ACPWC Napa Spring Tour – What a Day!

As my faithful readers know, I graduated from ACPWC (Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants) and also earned my “Professional Wedding Consultant” title there – my solid foundation for my work as a wedding planner and designer, my starting point and everyday resource. I loved that school! But ACPWC is way more than only a school – it’s a nationwide professional organization for wedding industry professionals with a continuing education program for members. Part of that are organized  site and venue visits. And here we are: the Spring Tour this year – a whole day of wedding venue visits – went to the SF Wine Country. To Napa Valley, to be exact; membership chair Angie Mack had again outdone herself in putting all that together! Deborah Moody, our tireless Executive Director, came with us, and Social Media Chair Miranda Meisenbach recorded and posted right away what we ladies were up to during the day.

And here we go: starting point was the Springhill Suites Marriott Napa Valley hotel, where we were not only treated to a tour of the property, but to breakfast and a Welcome Bag as well!

It’s a newer property offering the Wine Country Wedding experience at a moderate price point, but with everything one expects from a Wine Country getaway – pool and fitness center, 100 all-suite guest rooms, ball rooms and a tent for weddings up to 250 guests, as well as a ceremony lawn where a Tuscan-style setting is a beautiful backdrop for a wedding ceremony.

OR – the ceremony could be held at the quaint St. Joan of Arc Cathedral Church in nearby Yountville…

It has retained the simple charm of a little village church “that Time forgot…”

Another unexpected discovery was to follow right away: stylish North Block hotel in Yountville. Never heard of it? Me neither… it’s got a new owner, a new name, and a beautiful new makeover and concept for weddings!

With the nostalgic appeal of a Mediterranean village, a central plaza where the onsite restaurant puts out tables and chairs and where brides can say their vows at the antique fountain on the plaza, the 20-room luxury boutique hotel is a total secret even to wedding industry insiders. A beautiful pool was beckoning … (as you can see, it was the perfect hot summer day in the Wine Country!)

… and the hotel’s Redd Wood restaurant looked just as inviting, with lots of French bistro character and unique design touches:

North Block is, by the way, dog-friendly for ceremony and outside cocktail hour, so bring your furry friend, as ring bearer or as witness to your nuptials! North Block also offers a unique approach to planning an intimate Wine Country Wedding – a hotel buyout. Just imagine to have the whole little “village” to yourselves and your closest friends and family who’d occupy the guest rooms; you could be married right there on the plaza, have your cocktail hour there and dine in that wonderfully nostalgic “pizzeria” (where the chef will customize your gourmet menu – don’t be fooled by the “pizzeria” sign in the window!!) – and then you can dance under the stars. North Block can accommodate weddings of ca. 50 guests – so, small affairs only – but that they do in high style!

After lunch at Pacific Blues Cafe on the Yountville “town square,” we went to visit the Domaine Chandon winery where exquisite “bubblies” are produced in the French method, “methode Champenoise.” Go and try the finished product – it’s delicious!

The Champagne develops in huge barrels – or rather, tanks! – it’s really impressive:

… and then you can sit back in the ultramodern tasting room and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy…

… which we did, later! First we toured the beautiful property which is extremely sought-after for elegant weddings. Small wonder…

… especially since only six (SIX!!) can be held there per year! But just look at the possibilities:

Shaded lawns with views of the valley, intimate patios and grottos, a dining room (Etoile, a true star – of the Michelin variety, no less!) in a streamlined modern design – Chandon can accommodate elegant weddings from 12 to 120. A dream! And then we wrapped up with their rosé Champagne on the patio. We could have just stayed there for the rest of the day…

… but more site visits were awaiting! Next stop: the combined property of Vintage Estate (super dog-friendly!!) and Villagio Inn and Spa –  another Italian/French fantasy with more than 200 beautiful guest rooms, flowing waterways, palm trees and blooming flowers everywhere.

It’s a whole little Mediterranean town in itself with restaurants, pools, and a world-class spa… and what’s even more, the “old” spa building was converted into a get-ready house for the bridal party, with a sitting room, mani/pedi/hair/make-up room, its own steam sauna and pool AND its own kitchen! Can be rented for the whole wedding day… simply fabulous! Ceremonies for small parties as well as for large weddings can be accommodated on site…

… followed by cocktails, dining and dancing – under the stars or in the rustic-nostalgic “Barrel Room” until two in the morning…

Make it a whole destination wedding weekend for yourselves and for your guests – so much to do! There is a golf course, tennis courts, pools, the spa and the restaurants, the quaint little town of Yountville and the beauty of the Wine Country beyond. It’ll be unforgettable for everyone!

Last visit of the day was to Black Stallion Winery on the world-famous Silverado Trail:

Situated on the grounds of an old equestrian estate, Black Stallion Winery offers a spectacular setting for a California Wine Country Wedding experience. Terraces and patios and several indoor spaces – including the historic Barrel Room – lend themselves to flights of wedding design fancy, blooming, romantic, rustic, nostalgic – as you like it!

Not even to mention Black Stallion’s world-class wines to accompany any meal… your guests will be in Bacchus’ Heaven! (as were we ourselves, after all that delicious wine tasting…)

With that, our excursion concluded – we were all so full of new impressions, exciting (wedding) possibilities, so exhausted and so happy! What an incredible tour!

Hot News from the Four Seasons SF Wedding Fair!

I just returned from another glamorous Wedding Fair – at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Stepping into the foyer, guests were greeted by Synchronicity Strings, a classical string quartet, performing wedding classics – when I arrived, it was Pachelbel’s Canon in D. My all-time favorite!

Floating on the wings of this beautiful tune, and entering the first exhibit room, I was totally blown away by the floral artistry of my friend Laura Little of Floramor Studios. Laura had again outdone herself… this time, taking her inspiration from Showbiz stars like Britney Spears – just have a look! Her “Britney” table, my total favorite, took a full three days to put together:

… and there was so much more to see – here’s the “Taylor Swift” table:

Just one more:

Laura is just sooo creative! Can’t wait to work with her!

The next wonderful discovery was awaiting right in the next room: Juillard-educated harpist Bertina Mitchell with a wide repertoire ranging from Bach to Debussy, experienced at accompanying wedding ceremonies from prelude to recessional… and what could be more romantic at a wedding than harp music?

Right across from Bertina, Classic Party Rentals went right over the uber-glamorous top with this table arrangement of shimmering cream damask linens, crystal-encrusted chair covers, and golden flatware, gold-rimmed wine glasses, gold-beaded chargers… and, to top it off, one of Classic’s fabulous appliquéd linens playing wedding dress in the background!

From extreme elegance to sweet nostalgia: an ice cream cart, lovingly hand-crafted by John of Sweet Springs Rentals! But then John went far beyond nostalgia and our sweet childhood memories and created decidedly grown-up ice cream flavors to be served from this cute cart – and I can tell you: my favorite, blackberry Cabernet (!!), is to die for! John has even more grown-up delicacies to offer from equally romantic settings: an Espresso Bar, hand-crafted from reclaimed wood; and a Margarita machine and chocolate fountain. Indulge till you drop!!

And on to more discoveries: custom-made arbors!

No more run-of-the-mill standard arbors! Arbors Ever After offers not only a selection of handcrafted steel constructions, lovingly decorated with leaves and flowers, and powder coated for 25 years of durability in the couple’s garden – they will also custom-design one for a couple, starting with just an idea, a vision, a wedding theme – either using steel or natural materials like wood and branches. Now, here’s something really new!

“Custom” is certainly a big trend, in every aspect of a wedding – but never more preciously so than with custom jewelry. Vittoria d’Aste-Surcouf is an accomplished jewelry designer who three years ago followed her passion for “all things wedding” and since then has been focusing her creative energies exclusively on bridal jewelry.

 

She is working in precious metals, diamond, gemstones and semi-precious stones, and her pieces are truly one-of-a-kind: my favorites are her yellow diamond pieces….

and a pair of delicate chandelier earrings inspired by the intricate floral beading of a bride’s wedding dress:

Aren’t these beautiful beyond words?

 

More pretty (AND tasty!) things were awaiting at Alaa and Maya Labban’s Choco Vogue display:

The two transform European chocolates into sparkling gems for glamorous wedding favors, re-packaging and decorating them in any design desired – taking into account wedding style and colors… I can’t imagine any more attractive decor for a dinner napkin at a wedding reception.

Last, but certainly not least, there were the haute bridal couture gowns by Jin Wang to admire:

The designer behind one of the Bay Area’s leading bridal salons offers her own designs as well as the best of the best in bridal couture, and she showed all these dream dresses throughout the Bridal Faire:

Those gowns are dreams come true – only problem: which one to choose… that’s why brides change into a different gown from ceremony to reception to dance party! Now I get it…

All in all, what a day of fabulous discoveries!

Live from: Modern Luxury Weddings Bridal Faire, Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

I just came home from the Ritz in San Francisco where I attended the Modern Luxury Weddings Bridal Faire – and I am still totally speechless, overwhelmed and trying to sort all my impressions! So many fabulous vendors, beautiful displays, endless possibilities… where to start?

Maybe with what comes first when embarking on the trip to the altar: an engagement ring! Derco Jewelers offers your tailor-made  solution with a myriad of settings to choose from for another myriad of “rocks” to set in them… and if that’s not enough “one-of-a-kind” for your taste, they’ll even create a one-of-a-kind, entirely-yours design for you!

Here is one example of their work for one of my recent brides, a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring, combined with a diamond wedding band:

And then – what’s next? You need a date, and you need invitations. Hyegraph offers a wide range of calligraphy-style options (it’s machine calligraphy but absolutely looks like “the real thing!”), also in letterpress and heavy-stock varieties – very beautiful and very polished:

And then you need a venue, of course! Let’s start with the gorgeous venue hosting today’s event, one of San Francisco’s most distinguished wedding addresses, the Ritz-Carlton! (erin.mccommon@ritzcarlton.com)

Choose their beautiful patio for your outdoor ceremony for up to 250 guests and one of their ballrooms (capacity up to 500 guests!) for your reception. Nothing says “luxury” and “elegance” in the City like the Ritz!

If “exotic” is more your style – and maybe you have a special relationship to the Indian culture, here is your insider tip: Ranjan Dey’s New Delhi Restaurant – Ranyan has been an ambassador for the Indian culture in America for decades, and he is, hands-down, the undisputed specialist for Indian catering and weddings!

But there are, of course, so many more options around San Francisco, first and foremost in the wine-growing regions.

There is Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery and Palm Event Center in Pleasanton, accommodating big weddings in a mediterranean-upscale rustic setting;

there is the Vintage Estate and Villagio in Napa, with guest accommodations and complete catering services, if desired;

Vintage Estate

Villagio

the famed Solage in Calistoga, also with guest studios, catering and a Spa (and it’s surprisingly affordable!);

there is Lake Tahoe Golf Course (Groupsales@laketahoegc.com) in South Lake Tahoe (offering complete packages and literally unlimited guest count – you can celebrate on the golf course!)

and all of Carmel Valley with Bernardus Lodge (offering complete ceremony and dinner setup, exquisite cuisine, hotel accommodations and a spa)

and the totally new, completely renovated Quail Lodge – with a ceremony lawn for up 1,000 guests (!), award-winning cuisine, golf-course, guest accommodations and entertainment. And all of that, also, at affordable rates.

BUT do you know what’s by far the best about all these wonderful venues in the Greater SF Bay Area? You’d never guess it – they are all dog-friendly! Couples may bring their beloved canine companion with them for their Great Day. I love it!

Now that you know where you’ll celebrate, you need to make your Great Day special: with flowers, unusual desserts, and the totally unexpected touch:

Floramor floral and event design provides the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotels in SF with their floral arrangements – that should tell you something already! Their bouquets are just so elegant!

And the centerpieces on the “for show” tables at the Ritz (go back and look at them again – and look at the closeup below) were all by Laura, owner of Floramor, above center. Special touches: a few drops of blue coloring in the water filling the clear vases – for a discreet hue matching the elegant tablecloths – and pearls suspended therein… simply gorgeous!

Should you be looking especially for a romantic, fragrant, pastel bouquet, you might also want to check out La Martine:

Looking for that special touch for your dessert buffet? Here’s one beautiful option: cake pops from Sweet Lauren Cakes – so pretty, so tasty and totally customizable to your wedding style and colors!

Last not least, the WOW surprise for your guests, the charming and totally unexpected idea, the perfect backdrop for those one-of-a-kind photos: a glittering rickshaw from Cabrio Taxi! Here I am being treated to a free joyride around the Ritz ballroom:

Don’t forget a photographer to capture all those precious moments! He/she needs to be an artist with a perfect technique, with the gift to be totally invisible during your event and with a sunny disposition at all times! Take for example my friend Auey Santos of photograffiti: “shooting with open eyes, an open mind & an open heart!” Here she is:

What’s still missing? Right – the perfect Honeymoon! For me personally the ultimate Honeymoon destination is Polynesia – and maybe Fiji and a detour to Australia or New Zealand thrown in. When I visited the region first, nearly 30 years ago, it was all still very quiet, dreamy, romantic, and un-touristy. Things have changed and are still changing at a rapid pace, with more hotels and resorts coming to the islands every year. So what you need is an expert with an intimate knowledge of those romantic hidden gem islands, so far overlooked by mainstream tourism – in short, the remaining pockets of Polynesian paradise.

May I present: Rick Garrett of weddymoons is your specialist. He’ll put together your complete trip including airfare, accommodations, local transportation, excursions – you name it. He must know: he’s going to Polynesia at least once a year to check things out. Lucky guy!

What a day… and what an incredible selection of vendors! Happy planning, dear 2013 brides!

 

 

Praise

You can see examples of my work in my Portfolio section.

Please also look up my 5-star reviews on yelp and Wedding Wire!

And here is what my clients and colleagues have to say about me:

Thank you Jutta!  You were amazing!  We really appreciate all the work you and your assistant did on Saturday!  You were both life savers and really made our wedding a day we will always remember! Thank you again! 

Nancy and James D. (newlyweds)

We want you to feel absolutely comfortable with your choice of wedding planner – and that’s why we invite you to check out what our past clients and also our industry colleagues have to say about us. Here are a few of many comments:

We serendipitous-ly met Jutta (A Day Like No Other) while wine tasting at our wedding venue (Thomas Fogarty Winery). She was organizing a wedding for that weekend and was at the venue prepping. She introduced herself to us, showing us her timeline for the wedding and I was immediately blown away. She was able to plan the wedding day down to almost 5 minute increments, kept to an incredibly timely and organized timetable. Honestly, that is what got me and I emailed her that night asking if she was available for my wedding day (9/1/19).

After talking with her we decided to go with the month of coordination. It worked well for us as I booked most the vendors myself and felt comfortable handling most of the coordination leading up to the big day. Even though I only had Jutta “the month of ” she was ALWAYS available for questions and concerns. Throughout the planning process I would email her contracts for vendors and she would review them to make sure there weren’t major holes. Come the month of the wedding Jutta and I emailed weekly, to ensure every detail of our wedding was executed perfectly.

Jutta and A Day Like No Other went above and beyond my expectations with our wedding (everything went smoothly and flawlessly) but we also started the wedding 15 minutes AHEAD of schedule. This was amazing because we were able to gain 15 minutes of dancing at the end. The best part of Jutta and her team was the consideration she showed my brother. My brother is severely developmentally delayed, in a wheelchair, incontinent, etc. Jutta and her team showed extreme sensitivity to Patrick, his whereabouts, and his comfort. Patrick was not able to be on the main lawn for family photos, so Jutta ensured he was available down in the Hill House for pictures. Lastly, we had many left over floral centerpieces after the wedding, so Jutta donated them to a local memory care facility. This wasn’t in the plan, but I was so appreciative of her thoughtfulness. Jutta and her team are amazing. I consider myself very type-A and even I was blown away by her organization skills. My mom said it perfectly “she should charge more, she was worth every penny and more!”

Natalie W., just-married bride

Thank you so much for coordinating our wonderful event – we are so happy with how smoothly everything went and can’t thank you enough for making everything happen so wonderfully!! Even though it was a rainy and misty day, we still enjoyed every minute of the day and we, along with many guests, thought the rain made the day mystical and magical. It was truly a day to remember and like no other!!)

Christina and Cuyler L. (newlyweds)

We had the best night of our lives last night. Thank you for making sure everything was executed perfectly and in a timely manner. We couldn’t have done it without you! 

Natalie W. (bride)

We first reached out to Jutta almost 10 months ago for our August wedding, after having already selected Thomas Fogarty Winery our venue and booked our caterer. We had our initial Skype consultation with her and immediately knew that we wanted her as our wedding coordinator. We selected her Partial Planning and Design package, and she did an absolutely amazing job. She was prompt with emails and almost always replied to us within a couple of hours (we don’t know how she does it!).

Having worked with Fogarty many times and experienced in the wedding-planning industry, she was knowledgeable about our venue and provided excellent vendor recommendations including DJ, ceremony musician, florist, desert, and makeup artist, all of whom are a pleasure to work with. She also has great taste for design/aesthetics and helped us immensely with many small details on the wedding day that we were too overwhelmed to deal with (like name cards). She made fantastic suggestions for several aspects of the wedding, many of which we have not even thought of or knew that we should think about. She was proactive in reaching out to us and making sure that we checked off things that we need to do especially in the 2-3 months leading up to our wedding. Both of us are working long hours and clocking in 70-80 hours per week at work, but the tasks that Jutta gave us were manageable even with our schedule. She was methodical, flexible, and all around a great person to work with. She listened to us and our wishes (some of which were quite unconventional) and made it happen.

On our wedding day, Jutta and her assistants (Melinda and Stephanie) really came through and worked seamlessly with our other vendors to ensure that the wedding proceeded smoothly. She constructed a day of timeline that was reasonable and easy to follow; we did not feel rushed at any point during our wedding day. We were able to spend our time mingling with our guests and enjoy our wedding day worry-free.  

Overall, we are very happy with Jutta and we would highly recommend her to anyone!

Josh A. (groom)

It was a delight to look at your blog and it made me smile to relive the beauty of the day. Your vast knowledge and experience was essential in bringing together both the big details like various vendors as well as all the small finishing touches. I was able to relax and enjoy the wedding day knowing you were in charge!
I’m very grateful to have met you and collaborated with you…
Janie G. (Mother of the Bride)
Thanks Jutta! What fun to read [the blog feature of our wedding]! 
While we are back to work and busy as can be we are sill reminiscing on how perfect everything was for us. Thank you again! You helped us make our fairy tale come true :). 
Laura E., bride
Thank you for making our wedding possible! You are forever a special part of our lives 🙂
Warmly, s&j (newlyweds)
THANK YOU Jutta for always being such an Incredible coordinator 😁
Your attention to detail is unparalleled and we Truly appreciate it!!!
Toast Catering
Hi Jutta, many, MANY thanks to YOU for making the day PERFECT for the couple and ALL that were present!  
Melvin F. (family member/officiant)

Thank you so much for everything you did for us on our special day. It was absolutely perfect. 
Thanks again-  it was an AMAZING DAY!!!!!!

Julia and Alex (newlyweds)

Wow how wonderful Jutta! I loved reading [the feature of our wedding on your blog], made me cry!!! Thank you for helping us out with such a wonderful celebration!!! The day far exceeded our expectations.
Xoxo
Kate and Aaron (newlyweds)
Thank you all so much for your help planning and executing our wedding.  We had an absolutely wonderful time, and we really really appreciated all your help with the timeline, and coordination, and logistics.  It was such a great experience, and everything went even more smoothly than we imagined!
Best,
Marian and Aaron (newlyweds)
Thanks again for all your help with our wedding. It was everything we wanted it to be and more- and you were a big part of why everything went so smoothly! We really appreciate all your effort and are truly glad that we had you as our wedding planner!
You helped send us off in to married life with the feeling that all of family and friends enjoyed a great day of festivities. There’s nothing more we can ask:)
Caroline and Merrick (newlyweds)

Dear Jutta, You were wonderful! Thank you very much for everything!

Fondly,

Lydia (Mother of the Bride)

Thank you, Jutta! I had THE MOST spectacular night. Every detail was perfect and on point! Jason and I are so happy. I can’t believe that that was our wedding?! I’ve received tons of messages complimenting the ceremony and reception. Thank you again for making our event A Day Like No Other!! Much love xx

Taryn and Jason B., newlyweds

Thank you, Jutta, for everything! We had the best day ever and many thanks to you and the team for helping make it go without a hitch!

Lauren N., just-married bride

Dear Jutta, thank you so much for all your hard work on our wedding. We greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and attention to detail.

Sandra and Jacob S., newlyweds

 Jutta, you were marvelous from start to finish, we would and will recommend you to our closest of friends and family as we seem to hear of new exciting engagements so very often these days. On our honeymoon while reliving the special day we kept finding ourselves saying, oh and who and how did that aspect of the wedding get done – clearly you were doing all kinds of amazing things behind our back day-of so as to not worry us and make sure it all came together so perfectly. And really? Kimen’s dress rips part way through the night and you magically appear with all the tools and knowhow to fix it in minutes, this is one of many impressive moments, I know, but a pretty memorable one.  It’s all truly remarkable, so much you did above and beyond to make everything and everyone come together so effectively without worrying us when avoidable. That’s real devotion and capability that lead us right into and through the perfect wedding. And our guests were clearly floored by it all. We are forever grateful to you and please  feel free to use this email as a referral to anyone who is lucky enough to find you and have a chance to retain you. We’d also of course be happy to post our thoughts / ratings wherever you’d like…
 
We are so very thankful for all that you did for us and in such a seamless way that left nothing to chance wherever chance could be controlled or mitigated. Simply remarkable.

 Robert W., groom

Thanks so much, Jutta!!

Really really from the bottom of my heart, you helped give us the wedding of our dreams, even in the face if everything crazy that we threw at you or showed up last second! Thanks so much for your quick stepping up and directing of the timeline! Everything we wanted was literally in the wedding!!!! It all happened!! You got us there!! I have no words!! You seriously helped us pull of the wedding of the year! Our guests were so so so happy!!! We’re not sure what’s going on with Emerson, but we are not going to let it diminish our high. We will figure it out and thanks for your help and observations. 
 You guys did a fab job!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you again!!!
 Best, 
Carolyn T., bride

Jutta Lammerts and her assistant Kelsey were absolute rock stars, ensuring our wedding day was executed perfectly! Jutta pays attention to the important details while her calm demeanor allowed my husband and me to take a step back and enjoy the evening. They went above and beyond for us, we can’t speak highly enough to the professionalism and commitment from start to finish. Thank you Jutta!!!!

Marissa V., bride

I’m so glad I found Jutta!

Jutta met with me over coffee for the first time and explained to me what her day-of wedding coordinator responsibility would be. I knew instantly that she’s exactly what I was looking for: calm, organized, detail-oriented, smart and reacts fast. Jutta met with my husband to be and his mom a few nights later and won them over for the same reasons.

Jutta checked in with me a few months before the wedding making sure that I have chosen all my vendors. When I needed suggestions and referrals, she was there to help. During the month before the wedding, Jutta emailed my vendors with drafts of timeline and made sure they had what they needed. A few vendors commented on how organized she was and were all impressed.

Jutta showed up for the rehearsal and waited patiently for all the wedding party to arrive. She was great with little kids and explained to them how important their duties were. Maybe they understood her, on our wedding day, they marched down the aisle with no glitch!

The day of the wedding, Jutta stopped by my house in the morning to make sure the makeup artist was there and everything was good. She assured me that I was in good hands and I don’t need to worry about anything! She was right! I enjoyed the day of my wedding knowing Jutta was there to take care of things. What impressed me the most, was when our wedding ended, Jutta stayed till past midnight to make sure the take down was done completely. Jutta goes above and beyond to make sure everything is perfect.

I am happy I found Jutta. You would be happy to have Jutta there for you on your big day!

Shaina H., bride

Jutta was the very first person we booked for our wedding and it was a decision we were continuously grateful for throughout the planning of our wedding. The decisions were endless and the details were numerous – Jutta kept us on track at every turn to ensure the day of our wedding was everything we’d hoped it would be. From the minute you meet Jutta, you know you’re in good hands. She’s professional, organized and always on. She provided amazing recommendations – from the venue to vendors to things as simple as our guest book – her contacts, experience and overall calm helped ensure our wedding day was magical. We would strongly recommend Jutta and her services to help you plan your wedding – she’s an absolute pro …we can’t imagine having done our wedding without her!

Laura M., bride

My dear bride chose Jutta to help with wedding planning and coordination.  At first, since we planned a modest wedding with plenty of help from friends, I thought: do we really need a wedding coordinator?  Now I can honestly say that we could not have done it without Jutta.  She was extremely organized, patient and helpful, and was a veritable fountain of clever ideas that made our event unique and successful.  On the day of the event, it was a huge relief to know that this capable woman was watching over every detail of the proceedings and taking that responsibility from our shoulders.  The moral of our story is: if you even suspect you might need Jutta’s help — you do!

Lincoln S., groom

Today, you have wrapped up their love story in sparkles and love beams for us to cherish forever. Wish I had another daughter to marry 🙂 so I could attend another over the top, dreams come true, hearts filled with joy beautiful day! I will NEVER forget this one. Xoxox You are THE Best! 

Many blessings to you beautiful Jutta, 
With an abundance of Love and Gratitude, 
Bonnie xo
Bonnie H., mother of the bride

Where to start?!? The whole Day Like No Other staff are extremely friendly yet, forward enough to deal with the high stress of planning a wedding. It was the most important day of our lives and they made sure to make us feel such. Furthermore, they shield us from the stress and anxiety of dealing with vendors, decor, etc. The planning was a breeze! They were very organized, kept detailed journals and to-do lists with deadlines, allowing us to work as a team to plan our event. They were so knowledgeble about every detail, and even brought to light things we didn’t even think of. 

Lastly, they are extremely connected within the community. They have a Rolodex of the top vendors in the industry. It doesn’t matter if your budget is small or huge, they will search within their network to meet your needs. But if they don’t have the connection, Jutta and team will do the endless research to approve a vendor to make sure they meet your standards. 

Jutta and her staff come highly recommended. We searched for months for the right venue and event planning company and would be as bold as to say, Day Like No Other is the best event planning agency in the Bay Area. 

Francisco T., groom

Dear Jutta,

Thank you for making my wedding day non-stressful! You’re a wonderful woman…

Michele B., bride

Dear Jutta,

You rock!  You absolutely rock!  What a pleasure knowing and working with you!

I am so happy we met! 

Annette S., florist

Jutta,

It’s you the maestro  that needs the thanks….always enjoy working with you…..XO

Deidre R., florist
 
Hi Jutta,
 
Thanks for all your help! You made everything smooth and it all exceeded my expectation! Erik and I still can’t believe it all happened 🙂 it feels like a dream!

Shaina H., bride

Jutta, you were awesome, to say the least. Thanks for being a great leader and coordinating the day.
It was a pleasure working with all of you. I look forward to being on your team in the future.
Monique A., lighting designer

Jutta, thank you for being the woman on the spot at our wedding at all times! You’re phenomenal…

Lincoln S., groom

Jutta, WIPA USA has a great friend in you! You and Melanie not only knocked yourselves out producing a fabulous meeting at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, but your subsequent blog post here is so comprehensive and beautiful. You really do things right!

Thomas H., videographer

What an incredible job Jutta did.  Everything was well-thought out and incredibly organized.  As a wedding photographer, I have the chance to work with dozens of different planners and it is incredibly refreshing to work with someone like Jutta!  It makes everyone’s day (bride + groom, other vendors) so much better, which translates into an excellent experience. 

If you are still deciding on a planner, give Jutta a call and just chat with her.  I know that you will be impressed.

Mark T., photographer


Jutta: Thank you so much for everything; we feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity to have your services, enthusiasm and love for your job … This is truly a fairy tale wedding, despite of the amounts of money we will or won’t spend. – Yes, Jutta, let me echo Francisco. We really are just thrilled about how everything is coming along and feel so blessed to have you working so hard for us. Thank you!! 

Lauren C. and Francisco T., bride and groom

My 09/15/12 wedding went off without a hitch thanks to Jutta of A Day Like No Other.  I honestly don’t think I could have done it without her! A bride has about a thousand tasks to accomplish and details to think about, but thanks to Jutta, I was able to just enjoy my special day.  On my wedding day and throughout the wedding planning process, Jutta was on top of everything– There was not one detail that she let slip by. And, she went above and beyond helping us plan and create décor that fit perfectly with our “vintage San Francisco glamour” themed wedding.  Jutta truly has an eye for elegance, is very knowledgeable about the wedding process, and has amazing ideas that will ensure a spectacular event.  

More than that, however, Jutta was a pleasure to work with. She was always very responsive when I contacted her, and proactive about reminding me of decisions that needed to be made or tasks that needed to be completed.  For a busy bride like me, it was great to have her keeping me on track.

Alexa W., bride

We recently worked with Jutta (who was amazing) at a wedding just last month. First off just wanted to say everything went together perfectly. From the emails before hand, to us arriving and being shown exactly where to set-up. Also, she was very helpful through out the entire event, checking on us and just making sure everything was ok.

Sai K., vendor

My wife and I loved every minute of our wedding and Jutta was THE driving force behind the amazing evening. She was professional, punctual, and very easy to contact. She brought her own ideas to the table, but also really listened to us and honored our ideas. I would highly recommend her!

Isaac J., groom

She’s positive, accommodating and very friendly to her customers as well as the staff. Every little detail was spot on but most importantly she came up with creative ideas that made the day memorable.

Eunice B., Maid of Honor

I had the pleasure of working with Jutta a couple of weeks ago. 

First and foremost, she is very professional. She was always quick to answer her phone and answered any question I had. When I arrived, she helped me get situated, brought my up to speed and kept me updated on all of the big moments (very important since I was in charge of video).  Despite how hectic a wedding can be, she was very calm and collected throughout the evening. 

I honestly thought the event went perfect! I have done weddings where things were a mess and no one knew what was going on but Jutta kept it together and kept things flowing in a very steady pace. 

I would definitely recommend her to any couple that is thinking about getting a coordinator to assist them with their big day. With Jutta’s help, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy your big day and who doesn’t want that?!?!

Augusto L., vendor

My daughter’s wedding could not have been in more cable hands than Jutta’s. She brought an abundance of knowledge and energy to work with her, and worked as hard on our event as if it was own. Jutta is the professional to hire.

Lucinda W., mother of the bride

I am a hair and makeup artist and this is the second time I have worked with Jutta. She was one time, very responsive to the Bride’s needs…she was on top of everything. She stayed from beginning to end making sure that that  the ceremony and the reception went according to the schedule. i will recommend Jutta to any of my new Brides…

Marine V., vendor

Jutta showed great sensitivity to the bride and groom’s tastes when she set an elegant stage for [their] Wedding in San Francisco. Her online photographs attest to that. She contacted me, the cellist for the wedding, in advance to be sure I had everything I needed to perform comfortably in the lovely and very intimate garden venue. She was professional and courteous throughout the event and I would not hesitate to recommend Jutta and A Day Like No Other to future brides.

Suellen P., vendor

My wedding at the end of this September went perfectly.  My husband and I conversed with Jutta regarding the rental of our venue for the wedding ceremony.  She was patient with all of our emails and questions, she responded very quickly, gave insightful advice and recommendations for caterers and other services that we were looking into (or didn’t even think to look into).  She even took the time to show us some scenic spots around the venue’s neighborhood (of which she was familiar with) for us to use for wedding photos on our wedding day.  Jutta is very comfortable to talk to you and never felt like she was rushing us.  It was a joy working with her.  Thank you Jutta!

Melissa L., bride

We had the great pleasure of working with Jutta on a wedding we catered this past weekend.  The wedding was one of the best I have ever attended or worked on (and that is MANY!) and I feel a lot of that was because of Jutta’s fantastic organization, attitude and spirit.  She is a wonderful problem solver and tasker and it was clear that she was coming from a place of passion, not just work. If you are looking for a caring, professional person to help with your wedding, look no further!

Kristin H., vendor

Jutta from A Day Like No Other Events was an integral part of our wedding at Stern Grove in San Francisco. Jutta worked closely with us in the months leading up to the wedding to brainstorm decor ideas, coordinate vendors, and help us remember all the little details. On the day of our wedding, Jutta hit the ground running and never stopped. I swear- she was moving the entire night. She worked so hard to make sure every aspect of our evening was exactly as we had specified. Because of her hard work, my husband and I were able to relax and dance the night away. – Thank you so much for all your hard work, Jutta! We couldn’t have done it without you!

Nicole S., bride

Jutta was amazing to work with. Everything was under control and beautifully executed. She paid attention to the smallest details with confident and positive attitude. Great team player!!

Zehava D., officiant

Jutta was very helpful both before and during the wedding. She made sure that I had a schedule, all my questions were answered, and that the cupcakes I provided for the wedding were taken care of after I departed the venue. She was professional and kind, tending to all the details with poise and a smile.

Elspeth P., vendor

Jutta, the founder of A Day Like No Other, designed and coordinated my wedding in Carmel Valley, California, last summer. It was a three-day destination wedding including our dog – and guests from three continents! The whole celebration was held in three different venues, so the logistics were quite complicated. Jutta created every aspect of the design from the earliest “idea” stage to flawless execution, including custom invitations, choice of venue, choice of wedding gown, floral and cake design, ceremony and reception music, bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s gifts, and even designed and created personalized wedding favors! She organized every aspect of the celebration, including the Rehearsal Dinner, transportation, guest accommodations, and Honeymoon booking. No detail was too tiny… Jutta worked tirelessly, and the result was a breathtakingly elegant wedding celebration that guests are still raving about. I recommend Jutta highly – for her unparalleled professionalism, work ethic, creativity, impeccable taste, and, last but not least, for her warm and friendly personality! She truly made our wedding a day neither of us will ever forget. It was the perfect wedding, or in other words “A Day Like No Other”.

 Zheng Y., bride

Jutta,

Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to make our wedding so special. We truly could not have pulled this off without you! We really appreciate your hard work, great ideas, organization, positive attitude, and your ability to put up with often stressed-out bride and groom. Please let us know how we can ever repay …

 A & S. M., bride and groom

 The [welcome] bags were beautiful!  Both hotels said they never had such nice bags delivered–they were a hit! …  Thanks for everything…

Kathy S., mother of the groom

Wow, you are amazing to put together all those samples… Your creativity has no limits, as I had imagined…

Jean M., wedding coordinator / colleague

Thank you for the beautiful ideas. … I love your ideas, you have a great talent.

Summer W., bride

You are really good! I can’t believe you really put this all the contacts, pictures and board together for us. It makes me feel like you really listened to me and you are taking it on like it’s your project already. It is so sweet of you! I saw the pinterest board last night and couldn’t believe you personalized it for me already. It really means a lot 🙂 Some pictures I have pinned already myself so you get what I am going for. Love the tips and ideas you suggested.

Grace C., bride

Oh Jutta, thank you so much. You have a wonderful imagination!

 Leah G., mother of the groom

Dear Jutta,

Thank you so much for all of your help! You’ve been wonderful to work with… We had an amazing wedding…

Andrea G., bride

Hello, Jutta,

We did it! We’re hitched! And it was just wonderful. Everyone was so taken with the venue – we couldn’t have asked for a better space. Moreover, we couldn’t have asked for better communication from you; you answered messages with alacrity and charm, to boot. 
Thank you for all your work along the way to make that possible.

Anna B., bride

I reviewed your links and it is obvious that you are a very talented individual. I will pass your card on and boast your competency!

Rosanna N., vendor

Thank you again … It is very refreshing to have a professional planner who does not overlook the minor details even after the event is through. Your are a visibly experienced planner and it’s appreciated in this chaotic industry. I am confident in your ability and I’m excited to put someone in your care for weddings at THE BOX SF. Looking forward to working with you in the near future.

Danielle A., onsite venue manager

I recently had the pleasure of working with Jutta for my September 2012 wedding.  She was the epitome of professionalism and, as a result of her hard work, the wedding went off without a hitch.   Throughout the wedding-planning process, Jutta stayed on top of the overall timeline while offering sage advice on even the smallest of details.  The day-of was a whirlwind, with vendors upon vendors running around working on their individual projects.  Jutta managed the team wonderfully, while keeping her eye on the big picture.  And the big picture was amazing.  I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

 Sean M., groom

Jutta was an amazing support for my wedding! I met her when visiting the Forest Hill Clubhouse, the eventual site of our wedding. After a few more visits and after posing more and more questions, she offered her services. While I was overwhelmed with details and organization at first, Jutta guided me through and helped me to take more of a creative approach. Our initial, bare minimum, idea for the decor turned into simple, easy and beautiful additions that enhanced the ceremony and party without ever diminishing what was most important to us: celebrating our union with friends and family. Jutta was great at organizing the rehearsal, wedding day, and reception and reminding me of details that I had forgotten. She was always available, extremely professional, and very amusing to work with in her no-nonsense way. Thanks to Jutta, she made our wedding the best day of our life!

Virginia S., bride

Hello Jutta,

 
Wow, you work fast and know your stuff!  First off, thank you so much for the email and the pinterest board … you have nailed it on so many things, ex: we have an old typewriter already, it’s a minty green color and I was already planning on using it for the guest book …  You totally nailed it, and read my mind.  
Cherice M., bride

I had the pleasure of working with Jutta over the 9-month period we had to plan our wedding – and she immediately put me at ease. She knows her stuff, she’s a great communicator, and she genuinely loves what she does – and really, what more is there to ask for?
It’s funny – until I read [the] reviews, I always had the impression that my wedding was her only concern – my emails were always answered quickly and fully, and she was always so on top of her game.
I realize now that she had quite a few other weddings going on in September – so what I was experiencing was none other than good ol’ awesome service.

I think the highest praise I can give Jutta is that I felt really taken care of – every e-mail and question was answered quickly and with great attention, and she was as invested in our wedding as we were!
She was incredibly professional but also a delight to work with – I highly recommend her; she loves what she does, and it shows.
Anna B., bride

Dear Jutta: This is with so much gratitude to you for making the party so wonderful, and being so cooperative and warm.

Leah G., mother of the groom

Dear Jutta,

The event went far more smoothly because of your gracious offer to help us with detail and to put out so many of the unexpected fires.  Please know how much I appreciate all your effort and hard work both before and during the wedding.
Carol S., mother of the groom

 Jutta’s the best wedding planner in town!

Fernando F., caterer

Jutta is a wonderful, extremely efficient, and very professional wedding planner.  I put a lot of effort into every detail of our wedding which I enjoyed, but on the day I just wanted to relax and not worry about anything, especially things happening on time, Jutta took care of everything!  
She was invariably quick to respond to each and every email and question I sent her way and made it seem like my wedding was the only thing happening in her world.  Most of all she helped me create a wedding that reflected “us” which was very important to my husband and I.
I recommend her, ten fold!

C & M. G., bride and groom

My daughter ‘s wedding in September was managed by Jutta and it went off without a glitch, Jutta  was qualified to make this a memorable event for our family and friends. I would highly recommend her as a competent wedding planner.
Thank you Jutta for memorable event.

Eugene W., father of the bride

Like many unfortunate couples, my wife and I had decided to try plan and execute our wedding all on our own. Big mistake. Fortunately for us, Jutta was able and willing to step in late in the planning process and help us pull together all the loose ends. Our wedding was a smashing success–thanks Jutta!

Greg H., groom

I was invited to perform at a March wedding where the couple’s plans had suddenly gone completely awry and they were dearly needing the help of a very skillful, quick thinking, seasoned wedding planner. Lucky for them that they found Jutta. She not only came to their rescue, but did it with signature class, elegance and effectiveness. I give her 5 stars and look forward to any future opportunities to work again with “A Day Like No Other.”

Suellen P., musician

We’re incredibly thankful we hired a wedding planner, and even more that it was Jutta. She is one elegant, friendly, unflappable, responsible, on-point woman.
The only thing I would say we should have done differently is hire her for more than just the one day.
What we noticed about her was that she was very organized, experienced, and calm, the trifecta of wedding planning. We were a hard group to wrangle and organize and keep on target; mostly everyone getting together was from out of the country (I’m Canadian, my wife French) and seeing old friends and family had everyone excited and nervous about the big day. Jutta really held us together with poise; we changed a lot of things at the last minute (processional order, where we would walk from, speeches with what dinner course, when and where we would toss the bouquet, etc.) and we were really impressed by how she went with it all, even despite the fact that we had gone over and over the order of events before hand, etc. It really was a much bigger event than we anticipated (from a details point of view), and she held it together. Professional, warm, amicable, and yet kept it on track. It was a real pleasure to work with Jutta, and we highly recommend her to anyone who wishes to have a low stress wedding.

Andrew C., groom

Jutta was great and made our dream wedding flow smooth. We got married 8-10-13 at the golden gate club in the Presidio, and Jutta did everything from walking the dog, grabbing girls bouquets who forgot them, kept us on schedule with all the ceremonial things that go on, set up the hall along with the catorers. She was a joy to have a wedding planner and always did what was needed with a smile. Thanks Jutta for helping out with our big day.

Fabian R., groom

Jutta coordinated a wedding that my band played at in Monterey. She was a pleasure to work with. First, before the wedding, we communicated over email, and she did a great job at making sure everyone was on the same page and that all the details were worked out. Then, over the course of the 6 or 7 hours we were at the wedding itself, I could see how well she kept everything running smoothly. I saw someone who was meticulous, dependable, professional, calm, and organized. In the end, the couple had a delightful wedding day, and I know Jutta definitely had a part in that!

Luke Abbott, band leader, Abbott Brothers

We are a florist in the bay area, and we have had the pleasure of working with Jutta on a number of occasions. She is always professional and is the person that you want to have at your wedding to make sure it runs smoothly. We see a lot of behind the scene situations, and we can testify that she absolutely goes the extra mile for her brides! Wonderful lady, and a joy to work with!

Diana Rasta, florist, Stems Floral Boutique

My Photography and Video crew had the pleasure of working with Jutta at Diahann and Brent’s wedding.  She was very organized and took care of everyone who was involved in the wedding.  Jutta was very calm and collected when there were last minutes changes.  I was impressed with her detail and organization to run the wedding smoothly.  Her professionalism and grace made the whole team feel calm in doing their job and working towards the same goal.  You could definitely rely on her to get the job done and do it well.  I would love to have the pleasure of working with her again.

Christine Ann Iglesias, videographer, Indulge Wedding Photography

Thank you so much, Jutta!!! We had an amazing time, thank you for your diligent efforts to make everything happen so smoothly! It was truly a magical experience.

Cassie M., bride

You were fantastic Jutta, we can’t thank you enough.

Jason H., groom
Jutta did a fantastic job on my daughters wedding. I couldn’t be more pleased. She was incredibly detail oriented, asked excellent questions, anticipated needs, suggested solutions and and formatted an excellent flow of events and kept everything moving. Most importantly, she accomplished all of this while remaining calm and focused. On the day of the wedding, she presented a calm demeanor while organizing and executing every detail. Attendees commented repeatedly that everyone had a wonderful time, the wedding was so much fun and it flowed so smoothly. This was certainly due in part to all of Jutta’s excellent planning and assistance. I highly recommend her services. And, her personality and willingness to help made her a joy to work with. She is a really nice person too!
Linda R., Mother of the Bride

Live from Duncan’s Downtown Birthday “Madness!”

A minute ago I returned  home from a FABULOUS event, and I’m still all giddy about it – Duncan’s Downtown Bday party! Duncan – who? Duncan Reyes, of course – who certainly does NOT need any kind of introduction. But, should you by any chance not belong to the 99.9% of people “in the know” who he is: he is the “wedding guru of the Bay Area,” as quite a few of his guests reverently referred to him. And, believe me, he deserves every bit of that honorary title!

Just back from orchestrating a HUGE wedding in Mumbai, India (the talk of the evening was a whispered total cost in the 7-digit range…), Duncan used his regular “Martini Madness” events for colleagues and friends for an early Birthday celebration – and tout le (chic!) monde flocked to Infusion Lounge in downtown San Francisco to join in the celebration. And I was lucky enough to be one of them!

Duncan, the devoted doggie Dad (to his diva, “Bella”) and I, equally devoted doggie Mom to “Buzz,”  (the “Woof” in Wedding Woof) immediately found out that we are sharing a big interest! Here he is with his furry muse:

Beautiful, no?

Well, “beautiful” was definitely the motto of the evening… starting with the location: Infusion Lounge, an ultra-hip bar in the heart of San Francisco, bathed in truly magical lighting:

Talk about chic… and the guests were definitely a crowd to match – a Who’s Who of the Bay Area’s foremost wedding professionals: fellow event coordinator Tony White of Extreme Elegance, BluBungalow Event Studio founder Hazel Bourget, Anastasia Alvarado of Grace Street Catering, event and catering managers Cristina Lopez of Kimpton Hotels and Katie Orndorff and Siba Tarassoly of Marriott – who assured me that both all Kimpton Hotels (Argonaut, Harbor Court, and Tuscan Inn in SF) and the downtown Marriott are, in fact, very dog-friendly! So listen up, all the “Woof” fans of Wedding Woof… that’s for you and your four-legged darlings! On to Robbie Schlosser of Magnolia Jazz Band who has been entertaining guests in the Bay Area since 1975 and rightfully considers himself a “veteran” – and whom, in fact, absolutely everyone greeted affectionately – “everyone knows Robbie!” Olympic Gold for the highest presence by sheer numbers, however, goes to the photographers who transform all these incredible events into tangible memories: Alex Ho, Auey Santos, Orbie Pullen and husband-and-wife team Ariel and Samuel Soto-Suver of Bowerbird Photography, “senior statesman” Richard Mayer, and Mike Steelman with the one-of-a kind steel (!) engraved business card… as I said – le Beau Monde, and brimming with creativity!

Birthday Boy Duncan took personal care of each and every one of his guests, inviting them to fun photo shoots in a photo booth with lots of hilarious props (think masks, hats, neon feather boas…) while his Mom and Sis were proudly looking on. He certainly is the quintessential, perfect party host!

Thanks for having us all, Duncan, and have a wonderful, successful and totally happy new year in your life!

 

Duncan Reyes/ Events by Design, www.duncanreyes.com

Infusion Lounge, infusionlounge.com

Tony White/ Extreme Elegance, extremeelegancebytony.com

Hazel Bourget/ BluBungalow,www.blubungalow.com

Anastasia Alvarado/ Grace Street Catering, www.gracestreet.wordpress.com

Cristina Lopez/Kimpton Hotels, cristina.lopez@kimptonhotels.com

Katie Orndorff/Marriott SF, katie.orndorff@marriott.com

Siba Tarassoly/Marriott SF, siba.tarassoly@marriott.com

Robbie Schlosser, Magnolia Jazz Band, MagnoliaJazz.com

Alex Ho, alexhophotography.com

Auey Santos/Photograffiti, www.photograffiti.net

Orbie Pullen, orbiepullen.com

Ariel and Samuel Soto-Suver/Bowerbird Photography, www.bowerbirdphotography.com

Richard Mayer, www.MayerPhoto.com

Mike Steelman, mikesteelman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was Meant to Be – on Top of the Golden Gate Bridge

What’s the most unusual wedding you can imagine? For example, do you know someone who got married on top of the Golden Gate Bridge? Crazy, right?


Well, I do! Greg and Oh. And their wedding way up there was just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” of their incredible love story. Want to hear it? Here we go:

On the day he turned fifty, Greg sat down all by himself and took stock of the first half of his life.  Life had been good to him. He had enjoyed a succession of happy relationships. He had always followed his passions and been successful in what he did. Starting with a Masters degree in Education, he had become a public school teacher. Then he had studied Classical Composition and finally found his passion: he studied Screenwriting at NY University and achieved an MA degree here as well. He was now teaching Screenwriting at UC Berkeley. His first feature film had been accepted at the renowned Sydney film festival. Having become a SF firefighter – and just having been promoted to Lieutenant – had allowed Greg flexible work hours and a steady income to support his artistic pursuits. So far – perfect.

And yet – the most important dream of his life still remained unfulfilled: to find his partner for life and have a family. On that very day, Greg decided to make this dream his absolute priority for the next years of his life. And – unsurprisingly – he tackled this new task with his usual systematic approach and perseverance.  He realized that at his age his chances of finding a partner young enough to still have children were slim at best, especially in a youth-centric Western culture like the US or Europe. On the other hand, he had always admired and also studied Asian cultures, especially the Thai Buddhist culture with its emphasis on peace and harmony. That’s where he would start looking for the perfect mate: College-educated, sharing his passion for art, music, and literature, non-smoker. To maximize his chances, he chose an online dating service.

Little did he know that at the very same moment, at the other end of the world – in Thailand, actually – Oh, a College-educated young accountant in search of the perfect husband and practicing Buddhist, was making a wish list of her own: College-educated, Western culture, non-smoker. She had always admired the Jewish culture with its emphasis on learning and education – so, preferably Jewish (which Greg happens to be…). Age difference no problem. To maximize her chances, she chose an online dating service… the same one as Greg!

Done deal? Not at all. At their first date, the two were not overly impressed with one another. They both kept looking. But still – their mutual interest was piqued. They stayed in touch via phone and Skype. It took months until their first shy kiss, and it took several more visits of Greg to Thailand to have their encounter blossom into a romance. On November 1st, 2010, Greg proposed on exotic Phiphi Island, and Oh let herself be persuaded to follow Greg to America.

As unusual as their whole story is – just as unusual was their wedding, truly one-of-a-kind. They wanted it to happen on top of the world – well, at least on top of the Golden Gate Bridge! As a San Francisco firefighter, Greg was able to obtain the exceptional permission for a site visit at the top of the South Tower on June 1st, 2011, accompanied by his bride and his officiant (his colleague and friend Mark, who had become an ordained minister just to be able to marry the two). Up they rode in the tiny, drafty elevator to a platform some 750 feet above the water of the Bay; and from there they had to climb up a metal ladder. Oh, totally fearless, kicked off her high heels, climbed up, and got married – barefoot! But married they got, look here:

Their long, tortuous journey had finally reached its destination. That same evening, they raised their glasses at an intimate wedding dinner with family only:

A few months later, the two invited friends and colleagues to a belated wedding dinner at the romantic Forest Hill Clubhouse in San Francisco. Oh, a terrific cook (another passion she shares with Greg!) had insisted on cooking everything herself, and the whole party feasted outside under old trees and the stars.  And this year, the two got married just once more – in a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Oh’s native Thailand, in Bangkok:

 

They stayed on for a little while – Greg found a new job as a rickshaw driver…

well, just kidding… and then they enjoyed their real Honeymoon in Myanmar, concluding the yearlong wedding festivities! Oh has meanwhile settled into San Franciscan married life, assisted by her new four-legged “stepdaughter” Sadie, Greg’s Yellow Labrador Retriever. Now life is really good for the three of them!

 

Live from the SF Wedding & Celebrations Fair!

I am just here at the Bay Area Wedding & Celebrations Fair at the Parc 55 Wyndham hotel in downtown San Francisco, and the whole fourth floor and Grand Ballroom is just buzzing with excitement. Brides and grooms-to-be, mothers, whole families are crowding the 50 or so vendor tables: lots of photographers, entertainment companies, beauty products, spa services,venues and honeymoon destination hotels, sweet confections, bridal accessories…you name it!

It was a day full of discoveries!

The first thing I discovered was my good friend Rachel, owner/designer at The Desk Set, one of the Bay Area’s premier wedding stationery stores. She showed me the perfect custom-made invitation suite for a couple whose rustic-vintage inspired wedding I am currently organizing – look here:

Isn’t that totally adorable? Rachel is so incredibly gifted and creative, and “the sky is the limit” for her designs (think letterpress on white handmade paper with a gold cut…) BUT  it’s her promise that she will work within any client’s budget! Look her up at thedeskset-sf.com!

Next up was Modern Love Photography whose dreamy, totally romantic photos I LOVED! All their photo packages come with an engagement session (including hair and makeup!), and with a whole day of photo coverage. Your photographer will actually stay on for your whole evening and capture all those precious moments…

Most packages also include a beautiful “coffee table” style photo book, very professional and polished-looking… and then there are all these creative touches: a boudoir session (with all female staff!) resulting in the most gorgeous gift for the groom: a book full of sensual images of his new wife… a personalized guest book containing full-page photos of the couple, complemented by thought-provoking questions for guests to comment on: “where do you see us in ten years?” “what do you think ties us together?” Once this guest book is filled, it will become one of the most personal and cherished keepsakes of that special day, I am sure! (www.modernlovephotography.com)

And then – the total, absolute discovery of the day: French macarons by the Sugarie! You know French macarons – these weightless, melt-in-your-mouth, pastel-colored confections, with the most delicate thin and crunchy crust and a deliciously creamy filling?

Being European, I’ve certainly tasted my share of macarons, and I have to say that hands-down, these here from Sugarie are among the best I’ve had, ever! They make a fabulous center for your candy bar, AND they could be wonderful wedding favors:

Isn’t that too cute? The magician behind these divine confections is Natalie who during the week before the wedding fair alone baked 1,300 macarons! They come in 14 different flavors (imagine: lavender white chocolate, green tea azuki bean, raspberry dark chocolate…) and even in custom flavors of your own choosing! Here I am with Natalie at her booth. Visit www.sugariebakeshop.com and get seduced!

 

And the last pleasant surprise of the day – the hotel itself! Why? The Parc 55 San Francisco offers DOG-FRIENDLY WEDDINGS!!! Yes, you heard it – you can bring your beloved four-legged companion to your wedding ceremony in the hotel and to your reception! Your darling is also allowed in the dog-friendly guest rooms. The only requirement – easy to organize – is that your dog is leashed and under the care of his/her own handler (preferably professional dog walker) at all times. And with that, you can have an elegant hotel setting for your wedding, just one block away from Union Square, perfect for yourself and for your out-of-town guests, AND have your doggie with you.

The hotel will provide elegant table settings for your wedding dinner, and the grand ballroom on the fourth floor can accommodate up to 300 guests. The huge foyer on the fourth floor can be transformed in an elegant cocktail reception space. Feel free to have it decorated to your heart’s delight!

What else? So many things – just quickly: Tim and Vikki,a cute husband-and-wife team at By Request Entertainment  fulfill all your entertainment wishes from cued ceremony music to reception entertainment to DJ services for your post-dinner dancing, including MC’ing throughout your wedding day. For a local 100-people wedding this comprehensive package starts at as low as $1,500 – and they even have a karaoke setup. Doesn’t that sound fun?! (www.byrequestbayarea.com)

Thinking destination wedding? Yosemite now offers the choice of five hotels inside the park (the Ahwanee) and further out (among others, the dog-friendly Tenaya Lodge) which can be booked up to 18 months in advance – regular bookings are only 12 months in advance – with the best months to have a romantic outdoor ceremony under the towering mountains being April through September (YosemitePark.com/Weddings). Or is a beach wedding more your style? Think of the all-inclusive Sandals Resorts in Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, the Bahamas, and Turks&Caicos – also fabulous for “just” your honeymoon! (call toll-free 1-800-SANDALS).

Lastly – in spite of all the excitement pervading the exhibition hall, there was a feeling of serene romance, provided by the beautiful live performances of guitarist Julio Reyes! A classically trained musician, Julio has worked as a teacher and performer, and he especially loves playing at weddings. And, believe me, he is so GOOD at it! Listen to his 2010 CD “Heart Strings,” and you’ll know what I mean (www.julioreyesguitarist.com).

“I Do” with your Doggie

So you are getting married – congratulations!

Your happiness is complete, and so is your family: you and your soon-to-be spouse, and your dog, of course! Your faithful companion of so many years, who shared your ups and downs and never let you down in his undying love and devotion. Your dog is a family member, like a child. Your dog will share the joy of the most important day in your life – unthinkable to exclude him/her, right?

Right. I agree. I feel the same way. But, unfortunately, not everybody does!

Plan ahead – way ahead!

For starters, if you are planning a ceremony at church or another house of worship, your four-legged companion cannot join you. Same at most indoor ceremony sites (unless you are lucky enough that your friends own a gorgeous mansion and will of course host your Great Day…). Overall, there are very few dog-friendly wedding venues, meaning your selection is limited. Your best bet is an outdoors ceremony and reception, but even public parks often have restrictions. In San Francisco, where I live, the presence of a dog in the ceremony and during the outdoor reception in a park has to be applied for and specially permitted.

Michelle Buzz lowres

An outdoors celebration, of course, restricts you to the fair-weather months in your specific region. Therefore, if you feel your wedding is not complete without your furry friend, as we felt, you need to plan early. And once you have identified a selection of possible venues, bring your dog along for site visits (at hotels and the like) and observe how the staff reacts to your dog. That will tell you a lot! When we first visited our front-runner venue, on a hot day, our dog exploited a split-second of our distraction to jump in their reflecting pool, emerging dripping wet and dirty – a nightmare! Our hostess’ reaction was not a hysterical scream, but a stack of towels… needless to say, we booked this venue!

Be prepared – think like a dog!

Wedding preparation time is stressful for everyone, even for your dog! As you well know, dogs are very sensitive and pick up the tension. Some may even develop psychosomatic reactions of all kinds. Wedding day itself can stress your dog to the limit. Just think of it: nobody has time to properly take care of him/her, the normal routine does not happen, instead there is a trip to some unfamiliar place that under normal circumstances would require extensive exploration including sniffing and marking. For incomprehensible reasons this is not allowed today. The regular caregivers are busy otherwise. Any dog except for the absolutely good-natured ones will try to enforce some attention, be it through barking, pawing, running away, rolling in the mud or any number of other behaviors that his/her humans somehow do not like.

Buzz after finding "water" (a mud hole, actually...) on a hot day

Buzz after finding “water” (a mud hole, actually…) on a hot day

Ceremony and celebration from your dog’s perspective

Once the ceremony is under way, it’s getting even trickier for you doggie: he/she is required to be quiet or even perform ring bearer duties. Once that is over, at the reception, all attention will be showered on the newlyweds and no attention at your dog who might find plenty of opportunity to wreak havoc with tablecloths and long gowns. The concluding festive dinner is, of course, the worst of all: just imagine he SMELLS!! As you will have heard, a dog’s olfactory brain (the part processing the sense of smell) is seven times the size we humans possess. A dog perceives the world through smell. And a banquet from which your doggie is excluded is torture, plain and simple!

Buzz at dinner table

One other thing: what we humans enjoy as music, might not exactly be to your dog’s liking. Dogs can hear much higher frequencies than humans, and ours is especially sensitive to certain famous sopranos. Hearing Maria Callas sing her high notes, our doggie rolls on the ground and covers his ears with his paws. Certain violin tunes, on the other hand, elicit in him the irrepressible urge to sing (aka howl) along… You might want to give this observation some consideration ahead of time!

Enlist help

Now that I have laid out before you a true horror scenario, I’ll have to come up with solutions. The most important step is to enlist help, in your doggie’s best interest, but just as much in your own. Your doggie needs his/her own caregiver throughout the day to ensure as much regular routine as possible.

The Good Life of a Canine Diva

The Good Life of a Canine Diva

Preferably this will be a dog walker your dog is already familiar and comfortable with. This way, your darling can take walks and naps as he/she is used to; there will be someone to keep her hydrated and well-fed, to keep her out of too much sun during an outside ceremony, and so much more! By the way, don’t forget sunscreen for rosy noses – and “doggles” for the fun of it if your dog likes them. They definitely look ultra-cool!

Buzz with his "date," Liz

Buzz with his “date,” Liz

We invited our dog Buzz’s favorite dog walker, Liz, to come to our two-day destination wedding (three hours away) with us as our guest – and she’d take care of Buzz on the day of the wedding, through ceremony and reception, then take him for a walk and a nap, and be back for our dinner on the loggia, where she was seated a little away from the main table with her charge. There, they both feasted on Filet Mignon! And when it was getting late, the two of them quietly retreated to her dog-friendly hotel room for the night, giving the grown-ups time to party. It proved the perfect solution, and Liz loved her mini-vacation. I’d really recommend something like this plan to all dog-lovers on their way to the altar!

And now the fun part!

Since everybody’s dressing up on wedding day, you may think of dressing up your doggie to match. That’s great! There are so many fun outfits to choose from, both for doggie boys and girls, starting with bowties and barrettes and going on to full tuxedoes and tutus. The sky’s the limit! Or perhaps also your dog’s size (what looks adorable and totally cute on a Maltese might look a bit, well, ridiculous on a Great Dane…). And dogs with a thick coat like ours might feel quite uncomfortable in their unfamiliar finery and try their best to shake it off. With Buzz, we didn’t even try. He got an extra bath for a shiny fur and was just his gorgeous self.

Being dog-people, at least some of the friends you’re inviting will be dog-people, too. Don’t forget the doggie favors for the attending dog parents to take home – in our case, these were probably more sought-after than the “people favors!” For the human guests, we gave away home-made limoncello packed in little paper handlebags, and for the doggies the bags looked quite the same – except for lots of little dog stickers! Big success; not one was left over!

 

And afterwards – the Honeymoon!

With dog or without?

This one time, maybe, without – right? But where to leave your furry friend? Lucky you if your parents, siblings or best friends can’t wait to borrow your four-legged partner for however long your honeymoon lasts! Otherwise… another “plan ahead” item to take care of. Find a reputable kennel or dog hotel (e.g. in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is the “wag” hotel, check it out!) or find a dog sitter who’ll stay in your home with Fido. Just make sure this dog sitter will actually be home most of the time and will not leave your dog alone all day! Best of course is a word-of-mouth recommendation; in any case, you could ask your vet. Make sure the dog sitter of your choice is insured and bonded and check his/her references. What actually worked best for us was a dog walker who offered to invite our dog to her home as a single house guest and to take him on her regular walks with other dogs. This way, our dog was rarely if ever alone and returned well exercised and socialized – needless to say, he is still excited to see this dog walker! If you want to go this route, make sure to give it a few trial runs well ahead of time so that your doggie already feels at home with the dog walker BEFORE you leave him/her there for longer. That way you may also take a peek at your darling’s temporary home.

And lastly, make arrangements with your vet. Let him/her know that you are going away, and leave the dates, your contact information and the name of your dog’s caregiver in the office. Also leave a signed statement what to do in case your dog should need treatment, who will make any decisions if you can’t be reached – and preferably also leave your credit card authorization. That way you have the peace of mind that if the unforeseen happens, your doggie will be in good hands, and everything will be done to ensure his/her safety.

And with this, the road map is laid out for you – get excited, get going, and have a day like no other!