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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Succulents, Sushi, and a Turtle

Abby and Joe wanted a very natural, elegant, and sustainable sort of wedding celebration; one which represented their commitment to the environment, their love of the outdoors, and their appreciation of the simple things of life. Choosing as their venue Fogarty Winery, with its panoramic view of the entire SF Bay area, was the first step in bringing their love of outdoors and natural beauty into the center of their wedding planning.

During the 7 months I worked with Abby and Joe, we had a blast filling in the details! One of the special surprises we had for the guests was waiting to greet them when they came into the Hill House for the cocktail hour...a reminder of Abby's childhood pet, and another of the "green" elements of their wedding day......

...what could be more "natural" than a turtle wedding cake? Abby and Joe's cake, designed by BethAnn Goldberg was make specifically to their specifications, and was as delicious as it was amazingly creative!

This weekend a team of incredibly creative and caring wedding professionals came together to create a wedding celebration perfect for Abby and Joe...one which was savored by the family and guests, because each element so represented the uniqueness of their beloved Joe and Abby.

Leisha Montrose, our florist, caught Abby and Joe's vision right away, and helped design arrangements with many sustainable elements, such as succulents, moss, and lichen, which could be taken home by guests, and planted in their own gardens. Many of the centerpieces were actually miniature gardens, with accents of white dahlias, wheat grass, small apples and artichokes; the escort cards were displayed in a reusable wooden tray of wheat grass, adding to the sense of having a garden growing all around us.

Their guest book was a scrap book, with engagement photos on almost every page, allowing guests to sign around the photos (all of which were taken outdoors of course!). I recommend this type of guest book, with lots of empty pages, and an assortment of colored gel pens, to encourage guests to write, draw, and have fun in their messages to the bride and groom. This kind of guest book becomes a keepsake which couples will treasure for years to come, as they look back, to read the personal notes from their guests, beside photos of them, as they looked at the time of their wedding.

Chocolate brown, cream and shades of green were used through out the wedding decor; one of the bridesmaid's bouquets is shown here, resting on Abby and Joe's personalized guest book. Small green apples, wheat grass and the brown wooden walls of Fogarty Winery make the gift card basket fit in perfectly with the overall theme.

Abby's bouquet included flowers which are not usually seen in bridal bouquets, in shades of green and cream, with strips of grosgrain ribbon holding the stems in a "just picked" design. When I was holding on to Abby's bouquet during some photos, I nestled it in the branches of a rosemary plant in Fogarty's garden, and took this photo, to remind me of the way it fit naturally into the environment of a garden.

Lady slipper orchids, succulents, oregano, Queen Anne's Lace, green hydrangea, white dahlias and roses were part of the unusual selection of flowers in Abby's bouquet.

The linens we chose to use for Abby and Joe's dining and cocktail tables were all of a textured cotton, woven with a basket like pattern, perfect for the natural look of the flowers and containers.

Abby and Joe chose to work with Componere Fine Catering, who did a fabulous job with service, presentation, while providing unbelievably fresh and original taste for each item on the menu. Abby and Joe were pleased that Componere used foods which were organic and sustainably grown, an important aspect to the overall goals of the wedding.
Componere was also pleased to meet Abby's father's one request for the wedding dinner: a "live" sushi bar during cocktails. Componere found some to the best sushi chefs in San Francisco, to come up to Fogarty, and set up a display which kept guests coming back for more, or staying right there to get the next creation! Abby's father was quite pleased!

I caught this shot of Abby's "friend", before we moved him into the front part of the hill house for his "cutting"; he seemed to be keeping a close eye on the setting up of the sushi bar...do turtles eat fish? I am not sure, but he certainly seems interested...

It was hard for Abby and Joe to make the first cut into their wedding cake, so they chose to only touch the smaller cake, which the turtle was carrying on his back..then they went in for dancing while Componere's staff cut and served the lower part of Mr. Turtle, which was lemon cake with raspberry filling; the top layer was carrot cake, which I understand would have been to bumpy for the shell design!

Well it was a wonderful day, and I was pleased to be a part of all the decorations, surprises, and logistics; as I was leaving, I noticed this message, left by a departing guest, which I caught with my camera, just as the sun was setting:
Everyone at the wedding was able to see how much Joe loves Abby, and at the end of the day, that is what really counts!

I want to thank all my wonderful vendors who worked so hard to see this amazing celebration become all that Abby and Joe had hoped for!

Venue-Thomas Fogarty Winery, www.thomasfogarty.com
Caterer-Componere Fine Catering, www.componerefinecatering.com
Photographer-Todd Rafalovich, www.toddrafalovich.com
Videographer-Justin Fone Productions, www.justinfone.com
Florist-Branch Out Flowers, www.branchoutflowers.com
Musicians/DJ-though Joel Nelson, www.joelnelson.com
Cake-Studio Cakes, www.studiocakes.com
Transportation-Pure Luxury, www.pureluxury.com

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wedding Day on Canvas

When I began planning Laura and Mike's wedding, I was delighted to learn they were interested in having a "live artist" create a painting, on site, of their wedding day. I had been hoping to work with the artist Ken Lund (www.kenlund.com) since I had first seen his work, so I recommended him to Laura and Mike immediately.

Fortunately Laura and Mike had hired me 14 months before their August 2008 wedding date, so when I called Ken, he was still available!
Just last weekend the wedding day, and the painting of the wedding day, were ready to begin!

All paintings begin with the proverbial blank canvas.....

1:30pm, Fogarty deck

Here Ken is setting up his easel, his drop cloth, his paints, palette, brushes, and spatulas. It was a busy time, as the caterer, florist, musicians, DJ, and my 2 assistants and I zoomed around setting the stage for Laura and Mike's wedding celebration. Somehow it was comforting to me to see the artist calmly staying in one place, setting up his area of creativity, calmly, and in no rush...just waiting for the curtain to rise, and his painting to begin.

3:00pm, Fogarty deck

First he sketched in the outline of the Pavilion and the deck, the area Laura had chosen for him to focus the painting. While my assistants and I were going up and down the stairs, setting up for the ceremony, welcoming and seating guests, cuing the musicians, beginning the ceremony with the entrance of the family members, officiant, wedding party, the bride and her father, ending the ceremony, inviting guests to cocktails, and gathering the wedding party and family for photos.....Ken was quietly filling in the colors
and textures upon which he would add the guests and the evolving action of the day when they moved down for the cocktail hour.

4:30pm Fogarty deck, with bride and groom, see larger view below

During cocktails, dinner, and dancing, Ken was adding detail to the painting; as Laura walked by, to go in with Mike for their first dance, Ken asked if there was someone special she would like in the painting, and Laura suggested her mother; deftly, Ken added a few brush strokes, and now Dorothy, Laura's mother, will always be a part of Laura and Mike's painting. (In the completed canvas below, Dorothy is the elegantly tall woman in a long green dress, looking out at the view.)

7:30pm competed painting; note fog coming over the hills

This 30" x 40" canvas will be framed, and placed in a prominent location in Laura and Mike's home, a lasting reminder of a day never to be forgotten!

As the evening ended, and the guests left, the painting was taken by Ken, to dry thoroughly; it will be presented to Mike and Laura after their honeymoon. Those of us cleaning up at Fogarty enjoyed the beauty of the sunset, with the fog rolling in over the hills....the last detail of a beautiful day, and one which Ken was able to add as his final touch to the depiction of Laura and Mike's wedding day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beth, Beau and Berkeley

Beth and Beau had only lived in Berkeley a few months, when they decided to have their wedding here, rather than back in Virginia, where they had grown up. Beth had come out in September to begin her graduate studies in Architecture, at UC Berkeley; naturally she had a keen interest in the life and work of Julia Morgan, the first woman architect licensed in California, and a graduate of UC Berkeley.

Once Beth and Beau toured the Berkeley City Club (www.berkeleycityclub.com), designed by Julia Morgan in the late 1920's, they knew they had found the perfect place to celebrate their wedding, surrounded by the beauty and creativity of Beth's predecessor in the field of Architecture.

The front of the Berkeley City Club is lovely, but does not prepare visitors for the beauty and intricate design that awaits them inside.

Beth and Beau held their ceremony in one of the peaceful courtyards filled with lush greenery, refreshing fountains, and even a resident pheasant, who mysteriously found her way there, and is no hurry to leave...I noticed a tiny bowl of bird seed under one of the ferns, so I think she is a wise bird!

After the wedding, the guests were invited upstairs to the Members' Lounge, an exquisite room, with an ornately paneled ceiling, arches delineating room divisions, and bountiful light pouring in from elegantly shaped windows. I learned from my reading that these elements are found in many of Julia Morgan's creations, including Hearst Castle.

In the center of the room was the elegantly decorated, and candle-lit "King's Banquet Table", set for exactly the 32 family members and close friends who flew in to celebrate with Beth and Beau. Their guests were welcomed into the Members' Lounge by the live jazz music of Beth and Beau's favorite group, who play regularly a popular Berkeley night club.
At the far end of the room was the library, where we placed the 2 wedding cakes; it is a strong Southern tradition to have a bride's cake, and a groom's cake, with the groom's cake usually a spice or chocolate cake.

The florals for Beth and Beau's wedding provided another very personal touch; Beth collected each of the 35 vintage vases, pitchers, and carafes which held the flowers, during the infrequent breaks she had in her Graduate Studies. Almost all of the vessels, even the 2 cake stands, were found on EBay! I sensed it would be easy to get "hooked", as I helped Beth locate the cake stands one afternoon...who would have thought there were over 400 vintage cake plates available at that very moment? I can see how the low prices, the thrill of bidding, and winning, could become a bit addictive!

This small blue container went home with one of Beth's good friends, as did almost all of the containers, with various family members and friends; what a great way to remember a close friend's wedding...to lovingly use the vintage vase which was hand chosen by the bride!

Also, because Beth and Beau both come from families who garden, and love unusual flowers, the blooms chosen were anything but ordinary...for example, lady slipper orchids, seed pods of flowers most non gardeners would never recognize, and the beautiful passion flower, seen below, as a part of the entry way arrangement. Leighsa of Branch Out Flowers (www.branchoutflowers.com) worked closely with Beth and Beau, to provide the unusual combinations of flowers and greenery, which surprised and pleased the family of flower/garden enthusiasts.

Wendy Maclaurin Richardson (www.wmrphoto.com) did a wonderful job of capturing the details and the warmth of Beth and Beau's wedding; I am grateful to her for sharing these photos with me. I look forward to getting together with Beth and Beau when they return from their honeymoon to see all the photos, and to once again enjoy the laughter and hugs which were a big part of our months of planning.

Working with Beth and Beau, besides being a joy from start to finish, introduced me to the Berkeley City Club, a treasure of a venue which I plan to recommend often. I can also credit Beth with deepening my understanding of architecture, the heritage of Julia Morgan, AND the wonders of EBay!