Amy and Tec: a Happy Marriage of Chinese and Korean Traditions in San Francisco

Amy and Tec are super organized. When they began to plan their wedding, they did it one and a half years in advance. When they first contacted my company, A Day Like No Other, they already knew where they wanted to get married: in San Francisco, at a venue linked to the military history of the City. The groom’s father had served and lived with his family on the Presidio of San Francisco, the historic military outpost.

Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

It would be a destination wedding for about 150 guests, with the couple living on the East Coast and nearly all their guests coming from all over the country, Korea and Taiwan.  I was really grateful to have, in the end, a full 16 months for the planning!

The two fell in love with the Golden Gate Club on the Presidio, the former officers’ club – double-height Great Room with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and located in the heart of the Presidio. Added bonus: the couple and the bridal party would stay at the Inn at the Presidio, a nearby building on campus that has been converted to an elegant boutique hotel and whose decor reflects the military past. Full immersion!

Inn at the Presidio

Inn at the Presidio

Antique Bugles at the Inn

Antique Bugles at the Inn

For the bride and her bridesmaids the day began with Hair and Makeup by Vinnia Tjhin. Then it was time for Amy to get into her elegant lace dress.


bride getting ready

Add to that a beautiful engagement ring and elegant headpiece…


headpieceIn keeping with her wedding colors – the saturated “lucky” Chinese red of her own heritage complemented by the additional vivid blue of the Korean flag (to honor Tec’s heritage), Amy had chosen a luxurious, formal bridal bouquet of 3 dozen red roses, and smaller bridesmaids’ bouquets to match (all from Tutti Fiori).

bouquetsThe bridesmaids wore a rich blue …


… and the prettiest strappy heels they could find!

shoesThe groom was meanwhile getting ready as well:

groom getting ready

… and of course he couldn’t do without a little touch of whimsy!


Here he is with his groomsmen, all of them in high spirits:

groomsmenAnd off they went with photographer Hardy Wilson for their “First Look”…

first look… and many, many photos  on the beautiful Presidio Campus, under a cloudless blue sky.

in the woods kissing

in the woods posing


Meanwhile, Ava and her catering team from Le’s Kitchen (and I, too) were super busy setting everything up for a Western ceremony, a Korean Bowing Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Dinner and Dancing.

Arriving guests were greeted with sweets for good luck (a Chinese tradition) and a real “family tree” I had designed, decorated with fresh orchids (more of those later!) and childhood and family photos from the two people whose families would be joined today. In lieu of a standard guest book, we had prepared photo books for guests to sign:

family tree


cards and guest book

Following the Western ceremony, officiated by a personal friend of the couple,

here comes the bride

altar arrangement

“You may now kiss your bride!”first kiss

… guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour with specialty cocktails…

cocktails… and musical entertainment by the Corelli Trios. Bride and Groom meanwhile prepared for a traditional Pae Baek or Bowing Ceremony typical of Korean weddings with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Hong, professional Pae Baek organizers. They donned ceremonial clothes …

Korean shoes and practiced the ritual of bowing to their parents and other honored family members as an expression of their respect and gratitude.

korean ceremony

This ceremony sealed their marriage in the Korean tradition, as well!

korean ceremony 2In the meantime, the dining room got its finishing touches. Tables were set with elegant, shimmering platinum grey linens and napkins alternating in red and blue; with tall centerpieces of red orchids (a profusion of 180 stems of orchids by Tutti Fiori!),

dining room


place setting

and very personal menu cards: on the reverse, the bride had printed assorted photos and stories from the couple’s courtship and travels for all the guests to enjoy, mix and match. The wedding favors were just as personal: the animal-loving couple had made a donation to an animal protection agency on behalf of their guests who found little thank-you cards on their place settings.

To help guests find their assigned tables, I had come up with another personal idea: a mounted, enlarged photo of the couple with their beloved dog, Cody (who could not be with them on their Great Day), on the steps of the Capitol – that way Cody was present, after all! The photo could be taken apart into individual escort cards and proved to be a great conversation starter!

escort cards

escort cards 2

Immediately following their Grand Entrance, announced by DJ Shawn of Storm Productions

grand entrance… husband and wife enjoyed their First Dance:

first danceGuests meanwhile enjoyed a traditional ten-course Chinese banquet by Le’s Kitchen, followed by a dessert of traditional Taiwanese pineapple cakes – a nod to the bride’s heritage:

dessertAfter dinner, it was time for a huge dance party under the auspices of the Chinese “Double Happiness” symbol (a custom-made gobo by Just De’Lights),


and everyone had a fantastic time!

dance party

dance party 2


The Golden Gate Club was literally glowing from within, like an enchanted glasshouse!

glasshouse 2And here is why I love my job so much:

love my jobMany happy years together, Amy and Tec, and a long life!




A Touch of Tuscany in Napa Valley: Laura and Dennis

Laura and Dennis originally approached my company, A Day Like No Other, with the request to help them find a venue in the Wine Country for an intimate wedding with closest family only… and then, later, maybe to help organize a party for everyone else at their home. After brainstorming with them – hotels? wineries? all too impersonal, too public… – I knew the exact right place for them: Sylvan Lake, a secluded private estate tucked away in the mountains above St. Helena. Off they went for a site visit! And on their way back home that same day, they texted me: “Change of plans! So beautiful that we’ll have a big party for everyone right there!”

And so we started planning together: an outdoor ceremony onsite, good food and wine, an Italian/Tuscan theme, and sage green with pops of orange for their wedding colors. Last Saturday, it all came together on a glorious summer day, warm with a slight breeze, and  under a cloudless blue sky.

Bride and groom made Sylvan Lake Estate theirs for the day with their initials on the gate:


Laura had chosen an elegant yet simple ivory lace sheath for her wedding gown:


dress up

… complemented by delicate diamond earrings and a sparkling diamond bracelet. She was radiant in hair and makeup by Teresa Reynolds

bride waiting… and she carried a bridal bouquet by Tulips & Toadstools in ivory and orange …


… while her wedding party wore boutonnieres and corsages to match:

boutonnieres… and the ring bearer (the niece of the bride) got a moss ring pillow …

ring pillow

… and a charming hair wreath.


For the ceremony, our florist had adorned a simple arch with lush greenery and bunches of flowers in the wedding colors …

arch … and topped it all off with a carpet of petals in delicate hues of orange.


And photographer Megan Reeves captured every precious moment, for example the bride with her bridesmaids (her stepdaughters):


… and her groomsmen (her sons!)


The brother of the bride officiated the very personal ceremony in front of eighty guests…

ceremonyAnd here they are… Just Married!!

Just married 2

Time to party!

While the newlyweds had their mandatory photos taken,

First Look 2

in the woods copy

guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour…

cocktal hour

bar sign

… and the team of An Affair to Remember (catering) and myself were busy preparing tables and food stations for a Tuscan-inspired festive dinner:


Centerpieces were wine crates planted with a variety of succulents, and tables were named after the couple’s favorite wine varietals:


table numbers

The Sweetheart Table got, of course, the special treatment!

mr and mrs chairs


sweetheart table

Place settings were decorated with herb bundles tied with orange ribbon…

herb bundle 2… and the food stations all looked like scenes right out of the Italian countryside:

food 4

dinner decor 2

food 3

food 1

dinner decor 4

Beautifully calligraphed signeage throughout by Steele My Heart helped guests find their tables and choose from bar and dining options.

While guests were dining, night fell…

dinner at dusk… and the scene turned downright magical. The newlyweds still had some work to do: cut the beautiful cake (from Model Bakery in St. Helena):

cake 2

After that, they opened the dance floor under the stars…

first dance… with their First Dance – and everyone joined in to the vibrant tunes put up by DJ Vadim of DJ Jeremy Productions…

Everyone agreed: a truly memorable feast it was! Many happy years together, Laura and Dennis!

A Magical Night Under the Redwoods: Amy and John at Saratoga Springs

Amy’s and John’s marriage actually started – in heaven! How? They met on a plane! And this fateful encounter set the tone for their relationship: long-distance – for the longest time. Until John’s career brought him to the San Francisco Bay Area, and that is when the two decided that enough (separation, that is) is enough. Amy moved in with John, took a much-needed “breather” in her own career, and used the precious free time to plan their wedding. And I am so happy she brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to help with ideas and logistics.

The two had opted for a strictly outdoors celebration in the Redwoods – at Saratoga Springs – and Amy dreamed up an upscale “shabby chic” decor with vintage furniture out on the lawn, like a cozy, yet elegant living room under the stars – and under miles and miles of romantic string lights.

While the groom and groomsmen were getting ready in their hotel suite…

groom getting ready…assisted by a very proud and happy Mother-of-the-Groom…

mother and son


…for Amy and her bridesmaids, the day began with  Hair and Makeup by Su from Nabi Salon; once that was done, the bride slipped into her elegant ivory dress, fit for a silver screen goddess from the Forties:

bride getting ready dress… complemented by fairytale slippers and a bridal bouquet by Natasha Kolenko (who also designed the centerpieces and floral decor throughout).

bouquet and shoes

brides bouquet


The bridal bouquet was adorned with a cameo brooch Amy had inherited from her Grandmother.

bouquetWith that, the bride was ready to meet her groom – down a staircase, past a waterfall, on her way to the “First Look:”

couple kissing

And here is their official first photo together!

And that was followed by quite a few more – with Amy’s bridesmaids…


… and the whole bridal party…

bridal party

…and of the two of them together:

kissing in the woods 2
A shuttle from The Santa Cruz Experience (the company provided transportation throughout) then took the whole wedding party to Saratoga Springs, where onsite coordinators Mimi and Kelsey with their team and I were busy setting up all the beautiful decor Amy and I had dreamt up over months!

Escort cards: airline boarding passes, of course! And table names? International airports … and all that displayed in custom-cut rustic logs by Fernando Canales ([email protected]). This setup was an instant crowd-pleaser and conversation starter!

escort cards

escort cards 2


For Cocktail Hour, Amy had ordered three vignettes of vintage and antique furniture from One True Love Vintage Rentals, and we displayed the couple’s favorite family photos there together with pretty vintage items, candles and bunches of flowers.


vintage itemsAfter their ceremony under the tall Redwoods

ceremony– serenaded by Underhill Rose (an all female American Country Band, and friends of the bride)

band – the newlyweds had their mandatory photo session with photographer Majesta Patterson, while videographer (and Majesta’s husband!) Zach Patterson of Patterson Films captured every precious moment.

tete a tete 2



Meanwhile, dinner was ready:

dining under bridge

dining table 3… and guests found their seats at rows and rows of long tables under a romantic, uplit bridge by … airport names! The newlyweds had their special seats at the Head Table:

Mr and Mrs

In lieu of a traditional wedding cake, Amy and John invited guests to a delicious dessert buffet stocked and re-stocked with “bundtinis” (mini Bundt cakes, by Nothing Bundt Cakes) and super fresh pies from Beckmann’s Bakery. Many reasons to raise a glass tonight!

raising a glass

Then it was time for the First Dance:

First Dance

 When night fell, the scene turned absolutely magical under the lights by Bay Area Event Lights

Hora Dance… and DJ “Sir Dancealot” got the crowd going – just have a look! At the exuberant Hora Dance, the couple was lifted high up on chairs by the dancing crowd, and Amy said that she and John had the time of their lives. And that’s my biggest reward!

Many happy years together, Amy and John, and from now on, may you always fly together!