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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!

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