City Lights at the Four Seasons San Francisco – a Styled Shoot

Where to start? When my longtime collaborator and friend, photographer Shhivika Chauhan, called and suggested to do a super-elegant styled shoot together, I was immediately on board – City Lights in San Francisco, at dusk! The Four Seasons Hotel in the heart of downtown SF invited us and offered us the Presidential Suite for our shoot – and we were overjoyed. It doesn’t get any more elegant and urbane than that!

We jumped into planning mode. We’d present a gay couple. We’d present the Pantone Color of the Year – “Marsala” – as an accent in an otherwise cool and masculine design scheme. Shhivika found the couple, I found the rentals (from Classic Party Rentals and Stuart Rentals) and decor items. Janelle Jacky, one of our favorite florists, promised the flowers, sculptural, geometric and un-frilly as dreamt up by us. Kathleen DeManti of Spoonful of Sugar provided the very unusual wedding cake that we envisioned. Bella Figura created the invitations, Selix provided the attire, Nicole Perez was our make-up artist extraordinaire. David Robinson, Meg Paynor and their Four Seasons team made sure we had absolutely everything we needed, and more. And here we go!


Getting ready


The rings, custom-made for this occasion by Vittoria d’Aste-Surcouf of VAS Bijoux:


…and the boutonieres:


… and shoes – with the City as backdrop:

shoes in windowDone!

couple at window

The two have definitely earned a glass of champagne now…




Time to sit down at their “cool” sweetheart table –


Structured platinum grey linens provided an elegant and understated backdrop for sculptural dark red Amaryllis blooms in a geometric arrangement, red cut-crystal goblets, red candles in silver candelabras…

place setting

… and sleek white-and-platinum place settings.


glassesThe two liked it!

holding hands


After dinner, they tackled the cake table:

cake table 2…with City lights coming on as night was falling.

City LightsThey took a stroll to explore their beautiful venue:

yellow painting

… and found the Grand Piano, one of their many shared passions…


Then they ventured outside…

highrise lights

night walk

… for an intimate nighttime walk …

Grand Exit… and back home.

Thank you so much to our couple – you were fantastic models!

Hotel – Presidential Suite at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco / Model Couple – Brad And Tom / Hair And Make-Up – Nicole Perez / Wedding Props – Everything But The Wedding Dress / Calligraphy – Sarah Hanna / Custom Diamond Wedding Rings – VAS BIJOUX / Dessert – A Spoonful Of Sugar / Event Design Rentals – Classic Party Rentals / Grooms’ Attire – Selix Formalwear / Invitations – Bella Figura / Floral Designer – Janelle Jacky / Event Planning & Design – Jutta Lammerts at Day Like No Other / Photographer – SHHIVIKA CHAUHAN PHOTOGRAPHY




Urban Chic and Elegance at the Four Seasons, SF

The shoot focuses on two grooms, Brad and Tom (also a couple in real life!), and takes place in the Presidential Suite of the Four Seasons overlooking the twinkling city lights of San Francisco. We hope you like the cool, chic city style and  the sweet intimacy of the celebration. Truly the perfect combination!

red wedding inspiration


Hotel – Presidential Suite at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco / Model Couple – Brad And Tom / Hair And Make-Up – Nicole Perez / Wedding Props – Everything But The Wedding Dress / Calligraphy – Sarah Hanna / Custom Diamond Wedding Rings – VAS BIJOUX / Dessert – A Spoonful Of Sugar / Event Design Rentals – Classic Party Rentals / Grooms’ Attire – Selix Formalwear / Invitations – Bella Figura / Floral Designer – Janelle Jacky / Event Planning & Design – Jutta Lammerts at Day Like No Other / Photographer – SHHIVIKA CHAUHAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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“How I Do it All” – by Alison Howard

Alison Howard is a fellow wedding planner (and a wildly successful one!), speaker, coach and mentor and fills a lot of other roles on top of that – among other things, she’s a wife and mother, too. I admire her to no end! How on Earth can she do it all? She lifted her secret on her blog, the Alison Howard Blog, on May 13 of this year. And she was generous enough to let me re-print it.


First of all, I don’t.

Maybe it’s because you see that I’m a wife, a mom of three, a wedding planner and a business coach, I make videos here and there, I speak at conferences, I cook, I clean my own house, I work out fairly regularly and I occasionally do my hair and make-up that leads you to wonder “How does she do it all?” (Which just so happens to be one of the questions I am asked the most.) But the truth that I hope most of you know deep down in your gut is that no one does it all.

I do all those things listed above, but not all at once and not all the time or nothing would be done well. For example, as I write this, I am in sweats, unshowered, and a general mess.  No amount of money would draw me out into public in my current state.  But that’s because I chose to spend an hour cleaning my kitchen this morning (which I didn’t have time to clean on Monday – seeeeee…..!!!) instead of getting ready.  Also, writing this post doesn’t require that I get ready, so I didn’t.  And that’s pretty much what it boils down to.  Priorities and choices.  Cleaning my kitchen and writing to you trumped vanity today. Tomorrow I am coaching two new wedding planners, so vanity will trump and I will choose to get ready and be presentable for those meetings (you’re welcome Amber and Diana!).

I’ve gotten used to this balancing act in my own life but for those who are new to juggling so much responsibility, here are a few tips that I discovered and clung to when I realized that I had two choices: sink or swim.  I hope they help you to keep your head above water as you wear more hats than you thought possible, with a measure of elegance and grace.

Get Up Before The Sun

I absolutely know how difficult this is and how not fun it is to wake up early, but this is a total game changer if you can will yourself to do it – I promise!  Most mornings I get up early, around 5am, while everyone else is asleep (except my husband, he gets up early too).  Depending on my schedule that day I workout for 30 minutes then read my Bible and pray (and have coffee!) for 30 minutes – my hour of power is what I call that!  This helps me get into the right mindset as I prepare for the day.  Working out early in the day leaves me with so much energy and just makes me feel positive as I go through the morning routine with the kids.  Do I do this every day or perfectly?  No.  Some mornings it is more beneficial for me to get an extra hour of sleep.  On the weekends I don’t get out of bed before 7am unless I have to.  But most mornings the early bird thing is my jam and my productivity is so much higher those days.

Ask For Help

I ask for help when I need it.  I started my business when my daughter was two years old and I have had two more children in the past 8 years.  I juggled and did my best on my own, which is what I think most of us do because when you start a business you’re usually broke as a joke from investing into said business.  At least this was the case for me, but I made it work.  Emails were answered during naptimes; meetings happened in the evenings when hubby was home, weddings on weekends.  For vendor meetings or speaking engagements I’d get a sitter, but I just made it all work because I had to.  I was in hustle mode.  Honestly, it’s really kind of a blur.  ; )  Once things got so busy I didn’t think I could do it on my own I hired a nanny for a period of time because I desperately needed the help.  There is zero shame in asking for help.  Zero.  Whether it’s hiring a nanny for a season, a cleaning lady a few times a month or bartering something you do well (like cooking) with something someone else can do (like carpool). Get creative and make it happen.

Know Your Limits & Just Say NO

My personal rule: no emails or calls after 5pm.  This is my family time and that time is so precious to my soul.  I need it.  It trumps any email or phone call.  However, life happens and there have been times when I’d have a big project that required extra time and so, yes, I would work after 8pm when the kids were in bed, but it be wouldn’t answering emails.  If you send emails at 10pm that sends the message that you are available for your clients during that time and that is a boundary that I just had to have in place. I never booked more weddings than I thought I could handle (which was 15, 20 max, but my sweetest spot was 10 weddings).  I never overcommitted or felt that I had to attend every networking meeting or luncheon that I was invited to.  I have said ‘no’ to several opportunities because they didn’t fit in with my life even though they seemed cool.  Embrace the fear of missing out professionally so you don’t miss out on your life personally.


Your blog schedule, video schedule, deadlines, kids appointments, date nights, your own appointments (personal and professional), workouts, errands, and even time for rest…get it all on the calendar.  I always schedule a few hours a week just to read, get a massage, grab lunch with a friend, paint (painting with watercolors is a fun new thing I’m learning); this gives you some margin to exhale and enjoy something that isn’t work-related.  I have two separate calendars; one for work and one for family.  They both hang on my wall in my office so that I can glance over and see everything that is going on.  It’s also all on my calendar on my phone, but I like being able to see it without opening my phone because we all know how easily we can get sucked down the rabbit hole that is the phone.  If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist for me.  Once upon a time I could get away with not being a slave to my calendar but that is not the season I’m in anymore and even though I don’t particularly like it, I know I’m lost without it.

Domesticated Duties Day

Monday’s are my day “off” to get my house in order for the week.  I am the person in our family who does all of the cooking and most of the cleaning.  Let me be really honest and express that this part of ‘doing it all’ was the hardest for me to embrace mostly because of my ego. That’s right, I said it. I used to struggle with thinking that I was too good to be cleaning the house…I mean, I could be spending my time doing more important things.  Other times I’d think that it was unfair that my husband gets to work 8 hours uninterrupted while I cart the kids around, work, cook, clean, AND have to be pretty while I do it all!  This is where I had to check myself and adjust my perspective.  I am so dang BLESSED to be able to work from home and do all the things I do.  And as you already know, I don’t even get ready most days, so there goes the whole pretty thing. : )

Let’s talk cooking first: If cooking for your family is something you do (or want to do), meal planning is essential.  I meal plan for the week every Sunday evening and grocery shop every Monday morning.  I cook a lot in the beginning of the week so I don’t have to cook Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  As for cleaning: I don’t like cleaning house any more than you do BUT I do love a clean home.  Few things feel better than everything being clean, in its place, smelling all good…it’s like jumping into a Pottery Barn mag and it just makes me feel happy. Monday’s I deep clean the bathrooms and kitchen after I grocery shop.  Laundry is done daily and the kids have been taught to do their own (praise the Lord). Vacuuming, dusting, mopping, changing bed linens is done Saturday mornings.  The kids have been taught to clean their own rooms (yes, we do have to help occasionally and re-teach this as they are just so dang forgetful ; ).  We pick up things left out daily so that clutter doesn’t consume us.  I really stress teamwork in our home and the kids are (mostly) on-board.  I have this part down to a system that works really well for us.  Again, if you are not domesticated or don’t have time to be, outsource!  There is zero shame in this.  Because I work from home and make my own schedule I am able to do it with a (mostly) joyful heart.  If you want to know more about meal planning or keeping house just ask in the comments and I’ll share in another blog post.

Be Kind To Yourself

You have to have grace for yourself.  I’m sure you have all heard the popular adage “progress, not perfection”, but it’s totally true.  Some weeks I’m insanely motivated and do all this really well.  Other weeks I’m just off and half of this doesn’t get done.  That’s life.  Balancing marriage, parenthood, and being an entrepreneur is hard and no one expects you to move mountains.  So deep breath and do your best and when you can’t, give yourself permission to stop, recharge, and ask for help.  Ultimately, know that you aren’t in those beautiful trenches alone (and that this season won’t last forever). : )


Shine on,






Timeless Elegance and Luxury: A Stylized Wedding Shoot at the Westin St. Francis

Both my friend, photographer Shhivika Chauhan, and myself cannot sit still. Ever. We both always have ideas… so during the short “lull” in wedding season – between December and January – Shhivika suggested we do a Styled Shoot together – A Day Like No Otherand Shhivika Chauhan. Theme: timeless high elegance and City lights at dusk. Great! I love high elegance. I love the City. And I love the Westin St. Francis. We were so lucky that Catering Director Lauren Schardt invited us to the gorgeous Alexandra’s Ballroom on the Imperial (32nd) Floor high above the lights of the City. So I set out planning and designing… And here is the result  (published today on The Black Tie Bride blog). Hope you love it!

Let’s start with a dress fit for a princess…

dress in window

bride back train

… and a bouquet to match…

bride and bouquet

… as well as an Art Deco diamond and platinum bracelet and a South Sea pearl necklace.

pearls in glass

ring on plate

Custom-made wedding bands…


… and timelessly elegant, luxurious invitations.


A stunning altar piece with matching aisle decor …

altar piece

aisle decor

.. and a gilded harp to serenade the couple.



China, flatware, glassware and linens were chosen to complement the blues and golds in the ballroom decor…

place setting and carpet

… and a glorious, towering centerpiece of orchids, roses and hydrangeas anchored the look of the sweetheart table.

swtht tble


ctrpc detail

Elegant bride and dapper groom:

bride portrait

groom portrait

And here – comes the bride!

here comes the bride

here comes the bride 2

first kiss

Just married!!

petal shower

After that, it was time for THE CAKE! For that, the bride changed into a more modern, yet equally stunning dress, complemented by an antique brooch worn as a hairpiece:

haute couture

WestinStFrancis_StyledShoot_SHHIVIKACHAUHANPHOTOGRAPHY95For me,  the dessert table was sheer designer bliss and fun…

dessert tbl



cake pops

tete a tete

Thanks to all who collaborated with us and made it happen!

Model Couple: HM Model Agency  | Hair And Make-UpNicole Perez | Wedding Props: Everything But The Wedding Dress |  Calligraphy: Sarah Hanna | Custom Diamond Wedding Rings: VAS BIJOUX | Fine Estate Jewelry: Gleim Jewelers | Dessert: A Spoonful Of Sugar | Cake Pops: Sweet Lauren Cakes | Event Design Rentals: Stuart Rental | Bridal Gown: Novella Bridal SF | Groom’s Attire: Selix Formalwear | Invitations: Bella Figura | Floral Designer: Janelle Jacky | Live Harp Music: Anna Maria Mendieta | Venue: Alexandra Ballroom, Westin St. Francis, San Francisco | Event Planning & Design: A Day Like No Other – Jutta Lammerts |  Videographer: Ewa Samples | Photographer: Shhivika Chauhan




The Art of Lighting – WIPA at the Omni SF

In my capacity as the Regional Director of Events for Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA), it is my honor and my pleasure to create four festive events per year. After all, my business, A Day Like No Other, is all about wedding and event planning and design! Our meetings are always elegant luncheons with a speaker presentation, beautiful decor and a “WOW!” factor for our members and not-yet-members alike. And this time, we had more than just one WOW factor!

But I am definitely getting ahead of myself. This time, on May 12, it was the venerable Omni Hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District, that played host to our meeting. Our videographer, Spencer Sarson Visuals, prepared a little preview for you to enjoy:

Originally built as a bank, it exudes the grandeur of a bygone era…

Omni Hotel small size… with a grand lobby, rich textiles, gilded crystal chandeliers… and a newly renovated ballroom. This ballroom actually became the “playground” for our speaker, Kim Martin of Impact Lighting – a live lab of lighting options.

The festivities began with registration…

17650162352_589372c749_k… and Cocktail Hour …


… and that’s where the “WOW!” surprises for our guests started. Our photographer, Loic Nicolas of Loic Nicolas Photography (who also provided the whole photo coverage, thanks to the help of Colson Griffith Photography) had brought a demonstration of his new 3D wedding photography technology…


… and obviously, guests are STUNNED by the possibilities!


As you see – WIPA events are always a lot of fun!

But, as promised, that was just the beginning. In accordance with the elegant new “Great Gatsby” style decor of the Omni’s function rooms, Magnolia Jazz provided music fitting to Great Gatsby times:


And if that hadn’t already been enough to transport guests into celebration mode, the strolling “Champagne Skirt” by CatalystArts definitely did exactly that:


Mimosas, anyone?!


Then it was time to sit down for lunch…


… at tables decked out in elegant blue-and-gold linens by Classic Party Rentals and centerpieces by Ha Rue Designs (who provided all other floral decor as well) …





… and the speaker presentation. Lighting designer Kim Martin…

17652656895_7dbc4ed875_k… relied on the power of “Show, not tell” and transformed the Omni ballroom by ever-changing lighting combinations:





That does deserve the title “WOW!”, right?! And Spencer Sarson Visuals videotaped it all so all WIPA members can watch this fabulous presentation again.

After lunch, the party was far from over, because – given that we are here all “wedding people” – one highlight was still to come: THE CAKE! And here is that piece of edible art by Maralyn Tabatsky of Have Your Cake:


Oh-so-beautiful outside, and oh-so-yummy inside:



And did people have a good time? Have a look yourself:





I’d say YES! Hoping to see you at our next event: September 1st, at the Argonaut Hotel San Francisco!