Friday, December 12

Lauren + Gar | Oct 4

I just received these photos from the amazing Jen Kloss Heffner, who was the photographer for Lauren & Gar's wedding on Oct 4th. This was such a fun wedding to plan with such a warm and friendly family, as the wedding took place at Lauren's parents home in Geyserville overlooking their private vineyards. It was magical... and then the rains came! We were prepared though, as I had ordered tents in February, and we had Classic Party Rentals working for four days straight to lay subfloor over the pool, install four tents, heaters, lighting and bring in executive restrooms. It was a huge production, but I loved every minute of it, and I actually tear up when I see their photos, as we all became very, very close through this process. To see them so happy makes me so happy! The best part was that even though it stormed through the night, and rained right up until about 1pm, Lauren and Gar got to have the most beautiful outdoor ceremony by 3pm when the clouds cleared. And, the best thing is, that even if it hadn't stopped raining, they still would have had the wedding of their dreams because they are so in love, it could have snowed, and they wouldn't have cared! Here are some of my favorite shots:

The bride and her bridesmaids

Even though the rain stopped, it was still a little breezy
Dining set-up in the main tent
The female guests enjoyed the colorful pashminas that they could keep warm with and take homeI provided the calligraphy, and we hung the place cards from a rustic room divider
The tables were named after different wineries. The marker was the actual bootle from that winery, which was also served at each table
They had a large bridal party
Wonderbread 5 put on a great performance!
The dance floor was packed even after the final encore was played
You can view the entire slide show by clicking here. The other vendors that were a part of this magnificent team were Caridwyn and Sons Catering, Dragonfly Floral, Justin Fone Video Productions, Patesserie Angelica for the cake, A Day In May did the invitations and California Wine Tours provided the shuttle service for all 200+ guests to the private home.

Happy Planning!


Thursday, December 11

Holiday Party Ideas & Holiday Cocktail Recipe

Last night we had our Holiday Open House at our 2001 Fillmore Studio, and it was so much fun! My office mates, Andrew Weeks of Weeks Photography and Nessa Sander of Cardgirl, as well as Kathy Goodman from Well Rehearsed all put on a wonderful soiree to celebrate the end of the wedding season with other vendors and past clients. It was a packed house, but the little details stood out to the guests and I wanted to share a few things that we did to help you if you are planning any events over this holiday season. A special thakns as well to Natalie Bowen Designs for providing the festive floral decor.

1) We had appetizers delivered from Delfina Pizza, which just opened a new little sister restaurant from their Mission location about a block away from our office on California and Fillmore. Don't stress over making everything yourself. Call your favorite restaurant, gourmet grocery store, etc., and have them whip up something easy and that can be served at room temperature. It takes a lot of work off the host!

2) In the winter, have a coat rack/check. I have a rolling one (very cheap from Target) that I keep in my storage unit, and bought nice wooden hangers from IKEA, and there is my coat check. Your guests really appreciate not having to walk around with their coat, or putting it on the floor.

3) Have a bar set-up and ready to go when your guests arrive. I had great glassware rented from Classic Party Rentals, tubs of ice with champagne and white wine, a second tub of ice for our house cocktail, couple bottles of red wine and sparkling water and you're done. We had a bartender, my wonderful boyfriend, but this could also be a self serve bar. Don't have tons of different glassware either. I had champagne flutes and large red wine glasses that we used for the wine, water and cocktail.

4) Have a house cocktail! This is the best cost and space saving tip when setting up a bar. Serve one drink and you will cut your costs by a lot; think of all the mixers, liquor and garnishes you excluded! We served a really cool drink that I was able to whip up that morning (we don't have a kitchen at the office), put into a large plastic jug, and as we had guests arriving, we put it over ice in the pitcher, and it was ready to be served. There was never a line at the bar, as this drink is a simple fill glass with ice, pour and serve. I have added the recipe for this cocktail below, and it's a must try (don't let the last ingredient scare you).

5) Put a personal touch on your event. Some of my staff and I all like to bake, so we each made one of our favorite cookies. We put all the cookies in large glass jars with tongs, and had little to-go containers with a thank you sticker on them for guests to fill up and take with them. The bonus touch to this is to have a little book of the recipes from each of the cookies as a take home item as well. Our guests were thrilled to be able to make these recipes at home!

Enjoy this holiday season, and if you are throwing a party and have any questions, please feel free to send them my way, I'm happy to help out! Here is the recipe for the cocktail we served last night, and since it was such a hit, I thought I would share it with everyone.

Cranberry Chill-ade - Makes about 6 servings (you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe as needed)

1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup ice
1 cup vodka
1 red jalapeno pepper (we did half red and half green, for the holiday colors)

1) In a large bowl combine the lemon juice, sugar and cranberry juice
2) Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved
3) Add the water
4) In a pitcher, fill the bottom with the ice
5) Pour the vodka in first, then mixture over it
6) Add the peppers, stir and serve

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 3

Place Card Idea - River Stones

I had done this idea about a year and a half ago at a showcase at the Hotel Vitale, and I just loved it! I even love it more that brides are actually coming to me to do their calligraphy on river stones just like the photo. I've recently done three calligraphy jobs this way, and they all have been very happy with the casual yet unique look of the stones at each place setting. The key with this style is to make sure that you have a table designation by either a list printed nicely on a large easle or by escort cards outside the dining area. The stones are typically too small for full names, so we usually can only do first names. The rocks I did even had meal signs on them for the caterers, very cool!

Photo by Dennis M Photography

Back to planning the 2009 weddings!


Monday, December 1

Dream Bridal Tour No. 2 - Tickets Available

Just announced: The Dream Bridal Tour will take place on Sunday January 18th from 10:30am-4:00pm in San Francisco! Tickets for the tour have been released today, and you may purchase your tickets by clicking here. There are only 10 spots left, so make sure to get them soon! (UPDATE - there are only 7 spots left).

Our first bridal tour took place in September, and was a really fun day. I got to meet so many nice brides and their friends that they brought along, and they got to learn many things that they can do for their own wedding. You can see the
slide show here courtesy of Andrew Weeks Photography.

This tour will include, but is not limited to the following:
Champagne brunch

Shuttle transportation
Bakery tastings
Manicure treatment services
Bridesmaid dresses
Discounts and goodies from most of the vendors
and much much more!

You may email us with any questions regarding the bridal tour at We look forward to seeing you there!

Happy Planning,

Friday, November 21

Taryn + Greg | Engagement Party | Oct 19

One of my friends, and day of wedding assistants, Taryn, is getting married next August, and I was so thrilled to be asked to be her wedding planner. It's so much fun planning with her, and to start the festivities, I threw them an engagement party last month at Pres a Vi restaurant in the Presidio. It was a great time, and the restaurant is perfect for rehearsal dinners and private parties, as it has different areas to rent out throughout the restaurant. Plus, the food is really good and can be paired up nicely with their extensive wine list. We had Doug Shannon there to do caricature drawings for the guests, signature drinks aptly named after the bride and groom to be and take home wine favors. I had a lot of fun planning this event; I ordered the labels for the wine bottles from My Own Wedding Labels and did the floral and candle decor myself. I rented lounge furniture from Hartmann Studios and brought in some of my own equipment to make the night comfortable and fun for all the guests. Here are some photos courtesy of Amy James:
The happy couple - Taryn & Greg

The flower girl, London, wanting to see her portrait

Greg & Taryn having their portrait drawnTaryn and me

The take home wine favors with custom labels

Happy planning!


Friday, November 14

Vanessa + Matt | Oct 11

I just LOVE getting photos from weddings that I have done, especially when I get to work with great couples like Vanessa and Matt. They wanted, in a way, a non-wedding wedding. It was stunning, as was the bride in her Monique Lhuillier gown, the bridesmaids in vibrant BCBG gowns, and the photos from Becca Henry. It was such a fun night, the guests first walked into the Bently Reserve greeted by a refreshment bar before the 6 o'clock ceremony. Afterwards while the guests enjoyed cocktail hour, the caterers and my team transformed the room for dinner and dancing. The guests then feasted on a family style meal provided by California Rose Catering, before dancing and a dessert bonanza bar provided by Tartine Bakery. The dancing went right up to the 1 o'clock in the morning shut down time, and the couple couldn't have been happier and more in love. I'm excited to share these photos with you from the photographer.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! I have my final wedding of the 2008 season tomorrow, and I am very excited about it, as each of these weddings are so unique and special in their own way. I am so lucky to have this wonderful job where I am a part of these moments in my clients lives, I feel very, very privileged.

With that, happy planning!

Wednesday, November 12

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Recently, I've had the honor of doing so many great outdoor fall weddings. But, in the past month, three of them got a nice wedding gift from mother nature; rain. While I try to prepare for everything, there are some things I cannot control. While it isn't always a happy phone call or email I have to make, the truth is, the earlier you are prepared for the possibility of rain, the better. Here are some tips to help you out:

1) Always have a rain plan: you cannot predict everything, so if your wedding is falling in any months where rain could be a possibility, the best thing to do is to have a plan in place as soon as you begin your wedding planning. It's not worth it to plan an outdoor wedding and hope that it doesn't rain. I suggest finding out from your venue what back up plans they have and indoor options that are available to you. For a wedding I did at the beginning of October, that wasn't an option, as it took place at a private home. I had (thank goodness) placed large tents on hold 8 months before the wedding. You do risk the chance of losing some money with this plan, but if it's your only option, do it. I was relieved to know that we had tents being installed three days before the wedding, while other couples were frantically trying to secure tents. It's not worth the stress!

2) Accept defeat when you have to: I really hate to make the rain call, it hurts me as much as it does my clients, but the sooner the decisions are made to go with the rain plan, the better everything will flow. We've done a few game time decisions, but sometimes, you don't get to make the board room you are being put into look as good as it can. If your wedding is on a Saturday and you see on that the call is for 80% storm weather, take that as a fact. You still have time at that point to make a call to your florist or rental company to secure more items or change your current ones to fit with the new location. You'll be happier and more comfortable knowing that you have made your plan B location look as good as it would have outdoors.

3) Make the guests comfortable: say the weather calls for slight scattered showers for a brief period of time on your wedding day, and you make the call to go for it. Make sure that you (or your fabulous coordinator) secure enough umbrellas, canopys, etc. for your guests to be comfortable. Remember, they are dressed up for your wedding, and to expect them to sit on wet seats doesn't always go over well. When the rain was approachin for last Saturday's wedding, I made a run to Walgreens and purchased 15 umbrellas and came equipped with plenty of towels to dry off the seats right before the guests arrived. The guest were very appreciative and it made the cold, foggy, wet weather not as bad! Even the groom secured some coffee from Peet's and we had a nice little coffee station set-up for guests to warm up by.

4) Protect your dress, hair and makeup: you've spent enough on it all, why let the rain ruin it? Make sure you have a large golf umbrella, and many helping hands to help hold up all sides of your dress. One drop in the mud, and even a shout wipe can't help that! Make sure to also have a small can of hairspray (usually your coordinator will have this on-hand in the emergency kit) for the frizz that usually comes with the damp weather.

5) Stay positive: you don't want the weather to ruin one of the biggest days of your life! Take some deep breaths, put all the worry on your coordinator, and just relish in the beauty that the rainy weather gives you in photos (this isn't a lie, it really is a fact). Also, I've heard just a few thousand times that rain is good luck on your wedding day, so embrace it like my clients below, Loralie and Kevin did and all will come together beautifully. Your day will be amazing no matter rain, sleet, hail or snow!

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the amazing warm fall weather we are having in the bay area currently and wish you all happy planning!


Monday, November 10

Loralie + Kevin | Nov 8

I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful couple this past Saturday who had planned their entire wedding from Indianapolis! They worked with me on getting vendor referrals (which is key if you're planning from afar), but also to coordinate the wedding for them. It turned out to be a very wet and drizzly Saturday, but they embraced it, and had a lovely wedding (I will make another post on how to handle a change in weather shortly). I'm lucky enough to have worked with a few of my favorite vendors on this wedding, and the Joel and Cara Flory (the photographers) have already sent me some photos, so I thought I would share, as they turned out to be breathtaking!

The Details

Ceremony: Upper Terrace at the San Francisco Art Institute
Reception: Florio Restaurant on Fillmore
Photographer: Joel and Cara Flory
Officiant: Hank Basayne
Guitarist: Q Morrow

Happy Planning!

Friday, November 7

Alison + John | Aug 31

I just received these photos from a great photographer I worked with from a wedding up at Trentadue Winery in Geyserville. This wedding was a full planning client, and Alison and John were so fun to work with. We grew very close during the planning process, and I miss working with them, but was so happy to see how their day was captured perfectly. The bride loved cakes, so half of the tables had a two-tiered wedding cake with different flavors, but all in colors to match the decor. The sweetheart table had a larger cake with their monogram on it. Everything was perfect, and the guests had a real wine country experience!

Some of the great vendors that made their day possible:

Venue: Trentadue Winery
Caterer: Caridwyn & Sons
Florist: Passiflora Designs
Photographer: John Griffin Photography
Band: The Cheeseballs
Jazz Trio: The Davis Ramey Trio
Cakes: Jill Branch from Banching Out Cakes
Beverage Service: Bartenders Unlimited

If you want to see the entire slideshow, click here.

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, October 29

To see or not to see...

Many couples are being faced with the question of whether to see each other or not before the wedding ceremony. It's a tough decision to make, as most brides want that moment when their husband to be sees them in their dress for the first time to be during the ceremony. With the timing and situation most are faced with though, that sometimes just isn't feasible. Some ceremonies are starting later, and after the ceremony, there isn't enough light for photos, or even time before they would need to arrive at the reception.

The key to making this work for you is to look over the pros and cons of both, and if you do decide either, here are some keys to each:

If you choose to see each other before hand:
1) Make sure that you and the photographer work out a designated "first meeting" spot and time. This should be a special moment between just the bride and groom with the photographer in the background taking photos. It's an intimate moment, and should be reserved for just the two of you.
2) If you are going to meet up before hand, make it worth your while and have the time designated for some portrait photos of the both of you, and then photos with family and bridal party.
3) Don't over do it! This happens a lot. Couples think that they have hours and hours worth of photos to take, and after 45 minutes of it, they are worn out. Don't do that to yourselves. Take the time to map out who and how many photos you really need, and be realistic. Start with just two of you, pick out neat locations to go to, then meet up with the bridal party and family afterwards for photos with each group.

Here is one of my couples who chose to see each other before the ceremony, and had a very special moment of their first meeting in the wine caves before their formal photographs:

If you choose to not see each other before hand:

1) Take as many photos before the ceremony that you can. Bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen, and sometimes family can be done as well.
2) After the ceremony, have a list for your photographer that has everyone needed for each photo, and make sure that these people know to stay after the ceremony. Finding them in the cocktail reception is difficult.
3) Start the largest group photos first. Let the grandparents and older relatives be in the photos they are needed to quickly, so they can go and relax before the dinner. You will eventually widdle it down to the bride and groom to take a few portrait shots.
4) Allow a break from the reception to take 10-15 minutes of photos with just the two of you, and if you can plan it around the sunset, that usually will get you the best possible light. It's worth it to take a few moments away, and you will be thankful for the beautiful photos after. Make sure to work with your planner and photographer on implementing this into the timeline.

Here is a photo of one of my couples who chose to wait to see each other, and took all their portrait photographs after the wedding and got great shots in Union Square during the holidays:

Either way you choose, make sure YOU are comfortable with it. Many people will offer their opinions, but ultimately, if you're not comfortable with it, it won't feel right. That holds true with all of your wedding planning!

Happy Planning!