Chic in Teal, Cobalt and Hot Pink: Laura and Tyler’s Wedding

After five years as a couple and another year of engagement (and wedding planning!), Laura’s and Tyler’s Great Day was finally drawing close, and I am so honored they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, to coordinate their wedding. To make it easy on their guests, many of whom had come from far (and a good number even from Europe) to share their joyful occasion, the couple opted for a hotel where everyone could simply stay and be pampered: the Marriott in San Mateo.

Laura had chosen a bold and striking color combination to go with her dramatic ivory-and-silver wedding dress: teal (for the bridesmaids’ dresses), hot pink (for the bouquets by Floravida)


and a dash of cobalt (chair sashes and napkins) to round it off.

For Laura, her four bridesmaids and the mothers, the day began with a beauty session in the two-story bridal suite with hair by Char Petersen ( and makeup by Lanay, the Makeup Girl. Photographer James Everett and the Less Than Three Video Team captured the ladies getting ready – and then the bride was being helped into her voluminous dress.

getting ready

Off to photos with bridesmaids and the bride’s family – especially with the bride’s brother Lane who was also the officiant!

bride officiant The groom and his groomsmen were meanwhile treated to a grooms’ party by the groom’s Dad to make sure they wouldn’t try to get a peak at the bride, because… Laura absolutely did not want to be seen by Tyler before the ceremony! Everybody played along, and so the last moments before the ceremony became very emotional…

The ceremony took place in a courtyard with a beautiful gazebo, and the aisle decor matched the bride’s favorite colors perfectly:

aisle decor

Here they are, with Lane officiating (and doing a wonderful job with a deeply personal ceremony).

ceremony 2

The day turned out to be perfect, summery, sunny under blue skies with a light (and sometimes stronger) breeze that blew away the petals on the aisle… and the bride and groom were all smiles! DJ Dan of Love in the Mix provided wedding music, Pachelbel’s traditional Canon in D followed by “A Thousand Years.” And everyone needed the tissues the bride wisely provided for the guests!

Just married…

Just married 1

Immediately following the ceremony, our photographer took a group shot of everyone attending the wedding – more than a hundred friends and family members! While the couple had their traditional post-ceremony photos taken, guests enjoyed cocktails and snacks, followed by a lavish sit-down dinner in the elegant “Engage” ballroom.

table 1

Once guests were seated, the newlyweds were introduced and enjoyed their (beautifully choreographed) First Dance:

first dance

Toasts and speeches punctuated a delicious meal,  cutting the cake (by Studio Cake) and cupcakes


cake detail(“T” for Tyler, “L” for Laura, and “C” for the initial of both their last names – isn’t that perfect?!

cake cutting

and a special surprise by the Mother of the Groom: a musical slide show to accompany the Mother-Son dance!

Then the dance floor was officially opened to everyone, kicking off a wild dance party! Guests just took a break for the bouquet toss and garter toss …


and then later on to enjoy a surprise sundae buffet.

In lieu of a conventional guest book, guests signed a matted and framed engagement photo of Laura and Tyler – ready-to-go artwork for their home and a forever-cherished keepsake for sure!

guest bookAnd here is why I love my job so much:

love my job

Many happy years together, Laura and Tyler, and our best wishes on your way!

Who Else Got Married in July? Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez!

Halle Berry is definitely a household name! She started as a fashion model (and still is spokesmodel for Revlon) and then transitioned into a wildly successful acting career. Her breakthrough was 1992′s Boomerang, which led to roles in films such as Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), for which she won the Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, amongst many other awards. In Die Another Day (2002), she played Bond Girl Jinx. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for her performance in Monster’s Ball, becoming the first and, as of 2014, the only woman of African-American descent to win an Oscar for a leading role. Quite a story!

She wasn’t as lucky in her personal life, with two divorces under her belt, until she met French actor Olivier Martinez, her co-star on the set of Dark Tide, in 2010.


Martinez proposed to Berry in early 2012 with an emerald engagement ring by Paris designer Robert Mazlo.

ring ring detail

On July 13, 2013, the two tied the knot in Martinez’ country -  at Chateau des Conde in Vallery, France.

chateau des condes

Marquees were put up, and everyone was very discreet because it was a celebrity wedding.

Halle Berry arrived in a vintage Citroen DS:

here comes the bride

The bride and groom first exchanged vows in a civil ceremony performed by a local mayor at around 4:15 p.m., and then had a religious ceremony in the chapel on the grounds of the Chateau at 5:30 p.m.. Around 60 guests, including Martinez’s brother, Vincent, and mother, Rosemarie, were in attendance.

The six-months-pregnant bride wore a Jenny Packham wedding dress called the Blaire gown. The stunning dress had a ruched, plunging neckline with an empire waist, hundreds of delicate Swarovski crystals and a full skirt.

wedding dress jenny packham

It was a great party. Following the ceremony in the chapel, wedding guests enjoyed a celebratory dinner, followed by a fireworks display and dancing well into the early morning hours.

And in October, their son, Maceo, was born in Los Angeles. With Berry’s daughter Nahla, from a previous relationship, the family is complete:

family with Nahla

Since both parents lead very busy professional lives, they can’t spend much time together – let’s hope the saying applies that “separation makes the heart grow fonder!”

Happy 1st anniversary!



Who Else Got Married in June? Christy Turlington and Edward Burns!

For all of those among you, dear readers, who were teens or so in the eighties (like this writer…), the name Christy Turlington will inspire awe. For all of you who were teens twenty years later, let me explain. Christy Turlington was one of the four top models of the eighties, alongside Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson and Naomi Campbell. To their generation, they were goddesses, nothing less. Not even Hollywood A-listers even came close. So… we were all in awe, and still are, somehow.


Christy Turlington even grew up in my neighborhood, so-to-speak. A girl from Walnut Creek, just across the San Francisco Bay. I can still look over there from my balcony! Her Dad was an airline pilot, and her Mom a flight attendant from El Salvador. I’m sure that’s where Christy got these killer cheekbones and golden complexion from! From age 14 on, still in High School, she started modeling, and when her career took off, she moved to NYC. Despite modeling contracts galore (Maybelline, Versace, and Calvin Klein) she managed to get a BA in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy. My respect to a beautiful, successful, smart and hard-working young woman!

Just after she turned 30, she met her future husband…


…. actor, writer, film producer and director Edward Burns, at a party. Ed Burns is probably best known for his appearance in Saving Private Ryan of 1998. Not much longer, and they were engaged, and still a little longer, they bought their first home together in New York. They made wedding plans, split up, re-united, and then really got married, in the summer of 2003.

The bride, a practicing Catholic from childhood, chose one of the most beautiful churches in San Francisco for her wedding: St. Peter and Paul’s in North Beach.

st peter and paul exteriorIt’s even more beautiful inside…

st peter and paul

On June 7 of 2003, Christy Turlington walked down the aisle in an Empire-cut, silk-and-lace wedding dress by the late John Galliano…



… perfect! Plus, being 7 months pregnant with their first child, that was probably the most flattering dress cut for her. Originally, her friend Bono was supposed to “give her away,” but the bride decided at the last moment that she would walk the aisle by herself – the groom came to meet her halfway down, and they walked the remaining steps together. And here they are, just married:

just married

For their reception, the two had chosen the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco…

asian art museum

… where they partied until the early morning with Hollywood A-listers like Vin Diesel and Sting. They had their First Dance to Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind.”

Meanwhile, the Burns’ have two children…


… and, in 2010, Christy Turlington founded “Every Mother Counts” (EMC), a campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world. As of 2014, the two have been married for seven years; quite long by average Hollywood standards. Any signs of the infamous “Seven Year Itch?” None. Look at this 2014 ad campaign, again for Calvin Klein, featuring them as a couple. Not only is Christy aging beautifully, effortlessly transitioning from youthful supermodel to ageless beauty – the spark between them seems to be still there!

ad with husband

Congratulations – and off to the next seven years, and beyond…



Why Would I Need a Wedding Planner?!

Good question, dear brides-to-be!

And since I happen to be a wedding coordinator and designer (my company is A Day Like No Other), I also happen to have a few answers for you.

I do 2

Your wedding is a one-in-a-lifetime event, your celebration of your commitment to the person you are going to share your life with.

It should be the best day in your life, in the truest sense of the word.

And you, the couple, should be able to enjoy every moment and cherish these memories forever.

The average wedding can take more than 250 hours to plan. With today’s hectic lifestyles, most couples do not have that amount of time to research venues and vendors, compare the options, and make sure all details are taken care of.

A wedding coordinator saves you valuable time and money (yes, money!). The coordinator will not make decisions for you, but will pre-select your options, take advantage of discounts not available to private parties and avoid costly mistakes. And on your wedding day, your coordinator shoulders the responsibility for a smooth event flow, keeps to the timeline, quietly solves problems big and small “behind the scenes” and ensures that you, the couple, can indeed simply enjoy your great day.



In my opinion, the most important qualities you should be looking for in your coordinator are a degree from a wedding coordinator school, experience, membership in professional organizations, and a personality matching your own.

Why is that? You need someone with a solid understanding of the art of wedding planning, and a degree from a reputable school guarantees that amount of extensive training. You want your coordinator to run your event like a well-oiled machinery; the more often he or she has done that before, the better for you. Membership in a leading professional organization demands adherence to highest professional and ethical standards – your coordinator has proven to be trustworthy and good at the job. (Since I am an active member in both ACPWC and WIPA, I know that for a fact). Inquire whether you’d be working with the same person throughout, and what this person’s average response time is – it can make your life difficult if you have to explain your questions to a different associate every time, or if you have to wait for several days until you get your answers… And for the rest, let your heart speak! Your coordinator will become part of your life for months, maybe a year. He or she should be like a trusted friend and confidant. Only you can feel who among your selection of “finalists” will fill that role. I feel so blessed that at my weddings this relationship has always worked out … and here’s my reward at the end of the evening: it was the best day of their lives! (see “Praise!”)

love my job


Many couples are wondering what the differences are. So many vendors claim that they can act as wedding planners in addition to the services they offer and they are hired for.

BUT… that’s often only part of the truth. While some floral design companies and catering businesses do, indeed, offer full-service wedding planning (at an extra fee, of course), most of this “free wedding planning” is a far cry from what an independent coordinator will do for you.

An onsite coordinator, be it for your ceremony or for your reception venue, will plan and coordinate exactly that part of your celebration and nothing else. Who helps you stay on time and on budget during the planning stages, making sure no detail is overlooked? Not your onsite coordinator…

Your florist might be a gifted designer in his or her medium, but who is going to design your décor scheme to a cohesive whole, from linens to china, lighting and escort cards? Let alone doing any planning along the way…  Your caterer is certainly a fantastic chef, but don’t expect him or her to find you the right DJ or band – and so it goes.


You, the couple, are probably specialized in your professions, hard-working and good at what you do. You certainly appreciate the value of a specialist in a different field – wedding coordination and design. You would not even think of conducting a lawsuit without the help of a lawyer, or a house construction without the help of an architect. Your wedding day is of equal importance and deserves the same level of attention by a trained specialist. Entrust it to a trained professional.


In the era of the Internet, dozens of glossy wedding magazines and Pinterest, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Sometimes there is, indeed, too much of a good thing. Let a specialized wedding designer  help you sort through all your various ideas. Some will be very close to your hearts, others not so much; some can be combined, and others can maybe play a role in the design of the Rehearsal Dinner – or bachelorette party, or bachelor party, bridesmaids’ breakfast, bridal shower… you get it. There is so much going on before and around your wedding that many of your great ideas and inspirations can find a home in one of these events if they don’t make the final cut for wedding décor. A wedding designer can definitely guide you from this first stage of vague inspirations to a distinct décor plan for each of your festivities. Here is one recent example: my bride Erica, an amateur astronomer… starstruck! Here’s what we came up with:

A Moon-and-Stars-themed photo booth:

fly me to the moon

… a cake to match…

cake… glimmering stars in the guests’ champagne glasses, and even the wedding shoes playing along!

shoesWell, convinced?

If you now think you might, after all, need a wedding planner – email me!

I am very much looking forward to hearing back from you!


A Gala Evening to Remember: French-American Business Awards

The San Francisco Bay Area is a veritable melting pot of cultures, and so it’s not surprising that businesses here have their roots in many different countries. One example is the French-American community, spread out from the Wine Country to the City and further south, with its own support system: the French-American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco, FACCSF. In an effort to further encourage this already thriving and vibrant business community, FACCSF created a business award to honor outstanding local French-American businesses in various categories. The first such award ceremony was planned to take place in 2014, and of course this occasion called for a polished event. FACCSF turned to my event planning business, A Day Like No Other, to make that happen. Truly an honor!

Yes, and a challenge … I always love a good challenge! Why that was? As a non-profit organization, FACCSF devotes all its funds to the community it supports, so events like our awards night need a lot of sponsors. What to do? 1.) Ask friends and colleagues in the event planner community for their assistance, and 2.) replace funds with creativity! Now have a look how it turned out last night!

GRWe chose a historic landmark as our venue, the General’s Residence at Fort Mason. Not only is it an ornately decorated mansion…

IMG_2402… it also has unsurpassed views of the San Francisco Bay right across to Alcatraz.

IMG_2408But of course we didn’t stop there! We added “son et lumiere” (sound and light), food and wine, flowers and other decor to make it an elegant party to remember.

My friend Dan Rosenbach of Love in the Mix provided both background music and lighting…

IMG_2420… while Mega Event Production provided the stage and dining room A/V and lighting.

dining roomArriving guests were greeted with the quintessential French welcome drink: a glass of champagne…


… accompanied by delicacies from Michi’s – my friend Mr. Shin had brought his famous sushi bar where guests enjoyed his creative Asian-Fusion cuisine, freshly prepared to order.

sushi bar cropped

And here we are all together (Mr. Shin formally invited me to be a member of the Michi family!):

Michi team

Following the initial Cocktail Hour, guests were invited into the festively decorated dining room where tables glistened with silver-rimmed plates on silver-toned chargers, glasses and silverware (all sponsored by my dear friend Mike Seramin of Abbey Party Rentals)…


and elegant centerpieces by another friend of mine, Annette Shulman of Petals Flower Studio, anchored the tablescape amidst a profusion of votive candles and matching shimmering glass gems.


What followed was a delicious dinner, a “joint venture” of my friends Maureen Kelly of Knights Catering and Hugh Groman of Hugh Groman Catering.

Here is Maureen’s fanciful presentation of a seasonal salad with goat cheese…


… followed by Hugh’s deceptively simple-looking Mediterranean salmon packages (just imagine: salmon steamed on a bed of potatoes, lentils, mushrooms and pesto aioli in a sealed parchment package… open and inhale deeply! So delicious…)


After that luxurious meal, guests were ready for the revelations of the evening: the winners of the FABA awards 2014 in the categories: High-Tech, Agribusiness/Gastronomy/Wine and Sustainability/Life Sciences. Our tireless photographer extraordinaire, Shhivika Chauhan, captured all the festivities in high style.

And now, of course, there was even more reason to celebrate!

Desserts and more champagne were awaiting in the lounge, among other things intensely flavored rainbow macaroons from L’Artisan Macaron

Mr. Shin has just discovered the macarons .... much to his joy!

Mr. Shin has just discovered the macarons …. much to his joy!



… and guests enjoyed it all in good company and high spirits. Our greatest compliment? Guests simply refused to leave!! Thank you to all my good friends and other sponsors whose enthusiasm and generosity made this splendid gala possible!




Starstruck – Erica’s and Lincoln’s Heavenly Nuptials

Dear readers: before you even start, grab your hanky. Here comes one of those “The stars were aligned…” love stories. A real, true one!

Just a few years ago, Lincoln, the groom, had given up on getting married. He told a friend, “Since I won’t get married – let’s just throw a party. A big one – in lieu of a real wedding party!” Which she did, in fact… (and at that real wedding yesterday, she was his decorator!)

Erica, as her Dad said, had already faced a number of challenges in her life… but the moment she met Lincoln, she was transformed. Utterly, completely – and he knew, she had met “the one!”

How they met: through one of their shared passions – dancing! Music lovers, both of them (Erica is a professional harpist, and Lincoln plays in a mandolin orchestra), they met at a ballroom dance, and Lincoln fell for Erica immediately, and hard. Erica, more cautious by nature, took a little longer, but after all, Lincoln can be very persuasive. Done deal!

And – you have to know – Lincoln is very elegant, even a little bit old-fashioned, in the best sense. Following tradition, he proposed on one knee – at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil. It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that!

guest book table

And of course, a photo of this momentous occasion had to be present at their wedding…

Just 18 months after their first encounter, the two got married, and I was so honored that they chose my company, A Day Like No Other, for their wedding coordination and design. They wanted an elegant, formal wedding, and they wanted  - stars! Erica, the bride, is an amateur astronomer, and so we set out to incorporate the Moon and the Stars into this exquisite affair.

First step: find a venue! The two chose the Brazilian Room, a historic building in Tilden Regional Park in the hills above Berkeley. (Was that choice, maybe, inspired by the location of the proposal?)


brazilian room

An open Great Room with exposed wooden beams and a soaring ceiling opens onto a ceremony lawn that seamlessly flows into the verdant hilly landscape.

The bride got ready at the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley with hair and makeup expertly styled by her friend Kim Denny.  Coit Limousine service delivered her to the Brazilian Room where Lincoln was already waiting…

groom… dressed in a traditional morning suit, fitting for this elegant occasion. But the bride insisted on remaining unseen until the ceremony, so we literally snuck her into the building!

Erica had chosen an embroidered ivory A-line gown that literally floated around her and whirled with every step, complemented by a crystal-encrusted belt and elegant veil.

I doFinally, the great moment had come! Eighty of their closest friends and family members witnessed the very personal ceremony officiated by their friend Karryn Nagel, which incorporated a “Passing of the Rings” ritual. The groom’s nephew (stylishly outfitted in a 3-piece suit like his older brothers and his Dad) passed the rings to all guests present, to impart on them all their good wishes…

ring passingAll the while, harpist Jessica Schaeffer provided a beautiful musical background.



group shot

And then, they were pronounced husband and wife, and the real fun was about to begin…

fooling aroundNow come the myriad personal touches that made this wedding celebration so unique: the bride had styled her wedding shoes herself – with a star motif on a midnight-blue background:

shoesFriends of the couple, Kris, a former actor proficient at stagecraft, and Anne (who would catch the bouquet later that night …), had built them a photo booth, and what a spectacular one at that!

fly me to the moonEvery single guest took a turn, and then signed the guest book  - which, of course, was also special. In lieu of a conventional book, we came up with the idea of a historic typewriter…


To direct guests to their assigned tables, we did not use conventional escort cards (of course not…) – Erica found antique-looking picture frames which doubled as wedding favors, and combined them with handwritten star-studded name cards.

escort cards

During Cocktail Hour, Silver Strings Mandolin Orchestra (the groom’s ensemble) played for the guests…


Meanwhile, the Great Room was ready for dinner, with centerpieces by the couple’s friend Lizzie Maxwell…

centerpiece 2

and decor by another of their friends, Jane Dougherty – think custom-made sconces of midnight-blue tulle with sparkling lights… speaking of which: the bride and I had found sparkling stars from Glimmers Inc. which, floating in the guests toasting glasses, added a truly heavenly touch to all those good wishes!

The duo “The Harpoons” (Harp and Bassoon – did you guess it?) kept guests entertained over dinner,

dining hall

and Morningstar Entertainment took over for dancing.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. During dinner, guests were asked to propose one impromptu toast per table, and since most of this artistic couple’s guests were artists themselves, musicians, actors, performers – these toasts turned into artistic improvisations of the highest order. From hilarious skits to funny poems (in perfect meter and professional intonation) and rock star impersonations with slightly tweaked lyrics: it was rather a cabaret than mere toasts! In these moments, all the depth of personal connections, the warmth of long-time friendships, and the commitment of all these friends and family members to an extraordinary couple became apparent. Every single guest contributed to their happy union in a personal way… a rare and precious moment to behold.

Another case in point: the star-shaped gold-and-blue cake, home-baked in professional quality by the couple’s friend Effie Seiberg (complemented by some more from Sweet Adeline Bakeshop):


Once the cake cutting (and -eating) was done, Erica and Lincoln enjoyed their First Dance to “Never Stop Falling in Love” by Pink Martini. These two are professional grade ballroom dancers, and just watching them twirl and lead and follow and twirl again was a treat all in itself.

First danceDancing with the stars, definitely! And that’s what they all did for the rest of the evening… and photographer extraordinaire Amy Carr (just wait until you see HER photos!) and videographer Adrian Quintero captured every precious moment.

Wishing our stars Erica and Lincoln “happily ever after” from the bottom of our hearts! And have a wonderful Honeymoon in Maui!




Angie’s and Michael’s Dream Wedding at Kohl Mansion

Angela and Michael are not only deeply in love – they also share values and many common interests. They are both deeply connected to their families. They are both music lovers; Angie is even a violinist in a community orchestra and devotes a good part of her free time to practicing and rehearsing. They both appreciate good food. And on and on…

When they embarked on their first big common project – their wedding! – my company, A Day Like No Other, was honored to be booked for the wedding coordination. Bride and groom are very organized and systematic and had a good part of all the “wedding puzzle” pieces in place already, first and foremost their gorgeous venue: Kohl Mansion in Burlingame.

kohl mansionOn Wedding Day, May 31st, all weather gods were smiling broadly upon Angie’s and Michael’s outdoor celebrations… the day was summery, warm but not too hot, under a cloudless blue sky with a light breeze. Simply perfect!

For the Bride, the day began with a beauty session for herself and her bridesmaids with hair stylist Elaine Nicdao and makeup artist Ally Kennedy. And look what a fabulous job they did:

Angie croppedThe bride wore a diaphanous, etherial, crystal-embroidered couture dress by Rosa Clara from Nouvelle Vogue Bridal Salon, complemented by an elaborate, sparkly headpiece, also from Nouvelle Vogue.


dress garden

In accordance with her wedding colors of blush pink and ivory, Angie chose her bridal bouquet…


ceremony flowers 3

… as well as ceremony flowers, an elaborate chuppah and centerpieces from Floral Design Studio, and they were all equally stunning.

ceremony flowers 2

The couple’s more than one hundred and fifty guests from all over the world were greeted with music by Turnaround Jazz Trio and DJ CAMS Scott Campbell, and the very personal ceremony was co-officiated by their friends Laura Shih and Suneel Gupta, incorporating elements of both the bride’s Chinese and the groom’s Jewish cultural backgrounds.

Here comes the Bride!

here comes the bride

I do 2

No Jewish wedding would be complete without breaking a glass (which Michael did) and the guests’ shouting the traditional blessing of Mazel Tov (which they all did)… and here they are, just married:

just marriedWhile the newlyweds disappeared for their mandatory family photos with photographer Sandra Fazzino, guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour with delicious treats from Toast Catering - and that was just the beginning of all the fabulous food provided by Toast! To keep everyone entertained, the couple had provided a special guest book: a scrap book with cards, markers, stickers… to be completed by the guests; and Say Ya Photo Booth, which turned out to be a true guest magnet.

cocktail buffetAt the conclusion of Cocktail Hour, the newlyweds and their Bridal Party had a truly Grand Entrance, every moment captured by Ocean Blue Videography

Grand Entrance…immediately followed by another honored Jewish tradition: the exuberant Horah Dance…

dancing 1… during which the couple is hoisted high up on chairs to the delight of the cheering crowd!

Horah 2After so much excitement, it was definitely time for dinner – and what a dinner that was! In the candle-lit double-height main hall of Kohl Mansion and within a sea of flowers, guests enjoyed their gourmet food…


centerpiece 1

dining from above

… as well as a surprise performance of the groom and the bridal party who sang and enacted a Disney medley for the bride; and a slide show to follow. Dinner concluded with a delicious cake from Cakes by Maggie and an ice cream bar:

cake cutting

After dessert, Angie and Michael enjoyed their First Dance as a married couple:

First Dance…opening the dance floor for everyone. The bride quickly changed into an elegant qipao as a nod to her Chinese heritage – and danced the rest of the night away. What a fantastic party!

And here is why I love my job so much:

love my job

Let’s wish the couple what they promised each other in their vows – to build a happy, healthy long life together. Mazel Tov!

Vannie’s and Richard’s Sunny Wedding at the Los Altos History Museum

A love story more than a decade in the making – and today, finally, it’s official: Vannie and Richard are Mr. and Mrs.! With more than a hundred guests as their witnesses, the two tied the knot at a very historic and romantic place – the History Museum in Los Altos,

Los Altos Hist Museum

surrounded by all that used to constitute rural life in the area in the last century or two; from ancient ploughs to … well, not quite so ancient tractors! Guests learned, among other things, that a plot for a single-family home in the heart of what is now Silicon Valley went for $ 55o – in the year 1917… That has changed! So much for the charming historic backdrop. Vannie’s and Richard’s personal history began exactly 11 years ago when they met in college, at UCLA.

They were assigned to the same dorm, and Vannie immediately felt intrigued by this attractive, slightly withdrawn “brooding artist” (Richard was majoring in Design) with that oddball sense of humor. “He seemed so … mysterious,” she muses when looking back. It took all her willpower and persistence (“or, what my parents call stubbornness,” jokes the bride) to win Richard over. But since Richard never does anything half-heartedly, his commitment was absolute, and that they’d be getting married at some point was a foregone conclusion. Well, finally this point did come, and the two chose a cozy and romantic venue (Los Altos History Museum) – and my company, A Day Like No Other, as their coordinator. Truly an honor!

Vannie had devised the decor theme and handmade most of the decorations herself in her wedding color, a sunny bright yellow. She fashioned a backdrop from strips of fabric and various hues of yellow, she made paper garlands with white, silver and yellow pompoms, and more big and small pompoms to hang from the mature trees shading the courtyard for Cocktail Hour.

A clothesline strung between the trees was hung with snapshots from the couple’s decade-long courtship, and in lieu of a guestbook, guests signed a vintage globe.

Clothesline 2
Even the flowers were “designed by Vannie!” The bouquets for herself and her bridesmaids were simple  bunches of Queen Anne’s Lace, and the centerpieces consisted of stacks of books, topped by cream English Country roses in mason jars, complete with a little yellow flag for table numbers.

Table setting Tables

Guests found their way inside the courtyard, guided by cute yellow pinwheels lining the path, and signage was, of course!, likewise handcrafted by the bride: chalkboards for the program, the menu and the table assignments.


Seating chart 2

While my assistant Angeliki and I were busy putting everything up in their assigned spots, Vannie had her hair and makeup masterfully done by Susie Chhuor. Photographer Bre Thurston orchestrated Vannie’s and Richard First Look and many, many more photos throughout the day! The bride wore a spectacular ivory silk Reem Acra gown with beaded cap sleeves.


And here comes the Bride!

Here comes the bride

The short and very personal ceremony was presided over by minister Daniel Kennedy,


and immediately afterwards guests were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Schumann’s FourSeasons Caterers, who also served a lavish family-style dinner,


outside under romantic string lights, as dusk was falling.

Then it was time for… cake cutting? Not quite! The bride and groom did this part of their celebration again “their way:” they cut a giant donut tower, and finished the dessert phase with ice cream sandwiches for everyone.

Donut cakeCake cutting


DJ Jeremy (who had already played beautifully for ceremony and cocktail hour) was now gearing up for the “dancing part” of the evening! After Vannie’s and Richard’s romantic First Dance,

First Dance

the crowd got inside for a wild dance party and really let it rip.

And here is why I love my job so much!

love my job

What a fantastic celebration… congratulations, Vannie and Richard, and our best wishes for a long, happy life – “growing old together…”


How to Find the Perfect Venue – 101

So – he finally popped the question.

Stuck that big rock on your finger. You are engaged. Congratulations!

What now …? Like – wedding planning? Yes! Preferably with a professional (I happen to know – I am one. Look up my portfolio: A Day Like No Other!). But in any case, it never hurts to come up with a few ideas yourselves. First and foremost: what should your venue be like? (Once you know that, your wedding planner can help you to find one in your preferred area).

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a particular venue for a while. Then, by all means, go for it!

But if not, here are a few pointers to get you going.

1.) Where would you feel most comfortable and happy on the best day in your life? On the beach, with your feet in the sand (so to speak); deep in the woods; in a romantic garden? Or rather indoors – in a mansion or hotel? Or are you rather the “modern/cutting edge” type, and a hip urban space – think art gallery – would be the way to go? Or do you see yourself on a ranch, maybe?

Get inspired: here are a few venues as examples.

Beach wedding TinaOn the beach in Half Moon Bay

StonepineStone Pine Estate, Carmel Valley

Holman Ranch

Holman Ranch, Carmel Valley

Liquid Sky

Liquid Sky Oceanfront Estate, Half Moon Bay

2.) What’s the style of your festivities – what would make you happiest? Would you like to go for high elegance, or rather rustic/bohemian charm? Is your style sleek and modern, or historic and ornate? Would you like to include Do-it-yourself work or rather have a professional unified design?

Here’s what I’m talking about:

foreign cinema

Foreign Cinema, San Francisco


DIY escort cards at a rustic wedding

alexa sean

A glamorous affair at General’s Residence, Fort Mason, San Francisco

3.) What about privacy? If you’re leaning towards a hotel wedding, all the logistics will be taken care of, because that’s what hotels do. But unless you buy out the whole hotel, there will be other guests around – and that means you’ll have onlookers, like it or not. And the same holds true for all public places, like parks and beaches. If that’s not your style, you should rather think of a mansion that you can completely rent out for your day – but be aware that the logistics will be a lot more complicated. You’ll have to bring in all you need for your celebration, from chairs and tables to china, glassware, flatware, and linens.The same, by the way, holds true if you’re thinking of a nice, relaxed backyard wedding at your parents’ house… few properties are equipped to handle parties of 150 people – so be prepared to rent portable bathrooms and book a valet parking service!

Some options for you…

Four Seasons

Ceremony setup, Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

Merchant Exchange

Merchant Exchange, San Francisco

kohl mansion

Kohl Mansion, Burlingame

4.) The time of the year: it is important, after all – even in sunny California. An outdoor wedding in San Francisco in July? Not necessarily a good idea – it may well be pretty foggy. The same on the beaches… and the same from late October to March. Or a garden party in the East Bay in August? Your guests might suffer from temperatures above 90 degrees. And if that was not enough: please think of the time of the day that you are envisioning your wedding. For example, sunset in November is at 4:30 pm… and the atmosphere of a wedding celebration changes dramatically with the time during the day. Imagine an evening wedding – that calls for an elegant cocktail hour, a sit-down dinner and dancing afterwards, right? Dress code, decor – probably elegant! Now imagine a late morning wedding outdoors, followed by brunch – that, on the contrary, feels more like a relaxed, picnic style affair – and maybe no dancing since it’s still plain daylight. If that’s what you are after, look for venues that offer celebrations until 8 or 10 pm only. They are often very affordable, just because of this limitation.

Monarch Cove Inn

Monarch Cove Inn, Capitola – for daytime weddings

5.) How important is the “dancing part” of the party to you? If that’s the high point of your wedding vision, make sure your venue allows for music until late into the night. Oftentimes music outdoors is restricted, e.g. has to cease by 10 pm – so dancing has to be planned for indoors only. Alternative: choose a “stand-alone” venue with no neighbors far and wide. Ranches far out on the California Coast are a good bet for that.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake Estate in the CA wine country – outdoor music allowed until 2 am!

6.) How long is your guest list? Once you’ve narrowed down your choices by style, type of venue, time of year and time of day… it’s time to crunch the numbers. First – the guest numbers! Exclude venues with less capacity than your guest count (or revisit your planning…) and don’t even plan on cramming a few more guests than allowed into your venue. Fire codes simply don’t allow to exceed the official numbers. You don’t want to put anyone in danger, after all. And while you’re at it, crunching numbers, the site fee is, of course, a consideration as well. Many venues offer discounts for off-season bookings or weekday bookings; it’s certainly worth asking. And so that you’re comparing apples with apples: remember that the cost for a hotel includes furniture, service and the decor on site… and the cost for an “empty shell” venue is just that with a lot of add-ons.

Well, looking over what I just wrote up for you, I am a bit concerned that you are now more overwhelmed than ever… don’t despair! Get started, and if you find it hard, email me:


Butterflies in Their Stomach… Michele’s and Rui’s Wedding at Monarch Cove Inn

This is the story of many impossible twists and turns… worthy of a Hollywood movie! And yet, today all this became beautiful reality: Michele and Rui tied the knot at one of the most romantic places far and wide, historic Monarch Cove Inn in the quaint little town of Capitola close to Santa Cruz, on the California Coast. But we are getting ahead of ourselves!

ceremony lawn
Both Michele and Rui had already spent a good part of their respective lives – with long marriages, grown children.

michele and rui

Michele had been in a relationship for close to ten years when a spiritual person – actually a total stranger – told her she’d be getting married within a year. Michele wasn’t convinced. Her relationship made her less and less happy or fulfilled. She certainly had no plans to get married… Little did she know! A chance encounter on New Year’s Eve proved fortuitous and fateful at the same time. She met Rui – they just talked – and Michele broke off her relationship three days later. Rui, not a religious man, had been desperate enough to actually ask God to send him love again, and less than two weeks later, he met Michele. It didn’t take him long to tell her that they’d been destined for one another. Michele, not a fan of the Beach and the Ocean, started researching possible wedding venues – chanced upon Monarch Cove Inn, and fell for it head over heels.

house 2

Not only is it a hidden gem of a romantic Victorian cottage, it has the most stunning view of the Monterey Bay from its backyard!

ocean view

Its name is derived from the Monarch butterflies taking a break in their annual migration right here at Monarch Cove in Capitola, covering whole trees with their glorious orange wings.


Butterflies: how fitting to the excitement of these two lovebirds who brought friends and family together from all over the world to be a part of this string of little miracles bringing them together.

Rui was adamant: he was not going to see his bride before the ceremony. So – she checked into the Inn’s stunning whole-floor bridal suite a day ahead of time…

bridal suite 1

bridal suite 2…with plenty of room for a beauty parlor for herself and her attendants, come wedding day! Just look to what a view she woke up:

bridal suite viewIf ever there was such a thing like a “princess for one day,” here she is!

brideWhile Michele got her hair and makeup expertly done by Mona Smith (831-464-1700), the A Day Like No Other team (my assistant Angeliki and myself), the venue staff, Five Star Catering and florist extraordinaire Frederick James of Luxuries Floral Design were all busy decorating the beautiful grounds.

Arriving guests were greeted by fragrant gardenias floating in a sparkling fountain…


gift tbl…and a gift table, adorned with one of Frederick’s stunning floral arrangements in Michele’s sunny color scheme of yellow and aqua …

flower arrangement 2

The rustic arch was built from branches, twigs and fresh flowers right there, on site:

archCan you imagine a more romantic setting to say your vows?


bridesmaidsFollowing the ceremony, officiated by Pastor Prince (925-202-8447), the newlyweds headed off to a photo session with family friend Don Carol (510-706-9954), and here is their “official wedding photo!”

official wedding photoTheir guests meanwhile enjoyed specialty cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and music by DJ Phelan ( They had fun with a photo booth by Casino Events and received beautiful wooden frames for their photo strips as wedding favors.

Photo frames 2And then it was time for a huge early dinner, followed by dessert. In lieu of a traditional big wedding cake, Michele and Rui had opted for cupcakes in their wedding colors from Noland’s Cake Shop …

cupcake towerIsn’t that cute?

Guests took a break from dancing for those – and did not leave a single one behind! When it was time to say goodbye, a shuttle from The Santa Cruz Experience was already waiting for happy wedding guests, many of whom took some beautiful flowers from Luxuries home for a living memory of a truly wonderful day.

And here is why I love my job so much!

love my job