An Intimate Wedding Celebration in High Elegance: Wei and Thomas at Stonepine Estate

When Wei and Thomas approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for assistance with planning their wedding, they had already decided on the overall framework: they would invite only their parents, siblings, and closest friends; they wanted to provide their guests with a whole weekend of shared quality time and fun activities; and more than anything else, they wanted total privacy.  That already ruled out their original idea of a ceremony in their favorite public park… and a hotel wedding as well. I began to compile a list of suitable venues – and Wei and Tom went on many, many site visits. Nothing seemed really perfect. While they had specified a “modern” venue, and under no circumstances a Spanish-Mediterranean architecture, I kept thinking of my all-time favorite wedding venue: Stonepine Estate in Carmel Valley. It was the perfect fit except for one little thing: its mansion is built in Spanish-Mediterranean style. So I gathered my courage and sent Wei and Thomas there to have a look. To their own biggest surprise, they fell “head over heels” for this extraordinary venue.

A former ranch, Stonepine Estate is situated on 33o acres of rolling hills, pristine gardens, a vineyard, and an Equestrian Center. It can accommodate only around 30 guests – talk about seclusion and privacy! (No wonder that it’s a secret among Hollywood celebrities trying to escape the paparazzi…). An unassuming gate opens to a mile-long driveway through one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen:

… with mature trees and lush plantings…

The narrow driveway leads up to a horse sculpture….

… flanking an imposing wrought-iron gate with the initials “C” and “N” for “Chateau Noel,” the name of the central mansion on property.

This gate grants access to the real “inner sanctum,” the Chateau itself.

Wei and Thomas would get married here on March 11, a Sunday. We had a mere three months to plan together with Stonepine Special Events Director Gail Quinnan …

… and last weekend, it all came together beautifully.

Guests had arrived in San Francisco ahead of time and were treated to a relaxing shuttle ride (by Main Event Transportation) on the Saturday before the wedding. Unfortunately the weather forecast was correct this time – Saturday was completely rained out. (BUT, more importantly, the forecast was again correct for Sunday, the day of the wedding: sunshine!). Stonepine is so elegant and cozy and offers so many beautiful areas to “hang out,” that everyone was just staying in, chatting, catching up, and having a good, quiet time. The first real event of Wei’s and Thomas’ wedding weekend was the Rehearsal Dinner onsite, at Blacksmith’s in the Equestrian Center. Just shortly before six, our start time, the rain abated, and a beautiful double rainbow appeared – what a great start to our festivities!

Inside, a rustic BBQ dinner was awaiting the guests, in a real “Western” setting, complete with a fully functional carriage:

After dinner, games in the huge former hayloft were awaiting – shuffleboard, pool, foosball, board games, and a ping-pong table for a heated tournament!

Everyone had a really great time.

Next morning, the sun came up to a clear, blue sky and a slight breeze. It was the perfect day for an outdoor wedding! Finally the guests could take full advantage of all the outdoor activities Stonepine has to offer, from croquet and tennis to horseback riding.

For Wei, the day began with  hair and makeup styling by Tiffany Chiang of Design Her Image, and then she slipped into her classic all-lace dress…

… with matching elegant heels…

Wei’s Mom helped with the adjustments – a true mother-daughter moment!

Vena Tse of Flor de Monterey had made her a classic bouquet of all-white roses… (and boutonnieres for the gentlemen, wristlets for the mothers, ceremony and dining decor)

Ready to grant her “Prince Charming” a First Look, all captured by photographer extraordinaire Kevin Chin

The ceremony area in the “Cherub and Swan” garden was set up and beautifully decorated with flowers by Flor de Monterey…

… and the Mersonacta String Quartet was ready to play. Beautiful bilingual programs in the wedding colors, prepared  by A Day Like No Other, made it easy for all guests to follow the proceedings.

The bride and her father were chauffeured to the ceremony in high style, in the signature Stonepine Rolls Royce:

… and here comes the bride, on her father’s arm, to the sounds of Johan Pachelbel’s “Canon in D:”

In his very personal wedding ceremony, Officiant Rev. Brian Lyke struck the perfect balance between lightheartedness and words of wisdom, and every guest was deeply moved. Even the youngest of all guests, 6-month-old puppy Yuki on her Mom’s lap, was perfectly well behaved!

Just married, showered with rose petals, and ready for their official first kiss!

The newlyweds were whisked away in their Rolls Royce…

… for more photos with Kevin Chin:

While their guests were enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the patio, serenaded by the Mersonacta String Quartet…

… we were putting the finishing touches on the setup for the couple’s Tea Ceremony, a nod to the bride’s Chinese heritage.

The couple had changed into elegant Chinese attire…

… and in order to share this rich cultural tradition with all guests, a bilingual  “Mistress of Ceremonies” (aka Zheng, the Fortune Woman) guided the ceremony.

Wei and Thomas put their own spin on the tradition by including elements of the Korean Pae Baek: catching dates and other fruit symbolizing fertility, tossed to them by their parents, in a big red cloth to ensure many, many babies! It was a joyful experience for everyone.

Again, behind the scenes, we were frantically working and preparing dinner and the dining room for the couple and their guests.

The celebratory speeches of the Dads were again translated for everyone to follow and to cheer on the newlyweds!

After dinner, the whole party retired to the elegant living room of the Chateau to witness the couple’s official first joint venture: cutting the wedding cake – a delicious strawberry-cream confection from Patisserie Parker-Lusseau.

While enjoying this luscious dessert, guests were treated to the last highlight of the evening: a professional slideshow on Wei’s and Thomas’ story – complete with subtitles, but totally self-explanatory with cute drawings and photos. What a day… what a weekend!

Wishing you a lifetime of happiness, Wei and Thomas – accompanied of precious memories of a very special weekend in Carmel Valley.