Your Personal Wedding Ceremony Planner – by A Day Like No Other!

Congratulations – you are engaged! And you are beginning that whirlwind called “wedding planning.” Venues, caterers, florists, DJs… and then thousand other things. Believe it or not, the planning of the ceremony is rather a “second thought” for many couples. BUT… it’s at the core of the whole celebration – it’s the reason for the party! It’s the moment when you two are committing the rest of your lives to one another. So better focus on it right away!

rings copy And since it’s such an important moment in both your lives, the person sealing your bond, your officiant, should be someone you trust, cherish, admire, or have been a friend with for a long time.

The first and most important decision you have to make is whether you want a religious or non-religious ceremony. Both the Catholic and Protestant Church require the ceremony to take place in a house of worship; Jewish ceremonies may also take place outside a synagogue (at your reception venue, for instance). If you wish to get married in a Church of your faith, you will probably contact your parish or ask your parish priest to be your officiant at a different church; but in any case, you’ll follow the framework that applies within your religious community. You may choose one ceremony with a priest of each religion present, or two separate ceremonies (only one will then be legally binding by the signing of the marriage certificate). In many cases, premarital religious instruction is required, especially in the case of an interfaith marriage, and in some cases a Church ceremony even requires that the partner who is not member of this specific religious group needs to convert and become a member first, a process that can easily take up to a year. So better check this out, first thing!

church

Your other option is to have a civil ceremony – and here the options are nearly limitless. To clarify: “civil” does not mean “non-religious;” it only means “not recognized as binding by an established Church.” You can have a non-religious, simple courthouse ceremony, or you can have a spiritual ceremony, even a ceremony following the Catholic rite, just not inside a Catholic Church, without the strict regulations, and consequently not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church (the White-Robed Monks of St. Benedict, for example, are monks following Catholic beliefs who will perform a Catholic wedding mass for you, anywhere you choose… it will be a legally binding marriage, but not one recognized by the Roman Catholic Church). If you do not wish to be married by an ordained minister, even outside a house of worship, most judges or justices of the peace can officiate; and if you’d rather have a trusted friend or relative be your officiant, this person can become deputized for just this one day (at a very moderate cost, by the way). Or you may have observed an officiant at a wedding you attended and liked the way he or she conducted the ceremony – by all means, ask for referrals!
Sounds quite complicated, right? If you have a wedding planner (always recommended… after all, I am one myself!), he or she can help you find exactly the right solution AND the right person.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, I recommend that you meet each of the “possibles” with enough time to get a good impression of what this person is like and whether you feel well understood with your specific wishes and in your personal situation, and appreciated as persons. Ask about the way this person would conduct your ceremony or wedding mass, whether you can write your own vows, include rituals that are meaningful to you, readings by persons close to your heart; in short, find out what it would be like to be married by this person. Take your time; don’t rush it. No one can make that decision for you – this is intensely personal, and you’ll have to follow your heart here.
2011_lammerts_082
Your chosen officiant may recommend premarital counseling (many actually offer this service) – and you should seriously consider this option. I assume your first reaction will be – “WHY??” The two of you are deeply in love, committed to one another – what is there to counsel? Well, of course you are right… but the sad reality is that about half of all marriages in the US fail and end in divorce, and it is safe to assume that all these couples were equally deeply in love when they said their vows, and still… and because this is so and because you do not want this to happen to you, it’s a good idea to at least consider premarital counseling.
A bit of etiquette – depending on how close you are with your officiant, it would be a nice gesture to invite him or her to the Rehearsal Dinner and to the Reception. In many cases, officiants will politely excuse themselves due to “other commitments,” but it’s at least a nice gesture to offer it. And if they accept, they get a seat at one of the parents’ tables or other position for honored guests. If your officiant is a parish priest, a donation toward the Church is appropriate, and if he/she is not affiliated with a specific Church, you should show your appreciation with a personal gift.
ceremony craig mike
With your officiant and ceremony venue in place – whatever you choose – it’s time to think about your vows. Of course you can always follow the standard “I Do’s” – nothing wrong with that – but if you’d rather express your own unique and personal feelings, you have to put these in words, and, believe me, that’s not easy! Take your time for that. A good starting point is to write a love letter to your partner; leave it in your drawer for at least 24 hours, and then read what you wrote. That will be the essence of what to say in your vows.
vows
More details to think of: would you like to include readings in your ceremony? A favorite poem? Or maybe a favorite song or instrumental interlude? (And who would play or sing?) Would you like to include symbolic rites, like hand washing, ring warming, a sand ceremony, pouring wine ceremony, candle-lighting ceremony? There are so many ways to include your loved ones and even all of your guests and make them a real part of your ceremony and your union… just give it some thought!
handwashing
And with that, I’ll let you go, because I know you’ll be super busy… and you’ll have a wonderful, meaningful, unforgettable wedding ceremony!

 

Feminine Charm and Grace – with Parasols by Design!


I have lately come across the most charming accessory for summer weddings: paper parasols! Not just any… but parasols by the design of Grace Dougan. They are surprisingly sturdy, they provide much-needed shade at summery outdoor weddings, and they are simply pretty!

Have a look:

2 parasols Bride and Maid of Honor hiding behind elegant taupe swirls…bride and bridesmaidand “peekaboo!” here they are – it’s just such a playful accessory!
PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-11 Of course, wedding photographers love it as it frames the face and mitigates harsh light.PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-25 Just look at these beautiful patterns – they come in taupe, peach, gold, green, yellow or porcelain blue on ivory, in peach or porcelain blue solids AND even with the inscription of the couples’ names and wedding date!PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-65 View the collection… plus they make fantastic wedding favors! They can be personalized with a hangtag on the handle, reminding the recipient of the couples’ names and wedding date.PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-69 One more close-up…PARASOL PHOTO SHOOT-107

… and even little princesses love them!

toddlerI am sure you are now totally smitten, too! Look them up on Parasols by Design. I showcased them at my last festive WIPA event, and they were a real hit! I’ll definitely use them in my own wedding designs, that’s for sure – and if I’ll hang them from the ceiling for a whimsical decor!

Trends in Wedding Bouquets – 2014 and Beyond

A “trend” is defined as a direction – and mostly understood as “something new,” like in “Fashion Trend.” Looking back on the 2014 wedding season, and especially on the variety of beautiful and unexpected dress choices my brides had made, I was wondering about their flowers. Trends? Not really. When it came to their wedding flowers, my brides were surprisingly conservative! The undisputed winner of the year 2014 was the classic hand tied bouquet – mostly based on ivory and green, with accent colors. Very, very few exceptions… have a look for yourself.

Here’s the first textbook classic:

bouquetAngie’s ivory-and blush pink bouquet of roses and peonies to accompany her elegant summer wedding.

Here are more in a similar style:

shaina's bouquet

Shaina had likewise chosen pink hues for her accent color, and her and her bridesmaids’ bouquets (see those below) were based on English roses and hydrangeas in ivory and various shades of pink.

Shaina's bridesmaids bouquets

Erica's bouquet cropped

Erica added fresh green accents with Bells of Ireland and green-tinged hydrangea…

Pam's bouquet2

Pam opted for peach (English roses, dahlias) for her rustic-nostalgic nuptials…

Lauren's bouquet

Lauren added a tina touch of blue to her otherwise elegantly simple and classic bouquet of ivory Vendela roses…

064_laura_tyler_07_19_2014 … and Laura chose hot pink as one of her accent colors, and her hand-tied bouquet consisted of stargazer lilies, roses and hydrangeas all in this color family.

Last but not least, one bride went for ultra-classical with a spherical all-red, all-rose bouquet with a glass handle and matching bridesmaids’ bouquets:

Amy Lin's bouquets

Which shows the versatility of this style! But still – wasn’t there a more adventurous style out there?

A little…

Laura's bouquet1

My “other” Laura went for a more relaxed, “wild” style for her outdoors vineyard wedding, with eucalyptus, succulents and berries mixed into the roses and lisianthus flowers. If any “trend” crystallizes here, it’s the succulents which have gained favor not only in table arrangements, but have made their way into the bridal bouquets, too.

Here’s another one:

Amy Lovinger's bouquet-750x1024

Amy fell in love with a combination of succulents, eucalyptus, ranunculus and exotic protea blooms in saturated pinks for her nostalgic outdoor celebration.

michele's bouquet cropped

Michele had variegated euonimus greenery added to her summery bouquet for her garden wedding, with sunny yellow as her accent color…

Vannie's bouquets

… and Vannie took it one step further: her bouquets were really “hand-tied” by herself, and with twine!

Only two couples did something totally unique. One, Alan, was actually a groom in a same-sex wedding who hand-crafted paper flowers:

giant-rose

… and the other one was bride Courtney’s handcrafted brooch bouquet:

PaCoWedding205What was NOT chosen? Well… no elegant straight bouquet of sculptural flowers (like calla lilies or long-stemmed roses); no cascading bouquets; and nothing “outrageous” like a flower lei in lieu of a bouquet.

Maybe you, dear readers, are up for that? Let me know your favorites!

 

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 Wedcrafted.com)

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:

michele

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

laura c

894_laura_tyler_07_19_2014

…  and Erica’s breathtakingly beautiful creation:

erica

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:

shaina

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:

marissa

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..

yarmulkes

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:

bouquet

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:

boutonnieres

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

details

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:

champagne

shrimp

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.

dancing

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.

dress

bride getting ready

Add to that a beautiful engagement ring and elegant headpiece…

ring

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 …

bridesmaids

… 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!

cufflinks

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

hands

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

centerpiece

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),

gobo

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!