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Monday, December 27, 2010

My family experiences Peppoli

When Shannon Gurley, the Floral and Event Design Manager for Pebble Beach Resorts invited my family to join her for dinner at Peppoli I had no idea the kind of extravagant and totally delicious meal we were about to experience!

Shannon in the middle and our family in front of the gorgeous Christmas tree in the lobby at Inn at Spanish Bay; this is just one of 17 Christmas trees Shannon and her team were responsible for decorating on the Pebble Beach Property!

Shannon and her team at Pebble Beach want to let SF Bay area wedding planners know what a wonderful experience their resort can offer a couple hosting their wedding celebration at any of the Pebble Beach properties. I for one was not aware of all the beautiful and luxurious options available to my clients...but now I am eager to recommend the properties!

Since my family was already planning to be in Pacific Grove, which borders Pebble Beach, for the Christmas week, Shannon graciously invited all 4 of us to join her for a personalized, chef's choice multi course dinner at Peppoli.

Asilomar Beach on sunset when we arrived; we could have walked to the Inn at Spanish Bay from our B and B across from Asilomar, but that would have been a bit difficult after dark!

I can truly say that the fresh taste of each dish, the authentic Italian presentation, and impeccable 5 Star service would win my recommendation to any bride and groom considering hosting their wedding reception with Peppoli!

Me with Justin, Kim and Jeff at the entrance to Peppoli, in front of the oil painting of the villa in Italy owned by the family who provides wine for Peppoli...a family of wine makers that goes back over 15 generations!

For my friends who are foodies, and often post photos of the incredible foods they have enjoyed, I have a few to share! This 4+ hour meal was a gastronomical tour through Italy, served in 5 delicious courses, and my photos only present a few of the multiple plates served to our table for each course!

House-made Sausage, polenta, and braised chard

Tuna sashimi with a delicate sprout/white bean garnish

Antipasti plate including house made salamis, imported olives and cheeses from Italy, and fresh artichokes, marinated by Peppoli for 72 hours.

Wild mushroom risotto with grilled scallops

Pasta with fresh bacon, Parmesan, and Alfredo sauce; note there were 2 other dishes in the background!

Beet salad with Arugula, Carmel Valley greens, and battered goat cheese on top; butternut soup in the background...it was amazing too!

Caesar Salad, the REAL thing!

Breaded local pork chop soaked in wine and spices, garnish of fresh greens with lemon juice.
Also in this course were Beef Tenderloin with port reduction sauce and Sea Bass with a garlic butter glaze...we are now heading into a food coma, but here comes DESSERT!!

Flourless warm chocolate lava cake with espresso gelato

Italian cookie selection...all great, but we liked the macaroon best!

Fresh fruit with mint gelato and a house almond biscotti

The Finale...three flavors of Sorbet, lemon, strawberry and blackberry...plus the empty bottle of estate wine from Italy we consumed during the meal...WOW!!!

Our family has never had this kind of dining adventure before, so we have been reminiscing about the amazing flavors, beautiful presentation, and welcoming atmosphere ever since! Thank you Shannon, and all of the staff at Pebble Beach Resorts, for treating us so royally!

I would love the opportunity to work with Shannon and her colleague Julie Bullas, the Catering Manager at Pebble Beach, to serve brides and grooms with the same personal care and flawless service I experienced at Peppoli and throughout the Pebble Beach Resorts.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Evening in the Sky!

An evening in the sky, (the 32 floor feels like you are in the sky!) overlooking Union Square, in a sparkling San Francisco at Christmas time..what could be better!?

Victor's Palace, as it might be set up for a wedding ceremony

It was a delightful gift to be one of the wedding planners attending the Unveiling of the Imperial Floor at the Westin St. Francis this week! A special bonus for me, was having time with my good friend David Beahm, who flew out from New York to be a part of the celebration.

I met David for the first time last March, when he taught at Wedding 360; we forged a strong friendship at that time which has lasted across the miles and months.

David spoke briefly at the beginning of the evening activities directly to planners and designers like himself. He wanted to remind us that our most important gift to our clients is good service and sincere caring. He emphasized that what we give always comes back to us a hundred fold. The Golden Rule is his basis for life and creative work: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and Life is Golden! This is loving advice we can put into practice every moment of every day...Thank you, David!

For a visual feast of photos and a superbly written description of this Night in the Sky, please click on Stacie Tamaki's blog entry from the Flirty Guide

Ellie Platis, Bill Hedgepeth, Director of Catering at the Westin St. Francis, who planned this event, David Beahm, and me during the reception in Alexandra's, the other part of the Imperial Suite.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December in San Francisco

December in California, and particularly in San Francisco is not to be confused with December in any other part of the country, or the world for that matter! The combination of occasionally balmy weather, incredible world renowned views, and an outrageous display of Christmas lights makes even 24 hours in the City an experience, not just a visit!

Jeff and I were recently able to enjoy one night at the beautiful Four Seasons in San Francisco, thanks to the generosity of Stacie Hallinan and David Robinson, Catering Directors at the Four Seasons. Thank you so much for the gift of rest and re-energizing after a very busy wedding season; Jeff and I had not seen much of each other since May when my wedding began, so we made the most of our time together in SF.

After experiencing the quality of warm, personal attention we received at every point in our stay at the Four Seasons, I can unequivocally recommend the Four Seasons to my wedding clients who are looking for a welcoming and professional location for their family and guests. I also really appreciate the modern and understated elegance of the Four Seasons decor, which is exemplified by this stunning arrangement in the lobby.

Jeff and I love walking, and enjoying the beauty of a city as you can only see it on foot. Even though it had been raining in the morning, we took our raincoats and umbrellas and set out immediately to explore as much of SF as we possibly could. Using The Four Seasons on Market St as our home base, we walked to the Ferry Building, then all along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf, taking sunset photos along the way.

View of Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building from the dock just east of Pier 39.

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge as the sun is setting behind the Marin hills.

The SF landmark Ghiradelli Square, where so many tourists come to enjoy the famous Hot Fudge Sundaes...and speaking from experience, some non tourists love them as well!

We met a Belgian couple who took this photo of us as we were enjoying the sunset...so nice to have a reminder of the beauty we enjoyed on our "staycation" as some people call a mini vacation within your own locale.

Once the sun had officially set, we headed for North Beach, about 8 blocks away for some wine and delicious pasta at Sport, our favorite Italian restaurant in this ethnic epicenter for Italian food!

I ordered the Pesto Pasta, which as the sign says, is a wonderful dish, and I would have to agree, I have never had better, even in Italy!

We had saved the lights at Union Square for the last part of our walk, because those can only be completely enjoyed after dark. We were not disappointed by the action, color, and life of December in Union Square. We were there for the annual lighting of the 4 story high Menorah on the first night of Hanukkah, as well as for the Cable Car Christmas Caroling by local high school students.

No matter what brings you to San Francisco in December, given the right weather and time to explore, you will find something to delight and inspire you.
We are so thankful that we were able to savor the magic of our beloved city as it was splashed with sunset colors and dressed up for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fun with Wedding Colleagues

Recently I re-connected with wedding colleagues whom I have not seen for months! We have all been intensely focused on our wedding clients, seeking to serve them well during the busy months between March and November; but as our wedding season ends, we find ways to get together again, and networking events like BAWN create opportunities for those of us who work together on weddings during the year, to play together!

This was the amazing sunset greeting Kathleen Kirkpatrick, Elisheva Basseri, Elisheva's intern, Amanda and me as we arrived at the Craneway Pavilion for the BAWN event. We were a bit early for the party, but right on time for this gift of glorious sunset color. It was equally a treat to just stand and enjoy the beauty, instead of glancing at such grandeur, and pushing on with my agenda, as I have been doing most of this Summer and Fall during my wedding season.

Amanda, Elisheva's new intern, Elisheva Basseri, Kathleen Kirkpatrick
Kathleen Kirkpatrick I have known since I began my business in 2005; I worked with her on a wedding when she was venue manager at the San Jose Museum of Art, and we have continued to work together on weddings now that she is the site manager at beautiful Villa Montalvo in Saratoga. My friendship with Kathleen has grown as we tgether attend networking events where we can get to know each other away from the busy pace of wedding days. Thank you so much for driving all the way from San Jose to Craneway for BAWN, Kathleen!

Elisheva and I have been friends since we first met at a networking event over 6 years ago. We have kept in touch and worked alongside each other when she was catering manager at 2 Bay Area wedding venues, and now, as she has launched her own wedding planning business. As is the case for so many of my friends in the industry, we respect each others work, and enjoy each others company, so it is a win win for our clients and for us when we can work together!

Catherine Hall is someone Elisheva introduced me to at a networking event about 3 years ago; since then Catherine and I have become close friends, great fans of each other's work, and comrades in many ways.

Let the party begin!

Gustavo Fernandez and Natasha Miller, both fantastic dancers and entertainers!

Gustavo using my camera to capture us on the dance floor!

Between dances, Elle, Jean and Catherine; quite the trio!

Loved having a chance to move on the dance floor with Michelle Walker and Anna Williams.

There are many wonderful benefits of working hard with talented, dedicated professionals throughout the year--strong friendships that are based on mutual respect and a wonderful sense of play and celebration, when the time is right. Stay tuned for more episodes of "Jean is on the Loose Again", or "Fun with Friends, December, 2010"!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wedding Season Thank Yous!

At the end of a wedding season it is encouraging to go back over some of the thank you notes I have received from my clients after we successfully completed the planning and carrying out of their wedding celebration. I am deeply thankful for the privilege of having been alongside them during such an exciting and potentially stressful time, so it is a double blessing when they are equally thankful for my help!

Charlotte and Peter, Fogarty Winery, 2010; Photo by Catherine Hall

Hi Jean,

You are absolutely amazing. I am so in awe of your talent at making everything (and I do mean everything) come together for the wedding. I really don't know how to put in words how grateful we are to have had you around, and I don't know what we would have done without you.

It wasn't even just the big picture stuff, but also every single small detail. You made it all happen without a hitch. And thanks also to your fabulous assistants for the help with Polaroids, the beautiful guestbook and escort card display (my goodness, I was so impressed and surprised!)

Best, Char

Brenna and Jared, Rosewood Sand Hill, 2010
Dear Jean,

Thank you so much for all of you help in the planning and carrying out of our wedding day! Your time management is amazing! I am really impressed that we were able to fit everything in, and the ceremony began right on time. Nothing felt rushed, everything flowed so smoothly and peacefully.

I really appreciated that you made sure Jared and I were taking time to slow down at moments and really absorb everything that was happening and about to happen; this was golden! If you hadn't been there to pull us away at these moments, I could see how the moments would have easily slipped by.

Specifically, when you pulled us away after the ketubah and before the ceremony to spend a few moments together alone. I also really appreciated that you made sure we were eating and hydrated. This also made me feel more in the moment of everything without getting spacey and tired.

Your calm and your confidence really made me relax and keep things in perspective. And your emergency kit was also great, thank goodness for those band aids!

With hugs, Brenna and Jared

Will and Megan, Rosewood Sand Hill, 2010

Dear Jean,

Thank you again for all your help this past Saturday!! What an event! We are still coming out of a "wedding daze" but are so grateful for your assistance. It would not have been such a stress-free event without your work; and the set up at the cottage upon our return was delightful!

We shall provide the most positive yelp review! :-) I do appreciate your picking up the left wine glass favors at the end of the night; it was mentioned to us by one regretful guest on Sunday that she had left hers behind, so we will be glad to have the extras!

I hope that you've had time to recover from all of your work this past weekend. Thank you again.

The very grateful and appreciative Prices


Megan & Will

And this year, I have even received thank you notes from some couples whom I was NOT able to work with because I am already booked for their wedding date in 2011! The one below, from a May 7th client, particularly made me smile:

Dear Jean,

Thank you so much for calling this morning to check in with us. I really appreciate it! We really loved getting to know you; you have a rare gift for connecting with people and making us feel like you want the very best for us. If you can recommend any vendors with whom we would be in good hands, especially ones who connect with and care about their clients as much as you do, we would be so grateful

Thanks again so much for your advice and help; we want to reiterate once again how sad we are that we can't be planning this process with you. You are a wonderful person, and I am sure you will continue to make other brides' dreams come true for as long you remain in this profession!
All the best, bride and groom for May 7, 2011.

What is most important to me about my wedding planning work is the strong bond and friendships I am able to make with my clients, and now even some I am not able to have as clients!

I can't wait to get to know and love my 2011 clients in the months ahead!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Uncle Jimmy is 92!

Planning celebrations is what I do as a professional, but it is also what I do for my wonderful family members like my Uncle Jimmy, who turned 92 this month! Jimmy has made some wonderful friends in the Palo Alto area where we live, and last week I invited about 15 of them to our home in Palo Alto for pizza, pasta, puzzles and lots of cake and ice cream!

Uncle Jimmy was born deaf, as a result of his mother having German Measles when she was pregnant with him. In 1918 when he was born, deafness was considered a handicap which required constant care, so Jimmy was not able to go to public school or college and he never married because his family thought he would not be able to support a wife.
As it turns out, Jimmy became an amazing carpenter, took care of his mother the last years of her life in the Boston area. Rather than needing care, Jimmy became the one to take care of others. When both his mother, and my mother died, Jimmy moved out here to California to be with me and my family. We are forever grateful that he did so because he has been a major part of our lives, spearheading 20 years ago the project to totally remodel our 1906 home, playing with my two children from the day they were born and into the present moments....Jimmy always makes us laugh with his slapstick humor and silly faces and comments about everything.

This group of neighbors, community store owners, friends from the Senior Center where Jimmy eats lunch daily, my daughter Kim and husband Jeff, all wished Uncle Jimmy a happy 92nd birthday and helped blow out the candles.

My daughter Kim chose an expensive bottle of well-aged bourbon for Jimmy's birthday gift...here he is making one of his familiar exaggerated grins to let her know how much he will enjoy the warmth of a good glass of whiskey on the cold winter nights ahead!

This photo exemplifies the way my Uncle Jimmy had found love in the community where we live; this hug is coming from the woman who works at the Senior Center, and sees Jimmy every day when he comes in for lunch. They tell me that he always has a smile and a joke for them at the desk. Without hearing a sound for 92 years, Jimmy has learned how to communicate with humor and genuine care for others. I am so proud to be his niece!

This was the gift I gave Jimmy: a framed enlargement of his meeting with the clown and the clown's 1 year old son, at the Zoppe Family Circus, in Redwood City last month.

I wanted to take Jimmy to the circus because so much of a circus is entertainment without words...that is what a deaf person needs! The owner of the Zoppe Italian Family Circus noticed Jimmy's enthusiastic applause and intense involvement with every moment of the performance, and actually came up to Jimmy at the end of the show to give him a high five...again, communicating without words a connection that needed no words.
I wanted Jimmy to have this photo in his tiny house (he still lives on his own, just 5 blocks down the street from me) to remind him of our visit to the circus, and the new friends he made there.

I wonder if I inherited my sense of humor from Jimmy...I would love to think I also inherited his gentle heart and warm spirit. Happy Birthday, Uncle Jimmy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Peter and Charlotte, by Catherine Hall!

I am forever in Awe of Photographer Catherine Hall! she captured the joy and beauty of my beloved couple Peter and Charlotte perfectly, and made Fogarty Winery, and the wedding day stand out as one of the most enchanting weddings of my 2010 season. Thank you Catherine, for the images, and peter and Charlotte, thank you for trusting me to guide you in your wedding planning adventure. The work was so worth it, don't you think! Congratulations!!!

Please click here to see Catherine's blog post about the wedding, and then make time to view the entire slide show, set to the classic "Dancing Cheek to Cheek"!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Details Tell the Story, Part Two

Recently I coordinated an incredibly unique wedding in San Francisco, on Treasure Island, which had such a wonderful story behind it that every detail of the design incorporated part of the story. Gloria Wong, the designer, Nancy Liu Chin, the florist, and Peculiar Pair Press, the stationer, were the design team who took the couple's vision and made their dream come true in the details! I love working with such creative artists!
I am blogging about this wedding in 3 parts, because the wedding was described in the program as "A Wedding in Three Acts".

Part 2, Pre Ceremony to Cocktail hour

The bridesmaid bouquets with the program for the wedding, strategically placed for a wonderful "detail shot, in the window of the Bridal Suite. The view overlooked Huntington Park and Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill; what could be more classic SF?! Note the black feathers, crystals, and a bit of bling included in the bouquets.

But, speaking of bling, the bride's bouquet was a statement of the grandeur of old Hollywood, and took her breath away when she first saw it. All the florals and colors for the ceremony were in rich shades of magenta, deep purple, lavender and maroon; a dramatic background for what was referred to as Act One of the wedding day.

(Because I was so busy coordinating the wedding itself, I did not have a chance to take any photos of the ceremony. But it was as rich with color and elegance as these bouquets. Nancy Liu Chin used multiple shades of bright magenta, rich purple, and brilliant pink in her elaborate Altar and Entrance arrangements; when combined with the elegant purple velvet draping installed by Enhanced Lighting, and the abundance of multi height candles on the Altar, the Chapel at Treasure Island was completely transformed.)

For the reception, Gloria and the couple chose a cool black, white and silver color palette, accented by night club-like pin spots and deep blue uplighting (provided by Enhanced Lighting), to set the tone for Acts 2 and 3 (Dinner and Dancing). During this part of the wedding celebration, the details tell a story by changing the mood entirely from the intensely colorful design of the ceremony decor, to the understated tones of a 1930's club. This transition seemed to mirror the way many of the movies filmed by the groom were totally different in tone, feel, and background.

The Guest Book was an actual book with photos of the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Guests could write a note to the newly weds using the picture of their favorite Hollywood star as the background.

This view of the guest book, open to invite guests to write a note, also shows the hand made, over-the-top style of the escort cards...feathers and bling were everywhere, yet always presented tastefully and in an understated way. Great job, Gloria and team!

Awaiting the guest to enter from cocktails was the amazing wedding cake, created and designed by Perfect Endings Bakery in Napa, with black and white edible feathers. I can say from first-hand experience, this work or art tasted as wonderful as it looked!

Gloria and Nancy's staff, putting finishing touches on the Head Table before the guests are invited in from cocktails. An elegant combination of hundreds of white roses, feathers, bling, and silver accents....as they entered, the bride, groom, and all the guests, were captivated by the design and detail of the reception room where they would have dinner, and then enjoy dancing to the sounds of SBX Dance Band.

Part 3: The Reception and Dancing

This was the entrance into the Casa de la Vista, where guests were welcomed into a scene of beauty and old Hollywood charm.

White branches, decorated with thousands of crystals, hanging lights and and abundance of white flowers, provide the background for one wall of Casa de la Vista.

After dinner, the dancing went on until midnight, when the guests returned to their hotels via chartered shuttles and limousines, and the bride and groom were transported back to the Mark Hopkins in a Classic vintage Packard; one last detail requested by the bride and groom...a grand Hollywood exit!

I took this photo from the outside Casa de la Vista, during the beginning of the dancing portion of the evening. The bride and groom redefined the classic parents' dances, by having the Mother/Son dance be the bride dancing with each of her adult twin sons, and the Father/Daughter dance being the groom dancing with each of his adult daughters; just another way this wedding told a story, by honoring the children of the bride and groom, since their own parents are not here...now the romantic, Hollywood-like story continues, with a new chapter to be written by them as man and wife!

Other vendors who made this wedding day so perfect, include:
Cast of Thousands (we had Paparazzi actors as the bride and groom entered dinner!)