WIPA 2014 Kick-Off at the Mandarin-Oriental, San Francisco

It doesn’t get much more elegant than that, you agree, right? The Mandarin-Oriental Hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District is truly the epitome of sleek East-meets-West sophistication… plus: it offers, hands down, the best view in all of the City!


As the Events Chair Northern California for WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), I jumped of course at the opportunity to hold our first festive luncheon of the year at this prestigious venue. Together with my co-chair Melanie Leinweber and with Emily Cross,our gracious hostess at the Mandarin Oriental, I dove headfirst into planning – and finally  the Great Day arrived, and we found ourselves manning the registration desk!



The festivities began with a Cocktail Hour up on the 40th floor Sky Deck with views of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and with the Transamerica Pyramid seemingly at arm’s length.


Contrary to all forecasts, the Sun came out, and guests thoroughly enjoyed the incredible setting, enhanced by delicious hors d’oeuvres (by the Mandarin-Oriental chef),


a selection of top-notch wines (courtesy of Foley Family Winery)



and wedding-themed music by the Espiritu Ensembles.


Adding to the delightful experience was a jewelry show with stunning pieces by Gleim the Jeweler


…  artfully modeled by the gorgeous Aryan Omar:




Following Cocktail Hour, guests were treated to a welcome by new Board President Kevin Dennis…


and an inspirational lecture by “radical educator” Cindy Novotny.


Her theme was, “Building YOUR Brand –


… more important than ever in the increasingly competitive landscape of the Wedding Industry.  How do I set MY business apart from the competition? “Treat all your clients as if they were the only ones, and give them your full attention;” “Follow up and recap immediately after a client contact;” “It only takes one client encounter with a thoughtless or inconsiderate associate of yours to ruin your reputation…” many valuable insights to take away! And her engaging and entertaining style earned Cindy an instant fan club..


All of it was captured real-time by Thomas Hughes Films:


… and by Indulge Wedding Photography (whose beautiful photos you are admiring right now!)

Then it was time for a formal luncheon in the Embassy ballroom:

wipa-5… set with elegant linens by Napa Valley Linens and dramatic floral arrangements by Mandy Scott Flowers:


SONY DSCPlace settings were adorned with menu cards by Gwenn Connolly Designs (who also created the chic program books) and chocolate favors by ChocoVogue.

wipa-8And the food was simply stellar…



Cindy, our speaker, was my “Lady Luck” at the biggest raffle in WIPA history…

wipa-82with prizes by Poppyhearts, Nikki Boyle Fitness, Mandy Scott Flowers, Sweet Lauren Cakes, and two hotel stays at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley and the Mandarin-Oriental, San Francisco. That made people smile!

We wrapped up the joyous occasion in the Library, outfitted with chic lounge furniture by Hartmann Studios


… over coffee and delicious European mini pastries by Patisserie Gerhard Michler:


It was a wonderful event, thanks to all our charming guests and generous sponsors, and that made the hostess very happy!



Shaina and Eric – Sheer Elegance at the Four Seasons


Shaina and Eric are a super-busy, super-organized young Silicon Valley couple; what they set out to do – they can accomplish! But when it came to their Wedding Day, they wanted to simply sit back and enjoy it, instead of doing it all themselves; and I feel honored that they entrusted their Wedding Day to my company, A Day Like No Other.

Here they are, on an engagement photo: couple

After a courtship of four years, the two were envisioning a grand affair with 240 guests from all over the world – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Canada… and it would be in the most elegant setting imaginable: the famed Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. The Four Seasons is not only a luxurious venue, it also boasts fantastic City views from its ballroom floor where the festivities took place.


Charmed Limousine service took the Bridal Party there and around town for photos.





At the party,  guests were greeted by a very personal photo guest book and invited to share their thoughts, good wishes and marital wisdom:

Guest book

The Veranda ballroom provided an impressive setting for their ceremony, with chair covers by Seko Events Decor and flowers throughout by Huckleberry Karen Designs. Gusto Lopez of The Life in Digital videotaped every precious moment.



Shaina was resplendent in hair and makeup by Fiona of Imagi by Fiona, and a lace applique dress accompanied by shimmering pearl jewelry.

The ceremony was officiated by Chris Thielen of Personal Weddings by Chris. And here comes the Bride – escorted by her Dad.. his proudest moment!

20140222-DHP-070 For her processional, the Bride had chosen a traditional piece, Pachelbel’s Canon in D – but in a very unusual instrumentation: Julio Reyes Duo played it beautifully with Guitar and Flute.

20140222-DHP-073… ” I declare you – husband and wife!”

20140222-DHP-074While the newlyweds had family photos taken by  the Duy Ho Photography team and then observed a traditional Tea Ceremony with their parents, guests enjoyed a Cocktail Hour with gorgeous views, Guitar and Flute music, full bar and hors d’oeuvres – and Night Owl photo booth for entertainment:

photo booth 2

David Robinson, Four Seasons Director of Catering, and his crew were meanwhile working behind the scenes to transform the ballroom into a beautiful dining area:





 The head table was adorned with the bridal bouquet and bridesmaids’ bouquets – all a dream in ivory hydrangeas, and blush and pink rose varieties:


Once guests had taken their seats for a formal dinner, doors opened to the Grand Entrance of the Bridal Party… and of the newlyweds!


While guests were feasting, the bride changed into a gorgeous traditional Chinese qipao of red guipure lace and then began visiting the many, many tables.

By then, flower girl Josephine was all tired, and it cost a huge chocolate chip cookie from Jutta to cheer her up:

flower girl tired

Dinner concluded with a buffet of delicious desserts and cupcakes by Sibby’s

20140222-DHP-130… and, of course, The Cake by A Spoonful of Sugar:


… expertly cut by the new husband and wife team!

20140222-DHP-121Then it was time for dancing! DJ Woody Miraglia of Big Fun DJs kept the crowd going until way later than originally planned …

20140222-DHP-129… and Shaina and Eric were in heaven!

And here is why I love my job so much:

love my job

Many happy years together, and our very best wishes on your journey!


Photo credit: all photography courtesy of Duy Ho Photography except for images no. 2, 12, 18 and 23.


Grand Reopening Party of a Historic Wedding Venue: the Forest Hill Clubhouse!

Last Wednesday, my company, A Day Like No Other, had the honor of coordinating the Grand Reopening Party of a historic wedding venue in San Francisco, the Forest Hill Clubhouse. Built as a gathering place for the Forest Hill neighborhood by Bernard Maybeck (famous for his adaptations of the Arts and Crafts style, and famous for building the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the World Expo 1906), it had seen countless community parties, regular use for all sorts of gatherings, and, of course, countless couples tie the knot in its 94 year-long life – but all this had taken its toll, and much-needed repairs could no longer be postponed.

On April 1st, last year, the beloved venue closed its doors for an extensive overhaul and structural and seismic upgrades, overseen by an architect, you guessed it, specializing in Maybeck buildings. Renovations were done with the utmost respect to the stellar architectural pedigree, and the result – you’d hardly notice any change! Except, of course, for the new ADA-compatible bathrooms, new state-of-the-art catering kitchen, and new beautiful hardwood (dance) floor. Time to party, and time to show it all to the local wedding industry community! And that’s exactly what happened  last Wednesday – even if the Weather Gods turned against us and delivered steady rain.

Clubhouse outside daylight

The San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Pro’s community flocked to the warm and inviting historic Clubhouse, visible from afar thanks to the dramatic lighting installation by Monique Albert of Just De’Lights.

Lights on the fence

The mature trees towering above the wedding patio and courtyard were uplit, Italian market lights were strung along the perimeter, and inside a warm glow from amber uplights provided an oh-so-inviting atmosphere on this rainy day (plus, of course, pin spots, highlighting the decor to its best effect). The impressive, oversize fireplace provided extra warmth – and suddenly the rain didn’t feel so bad any more!

Lights outside

More delights were awaiting the guests: beautiful, yummy finger food by Brian Morriss’ Cheat-a-Little Catering

Cheat a Little Catering

and by Kelser Colino’s 1542 Innovative Catering…

1542 Catering

… kept coming out of the brand-new kitchen (and, believe me, guests kept digging in!); accompanied by a good selection of wines…


AND – a wine tasting experience by Cindy Turano’s and Nisa Andersson’s company, Wine Affair, who bring wine education to any party or gathering. And that was in high demand!

Wine Affair


To round out the culinary experience, Daniel Cho had brought a spread of heavenly desserts from Cako, a company founded by 5star pastry chefs with the intent “to bring smiles on people’s faces!” And that’s exactly what happened. Daniel’s huge trays of goodies were emptied in no time… success!

Cako Desserts


Cako cupcakes

Our rental items had been generously sponsored by Melanie Leinweber of Hartmann Studios, and so guests could celebrate in style and upscale decor – with the exquisite specialty linens picking up the historic building’s colors in shimmery hues of teal and copper, perfectly complemented by the romantic floral arrangements of Angel Blackshere of Angel’s Petals.


Kalena Brose of Kalena Brose Events

Table setting Kalena

… and A Day Like No Other together with florals from Janelle Jacky’s Green Petal Design

Table decor JuttaPlace setting Jutta

… showed table designs – one streamlined and modern, the other historic and Parisian… so guests had a lot of “eye candy” too, to feast on.

And what’s a party without music? We had music! The Abbott Brothers, a band specializing in Classic Americana and Bluegrass, accompanied the swinging party with their tunes – which blended perfectly with the nostalgic surroundings.

BandAnd so that nobody would forget the Clubhouse as a venue for this and all coming wedding seasons, graphic designer John Feeney had created a flyer with all the necessary information – and in order to make the magic of this wonderful evening  last a little longer, photographer Shhivika Chauhan captured it all with her camera.


Thank you to all who helped to make it happen, thank you to all who attended, and thank you to all who’ll spread the word that the historic Forest Hill Clubhouse is open again for intimate, romantic, elegant wedding celebrations!