“Building a Brand” with WIPA at Villa Montalvo

Yesterday, WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association) welcomed SF Bay Area wedding professionals to a festive luncheon at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, a beautiful venue for weddings, private events, and concerts alike. I had the honor of chairing the event and of seeing many months of planning coming to fruition! We were blessed with a gorgeous late-summer day, and the historic villa presented itself to its most beautiful effect under blue skies, a warm sun and a light breeze.

villa carGuests arrived at the Villa’s stately front stairs where an original 1933 Packard limousine by Elegant Journey was parked – and “transported” everyone back to the times of Great Gatsby and his exclusive country estate!

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Our guests then checked in on the covered patio and entered through French Doors into the Villa’s Great Hall where a display of gorgeous wedding dresses by Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon was waiting to be admired.

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Gown detail

Gown detail

With an elegant letter-pressed program by Reb Peters Press in hand…


…guests proceeded to the romantic courtyard for cocktail hour …

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… where wines by Soda Rock Winery …


…were served and Krista Strader‘s harp music set a festive tone.


Tables were decorated with elegant linens by Napa Valley Linens and late-summer flower arrangements in Tuscan urns by Tutti Fiori.


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Four beautiful models – Aryan, Emily and Lauren as the radiant brides and Marguerite as the proud “Mother of the Bride” brought the elegant bridal fashions to life:

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… strolling through the courtyard and the gardens…

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Hair and makeup were expertly provided by Marcia Omar, Sahar Omar ([email protected]) and Tiffany Chiang ([email protected]).

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model aryanFollowing Cocktail hour, guests were invited to the lecture that is at the core of every WIPA luncheon – after all, WIPA’s mission is education! After an official welcome from WIPA president Carol Rosen …

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and myself…

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… it was lecture time! Our speaker today was renowned wedding planner and TV personality Kristin Banta who, in her uniquely engaging, funny and entertaining way,  presented “Building Your Brand.”

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We all took so much away from Kristin’s insights – find out what you and your business stand for; what your strengths and weaknesses are;  how you present yourself and how you are perceived; how to be consistent in message and presentation to clients. What a fun way to learn! After a lively Q & A session, everyone was ready for…

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… lunch, of course! It was served on the beautiful covered patio, outfitted with stylish furniture, china, glassware and flatware by Abbey Party Rentals, and with a view of the extensive park surrounding Villa Montalvo.

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What’s on the menu? Let’s see …

menusOne-of-a-kind, hand-calligraphed menus in pentagram shape by Monks Of Age Calligraphy listed a delicious three course meal by Culinary Eye Catering



… followed by equally delicious cake from True Confections

cake… and accompanied by world-class coffee from Travelin’ Joe’s Espresso Bar.

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Guests enjoyed these treats in the Villa’s solarium and dining room…

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… and were surprised with a whole basket full of raffle prizes – CDs from harpist Krista Strader, a membership and concert tickets from Villa Montalvo, as well as organic handmade soy candles from Authentic Common Scents. And to round it off, every guest received a very special party favor – prepared organic seeded paper, ready to plant and bloom,


hand-calligraphed again by Monks Of Age Calligraphy.

Auey Santos of Photograffiti and Michael Loeb captured every moment of our festive luncheon on photo and on video. It was a beautiful event, and everyone left with a big smile!

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High Style + Latin Spice = Natasha & Fabian!

When I first met Natasha, I was not only blown away by her charm and beauty – I was also deeply impressed how organized she is. She had been planning her dream wedding for more than a year, and she had dozens of spreadsheets to show for it! So I felt very honored and happy that she and her fiance, Fabian, decided to entrust the coordination of her Great Day to me.

For their wedding ceremony, the two had chosen Mission Dolores Church, the oldest church in San Francisco…


… and for their celebration with 200 guests – all family members and close friends – they had picked the historic Golden Gate Club on the Presidio of San Francisco, a former military outpost.

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Lots of local history and high style! And lots of family ties to celebrate on this special day… Both bride and groom had six attendants, there were four flower girls and one ring bearer, and many “padrinos,”  family members who had contributed to this very special day.

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The bridesmaids, in hair by Le Burget Salon and makeup by Susy Gonzalez of Piera Beauty Salon, wore elegant pale purple ruched dresses with an asymmetrical neckline, and the bride was radiant in a crystal-encrusted lace mermaid gown:

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Before heading to Church, Natasha and Fabian posed with their cute doggie while Photographer Lyndsay Undseth and Shtiv Valencia of ReViewlutionary Visions recorded every moment.

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Here they are, the new “Mr. and Mrs,” back from Church in high style in a snow white vintage Rolls Royce from NSL Limousine  …

rolls resized… and ready for a huge party!

Their guests, having signed a beautiful personalized guest book with the couple’s engagement photos…


… were already awaiting them over cocktails (by Barbary Coast Catering) with cheese and fruit (by Ulisess Catering).

fruitWhile Natasha and Fabian were mingling with their guests at cocktail hour, an elegant dinner reception had been prepared, starting with rental furniture from Lush Party Rentals and escort cards in a bed of rose petals…


… and luxurious flower and candelabra centerpieces by Amy Burke Design:

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Guests found picture frames on their place settings – to be filled with snapshots from Kyle Mills-Bunje’s photo booth (which proved to be a true guest magnet throughout the evening!).

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table resizedAs a nod to their shared cultural heritage, bride and groom had designed table symbols in lieu of table numbers – all inspired by game cards for the beloved “Lotteria” board game, and paired these with escort cards cleverly displaying the table symbol in back. After guests had found their seats...

IMG_1345… the newlyweds followed them into the dining room – with a spectacular flourish: a Grand Entrance of sorts! Parents, padrinos, bridesmaids and groomsmen in couples all entered, each dancing to their own specially chosen songs – and finally, Natasha and Fabian with a whole Mariachi band in tow! What a start to a spectacular evening!


Tito Arias from Ulisess Catering and his crew kept feeding the crowd while family members and friends shared memories and hilarious stories about the young husband and wife, and cheers and laughter often drowned out DJ Hugo Gomez‘ carefully chosen dinner music! And then it was time for the newlyweds to share their First Dance:

first dance resizedThe dance floor and walls were illuminated in glowing gobos by Just De’Lights, magically transforming the space. Latin dance music brought everybody to their feet…


… and guests only took a break from dancing to enjoy Chef Bala’s (aka the Cakemaker‘s) delicious wedding cake.

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More high points of the evening were still to come: the bouquet toss…


… garter toss…


… and the traditional Money Dance!


After the dance, a beaming Natasha and Fabian – both covered in Dollar notes big and small – retrieved their “Honeyfund” and handfuls of pins from their wedding gown and tuxedo…


Most guests stayed right to the end of the festivities, and they would have gone on and on all night! Everyone agreed it was a great party, and I was reminded once more…

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… why I love my job so much!

Thank you, Natasha and Fabian, for allowing me to be a part of your Great Day – and again, congratulations, and many happy years together!





Andy Warhol & The Factory @ Infusion Lounge!

As a fitting – and upbeat! – tribute to what would have been Andy Warhol’s 85th birthday (on August 6, 2013), the San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Pro’s met for their August party in the spirit of the Master… at Infusion Lounge, a super chic, hip bar in dowtown San Francisco. Gwenn Connolly created our logo (and more…you’ll see!):

logoTo kick off the festivities, “Andy” (aka model Diana) posed with 3 “go-go girls” (models Brittany, Ryann and Maria, all expertly made up and styled by Marine Vaisset of Belle by Marine) in an original 1965 Mustang convertible – driving around San Francisco …

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taking “photos” of his girls, and then pulling up at the iconic Sir Francis Drake Hotel…

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…and posing in front of his own artwork, displayed on a billboard ad.

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After all that fun, it was time for the party to get started!

Infusion Lounge, bathed in purple, turquoise and orange mood lighting, was decorated with Andy Warhol posters…

IMG_1303…and matching floral decor by Ornamento (think Warhol’s  famous “Daisies” serial prints…)

poster and vases

To round it out, video installations by Metamora Designs and by Michael Loeb photography displayed iconic Andy Warhol artwork. All the while, DJ Jerry Schultz of Portable Party kept the energy going with the most famous Sixties/Seventies pop hits – on his karaoke machine!

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Guests dressed up to the nines (or better: the Sixties!) danced the night away…

IMG_1318… and I took the opportunity to finally wear my vintage Courreges dress!

Jutta in CourregesGuests only took a break from dancing to nibble on Chicken Wings and Spring Rolls (courtesy of Infusion Lounge), accompanied by a glowing red “Triple Andy” (a specialty cocktail created for our party by Triple9 Vodka), followed by a handful of Ray Richmond’s purple, turquoise and orange “Super Accurate Fortune Cookies” containing a variety of Andy Warhol quotes – rather than the usual fortune cookie “wisdom!”

Auey Santos of Photograffiti and Michael Loeb of Michael Loeb Photography captured our Swingin’ Sixties party on film and video – and guests went home smiling, swinging and humming! It was a great party… thanks to all who contributed! (And so that you can connect to all our wonderful party sponsors, Gwenn Connolly also created a sponsor list in true Warhol style!

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Country Club Elegance and French-International Flair: Valerie & Andrew!

Valerie and Andrew are true citizens of the world – they met in New York City, and then they  lived in many different places all over the world: Paris, Denver, Vancouver and Toronto  only a few of them. And since they are the most kind and charming young couple you can imagine, they made a lot of friends wherever they were living. When it came time to get married, I had the pleasure and the honor of being their wedding coordinator.They chose a beautiful country club in one of the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine to celebrate their love with their extended families and with all those friends, many of whom had come from Canada, the East Coast, even Europe.

And where is that magical spot where the two ultimately said their vows?


Inland of Monterey – the Pasadera Country Club, an exclusive golf club whose Clubhouse is actually a Spanish-Mediterranean estate dating centuries back. Impressive architecture, original wood beams, frescoes, antique furniture and cobblestone courtyards surrounded by mature trees and the lush, rolling landscape of the Monterey Peninsula combine to transport you to another place and another time.



front door resizedThe wedding celebration began with the ceremony under the iconic Big Oak Tree behind the mansion…


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The bride, resplendent in a one-shoulder trumpet dress

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with cathedral train and veil, and in hair and makeup by Jonathan Reisfeld, walked in on her mother’s arm,

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preceded by the couple’s two doggies, Pastis and Milo. Valerie and Andrew were officially married by a longtime friend of theirs, under a gauzy “chuppah” of organza draped across the branches of the oak tree.

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They came dancing down the aisle as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and were immediately whisked away for photos, photos, photos – by another longtime friend and artistic photographer, Prof. Matthias Geiger.

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Their guests meanwhile enjoyed cocktails in the romantic courtyard with a whispering fountain in the middle… and white camellias gently floating in the water. It doesn’t get much more romantic than this!

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With the evening chill rolling in, guests gathered inside the artfully furnished mansion…



and nibbled on hundreds of delicious handmade sweets – dozens of trays filling a whole table, a labor of love of the Mother of the Bride, until it was time for dinner and dancing!

In accordance with Valerie’s elegant color scheme of eggplant hues and silver, the dining tables were adorned with tall arrangements of gladiolus, curly willow, and hydrangeas, all artfully created by her closest family members. Talk about everyone contributing!


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Dancing began right away with the Hora Dance to the rousing melody of “Hava Naguila”- with the newlyweds being hoisted high up in the air on chairs while the wedding guests were dancing around them, picking up speed (and joy) by the minute!

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And dancing continued throughout the evening – expertly paced by DJ Kevin O’Scanlon from Sound in Motion.

The only little break the new husband and wife took from visiting tables and from dancing was – cutting the cake! The cake – an exquisite confection by the local Parker-Lusseau bakery, airy, moist, and intensely flavored – a true revelation!

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And here is why I love my job so much:

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Congratulations, Valerie and Andrew, and many happy years together!

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