Iris and Roger – the Ultimate Party in Ultraviolet

Iris and Roger’s wedding celebration was as funky and as elegant as their wedding color of choice – ultraviolet, Pantone’s color of the year. Given that they had taken care of the “legalities” beforehand, these two were free to focus on sheer fun and party on their Wedding Day! They took full advantage of it. Iris wore a succession of no less than THREE dresses. For her nails, she chose an ice-blue polish, and in lieu of the standard (highly uncomfortable) wedding high heels, she wore plateau sneakers! The ceremony was sheer fun and laughter, and a good part of the reception was reserved for wild dancing.

They had chosen a spectacular venue – Thomas Fogarty Winery in the hills high above Silicon Valley – for an indoor/outdoor celebration. Given that their date was in early October, we were hoping for great warm and sunny weather, but there were no guarantees. We got lucky! It was a glorious Fall day, as beautiful as they come!

Iris arrived for photos fully made up (by Urban Beauty Loft) and dressed in a traditional Chinese dress, picked up her elegant purple bouquet by Green Petal Designs

… and had her bridesmaids put a few finishing touches on her (after all, that’s what you have bridesmaids for!)

Here she is posing with her chic entourage, wearing dress no.1.

… all of them in fashionable shades of purple, of course, and Groom Roger and his groomsmen were likewise getting ready…

… sporting matching purple neckties and boutonnieres.

While Bride and Groom were taking many, many photos with photographer Duy Ho  and video, too, with Martin Meyer of MartinFilms  (see Martin’s teaser below!)…

… the teams of Fogarty Winery, Le Papillon Catering, Green Petal Designs and A Day Like No Other were hard at work to get everything ready in time for the guests.

Ceremony chairs were set up and bunches of flowers tied to them,  a glorious arch was set up and lavishly decorated…

… a pretty Welcome sign set up to greet the guests who were arriving via shuttle (by Destination Systems) …

… and the Bride quickly changed into her Western wedding dress and veil for the ceremony.

Ready for the ceremony! The Espiritu Ensemble was playing wedding classics, giving this ceremony a decidedly elegant touch.

Officiated by a longtime friend of the couple, this ceremony could not have been more upbeat and more personal!

Just married! And off to more photos in the golden light of the early sunset…

… while guests were enjoying cocktails on the open deck

– AND picking up their escort “cards”: cleverly affixed to favor bags (light purple, of course!) containing personalized drinking bottles.

Soon enough it was time for dinner with a dramatic view all over Silicon Valley …

… with beautiful centerpieces in purple hues and tree-shaped table number holders with candy-filled globes (additional wedding favors) adorning the tables.

Le Papillon was cooking up a storm…

After dinner, Iris slipped into dress no. 3, and guests were treated to dessert: a delicious (and just as gorgeous-looking) purple wedding cake from Patisserie Gerhard Michler.

For that occasion, the Bride had changed her dress yet another time (part of the fun on this super-fun wedding day!) to a lucky-red party dress!

Nearly too pretty to cut into!

After that – First Dance…

… and open dancing to the tunes of DJ Stefano Bortolin of Big Fun Disc Jockeys

What else? Bouquet Toss, of course!

But the best was yet to come! A sparkler exit of epic proportions… have a look:

Keep partying and having fun on your shared journey, and our best wishes on your way, Iris and Roger!

Here you can see it LIVE!! A teaser video by MartinFilms… enjoy!

The Honor – and the Cost! – of Being a Bridesmaid

Your bestie just got engaged, and of course you’re over-the-moon happy! But maybe you’re also silently dreading the thought of being a bridesmaid. After all, it’s a big commitment that can potentially mean spending a good amount of money on a dress and on wedding-related festivities. While the bride and her family may be covering costs through savings  or a wedding loan, you should make sure you have the budget to cover your obligations as a bridesmaid.

Today we’re going to break down the cost of being a bridesmaid and share some tips for saving money along the way.

The Bridesmaid Dress – Average cost $150

You might think the bridesmaid dress is a “non-negotiable” in terms of spending money. After all, you have to buy whatever the bride picks out, right? While it is true that you shouldn’t go rogue and show up in a random dress, you can still save money while adhering to the bride’s wishes. You may get lucky!  You can find many popular bridesmaid brands like David’s Bridal, Vera Wang, BHLDN and more on secondhand clothing sites like Tradesy and Poshmark. Most people wear a bridesmaid dress only once, so you can rest assured that it will be in like-new condition. Just make sure you get a clear picture, the name and the exact color of the desired dress from the bride so you can verify that you’re purchasing the right one. If that approach doesn’t work, you can still re-sell or donate your “as-new” dress afterwards.

Bridesmaid Accessories – Average cost $120

Your bride might give you a bridesmaid gift of jewelry to wear on the big day, but you could still end up having to purchase special undergarments or shoes to go with your dress. Borrowing accessories is a good way to cut down costs in this area. Just poll your other friends who have been bridesmaids – one of them is sure to have something to help you out! Online retailers like zappos and discount stores like DSW are insider tips for finding gorgeous heels at an affordable price. And if you’re looking for an extra-special accessory, you can also rent designer pieces from Rent the Runway at a fraction of the cost.

Hair & Makeup – Average cost $125

If your bride is requiring that you get your hair and makeup professionally done, etiquette says that she should pay for it. If your bride isn’t requiring that you get your hair and makeup professionally done, consider skipping this expense altogether or only picking one service to save money. There is a large selection of makeup tutorials on YouTube, so do some experimenting and try to master one go-to makeup look that you can rely on for the big day. If you are planning on splurging for professional services, don’t forget to factor a tip into your budget.

The Bridal Shower – Average cost $50-$150+ per bridesmaid

This is one area where it’s great to get the bride’s family and future family involved to help cut costs. Does the bride’s mom have an immaculate garden and patio at her house? Ask if you can host the shower there. Join forces with your co-bridesmaids. Is one of them an amazing baker? Ask if she’d make the dessert for the shower. Most people will be thrilled to honor the bride by contributing their talents in a small way. Co-hosting the event with several bridesmaids or family members also means you can split the cost which allows you to splurge on a few special items.

The Bachelorette Party – Average cost $80-$300+

You can still throw an unforgettable party for your bride without breaking the bank. Picking a local spot for festivities will significantly cut down on the cost, but can be hard if bridesmaids are spread out. If travel is unavoidable, look into splitting an Airbnb with the group rather than booking a swanky hotel. It will be even more fun for the whole group to be sharing the same house and being in a cool place to have your first cocktails and cook your own “morning-after” mimosa brunch together – all the while saving big! Martha Stewart Weddings has even put together a list of some seriously awesome Airbnbs available in popular bachelorette destinations.

 

As you can see, the cost of being a bridesmaid can really add up fast, but it’s one expense that will be more than worth it. The money spent on showers and parties will ultimately translate into quality time spent with your friend during one of the most exciting, most unique – but also most stressful times in her life. Standing next to her as she says her vows will be priceless and will make it all worth it!

 

 

Custom Signage by A Day Like No Other

As we all know, planning a wedding involves myriad details – one of them being signage. While having nice signage is certainly not as essential as, say, feeding one’s guests (I freely admit that!!), I still feel that custom signage can add that special touch to any celebration that makes it stand out, makes it personal and memorable.

Whenever I am designing an event, I am trying to tie the whole decor scheme together, and that sometimes involves the creation of custom signage – which is huge fun for me!

Here are some examples…

Table assignment board for a dog-loving couple

This couple is proud parents to a cute Shiba Inu whom they could not bring to their destination wedding. To include him in the festivities, I designed an escort “card” board from a family photo of bride, groom and their fur baby on the steps of the Capitol. The photo was enlarged to poster size and printed on a foamboard; cut into the appropriate number of name cards and reassembled on a stable backing. The individual pieces were inscribed with the names and table assignments of the guests and affixed to the backing with removable stickers. That way, every guest was taking a little piece of the happy family to their seat!

Welcome sign and table numbers with sweet memories of home

For a couple born and raised in the southern part of China, I incorporated artistic motifs of their hometowns into my design for their Welcome sign and for their table numbers – all twelve showing a different motif.

 

Whimsy, charm and elegance in ice blue and silver

This recent couple had chosen a venue with a gorgeous setting in the Great Outdoors for their summer nuptials, and an elegant design scheme of ice blue and silver for their celebration. How to bring it all together? I created an escort card board (to secure the escort cards the bride had chosen and handwritten from flying away in the breeze) with a silver frame and charming bird and flower motifs in shades of pale blue.

Hand-painted cutouts of birds and flowers adorned the complete board, and as guests were taking away their individual escort cards, a backdrop of more vintage birds and flowers on light blue was revealed.

Chalkboards – from simple to elaborate

For rustic and rustic/elegant outdoor weddings, chalkboard signs are still en vogue.

Chalkboards can also be quite elaborate – I created the next ones for a summer wedding with a “Vintage French Country” theme in light French Blue, complete with distressed white wooden frames.

Looking closely, you’ll notice that the tables in the table assignment board above have strange names – these are actually the names of famous algorithms. This bride and groom were not only francophiles, but also math nerds with a great sense of humor!

And here are the table numbers to go with the board:

I hope you are now inspired and ready for your own, unique custom signs! Let me know… can’t wait for the next challenge!

Whirlwind Wedding Planning – Where to Start?

So you just got engaged – congratulations! And you want to get married right away – great! Only problem if you are living in a metropolitan area like me: most wedding vendors are booked a year in advance. How then to pull it off in, say, three months? Or even less?

It is possible! I have done it in my own wedding planning and design business, A Day Like No Other. The process is intense, and it follows its own rules.

Photo Credit: A Frame Forward

  • Be crystal-clear on what you want.

You need to make a decision right away on the approximate date, the geographic area, the style and size of your wedding celebration, and your budget. For your date, you may have to compromise depending on what is still available in the venues you like. The geographic area will be largely determined by your willingness to travel and/or have a “destination wedding.” Your favorite style will also determine in which geographic areas and for which types of venue you are looking – if you are a fan of beach weddings with your “feet in the sand,” then you will be looking in different areas than if you prefer rolling hills and a Redwood Grove for your ceremony. Maybe you are dreaming of an elaborately decorated hotel ballroom –  that allows for more venues to choose from. Lastly, assess your budget realistically. Will you be paying for all of your wedding yourself, or will your families contribute? Will the cost for big-ticket items like wedding dress, rings and honeymoon be included in your whole budget?

Credit Cooper Carras Photography

 

  • Enlist professional help.

With little time to get it all organized, you should turn to an experienced wedding planner for help. Planning a wedding – even under the best of circumstances and with a lot of lead time – involves myriad details, moving parts and time-consuming research. A good wedding planner will structure the process for you, guide you step by step, make sure that decisions are made in the correct order, and save you endless hours of online research and vendor interviews. First off: your venue and your caterer – the backbone of your event! Your wedding planner will find venues for you that fit your tastes and budget and still have availability in the time frame you are considering. He or she will then assist in finding a caterer unless the venue offers in-house catering; and then all the other vendors you will need to round out your celebration.

Credit Cooper Carras photography

 

  • Be flexible.

Being “late in the game” means that you may not get your first choice of venue and vendors. Your wedding planner will be able to help you prioritize and find a work-around. Did you know that even if all Saturdays are sold out at your favorite venues, you may still be able to book a Friday or a Sunday? (Saturdays always sell out first). On the other hand, if you are considering a weekday wedding, many of your guests may not be able to attend. Considering a dinner/reception at a restaurant? Remember that in many areas good restaurants are closed on Mondays. If your favorite dates fall outside the local “high wedding season,” you have a better chance to secure a date on short notice, and you may even save on your venue fee. In general, when choosing your venue, you may want to prefer one that offers complete wedding packages including food and bar, all rentals, and a venue coordinator onsite on your Great Day. You will in all likelihood not have the time to organize and coordinate an elaborate setup with rental items from various companies, a field kitchen and a tent in “the middle of nowhere.” While certainly unique, such a project calls for a long planning period. Believe me, I’ve done it!

Credit Vicens Forns Photography

 

  • Tackle decisions in the correct order and in a timely manner.

That sounds self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, some decisions need to be made right away – even if they do not feel that urgent to you. One decision that has to be made right away is finding a wedding dress! A dress often takes 6-8 months to make, plus alterations. If you have that much time, great, then choose and order it right away. If not, you need to find floor models off the rack that can be customized to your measurements. Do it right now! And send out your Save-the-Dates immediately to make sure your favorite guests reserve your Great Day for you. Needless to say that you also do not have the luxury of postponing all other decisions. Your vendor pool to choose from is limited, and so you want to lock in your favorites within this selection right away. Again, in order to avoid mistakes, go with your wedding planner’s or your venue’s recommendations. Well-established wedding planners, especially, have an extensive network of industry connections. They know who is reliable and will deliver good value for your money. Listen to their advice!

Credit Kevin Chin Photography

 

  • Enjoy your Great Day!

Your courtship including wedding planning will be a whirlwind, I guarantee it! Come Wedding Day, your wedding planner will make sure that your celebration unfolds around you “like magic,” keeping you out of all the logistics and addressing the inevitable little glitches without you even knowing it. In my practice at A Day Like No Other, I promise my couples that on their wedding day their only job is to celebrate, and to “float through their day on Cloud Nine!” And that’s what I hope will happen on your Great Day, too… enjoy!

Credit Nathan Worden Photography

 

 

Delia and Chris – High Elegance at Thomas Fogarty Winery

Delia’s and Chris’ union is a match – well, made in Heaven. Delia has two beautiful grown daughters from her first marriage and had not expected to get married again in her lifetime. And for Chris it would be the first time EVER.

When Delia called my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning her dream wedding at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, California, I jumped at the opportunity.

I LOVE this venue! And I loved Delia’s “vision” for the design and decor as well. After many months of planning, vendor sourcing, designing and curating, developing floor plans and timelines, all our “labor of love” came together last Saturday on a perfect California summer day under blue skies, a warm sun and a light breeze, on top of the mountain ridge where this beautiful venue is located, overlooking all of Silicon Valley with views up to the San Francisco city skyline.

Delia arrived at Fogarty Winery together with her Maid of Honor, her “flower girl” and her two daughters Alivia and Madeline, in full hair and makeup done by her personal friends Connie Cook and Sofia Collazo. Photographer Megan Reeves and Videographer Justin Ferrar of Weddings on Film captured that precious moment of the bride getting dressed for her great moment… (and everything beyond that, too!)

… and here is a detail of her extraordinary veil, embellished with stunning embroidery and beading…

… plus “Cinderella slippers!”

 

Florist Jeffrey Adair of J Floral Art delivered an elegant, feminine bridal bouquet in shades of ice blue, ivory and silver…… with bridesmaids’ bouquets and boutonnieres to match. Next, he went on to install an incredible wrought-iron arch and to decorate it with matching floral arrangements for the ceremony, complement this with large arrangements flanking the aisle, and finally covering the aisle with a thick carpet of fresh ivory rose petals.

Harpist Erica Messer played prelude music (she brought her newest harp out for us for the first time!)

… as guests were arriving via shuttle bus (by Destination Systems) and welcomed…

… to an incredible setup with endless views.

Fans to combat the summer heat did double duty as ceremony programs.

Groom Chris was also preparing with the help of his brother and Best Man …

 

 

At 4:30 in the afternoon, the great moment had finally come! Delia had been adamant: following strictest tradition, she did not want Chris to see her before the ceremony. 

And here comes the bride, accompanied down the aisle by her daughters.


The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple who found the most personal, moving words for them.

Just married – and so happy! While guests were enjoying Fogarty wines at Cocktail Hour on the deck…

… accompanied by delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Toast Catering,

Chris and Delia had many more photos taken – among them, of course, their official wedding photo!

Soon enough it was time for dinner (by Toast Catering) in the open-air Pavilion, at dining tables beautifully set with silver Chiavari chairs, elegant ivory-moiré linens and stunning china, glassware and silverware from Hensley Event Resources, and with centerpieces from J Floral Art.

 

See’s chocolate candy favor boxes, menu cards and little herb bundles of rosemary and lavender, hand-tied with color-coordinated light-blue ribbon by the bride’s sister, completed the look.

Of course, the newlyweds’ Sweetheart Table, from which they were presiding over the congregation, received special treatment!

Guests were guided to their assigned tables by a whimsical, charming escort card board custom-made and hand-painted by A Day Like No Other.

Next up: the Grand Entrance of the bridal party and of the newlyweds!

After feasting on delicious salad and entrees, guests were treated to a mouthwatering selection of pastries and chocolates by Toast Catering.

 

The last highlight of the evening was Delia’s and Chris’ First Dance to the rousing tunes of DJ Stefano Bortolin of Big Fun Discjockeys.

Outside, as darkness fell, the scene turned downright magical…

 

Fogarty Winery is a very special place for very special moments – like this unforgettable wedding. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Delia and Chris!

Erin and Gabriel – Rustic Elegance with South-of-the-Border Charm

Erin and Gabe are super-busy young professionals – both physicians, working long hours. When they embarked on their wedding planning, they realized immediately that they would need support for all the details, the logistics, the design; in short, pretty much everything. I was honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, to organize their preparations every step of the way.

We started with their exceptional venue, Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, a historic Spanish-Mediterranean compound surrounded by a beautiful, park-like garden. On Wedding Day, all the lush plantings were in full bloom, and despite a serious threat of rain in the weather forecast, we got incredibly lucky with sunshine and blue skies and were able to hold ceremony, Cocktail Hour and dinner outside, as planned.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Hard to believe that this hidden gem is nestled into a quiet residential neighborhood right in the heart of Silicon Valley!

Erin and Gabe and their bridesmaids and groomsmen all got ready at the nearby Garden Court Hotel

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

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

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The bride had chosen a beautiful ivory wedding dress with a lace top and flowing skirt – so young and elegant in its simplicity…

… Helping the bride into her dress is always a true mother-daughter moment…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Florist Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs brought the bridal and bridesmaids’ bouquets – and they looked exactly like Erin had envisioned them! Not an easy feat as Erin’s favorite flowers are red Bougainvilleas which are notoriously fragile and do not last in bouquets and centerpieces. Not one to ever give up easily, Janelle came up with a master plan to cut these prized blooms onsite from living plants she brought in, only hours before the ceremony… and Erin got her dream bouquet! Here it is…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… accompanied, of course, by matching bridesmaids’ bouquets…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and boutonnieres for the gentlemen.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Groom …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and groomsmen were also dressing up…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Ready for “First Look!” Photographer extraordinaire Vicens Forns and his second shooter Ana Silva captured every precious moment throughout the day and evening.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

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

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

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

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and without!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

All the while, the Day Like No Other team – assistants Lisa, Alexandra, and myself – was working frantically to get everything set up in time for the big celebration!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple’s and accompanied by live music by the Hit Waves Unplugged duo – “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” for the processional.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

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

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

During the very personal ceremony with several readings,

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

guests helped to fill a “time capsule” for the couple, to be opened on their fifth wedding anniversary.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

And here they are, JUST MARRIED!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Official wedding photo:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres …

… on the adjacent patio – with a whole menu to choose from:

… with the pretty signage (including a program sign)…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… provided by the bride’s talented friend Jess. Of course, there was more fun waiting for the guests:

… and not only that: guests were also invited to watch dinner preparations: Two spectacular paellas (by Nora’s Spanish Catering) were cooking in the courtyard…

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

 

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and long rows of bare wooden tables (from Stuart Event Rentals) decked out with garlands and blooms in fiery reds and oranges (all by Green Petal Designs) were waiting for the guests.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Place settings were adorned with olive branches …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and – of course – the Sweetheart Table got “special treatment!”

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Whimsical “escort cards” showed guests their table assignments:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Everyone was raving about the paella! With background music by DJ Sami Funk of Heart of Gold DJs, lively conversation and free-flowing Spanish wine, everyone was having a great time.

Next up: cake cutting! A pretty lemon-buttercream cake (from Cake Coquette) with more Bougainvilleas for decor was set up inside the “Sunset Room” on an antique table, alongside chocolates and cookies.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

The back wall had been decorated with family heirlooms and photos …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… and surrounded by all these sweet memories and lots and lots of candlelight, the newlyweds performed their official first joint task as husband and wife – cutting the cake.

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

What now? First Dance, of course!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Following that, there was no holding back – everyone hit the dance floor to the tunes of DJ Sami …

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

… under twinkling string lights from Stuart Event Rentals.

Guests took just one little break in between dancing, and that was when delicious fresh churros with chocolate sauce were served!

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

When this party did come to an end – it was on another high note: a sparkler exit to the most beautiful car imaginable, to take Erin and Gabe off to their married bliss:

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

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

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

Photo credit: Vicens Forns

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

 

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!

While Kate and her bridesmaids were having their hair and makeup done, Aaron and his groomsmen were already dressing up…

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, from start to finish…

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

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

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.

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

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.

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

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

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

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

And – Drumroll! – Grand Entrance of the newlyweds:

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!

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

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.

 

Photo credit – Jutta Lammerts

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!

Let us create YOUR unique wedding celebration, too!

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

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Forecasting Trends at Hamlin Mansion: WIPA kicks off 2016

Last week, months of planning came to fruition in a spectacular event: the WIPA 2016 kick-off meeting at historic Hamlin Mansion in San Francisco. To me, this was extra special because it marked the conclusion of nearly four years as Event Chair and the Regional Director of Programs for the WIPA SF Bay Area Chapter. I absolutely wanted to conclude my tenure on a high note – and that’s what happened.

Our speaker set the theme: Kate Patay of Creative Coverings, acclaimed wedding industry expert and frequent speaker around the nation, presented “Forecasting Trends” – based on a multitude of media channels and, of course, social media. AND in her capacity as Director of Sales and Marketing at one of the area’s pre-eminent linen rental companies, she also set the tone for the design by sponsoring exquisite linens which I used as the jumping-off point for the rest of the event design. True to her theme, she chose from the Pantone Colors of the Year, mainly a dusty rose with lots of sparkle, expanding both into lighter hues up to ivory and down to an elegant mocha and chocolate. It was perfect both for the rich wood paneling in the Mansion’s Great Room – where we enjoyed both Cocktail Hour and later on coffee and dessert – and for the light-filled dining room overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Heavens were literally smiling on us with blue skies and a slight breeze, and the venerable mansion presented itself from its most beautiful side. Misti Layne of Images by Misti Layne (photography) and Kien Nguyen of Kien Pictures (videography) made sure not a single moment was lost!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A mock ceremony setup demonstrated what it could be like for a real wedding… with chairs from Stuart Event Rentals (who also sponsored lounge furniture and the dining setup). Living hedges from Interior Plant Design gave the scene extra polish and elegance.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Guests were serenaded by Matt Roads Trio from Ivy Hill Entertainment and could hang out in the elegant lounge…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco
WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

The bar was stocked with world-class wines from  Wente Vineyards

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Time Capsule Party provided a totally different photo booth experience: guests received their photos printed on vintagey- looking aluminum plaques – outfitted with magnets! I am sure, countless ones are now gracing fridges around the Bay Area!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Two of the most important attendees: caterer Elaine Bell and speaker Kate Patay

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

And here are some of the delicacies that Elaine treated our guests to at Cocktail Hour:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

We had even more to offer to our guests – our own gold-metallic (temporary…) tattoos with the WIPA logo from AnnaBee! They are fully customizable and are such a pretty idea for weddings!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

That’s me greeting guests at the door – with Mr. Shin from Michi’s.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Everything was prepared for the educational part of the day, with Fantasy Sound providing A/V services.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

When Kate Patay began her presentation on “Forecasting Trends,” our guests were riveted. Kate is such an engaging speaker, lively and funny, that you don’t even notice how much you are learning while being entertained! Everybody took home a lot new insights and “food for thought.”

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

After the swearing-in ceremony of the incoming Board of Directors…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… a festive luncheon was awaiting our guests, with tables covered in sequined linens from Creative Coverings, glistening with china, glassware and flatware from Stuart Event Rentals, and gorgeous spring flowers from Green Petal Designs.

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Every guest found a pretty favor box at their place setting, chock-full with samples from Kiehl’s.WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Lunch presentation was so artful that one hardly dared to touch it – but on the other hand, the food was way too delicious NOT to dig in!

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Following lunch, we all returned to the Great Hall where dessert was waiting for us: delicious fresh meringues from Le Grand Meringue:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco


WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… and fantastic cakes from Perfect Endings:

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A lucky winner takes home one of the gorgeous centerpieces…

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

… and guests just didn’t want to leave!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

A shuttle bus from Destination Systems took guests back to their cars in comfort and ease, and everyone agreed: that was a great start into the WIPA year 2016!

WIPA meeting at Hamlin Mansion, San Francisco

Thanks again to all our generous sponsors!

 

 

VENDOR SPOTLIGHT: Gavin Farrington, Photographer – a Man of Many Talents

If you first meet photographer Gavin Farrington with his boyish, slightly rugged good looks, you’ll probably associate “the movies” or expect him to step right out of a high-gloss magazine. Well, you’re not wrong – he has modeled here and there! (And you’ll see him doing exactly that, in Ceremony Magazine Norcal, 2016).

But that’s not how I first met him. I met Gavin in his capacity as a very special and highly successful wedding photographer – one who is traveling the world to provide photo coverage at high-class wedding events, and, more importantly, one who is truly passionate at what he’s doing. Curious as I am, I wanted to know whether Gavin had wanted to be a photographer all his life? And how he became an acclaimed wedding photographer? And so many other things!

Little did I know what surprises he had up his sleeve.

Did he plan to become a professional wedding photographer? “Not at all!” is the response – although even as a schoolkid, Gavin’s favorite toy was his little Kodak box camera with its flash cube. Already then, Gavin was equally fascinated by snapping pictures as he was by the technical side of things. He learned all the mechanics that were then still an integral part of photography, including teaching himself how to develop film in a darkroom. In High School, he became the Yearbook photo editor with the added privilege to use the school’s professional darkroom. He bought his film material in “bulk” and rolled his own film cartridges. Because of him, the school’s long-abandoned photography curriculum was revived.

But still – making this his profession didn’t occur to Gavin. In College, he double-majored in Design and Multimedia/Web design. He worked throughout his College years, and all his jobs took him into the computer/IT field. He drifted more and more into the tech area – “I’m a tech nerd at heart,” he confesses with a smile – and while wrapping up his College degrees, he was approached by the Dean who had unsuccessfully tried to fill an IT/administrator position in the department from which he was about to graduate. Would Gavin be interested? He was! And that’s how he became the Systems Administrator for the graduate and undergraduate art departments of his College – and stayed on for a full five years. Still, that job wasn’t enough. He studied Japanese on the side, just out of interest in the culture and the language.

Eventually, he became restless, seeking new challenges. In a radical change of careers, he moved to Japan to teach English. He became totally immersed in this new world, and he is fluent in Japanese to the present day… another thing I would never have expected! During a visit home to California, a photographer friend of his asked Gavin to quickly help out with one of his assignments – shooting a wedding. And all of a sudden, Gavin knew what he had subconsciously been seeking all these years: the beauty of human relationships, the intensity and at the same time the intimacy of the moment, all revealed on this festive day, the sheer joy of the occasion.

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For Gavin, there was no turning back from this sudden revelation. He wrapped up his job in Japan, returned to California and started preparing for the new career he had become so passionate about on that momentous day, helping his friend. There was no holding back for him – and let me tell you, if Gavin has made a plan, nothing will stop him. Constantly striving for the highest quality – technically and artistically – Gavin the wedding photographer has made his way to the top over the past years. His unique style has gained him an enthusiastic followership. He is the master of the tender moment, capturing these priceless images that his couples will cherish for the rest of their lives.

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Looking back, what has changed in photography since his early photo adventures and darkroom work? “Digital photography has liberated us,” muses Gavin. “It allows us to shoot as many photos as we want, unencumbered by handling physical film and no longer limited to composing every single photo with deliberation. Digital photography allows us to take a lot more risks and enables us to capture the fleeting moments we might have missed with conventional technology. It gives us so much more flexibility in perfecting every single photo “after the fact.” It does not, however, cut down on the work.”

In fact! For every single wedding event, Gavin (including assistant) takes 6,000 to 8,000 photos. It’s mind-boggling! Then come the long hours of sorting through and perfecting what passes this test – 120 to 180 hours easily. It truly takes dedication, perseverance and passion to do this gargantuan task for every single couple.

I asked Gavin what his favorite wedding locations have been over the years, given that he has done so many destination weddings. His response came as a surprise to me – or maybe not. “Maybe India, or Cancun… or San Francisco City Hall,” he said, and added: “It’s not so much about the location for me. It’s much more about the personal relationships between the bride and her closest family, the groom and his family. My most beautiful weddings were those where the closeness of the families became palpable, and where I felt so privileged and honored to be included in such a pivotal moment in these families’ lives.” And in return, Gavin gives them the lifelong memories of their most beautiful and tender moments, condensed in breathtaking photos. Here are a few of his own favorites. Enjoy!

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What I Learned about Love, I Learned from my Dog

It’s about time to honor the “woof” in “Wedding Woof” again! One of my recent couples provided a gentle reminder… Krista and Ben, at home in Australia, could not bring their beloved dog Sophie to their destination wedding in Big Sur – but they knew to honor Sophie with a ceremony reading dedicated just to her. And that was so beautiful and true that I want to share it with you, my readers.

I will dedicate my version to our beloved Buzz who has shared our lives for 13 and a half years and is still making us smile every single day.

with Buzz in Snow

Here it goes:

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride together. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

When you want treats, practice obedience.

Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.

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Take naps together and stretch before rising.

Run, romp and play daily.

Be loyal.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

snuggling

Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout – run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk together.

Love each other unconditionally.

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