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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Behind the scenes: Ellen and Dane

My Last Wedding for 2008!!! Ellen and Dane, December 27, 2008!

Here are a few "behind the scenes" shots from this intimate 45 guest wedding celebration, which began with pre-ceremony photos at the Hotel Los Gatos.
Natalie Wi, of Allure West, in action.

The elegant pose, with Natalie out of sight!

Natalie and her husband Jung, the complete team of Allure West, actively capturing the best angles for Dane and Ellen's bridal party shots at the Hotel Los Gatos.

Ellen, with her mom, in traditional Korean dress, and her 3 bridesmaids, inside the hotel Los Gatos, before the ceremony.

After the ceremony at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, in Saratoga, the family and guests were invited to The Plumed Horse Restaurant, also in Saratoga, for a sumptuous wedding dinner, served in 7 courses, plus wedding cake!
The Plumed Horse was totally remodeled this year, re-opening just 4 months ago; the dining room and bar would not be recognizable to guests who have enjoyed eating there for last 30 years...but the food, service, and attention to detail is the same....and then some!

The modern, up-beat bar area served as the cocktail area for Ellen and Dane's guests, with gourmet passed appetizers, champagne, and live piano music.

One of the most notable additions to the Plumed Horse is the 2 story, all glass wine "cellar", which is the central feature between the bar and main dining room. I was able to walk into the chilled wine room, on the glass floor you see here, to view what represents just part of the 14,000 bottles of wine from around the world, which Josh Weeks, the manager, has available for his guests.

The tables were set for 3 to 6 guests each, allowing for relaxed visiting and shared enjoyment of the elegant dinner ahead; at each place was a box of house-made treats, including truffles, macaroons, and lychee nut candies.

Each place setting featured the square Plumed Horse charger, with a personalized menu; the centerpieces and candles, in squares to complement the charger, were provided by Susan Groves, of In Full Bloom Florals.

The wedding cake, also provided by the Plumed Horse, was also personalized with Dane and Ellen's monogram, with ribbon to match the reds and golds Ellen chose for her wedding colors.

Before her guests came into dinner, I was able to play an important behind-the-scenes mending role for Ellen!
Between the photos at the church, and the arrival at the restaurant, Ellen's train had somehow ripped apart from the "bustle", which is used to enfold the bustle closer to the wedding gown, allowing for greater ease of movement after the ceremony.
Fortunately, I have a mini sewing kit in my "little black bag", which I carry with me at all times throughout the wedding day. Within moments, using my pre-threaded needle, I was able to re-attach the hook and eye to the back of Ellen's gown, lifting the train off the floor; she was able to rejoin her guests for the cocktail hour, knowing that no one, especially Dane, would be tripping on her train!
This opportunity to meet an unexpected need, represents just one of the many behind-the-scenes activities known only to wedding coordinators, and their clients!

Ellen and Dane's wedding professionals all "came on board" 2 months before the wedding, when Dane and Ellen hired me to work with them on pulling together a Christmas time wedding.

Thanks to each of you, for jumping in with enthusiasm on short notice, in the midst of the their own family holiday and travel plans! Ellen and Dane were very fortunate to have your support, and so was I!

My Team:
Allure West Photography (www.allurewest.com)
Shawn Cavlan Beauty Company /(www.shawncavlanbeautyco.com)
In Full Bloom Florals (www.infullbloomflorals.com)
The Plumed Horse (www.theplumedhorse.com)
Out of the Envelope (www.outoftheenvelope.com
Lone Star Transportation (www.lonestartransportation.com)
Hotel Los Gatos (www.hotellosgatos.com)
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
Trudy's Brides (www.trudysbrides.com)
Pruneyard Custom Tailors
Eli Thomas for Men

Friday, December 19, 2008

Enjoying the St. Regis, SF

During the Christmas Holiday, I was able to spend one luxurious night in the St. Regis Hotel, in San Francisco. The view from the 20th floor was amazing; I spent some time at my desk, supposedly working, but really gazing out the window!
I had to explore every area of the hotel, as a part of my "hotel research" to better equip me to recommend hotels to my clients for guest accommodation...PLUS, as someone who loves to travel, I make each time visit to a new hotel a mini trip; I pretend as I go up and down the elevators and hallways, that I am just off the plane, and learning my way around! No one knows the difference, and my inner need to explore new places is satisfied!

The St. Regis was built only 3 years ago, so every part of the hotel is "state of the art" in terms of design and technology. The lobby and bar has a modern, sleek feel, with a two sided fireplace providing both warmth in temperature and atmosphere.

Walking into the swimming pool and spa areas made me relax instantly...even without having the opportunity to use either facility! I can confidently recommend that a bride and her bridal party consider a time of pre-wedding spa treatments and relaxation at the St. Regis.

As soon as I have them from the photographer, I will be sharing some photos of the St. Regis Holiday Event, hosted by Barry Peterson, Catering Manager at the St. Regis. It was because of this event that I was able to "sleep over" at the St. Regis, combining my hotel research project with an "Evening of Indulgence", provided in opulent style, by Barry and his staff. More details to follow!

Wedding University, "Prep 101", cont.

Creating the "Blueprint" for our Wedding University involves lots of meetings! Last Thursday, Jubilee and I met with our logistics team to discuss delegating roles of leadership for Registration, Gift bags, Publicity, Communication with "students", and Set up of the rooms where "professors" will share their expertise, and answer questions for the participants.

Our detail team includes Janece Shelloe, Carrie Topoian, and Amanda Chan; each brings a rich background of wedding planning experience to the growing group of professionals involved in the Wedding University.

After a few hours of in depth discussion and planning, we took a break to enjoy getting to know each other better. Being at the grass roots of launching a new project naturally develops strong bonds of friendship and mutual support. We are all glad for this opportunity!

As soon as Jubilee and I left this planning meeting, we drove to our next one, with Kelly Nelson and Julie Kiendra, part of the leadership team at the Four Seasons, Silicon Valley; the idea for the Wedding University emerged several months ago, from our mutual brainstorming about how best to serve engaged couples in the Greater Bay Area. Now that our idea is becoming reality, we need even more opportunities to brainstorm, while enjoying each other's company!

We met at the new Tapas bar, Joya, in downtown Palo Alto, for some nourishing appetizers, and coffee, not wine, since this was a working meeting! We are all excited to see the plans for the Wedding University coming along so well; now it is a matter of getting all the publicity out, and then "setting the stage" at the lovely Four Seasons, Silicon Valley, for the Afternoon of Elegance and Education our Wedding University will provide for all who come!

Jean, Julie, Jubilee, and Kelly

Be sure to check out the Wedding University blog:

Please register right away, since we can only accommodate 75 couples in this Inaugural year of the Wedding University.
You may call or email Cassie Conchin at:
650.470.2894, or cassie.conchin@fourseasons.com.

You may also email or call me for more details:
jean@jeanmarksweddings.com, 650.269.6086.

Ugly Sweater/tshirt Bowling Party

Just so you know that wedding professionals do take breaks to be silly, I am posting a few photos of the recent "Ugly Sweater/Teeshirt Bowling party, hosted by Ellie Warner, of Fogarty Winery, and Dave Ethridge, of Video Reflections. Ellie was really proud of the ugly sweater she made just for the occasion, so I had Melissa Moncado, of Classic Party Rentals, and Duncan Reyes, of Events by Design, pose with her to show it off.

For this group shot, we were all told to make silly faces, and that was all the encouragement we needed!
The party was held at Strikes, in Cupertino, the most hip bowling/game mecca you could ever imagine with videos, a DJ, strobe lights, and great party food. I am grateful to have close friends with whom I can both work hard, to serve our clients, and then play hard, when the year's work is coming to an end!

No one's score was too high, but the laughter and high fives, for even gutter balls, was a sign of the comradery among us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wedding University "prep 101"

Behind the scenes, planning the Wedding University, is an interesting place to be! Jubilee and I are having lots of meetings these days, the most recent of which was with our "Bridal Fashion" team.

Gabrielle's new puppy, Kingston, wanted to be a part of the group!
Gabrielle Medrano Contreros, owner of Gabrielle's Bridal Atelier, will be working with Dan McEwen of Eli Thomas for Men, and Armando, owner of Get Your Do Up, hair and makeup styling, to lead our Wedding Day Fashion Show/Seminar.
Gabrielle will provide the couture gowns, Dan will provide the elegant tuxedos, and Armando will create the hair and makeup styling for the Bride/Groom couples, who will be moving among the participants of the Wedding University throughout the day.
This is one of the 2009 gowns which will be a part of Gabrielle's informal fashion show, and will be used as an example for her discussion of the latest trends in wedding gowns. Armando will discuss how he matches his hair and makeup styling with the bride's facial features, as well as the design of her gown; as a bonus, he will demonstrate his hair styling "magic" on one of the lucky brides-to-be attending the Wedding University.

Armando and Jubilee discuss the type of hair style, veil, and other accessories to best complement the gown.

The next step is for for Armando and Gabrielle to meet with models who would like to participate in the WU Fashion Show and Seminar; a "casting call" will be held in 2 weeks, so that models from throughout the SF Bay area can meet with Gabrielle and Armando, to "try out" for the opportunity to participate in the Wedding University, Bridal Fashion Seminar, 2009!

For more information about registration, please call our Wedding University Registration Concierge:
Cassie Conching
p 650.470.2894

We encourage you to register early for the Wedding University!
The number of participants is intentionally limited, because we want to facilitate interactive learning, and that can be done best in smaller groups.

Jubilee and I see a growing enthusiasm among the wedding professionals partnering in the WU; they can't wait to share their experience and ideas with you!

Bridal Fashion Team:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Neighborhood party--on ice!

Did you know it snowed last night in Palo Alto? At least at one house on my block!
Our neighbor is known for planning the most amazing parties you can imagine, and last night she brought a winter wonderland to Addison Avenue! (Robert Fountain and Taste Catering are her partners in the planning.)
About 5pm, the snow appeared, via ice truck, and snow machine; at 7pm the guests began arriving. Jeff and I were one of 350 invited guests and neighbors who were welcomed up the freshly shoveled walkway into a cozy atmosphere of hot soup, passed mini sandwiches, cappucino/hot chocolate carts, roaring fires, wine tasting, candy canes, and in the extensive back yard.....
...we found that an ice skating rink had appeared, with skates provided in all sizes, and background Christmas music to encourage dancing. My husband Jeff was one of the first two on the ice; here you see Jeff showing me that he still remembers how to skate backwards.

Now the party was not just for those who enjoy the briskness of outdoor exercise; we were also invited downstairs to enjoy the newly completed home theater, with 24 leather recliner chairs, where Christmas movies were being shown all night. Of course, what would a movie theater be without a snack bar?! This built in marble topped snack bar offered yummy fresh popcorn, all the usual candy treats(I chose Raisinettes), ice cream sandwiches, Hagen Daas bars, hot nachos and soft drinks. This was our Snack Bar Elf, who provided whatever we wanted, on the way into the movie.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Wedding University is coming!

I am excited to be one of the founders of the Wedding University, to be held for the very first time on February 8th, 2009, from 11am to 5pm, at the Four Seasons Hotel, Silicon Valley!

Jubilee Lau, my partner in planning the Wedding University, and I had our first "Faculty Meeting" a few days ago, in one of the meeting rooms at the Four Seasons.

The content of our classes will include Photo and Video, Music and Dance, Design and Decor, Bridal Fashion, Hair and Makeup, Timeline Considerations, Menu Planning, etc...all important aspects in planning a wedding. Each topic will be discussed by well known professionals in each field, who will both teach and make themselves available for questions directly from the students.
By the end of our meeting, the enthusiasm among all of our wedding "professors" was growing...they could not wait to get started planning the content for their classes.

Below is the electronic version of the card we will be making available through bridal boutiques, stationery shops, and to our teaching staff, so we can begin sending them to all the engaged couples we know. The size of each class is limited, so we want to be sure to get the information out right away!

To learn more about the Wedding University, you can:
- contact the Wedding University Registration Concierge at the Four Seasons, Cassie Conching, 650.470.2894:
-read through the website set up by the Four Seasons, www.fourseasons.com/siliconvalley/minisite/wedding-university09/
-check in often at the Wedding University blog, set up by Jubilee:

I will keep you up to date on what goes on for me, in the background, as Jubilee and I work with our team to plan and produce an event designed to help couples learn how to make educated decisions in the planning of their wedding day. We are all very excited to meet the students who join us on February 8th, 2009!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the road, Sonoma County!

As I mentioned in my last post, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn welcomes its guests with the beauty of this lovely fountain; I was fortunate enough to spend 3 nights at the Inn, after the incredible Wedding Planner event concluded about 9pm.
My "retreat" began officially when I entered the exquisite suite I would enjoy for my stay.

What a welcoming sight for a tired wedding planner! I was able to enjoy a bubble bath, followed by a cozy time by the fire in my room, before I crawled between the sheets for a 12 hour sleep...ahhhhhh!

The next morning, after the yummy French press coffee provided in my room, and the Blueberry bran muffins I had brought on my trip, I headed over to the Spa, for a few hours of "spaaing". I began with 30 minutes on the treadmill in the state-of-the-art exercise facility...just so I would not feel like I had been a slug ALL day!
Then I changed into my bathing suit in the luxurious "locker room", and began my exploration of the outdoor and indoor pools, which contain the mineral water coming up constantly from the underground thermal springs. With the temperature between 98 and 100, I was a toasty warm under the water, while my breath was showing in the cold air around me!

I spent about 2 hours in the 3 hot pools, the cold showers, the sauna and steam rooms, then sampling the herb tea, fruit, health elixirs (concentrated fruit/herb mixes you can add to tea) and resting in comfy chairs in front of a huge fireplace inside the spa reception area.

I knew that my Kur treatment began at 4pm, so I was well "tenderized" by then. Here is the description of what I enjoyed for the next 90 minutes:

"Harvest Kur
Embrace the healing of the 'Valley of the Moon'. This fabulously regenerative treatment, using local products, begins with exfoliation to naturally stimulate the body's immune system. Relax with a warm, fragrant grape seed oil infused bubble bath followed by a warm, nurturing grape seed mud body wrap concluding in total bliss with a full body massage using grape seed body oil. This treatment uses products that are high in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, which enhance well being throughout your body, mental relaxation and spiritual balance.

After this treatment, I slowly dressed and made my way back to my room for another fire in my fireplace, some time to read a good book, and fairly soon thereafter, a good night's sleep! sigh.....

The next day I awoke totally energized and ready for the full day I had planned for experiencing the beauty of Sonoma County, including the wineries and the hiking trails!

Both Kenwood and Arrowood Wineries, located just off Highway 12, have lovely views from their tasting rooms, where I could take a few photos to remember the colors and textures of Sonoma wine country, after the harvest.

As it happens, I have a wonderful friend who lives in Santa Rosa, just north of Sonoma, who drove down to meet me for lunch and a hike. Renee suggested we begin at Cafe Citti, a local Trattoria she loves to visit whenever she is down this way. The time flew by as we chatted and laughed about all of our mutual memories and adventures, while enjoying homemade ravioli, fresh bread, and healthy salads.

It was a short drive from Cafe Citti to Jack London State Park, just off of Arnold Road, near the Sonoma Mission Inn; we parked and hiked until sunset, enjoying the beauty of the land Jack London loved, the exercise of climbing up and down the hilly terrain, and the absolute quiet all around us.

We were free from cell phones, computers, traffic, lists...all the things that surround us all day and into the night during our normal work week....I realized how much I need these breaks to be away from the noise around me, and inside my head, so I can just be Jean, and enjoy the beauty, solitude, and quiet which so nurture me.

After our hike, I returned to my fireplace, my book, and oh yes, one more bubble bath before bed!
The next morning, after breakfast, I had a brief visit with Kelly McClesky, and headed for San Francisco, where I had an appointment with a couple who live in New York, and are planning an April wedding in San Francisco. I was "back at work", and so ready to be there!

I am grateful that after a very full wedding season, I was able to make time to get away for rest and play. I came home energized, and really excited about the year ahead.
My husband said that I was absolutely "giddy" when I returned, compared to the more serious and somewhat exhausted wife who had left just 3 days before.
Here's to the value of play, rest, and rejuvenation! Let's all have times of being "giddy"!