Ceremony Soiree: Pure Wedding Ingenuity!

Elegant, fashionable, glossy Ceremony Magazine invited to their annual SF party 2013 – and “tout le (wedding) monde” showed up – that is: the lucky ones who received one of the coveted invitations. And yes, I was lucky!! Definitely an occasion not to be missed AND one to dress up – and off I went for a fun-filled evening of meeting longtime colleagues, making new friends and a ton of exciting discoveries.

What I mean by “discoveries?” Just wait. Amy Harrick, publisher and editor-in-chief of Ceremony Magazine (and just as stylish and beautiful herself as if she’d stepped out of the pages of her latest issue!)…

Amy Harrick

… had again outdone herself in attracting a crew of wonderful vendors.

To start with: an urban winery! Although I’d lived in SF for more than a decade… I have to admit I didn’t know it. So: Refer to invitation – First point on tonight’s agenda: DISCOVER A CLEVER NEW WEDDING SPACE. “Dogpatch Wine Works” offers the full winery experience (well, minus the vineyards outside) – complete with stacks of beautiful wine barrels:


And of course you can taste their wines – mmhhh!

But – what would a good wine be without equally good food to accompany it? Moot point, of course. Agenda point no. 2: SAVOR MASTERFUL FOOD AND DRINK! Indeed – Michi Catering and Global Gourmet Catering took care of that, perfectly.

Michi’s surprised again with their modern interpretation of classic Asian fare…

michi… and Global Gourmet served a selection of colorful plates:

Global Gourmet‘C’est Delectable’ rounded it out with authentic French macaroons (plus additional flavor infusion from a dropper, if desired!), luscious chocolates and to-die-for parfaits…

SweetsAnd for those who absolutely couldn’t get enough sweets, there even was a beautiful Ceremony Candy Bar:

Candy Bar 2But of course the evening was not all about food and drink – refer to program: BEHOLD INNOVATIVE FLORAL DESIGNS!

Right – from Michael Daigian‘s trademark lush arrangements in vibrant colors…

Daigian…and Very Merry tablescapes in white and green under dramatic metalweave orbs …

Very Merry 2…to Nicole Ha‘s innovative aisle decor:


Nicole Ha design…and some “Gorgeous Greens!”

Gorgeous and greenAnd amidst all that beauty and luxury, we checked off our last agenda items: CONNECT WITH THE BAY AREA’S MOST BRILLIANT WEDDING VENDORS! Yes, indeed – and it was such a pleasure catching up with so many of my dear colleagues all of whom had made an effort to attend: Linda Hylen of Julia Morgan Ballroom, Sharon Dexmier – whose Napa Valley Linens Company had sponsored all the gorgeous linens – and Diana Cardenas, photographer Kevin Chin and his wife, florist extraordinaire Nancy Liu Chin… and so many others! My dear friend Christine Cater of Christine Cater Floral and Event Design had even come all the way from Carmel to… ENJOY AN EXCEPTIONAL 3RD ANNUAL CEREMONY SOIREE. Last point on the agenda: check!

We had so much fun – it was such a wonderful evening – thanks, Amy Harrick and Ceremony Magazine!




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!