little preview – wait until you see Todd’s photos!)  My company, A Day Like No Other, helped with all these myriad choices and details and with pulling it all together into that one Great Day with my Coordinator Mary-Kate in charge – last Sunday!

It turned out to be an unusually warm and sunny autumn day, blue skies, a slight breeze – just perfect for Tina’s and Paul’s celebration. For Tina and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup styling by Elizabeth Chang of Skyla Arts. Her bridal bouquet and all other flowers were provided by her personal friend Sarah Fisher – a true labor of love!

… and with that, Tina was ready to meet her “Prince Charming!”

The ceremony was held on a lawn with endless views,  officiated by a personal friend of bride and groom, and with soft music provided by DJ Kevin Combs of Elite Entertainment.

Guests then enjoyed Cocktail Hour on an expansive patio, followed by an alfresco dinner in the open-air pavilion. In lieu of a conventional guest book, Tina and Paul had chosen artwork showing a tree, with guests signing along its branches.

For their table assignments, Tina and Paul got inspired by another shared passion: Lego! Each guest got to take home a little Lego figurine. Let’s see who else gets “bitten by the Lego bug!”

 

And here is the dining pavilion, from above…

… with beautifully set tables awaiting the couple’s guests:

Table numbers? Quirky, whimsical and “original Tina and Paul” of course! Simple table numbers would not do for these two world travelers – they named their tables after their favorite destinations! Have a look:

The favorite of all guests was the Dim Sum station with a constant waiting line of at least 20 people!

Tina and Paul snuck out one more time with their photographer for sunset photos…

… before it was time to cut their super-cute “Wanderlust” cake by Cake Expressions:

… and everyone got to dig into delicious cupcakes!

After that, there was no holding back the crowd from the dance floor where DJ Kevin “let it rip”.. what a party!

Many happy years and exciting travel adventures on your journey together, Tina and Paul!

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An Homage to San Francisco – Olivia’s and Jake’s Nuptials

Olivia and Jake love their city. They are living in a historic neighborhood, they are exploring the city via bike, they are fully immersed. Small wonder then that for their wedding day, they chose iconic locations to make it truly meaningful to them and to their loved ones – some of whom (the bride’s parents, to start with) had come as far as from Taiwan.

When Olivia approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help in her wedding planning, I realized very quickly that this would not be a “run-of-the-mill” affair. It would be very personal, very intimate, and very “San Francisco.”

And finally, last Saturday, it all came together beautifully on a glorious autumn day under a blue sky and a light breeze – San Francisco at its very best!

For Olivia and her Matron of Honor, the day began with hair and makeup services by Chau of A-List Hair and Makeup. She transformed two pretty young women into drop-dead gorgeous red-carpet stars! Olivia had chosen a classic ivory  lace dress and a bouquet from Le Bouquet Flower Shop in elegant dark reds, blush pink and eucalyptus greens:

Ready to present herself to her fiance with a First Look! Adam of City Express Limousine chauffeured her to the Legion of Honor Museum – one of San Francisco’s most iconic institutions, with one of the largest collections of Rodin sculptures worldwide:

What better spot for their First Look but the classic colonnades of the courtyard…

Photographer Frank Lee with assistant and the video team of Amor in Motion captured every moment, as Olivia gently tapped Jake on the shoulder…

And here they are!

Off to many more photos and video footage – to Fort Point (at the Golden Gate Bridge) and the Lyon Street Steps (with breathtaking views of the Bay) – just wait until you see the professional photos!!

Meanwhile, frantic preparations were underway to get both the ceremony site – a lawn in the historic Fort Mason area overlooking the Bay – and the reception venue – the Captain’s Room at the iconic McCormick & Kuleto’s restaurant at Ghirardelli Square – ready on time. The team of YPR delivered the ceremony chairs. DJ Ron Israel of Legendmakers made sure we had sound and music both out on the lawn and at the restaurant. My assistant Myrtle held out in the cold (wind and fog came up in the afternoon) guarding the fully set-up ceremony site. I was busy at the restaurant setting up decor. Team captain Larissa at the restaurant had the tables set up perfectly and the bar going.

Finally, Bride and groom arrived at their ceremony site shortly before their ceremony which was officiated by Minister Maggie Beretz – so personal and so warm! Here comes the (windswept) Bride:

After the ceremony, guests walked over to McCormick & Kuleto’s for cocktails and yummy hors d’oeuvres (Tuna tartare wontons and crab cakes – need I say more?!), and for the incredible views of the Aquatic Park with the historic tall ship “Balclutha” and of Alcatraz.

It was the “Golden Hour” before sunset, and the newlyweds took their time walking over with lots and lots of more photos.

Guests were meanwhile busy finding their table assignments by Olivia’s handmade chart…

… sharing their words of wisdom on prepared Q & A cards…

… and admiring Olivia’s and Jake’s engagement photos displayed in a huge, impressive coffee-table book.

Dinner time! Everyone swooned about the fresh seafood for which McCormick & Kuleto’s is famous. But that was not all. In addition to the elegant dessert (a rich espresso custard), there was THE CAKE! This beauty in the bride’s favorite colors, ombre from blush pink to deepest wine red, came from Cake Coquette:

The new husband and wife were clearly reluctant to even cut into it – but when they did, they revealed a luscious red velvet cake with buttercream filling underneath. So delicious!

To the amusement of all guests, Olivia and Jake sat down for the traditional “shoe game” of guessing their similarities and differences as a couple. Each one held one shoe of the bride and one of the groom in their hands and answered questions by holding up the appropriate shoe: “Who of you takes longer in the shower?” “Who is the better driver?” “Who is the better cook?” – Let’s say, Olivia and Jake did well in that game – with just a few very funny disagreements. And when the party came to a close, everyone went home happy. It was a great celebration of love and togetherness.

Many, many years of shared happiness to Olivia and Jake!

 

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Stephanie and Josh: Family, Friends, Food and Fun

When Stephanie and Josh approached my company, A Day Like No Other, to help them with their wedding planning, they had set a date and booked their venue… and we had five months to go. They would have their ceremony at the spectacular Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, the bride’s home parish. And then they would celebrate at the nearby Portola Valley Town Center, a modern event hall with stunning architecture.

So far, so good! Bride and groom are both super busy – both are physicians – so the time they could realistically devote to planning was limited. And so… our planning and design work got quite intense! Luckily we were able to pull together a stellar team of vendors, and yesterday all that hard work paid off, big time! The weather gods were also smiling upon us with blue skies and sunshine. It was a glorious summer day.

For Stephanie and her five bridesmaids the day began with hair and makeup services by Nancy and Kathryn of Wowpretty Salon – and the six pretty ladies and two mothers emerged ready for the red carpet – just glamorous!

Stephanie complemented her classic white wedding dress …… with a summery, feminine bouquet in ivory, blush pink and peach …

… by Vicky of Queen Bridal – not only our florist for all floral decor throughout, but also our decorator who worked true magic on the reception spaces inside and out… more of that later.

Meanwhile we were joined by Dusty and Amy of Drozian Photoworks (cum assistant) and by the team of Pure Devotion video. They captured all the precious moments during the day – just wait until you see THEIR photos and video! (Until then – we only have my little iPhone snapshots…)

At the church, our hostess Becky Preimesberger was waiting for us, organizing the bride’s party, the groom’s party, parents, flower girl and ring bearer with poise and calm precision, while the church musicians played prelude music for the arriving guests. And here comes the Bride! A wonderful mother-daughter moment…

… shortly before Stephanie was walking down the aisle …

… toward the spectacular, all-glass altar space where her groom was waiting.

The service was officiated by Jeff Gaines, a Presbyterian pastor, and James Baraz, a Buddhist monk – and it was one of the most personal, heartfelt and joyful ceremonies I’ve ever seen. Just beautiful!

At the nearby Town Center, frantic preparations were meanwhile under way. Vicky’s team from Queen Bridal had installed dramatic draperies around the entrance (to hide several unsightly pillars)…

… and on the inside (to hide an equally unsightly extendable partition that marred the middle of the prominent wall in the reception hall). But Vicky didn’t stop at just hiding. She made everything look elegant and polished, including a lighted canopy over the couple’s Sweetheart Table:

Next: beautiful centerpieces…

… and “Save the Bees” favors made of seeded paper (the nature-loving couple had made a donation to this organization in honor of their guests).

Jessica, Savannah and the whole team from Elaine Bell Catering had set up a large buffet…

… of mouthwatering dinner options – followed by the absolute showstopper: a mini donut machine!

And – not to forget: a beautiful cake was awaiting the guests as well! The cute cake topper actually gave away one of the favorite hobbies bride and groom have been sharing for years: they both love to dance!

On the patio, decorated with string lights by Queen Bridal, a well-stocked bar was waiting  for guests to arrive for Cocktail Hour. DJ Sammy Lam provided music throughout, starting with Cocktail Hour on the patio. My assistants Jessica  and Lisa and myself were busy coordinating the setup and a lot of personal decor items, from guest book to family photos…

Hand-calligraphed table assignment boards by A Day Like No Other helped guests to find their seats, and fluffy pillows in the wedding colors – ivory, blush pink and sage green – made the built-in benches on the patio cozy and comfortable.

During the evening, Phil’s photo booth was open, and guests had a lot of fun with outrageous props and poses. Over dinner, the bride’s family entertained the guests with an Ukulele performance…

… and the groom’s mother and sister (both professional musicians) gave a rousing rendition of an Andrea Bocelli love song.

The last highlight of the evening: the couple’s First Dance, an elaborate dance routine that they had been practicing for months! (Forgive the blurry picture – they were twirling so fast!)

It was a true love fest for the newlyweds! And all guests had the time of their lives. It was an unforgettable celebration.

Stephanie and Josh: dance on – into a lifetime of happiness!

Summer of Love at the Fairmont SF

This was the place to be for all wedding planners today! An invitation you do not turn down… The Fairmont team – Emilie Lynch, Heather Pfeiffer, Jennifer Rowe and colleagues treated us all not only to a great cocktail party in one of the most spectacular venues in all of San Francisco – in addition to great company and great views we also got to enjoy a selection of the Chef’s best dishes.

Here is the famous Crown Room:

… with its “million-dollar views:”

Chef Oscar Gonzalez had pulled all the stops…

… and Natasha Miller of Entire Productions had contributed live music for guest entertainment.

Inhouse florist Orna Maymon of Ornamento had again outdone herself with gorgeous flowers:

… and the proverbial “icing on the cake” of this party was – a true “Summer-of-Love, hippie, tie-dye” cake in a riot of colors and flavors, courtesy of Inticing Creations.

Everyone had a great time, and we all took home a lovely goody bag, on top of everything else. We love the Fairmont!!