News from the WIPA 2013 Kick-off Meeting at the Westin St. Francis, San Francisco

Today WIPA – Wedding Industry Professionals Association –  held their 2013 kickoff meeting at the iconic Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. As a member of the WIPA Events Committee, I had the pleasure and the honor to organize this event together with my co-chair Kimberly Roberts – a fantastic collaboration between A Day Like No Other and LVL Events. It was a great party!

The Westin St. Francis Hotel, the “Grande Dame on Union Square” in San Francisco, had graciously offered to host our luncheon – but not only that, they invited us to use their “Imperial Floor!” It’s so “VIP” that the elevator doesn’t stop there unless you are in possession of a special key!

The famous 32nd floor, high above the City and with killer views of the Bay and the Marin Headlands, holds two Ballrooms, the “Alexandria” (think cream and gold opulence) and “Victor’s Palace” (cream, powder pink and light blue accents) and a generous foyer. We were overjoyed! But the Westin’s generosity didn’t even stop there. General Manager Jon Kimball, Catering Director Bill Hedgepeth and Wedding Sales Specialist Lauren Schardt went on to provide a cocktail hour with free-flowing Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, a three-course lunch and a surprise after that; more of it later.

To announce our kickoff meeting, we turned to Gusto Lopez of Life in Digital Videography who created a special e-Save-the-Date for us – his own invention! That’s how tech-savvy couples can now let the world know they are getting married – Gusto will post a custom Save-the-Date videoclip on all the couple’s Social Media channels, and voila!

Our E-Save-the-Date obviously worked: we had a record attendance of 120 guests for our function. Guests walked right into an elegant cocktail reception where tea-smoked tuna edamame tartar, salt-roasted pears in prosciutto and lobster gougeres accompanied rose Champagne.

What a start to a great event! Classical guitarist Julio Reyes set the festive mood with his music, and when guests walked into the dining area, they were greeted by an elegant table décor inspired by Vintage Victorian Valentine’s cards.

Sharon Dexmier of Napa Valley Linens had provided exquisite linens: an ivory jacquard with antique gold napkins, topped by gold menu carsa and Victorian Valentine’s themed notepads from custom stationery boutique The Desk Set as favors.

Centerpieces were stunning arrangements of ivory hydrangeas, pale pink and mauve roses and dark berries by Ornamento – some in low urns, some crowning towering candelabras. It was definitely a setting fit for royalty.

The whole elegant affair was masterfully captured by photographer Kevin Chin of Kevin Chin Photography and Cinema – for our WIPA newsletter; I am positive, everyone will look their very best, viewed through Kevin’s lens!

WIPA luncheons always blend networking, sheer fun and education; and so we had two speakers today: Lara Burnap, editor of California Wedding Day magazine, and Summer Watkins, editor of  a circle of blogs – Grey Likes Weddings, Grey Likes Baby and Grey Likes Nesting.

Both presented Online and Off: Trends in Wedding Media. These two prominent members of the wedding media gave insider advice about trend forecasts, how to position wedding design for best editorial coverage, how to recruit ideal clients and vendors, and how to approach media in a way that will get noticed. The audience was riveted! So much hands-on, practical information from the real insiders is a rare treat, and over lunch everyone was in animated conversation on how best to make use of all this professional advice.

Lunch was an exquisite succession of a mixed lettuce with roasted grapes and pickled radish; mushroom-crusted Angus beef filet and a mignardise plate of a selection of pastry chef Jean-Francois’  confectioner’s delights.

Following lunch, our guests were treated to a raffle – one lucky winner took home one of Ornamento’s stunning centerpieces,

another one won a tray of luxurious European chocolate favors, lovingly decorated  to fit into our Vintage Valentine’s theme, by ChocoVogue;

and the main prize was a dinner and a night at the Westin St. Francis hotel. Speaker Lara Burnap played Lady Luck and announced the winners. You can imagine the excitement! And yet – one of the high points of our event was still to come: a presentation of four wedding cakes, prepared by the cake bakers affiliated with the Westin, and a tea-and-coffee bar, displayed in the adjacent “Victor’s Palace” ballroom – an extravaganza in cream, pink and baby blue with gilded accents, furnished with antiques from One True Love Vintage Rentals.


Guitarist Julio Reyes generously gave encores to serenade the revelers who were happily digging into their cake!

Chef Bala, the “Cakemaker,” presented melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and vanilla layer cakes

Chef Bala, the “Cakemaker,” presented melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and vanilla layer cakes;

“Pretty Please” beckoned with cupcakes in exotic flavors…

“Elegant Cheese Cakes” for guests to take home

I can say with confidence that everyone had a good time, and even those who did not win a raffle prize went home with personal cheesecakes and to-go boxes filled with cupcakes, classic chocolade layer cake and more. And each and every one went home wearing a big smile!