Alexa’s and Sean’s Dream Wedding: General’s Residence, Fort Mason, SF

Last week, I had the pleasure of coordinating a big wedding I had been working on for many months – and not only me! Especially Alexa, the bride, and her Mom, Cindy, were very actively involved in every aspect of the planning process. To be precise: Alexa had been working on it for all of her engagement time. Sixteen months! And finally, finally, the Great Day arrived – and what a day it was! San Francisco and the Bay showed themselves from their very best side, under a clear blue sky, golden Sun, and light breeze; a dream come true.

Let’s step back in time, at least for one day: to Rehearsal Dinner! Sean’s, the groom’s, parents had invited not only the bridal party, closest friends and family, but also all out-of-town guests (and those were many!) to Il Fornaio Restaurant on the SF waterfront, an Italian institution in the City. And with good reason: the food is just delicious, and the indoor-outdoor setup has so much atmosphere. When darkness fell, the setting turned just magical:

Guests feasted and celebrated until nearly midnight – and got into the right festive mood for the Great Day ahead!

That day began for the bride and her bridesmaids at Milvali Hair Salon, from where they arrived at the wedding venue, the General’s Residence at Fort Mason. Fort Mason had originally been built as a military outpost to protect the City of San Francisco, and our beautiful wedding venue, built in 1878, was the mansion where the Commanding General resided with his family. Hence the name, and hence the architectural beauty and luxury! The General’s Residence overlooks the SF Bay with Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, and Alexa and Sean chose to tie the knot on the back lawn; see above.

So, Alexa and her eight bridesmaids enjoyed a late-morning treatment in our on-site beauty salon, receiving professional make-up by Jennifer Granatelli and her assistant in the former General’s living room.

Then it was time to get into that fantasy of a wedding dress – Reem Acra, with crystal embellishments – and present herself to her groom:

After that, I had to rush the two out to the back lawn where 200 guests had gathered in anticipation of the ceremony, officiated by a long-time family friend and teacher of Sean’s, Kathy Gannon Briggs.

“You may now kiss the bride!” –

Another romantic image at sunset, captured by our wonderful photographer Jennifer and, of course, videographer Gusto:

At the same time, the groomsmen were having fun with one of the antique cannons, left over from military times:

But: you haven’t seen the bouquet yet, have you? It’s a labor of love by the bride’s Mom, and it took more than a year to make:

And the rings…

Aren’t these beautiful?

And here is the official wedding photo:

From there – off to an elegant cocktail reception, followed by a festive dinner, provided by Carrie Dove Catering. Guests found their seats on escort cards, each hung on a single peacock feather, forming an impressive arrangement:

In keeping with the “Vintage/Glamour San Francisco” theme, guests enjoyed food stations showcasing iconic San Francisco neighborhoods like “North Beach” (Italian), “The Mission” (Mexican) and “Chinatown” as well as a blue-and-golden dessert buffet themed on another San Francisco institution: Ghirardelli chocolates. The tables were decorated with jewel-toned flower arrangements by Diana from Stems Floral Boutique who also provided the bridesmaids’ bouquets. All that glamour and indulgence was complemented by light-hearted fun at the Grand Entrance of the Bridal Party – look here:

Guests had a blast with a photo booth provided by Swag Bunch:

More merriment to follow with DJ Brian Holmes (Denon and Doyle Entertainment) and his rousing dance music, kicked off by this romantic First Dance:

Sheer happiness – wishing you the traditional Italian blessing quoted by Alexa’s Mom in her toast: “May you fall in love many, many times – always with each other!”


Wedding Coordination and design: A Day Like No Other, [email protected]

Many, many thanks to my “Dream Team:”

Kathy Gannon Briggs, officiant;

Brianna Hussey, Site Coordinator [email protected]

Jennifer Granatelli, [email protected]

Milvali Hair Salon, Alicia –

Carrie Dove Catering, Amanda Fabbri, [email protected]

Photographer: Jennifer Michelson, [email protected]

Videographer: Gusto Lopez, [email protected]

Floral arrangements: Diana Rasta, Stems Floral Boutique, [email protected]

Entertainment and Lighting: Brian Holmes, [email protected]

Photo booth:

Transportation: City Express Limousine Service, [email protected]





Downtown Design (plus Dog!) – fab fetes @ sfdc

This weekend I had the honor and the pleasure to assist my friend Duncan – none less than the famed Duncan Reyes of Events by Design ( – in a very hip wedding celebration at the San Francisco Design Center. You didn’t know that was possible at all, I bet! It’s a pretty spectacular and ubercool venue, I can tell you that much. AND, Wedding WOOF readers listen up: it’s dog-friendly! Unbelievable.

First things first. sfdc is located in the heart of the Design District in San Francisco at 101 Henry Adams Street – a historic brick warehouse from the outside…

…and totally hip and cutting-edge modern from the inside:

The ground floor holds up to 1,000 guests (yes, you got that right!) and the four floors rising above hold another 200 each. That should be plenty for any wedding celebration! You can rent either the first floor only or the first floor and additional floors. And the first floor is, lo and behold, dog friendly! As long as Fido is leashed and supervised, he (or she…) is welcome. So, brides and grooms, bring your beloved four-legged companion to your nuptials! Just make sure your darling can leave before the music gets too loud (not good at all for sensitive doggie ears!) or dinner is served (SF Health Code gets in the way…) You could still pack a doggie bag for doggie and send him/her home with a loving caregiver while you are dining, drinking, and dancing the night away!

Organizing a fabulous fete at sfdc isn’t that hard: They offer tables and chairs, in-house bar service, and dramatic in-house lighting. Add catering, florals, and music – there you go! Julia Wagner, Galleria Events Manager, will take care of all your needs ([email protected]), and Chuck Davis is in charge of the lighting ([email protected]).

Our wonderful couple – Mo and Jason – and fabulous Duncan Reyes added quite some more; from additional atmosphere lighting and table pinspotting (…

custom linens and stunning florals from Tanjeeryn Designs (

to delicacies from Melons Catering ( and a beautiful wedding cake from Chef Bala at The Cakemaker ( The festivities were documented by well-known photographer Guru Khalsa ([email protected]) and first-rate musical entertainment for their guests was provided  by Synchronicity Strings (, ceremony and reception music)…

…followed by DJ Jason Mitchell performing ( – and, WOW, did he get the crowd going! Mo and Jason had the time of their lives, that’s for sure.

They used the sfdc ground floor for their ceremony – second floor for cocktail hour – then back to the ground floor for the rest of the evening with dinner and dancing. Perfect!

And here are a few more impressions of what YOUR wedding at the sfdc could look like:


So – inspired, all your hip, urban-chic, dog-loving brides and grooms? Go for it! Happy planning!


Pretty Design by A Day Like No Other: Welcome Bags for Out-of-Town Wedding Guests

For a recent wedding with a black-and-shocking-pink color theme, I designed welcome bags for out-of-town wedding guests. It was such a nice idea of the couple to greet them with a very personal welcome bag, waiting in their hotel rooms. (Their response was overwhelming, by the way!) I just thought of what they might enjoy most after a possibly long trip: water, snacks, something typical of the area, a local map, some advice regarding sightseeing and restaurants, and, of course, some personal words of welcome from the bride and groom. Here is what went into my bags:

The local flavor of the San Francisco Bay Area comes from the Ghirardelli chocolates, and even the water bottles are from the nearby Sierra. A walking map of the area where the wedding was held rounds out the local information – ask at your local Chamber of Commerce. Mine were free!

And here is my material:

High-gloss black paper bags, hot pink tissue paper and sateen ribbon and personalized hang tags in a decidedly modern styling: bold with lowercase lettering.

Here are my bags, rows and rows of them, filled with goodies, decoratively stuffed with color-coordinated tissue paper on top…

… and of course a nice bow, tied with the hang tag.


It’s a Dog’s Life…

Dear readers who keep coming back to Wedding Woof mainly because of the “Woof” part – here’s to you!

Our own “woof,” Buzz, has a beautiful girlfriend (of course) whom he goes to visit regularly – Sage – and she sent him a boudoir shot of herself today – in diva pose! It’s the incarnation of sheer bliss… I’ll come back as a dog!!

Diva Sage

Real Weddings: A Diamond Anniversary and a Lifetime of Love

A Diamond Anniversary – that’s sixty years of marriage, a whole lifetime. Needless to say how rare and special it is for a couple to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary!

We are honored to be guests at one of these very, very special occasions: Dr. Peter   Zude Pan, 88, born in Shanghai, and Dr. Rosie Yan Tang, 87, born in Wuxi, China, celebrated six decades as husband and wife at the romantic Forest Hill Clubhouse in San Francisco on August 11. Here they are:

The couple and their children shared their amazing life story with us, and here it is:

Peter and Rosie are both MDs, Peter a general surgeon and editor of a medical magazine, and Rosie an internist. They met at St. John’s University’s Medical School in Shanghai, on an organized excursion to the Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province. Peter – then in his third year at Medical School – was instantly impressed with Rosie’s poise, graciousness, and bravery. Later Peter started his internships at St. Luke Hospital, where Rosie worked,  and they quickly became friends. Soon enough, they fell in love, and shortly before his graduation from Medical School, Peter proposed. On August 10, 1952, their wedding was held at Jinjiang Hotel in Shanghai, with about 200 guests attending.

Soon the young couple welcomed their children: daughters Annie and Julia and son Paul. They were happy. Life was good.

But in 1966, their country was thrown into turmoil by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, and their family had to suffer enormous hardship. As intellectuals, they were especially targeted as possible ‘enemies of the revolution.’ With tremendous fortitude, Peter and Rosie endured all the unfair criticism, unjustified accusations and constant mistreatment they were subjected to. Their children were not even permitted to finish their elementary school education. Annie was sent to work on a faraway farm (She later became a ‘barefoot doctor.’) Julia was assigned to work at a textile factory, and Paul at a photo studio. It was a horrible ten years. But somehow Rosie and Peter were able to keep their family together. They made sure all their children would receive higher education and starting in 1979, they sent them to the U.S. and Canada.

Peter and Rosie kept working in health care in China. After professional careers spanning more than four decades, they fully retired in 1992 and moved from Shanghai to San Francisco to join their children – as well as son-in-law John and grandchildren Isaac, Sarah and Franz. They really enjoy and embrace beautiful San Francisco, their new home for the last 20 years. They celebrated their 40th and 50th anniversaries at Annie and John’s home in Los Angeles.

Rosie’s and Peter’s “Ruby” Anniversary – 40 years

Rosie’s and Peter’s Golden Anniversary: 50 years

And on 8/11/12, nearly on the day sixty years after that festive wedding in Shanghai, they had a gathering with 70 guests for their 60th wedding anniversary at the beautiful Forest Hill Clubhouse in San Francisco. They received greetings from Mayor Lee, Governor Brown and President and Mrs. Obama.

With nearly half of all marriages in the United States failing, we wanted to know what the secret of their long-lasting and successful marriage is? How did they manage to stay together despite all the hardship they had to go through?

And here are their answers: it helps to have a similar family background, similar education and profession, and a similar appreciation of family values. They also share hobbies, especially a love of reading and writing. For their 50th anniversary, they even self-published a book, titled “The Traces of Our Life,” a compilation of their essays. While Rosie enjoys travel and museum visits, Peter is fond of music and singing, movies and sport. And that’s another one of their secrets: appreciate what you have in common, but respect your differences. And don’t ever forget to be giving and forgiving. True words of wisdom! We will take all that to heart…

But that’s not all yet about Rosie and Peter: it would seem they were truly destined for one another.  The stars were obviously aligned for their union… how could that be? Listen to the most amazing ‘background’ love story you’ve ever heard!

Peter’s father and Rosie’s parents had met socially shortly after Peter was born, and while Rosie’s mother was expecting Rosie. They liked one another, so all of the parents silently thought how nice it would be if their children would get together… but since arranged marriage had been officially abolished by that time, none of them ever mentioned that idea aloud. 27 years later that baby boy and that baby girl happened to meet and to fall in love all on their own… It was meant to be!

Congratulations and our very best wishes, Rosie and Peter, for many more happy years together and with your family!


Photos courtesy of Paul Pan Photography