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Monday, September 20, 2010

A Team Effort

Recently I was privileged to assist my good friend Jubilee Lau in the coordination of an amazing wedding celebration at City Hall in San Francisco. Each and every guest at the wedding could not help but be overwhelmed by the elegance, beauty, personalization and complexity of this celebration.

The Rotunda was the location for the wedding as well as for dinner. Lavender carpet was installed just for the wedding. The centerpieces and column decorations topped 10 feet tall...everything was magnificent!

The guests were welcomed into the Thai-themed cocktail hour, by 2 carnation encrusted elephants, a shower of orchid blooms and a silver stone pond with giant water lilies..all created for this event by Nancy Liu Chin Design.

A Food Court, inside the dancing/lounge area, offered guests a Sushi Bar, a Patisserie, an Espresso shop, and of course, a Pub!

The Stage and custom-designed dance floor occupied the other end of the lounge/dancing area, which was not opened until after dinner, as a special surprise for the guests.

So what does it take to produce an event like this?

I can only speak for the logistics team, who assisted Jubilee, but all 10 of us were involved for weeks before the event in discussing the details of the event, having walkthroughs at City Hall, as well as sharing meals together to fine tune each area of the wedding day from the logistical side: load in and break down, entertainment, coordination of the events of the day itself, transportation, assisting family members, communication with hotels, etc.
We each had our roles, and because everyone on the team was an experienced wedding professional, Jubilee could focus on the big picture, knowing we would carry out what had been assigned to us, and contact her immediately if something unexpected came up which needed her input.

Five of our team members going down the elegant stairway from the rotunda, during our walk through at City Hall 10 days before the wedding.

Our dinner after the walk through, used as a social and work time; we were able to get to know each other better as we discussed our responsibilities in greater detail.

Behind the Scenes: This is the Food Court in process:

Setting up the head table took a huge team!

The Dining area and Ceremony Site almost guest ready!

After 3 full days of setup by fantastic SF vendors including Enhanced Lighting, McCall's Catering, Blueprint Studios, Gloria Wong Design, Wildflower Linen, and a support staff of over 100 people...we are ready to open the doors for the guests!

The guests have arrived and are finding their escort cards. This tree was designed to replicate a tree that would grow in Thailand.

The guest tables are set and ready! Let the celebration begin!!!

Jubilee in the midst of our setting up the Head Table...she seemed cool, calm and trusting her team to take care of all the meticulous plans she and Gloria had been working on for almost a year to bring their clients dream into reality!

Congratulations, Jubilee! Thanks for including me in your team!

Todd Fiscus, tips for designers!

Please take a look at what is coming through Wedding 360 from Todd Fiscus, owner of Todd Events! His first video in a series of three filmed on-site at his Dallas studio, will be released this week, exclusively through Wedding 360!

I flew out to Texas in July to film the episodes with Jubilee Lau, my partner in Wedding 360, and Andrew Hsu, our fantastic cinematographer. He is almost ready to release the first episode. I will be sharing more soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where to have the "First Look"?

What do wedding planners do when they are not on-site coordinating weddings during this busy Fall wedding season? We are often out doing the background work needed before the wedding actually happens, to be sure every aspect of the wedding day is thought through and prepared for with care. Because I love to be personally involved with each aspect of my clients' wedding priorities, I often find myself doing some interesting research work. This week I scheduled a tour of a San Francisco landmark, The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, with a particular goal in mind: Where should Felecia and Jim see each other for the first time, on their wedding day before the pre-ceremony photos?

Tucked in the back of Top of the Mark, this nook is where we hope to stage the First Look for Jim and Felecia. Though the view is extremely beautiful, the spot is known as Weepers Corner, because during WW 2, wives and girlfriends would go to this very spot to stand and weep as they saw their men head out in military ships to war.

This bride and groom are particularly interested in finding a dramatic, as well as photographically beautiful spot, for their first look; Jim has spent decades behind a motion picture camera, shooting hundreds of movies, many of them here in San Francisco, so he has a practiced eye for composition and understands the importance of location. Since Felecia will be getting ready at the Mark Hopkins, before going over to Treasure Island for the wedding and reception, it made sense to have the two of them meet somewhere in the hotel.

I offered to scout the property with Catherine Hall, my good friend, and the amazing photographer for this wedding, and Jordan Nimura, the Director of Romance (aka. Catering Manager Specializing in Weddings) for the Mark Hopkins, to find the perfect spot!

It was a beautiful day for our visit, and we were able to enjoy a wonderful view as we had tea at Top of the Mark, discussing what would be the best spot in the hotel for Felecia and Jim's first look. Jordan is helping us think what is the least busy time for the restaurant, and Catherine is discussing what kind of lighting to bring so the sun will not create a "blown out" look for the photos. This is the kind of forethought that needs to go into creating such a perfect moment for a couple, and then capturing in perfectly to be treasured in the years ahead.

It is becoming more common now for couples to schedule that "first look" moment, usually envisioned as when the bride walks down the aisle, and her groom sees her for the first time, for a private time earlier in the day in a place which is special to the two of them, away from the pre-wedding activity. When couples choose this plan, I see them fresh and excited about the day ahead, looking more relaxed than ever in front of the camera. Now the couple can begin their romantic photos and wedding party photos before the ceremony, allowing them to join their friends at the cocktail hour, and most importantly, they can rejoice together, before the day even unfolds, that they are soon to be husband and wife.

Catherine, Jordan and I took several hours out of our Fall wedding push (Fall in California is always the busiest time for wedding professionals), to meet and lay the groundwork for an unforgetable moment for our beloved clients. As we spent time together, we felt a kinship forming, because we all share the desire to serve our clients with excellence in every detail of their wedding day, as well as the planning leading up to that day...we never want to get too busy for extra's like this, not to mention the fun of being together at Top of the Mark!

We really hope that the weather for Felecia and Jim's first look will be as lovely as it was for our tour; but we are romantics enough to know that when Jim sees Felecia for the first time in her wedding gown, the sun will come out on his face!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall wedding at Rosewood Sand Hill

It was a perfect day for an outside wedding ceremony at Rosewood Sand Hill this weekend! I had the joy of working with Brenna and Jared to ensure that all the well-planned details they had been working on for months, came together perfectly for their wedding day.

The Chuppah, set up and decorated by Amy Burke Design, was a beautiful focal point for the bride, groom and their families to stand before their friends, and pledge their lives to one another.

Brenna and Jared's rich orange, peach, apricot wedding colors, seen here in the bridesmaid bouquets, matched perfectly the decor at Rosewood Sand Hill, as did the invitations and escort cards, which were hand-made by Brenna. As an artist, when she and Jared booked the hotel for their wedding venue, Brenna knew exactly how she would incorporate the style and aesthetic of Rosewood into her wedding design.

The escort cards were crafted with the same paper detail detail as that used in the invitations; each guest's meal choice was designated by where on the card the color detail was positioned. It was a very creative way to help the servers know what meal to serve each guest; the result was both beautiful in design, and clear in communication. Well done, Brenna and Jared!

The chargers and menus at each place setting were another connection to the wedding design, which mirrored the overall decor at Rosewood Sand Hill. The small boxes of 4 truffles, selected by Brenna and Jared, were a thank you gift for each guest...a sweet reminder of their wedding day!

Following the ceremony after a few moments alone, Brenna and Jared head out to the garden areas at Rosewood Sand Hill for photos with Jessica Lifland, before joining their guests for cocktails.

Soon the indoor part of the celebration began, and that was also amazing! Brenna and Jared were introduced into dinner by her father, welcomed with toasts, and along with their guests enjoyed a delicious 4 course meal,

before opening the dance floor with their first dance, which was followed by the Parents' dances, and...

...the Hora!

Once The Fundamentals got everyone up for the Hora, the dance floor never emptied until the party ended at Midnight!

No one wanted to say goodbye after the wonderful celebration of Brenna and Jared's wedding day, so they said "....see you tomorrow!", because Brenna's family hosted a Brunch on the Rosewood Sand Hill portico for all the guests who could join them. I understand the patio was full!