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.

getting ready

… and then it was time for Amy to get into her elegant lace dress.

dress cpl

In 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).

bouquets 2The bridesmaids wore a rich blue – here is the bride with her Matron of Honor, Casey:

MoHAnd off they went with photographer Hardy Wilson for many, many photos (just wait until you see those!) on the beautiful Presidio Campus, under a cloudless blue sky.

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.

A family tree - left side for the groom, right side for the bride

A family tree – left side for the groom, right side for the bride

guest book tbl

Following the Western ceremony, officiated by a personal friend of the couple,  guests enjoyed Cocktail Hour with 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 and practiced the ritual of bowing to their parents and other honored family members as an expression of their respect and gratitude.

pae baek couple

After the ceremony, the two were allowed to take the seats of honor themselves, for a moment!

pae baek couple 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 settings

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),

dbl happiness

and everyone had a fantastic time!

And 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.

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

dress

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

bride… 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 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 and topped it all off with a carpet of petals in delicate hues of orange. And photographer Megan Reeves captured every precious moment (just wait until you see HER photos!):

ceremony setup

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

ceremonyAnd here they say, “I Do!”

I DoTime to party!

While the newlyweds had their mandatory photos taken,

couple

guests enjoyed Cocktail 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:

tables

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

table setting… and the food stations all looked like scenes right out of the Italian countryside:

buffet 1

buffet 2

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 night… 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 outside

cake cutting

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.

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:

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

shoes

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

bride stairs

And here is their official first photo together!

coupleA 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 (fgcanales@juno.com). This setup was an instant crowd-pleaser and conversation starter!

escort cards 2

escort cards

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.

gallery

gallery 2After their ceremony under the tall Redwoods – serenaded by Underhill Rose (an all female American Country Band, and friends of the bride) – 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.

couple married

Meanwhile, dinner was ready:

dining tables… 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 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:

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

magical lights… 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:

hava nagila

… and Amy said that she and John had the time of their lives. And that’s my biggest reward! Look here, why I love my job so much:

love my jobMany 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…

setting 2… and a romantic farmhouse with a shady courtyard…

barn

tables… and a beautiful pool for poolside dining:

dining poolside

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

While the bride (already in full hair and make-up by Nini’s Epiphany) was getting ready in a cool tack room, assisted by her Mom …

getting ready

bouquet shoes

… the fantastic ranch team …

IMG_2650

(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 led the way…

engagement photo

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

escort cards

Then it was time for the First Look:

first look… and bridal party photos (by Majesta Patterson), showing off the dreamy bouquets by Green Petal Designs:

bridesmaids

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

ceremony 3… while I was taking care of fur baby Cody:

Cody 2And here they are: Just married!

Just married

First one to congratulate his Mom – was Cody:

bride cody

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

carnival 1… 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!

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

food truckEveryone 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

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

sunset 1

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.

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! They 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)

bouquet

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

Bridesmaids bouquet

and elegant boutonnieres

Boutonniere

and a cake topper and and…

Here he is 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 flowergirlTheir ceremony 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. When 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!

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

cake

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

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

First Dance 1

First Dance 2

First Dance 3After that, the dance floor was open to everyone, and DJ Collin from DNA Entertainment kept the crowd going! 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 (just wait until you see HER photos!) 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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

venue
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)

bouquet

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 (charhdof@yahoo.com) 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

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 …

garter

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!

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.

bouquet

CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING COORDINATOR

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

DO WE REALLY NEED AN INDEPENDENT WEDDING PLANNER? WE ALREADY HAVE OUR (ONSITE COORDINATOR/FLORIST/ CATERER…)

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.

centerpiece

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.

DESIGN-WISE WE ARE TOTALLY OVERWHELMED WITH SO MANY IDEAS AND POSSIBILITIES. WE REALLY DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.

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! jutta@daylikenoother.com

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…

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)…

tablescape

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.

centerpiece

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…

salad

… 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…)

entree

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!

macarons

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… 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!

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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?)

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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.

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bride window

Meanwhile her groom was getting ready as well…

groom getting readyCoit Limousine service delivered her to the Brazilian Room where Lincoln was already waiting…

dapper 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.

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

Just married!

first kiss

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Now 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!

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…

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…

mandolins

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

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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):

cake

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.

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:


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The 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.

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And the bridesmaids were lovely, too!

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

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

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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!

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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:

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Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_596While the newlyweds disappeared for their mandatory family photos…

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…. 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

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_847…immediately followed by another honored Jewish tradition: the exuberant Horah Dance…

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Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_871… during which the couple is hoisted high up on chairs to the delight of the cheering crowd!


After 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…

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… 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:

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

Angie_Michael_May_31_2014_1158…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!