WIPA Kickoff Meeting 2015 – Food, Wine and Education at Tank18!

Not to forget the fun and the networking, of course! As the Regional Director of Programs for WIPA, I had – again! – the pleasure to put together a great start into the year, our annual kickoff meeting. This year, the meeting was hosted by Tank18,  an urban winery in San Francisco (yes, that does exist!), whose motto is “Food, Wine and Fun!”


Tank18 venue photoThat about sums it up – except that WIPA is all about education, and so we have a speaker at every meeting. This time was no exception – except: we had none less than the famous Sasha Souza!

sasha souza smallEvent planner to the “rich and famous,” frequent speaker and book author (she signed her new book for us!)


… Sasha shared some of her insider tips with us: “Vision (the bride’s and groom’s) to Reality” (here  is where the event planner comes in!). Sasha is so knowledgable as a planner and at the same time so engaging as a speaker! We all took away valuable insights – how to read between the lines, how to find the right color for those who actually don’t have a favorite color (or so they say…) and generally to express the couple’s wishes in their wedding celebration more elaborately and distinctly than they knew them themselves. Which is an art form in its own right…

Well, in our case the “vision” was triggered by the unique venue we were invited to: a huge space with exposed beams, raw concrete floors and walls exuding “industrial charm,” and wine bottles lining the walls.

IMG_6212My first idea was – we need a huge, striking floral arrangement hanging from the rafters! The highly creative team at Mandy Scott Events made that a stunning reality …

hanging arr 3

… with a 20-foot arrangement of manzanita branches adorned with countless yellow tulips. These found their match in rows of small, matching but not identical, centerpieces lining the axis of the dining tables …

… and occasional arrangements throughout the event space:

bar arrangementWe certainly brought the “vision” of “Spring in the City” to life here!

But an urban winery still has its roots in viniculture, which evoked in me “visions” of harvest tables and simple wooden chairs… Stuart Rental Company made that a reality …


dining tbl 2

… with rows and rows of wooden tables and chairs, china, silver flatware, Riedel stemware and amber water goblets – it all fit perfectly! To make it look even fresher, we provided a subtle aqua accent with  runners and coordinated linens and napkins from Napa Valley Linens.

You might be wondering where these patterned plates came from? Where to Start Wedding and Event Management sponsored them (it works with clings from underneath!) – a really nice touch for our kick-off meeting!

More visions… Cocktail Hour in such an industrial-cool looking space? That needs some “shabby-chic” accents – which came, courtesy of Designer8 Furniture Rentals, in the shape of vintage sofas…

loungeGuests got to enjoy their delicious hors d’oeuvres (by Global Gourmet Catering) here (fantastically juicy little bites – no one could stop noshing!) together with cocktails from the bar:

barThe menu for our festive lunch? The three gourmet entree choices were created for us by up-and-coming chef Chris Kronner of Kronnerburger, and guests kept raving about the food.


… and a yummy dessert, again from Global Gourmet:


The “menu card,” true to our overall “vision,” took a whimsical shape as well. In true wine-country style, chalkboard artist Ryanne Steele of Steele My Heart painted it on an oversize blackboard …

menu(just read that and get envious!!) – and threw in some large-scale art on yet another chalkboard, as a striking backdrop to Sasha Souza’s book signing table:

GG bridgeWhat you haven’t seen yet is the stunning accompaniment to after-dinner coffee:



…and …

petits fours cropped… petit fours, both from Chantal Guillon next door, converting our “color vision” of green, brown and yellow into oh-so-delicious reality!

And there was so much more – live music (singer/guitarist Marcus Cappellazzo)

IMG_6247 was provided by Entire Productions, and beautiful custom-designed printed programs in our “Wine Country” theme came from Invitation Story:


Photographer Clane Gessel and  videographer James Ferrandini of Thomas Hughes Films recorded our 2015 spring celebration on film. Guests were treated to a prize drawing, and many went home with gifts ranging from wine to golf vouchers. And of course everyone got the latest edition of Today’s Bride Magazine (our media sponsor – so that everyone out there always knows what the SF Bay Area WIPA Chapter is up to!) What guests couldn’t decide, though, was what they liked best – the food? the wine? the decor? the networking? the fantastic speaker? But everyone agreed it was a super fun event, and our next one will be on May 12 at the Omni Hotel in San Francisco. Hope you are coming!

Fanfare Wedding Faire at Kohl Mansion: One-stop Shopping for the Elegant Bride!

Never heard of Fanfare Weddings? No? Then it’s about time!

Fanfare Weddings is a group of luxury wedding vendors in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area whose specialties cover everything a couple might ever need for their wedding celebration – one high-end business of each category (me being the wedding planner/designer). And for more than two decades, this group has hosted its own elegant, well-curated wedding fairs twice a year, mostly at the historic Kohl Mansion in Burlingame.

kohl mansion The Winter Show 2015 took place on January 29 – and it was the best-attended winter show ever. Nearly a hundred brides, grooms, future bridesmaids and proud parents came to sip champagne, find  elegant vendors for their upcoming wedding, win prizes and enjoy performances. It was more an elegant soiree than a classic wedding fair and everyone literally wore a big smile along with a goodie bag packed with glossy magazines and little favors.

Right at the entrance, they were greeted by a shiny white Maserati courtesy of Club Sportiva – the ultimate getaway car for the newlyweds!


And they were invited inside in style by Gabriel’s Trumpets Trio (Brassworks)  – a truly regal sound.


Step into the grand mansion, and find gorgeous flowers by Plan Decor (and many more breathtaking arrangements to come – you’ll see!)…

entrance tbleRight in the first room, I was waiting at my booth with armfuls of roses for those brides …

my booth


… and photo books of my many weddings for inspiration.

booth2I was flanked by Jessica Morton of Miabel Hair and Makeup Artistry and by Aria Bella, a classical trio of harp (Anna Maria Mendieta), Violin (Joyce Lee) and soprano (Gloria Mendieta Gazave).

Then there was a display of breathtaking wedding dresses by my friends Saida and Chantal from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon:

Guests admired the beautiful light effects by Enhanced Lighting and got to enjoy yummy food by La Bocca Fina

… accompanied by wine and champagne by Mills Wine Group, with dessert (cake bites) from Have Your Cake:

cake bites… the exact same delicious cake that’s hiding under these gorgeous wedding cake confections:

Bill Choy of Travelin’ Joe served the most delicious coffee varieties to go with these cakes, and guests then proceeded to meet officiant Minister Maggie and the team from the nearby Westin SFO hotel, and to swoon over classic invitations by Hyegraph …

… and a beautiful dining table designed by Classic Party Rentals …

… with flowers from Plan Decor:


florist 1


Then it was time for the vendor presentation in the mansion’s soaring double-height Great Room – with Woody Miraglia of BigFunDJs as our MC – but not just some presentation!

There were musical performances by Gabriel’s Trumpets and Aria Bella Trio, there was a mini dance lesson by choreographer and dance instructor Cynthia Glinka of Dance with Glinka (get ready for your First Dance, brides and grooms!) …

dance instruction2

… Plan Decor raffled away a dreamy white bridal bouquet…

bridal bouquet

…and Have Your Cake gave away a cake… and, yes, the Westin gave away a weekend stay for two! Of course we also have a world-class videographer (Thomas Hughes) and photographer (Teresa Halton) to round it all off – as I said, one-stop shopping for the luxurious bride… and now we’ll all go to work planning these elegant weddings, and that’s the most fun work ever!