Masculine Urban Chic for Jonathan and James

When Jonathan (JC) and James (JJ) approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with planning their upcoming wedding for 250 guests, they had chosen their venue – Hangar One, a vodka distillery, in Alameda with views of the SF Bay – but were at a loss what to do next. The sheer amount of vendor decisions and details suddenly felt overwhelming. Plus, their wedding date was a mere five months away.

So we jumped right in! We were planning for a tent for dinner and dancing – a necessity, given the open site and the October date of the event. Since the two wished for a masculine design esthetic in line with the gritty-industrial character of their venue, we chose metal dining chairs and chargers that looked like weathered concrete, accompanied by matte-black cutlery. Then there was catering, ceremony decor, flowers, music, photo and video… and a thousand more details! Our five months of planning time went by in a rush – and then the big day had suddenly come.

The two were getting ready together at a nearby hotel…

No “First Look” necessary – just fun photos together! Photographer Anna Wu and videographer Allen Myers captured every precious moment.

Time to transfer to the venue!

The bridal party in the barrel room – that’s a really impressive space…

… and it’s pretty clear why JC and JJ were so taken by this venue!

Cheers!

Then there was a little quiet time to spend with their groomsmen.

Guests began arriving for the ceremony, and each of them received a favor tote bag (filled with sunglasses, a fan and more useful little items for the evening) emblazoned with the motto “Love is Love.”

The ceremony site had meanwhile been set up by the venue staff, the catering staff and the florist crew (Green Petal Designs) – with chic translucent “Ghost” chairs, an angular arch with asymmetric floral accents and with floral arrangements on all chairs bordering the aisle. A live hedge formed a beautiful backdrop above which the San Francisco skyline rose in the distance. What a sight!

Sound in Motion DJs provided sound for the ceremony (and for the whole evening)…

And there, it’s happening – with over 250 guests in attendance.

Signing the marriage license…

… and: it’s official!

Guests were meanwhile treated to elaborate cocktails by Runway Spirits (including the vodka that is distilled onsite!), to hors d’oeuvres by Carrie Dove Catering, and to entertainment: The Booth Bus photo booth had set up and was open for (fun) business!

As the fog was rolling in as the sun was setting, Cocktail Hour concluded, and guests were invited to dinner. They found their seat assignments via custom-designed escort cards…

… arranged on a spectacular linen shot with metallic silver threads.

Then dinner was ready in the spectacular clear-walled tent (by Stuart Event Rentals – all rental items), with unobstructed views across the San Francisco Bay.

The decor (by A Day Like No Other) struck just the right balance between masculine chic, modernity and elegance, and the effortlessly overspilling floral arrangements (by Green Petal Designs) added a touch of playfulness, color and texture to the mix.

Dinner under twinkling string lights was not only delicious, but a decidedly fun occasion.

Cheers!

The next order of the day for the newlyweds: cutting the cake (by Sugar Butter Flour Bakery).

Not to forget: the official First Dance!

At the conclusion of the evening, guests got treated to whimsical favors – very special dice handpicked by the now-newlywed gaming enthusiasts…

… here serving as a very unique display for their wedding bands!

What a party… and when it concluded at Hangar One, an afterparty went on offsite. These two know how to celebrate! Keep partying, JC and JJ!

J & S – a Glorious Summer Wedding at Nestldown

“J” and “S” are both very private people – so all we are allowed to share about the glorious summer wedding we at A Day Like No Other planned and designed for them are detail shots. Given how beautiful and unique their chosen venue – Nestldown – is, and given the exquisite decor and details of their nuptials, it’s well worth the effort! Photographer Stephane Leon and videographer Tony Castaneda captured every precious moment.

The bride spent the night before the wedding at the onsite guesthouse at Nestldown – an experience all its own! First order of the day: hair and makeup services by Wowpretty Salon.

The secluded patio at the guesthouse was the perfect location to capture her exquisite wedding dress.

True princess slippers – beaded and embellished – complemented this one-of-a kind dress.

Delicate mother-of-pearl jewelry, a hint of fragrance… and the bride was ready to get dressed, with the help of her mother and bridesmaids.

And here she is – ready for the ceremony! (The bride was adamant: no First Look! The first moment for her groom to see her would be at the ceremony).

A dramatic cathedral-length veil accompanied the dress – quite audacious, given the terrain at Nestldown!

Groom “S” was getting ready as well…

… wearing true classics, including monogrammed shirt cuffs – however, HIS way (no socks!).

The ceremony area had been set up in the “chapel,” a stunning natural grove of towering, centuries-old Redwood trees.

Lush arrangements of summer flowers (all floral decor by Green Petal Designs) lined the aisle which was covered with ivory rose petals. It was a gorgeous sight to behold.

This is the aisle at Nestldown for brides and grooms to enter the ceremony area – talk about drama!

While we are not at liberty to share any photos of the ceremony, we may show the beautiful dinner setup on the main lawn, with crossback chairs and classically-elegant place settings, summery centerpieces by Green Petal Designs, and the permanently installed twinkle lights in the surrounding trees which turned the scene magical as dusk was falling.

On their way to dinner, guests signed magnum bottles of the couple’s favorite wine, to be opened on milestone anniversaries to come.

Blue Heron Catering served a delicious meal as the sun was setting beyond the treetops. Next highlight of the evening: a showstopper of a wedding cake by The Buttery, as delicious as it was pretty to look at.

Dancing (including a choreographed First Dance routine!) happened in the Barn, the central building of the Nestldown event space, under an enormous crystal chandelier, and to the tunes of Big Fun Disc Jockeys.

At the conclusion of the evening, the couple departed in true Nestldown style: in an original historic London taxi!

Off to a lifetime of happiness together!

At Last: Roxanna and Clay are Getting Married!

A wedding a full three years in the making – hard to believe! But like so many other couples, Roxanna’s and Clay’s planning got derailed first by the COVID pandemic, and then by an accident and surgeries… and all that added up to three years of planning and replanning. I was so honored that my company, A Day Like No Other, was chosen for this task, with Clay’s mother deeply involved in all design decisions – and she did a FABULOUS job! Finally, the Great Day had arrived, and Heavens literally smiled on Roxanna and Clay, with a glorious summer day at Nestldown Estate in the Redwoods of Los Gatos.

Roxanna and her bridesmaids had spent the night before together at the luxurious onsite guesthouse, so the morning of Wedding Day went off to a leisurely start with hair and makeup services by Fiona and team of Urban Beauty Loft.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

While the ladies were being transformed into the most beautiful versions of themselves…

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… all vendor teams were hard at work behind the scenes to make the couple’s vision a reality.

The Nestldown venue team was preparing the ceremony site and all the whimsical features that the venue offers – from the life-size train to the authentic London taxis – while orchestrating a multitude of vendor deliveries.

Florist Natasha from Golden Fields Floristry decorated the hexagonal arch the couple had chosen with a profusion of gorgeous summer flowers in their favorite shades of pink, mauve and ivory.

Photo credit: ADLNO
Photo credit: ADLNO

The Betty Zlatchin Catering team under the leadership of Norema Salinas supervised the setup of the rustic bare wooden dining tables and chairs (from Bright Event Rentals) …

Photo credit: ADLNO

… which florist Natasha then decorated with lush green garlands, pink and ivory blooms and candles. Elegant place settings in gold and pink and laser-cut name “cards” completed the rustic-elegant look.

Photo credit: ADLNO

Then, of course, the catering team had to prepare food and set up the bars and and and…

All the while, our photographers (Bre Thurston and team) and videographer (Will Cook of Kindlewood Films) captured the preparations and then took the couple out into the Redwoods for their First Look.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

For the time being, we only have a few preview photos from Bre in addition to our iPhone snapshots, but wait until you see ALL their photos and video!

Soon enough, guests began arriving, and our ceremony musicians – the Mersonacta string quartet under the leadership of Laura Jeannin – serenaded the guests as they were being seated in the “chapel” – an impressive natural Redwood grove.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

Here comes the bride, on her father’s arm, to the sounds of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple, with just the right mix of lightheartedness and gravitas.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: ADLNO

And here they are – JUST MARRIED!!!

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

Off to many more photos, while guests were treated to drinks and delicious hors d’oeuvres.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

For extra entertainment, the couple had booked The Booth Bus, an authentic vintage VW bus outfitted with a state-of-the-art photo booth.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

Next up – dinner on the Main Lawn! Guests found their table assignments on the escort card table.

Photo credit: ADLNO
Photo credit: ADLNO

The newlyweds had a beautifully decorated Sweetheart Table all to themselves, overlooking the romantic Koi Pond and presiding over the long rows of guest tables.

Photo credit: ADLNO
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

DJ and MC “King” Raffi of Sound in Motion invited guests to dinner and took over musical entertainment from then on. BZC Catering served a delicious farm-to-table menu, toasts were proposed …

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… and as dusk fell and the string lights in the trees surrounding the Main Lawn were coming on twinkling, the scene turned truly magical.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

After dinner, guests were invited to the Barn – the big indoor event space at Nestldown – which had been set up with elegant lounge furniture (from Blueprint Studios) for dancing and desserts…

Photo credit: ADLNO

and, of course, for the cutting of THE CAKE…

Photo credit: ADLNO

… a true showstopper by BethAnn Goldberg of Studio Cake. What followed was the couple’s First Dance…

Photo credit: Bre Thurston
Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… a wild dance party to the sounds of DJ Raffi’s music …

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

… and a Grand Send-off to the London Taxi getaway car with guests waving LED sparklers.

Photo credit: Bre Thurston

What a party!! Wishing Roxanna and Clay a lifetime of happiness – keep celebrating!

Nghi and Jim opening the 2022 wedding season at Gamble Garden

The first wedding of my 2022 wedding season was already a very special one – and I am so honored that my company, A Day Like No Other, was chosen to plan this truly life changing event. For both bride and groom, this was their second marriage – they have children, and they both had taken their time to overcome the heartbreak of their first attempt. Neither was interested in yet another “big affair” – they were both “over that.” Instead, they were hoping for an intimate, deeply meaningful celebration with just their children, their closest friends and family members present – Nghi’s parents and her son, Jim’s sons. They had chosen a venue that embodies exactly this spirit; nothing flashy or glamorous. The venue of their choice was Elizabeth Gamble Garden, a small gem of a public park in the heart of Palo Alto, just large enough to accommodate their 50 guests, and already in bloom in early May with an abundance of rose varietals.

Nghi and her bridesmaids got ready onsite, in the historic Carriage House on the property.

Under the experienced hands of makeup artist Nguyen Ha, the pretty bride was transformed into a drop-dead gorgeous beauty.

Nghi’s two bridesmaids helped her to get into her form-fitting elegant dress …

… with a dramatic train …

… and many tiny buttons – and the bride adjusted her jewelry.

Florist extraordinaire Janelle Jacky-Litt of Green Petal Designs delivered an ethereal bridal bouquet in ivory, blush pink and light blue hues, with bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres and table decor to match.

And here are bride and bridesmaids, with the biggest smiles of their lives!

With that, bride Nghi was ready to step out…

Isn’t she stunning?!

Here with her biggest admirer… her son.

Meanwhile, groom Jim had also gotten ready…

… and here he is with all the boys – Nghi’s and his own.

Time for the “First Look!”

That’s amore! Now the couple was off to many more photos and video footage with acclaimed photographer Kevin Chin and videographer William Cook of Kindlewood Films.

Guests began arriving for the ceremony in the Rose Garden, officiated by Dr. Konrad Hölé of Officially Yours, and serenaded by the Magnolia Jazz Trio led by Robbie Schlosser.

Here comes the bride, accompanied by her parents.

After exchanging rings…

… they were officially declared “husband and wife,” and Jim received permission to “kiss the bride.”

Just married!

And off to more photos and video among a profusion of blooms – including the official photo of the newly united blended family.

All the while their guests enjoyed cocktails and Jazz – and left their “well wishes for the new Mr. & Mrs!”

My production team – Deanna and Stephanie – and the team of Continental Caterers were busy working behind the scenes to get everything ready and set up for dinner.

Dinner tables were set up under a majestic tree…

… it doesn’t get more romantic than that! The table setting reflected the feminine pastel hues of the bridal bouquet…

… and floating candles turned the scene truly magical.

The entrance of the newlyweds officially opened dinner…

The feast that followed was truly memorable – Continental Catering pulled all stops!

The couple was clearly enjoying themselves.

Maybe even more memorable than dinner itself – were the desserts! Have a look:

Following these mouthwatering treats, the newlyweds had time to mingle with their guests. But the last highlight of the evening was still to come: a gorgeous wedding cake by Krumbs Cakes, OF COURSE adorned with the same blush pink and light blue flowers that accompanied the couple and the guests through the whole celebration.

With that, they had accomplished their official joint task as a married couple. The evening concluded with the newlyweds enjoying the company of their handpicked guests, and everyone had a great time.

Wishing you all the happiness in the world, Nghi and Jim!

Courtney and Jesse: a Dream Wedding at Nestldown

These two were one of the many couples who had to reschedule their Great Day by a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And many things can happen in a year! For example, moving to the other side of the continent, buying a house, getting settled… and so, the Mother of the Bride shouldered many of the necessary planning tasks together with my company, A Day Like No Other, to ensure a seamless, perfect celebration.

The couple had chosen Nestldown Estate for their nuptials – a true dream location. Nestled deep in the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains and appointed with any luxury imaginable, it was the perfect venue for a truly memorable celebration.

The bride and her bridesmaids used the elegant onsite guesthouse for getting ready in the morning. Photography wife-and-husband “Team Bre Thurston” and videographer William Cook of Kindlewood Films captured every moment.

Hair and makeup stylist Violet Herod and her team “The Makeup Dolls” transformed these pretty ladies into drop-down gorgeous red-carpet beauties.

Next: the DRESS! An ethereal lace-encrusted confection that fit the bride like a glove.

Then – the shoes! Definitely the right dose of glamour to go with that dress…

… and, not to forget: the rings.

Once the bride had gotten into her regal outfit for the day, all that was still missing was her bouquet (like all florals by Emily of Flowergirl Em),

…and she was ready for official photos. After emotional Mother-Daughter…

… and Father-Daughter photos…

…the venue’s famous original London taxi took Courtney to the location of her First Look, a romantic spot under towering Redwood trees.

Groom Jesse had also gotten ready with the help of his groomsmen…

… and was waiting for permission to finally see his bride in all her finery!

Time for photos and then – time to proceed to the ceremony! This time, Courtney and Jesse rode the London taxi together.

The ceremony spot at Nestldown is the “Chapel” – a natural Redwood clearing of breathtaking beauty. Florist Emily had worked her magic to make it even more special…

… and music by the Amethyst Ensemble gave it an elegant touch.

Here comes the bride, on her father’s arm.

The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple.

“You may now kiss the bride!”

Just married!!

For the newlyweds – time for many more photos…

For the guests – time for Cocktail Hour with entertainment! The Amethyst Ensemble was playing, the Nestldown gardens were to be explored, and the Booth Bus photo booth was waiting.

For the catering crew of La Bocca Fina it was “showtime” after many hours of preparation and setup. The results were spectacular: the glamorous “boho chic” dining tables as much as the delicious food.

Guests found their assigned table through a unique display of calligraphed vases (by Flowergirl Em).

Everyone was having a great time, and as darkness fell, the scene turned magical – illuminated by string lights in the trees and by candlelight on the tables.

After dinner, everyone moved to the Apple Knoll for the couple’s First Dance…

…cake cutting…

… and dancing. And what a dance party that was! Los Gatos DJs got everyone on the dance floor in no time.

And OF COURSE, the newlyweds got a spectacular Send-off to match.

Everyone agreed – that was an event to remember. A lifetime of happiness to Courtney and Jesse!

Amanda & Noah: a Beautiful Wedding in the Times of COVID

What happened to Amanda and Noah is – unfortunately – very typical for many engaged couples looking forward to their once-in-a-lifetime wedding celebration. The two had booked an elegant hotel wedding in Hawaii and could absolutely not wait for their great day to arrive. And then came COVID-19. It ruined everything… so Hawaii had to be called off. That was already a major heartbreak. Amanda and Noah “re-grouped” and started all over. They would have their wedding at the beautiful Marin Art and Garden Center, not far from their new home, and they would invite more than a hundred guests to a charmed afternoon and night in this romantic park. But even this was not going to happen. The COVID-19 lockdown put an end to this plan, too. The couple was deeply disappointed and at a total loss what to do now. They did not want to postpone getting married even longer. So they turned to my company, A Day Like No Other, for help.

It was clear that the maximum number of guests they could have was thirty – so it would be a very intimate celebration. But I wanted this to be a unique, memorable and beautiful celebration for the two – so I recommended a little-known secret to them: the historic Casa Madrona Hotel in Sausalito. Charming, built into a steep hillside and overlooking the yacht harbor and SF Bay with spectacular sunsets, this was the perfect location for their small gathering.

Additional bonus: the teleconferencing capabilities that Casa Madrona is offering! That allowed Amanda and Noah to have all guests from their original list of invitees attend their ceremony, at least virtually. A small consolation, after all…

One other thing: while Marin Art and Garden Center, their previous choice for their wedding celebration, remained closed for social events, the two got permission to have wedding photos taken in this spectacular setting. Another consolation!

And so, the great day final arrived. The bride and her bridesmaids got ready at the couple’s home, with hair and makeup services by Maya Roget. Photographer Anne-Claire Brun captured every moment.

Once all the ladies had their hair and makeup done, it was time for the bride to get into her spectacular dress:

… elegant, feminine and modern at the same time, and it fit her like a glove! This was, of course, a classic mother-daughter moment…

And here is Bride Amanda!

Ready to pick up her romantic bridal bouquet by Fleur Real

… and off to her First Look at Marin Art and Garden Center.

A couple’s First Look is always one of my favorite moments – so special…

And now: many more photos!

One photo with the bridesmaids and groomsmen…

… and off they all go to Casa Madrona for the wedding ceremony and reception.

The teams of Jazmine Herrera at Casa Madrona, of Poggio Trattoria, the in-house caterer, the florist and myself had been busy getting the event space ready. The ceremony was to be held on a balcony overlooking the Sausalito yacht harbor, with guest seating spaced out following social distancing requirements. The Amethyst Duo played wedding classics out on the balcony.

The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom – it could not have been more personal and more heartfelt.

You may now kiss your bride!
Just married!

The video wall in the Junto Suite where the reception was held allowed remote guests to congratulate the newlyweds from afar.

While the onsite guests were enjoying cocktails with a view of the San Francisco Bay, the couple went off for more photos.

And then dinner was ready!

Because of the ongoing pandemic, we had little bottles of hand sanitizer on the dining tables… along with flowers and table numbers!

The couple and their guests were definitely enjoying themselves.

One more highlight of the day: Cake cutting! (The minimalist cake was by Butter&)

Amanda and Noah spent the rest of the evening just chatting with their guests, having fun and having quality time with their nearest and dearest. Although their wedding day unfolded so differently from what they had originally planned – it turned out beautiful, meaningful and very memorable. The newlyweds were simple – happy.

Music by the Espiritu Ensembles

Today I would like to “tip my hat” to a longtime collaborator who has become very dear to me over the years, cellist Suellen Primost, leader of the Espiritu Ensembles.

Suellen is not only a talented musician, through and through and an expert in non-Western music with an extensive repertoire – I admire her as much for who she is as a person. Always in harmony and at peace with herself, she creates an atmosphere of quiet joy for all around her, and that is truly a rare gift. When she fell seriously ill, she accepted it with her usual grace and composure – and then, by a sheer miracle, she recovered, and lately she has even gotten back to playing her beloved cello. I have learned a lot from her, and now I would like to share with you all a sample of her music. Enjoy!

The most beloved wedding songs of all time

Call me old-fashioned – but when it comes to the wedding ceremony I always recommend “classics.” And the most beloved ones of them all are – Canon in D (chosen by at least 80% of all my brides for their processional), Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (a favorite for their recessional) and “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles.

Here they are!

The oldest one of them all is Pachelbel’s Canon. Johann Pachelbel was a German Baroque composer and organist who enjoyed tremendous popularity in his lifetime (1653 to 1706). Most of his extensive body of work is nowadays forgotten outside of musicologist circles – some of you may know his Chaconne in F minor and his Toccata in E minor for organ – but the one piece of music that has survived is his Canon in D – it has literally become synonymous with wedding music.

Here comes the bride – Frank Lee Photography

For the recessional, the “classic” choice is Felix Mendelssohn’s Bartholdy’s Wedding March (from his incidental music to Shakespeare’s play A Midsummernight’s Dream).

Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. A true prodigy, he performed as a pianist at the age of nine, and he wrote his first symphony at the age of 15!! Mendelssohn’s compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music which are all still part of the standard concert repertoire; but even those without ties to classical music love the Wedding March! Here it is, played by the Berlin Philharmonic.

And for those who’d rather go a little more contemporary – but still stick with a timeless classic – for their wedding music, there is the last word on love from The Beatles, here played for us by our own Synchronicity Strings!

The harp how you don’t know it yet!

One of my longest-time collaborators, harpist Erica Messer, holds a very special place in my heart: she is one of the first brides whose wedding I planned with my then-startup company, A Day Like No Other. Erica and I have since done many beautiful weddings together, and over the years I have learned from her that my personal perception of her beloved instrument – as something that is mainly played by angels in Heaven, so to speak – is entirely wrong. Erica is one of those who have brought the harp into the 21st century and proven it the perfect accompaniment for contemporary tunes as well. Here is proof – and, oh, did I forget to say that Erica’s harp is HOT PINK?!!

Magnolia Jazz is playing for us!

You all know my friend Robbie Schlosser and Magnolia Jazz! Robbie is one of the most helpful and warm-hearted people around – you all know that! – and so he immediately offered to contribute to our little series of “COVID-19 support and encouragement.” He is playing “I’m Old-Fashioned,” and you will love it so much that you, too, will declare: “I’m Old-Fashioned!”

Enjoy, and do let Robbie know how you liked it! ([email protected])