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Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Extraordinary Afternoon!

This Saturday I attended
"An Extraordinary Afternoon" an Event Design Showcase hosted by Spruce Restaurant in SF, Annena & Company and Lisa Lefkowitz Photography. Annena and Lisa have recently opened a shared studio space on Sacramento Avenue, and partnered with Spruce Restaurant, down the street, to introduce friends and colleagues to this wonderful area of San Francisco, and the fun and inventive businesses to be found there.

As soon as I entered Spruce, I fell in love with the Summer Garden Party decor room; Kathleen Deery and Annena Sorensen, had combined their incredible talent to create a relaxing and welcoming ambiance no one would want to miss...especially me! They used my favorite colors...peach, apricot, and raspberry, combined with clean bold white...it all reminded me of a Creamsicle, my favorite summer treat as a child.

Susan Morgan, of Elegant Cheesecakes, created a customized cake to go with citrusy summer feel of the decor...now you may wonder about the dog bone shaped cookies, but there is a clear explanation....

....just above the fireplace is a beloved pen and ink drawing of an English Bulldog, so the creative team decided to include him in the party...

... even the place settings featured the dog bones as place cards...what a yummy idea!

Several of my friends were co hosting the event at Spruce, including Sabrina of Hello Lucky! Her display table was full of amazing designs in letter press as well as standard printing...there is something for every taste and budget in the Hello Lucky 2009 offerings.

I couldn't stop admiring the huge peonies Kathleen had provided at each vendor's table; the one at Sabrina's table was so full and fluffy it did not look real...but it was!

Annena and Kathleen had designed an elegant brown, gold and cream dinner setting for the private dining room at the back of Spruce. This is the location where Beth and Beau, my July 25, 2009 couple had their rehearsal dinner last summer; I loved working with Beth and Beau, so seeing the rich colors of the room reminded me of the fun I was having planning their rehearsal dinner this time last year!

The rich cream textures work perfectly with the warm candlelight, and the luxuriously full centerpiece of tulips, and a rose, embellished in Kathleen Deery style by hand, with hundreds of single rose petals to suggest one huge rose bloom...I call this yummy!!

Before leaving the neighborhood, I took the opportunity to walk down 2 blocks to the 3rd floor studio of Annena and Lisa. The clean modern design, with tones of bright turquoise and white, and the stunning photos on the walls welcome anyone passing through the doorway.

What a cheery place to sit and look at photo books or design magazines!

I had been visiting the studio at the same time as Kevin Chin; he had already picked up his gift bag from the event, and proudly showed it off...I went back to get mine before I left, and I am glad I did...Susan Morgan included a miniature cheesecake! Yumm, what an Extraordinary afternoon!

I was able to include one of my brides, Haidee, at this event, so she could get further inspiration for her June wedding; Gloria Tritasavit who met with Haidee and me several months ago, to discuss her design ideas, was also at the Spruce event...it was a fun reunion...design friends, at a Design Showcase!

Thank you Annena Sorensen, Lisa Lefkowitz, and Spruce for including me in this enjoyable and inspiring afternoon!

These are all the sponsors of the event:
Annena and Company
Lisa Lefkowitz Photography
Kathleen Deery Design
Mayfield Bakery
Eleant Cheesecakes
Classic Party Rentals
Hello Lucky!
Maybelle Imasa-stukuls
Precision Parking
Thomas Hughes Films

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Incredible Journey, SF style!

Meaghan and Tony, both attorneys from Manhattan, hired me in December to coordinate their April destination wedding here in the Berkeley/San Francisco area. When they told me the venues they had chosen, I recognized how much they needed a local wedding planner on the job! The ceremony was at the UC Berkeley Rose Garden and the reception was across San Francisco, at the Historic Cliff House; the guests were all staying at the Hotel Union Square in the heart of San Francisco!

To keep you from getting dizzy with all the trips I needed to schedule and make, back and forth across the Bay Bridge, transversing the entire length of San Francisco, and of course begin and return from the bustling tourist center of Union Square, I will introduce each venue separately.

The Original Cliff House was built in the late 1800s, and has continued in operation on some level, ever since. Alongside the Cliff House was the Sutro Bath House, which is only a memory now, but one well preserved in photos and art within the Cliff House.

View from the window of the Terrace Room where Meaghan and Tony's wedding reception was held.

I drove to the Cliff House as the first part of my Friday Wedding Planner errands, after picking up from Meaghan all of the receptions items to be used the following night. Since Meaghan and Tony would not be renting a car while in SF, I offered to deliver to the Cliff House all the wedding related items they had brought on the plane from NY. I navigated my way to the front of the Hotel Union Square, where Meaghan was waiting, to pass on several bags and boxes filled with escort cards, favors, children's activities, toasting glasses, cake knife, seating chart, etc. Then I headed to the Cliff House, almost all the way to the far west in SF, where I met with Masoud Fazeli, the catering manager at Cliff House, to pass on and discuss the placement of important wedding reception items.

At the entrance to the private dining area, from the restaurant at The Cliff House, I was struck by a time-lapse juxtaposition...just beside a mannequin in a 1920's bathing costume used at the old Sutro Bath House, was the Knot best of weddings award for 2008-2009. History continues!

One of the many works of art displayed throughout the Cliff House, this Painting, done in the "heyday" of Sutro Baths, reminds us of the crowds of SF city people who flocked to dive into the warm water of Sutro Baths.

To the north of the cliff house is what remains of Sutro Baths.

Several years ago an entire new wing was added to the Cliff House, providing a modern upbeat restaurant and bar to complement the historical ambiance of the Cliff House. I am looking forward to taking my husband here to enjoy the view and the atmosphere...as I took these photos, I realized that with the whirlwind wedding schedule ahead, I would have no time to enjoy the view this weekend!

The newly built dining room and bar occupy and airy space of floor to ceiling windows, on 2 floors of the newly constructed addition to the Cliff House.

As soon as I had met with Masoud, I began the drive circumventing the busiest parts of San Francisco, to cross the Bay Bridge, and drive north to Berkeley, and the University of California, Berkeley Rose Garden, which we had reserved for a rehearsal at 3pm. It was important for me to time this drive, so I would know if the time I had allowed for the trips was adequate. (It turned out to be just enough, with 20-25 minutes of "wiggle room" for the unplanned and uncotrollable events of transporting this many guests...a buffer which was very important, as you will see later!)

Meaghan's father and I enjoy the sun at the rehearsal on the terraced steps of the Rose Garden.

I was able to coordinate the rehearsal from the 3rd tier of the Rose Garden, allowing for the focus of the wedding party to be in the lower apex of the rose garden, where there was little space for more than the officiant, Meaghan, Tony, and the 3 attendants.

Rehearsal with Meaghan, Tony, Tony's sister, and the officiant.

Below is the wedding day itself, with the ceremony site surrounded with roses which had just begun to open in the unusual warmth of this April weekend...it was beautiful, and exactly what Meaghan and Tony had hoped for!

In this family group shot, I accidentally caught Tony with his eyes closed, but the real photographers, Sasha and Lisa, from Tu Photography, captured only images where all eyes were open! It was a beautiful and proud family portrait!

Now back to my Friday! After the rehearsal, I drove once again across the Bay Bridge, to my final destination for that day, the Hotel Union Square. I had reserved a room there, to be near the bridegroom and guests through out the weekend; with the amount of transitions and transportation details, I did not want to be far from the center of the action. Plus, as most of you know, I love to do hotel research, so I can knowledgeably recommend hotels to my clients, AND so I can enjoy the atmosphere and amenities of staying at nice hotels...I am a traveller at heart!

And I did love, and would recommend, the Hotel Union Square...stepping out of the hustle and bustle of Powell Street, is like stepping back into another era all together! Built in 1915, with lots of art deco touches, the venerable building has recently been remodeled, and is one of the Personality Hotel Group.

The lobby, the front desk, the light fixtures, and the tile mosaics at the entrance, are as they were in 1915, but the hotel itself has been modernized to be comfortable, functional and welcoming to visitors almost 100 years later!

One of the original art deco light fixtures at Hotel Union Square.

Once Saturday dawned, I only had time for a few quick photos of Karen Alumno delivering Meaghan's beautiful wedding flowers, Meaghan with Karen, and of Meaghan and Tony's sister in front of the Union Square Hotel; after that I was very focused, coordinating transportation for the wedding party and guests, transfers from hotel to ceremony to reception, and back to the hotel about midnight, not to mention wedding processional, reception details, and clean up at the end of the evening!

Karen Alumno, of Fresh Bloom...I loved the bright colors, Karen's warmth and competence, and especially the peonies!

Meaghan and Karen; the bride was very happy with her bouquet!

Just in front of the hotel is the end of Powell Street, where the cable cars turn around to pick up and drop off passengers; it is one of the busiest intersections in San Francisco...being from Manhattan, Meaghan is not a bit distracted by the action!

At the end of the day, even I was amazed at how smoothly the schedule and transitions had gone; considering it was Cal Day in Berkeley, and one of the first game days for the SF Giants, both events creating intense traffic challenges both in Berkeley and San Francisco! I was so grateful to be able to begin the ceremony and dinner reception exactly on time; my buffer time in the day's schedule not a luxury, but a necessity!

I must thank Pure Luxury Transportation, and Ben, my contact there, along with all of my 5 wonderful drivers, for their patience, calm, and perseverance in the midst of everything a big city event could throw at them! Way to go, Pure Luxury!

Also thank you to Dave Cloutier, Meaghan and Tony's DJ, of Feet First Events, and Janece Shelloe, my wonderful assistant that day, who welcomed the guests, and got the cocktail hour started, as I was caught in traffic on the Bay Bridge!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A sneak preview!

We are beginning to set the stage for The Wedding University, 2010 (January 31st, 2010!)
I want to give you a peek at the photo shoot we did this week with 2 of our professors from TWU 2009, and one of our favorite models from the event.
The Four Seasons, Silicon Valley, provided a suite for Armando, of Get Your Do Up and Gabrielle Medrano Couteras, of Gabrielles Bridal Boutique, to prep and dress the model; Janae Shields was on hand to continue as our behind the scenes photographer for TWU. Our goal was to create photos to use as collateral in promoting TWU 2010, as well as to brainstorm new ways to offer even more Fashion/Beauty tips and education in 2010.

My photos are just a teaser for all that Janae will have for us to use in the months ahead, as we give you other "peeks" at behind the scenes planning for the next The Wedding University: Sunday, January 31st, again at the beautiful Four Seasons, Palo Alto!

A bouquet from my garden

Today I picked some flowers from my garden to make an arrangement for my office...when work keeps me indoors at the computer, I have to bring a "flavor" of my garden inside to keep me company! I want to share the variety and abundance of my April garden with with you!
This bouquet contains 5 kinds of roses (Polka, Iceberg, Sally Holmes, Koriokole, Pilgrim), two shades of Dutch iris, Nepeta (cat mint), old fashioned columbine, and tiny daisy-like erigeron; my workshop with my "signature" climbing rose, Westerland, is in the background.

Another view of the same bouquet.

I love to look closely at the complexity of each rose...this one, Polka, has so many layers of petals, it resembles a peony. When I do floral photography in my garden I am so glad for my Macro lens, because through it I can share with others the intricate design and creativity within each flower.

Jeff thinks this swirl-like pattern in the center of the rose resembles the combinations of color and striations we see in some natural stone formations; I just love the swirl for what it is....a gift of beauty hidden inside one of my roses!
Thanks for taking a moment to enjoy my flowers with me...now I need to get the timeline done for a June wedding!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nestldown Showcase, and a free tea cup!

Please join me on April 30th, from 5:30-8:30pm, to enjoy the beauty of Nestldown, sip a little champagne, sample delectable appetizers and "work" on planning your wedding!

Over 20 of the preferred wedding professionals on the Nestldown vendor list will be available to meet with you, and answer any wedding planning questions you may have.
double click on the flyer below, to enlarge it.

Even if you already have selected your wedding venue, you can learn a lot by seeing the table top designs, trying unusual foods, and getting to know some of the best vendors in the wedding industry.

Of course, we will be providing tours of the magical Nestldown property, as well as showing how the chapel, barn and lawns can be set up and decorated for a wedding celebration.

I will be giving away a free tea cup to a lucky bride, groom or guest, so please stop by my table to register, and introduce yourself, or get a hug, if I aready know you!

This is a tea setting I often use in my home when couples come by to have an Initial Consultation; I won't be giving away this particular tea cup, but I will have one which is just as lovely. Did you know that in Victorian Times, brides were given tea cups, as wedding gifts, so they would have a large collection for their guests to choose from. I would love to begin a bride's tea cup collection!

To register, call 408.353.5311, or email Brooke@nestldown.com, before April 27th. The event is free to brides and grooms, and $10 for guests; fees for guests can be taken at the door.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Introducing Gloria Wong Design!

My friend and colleague, Gloria Wong Tritasavit, has just launched her new website, and her new business, Gloria Wong Design. I encourage you to get to know Gloria and her incredible talent, by enjoying her website:


Gloria and I partnered on 2 weddings last year, where she handled the design concept and execution for the bride and groom, while I managed all of the other planning components, plus the overall logistical coordination.

As you can see from the photos, the designs of these two weddings were totally different, as were the couples who we were supporting in the planning of their weddings.

This wedding at the Flood Mansion represented perfectly the New York couple's love of chic and modern styles, plus their many trips to France where they honed their appreciation of fine food and aged wine, paired perfectly for a memorable meal.
(for more details about this wedding, see my blogpost

To represent their favorite things to enjoy, our other couple chose to emphasize their love of tea, books, and all things cozy....with the magical backdrop of Nestldown, Gloria and I were able to create an elegant, somewhat whimsical tribute to the enjoyment with friends of great tea, well-loved books, and of course, intricate table settings with lots of tea cups, candy dishes, cream pitchers, and sugar bowls.
(For more details see my blog post:

At the end of the wedding day, both couples could not have been more pleased with how Gloria and I, working with our strong team associates, created a truly personalized, elegant, and seamless celebration for their guests, their families and most importantly, for themselves!

Having experienced such wonderful results from our partnership, and because we so enjoy working together, Gloria and I are looking forward to many more "joint ventures" in the months and years ahead...in fact, we are working on one wedding right now for July 4th, which is going to be fantastic!
See my blog entry for more details:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Welcome to my garden!

This week I am enjoying my Yellow Banks rose, which covers the arbor leading up the path to my 1906 Palo Alto Bungalow; since the Banks rose is a one-time blooming rose, won't last more than 10 days or so, I want to share the beauty with you.

I love the combination of yellow and blue, so I have planted some blue and yellow Dutch iris in front of my fence and arbor, to mix with the creamy yellow blossoms. Yummmm!
I would love to have you join me on my front porch to enjoy the beauty of Spring, as seen in my front yard, but until then, here is a reminder of my garden....I hope I can finish my work early today...my garden needs me!