Vannie’s and Richard’s Sunny Wedding at the Los Altos History Museum

A love story more than a decade in the making – and today, finally, it’s official: Vannie and Richard are Mr. and Mrs.! With more than a hundred guests as their witnesses, the two tied the knot at a very historic and romantic place – the History Museum in Los Altos,

Los Altos Hist Museum

surrounded by all that used to constitute rural life in the area in the last century or two; from ancient ploughs to … well, not quite so ancient tractors! Guests learned, among other things, that a plot for a single-family home in the heart of what is now Silicon Valley went for $ 55o – in the year 1917… That has changed! So much for the charming historic backdrop. Vannie’s and Richard’s personal history began exactly 11 years ago when they met in college, at UCLA.

They were assigned to the same dorm, and Vannie immediately felt intrigued by this attractive, slightly withdrawn “brooding artist” (Richard was majoring in Design) with that oddball sense of humor. “He seemed so … mysterious,” she muses when looking back. It took all her willpower and persistence (“or, what my parents call stubbornness,” jokes the bride) to win Richard over. But since Richard never does anything half-heartedly, his commitment was absolute, and that they’d be getting married at some point was a foregone conclusion. Well, finally this point did come, and the two chose a cozy and romantic venue (Los Altos History Museum) – and my company, A Day Like No Other, as their coordinator. Truly an honor!

Vannie had devised the decor theme and handmade most of the decorations herself in her wedding color, a sunny bright yellow. She fashioned a backdrop from strips of fabric and various hues of yellow, she made paper garlands with white, silver and yellow pompoms, and more big and small pompoms to hang from the mature trees shading the courtyard for Cocktail Hour.

wedding party

A clothesline strung between the trees was hung with snapshots from the couple’s decade-long courtship, and in lieu of a guestbook, guests signed a vintage globe.

Even the flowers were “designed by Vannie!” The bouquets for herself and her bridesmaids were simple  bunches of Queen Anne’s Lace,


and the centerpieces consisted of stacks of books, topped by cream English Country roses in mason jars, complete with a little yellow flag for table numbers.



Guests found their way inside the courtyard, guided by cute yellow pinwheels lining the path, and signage was, of course!, likewise handcrafted by the bride: chalkboards for the program, the menu and the table assignments.


seating chart

While my assistant Angeliki and I were busy putting everything up in their assigned spots, Vannie had her hair and makeup masterfully done by Susie Chhuor. Photographer Bre Thurston orchestrated Vannie’s and Richard First Look and many, many more photos throughout the day! The bride wore a spectacular ivory silk Reem Acra gown with beaded cap sleeves.

couple stairs

And here comes the Bride!

Here comes the bride

The short and very personal ceremony was presided over by minister Daniel Kennedy,



and while the couple was busy with more photos …

couple romantic

sunset couple sunset

… their guests were  treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Schumann’s FourSeasons Caterers, who also served a lavish family-style dinner,


outside under romantic string lights, as dusk was falling.

Then it was time for… cake cutting? Not quite! The bride and groom did this part of their celebration again “their way:” they cut a giant donut tower, and finished the dessert phase with ice cream sandwiches for everyone.


Cake cutting


DJ Jeremy (who had already played beautifully for ceremony and cocktail hour) was now gearing up for the “dancing part” of the evening! After Vannie’s and Richard’s romantic First Dance,

first dance

the crowd got inside for a wild dance party and really let it rip.

And here is why I love my job so much!

love my job

What a fantastic celebration… congratulations, Vannie and Richard, and our best wishes for a long, happy life – “growing old together…”


How to Find the Perfect Venue – 101

So – he finally popped the question.

Stuck that big rock on your finger. You are engaged. Congratulations!

What now …? Like – wedding planning? Yes! Preferably with a professional (I happen to know – I am one. Look up my portfolio: A Day Like No Other!). But in any case, it never hurts to come up with a few ideas yourselves. First and foremost: what should your venue be like? (Once you know that, your wedding planner can help you to find one in your preferred area).

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a particular venue for a while. Then, by all means, go for it!

But if not, here are a few pointers to get you going.

1.) Where would you feel most comfortable and happy on the best day in your life? On the beach, with your feet in the sand (so to speak); deep in the woods; in a romantic garden? Or rather indoors – in a mansion or hotel? Or are you rather the “modern/cutting edge” type, and a hip urban space – think art gallery – would be the way to go? Or do you see yourself on a ranch, maybe?

Get inspired: here are a few venues as examples.

Beach wedding TinaOn the beach in Half Moon Bay

StonepineStone Pine Estate, Carmel Valley

Holman Ranch

Holman Ranch, Carmel Valley

Liquid Sky

Liquid Sky Oceanfront Estate, Half Moon Bay

2.) What’s the style of your festivities – what would make you happiest? Would you like to go for high elegance, or rather rustic/bohemian charm? Is your style sleek and modern, or historic and ornate? Would you like to include Do-it-yourself work or rather have a professional unified design?

Here’s what I’m talking about:

foreign cinema

Foreign Cinema, San Francisco


DIY escort cards at a rustic wedding

alexa sean

A glamorous affair at General’s Residence, Fort Mason, San Francisco

3.) What about privacy? If you’re leaning towards a hotel wedding, all the logistics will be taken care of, because that’s what hotels do. But unless you buy out the whole hotel, there will be other guests around – and that means you’ll have onlookers, like it or not. And the same holds true for all public places, like parks and beaches. If that’s not your style, you should rather think of a mansion that you can completely rent out for your day – but be aware that the logistics will be a lot more complicated. You’ll have to bring in all you need for your celebration, from chairs and tables to china, glassware, flatware, and linens.The same, by the way, holds true if you’re thinking of a nice, relaxed backyard wedding at your parents’ house… few properties are equipped to handle parties of 150 people – so be prepared to rent portable bathrooms and book a valet parking service!

Some options for you…

Four Seasons

Ceremony setup, Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

Merchant Exchange

Merchant Exchange, San Francisco

kohl mansion

Kohl Mansion, Burlingame

4.) The time of the year: it is important, after all – even in sunny California. An outdoor wedding in San Francisco in July? Not necessarily a good idea – it may well be pretty foggy. The same on the beaches… and the same from late October to March. Or a garden party in the East Bay in August? Your guests might suffer from temperatures above 90 degrees. And if that was not enough: please think of the time of the day that you are envisioning your wedding. For example, sunset in November is at 4:30 pm… and the atmosphere of a wedding celebration changes dramatically with the time during the day. Imagine an evening wedding – that calls for an elegant cocktail hour, a sit-down dinner and dancing afterwards, right? Dress code, decor – probably elegant! Now imagine a late morning wedding outdoors, followed by brunch – that, on the contrary, feels more like a relaxed, picnic style affair – and maybe no dancing since it’s still plain daylight. If that’s what you are after, look for venues that offer celebrations until 8 or 10 pm only. They are often very affordable, just because of this limitation.

Monarch Cove Inn

Monarch Cove Inn, Capitola – for daytime weddings

5.) How important is the “dancing part” of the party to you? If that’s the high point of your wedding vision, make sure your venue allows for music until late into the night. Oftentimes music outdoors is restricted, e.g. has to cease by 10 pm – so dancing has to be planned for indoors only. Alternative: choose a “stand-alone” venue with no neighbors far and wide. Ranches far out on the California Coast are a good bet for that.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake Estate in the CA wine country – outdoor music allowed until 2 am!

6.) How long is your guest list? Once you’ve narrowed down your choices by style, type of venue, time of year and time of day… it’s time to crunch the numbers. First – the guest numbers! Exclude venues with less capacity than your guest count (or revisit your planning…) and don’t even plan on cramming a few more guests than allowed into your venue. Fire codes simply don’t allow to exceed the official numbers. You don’t want to put anyone in danger, after all. And while you’re at it, crunching numbers, the site fee is, of course, a consideration as well. Many venues offer discounts for off-season bookings or weekday bookings; it’s certainly worth asking. And so that you’re comparing apples with apples: remember that the cost for a hotel includes furniture, service and the decor on site… and the cost for an “empty shell” venue is just that with a lot of add-ons.

Well, looking over what I just wrote up for you, I am a bit concerned that you are now more overwhelmed than ever… don’t despair! Get started, and if you find it hard, email me: [email protected]


Butterflies in Their Stomach… Michele’s and Rui’s Wedding at Monarch Cove Inn

This is the story of many impossible twists and turns… worthy of a Hollywood movie! And yet, today all this became beautiful reality: Michele and Rui tied the knot at one of the most romantic places far and wide, historic Monarch Cove Inn in the quaint little town of Capitola close to Santa Cruz, on the California Coast. But we are getting ahead of ourselves!

ceremony lawn
Both Michele and Rui had already spent a good part of their respective lives – with long marriages, grown children.

michele and rui

Michele had been in a relationship for close to ten years when a spiritual person – actually a total stranger – told her she’d be getting married within a year. Michele wasn’t convinced. Her relationship made her less and less happy or fulfilled. She certainly had no plans to get married… Little did she know! A chance encounter on New Year’s Eve proved fortuitous and fateful at the same time. She met Rui – they just talked – and Michele broke off her relationship three days later. Rui, not a religious man, had been desperate enough to actually ask God to send him love again, and less than two weeks later, he met Michele. It didn’t take him long to tell her that they’d been destined for one another. Michele, not a fan of the Beach and the Ocean, started researching possible wedding venues – chanced upon Monarch Cove Inn, and fell for it head over heels.

house 2

Not only is it a hidden gem of a romantic Victorian cottage, it has the most stunning view of the Monterey Bay from its backyard!

ocean view

Its name is derived from the Monarch butterflies taking a break in their annual migration right here at Monarch Cove in Capitola, covering whole trees with their glorious orange wings.


Butterflies: how fitting to the excitement of these two lovebirds who brought friends and family together from all over the world to be a part of this string of little miracles bringing them together.

Rui was adamant: he was not going to see his bride before the ceremony. So – she checked into the Inn’s stunning whole-floor bridal suite a day ahead of time…

bridal suite 1

bridal suite 2…with plenty of room for a beauty parlor for herself and her attendants, come wedding day! Just look to what a view she woke up:

bridal suite viewIf ever there was such a thing like a “princess for one day,” here she is!

brideWhile Michele got her hair and makeup expertly done by Mona Smith (831-464-1700), the A Day Like No Other team (my assistant Angeliki and myself), the venue staff, Five Star Catering and florist extraordinaire Frederick James of Luxuries Floral Design were all busy decorating the beautiful grounds.

Arriving guests were greeted by fragrant gardenias floating in a sparkling fountain…


gift tbl…and a gift table, adorned with one of Frederick’s stunning floral arrangements in Michele’s sunny color scheme of yellow and aqua …

flower arrangement 2

The rustic arch was built from branches, twigs and fresh flowers right there, on site:

archCan you imagine a more romantic setting to say your vows?


bridesmaidsFollowing the ceremony, officiated by Pastor Prince (925-202-8447), the newlyweds headed off to a photo session with family friend Don Carol (510-706-9954), and here is their “official wedding photo!”

official wedding photoTheir guests meanwhile enjoyed specialty cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and music by DJ Phelan ([email protected]). They had fun with a photo booth by Casino Events and received beautiful wooden frames for their photo strips as wedding favors.

Photo frames 2And then it was time for a huge early dinner, followed by dessert. In lieu of a traditional big wedding cake, Michele and Rui had opted for cupcakes in their wedding colors from Noland’s Cake Shop …

cupcake towerIsn’t that cute?

Guests took a break from dancing for those – and did not leave a single one behind! When it was time to say goodbye, a shuttle from The Santa Cruz Experience was already waiting for happy wedding guests, many of whom took some beautiful flowers from Luxuries home for a living memory of a truly wonderful day.

And here is why I love my job so much!

love my job







Create the Perfect Team – and Enjoy the California Coast!

Today I had the honor and the pleasure to coordinate another elegant luncheon for WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association) – as the Events Chair for Northern California it’s my task to do that four times a year, and I absolutely love it!

After our 2014 kick-off meeting at the Mandarin-Oriental SF, it was time for a quintessential Californian beachside retreat… which we found in the quaint little town of Half Moon Bay. Our luncheon was hosted by Cetrella Restaurant, locally renowned for its excellent Mediterranean cuisine, and nominated for a much-deserved Michelin star four years in a row!

cetrella facade


The day began with Cocktail Hour and “Meet & Greet” in the lounge, with wine and hors d’oeuvres and with jazz piano tunes by Lee Allen.


Guests could “shoot” their own keepsakes in Oran Cohen’s Night Owl open-air-style photo booth – not only good for the “goofy” kind, but also for beautiful portraits and group shots.

What’s next? Let’s consult our program booklets! Elegantly designed by Vellum & Vogue and beautifully printed by StationeryHQ, they set the tone for the day.

Program title page

As the program said:  then it was time for “continuous learning!” True to WIPA’s dedication to ongoing education of members (and not-yet members alike), we welcomed the speaker of the day, Tina Moran, event planner extraordinaire at her company Oh So Swank!

Tina Moran Color

Drawing on two decades of industry experience,(and aided by Fantasy Sound‘s A/V set-up) Tina presented, “Creating the Perfect Team.” She touched on how to optimize vendor interactions, how to streamline the workflow with clients and how to navigate the treacherous waters of “legalese…” – we all took a lot of food for thought home!

Speaking of food… that was the reward immediately following Tina’s presentation! And what delicious food that was – beet salad followed by juicy roast chicken on risotto – everyone was simply “digging in!” To enhance the experience, we had a lot of beautiful decor: specialty linens in matching patterns and colors (ivory, taupe, mustard yellow) from Napa Valley Linens and centerpieces by Stems Floral Boutique in vibrant, summery colors and rustic design that perfectly complemented the texture and style of the linens.


WMRphoto_03To top it off, twinkling stars from Glimmers Inc. played party favors – dressed up in little organza bags today; but they are really in their element submerged in champagne (they are fully FDA-approved!) and sparkling from within.

Over lunch, the traditional WIPA raffle took place, with generous prizes: five gift certificates for make-up instruction from Wowpretty Salon, a voucher for a Hornblower dinner cruise, and another one for a stay at Costanoa eco resort. We had seven beaming winners today!

The real treat for everyone, however, was still to come! After lunch, guests were shuttled in a luxurious van (by City Express Limousine Service) to Cetrella’s sister property, Liquid Sky, just 10 minutes south of Half Moon Bay, but seemingly in a different world! And the Weather Gods were smiling on us…


vista point

Perched on a cliff overlooking the Ocean, Liquid Sky is a dramatic wedding venue for up to 25o guests – with breathtakingly beautiful views.

Our guests today could enjoy these views from Liquid Sky’s patio, curled up in chic and oh-so-comfortable lounge sofas and chairs from Hartmann Studios – of course with tables and market umbrellas and colorful pillows and and and… to make it picture-perfect!



Magnolia Jazz Band under band leader Robbie Schlosser (here getting ready) performed …


… on the patio to the delight of the guests, who enjoyed dessert from Sweet Springs Rental‘s sky-blue nostalgic gelato cart accompanied by heavenly coffee from Travelin’ Joe‘s espresso bar.


Last but not least, the memories of this very special day will be kept fresh by Wendy Maclaurin Richardson‘s photos and Michael Loeb‘s video of today’s event. Thank you to all our generous sponsors and contributors – it was wonderful!


The Dogs in our Lives – and our Weddings!

Dear Canines, I have to offer you my sincerest apologies. I have shamefully neglected you lately, writing about your humans only. Which is not right – among other things because of the name of this publication: Wedding Woof!

So here’s to the “woofs” in Wedding Woof – and especially to those who were or will be stars in my weddings at A Day Like No Other! After all, I am the only wedding planner in all of Northern California specializing in dog-friendly weddings… so, now I’ll finally live up to that reputation and give all my readers a glimpse of how my couples have included (or will include) their beloved companions in their weddings.

Let’s start with Natasha and Fabian. They had a very traditional wedding with a full Catholic Mass for their ceremony, followed by a huge celebration for close to 250 guests. Their beloved boxer girl wasn’t allowed at the Church (of course not…) nor at their venue. But the two found a way!

Natasha and FabianThey headquartered in a beautiful dog-friendly hotel very close to their reception venue – and that’s where they spent the night before their wedding, the morning of their wedding day and later on their First Night (Inn at the Presidio). That way they had their pretty canine with them most of the time (and for the photos, of course!) – and while they were away, she was lovingly being taken care of onsite, just waiting for her humans to return to her at the end of the day, “just married!”

“Lucky” was even luckier! Her people (Peggy and Jose) got married outside, so their rambunctious puppy was allowed to stay onsite – but the waiting time until finally she was allowed close to her master and mistress again, stretched to near infinity for her…

Peggy and Lucky

Now it’s time for a walk – off to married bliss!

Next up: Pastis and Milo! They were allowed to accompany their humans (Valerie and Andrew) all the time at their very dog-friendly wedding venue (Pasadera Golf Club, now Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, in Monterey). They even were the pro-forma ring bearers…

Milo and Pastis

Now come – two Cody’s!

Cody no. 1 is living with Amy and Tec who will get married in San Francisco in August. I happen to know because I am their wedding planner! And Cody happens to know, too – he actually mailed the “Save-the-dates:”

Amy Tec CodyIsn’t that cute?!

And here’s one more cutie: Cody no. 2. He is living with Pamela and John, and he will definitely be the star at their wedding in July:

Pams furbaby codyHis humans went to great lengths to find a totally dog-friendly venue so he could be with them all the time. Diablo Ranch in Walnut Creek proved to be the perfect choice for a wedding celebration equally kid- and dog-friendly, with a carnival theme and lots of fun for everyone.

Last but not least there is Buzz, an Australian Shepherd, without whom his Master’s wedding would have been – unthinkable! So Philipp, his loving Dad, and Michelle, his Mom-to-be, went on a quest to find an elegant but dog-friendly venue. On a hot day in August, they and their constant companion Buzz visited and instantaneously fell in love with Stonepine Estate in Carmel Valley. Said the groom, “Buzz used the first moment we were distracted to escape and jump into the reflecting pool – to emerge dripping and dirty, shaking vigorously, a total mess… Michelle and I were sure that that was the end of our wedding dreams at Stonepine! They would never let us come back. In a word, we were heartbroken. But – miracles still happen! Instead of being shocked, someone appeared with a stack of fluffy white bath towels for the canine visitor’s convenience… needless to say, that’s where we got married, with Buzz in attendance!”


Please share your story – [email protected]