Wedding dress parade! The most beautiful dresses my brides wore in the last 12 months

Different as all these beautiful wedding dresses are, one thing’s for sure: none of my bride opted for “minimalist” – all to the contrary! Figure-hugging silhouettes, plunging necklines, looong trains and even longer (cathedral!) veils – it was OPULENCE! Add to that expensive lace and hand-applique, and you get a veritable dream lineup of bridal couture.

And what’s REALLY new: color effects instead of pure white. Enough said; here they are!

A (nearly…) transparent lace bodice, a bare back and a form-fitting, flowing silhouette with train for an elegant summer wedding at Nestldown Estate.

A mermaid dress with a lace bodice, empire waist and a dramatic train of hand-appliqued lace.

A similar style with a lace bodice, but here with a plunging neckline and over-the-shoulder lace straps, plus an even longer train of hand-appliqued lace AND a cathedral veil. Below another look, from behind:

The next gown is in a different style, but just as feminine…

A classic ballgown style with layers and layers of tulle for the skirt; the lace from the bodice continues below the waist in elegant floral scrolls and wisps.

This very unusual wedding dress combined a bare back with a demure, covered-up (albeit transparent!) front and transparent billowing long sleeves as well as an overskirt that was then removed for dancing.

Next comes the hands-down most dramatic of all wedding dresses of the last year! Just look and be amazed… and be aware that this dress was HEAVY. Very heavy!

A train fit for royalty…

… with a billowing cathedral-length veil…

… and the most delicate pearl and sequin embroidery over a lace applique.

Last but not least, the NEW trend of adding a little pastel color to the traditionally all-white dress:

Delicate powder pink and baby blue flower motifs sprinkled all over the tulle overlay of this dress…

… and hand-appliqued lilac rose motifs in this elegant (Savin of London) couture gown.

Breathtaking, isn’t it? So what’s YOUR favorite style? Let me know!

Amina’s and Kevin’s glamorous wedding party

Amina and Kevin had already gotten (legally) married a while ago, in a very small ceremony…

Toanven photography
Toanven Photography

… but they were still dreaming of a “real” wedding celebration. This plan got postponed… and postponed… but finally they decided on a date (mid-December) and a venue, the elegant Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose. I was honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, to help them put it all together and orchestrating the day.

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Having waited so long, Amina pulled all the stops! Have a look… starting with her preparations early in the morning at Dolce-Hayes Mansion in San Jose where Martha Tafoya of Beauty Innovations and her team applied makeup and styled hair for the bride and her entourage, making sure each of them was looking their best ever – really, becoming Red Carpet-worthy beauties.

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Amina had chosen glamorous “glass slippers” (or rather: stilettos!) fit for a princess…

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… and a truly dramatic, sparkly dress with an enormous train…

Toanven photography
Toanven photography

… and her proud Mom helped her to get into it. Such a quintessential Mother-Daughter moment!

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And here she is – bride Amina in allher finery!

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Meanwhile, groom Kevin had also dressed up “to the nines” in an elegant tux and bow tie…

Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography

Isn’t he looking stunning?! Now, off to their First Look, all captured by Toanven photographers.

Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography

Oh… did I forget to mention her royal-length veil?! (That’s even longer than a cathedral veil – as the name says, meant for royalty!) Amina’s was, hands-down, the most dramatic wedding dress/veil of the year!

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Amina’s classic-white bridal bouquet and Kevin’s matching boutonniere (as well as the elaborate floral decor for dinner) came from the Flower Divas.

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Soon enough, guests began arriving to Cocktail Hour and to the lavishly decorated ballroom where the formal dinner was held.

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Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography

The two rental companies (Pleasanton Rentals (linens) and Hamid Decor) and the Flower Divas had definitely outdone themselves!

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The couple’s Sweetheart Table got, of course, extra-special treatment.

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Amina and Kevin clearly enjoyed their big moment with their Grand Entrance to the ballroom.

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A huge dessert buffet by MadinaBakes was waiting for the guests after dinner.

Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography

And then, there also was THE CAKE!! An enormous towering confection from Cake Expressions, in a buttercream lace pattern matching Amina’s dress, and decorated with a profusion of white roses by the Flower Divas.

Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography

More photos at the Club! The stunning spiral staircase in the Clubhouse is a MUST for all wedding photos.

Toanven Photography
Toanven Photography

Meanwhile, guests were entertained first by pianist Tin Yi and then with a photo booth by ReadySteadyPose. But – what would a party be without dancing?! THIS party definitely had the crowd on the dance floor with DJ Anthony Karabetyan by DNA Entertainment.

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When finally – VERY late! – this unforgettable party came to an end, it did so with another flourish.

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Here are the newlyweds, headed out with, of course, a luxury getaway car.

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What a day!! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness on your shared journey, Amina and Kevin!

Elizabeth’s and George’s Joyful Fall Wedding at Nestldown

Elizabeth and George met as undergraduate students in Kansas – they were actually set up by a mutual friend and despite long geographical separation after graduation, have been inseparable ever since. Having settled in Sacramento where George is a neurology resident while Elizabeth is a traveling executive, they were finally able to plan the next, decisive step in their relationship: getting married! As dedicated outdoorspeople, they fell in love with Nestldown, an elegant venue nestled in the Redwoods of Los Gatos, California, and in order to pull it all off long-distance (from Sacramento, where THEY live, and from Kansas, where both their families live), they enlisted the help of my company, A Day Like No Other.

Finally, the Great Day had arrived. Here is Elizabeth getting ready, with our photography crew of JJ Chen Photography capturing all these precious moments throughout the day. Her Mom helped her with her preparations – such a quintessential mother-daughter experience…

Elizabeth had chosen an ultrafeminine, flowing dress …

… and with her hair and makeup (by Nicole’s Vanity) done, she was all smiles!

Groom George was likewise getting ready…

Done!

Time to proceed to Nestldown for their First Look!

Always such a special moment… After that – it was pre-ceremony photo time…

… for the couple solo as well as together with their impressive lineup of bridesmaids and groomsmen! Soon enough guests began arriving (via shuttles by Corinthian Ground Transportation), and the Nestldown crew, the florist team (from Ida Blooms), the A Day Like No Other team, The Moment Studio videography and our DJ Henry Kim (of Big Fun Disc Jockeys) got everything prepared for the wedding ceremony in the “Chapel,” a breathtaking natural Redwood grove. And here comes the bride, escorted by both her parents.

The ceremony, officiated by the uncle of the bride, was heartfelt, lighthearted and filled with joy and laughter.

Just married! And while their guests were treated to delicious drinks and hors d’oeuvres (by Poetry in Motion Catering), the newlyweds had to take some more photos, of course.

Finally the couple got to join their guests and take a bite and a sip, too!

After Cocktail Hour, the whole party relocated to a nearby restaurant – Teleferic Barcelona – for dinner and dancing. The newlyweds made a big entrance!

Everything was ready for them – the tables were glowing …

… with candlelight, with specialty linens (by NVL) in the bride’s favorite vibrant orange and with elegant floral garlands (by Ida Blooms).

Music was provided by DJ Woody Miraglia (by Big Fun Disc Jockeys), and after dinner, there was no holding back from dancing! The only exception was Cake Cutting – Elizabeth and George did not have just ONE cake; they had three – all equally delicious and artistic! (by Fleur de Cocoa).

The rest of the evening was spent dancing, dancing, dancing…

… and after that, the die-hard party girls and boys accompanied the newlyweds to an afterparty nearby. If that was not enough – the parents of the bride invited a whole local crowd to yet another wedding reception at their home back in Kansas, two days later. That’s how much Elizabeth and George are loved!! Wishing them a lifetime of happiness on their shared journey!

And here is a video of the couple’s ceremony at Nestldown:

If you are hoping for an equally beautiful wedding yourself – contact me at [email protected]!

A true “Insider Wedding” – Deanna and Brandon

Deanna is one of my assistants at my wedding planning company, A Day Like No Other. Having diligently worked her way up from shadowing to assisting to ultimately leading the production of weddings (while still working her 9-5 job), she finally took the plunge – and a full-time wedding planner position at Wedgwood Events in Sacramento. This was intense training on the job for a full year, and with all this experience “under her belt,” she was ready to tackle her biggest project yet: her own wedding!

This is Deanna “on the job” and how our brides and grooms have seen her…

Deanna and her fiance Brendan met in an Intro to Acting class at UC Davis when she was a freshman and he was a junior. They dated throughout college and, after graduation, Brendan moved to LA to live with Deanna and her family for 5 years. In 2021, they moved to Sacramento for Brendan’s job as an environmental scientist for the California Water Quality Control Board; he is now working on a Master’s degree in Natural Resources online at Oregon State University. Deanna has moved on to become a catering event specialist at UC Davis and is still working as a wedding coordinator for A Day Like No Other; long-term, she is hoping to establish herself as a wedding planner and coordinator in Sacramento and the Central Valley.

And this is Deanna on her own wedding day – radiant!

In November 2023, a month after celebrating 11 happy years together, Brendan and Deanna got married at Antiquité Maison Privée, a former antiques shop – which added its own touch to the bride’s wedding aesthetic. She was inspired by her memories growing up in Southern California, her love of Spanish architecture and Mexican folk art. Her color scheme was based on sunsets and Talavera tiles. The backdrop of the former antiques shop led her to add more vintage-y elements like velvet and lace table linens and etched water goblets. The weather on November 4th, the day of the wedding, was PERFECT – Deanna and Brendan were really lucky in that respect! Everything fell into place really beautifully (Wedding Day coordination: Taylor Kelley Events).

The day began with hair and makeup services by Christy Reynolds Beauty at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, and the bride and her bridesmaids had a lot of fun together, as documented in photo and video by Lily and Lime.

The bride was helped into her wedding dress (from Sparkle Bridal Couture) by her Mom – such a wonderful mother-daughter moment!

What’s missing? Princess slippers ….

… and the bridal bouquet (by Flowers by Jordan)!

Groom and groomsmen were meanwhile also getting ready and having equal fun!

One quick pre-ceremony bridal party photo…

Soon enough, their guests began to arrive for their joyful wedding ceremony under a profusion of lavish flowers in sunset colors…

And now: “You may kiss the bride!”

Just married! Mazel tov!

While the newlyweds had many, many photos to take…

… their guests were already enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres (Jackson Catering & Events) while being entertained with live music by the Midtown Jazz Trio.

Time for dinner! Here Deanna’s artistic talents came to shine – starting with her creative escort card display:

… and “guest book” poster.

From dinner tables…

…and the couple’s antique Sweetheart Table (rentals: Blossom Farm Rentals and Barnswallow Rentals; linens: MG Linen Rentals)…

to elegant placesettings…

… with Talavera tile table numbers – everything bore the stamp of the bride’s aesthetic. Well – did I forget to mention the wedding cake (Freeport Bakery) …

… which perfectly played along with the Talavera tile theme?

The newlyweds performed their traditional first task as a wedded couple – cake cutting – with bravura, and then there was no holding back the whole crowd from dancing! DJ Buzzardball played up a storm, Deanna and Brendan performed their choreographed First Dance…

… and all guests joined them in the exuberant traditional Hora Dance, hoisting bride and groom up in the air!

What an unforgettable party! Wishing you love and happiness on your way, Deanna and Brendan!

How to choose a wedding band for your destination wedding

A guest post by Kelly Peterson

Every engaged couple deserves to have their dream wedding day come to fruition. For many, the perfect celebration will involve jetting off to a special destination abroad in order to exchange vows in the most picturesque and paradisal of settings.

A wedding held close to home involves plenty of planning and preparation as it is – so, when it comes to crossing off your pre-wedding checklist in an unfamiliar environment, even the most minute of tasks can feel a lot more stressful. It’s lucky, then, that once you’ve got your vendors such as your food, decor and entertainment sorted, the rest is pretty much plain sailing.

One of the most crucial elements to plan is your wedding band – but, how do you choose the right one for a wedding abroad? In this article, we take a look at three things you should keep in mind.

Stick to your theme

Those who choose to wed abroad usually have a special place in mind; somewhere that really means something to the both of them as a couple. Whether you’re setting off in search of hot weather, spectacular views, or perhaps with a view of honoring a cultural tradition, choosing a destination wedding means that you’ve got a built-in theme for your big day, and much of your designs and decor are pre-decided for you.

In order to make your destination wedding experience feel that much more authentic, you’re going to want to choose a wedding band that can match the mood and atmosphere of your celebration. This might mean choosing a band local to your wedding venue that incorporates instruments and songs that are culturally relevant to your chosen part of the world – a great way to celebrate the beauty of your chosen location, and incorporate some great traditional dance moments.

Read reviews and check their experience

It’s easy to shop around for great wedding entertainment when you’re doing so at home, in your day-to-day environment. Trying to find the perfect musical act in a foreign country is a different story altogether – particularly without the ability to rely on recommendations from people you know and trust.

For this reason, it’s best not to take any chances when it comes to picking your wedding entertainment abroad. It’s crucial to do plenty of research on the available bands in your chosen location, and to choose one that comes with lots of positive reviews from previous couples who have opted for a destination wedding. Prior experience is essential, as you want to know that your wedding band will be able to do your vision justice.

Similarly, if you’ve found your dream wedding band a little closer to home you’ll want to make sure that they have experience playing at weddings abroad, to avoid any complications or surprises when the big day arrives.

Arrange a meeting

Collaboration is key when it comes to getting the most out of your wedding entertainment. It’s easy to set up a quick meeting with your chosen wedding band if they’re local – perhaps even to meet the group a few times prior to the big day in order to make sure that everything is in order.

When it comes to hiring a band local to your destination abroad, you’re less likely to have time to chat back and forth – and most of your communication is likely to be via video call, email or over the phone. Because of this, you’ll want to optimize any contact time that you do have with your band, in order to ensure that you’re both on the same page prior to the big day. This could mean setting up an initial meeting before signing on the dotted line, and turning up prepared with key questions you have for your band. Ultimately, you’re going to want to communicate as much as you can as early as possible, to avoid any delays or miscommunications further down the line.

Go with your gut

While there are a few things to consider, choosing a band for your destination wedding is an exciting process, and shouldn’t feel daunting. Once you’ve got the practicalities covered it’s best to choose with your gut, for a destination wedding band that truly speaks to who you are as a couple.

Three Tips for a Greener Wedding Breakfast

A guest post by Kelly Peterson

If you’re planning a sustainable wedding, you may be wondering how to tackle your wedding breakfast. Although wasted food is one of the most common offenders to carbon footprints at weddings, there are plenty of ways to ensure your guests are satiated in a more eco-friendly fashion.

Here, we share three golden tips for a greener wedding breakfast.

Opt for local, seasonal produce

Whilst some wedding venues require you to use their in-house caterers, others allow you to choose your own. Having control over your catering is a valuable tool when it comes to ensuring it’s as green as possible.

Opting for local caterers who prioritise sustainability in their own businesses, and use fresh, locally sourced produce is the best way to reduce any carbon emissions from transporting food ingredients. If they can, opting for organic produce also reduces the environmental impact of your produce.

Supporting small businesses is a great option, as many are more eco-friendly than larger chain catering companies. Look for green flags such as using free range, high welfare animal products, organic fruits and vegetables, and sustainable packaging. Not only will using seasonal produce make your wedding breakfast greener, it will taste absolutely delicious as well.

Consider alternative options

There’s no rule that you have to have a three-course meal for your wedding breakfast if you don’t want to. There’s loads of creative, fun options that can not only add a unique quality to your wedding but can also help reduce the carbon footprint of your day. Food trucks, grazing tables, buffets and barbeques all help to ensure there’s as little food wastage as possible throughout your wedding breakfast.

The beauty of food trucks is that each meal is made to order, and any leftover produce is likely to be used for following events by the supplier. Adding more vegetarian or vegan options, or even having a meat-free wedding breakfast if that suits you, is another brilliant way to reduce the overall environmental impact of your feast.

Be smart with your add-ons

From your alcohol to your wedding favours, each small element of your celebration has the potential to further boost the eco-credentials of your big day. Try to use sustainable brands, offer fewer dessert options, opt for a smaller wedding cake and use eco-friendly wedding favours. Consider what your guests will actually use, rather than what’s traditional – for example, edible favours are less likely to be left behind at the end of the night.

By making multiple small changes to your offerings, you’ll find you reduce the environmental impact of your entire wedding. If you have to use your venue’s caterers, ask them questions about their food waste policy, as well as their other internal sustainability policies, to ensure their ethics align with your own.

Keep your vision in mind

Ultimately, hosting a greener wedding breakfast is all about making multiple small changes to your menu, to ensure that your sustainable values echo through each element of your meal. By keeping your eco-friendly vision in mind when booking your venue, caterers and suppliers, it’s more than achievable to enjoy your wedding breakfast at a smaller cost to the environment.

Lauren and Darren: An Elegant Affair at Villa Montalvo

When these two decided to tie the knot, they were looking for a venue with character, something special and unique, and they turned to my company, A Day Like No Other, for help. I had an idea, and they loved it: Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, a grand historic mansion surrounded by a manicured park – a really unforgettable setting. And so we begun to put together the myriad details over nearly a year of planning time. Finally, the Great Day had come – the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

After her hair and makeup session (by Nicole’s Vanity), the bride got into her diaphanous, lace-and-tulle dress, and the groom dressed up as well…

… with photographer Julia of Danny Dong Photography capturing all these precious moments.

The wedding flowers in the bride’s favorite muted Fall colors (by Laurel & Vine) had arrived…

… and it was time for the couple’s First Look.

The Italianate Garden at Villa Montalvo with its “Love Temple” was the perfect backdrop for many beautiful portraits…

… as well as the site for Lauren’s and Darren’s wedding ceremony under an elaborately decorated chuppah.

Soon, guests were arriving (via shuttles from Corinthian Ground Transportation)…

… and musicians from the Lucky Devils Band began playing as guests were being seated. Rabbi Dana Magat conducted a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony.

Just married! Mazel Tov!

And off to more photos…

… in the beautiful park surrounding the Villa. Guests were invited to cocktails in the Spanish Courtyard.with a full bar (by Best Beverage Catering).

Meanwhile, the teams of A Day Like No Other, of La Bocca Fina Catering and Laurel & Vine florists were busy putting the finishing touches on the dinner setup on the front verandah…

… under string lights installed by Brilliant Event Lighting.

Guests were treated to delicious dishes…

… and everyone had a good time – especially the newlyweds!

After dinner, guests were invited to a mouthwatering dessert buffet and ice cream from Scoop Microcreamery.

Following dessert, there was no holding back on dancing. Beginning with Lauren and Darren’s First Dance as a married couple…

… to music by the Lucky Devils Band

… followed by the traditional, exuberant Hora Dance, with the couple being hoisted up in the air…

… and culminating in an epic dance party for everyone. When it was finally time to say good-bye, the newlyweds’ send-off was equally grand: with guests cheering on them with bubbles and glowsticks as they were leaving…

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… in a gorgeous vintage limousine (by Elegant Journey) into their married bliss.

Again, congratulations and Mazel Tov to you, Lauren and Darren!