The hotel was nearly completed before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Although the structure survived, the interior was heavily damaged by fire, and opening was delayed until 1907. Architect and engineer Julia Morgan was hired to repair the building because of her then innovative use of reinforced concrete, which could produce buildings capable of withstanding earthquakes and other disasters.
In 1945, the Fairmont hosted international statesmen for meetings which culminated in the creation of the United Nations. The United Nations Charter was finalized in the hotel’s Garden Room, and a plaque at the hotel memorializes the event.
The Fairmont has been “the stuff of legends” – especially surrounding its famed Penthouse suite where all presidents visiting San Francisco have stayed.
The suite houses among other “follies” the Moroccan-themed Billiard Room – all walls adorned with artful mosaic.
The 2-story suite also houses a double-height library with a secret passageway to the roof (hidden behind a swiveling bookshelf on the upper level) which used to serve as an emergency escape route for the dignitaries lodging in the suite.
Rumor has it that the passageway was also used to smuggle President John F. Kennedy’s mistress, the actress Marilyn Monroe, in and out unseen when the president was in residence.
The Fairmont has been featured in many films, including The Rock, starring Sean Connery. My longtime friend and colleague, event planner Duncan Reyes, happened to be the Events Director at the Fairmont just then. I asked him what the most memorable event was when the movie was filmed. You will not believe this: for the escape scene (through the hotel kitchen) at the beginning of the movie, the entire hotel had to be shut down for a whole week!! Go watch the movie and enjoy!
Many of you will know (and love) Thomas Fogarty Winery as an elegant wedding venue – a good number of you will even have worked there at one or more weddings.
It’s spectacular – on clear days the view encompasses everything from the Bay Bridge to the North, all of Silicon Valley to San Jose in the South. Sunsets – and even the fog rolling in – are sheer beauty.
I am certainly one of Fogarty’s biggest fans! And so I would like to share with you how all this came about – there is backstory to it!
The founder of Thomas Fogarty Winery is actually a famous physician, Dr. Thomas Fogarty Sr., who worked at Stanford University and who made an invention in 1961 that has literally saved countless lives around the world ever since: the Fogarty catheter. This device allows to remove fresh blood clots from arteries without surgery, and it has become a staple of cardiologists everywhere.
Charmed by the natural beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Dr. Fogarty built his family home up on Skyline Boulevard and began acquiring the surrounding land.
By 1977, he had accumulated over 300 acres of land, and in 1978, he planted his first vineyard – with that, Thomas Fogarty Winery was officially founded! The winery is now producing mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – and they are fantastic!
With the construction of the architecturally stunning open Pavilion,
where the majority of festive dinners are now hosted, the winery developed into an elegant event space with a capacity of over 200 guests, indoor/outdoor options and beautiful ceremony lawn.
And we all can absolutely not wait to be back there soon, celebrating love and the beauty of the gorgeous setting. You need not take my word for it: watch this video of one of my weddings at Thomas Fogarty Winery!
Here’s to International Relations! Bride and groom actually met while studying – you guessed it! – International Relations (plus an MBA on top of that…), and what they entered into was, in fact, a very international (and for the longest time, long-distance) relationship: Marcelo is originally from Argentina, studied in Philadelphia, where he met Katie, originally from the SF Bay Area – but she had lived in West Africa for four years for her work… in no time, the two bridged any international issues and became inseparable, albeit in separate locations; only a few months before their wedding, they actually, finally, were able to move into their first shared home.
Given that they both were living and working far apart and far away, Katie’s parents and family friend Alice stepped in to take the lead for a truly memorable, truly big (280 guests) and extremely elegant wedding celebration for their only daughter, and they brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to come up with ideas and make them a reality for that one glorious day in October when all our yearlong hard work came to fruition.
Katie and her bridesmaids got ready at the house of Katie’s parents.
Fiona Tsang of Urban Beauty Loft and her assistants worked their magic on the bride, bridesmaids and mothers, and photographer Taralynn Lawton (all photos in this feature are by her!) and videographer Jesse Eckel of Owl & Tree Films captured it all, including Katie’s diaphanous wedding dress…
… and all the pretty details.
And here is a timeless mother-and-daughter moment…
Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered Katie’s bridal bouquet and all other personal flowers (and then started floral installation for the festivities)…
Marcelo and his groomsmen were also dressing up…
With that, bride and groom were ready for their First Look at the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose…
Isn’t it romantic?!
While bride and groom were busy taking many, many pre-ceremony photos, my team, multiple vendor crews and family friend Alice were hard at work (actually, everyone had started work in the early morning hours…) to transform the chosen venue – the Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club – for Katie’s and Marcelo’s ceremony and reception. Annette Boyd Kevranian of Method42 Productions and her crew were rigging suspended floral decor and string lights and installing draping; the venue team led by onsite manager Brittany Rieland set up tables, chairs and lounge furniture and set the dining tables; my assistants and I were setting up signage and completing table settings; and…
florist Janelle brought the beautiful parklike surroundings inside by adorning every easel, railing and surface with trailing vines, visually connecting the outdoor ceremony setting with the indoor spaces for the reception.
Once the ceremony setup was in place, DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys installed a sound system, and the Synchronicity String Quartet arrived to serenade the bridal party and the guests at the ceremony.
Hand fans doubled as ceremony programs…
… and soon enough guests were arriving (shuttled in style by Le Grande Affaire), and the ceremony began. Officiated by a longtime friend of the bride’s family, it was heartfelt and authentic – it does not get more personal than that!
The newlyweds had more photos to take…
… while their guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the elegantly appointed patio.
Cozy lounge furniture and color-coordinated blankets beckoned; living green trees were literally bringing the gardens to the patio… and built-in heaters provided warmth against the late Fall evening chill. To keep guests well entertained, a photo booth by The Laugh Box provided unlimited fun!
Indoors, a guest book table was used to display a personal photo gallery…
… whose backdrop, a natural stone wall, was filled with flowers in every niche and “overgrown” by gracefully trailing vines – all the masterpiece of florist Janelle.
Then it was time for dinner! The dining room had been transformed into an indoor garden scenery with string lights, living trees, a giant floral arrangement suspended above the Head Table, stunning tall floral centerpieces, white-washed Chiavari chairs and elegant place settings.
Once all guests were seated, the new Mr. & Mrs. opened the lavish dinner buffet with their Grand Entrance.
Over dinner, Katie’s Dad surprised everyone with an outrageous performance:
He expertly “decapitated” a bottle of Champagne with a saber!
The two clearly enjoyed the evening! What else was there to do? Cutting the wedding cake (from Studio Cake)…
… and opening the dessert buffet of Argentinian cake specialties…
… and dancing, of course! DJ Henry Kim – who also served as our bilingual MC – kept the crowd going with the perfect mix of Argentinian tunes and international favorites.
That opened the dance floor to all guests.
It truly was an “International Summit” and an epic party! Keep celebrating life and love on your shared journey, Katie and Marcelo!
Anna and Etan had chosen Thomas Fogarty Winery for their wedding – a spectacular venue with endless views over all of Silicon Valley right to the San Francisco skyline – and brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to plan everything else – from vendor sourcing to design, ceremony planning to wedding day schedule. Our many months of planning time literally flew by, and on the first weekend of September, Wedding Day was upon us.
Anna and her bridesmaids got ready at the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto where Felicia Chang of Bun Bun Bridal Lab had set up a veritable beauty lounge.
The girls REALLY had fun together… see here!
Then it was time for the bride to transfer to her wedding venue in style – we had reserved a stretch limousine from Le Grande Affaire – and to get into her dress…
… a delicate, diaphanous, lace-encrusted stunner!
Matching the blue-and-silver color scheme, Anna had chosen shimmering silver wedding shoes. Here are the rings….
… and the beautiful bouquets for bride and bridesmaids (by Marie Krick of Laurel & Vine)..
And here is the happy bride…
Groom Etan was also getting ready…
… and he and his groomsmen were outfitted with boutonnieres matching the bridal flowers.
It all turned out exactly as bride Anna had envisioned it – until the weather threw us a curveball: a freak storm forced us to move dinner inside, and the catering team, onsite coordinator Kaitlin Brinton, my assistants Chrissy Wolfman and Stephanie Hui and myself, and even our DJ scrambled to carry everything inside. Incredible but true: it was all done in a mere twenty minutes, and guests could sit down in warmth and comfort to a delicious meal by Toast Catering. The rest of the evening progressed smoothly, including cutting the breathtakingly elegant (and super delicious!) wedding cake (by Cake Coquette).
The remainder of the festivities was dedicated to dancing to the rousing tunes of DJ Woody Miraglia of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys …
… and the newlyweds just snuck out for a moment to take photos with sparklers, despite the howling storm…
Laura and Adnan are anything but conventional. First of all, they reversed the “normal” order of things: after welcoming their first child (baby Adam) together in Spring, they planned on getting married in late summer. And then their wedding celebration wouldn’t follow convention either. For them, it was much more about their growing family (Laura has a young daughter, Eliana, from her previous marriage) than only about the two of them. Since “family” to them is synonymous with “home,” their celebration would also take place exactly there: in the beautiful, green, secluded backyard of their home – as opposed to any commercial venue. O, did I forget to mention that guest entertainment would also not follow customary rules?!
Off we got to an exciting, out-of-the-box planning project, and here is what ultimately happened!
The couple decided to have their actual wedding ceremony separately, ten days before their summer party with friends and family, at the iconic SF City Hall. Call that an elopement of sorts! Photographer Sasha Yevelev captured their happiness with the glorious architecture as backdrop.
After their civil wedding, the two went on tour through San Francisco…
… and had strangers snap photos of their newlywed bliss!
An intimate dinner at their favorite Mediterranean restaurant and a “sleep-over” in an elegant hotel rounded out the “couple’s” part of their wedding festivities. Exactly ten days later, it was time for the “family” and “party” part, in the backyard of their home. Again, photographer Sasha Yevelev preserved it all for their family album – here: the official wedding photo!
… attracting NOT only the youngsters! (Although, of course, the youngest guests got served first). Once everyone had gotten their ice cream taco, the next surprise was a real magician performance (by Magical Nathaniel).
After that, it was getting dark… time to dance! DJ Henry Kim of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys made sure that everyone was on the dance floor…
Quite a party! And most definitely a very personal, totally unique way for Laura and Adnan to start their shared life journey together with their kids. Our best wishes on your way! Keep dancing and celebrating…
When Macy and Josh contacted my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with their wedding planning, one thing was clear from the get-go: with their 70-hour work weeks, they would need help. A lot of help! So I had my work cut out for me. They had chosen a spectacular venue for their nuptials, Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside – an elegant setting surrounded by vineyards, high up on a mountain ridge, with endless views of Silicon Valley and on to the San Francisco skyline.
Their top priority for their wedding day was to spend quality time with their families and friends – the one most precious thing in their lives! Their celebration would be simple and elegant, and, above all, relaxed and comfortable for all their guests. No glitz, no frills. The many months we had for planning simply flew by, and Labor Day weekend – wedding weekend! – was suddenly upon us. On a beautiful, warm, sunny Saturday, under blue skies and a slight breeze, all our planning work finally came to fruition; have a look!
For Macy and her bridesmaids, the day began with hair and makeup services by Jira Couture, and then both the ladies and groom Josh and his groomsmen convened at Fogarty Winery. With a little help from her bridesmaids…
… Macy got into her showstopper backless lace dress…
… picked up her summery, feminine bridal bouquet in all purple hues (by Green Petal Designs who provided floral decor throughout)…
… and Josh also dressed up to the nines …
for the bride’s and groom’s First Look and many, many photos by Frank J. Lee.
They are such an attractive couple!
Soon enough, their guests began arriving (by shuttle from Destination Systems), and it was time for the ceremony.
Befitting the location, big wine barrels topped by lush flower arrangements marked the spot where the two were about to say their vows …
… accompanied by the sound of an acoustic guitar version of wedding classics, courtesy of Spanish guitarist Jay Alvarez.
The ceremony was officiated by a family member who had already married a good number of her relatives in years past – a natural choice for Macy and Josh!
After the ceremony, the couple had many more photos to take solo, with their families, and with their bridesmaids and groomsmen…
while their guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour on the open patio ….
… and my team – assistants Stephanie and Melinda and myself – the Toast Catering team and florist Janelle all put the finishing touches on the dining setup in the Winery Pavilion.
For centerpieces, Macy and Josh had opted for elegant potted orchids which guests would take home and enjoy for a long time to come.
After dinner, another surprise was waiting for the guests: Tucker’s Ice Cream was serving delicious flavors from their nostalgic cart, emblazoned with the motto, “Life is Uncertain/Eat Dessert First!” (We couldn’t agree more…)
After that, there was no holding back – from dancing! DJ Woody Miraglia of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys got everyone on the dance floor in no time.
Photographer Frank snuck the newlyweds out for just one spectacular sunset shot – isn’t that a sight to behold?
It certainly was a great party for everyone.
Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Macy and Josh!
First of all, this couple and their families are VERY private – so all we are allowed is a little peek at all the beautiful details of this incredible wedding celebration. My company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor of supporting the Mother of the Bride in creating an epic summer wedding for the couple, and we literally planned and designed over the course of nearly a year. It all paid off on a warm and sunny Sunday in mid-August at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside … have a look!
The bride and her bridesmaids started the day with hair and makeup services by Sarah Hyde, and the bride’s lush bouquet in vibrant summer colors (by Nancy Liu Chin Designs who created floral decor throughout) …
… and her Cinderella slippers…
… complemented her elegant lace wedding dress perfectly.
Photographer extraordinaire Danny Dong captured it all…
After the ceremony, guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Global Gourmet Catering (who also provided dinner and desserts)
– and to dinner in an eye-catching set-up of bare wooden tables, crossback chairs, mixed in with round tables with linens – an evocation of the rustic elegance of Tuscany.
Of course, the Sweetheart Table received extra-special treatment!
… and we also had a cozy, quiet corner to take a little break from the festivities!
After dinner, everyone congregated on the dance floor – DJ Woody Miraglia of BIG FUN Disc Jockeys made sure that entertainment was a great success. In addition to that, bride, groom and all their guests had a blast taking silly pictures at Night Owl Photo Booth. Even such a memorable party has to come to an end… and guests were chauffeured home in comfort by Corinthian Ground Transportation. Everyone agreed – this was the ultimate summer wedding!
… and the real highlight of the evening was the couple’s astounding First Dance – an elaborate dance routine right out of “Dancing with the Stars!” Everyone agreed: these two CAN dance – like professionals!
The bride had changed into dress no. 2 – a lot easier for dancing – and that’s what the remainder of the evening was all about: dance, dance, dance! DJ Stefano of Big Fun Discjockeys got the crowd on the dance floor and kept the momentum going. What a party…
Dance on, Shanna and James… and our best wishes on your way!
Who says a winter wedding needs snow?! We are here to disprove this myth! Suyao and Rui …
… gave my company, A Day Like No Other, a mere three months of planning time – intense and exhilarating! – and that took us to December 15. Right in the middle of winter in California. Since they had chosen Villa Montalvo, a spectacular mansion and park on the SF Peninsula, there was no snow to be expected – possibly rain, though. BUT we made it through a glorious wedding day without rain, with sun and with lots and lots of great atmosphere. Have a look!
Busy as these two are (they met at a job interview – with Rui interviewing candidate Suyao – and now they are both working long, long hours at the same company!), we pulled everything together in a whirlwind, and in no time, Wedding Day was upon us.
Suyao and her bridesmaids had their hair and makeup expertly done by Tiffany of Design Her Image…
… and then the bride got into her dress …
… with the help of her bridesmaids.
All that she still needed were her bridal bouquet (from Green Petal Designs, like all floral decor throughout) and the rings…
Groom Rui and his groomsmen had been getting ready next door…
… and so both bride and groom were ready for their “First Look” in the beautiful Italianate Garden of Villa Montalvo. Their photographers (Toanven Group) and videographers (Dreambook Productions) captured every precious moment.
And now… off to their wedding ceremony in the Oval Garden behind the mansion!
Everything was ready for them, with a beautiful swirl pattern of rose petals on the aisle.
Guests began arriving, greeted by a custom Welcome sign. The ceremony musicians (Amethyst Trio) began to play…
…the bridal party took their positions, the groom was waiting…
Here comes the bride, escorted by her Dad…
The ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend of the couple.
Off to more photos!
Guests were meanwhile enjoying cocktails, and the teams of A Day Like No Other, of our caterer (Le Papillon) and our florist (Green Petal Designs) were hard at work to get everything lined up for dinner. Venue manager Caitlin Dieni supported us all throughout the day and evening.
Suyao and Rui presided from their extra-special Sweetheart Table:
Guests were dining from “Limoges” china and gilded flatware from Hensley Event Resources, and after dinner, they were treated to an extraordinary wedding cake (by Satura Cakes).
For this occasion, the bride had changed into a stunning short red dress that allowed for free movement – for their highly choreographed, perfect First Dance to music provided by Henry Kim of Big Fun Disc Jockeys.
With this, the dance floor was officially open for everyone, and the concluding part of the evening consisted of dancing, dancing and more dancing! The newlyweds stole away for a few nighttime photos…
There was, however, one more highlight to come: a festive Grand Send-Off to a stunning vintage limousine (by Elegant Journey).
A fitting start to their lifelong journey together, don’t you think? Our best wishes on your way, Suyao and Rui!
Christina and Cuyler met at work – a full eleven years ago – as colleagues. Over the years, they became friends… and started dating… and then they realized that they wanted nothing more than to marry their best friend! For their wedding, they envisioned a Spring day at Thomas Fogarty Winery, perched high above Silicon Valley, with endless views… and so they started planning with me and my company, A Day Like No Other.
As we were getting closer to Wedding Day, the weather forecast turned gloomy, and unfortunately, this time the meteorologists were right. We were taking precautions: two dozen huge umbrellas for the couple, the bridal party and their guests were in place, and Christina and Cuyler took it all in stride!
For Christina and her bridesmaids, as well as for the Moms, the day began with hair and make-up services by Sarah Hyde of sHe artists – and all those pretty ladies emerged as stunning Hollywood-worthy beauties! Everyone looked their very best, carried herself with confidence and was just simply happy.
With that, Christina was ready to put on her gorgeous Hailey Paige wedding dress – a modern take on lace with a geometric pattern, a chic little shrug and a feminine tulle bow at the waist:
and matching bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres, ceremony decor and centerpieces – you’ll see! The winery was transformed into a summer garden…
Meanwhile, Cuyler had dressed up as well, and bride and groom were ready for their official “First Look:”
Photographer Janae Shields and her assistant took the couple around for photos (just wait until you see their professional images! For the time being, all we have are snapshots by my assistant and me). Meanwhile, a small army was hard at work to get everything ready in time for the celebration. Kaitlin Brinton, one of the venue managers at Fogarty, was our guardian angel throughout the day and the evening and supported us diligently behind the scenes. The Toast Catering team under leadership of My-Dung and Gio set up all tables and chairs, put on the table settings and got the kitchen and the bar going. Florist Indelisa installed an incredible arch seemingly overgrown by summer flowers. Ivy Hill Entertainment set up sound systems and provided a duo for ceremony music. Guests arrived via shuttle buses from Corinthian Ground Transportation. We were ready for the ceremony!
The ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend of the couple’s, and it could not have been more personal!
Here comes the bride…
The ceremony was short and sweet – and here they are, JUST MARRIED!
For Cocktail Hour, guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres paired with special wine selections – a really unique idea!
Meanwhile, my assistant Alexandra put the finishing touches on the elaborate setup of place cards and favors on the dining room tables …
Wine corks served as table card holders, and the color of a little flower on top of each cork was the indicator for each guest’s entree choice. So elegant!
Together with the subtly structured linens, silver-rimmed china and Indelisa’s gorgeous centerpieces, this setup was simply perfect.
BUT we have not yet introduced the unspoken star of this wedding: doggie Gigi! She lives with the bride’s sister but is truly the darling of the whole family – and became the darling of the whole wedding as she made her appearance, dressed up with a flower collar, and accompanied by her “Doggie Mom for the Day,” my assistant Melinda.
She is simply too cute for words! (And she has more Instagram followers than most people. Small wonder…)
After a delicious meal…
… the couple cut their cake, a classic white wedding cake by Studio Cake, adorned with flowers exactly matching the bridal bouquet.
After that, there was no holding back from dancing! Christina (a former competitive ballroom dancer) and Cuyler had practiced their elaborate, highly choreographed First Dance to a true classic, Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” sung live by Erin Honeywell, bandleader of “Family Funktion” (through Ivy Hill Entertainment).
Then there were the parent dances and just simple fun on the dance floor! These two were literally “singing and dancing in the rain.” Nothing could dampen their spirits! What a party that was…
Wishing you a lifetime of happiness together, rain or shine!