Real Weddings: Westie Wedding with WOW!

It was a warm July day when Pharmacist Dr. Banjie Quiambao married her Prince Charming, Ed Vergara, JD. The traditional Catholic ceremony took place at St. Mary’s Parish in Gilroy with Father Dan Derry presiding.
Waiting in the wings, donned in his tuxedo and boutonniere and looking like the most handsome boy in the world, was their fur-baby, Riley, a Westie-Terrier mix with the perfect piggie-pink nose.  Once the wedding got started, wedding planner Patty Speirs of Every Last Detail went back to to the bride’s house to pick up the Pup of Honor, who was as cool as a cucumber riding shotgun.  Once at the church, he nearly stole the show with all the oo’s and ahh’s and plenty of smiles and pats on the head as the ceremony progressed.
As the New Mr. and Mrs. Vergara walked back down the aisle, Riley was there to congratulate them.
After the formal photographs at the church, Riley took an early leave…
..and headed home while Mom and Dad headed to the reception in style via classic Rolls Royce, chauffeured by George from Elegant Journey Limousine.
The bride and groom arrived at the Monterey Embassy Suites in time to sneak into the ballroom to see it in all its beauty and splendor with decor provided by LauraT decor.  The tables were named after prescription drugs, a nod to Banjie’s career…
… and the favors were medicine vials full of yummy candies – with special prescription labels and instructions to take two a day for happiness! (No bitter medicine today…)
The guests imbibed with Banja-lini’s and Vergartini’s – signature drinks named after the bride and groom – and had a blast letting loose in the photobooth provided by Peninsula Photo Booth.
The cake was created by Freedom Bakery, and the WOW factor was a surprise visit and performances by Dean Martin, on loan from the Rat Pack.

Dean Martin with wedding planner Patty

All in all, a classy, elegant and fun wedding celebration with WOW and WOOF!
Wedding Planner: Every Last Detail,
Transportation: Elegant Journey,
Venue: Monterey Embassy Suites,
Peninsula Photo Booth,
Freedom Bakery,

Food and Wine, Sun and Fun: a Sonoma “Daycation!”

Let me share with you the absolutely wonderful day I had today, fleeing the San Francisco summer fog for the mediterranean sun of the Wine Country!

My dear friend and mentor Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction, founding president of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), invited me to join her for one of their fabulous events, this time at Annadel Estate Winery in Sonoma (Joyce’s assistant, Pelin, even gave us a ride – and she is a fantastic chauffeuse!) So, off we went, leaving the cold and fog behind to enjoy true joie de vivre. 

Annadel Winery itself is a sight to behold – 35 acres of beautiful scenery, old stone walls, and lush greenery; complete with a rustic barn…

and a cozy cottage for the bride (the perfect get-ready spot!)

Guests were greeted at a welcome reception on the scenic lawn, beautifully outfitted with antique items by Wine Country Party and Events, and treated to delicious small plates and wine.

I had the pleasure not only of meeting friends again, like Dina Balatti of Bella Celebrations who co-chaired this gathering (and had to work hard while everyone else was partying…) and Pat Gibbons who just added a line of cute handpainted and kiln-fired glass gem magnets (to go on escort cards) to her creative selection – but also finally met Emily Dreblow, the creative genius behind Soulflower Design. I had admired her floral creations in Ceremony Magazine and finally had the opportunity to tell her that in person! Speaking of Ceremony Magazine: editor-in-chief Amy Harris also attended, radiant as always. (Quite an A-list gathering of the Bay Area Wedding World, I can tell you…)

For lunch we all gathered in the “ruin courtyard,” where the original winery had once been – and the remaining walls lend the space an air of romantic seclusion and nostalgic charm. Round tables and benches under market umbrellas, beautiful tablecloths from Sharon Dexmier’s Napa Valley Linens (who as the current president of WIPA was the hostess of the day) and floral arrangements of green hydrangeas and yellow tea roses – from the extensive flower fields on the Annadel grounds – created an ambiance of carefree, rustic, yet VERY upscale summer leisure.

While we were feasting on a light lunch, Guest Speaker Liene Stevens educated us on the challenges we are facing with the “Millenials,” the current generation of brides and grooms who have grown up with computers, are relying heavily on social media and often base their decisions more on their own research and on the input of their Facebook friends than on established reputations. Often raised in the belief that they not only ARE special but DESERVE special treatment, they expect the best and want a unique, standout event for their wedding; not necessarily to put themselves in the spotlight, but to ultimately WOW their guests. So: custom and one-of-a-kind are becoming the new standard and the unspoken expectation. Get used to it…

Conversation around the tables swirled and proved right away how spot-on today’s lecture topic is! But aside from the learning experience of the lecture, we all had, of course, also the meeting experience: new colleagues and connections, that is! For me it was the team of Here Comes The Guide, everyone’s “bible” of venues and vendors: Denise Auerbach, Jenna Miller, and Angela Mullan. Who wouldn’t want to be in there?! And then I finally came to meet in person event planners Gloria Wong Tritasavit and Jubilee Lau who had invited me to so many great events and whom I had so far only “known” by email. Face-to-face is still better! Young mothers, both of them, they often cooperate which gives them more time around their little ones. That’s the way to do it! Last but not least, I had the pleasure of connecting with Isabelle Adams (also a co-chair of the event), Director of Special Events at Wilson Artisan Wineries, a company that owns several properties in the Wine Country, ALL of them – listen up, “Woof” people among the Wedding Woof crowd! – open for dog-friendly weddings. Can’t wait to do one with her in the beautiful scenery and in the sun… (we’ll provide water and shade for Fido, promise!)

To conclude the festivities, we all raided the dessert buffet, provided by Crisp Bake Shop. My favorites were the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies filled with a beautifully balanced salted dulce de leche cream. Delicious!

And here is a little preview of what a wedding at Annadel can look like:


I think it’s magical… What a day!


Annadel Winery

Events of Distinction

Wine Country Party and Events

Bella Celebrations

Pat Gibbons

Soulflower Design,

Ceremony Magazine,

Napa Valley Linens

Here Comes The Guide

Gloria Wong Design

Jubilee Lau Events

Isabelle Adams

Crisp Bake Shop

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,

Infusion Lounge,

Tony White/ Extreme Elegance,

Hazel Bourget/ BluBungalow,

Anastasia Alvarado/ Grace Street Catering,

Cristina Lopez/Kimpton Hotels, [email protected]

Katie Orndorff/Marriott SF, [email protected]

Siba Tarassoly/Marriott SF, [email protected]

Robbie Schlosser, Magnolia Jazz Band,

Alex Ho,

Auey Santos/Photograffiti,

Orbie Pullen,

Ariel and Samuel Soto-Suver/Bowerbird Photography,

Richard Mayer,

Mike Steelman,