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Monday, March 30, 2009

Helping Tami

My good friend Stacie Tamaki* has launched a new website, Helping Tami, geared to locating a bone marrow donor for her cousin Tami, who has recently been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Finding a "match" for Tami has become a nationwide search; we can all become involved by simply requesting a mouth swab test kit in the mail, to determine if our bone marrow can save Tami's life. (Please click on the link, above, to Stacie's new website for details.)

In the wedding industry, we are like family, so when Stacie's cousin needs help, we all want to be involved. I am requesting my test kit today, and wanted to share the need with others, so you also can participate in Helping Tami.

*You may be familiar with Stacie through her extremely popular wedding website, The Flirty Guide; she has taken all the skills she gained as a savvy web designer/blogger, and applied them to creating a this custom Helping Tami Campaign. What a great way for Stacie to show her deep family love, by taking an active role in trying to meet Tami's desperate and immediate need.

This cherry blossom photo, which I took recently in Golden Gate Park, reminds me of the background Stacie chose for Tami's website...the freshness of the blossoms provide a subtle yet clear reminder of the hope we want to see flood the life of Tami and her family.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring fun at Fogarty

Sometimes my work gives me a great excuse to play; this week my job took me to Fogarty Winery, on one of the most beautiful days of the year, to meet with 3 of my favorite people...what a wonderful combination!

The pond at Fogarty Winery is surrounded by daffodils now; you can't see it, but a turtle was sunning himself on the little wooden "island" in the center of the pond...I felt like joining him!

Just to enjoy the beauty of the Spring day, I arrived at Thomas Fogarty Winery early for my walk through appointment with Gina, my bride for May 16th, Tom Henderson, of Thomas John Events, and Susan Groves of In Full Bloom Florals. The view from the lawn where Gina and Bryan will be married in May reached all the way from San Francisco down to San Jose....on a clear day, you really can see forever!

Our meeting began with Gina and Susan going over the floral choices and details for her wedding day, determining the style, color and arrangement of decor for her ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner/dancing reception.

Susan brought a sample of the kinds of flowers which will be plentiful in May, and in the colors Gina had been considering when they first met several months ago. Since then, Gina has decided to go with an overall color scheme of various shades of pink with green and cream accents.

Gina pretended that she was aghast at the addition of blue and yellow to the selection; we were all a bit giddy with the Spring weather!

When Tom Henderson arrived, he joined in the frivolity; while asking Gina which linens she would like for her cocktail and dining tables, the choices began to seem overwhelming, so Tom took two random hand fulls of fabric swatches, and challenged Gina to choose one, any one...!! We did come up with some beautiful linen selections for Gina and Bryan's wedding decor, but we enjoyed a lot of fun and laughter in the process!

At the end of our time together, Gina stopped so I could capture one last photo reminder of our enjoyable time at Fogarty, doing the "work" we had before us! I am so grateful to be a part of Gina and Bryan's wedding team, and for the laughter we share in the process of planning!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Venue: Solage, Calistoga

This week I had an assignment to do for my Wedding Research, 101 "Ongoing Studies" class...explore and stay overnight in a wonderful new resort/spa/wedding venue in Napa Valley!

Thursday I made a visit to the Solage Resort and Spa, in Calistoga, where I was generously given a complete tour of the property by Lindsey Relyea, Wedding and Event Sales Manager, and then invited to stay overnight so I would have first hand knowledge of the Solage Resort Experience...what a treat!!!
Let me take you on the tour as I "experienced" it:

The bocci ball courts welcome the guests to the Solage property, placing recreation and play as first and foremost in the guests' thinking!

The sound of water flowing into the sleek, modern Solage fountain, escorts you into the Concierge Registration Lobby, where you are offered a cup of Chai Latte, the chef's signature hot drink. As you pick up the key for your guest cottage, the friendly valet staff can drive your car to your cottage door, and unload the luggage, while you become familiar with the 22 acres which comprise Solage.

The lap pool, with private cabanas, is available for Solage guests, as well as a smaller pool to the left of the lap pool, more designed for family fun.

The Solbar Restaurant is well known throughout the Napa area; their chef, Brandon Sharp, most recently of Gary Danko and The French Laundry, focuses on locally sourced ingredients to create fresh and unique menus which change almost daily.

Lindsey helped me visualize how a wedding and reception, (Solage has more than 30 weddings booked for this year; pretty amazing for a venue that just opened in 2007!) would flow here at Solage. The private lawn, which adjoins a well equipped indoor reception space, can be set with chairs to comfortably accommodate up to 200 guests.

After the ceremony, guests would move to the adjacent cocktail area, before they are invited in for dinner. There is another space at Solage, on a different part of the property, for ceremony and receptions of up to 50 guests; I toured this area as well, and it has a cozy yet open feel, with a nice combination of indoor and outdoor options.

At this point, Lindsey left me to get to know the rest of Solage on my own, as a guest; I can now personally (and highly!) recommend the luxurious, relaxing and service oriented experience of being pampered at Solage!

This is the waiting area for those who choose to have a relaxing spa treatment. Spa Solage consists of five different buildings, 14 treatment rooms, and a Bathhouse with several pools, and mud treatment rooms; the pools are filled directly by the springs of Geo thermal mineral waters, which have been coming up for centuries, from deep below the ground in Calistoga.
This is my guest house, with the complimentary cruiser bikes parked outside; guests love to use the bikes to ride around the property, to the nearby wineries, or into the neighboring town of Calistoga.

I love the personalized "license plates"!

Now we are coming to my personal favorite amenity of my stay at Solage...they have the softest, coziest robes I have ever, ever enjoyed! The hardest part of checking out, was having to take off my robe! If I had more time to relax at home, I might have considered purchasing one...but I think I can only enjoy such a treat when I am away from home and work... I will just have to return to Solage, and my plush robe!

It was tempting!!!

As a way to get to know Solage even better, I made time for lunch at Solbar before driving back to the Bay Area. The day could not have been more beautiful for the outdoor dining/ patio lounge aspect of the Solbar. Restaurant manager, Bradley Wasserman, who had made time to meet with me the day before on my tour with Lindsey, was on duty again, to make me feel welcome.

After looking over the delightful choices on the menu, I chose the Spring Seasonal, Two Course Lunch, with the Spring garlic and savoy spinach soup, and the Cuban Sandwich, which Bradley recommended when I was looking for something hearty...I had a long drive, and had skipped breakfast to enjoy my room...(and my robe!).
I was very impressed with the service throughout Solage, and the restaurant was no exception. I saw Bradley's staff offer synchronized service to a table of 6 guests; 6 servers came out in unison, and presented each guest with their lunch selection simultaneously. I usually see this with the most elegantly catered wedding meals, but not for lunch at an outdoor venue...very classy!

Even the bread was served with flair...the rolls are from the bakery beside The French Laundry down the road in Yountville, the butter is made on property at Solage, and there are 2 kinds of salt...brown Hawaiian and Local Sea Salt.

Spinach soup, with wild mushroom puree and goat cheese croutons.

My Cuban Sandwich, with one of the freshest green salads I have ever tasted...local produce make a big difference! The ham in the sandwich was cured at Solage, and the pickles made there as well. I could only eat half of my sandwich, so the Solbar staff wrapped up the other half for Jeff...a nice treat to give him when I return from my "wedding research"!

I encourage you to make time to get away, and enjoy a break at Solage; and if you are looking for a restful, beautiful and unique wedding venue, I encourage you to consider Solage...and I would be happy to be your on site wedding coordinator!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring in Bloom, San Francisco

Spring means flowers, to me anyway, and I was surrounded by the beauty of fresh flowers when I stopped by Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on my way to Napa/Sonoma. First I enjoyed floral masterpieces designed and installed to complement art works by the Masters, at the DeYoung Museum, and then I spent some relaxed time marveling at the intricate detail of the cherry blossoms beginning to "explode" at the Japanese Tea Garden.

For 25 years the best florists in the SF Bay Area have been invited to be a part of Bouquets to Art. As the name suggests, the florists create expressions in flowers to complement the incredible works of art owned by Museums in San Francisco. Until a few years ago, the event was held at the Legion of Honor; now it is hosted by the DeYoung Museum. Both venues contain paintings, sculpture, and furniture, which the florists interpret using their own creative flair, with floral flowers. Because of my love of flowers, and of art, I lose myself for hours in the exhibits, and this year was no exception.

This is an example of how the floral designs can "mimic" the flow, colors, and feeling of a painting.

The floral design here is almost a re-creation of the content of the painting itself, but with the personal touches the florist could include, such as the 3D application of live flowers, to add texture to the red vase.

I loved this design with clearly "reflected" the movement and feel of the painting.

Can you see the rocks, the waves, and even the ship at sea, represented in this floral design?

These 4 photos represent over 120 floral creations; I ran out of time, and didn't even see some of my best friends' designs, so I am planning to go again on Friday. Bouquets to Art runs through Saturday.

When I found my way out of the DeYoung, I walked right by the SF Japanese Tea Garden, where the Japanese Cherry trees are just beginning to bloom. Seeing the trees planted beside the artistic Japanese architecture, reminded me of a giant Bouquets to Art display, but it is outdoors and the ancient trees provide the bouquets!

The Japanese Tea Garden is beautiful at any time of year, but in the Spring, when the cherry trees are in blossom, the Garden is at its best.

I positioned myself under the branches of a very old tree, which was leading all the others in bursting into bloom; the bees were particularly busy in the blossoms, so I was able to capture one of them in action!

I liked the combination of the gnarled old wood on this tree, juxtaposed against the fresh and fragile blossoms.

I encourage you to make time to enjoy the arrival of Spring; the Bouquets to Art Exhibition will last through Saturday, March 21st; the cherry blossoms will probably continue through mid April. I will leave you with a few reminders of the cherry blossoms, until you can see them for yourself!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Abby and Joe, Video sample

I just received this clip from Abby and Joe's August 2008 wedding at Fogarty Winery; the reliving the day brings tears to my eyes and makes me smile! I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know Abby and Joe, and their families as we spent about 7 months in close contact, planning the celebration you will see here. I miss Abby and Joe! Thank you, Justin Fone, for the memories!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Networking is not work, it is FUN!

Tuesday I had the kind of work day many people would call play, because it was so much fun! As a wedding planner, part of my "job" is to visit some of the most beautiful spots in San Francisco, and to meet some of the most interesting and creative people in the industry. My day, shared with Bev Yip, Especially Yours Chair Covers, began at the historic Palace Hotel, in the heart of Downtown San Francisco.
Bev, who often works at the Palace Hotel providing chairs and chair covers, introduced me to Kate Taffel, who is Catering Sales Manager, specializing in weddings at the amazing Palace Hotel. I have worked at the Palace several times, but not in the last year and a half, since Kate took on her new role. I was excited to get to know Kate, and that came with another treat... lunch in the Garden Court; I can now personally recommend the Palace Hotel Signature Crab Salad! Thank you Kate!

Kate went over the wedding packet with me, so I can answer questions and share information with couples who contact me looking for an elegant, historic San Francisco venue for their wedding and/or reception.

Next, Bev and I walked over the the Four Seasons Hotel, to see the Wedding Specialists there, Emilie Rekart, Associate Director of Catering, and Serra Skadden, Catering Sales Manager. I had known Emilie in another hotel setting, but was looking forward to reconnecting with her now that she is at the Four Seasons; Serra was a new acquaintance for me, but she now is a new friend!

This is the modern, chic decor in the Four Seasons SF Restaurant; Bev and I were served tea in the cozy private lounge, just outside the Restaurant, which would be opening for dinner in a few hours. As I said, this is the kind of work you could easily mistake for an afternoon off in SF, relaxing with friends. But Bev and I were learning so much about the current wedding packages offered at the Four Seasons, which were described in the packet Emilie had prepared for us. Here again, I was learning how to provide helpful information for any couple looking for a modern, chic, upscale wedding venue in San Francisco; as I sipped my Earl Grey tea, with milk, I was working!

For our final visit of the day, Bev and I made a quick stop to see Solera Smith, Senior Catering Sales Manager at the brand new
Intercontinental, San Francisco. I had met Solera once when I attended an introductory tea/spa afternoon for wedding planners early in the Fall, but now Bev and I wanted to drop by to say Congratulations! Solera just announced her engagement, so Bev, who knows Solera very well, wanted to bring her a little gift to help celebrate the exciting occasion.

We spent some time visiting in the striking, ultra modern lobby, talking about weddings, both Solera's and the ones being scheduled for 2009at the hotel. Again, I learned tons about how this particular hotel venue might best serve couples coming to me for ideas on ultra modern, brand new downtown hotels. For this stop, we were offered lemonade and Italian sparkling water; what a hard job I have, right?!

After a full day with Bev, we parted company briefly, since I had left my car at her home in South San Francisco; we were both planning to attend the Open House/party being held at Classic Party Rental Company in Burlingame. This company is known by all SF/Bay Area/North Bay/Napa wedding vendors, so the turn out was huge! And what a party we had...again, more networking, seeing the amazingly creative table top/floral designs, meeting caterers and wine makers from all over California, and...can I say it again, Having Fun!!

I saw Bev soon after I arrived; no fair, she got to go home and change...oh well, my well-known bright apricot jacket was comfortable, and made me easy to find in the crowd!

The first part of the Open House featured table top/floral designs by dozens of talented Bay Area florists, incorporating rental items provided by Classic Party Rental.
Michael Daighan Designs worked with Royal Blue and Gold, with a touch of green...yummy and elegant.

Karen Baba, of PlanDecor, worked with a luxurious brocade and English China look; can you see the support for the circular centerpiece? It seemed to be floating, until you looked closely for the clear plexi glass support.

Neil of Hunt Littlefield, did his own magic with a bamboo and green lily frond ball, suspended atop an elegant dried Manzanita display; the greens and browns were carried out in the linens, bowls, plates and napkins...this would work well for an eco friendly wedding reception.

Now, once we moved through the showrooms full of amazing displays such as those above, the myriad of wine tasting stations, gourmet food presentations, we found our selves in the tent set up outside the warehouse...and this is where the Partee began! A DJ had music going, complete with a smoke machine (note the hazy look in the next group shots), a photo booth, a frozen brownie/ice cream bar, and an espresso cart. Once again, I found myself net-working with friends and colleagues, some of whom I have known for over 15 years, such as Susan Groves, In Full Bloom, who brought me into her business as a floral design assistant 15 years ago! Now that is something to toast, and toast we did!

Susan Groves and me, beside the bar!

Amy Burke, Amy Burke Design, Ellie Warner, Fogarty Winery, me, pointing out how much Mike, owner of Le Papillon reminds me of Indiana Jones, Mike Marakesh, and Jondel Goldsmith, owner of I Do Weddings.

my Burke, Tony White, Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Elisheva Basseri, Janece Shelloe, Every Elegant Detail, Tisa Mantle, Componere Fine Catering,
Ellie Warner, and moi, the hard working wedding planner!

It was a long day, and I was tired as I drove home about 10 pm; but what a wonderful way to be tired...a full day of net-working, spending time with colleagues and friends. I like my job!