Small Business Marketing Gone Glam: WIPA at the Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley

As the Regional Director of Programs at WIPA, Wedding Industry Professionals Association, I have the pleasure (and the obligation…) to organize four festive events throughout the year, and we just concluded the year of 2014 on a really high note: with an elegant luncheon in the Crystal Ballroom of Berkeley’s storied Shattuck Plaza Hotel.

facadeAs always, we offered both fun and education – our speaker, Carolyn Higgins, founder of Fortune Marketing Company and an expert advisor for small businesses, presented “Four Pillars of Small Business Marketing Success,” and all attendees agreed: they were taking home valuable insights!

But we are getting ahead of ourselves! After registration and a display of our numerous sponsors…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… guests received beautiful program books (by

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel
… and then the event began with an elegant Cocktail reception:

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

… with my friend (and recent bride!), Erica Messer, playing the harp for us.

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Guests were treated to delicious hors d’oeuvres…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and to a big surprise: Liz Smith of Beau Ties of Vermont, purveyor of the finest handmade silk bow ties, presented a variety of options for the stylish groom, groomsmen, fathers etc. AND gave away one classic black bow tie to every guest!

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza HotelThat put a big smile on everyone’s face!

As did the elegant decor to match the extraordinary character of the Crystal Ballroom – walls covered in bold black-and-white stripes and adorned with oversized mirrored panels, reminding me of a huge conservatory. With that, the decor idea was born: we decorated with huge palm trees (courtesy of Interior Plant Design) and hedges (from Stuart Rental Company) and added to these charming firefly lights (from Firefly Magic). Centerpieces and smaller arrangements (from Katharina Stuart Floral Art and Design) throughout picked up the “green and white/modern conservatory” theme beautifully…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and reached truly glamorous heights on the dining tables which were all aglitter in “Paris” silver sequined linens from Napa Valley Linens.

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Add to that chic and modern dining chairs (from Hartmann Studios – as was the stunning lounge furniture we used for our dessert lounge; more of that later…) – and beautifully calligraphed menu cards in charcoal and silver (by Sally Laporta of Monks of Age)…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and handmade traditional Hungarian gingerbread heart favors (by Tunde’s Creations) …

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

… and you see – it’s quite stunning! Even more so thanks to the elegant ceiling wash (provided by our A/V sponsor, Fantasy Sound):

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Then it was time for speeches (here it’s me in action…)

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… and of course for the speaker presentation we had all been eagerly awaiting. Carolyn Higgins proved to be not only a highly knowledgeable expert in her field, but also an engaging speaker, with the rare gift of making a “dry” topic come alive and be real fun to learn!

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza HotelThat’s the presentation style everybody just loved!

And then we had a fabulous lunch… and the much-anticipated prize drawing (probably the biggest one in WIPA history!) with chalkboard art (from Steele My Heart) and fused-glass “sun catchers” (from Pat Gibbons) for the home, a wine gift (from Wente Vineyards), a big box of top-of-the-line skincare from my favorite Kiehl’s store at the San Mateo Hillsdale Mall, an elegant bridal headpiece (from Poppyhearts) and beautiful parasols for weddings (by Parasols by Design). There were also coveted “Travel and Leisure” prizes: a “Vine to Wine” experience (at Holman Ranch), a Foursome of Golf (at The Bridges Golf Club), and a stay for two at Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort and Spa, and at two five-star resorts: Cavallo Point and Four Seasons San Francisco. All of our guests decidedly enjoyed this type of lunch entertainment!

But our event was far from over: it concluded with coffee and dessert in our elegant dessert lounge …

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… where a glamorous silver and white multi tier cake from Torino Baking was waiting:

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Pastry artist Julie Durkee herself cut her creation to reveal an oh-so-delicious super-rich chocolate cake underneath:

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza HotelI can say, all our guests…

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel

2014.10.28 WIPA NorCal Shattuck Plaza Hotel… were having a good time! It definitely was a special event – documented in photos by Gustavo Fernandez and videotaped by Level 2 Productions.

Our next festive event will be on February 24 of 2015 – we sure hope to welcome you there!



A Year in Wedding Dresses – 2014

Wedding season is wrapping up, and I am looking back at all the beautiful events I was privileged to create, all my radiant brides who shone brightly in all their finery… and I realize how very individual and unique most of the wedding gowns were that they chose for their Great Day. More individual than last year, even! For 2013, the undisputed winner was the classic A-line dress, universally flattering and always right. This year, it has to take second or even third place after other styles. Curious?

Bear with me!

The ones whose dresses came closest to the A-line style were…

Michele’s ruffled confection for her oceanside wedding:


… Laura’s sateen dress with a sweetheart neckline and ruffles:

laura c


…  and Erica’s breathtakingly beautiful creation:


Then there was Lauren’s sweetly nostalgic and demure, lacy three-quarter sleeve dress:

LaurenMy bride Amy went for drapey Thirties silver screen goddess drama:

amy lThen there was a trend towards the not-at-all simple sheath dress – each of them unique in its own way.

The “other” Laura chose exquisite ivory lace and a charming button detail:

laura m

bride waitingA different take on the sheath – Angie’s ephemeral diaphanous fluid layers of embroidered tulle:angie…. as well as Shaina’s simple and elegant version with lace appliqué:


Two of my brides went for a ball gown-inspired style – Pamela…

bride… and “the other” Amy, hers with a nearly cathedral-length train and crystal-encrusted belt:

amy lin

in the woods posing

And finally – two more that are truly one-of-a-kind:

Vannie’s fluid draped-silk dress with crystal-encrusted cap sleeves…

vannie… and Marissa’s Grecian-column inspired, exquisitely adorned Empire dress with an oh-so-feminine bow in back:


dress from behind


What a show! And the common denominator? Classic white and floor-length… and other than that, totally individualistic. Anything goes!

I can’t really decide which one is my absolute favorite… you? Drop me a line!







The Perfect Performance: Marissa’s and Jordan’s Wedding at Studio Trilogy

What’s the most unusual, most hip and chic wedding venue you’ve ever been to? I bet you’ve never been to a wedding at a professional recording studio!

Well, I was the lucky one! When Marissa and Jordan approached my company, A Day Like No Other, for help with their wedding coordination, they had already booked Studio Trilogy in San Francisco – a professional recording studio with a long list of illustrious clients, among others Willie Nelson, and every free spot on the walls adorned with photos of pop and rock luminaries “in action.”

To my great surprise, Studio Trilogy offers much more than the recording studios themselves – there is a dramatic double-height Great Room with exposed wood beams and a fireplace, a cozy media room, a secret room hidden behind a movable built-in shelf, a gallery, a bridal preparation area complete with a separate bathroom, a patio, two kitchens… in short, a spacious, chic venue with all the bells and whistles!

The couple had made sure there were many personal touches and a lot of consideration for guests throughout: arriving guests left their cars with California Valet Parking (no hassles with that) and, instead of signing a guest book, took Polaroid snapshots and clipped them to wire frames in the foyer.

polaroidsSpeaking of photos – the guests got to see a lot of those! The built-in library shelves of the Great Room had been filled with at least a hundred family and couples’ photos, interspersed with as many candles…

Great Room

Embroidered handkerchiefs “for your happy tears” and yarmulkes (the traditional Jewish skullcaps) were set out for the guests..


For her great day, the bride had chosen an exquisite lace Empire dress with a crystal-encrusted sash and straps …

dress front


dress from behind

… with a feminine bow in back, and a matching headpiece adorning an artfully “undone” updo:

dramatic back

Her good friend Jo Newman was the hair and makeup artist for the day for bride, mothers, and bridesmaids, and all looked equally radiant! Another good friend, acclaimed wedding, portrait and lifestyle photographer Laurie Smith, had come all the way from Los Angeles to capture every precious moment of  her friends’ wedding – just wait until you see HER photos!

For the ceremony, Marissa’s Dad had handcrafted a Chuppah which was then decorated with a lush flower arrangement by Aili Ice Designs:

Chuppah arrangement

… and the bride carried a beautiful bouquet to match:


The ceremony was officiated by the brother of the groom, with parents, closest family members and a good hundred friends surrounding the Chuppah. The star of the day? Ringbearer dog Max! Here he is, front and center, sporting a white bow tie and cuffs, in the official wedding photo:

with Max

He really did a good job, assisted by two more ring bearers, Avi and Mikayla. Marissa’s niece, 14-year old Allie, a gifted pianist, contributed in her own way – she played the bride’s processional, Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D, on the grand piano; and for the couple’s First Dance it was their friend Steve playing.

first dance

Guests mingled in the gallery and on the patio with cocktails from two bars, hors d’oeuvres from TipTopTapas and traditional Jewish music by the Stanford Klezmer Band who went on to intonate the time-honored melody of Hava Nagila for the mandatory Hora Dance – and the crowd exuberantly danced along and lifted the newlyweds high up on chairs. The party got off to a great and joyful start – and did not stop ever that night! There were, of course, toasts and speeches from so many loved ones, and then the dancing and dining resumed. For the “dance party” of the night, the couple had enlisted a fantastic band, “Love Fool.” They kept the crowd going – on and on – clapping, stomping and singing along. And – did I mention the candy bar?

Candy Bar

It was supplemented by decorated wedding cookies and cake pops in four flavors (a labor of love by Marissa’s Mom) and Jordan’s favorite  ice cream sandwiches: “It’s It,” a local SF specialty. To-go bags invited guests to take candy home as their wedding favors, and many rediscovered their “sweet tooth!”

What a wonderful day… and here is why both I and my tireless assistant Kelsey love our jobs so much:

Many happy years together, Marissa and Jordan (and Max!)

Craig and Mike – Just Married! An Intimate Celebration at the Historic Forest Hill Clubhouse

It had been a long time in coming. Two decades, actually. Half a life spent together, in deep commitment to one another. Craig and Mike are inseparable, always have been.

When I first met them, two soigné gentlemen seeking out a venue for an intimate celebration, I had no idea what they were up to … and then they told me that finally they’d be taking the plunge and get married, and that the historic, cozy Forest Hill Clubhouse looked just right for that occasion.

Clubhouse They asked my company, A Day Like No Other, to help plan and coordinate it all, and last Saturday, finally, was the Great Day.

Craig and Mike 1

With my assistant Angeliki coordinating, everything went exactly as planned, and the day became a veritable lovefest for the two and their closest friends and family members. And more than that – there was good food and wine and a lot of laughter! Who would have thought those two had such a mischievous streak?!

funny facesBut have a look yourself – our photographer Jennifer DeAngelis aka  ”Jenny Dee” captured it all.

Here they are, in the lush garden surrounding the historic building:

Couple copy

Florist Melissa Comito-Aakre of A Simple Ceremony had added beautiful arrangements in bold Fall colors and rich texture to complement the natural surroundings …

altar piece 2… and played up that theme to the tiniest details, like the grooms’ individual yet matching boutonnieres:


The guests had taken the opportunity to dress up in style as well:


Craig and Mike,  ready for the ceremony in the courtyard, surrounded by towering trees:

CH blkwhiteHere come the grooms!

Here come the groomsThe very personal ceremony was officiated by Maggie Beretz with seventy of the couple’s nearest and dearest in attendance.

ceremony“You may now kiss!”

first kissJust married!

just married

The newlyweds immediately mingled with their guests for Cocktail Hour, enjoying Champagne (from SF Wine Trading Company) and hors d’oeuvres by Knights Catering:



asparagus… followed by a sit-down dinner inside around the huge fireplace.

dining rm from aboveStructured Fall-themed centerpieces on olive green linens complemented the ceremony decor theme:

dining table

centerpiece closeup…and the couple and their guests had a “jolly good time!”

diningPersonal touches included a “seating lottery” to mix guests at any table, a silly slide show (think photoshopped celebrity photos!) and an unusual guest book idea.

Delicious mini cupcakes from Miette …

cupcake tray

guest book and cake complemented a cute presentation cake with fitting topper … and the new husband-and-husband team performed their first official task together – the traditional cake cutting – with bravura:

cutting cake

… and guests did not leave a crumb behind! After that it was time for the First Dance (a choreographed performance which Craig and Mike had practiced for months) …

first dance…kicking off a wild dance party to the tunes of DJ Dan Rosenbach of Love in the Mix.


dance party blk whte

To you, Craig and Mike – may the next decades be even happier than the first two… congratulations!


Amy and Tec: a Happy Marriage of Chinese and Korean Traditions in San Francisco

Amy and Tec are super organized. When they began to plan their wedding, they did it one and a half years in advance. When they first contacted my company, A Day Like No Other, they already knew where they wanted to get married: in San Francisco, at a venue linked to the military history of the City. The groom’s father had served and lived with his family on the Presidio of San Francisco, the historic military outpost.

Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

It would be a destination wedding for about 150 guests, with the couple living on the East Coast and nearly all their guests coming from all over the country, Korea and Taiwan.  I was really grateful to have, in the end, a full 16 months for the planning!

The two fell in love with the Golden Gate Club on the Presidio, the former officers’ club – double-height Great Room with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and located in the heart of the Presidio. Added bonus: the couple and the bridal party would stay at the Inn at the Presidio, a nearby building on campus that has been converted to an elegant boutique hotel and whose decor reflects the military past. Full immersion!

Inn at the Presidio

Inn at the Presidio

Antique Bugles at the Inn

Antique Bugles at the Inn

For the bride and her bridesmaids the day began with Hair and Makeup by Vinnia Tjhin. Then it was time for Amy to get into her elegant lace dress.


bride getting ready

Add to that a beautiful engagement ring and elegant headpiece…


headpieceIn keeping with her wedding colors – the saturated “lucky” Chinese red of her own heritage complemented by the additional vivid blue of the Korean flag (to honor Tec’s heritage), Amy had chosen a luxurious, formal bridal bouquet of 3 dozen red roses, and smaller bridesmaids’ bouquets to match (all from Tutti Fiori).

bouquetsThe bridesmaids wore a rich blue …


… and the prettiest strappy heels they could find!

shoesThe groom was meanwhile getting ready as well:

groom getting ready

… and of course he couldn’t do without a little touch of whimsy!


Here he is with his groomsmen, all of them in high spirits:

groomsmenAnd off they went with photographer Hardy Wilson for their “First Look”…

first look… and many, many photos  on the beautiful Presidio Campus, under a cloudless blue sky.

in the woods kissing

in the woods posing


Meanwhile, Ava and her catering team from Le’s Kitchen (and I, too) were super busy setting everything up for a Western ceremony, a Korean Bowing Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Dinner and Dancing.

Arriving guests were greeted with sweets for good luck (a Chinese tradition) and a real “family tree” I had designed, decorated with fresh orchids (more of those later!) and childhood and family photos from the two people whose families would be joined today. In lieu of a standard guest book, we had prepared photo books for guests to sign:

family tree


cards and guest book

Following the Western ceremony, officiated by a personal friend of the couple,

here comes the bride

altar arrangement

“You may now kiss your bride!”first kiss

… guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour with specialty cocktails…

cocktails… and musical entertainment by the Corelli Trios. Bride and Groom meanwhile prepared for a traditional Pae Baek or Bowing Ceremony typical of Korean weddings with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Hong, professional Pae Baek organizers. They donned ceremonial clothes …

Korean shoes and practiced the ritual of bowing to their parents and other honored family members as an expression of their respect and gratitude.

korean ceremony

This ceremony sealed their marriage in the Korean tradition, as well!

korean ceremony 2In the meantime, the dining room got its finishing touches. Tables were set with elegant, shimmering platinum grey linens and napkins alternating in red and blue; with tall centerpieces of red orchids (a profusion of 180 stems of orchids by Tutti Fiori!),

dining room


place setting

and very personal menu cards: on the reverse, the bride had printed assorted photos and stories from the couple’s courtship and travels for all the guests to enjoy, mix and match. The wedding favors were just as personal: the animal-loving couple had made a donation to an animal protection agency on behalf of their guests who found little thank-you cards on their place settings.

To help guests find their assigned tables, I had come up with another personal idea: a mounted, enlarged photo of the couple with their beloved dog, Cody (who could not be with them on their Great Day), on the steps of the Capitol – that way Cody was present, after all! The photo could be taken apart into individual escort cards and proved to be a great conversation starter!

escort cards

escort cards 2

Immediately following their Grand Entrance, announced by DJ Shawn of Storm Productions

grand entrance… husband and wife enjoyed their First Dance:

first danceGuests meanwhile enjoyed a traditional ten-course Chinese banquet by Le’s Kitchen, followed by a dessert of traditional Taiwanese pineapple cakes – a nod to the bride’s heritage:

dessertAfter dinner, it was time for a huge dance party under the auspices of the Chinese “Double Happiness” symbol (a custom-made gobo by Just De’Lights),


and everyone had a fantastic time!

dance party

dance party 2


The Golden Gate Club was literally glowing from within, like an enchanted glasshouse!

glasshouse 2And here is why I love my job so much:

love my jobMany happy years together, Amy and Tec, and a long life!




A Touch of Tuscany in Napa Valley: Laura and Dennis

Laura and Dennis originally approached my company, A Day Like No Other, with the request to help them find a venue in the Wine Country for an intimate wedding with closest family only… and then, later, maybe to help organize a party for everyone else at their home. After brainstorming with them – hotels? wineries? all too impersonal, too public… – I knew the exact right place for them: Sylvan Lake, a secluded private estate tucked away in the mountains above St. Helena. Off they went for a site visit! And on their way back home that same day, they texted me: “Change of plans! So beautiful that we’ll have a big party for everyone right there!”

And so we started planning together: an outdoor ceremony onsite, good food and wine, an Italian/Tuscan theme, and sage green with pops of orange for their wedding colors. Last Saturday, it all came together on a glorious summer day, warm with a slight breeze, and  under a cloudless blue sky.

Bride and groom made Sylvan Lake Estate theirs for the day with their initials on the gate:


Laura had chosen an elegant yet simple ivory lace sheath for her wedding gown:


dress up

… complemented by delicate diamond earrings and a sparkling diamond bracelet. She was radiant in hair and makeup by Teresa Reynolds

bride waiting… and she carried a bridal bouquet by Tulips & Toadstools in ivory and orange …


… while her wedding party wore boutonnieres and corsages to match:

boutonnieres… and the ring bearer (the niece of the bride) got a moss ring pillow …

ring pillow

… and a charming hair wreath.


For the ceremony, our florist had adorned a simple arch with lush greenery and bunches of flowers in the wedding colors …

arch … and topped it all off with a carpet of petals in delicate hues of orange.


And photographer Megan Reeves captured every precious moment, for example the bride with her bridesmaids (her stepdaughters):


… and her groomsmen (her sons!)


The brother of the bride officiated the very personal ceremony in front of eighty guests…

ceremonyAnd here they are… Just Married!!

Just married 2

Time to party!

While the newlyweds had their mandatory photos taken,

First Look 2

in the woods copy

guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour…

cocktal hour

bar sign

… and the team of An Affair to Remember (catering) and myself were busy preparing tables and food stations for a Tuscan-inspired festive dinner:


Centerpieces were wine crates planted with a variety of succulents, and tables were named after the couple’s favorite wine varietals:


table numbers

The Sweetheart Table got, of course, the special treatment!

mr and mrs chairs


sweetheart table

Place settings were decorated with herb bundles tied with orange ribbon…

herb bundle 2… and the food stations all looked like scenes right out of the Italian countryside:

food 4

dinner decor 2

food 3

food 1

dinner decor 4

Beautifully calligraphed signeage throughout by Steele My Heart helped guests find their tables and choose from bar and dining options.

While guests were dining, night fell…

dinner at dusk… and the scene turned downright magical. The newlyweds still had some work to do: cut the beautiful cake (from Model Bakery in St. Helena):

cake 2

After that, they opened the dance floor under the stars…

first dance… with their First Dance – and everyone joined in to the vibrant tunes put up by DJ Vadim of DJ Jeremy Productions…

Everyone agreed: a truly memorable feast it was! Many happy years together, Laura and Dennis!

A Magical Night Under the Redwoods: Amy and John at Saratoga Springs

Amy’s and John’s marriage actually started – in heaven! How? They met on a plane! And this fateful encounter set the tone for their relationship: long-distance – for the longest time. Until John’s career brought him to the San Francisco Bay Area, and that is when the two decided that enough (separation, that is) is enough. Amy moved in with John, took a much-needed “breather” in her own career, and used the precious free time to plan their wedding. And I am so happy she brought my company, A Day Like No Other, on board to help with ideas and logistics.

The two had opted for a strictly outdoors celebration in the Redwoods – at Saratoga Springs – and Amy dreamed up an upscale “shabby chic” decor with vintage furniture out on the lawn, like a cozy, yet elegant living room under the stars – and under miles and miles of romantic string lights.

While the groom and groomsmen were getting ready in their hotel suite…

groom getting ready…assisted by a very proud and happy Mother-of-the-Groom…

mother and son


…for Amy and her bridesmaids, the day began with  Hair and Makeup by Su from Nabi Salon; once that was done, the bride slipped into her elegant ivory dress, fit for a silver screen goddess from the Forties:

bride getting ready dress… complemented by fairytale slippers and a bridal bouquet by Natasha Kolenko (who also designed the centerpieces and floral decor throughout).

bouquet and shoes

brides bouquet


The bridal bouquet was adorned with a cameo brooch Amy had inherited from her Grandmother.

bouquetWith that, the bride was ready to meet her groom – down a staircase, past a waterfall, on her way to the “First Look:”

couple kissing

And here is their official first photo together!

And that was followed by quite a few more – with Amy’s bridesmaids…


… and the whole bridal party…

bridal party

…and of the two of them together:

kissing in the woods 2
A shuttle from The Santa Cruz Experience (the company provided transportation throughout) then took the whole wedding party to Saratoga Springs, where onsite coordinators Mimi and Kelsey with their team and I were busy setting up all the beautiful decor Amy and I had dreamt up over months!

Escort cards: airline boarding passes, of course! And table names? International airports … and all that displayed in custom-cut rustic logs by Fernando Canales ( This setup was an instant crowd-pleaser and conversation starter!

escort cards

escort cards 2


For Cocktail Hour, Amy had ordered three vignettes of vintage and antique furniture from One True Love Vintage Rentals, and we displayed the couple’s favorite family photos there together with pretty vintage items, candles and bunches of flowers.


vintage itemsAfter their ceremony under the tall Redwoods

ceremony- serenaded by Underhill Rose (an all female American Country Band, and friends of the bride)

band – the newlyweds had their mandatory photo session with photographer Majesta Patterson, while videographer (and Majesta’s husband!) Zach Patterson of Patterson Films captured every precious moment.

tete a tete 2



Meanwhile, dinner was ready:

dining under bridge

dining table 3… and guests found their seats at rows and rows of long tables under a romantic, uplit bridge by … airport names! The newlyweds had their special seats at the Head Table:

Mr and Mrs

In lieu of a traditional wedding cake, Amy and John invited guests to a delicious dessert buffet stocked and re-stocked with “bundtinis” (mini Bundt cakes, by Nothing Bundt Cakes) and super fresh pies from Beckmann’s Bakery. Many reasons to raise a glass tonight!

raising a glass

Then it was time for the First Dance:

First Dance

 When night fell, the scene turned absolutely magical under the lights by Bay Area Event Lights

Hora Dance… and DJ “Sir Dancealot” got the crowd going – just have a look! At the exuberant Hora Dance, the couple was lifted high up on chairs by the dancing crowd, and Amy said that she and John had the time of their lives. And that’s my biggest reward!

Many happy years together, Amy and John, and from now on, may you always fly together!


Family Fun on the Ranch: Pam’s and John’s Wedding on Mt. Diablo

After seven years together and a full year of planning and do-it-yourself projects, Pam’s and John’s dream finally came true: Wedding Day! I am so happy they allowed my company, A Day Like No Other, to accompany their journey from first ideas to ceremony and celebration, from preliminary sketches to planning memos and vendor sourcing to final timelines.


From our very first planning and brainstorming session on, one thing was clear: this wedding would be a big fun affair. Both Pam and John are fun-loving, quirky personalities who don’t care a bit for convention, but very much for their families – all just as upbeat and fun-loving as they themselves. There would be lots of kids in the wedding, and of course their own “baby” (or rather: fur baby) Cody. So what emerged was the idea of a carnival-themed wedding on a dog-friendly farm. Now, that’s definitely not your “run-of-the-mill wedding!” Far from it… what else? Lots of DIY projects – hand-crocheted boxes, centerpiece decor, and even little birdies for the wedding cake. Handmade paper flowers for the centerpieces. A color scheme of nostalgically muted, slightly faded pastel colors, mainly mint and peach and a dusty rose. And no conventional catering, please!

Look what we put together:

Our venue: Diablo Ranch, a working ranch at more than 1,000 ft of altitude high up on Mount Diablo in the San Francisco East Bay, with miles and miles of views…


welcome sign

… and a romantic farmhouse with a shady courtyard…


… and real farm animals…


horse… and a beautiful pool for poolside dining:

dinner setup

On wedding day, we were all tempted to jump in – with temperatures soaring to more than 100 degrees!

The bride (already in full hair and make-up by Nini’s Epiphany) and her bridesmaids were getting ready in a cool tack room…



brideshowing off the dreamy bouquets by Green Petal Designs:

bridesmaidsThe groom and groomsmen dressed up as well:


The fantastic ranch team …


(and my assistant Angeliki and I) were all busy putting final touches on the setup. Arriving guests were greeted with beautiful Chinese hand fans (their wedding favors) – very much appreciated on this hot day!

fansPhotos of the couple (and more yummy favors, little “honey bears” hand-filled by the bride) led the way…


… to the table assignment board – handmade by bride and groom:

seating assignment

Then it was time for the First Look:

in the fields… and bridal party photos (by Majesta Patterson),


The ceremony, officiated by Rev. John Sullivan (, took place in a magical spot under an old gnarly tree, overlooking a valley…

ceremony… while I was taking care of fur baby Cody:

Cody 2And here they are: Just married!

couple nuzzling

First one to congratulate his Mom – was Cody:

bride cody

It was a glorious day for charming couples’ portraits and bridal party photos:


Just married


Time to party! With music by Love in the Mix, guests – young and old! – enjoyed real Carnival games by FunServices:

carnival… and Photo Booth shots by Night Owl photo booth.

As promised, food and drink were “off the beaten path” as well: since “Life is short – eat dessert first!” guests (as well as the newlyweds, of course!) were first treated to yummy ice cream from the Garden Creamery ice cream truck!

ice cream truckAnd after that – the “Yummi BBQ” Chinese  food truck served more substantial fare.

food truck

Dining tables by the pool were decorated with centerpieces (of course!) handmade by the bride: pastel-colored jars filled with paper flowers crafted from coffee filter paper… a true labor of love!


Everyone simply had a blast – kids and grown-ups alike! Everything was captured on video by Luke and Pamela Goodman – like the cutting of the cake (and cupcakes by Cupkates):

cake cake cutting

cake cutting… the couple’s First Dance and the most glorious sunset ever – a fitting end to an unforgettable day!


Many happy, fun-filled years together, Pam and John – and our very best wishes!









The Beauty of Art and Nature: Alan’s and Miles’ Wedding at the Monterey Aquarium

This weekend, my company, A Day Like No Other, had the pleasure and the honor to coordinate a really extraordinary wedding – a wedding of two artists, in one of the most spectacular venues imaginable: the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And what a celebration that was!

aquarium sign

It meant a lot to them, that’s for sure. Alan had admittedly nearly given up hopes to find his soul mate one day… but as we all know (or at least hope…) miracles still happen. And in this case, the miracle was Miles, and it was love at first sight. They complement each other perfectly. One is quirky and super-energetic, and the other is calm and keeps him grounded; and they deeply care about each other. After four years together, they were both sure that they were, indeed, meant for one another.

couple 1


Alan and Miles, the grooms, are both incredibly creative (Alan is a graphic artist and designer, and Miles has a degree in Fine Arts), and so they wanted a visually compelling surrounding for their Great Day, AND they absolutely insisted on creating most of the decor themselves. Leave it to the artists!

shoesThey came up with a color scheme in hues of lavender and purple which they carried through from the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmen’s shirts and neckties and to the flowers – which Alan handcrafted himself! Each of them a little work of art – he made his own bouquet (a giant rose)

giant rose

and a toss bouquet; bridesmaids’ bouquets with the most delicate “wax flowers”


and elegant boutonnieres


and a cake topper

cake topperand and…

Here  is Alan with his “grooms maid” Lisa:

Alan LisaHidden behind Lisa’s bouquet is her gift from the grooms: a golden filigree pendant in the shape of their initials, designed – of course! – by the grooms themselves for all members of their bridal party.

Which was as unusual as nearly everything about this wedding: defying any rules and traditions, the grooms had picked a “Best Woman” and a “Grooms Maid,” along with more traditional roles – and they had a super-cute ring bearer (dressed up in a miniature version of the grooms’ suits!) and flower girl:

ringbearer flowergirl


ring bearer

Here comes the groom

Their ceremony under the “fish dome” was officiated by Miles’ Godmother Gail who has played an integral role in his life since his childhood – and so their ceremony was a deeply personal one.

ceremonyWhen it came to the vows, Alan surprised Miles with something literally “unheard of:” he expressed his feelings in a song. In his beautiful, mellow, professionally trained tenor voice, he sang the lyrics to the melody of Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird:”

For you/the sun will be shining/’cause I feel that when I’m with you…

To you/I would give the world…

And I love you, I love you, I love you…

interspersed with everything else he wanted to say and promise to Miles. Needless to say, we all had moist eyes… So beautiful!

you may kiss

Just married!

just married

The eighty guests – handpicked closest friends and family members, every single one a trusted companion in the grooms’ lives – formed a spontaneous receiving line after the ceremony – and then proceeded to a delicious dinner (by in-house 886 Catering) in front of the huge shark tank. A truly spectacular setting!

dining tables

dining tables 2

fish tank


And more was to come –  cutting the cake in front of the giant orange jellyfish exhibit…

cake jellyfish tank 1


cake cutting

…. and a traditional bouquet toss (equal opportunity for gals and guys, in this case!)

Bouquet tossand a beautifully choreographed First Dance to  the music of “A Thousand Years:”

First Dance 3

First Dance

After that, the dance floor was open to everyone, and DJ Collin from DNA Entertainment kept the crowd going!

dance party

dance party 2


Those who took a break from dancing had a chance to admire the gorgeous exhibits, from the puffins…

Puffins.. to the jellyfish:

Jellies 2

Jellies 1

jelly bed…and there is also the “hanging overhead” version – artificial and very artistic:

hanging jellies


All that beauty was captured in lasting memories – by Breeann Hollon Photography  and by Alan’s nephew on video.

Before they left, guests signed a very unusual “guest book” (well, nothing was “usual” at this wedding!) – a double portrait of the couple, painted by Miles:

guest book… and as wedding favors, they took home wood blocks, all designed and hand-made by Miles:

favorsWhat an abundance of beauty, both from Art and from Nature – and what a deeply moving experience that celebration was for everyone attending, me included!

love my job

Many happy years together, Alan and Miles!official wedding photo