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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bay Area Wedding Network

Now that my wedding season is coming to a close (only 2 weddings left in 2008), I can get out to some of the networking events for wedding professionals. On Wednesday, I attended the final BAWN (Bay Area Wedding Network) for 2008, held at the Flood Mansion in San Francisco. It was wonderful to reconnect with so many great friends and collegues, in such a beautiful setting.

Dave Ethridge, A Video Reflection, Duncan Reyes, Events by Design, and John Woods, Enhanced Lighting, enjoy a sample of the delicious food provided by such great caterers as Melons, Taste, and McCalls.
Geoff and Lara White are two photographers I will be working with more in 2009; at the BAWN event we were able to relax and enjoy the friendships we are building.
Here I share a hug with colleague/friends Gloria Wong Tritasavit, of Sash and Sugar, Anna Williams, of McCalls Catering, and Marie Rios, co-founder of BAWN, and owner of Creative Occasions.

Anna Williams had created an all green table setting in honor of McCall's recent designation as a "Green Caterer", recognizing the high standards they practice in recycling, supporting sustainable and organic food sources, and making choices for the environment at every opportunity.

The highlight of the evening for me was learning that my two friends, Tom Henderson, owner of Thomas John Events, and Melissa Moncada, of Classic Party Rental, are ENGAGED! After a year of dating, and helping others plan their weddings, now this adorable couple can begin to plan their own wedding!

I am so thankful to Gwen Helbush and Marie Rios, both busy and successful wedding planners, who started BAWN, and have continued to maintain it for over 5 years, offering quarterly gatherings which are both fun and informative.

Gwen and Marie define BAWN as:

"A group of wedding and event professionals who wish to promote growth in our industry through education, networking, and teambuilding. "

Their Mission statement is:

"We are committed to raising the level of respect, cooperation and understanding among those of us who make weddings and events our livelihood. To do the best work for our clients, we have to be a team."

I could not agree more with your goals!
Thank you Gwen and Marie, for your hard work on our behalf!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Haunted Gingerbread Houses?

Several of my friends and associates in the wedding industry were recently invited by Tony Santos, VP of sales for Executive Chef, (www.executivechefevents.com), to participate in one their team building events, just so we will know how their company "operates"! Below is my team, as we pose with the finished products of 45 minutes with gingerbread, pretzels, lots of candy, royal icing, fondant, and marshmallows...plus a bit of wine and appetizers to keep us going!!

My team included Jubilee Lau, Jubilee Lau Events; Morgan Doan, Events by Morgan; Sue Mylan from Julia Moargan Ballroom; Orna Maymon of Ornamento Floral Design; Kathleen Kirkpatrick from Villa Montalvo.

We worked on tables set up at the front of the Ferry Building, in San Francisco. These are the "raw materials", before our team began the 45 timed minutes of creative frenzy!

Amanda, Jubilee's assistant, and Jubilee collaborate on design and decor for the Boo! house.

Working diligently on the front porch of the Boo House, Kathleen Kirkpatrick models how her Executive Chef hat works nicely as a beret!

While my team was finishing up the last touches on our haunted houses, I visited a few other tables to see how the "competition" was doing; everyone was having a great time, but I think the other teams had more professional help than we did!

Stacie Halliman, of the Four Seasons, SF, had a bit of structural advice from the two of the Executive Chef executive chefs...

Neil Adams, of Blueprint Studios, observes here, but later in the evening, he came up with the winning gingerbread haunted house "neighborhood"...it included a cemetery of famous Hollywood horror actors, a house that had become a crime scene, and a haunted out-house; now that is thinking outside of the gingerbread box!

Happy Halloween, 2008!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The richness of team work

I love being a team player, and recently I had the opportunity to become a part of the wonderful team of professionals working together on Connie and Colin's wedding at the Flood Mansion in San Francisco.

Several months ago, my good friend, Gloria Tritasavit, who was handling the design for Colin and Connie's wedding, asked me to step in as the Month of Coordinator for their wedding, to handle logistics, create a detailed timeline, and oversee the smooth running of the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, from beginning to end. I was delighted to work alongside Gloria again, as we had in September, for Marce and Alfie's wedding, at Nestldown.

The first member of the wedding support team I worked with on the wedding morning was Barry Peterson, Catering Manager for the St. Regis in SF, where the bride, her mother, and all of the bridesmaids were staying. Barry set aside a room just for doing hair and makeup, from early in the morning through the departure of the last limo, on the wedding day. He even provided a beautiful, and healthy lunch for the bride and bridesmaids...I always recommend a simple meal of protein, fruit, and water for the bride on the day of the wedding; Barry took this to the next level!

Bride and bridesmaid lunch delivered to the Hair and Makeup suite, for Connie and her bridesmaids; it was as delicious and healthy, as it was beautiful!

I was able to hop into the limousine (Andiamo Livery Service offered great service throughout the day...another strong team member!) with Connie's mom, in the last run from the St. Regis; we arrived at the Flood Mansion, for the pre-ceremony photos right on time.

Every area of the mansion was a full of action, with vendors moving like dancers, in and out of each others paths, taping down cords for microphones and speakers, placing crates of glassware and plates near the dining tables, creating floral masterpieces on site from buckets of gorgeous flowers, unloading boxes of props, taping down yards of silk for the aisle runner, installing tall poles for draping and lighting, etc.

The Dessert Buffet was in position, ready for the addition of the delicious variety of sweets, when the sun had set, and dinner was complete.

The cocktail tables were ready to be moved onto the Cortile, once the ceremony had concluded there.

If there was ever a need for a timeline, and overall coordination of details, this multi-faceted wedding was one of those times! As a part of the wedding team, I was able to bring together the multitude of details and timing needs, so that each individual vendor's focus was respected, and factored into the overall plan of the day.

When I arrived I immediately grouped the family and wedding party for the scheduled photos with Anna Kuperberg, another fantastic team member; then I met with Steven Emerson, of Ever Music, and the sound technicians from SF Booking, to determine where to set up mics and speakers for the ceremony, cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

Meanwhile, Gloria, Jonathan from Asiel Designs, and Gloria's assistant were setting up the escort cards in preparation for the guests' being invited into dinner, from the cocktail hour outside.

Gloria and Jonathan work together to get the unique design of escort cards exactly as Gloria had designed it.

Once I had seen that each of the vendors was on-site, unloaded, and very close to having their part of set up complete, I turned my attention to getting the family, wedding party, and of course Connie and Colin, in place for the beginning of the ceremony.

When I went outside to check on the ceremony set up, I caught this photo of the ring bearer, enjoying the stringed trio warming up for the ceremony...I am sure he is a violinist in the making!

Another essential part of my service at a wedding is to provide at least one professional wedding coordinator assistant to help me throughout the day; now was the time when we were both extremely focused, stationing the ushers to welcome and direct the guests as they arrived, grouping the bridesmaids and groomsmen, positioning the parents, the ring bearer , flower girl, and of course Colin and Connie, for the beginning of the ceremony.

Once I cued the musicians to begin the processional, the ceremony was ready to begin, with the seating of the parents. It is always emotional for me to see the bride and her father, a little teary with joy and memories, head down the aisle to the waiting groom...I see it as a treasured privilege to be the last one to see them, as I straighten, and "fluff" the bride's train for the long awaited entrance...sigh...!

The next 5 hours went by quickly for everyone; the wedding, the cocktail hour, the dinner, dessert buffet, and dancing went smoothly, and we stayed true to the timeline, without feeling constrained.

The menu which Colin and Connie had spent months selecting, and fine tuning, down to the most minute detail, was prepared and served flawlessly, and deliciously, by Betty Zlatchin Caterers.

One of the many elegantly displayed and perfectly seasoned appetizers which were passed to the guests during the cocktail hour.

The result of all the months, days, and hours of preparation, with hard work by each member of Colin and Connie's wedding team, was the beauty, elegance, and fun enjoyed by all the family and guests.

The guests found their escort card with their name and table assignment presented on lacquered wooden trays, in the Adams room at the entry of the Flood Mansion.

Just beyond the Adams room is the entrance into the main dining area at the Flood Mansion.

The tables were set with customized place cards, detailed menus, and striking black/white, blue and yellow decor.

This is the bride's chair at dinner; Connie had asked me to place her wedding shoes there, so she could rest her feet during the cocktail hour, in comfy flip flops....4" heels create an elegant look, but I think a break for the bride's feet, before the first dance, is a great idea.

The overview of the dining room, during the first course, oysters on the half shell.

The dessert buffet, with the Croquembouche in the center, was a huge hit for the wedding guests, both for the beauty of the design, and for the delicious choices of small sweets.

I would love to work again with any and all of the wonderful wedding professionals who made up Colin and Connie's "team"; they are:

Gloria Wong
Tritasavit, Design (www.sashandsugar.com)
Asiel Design, Florals (www.asieldesign.com)
Zlatchin, Caterer (www.bettyzlatchincatering.com)
Kuperberg, Photographer (www.kuperberg.com)
Steven Emerson, Ever Music Group, (www.evermusicgroup.com)
Enhanced Lighting, Draping and lighting (www.enhancedlighting.com)
The Studio Agency, Hair and makeup (www.thestudioagency.com)
Katherine Baird String Trio (www.sfbooking.com)
Andiamo Livery, Wedding Day transportation (www.andiamolivery.com)
Pure Luxury Transportation, Evening wedding transportation (www.pureluxury.com)
Regis Hotel (www.stregis.com)
Mandarin Oriental Hotel (www.mohg.com)
Vitale (www.hotelvitale.com)
and me! (www.jeanmarksweddings.com)