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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lion Dancers, Table Tennis, and a Sari

I loved working with Simon and Shamim during the brief 8 weeks we had to plan their lovely wedding celebration at Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park. Both Simon and Shamim are from England, though Simon is of Chinese descent, and Shamim of Indian.

Since Simon and Shamim both grew up in England (met at Oxford University as freshmen), the perfect vehicle to deliver Simon and Shamim to their wedding venue was a British 1927 Stutz.

When they began planning their intimate, culturally blended wedding celebration in early February, Simon and Shamim quickly realized they were not familiar with the American ways of planning and carrying out weddings, so they began to look for a wedding planner. I am so grateful that they chose me to be their guide and friend for the next 8 busy weeks!

One of Simon's passions is table tennis, so we brought in 2 ping pong tables for guests to enjoy throughout the afternoon and evening.

Grant Rector wrapping a bridesmaid bouquet on site at Allied Arts.

One of the first vendors I suggested to Simon and Shamim was Grant Rector as the florist/designer; he was a very good choice! Grant was on site all day on the wedding day, creating wedding bouquets, hanging lanterns, setting up a lounge for after dinner, guiding the lighting team, and generally supporting every aspect of the wedding day. Even on the day before the wedding, when we needed to bring in a tent for dinner, Grant was with me to determine the best placement and layout for the tent and the dining tables.

The ceremony was set up in the Blue Garden, one of many stunning garden areas at Allied Arts Guild.

Simon and Shamim began their wedding ceremony by serving tea to the parents; this Chinese custom is a way of showing honor to the generation who raised the bride or groom. Here Shamim and Simon are kneeling before Simon's parents, while one of Shamim's friends holds the tea set and tray for them.

During the ceremony, the dinner area was being set up in the clear tent on the other side of the gardens; we needed to revise our reception layout several times during the weeks of unstable weather preceding the wedding, but in the end, having the tent for dinner was a perfect solution to the occasional showers and gusts of wind, between patches of sunshine and pleasant skies.

Simon and Shamim named their tables for stops on the London subway line; after spending so many hours on the "tube", these names became very familiar to them!

When I first met with Simon and Shamim, they had an idea to combine the two S's of their first names to make a monogram suggesting two swans. We were able to not only create an image they liked,

but also made it into a wax stamp to seal their invitations, programs, and as decor on their menus. Thank you to Rachel Hanson for working closely with us to create just what Simon and Shamim were envisioning.

As a surprise to the guests, we brought in the West Coast Lion Troupe to perform at the end of cocktails, to salute the bride and groom with drums, dancing and streamers, and then lead the guests into dinner!

A side view of our colorful lions as they move closer to the Bride and Groom to congratulate them on their marriage!

The last surprise for guests would be the beautiful dance and lounge area set up just beyond the tent where dinner was enjoyed. Grant Rector had covered the glass doors from the inside to keep this area a secret. When dinner was over the guests would be invited into this final location for the last part of the celebration. Within an hour of this photo, Bhangra music was pounding, and Shamim's culture was being expressed on a very full and active dance floor. It was fun to see Simon dancing the Bhangra with his new wife, British relatives, and multi cultural friends.

I am so grateful to have the richness of multi cultural clients, and to enjoy the uniqueness each one brings to both the relationship they forge, and the celebration of that relationship.

Thank you to my wonderful vendors!
Tiana Wong, www.alliedartsguild.org, venue manager
Hartmann Studios, www.hartmannstudios.com, tent, linens, table top decor
Grant Rector, www.grantandco.com, florist/designer
Ava Tran, www.leskitchen.com, caterer of 8 course chinese meal!
BethAnn Goldberg, www.studiocake.com, wedding cake and petite desserts
Lisa Lefkowitz, www.lisalefkowitz.com, photography
Ron Grandia, www.rongrandia.com, DJ and Bhangra tune master
Terry Adams, www.nobhillensembles.com, ceremony/cocktail music
George Rose, www.elegantjourney.com, owner and driver of the Stutz
Armando Sarabia, www.getyourdoup.com, hair and makeup
Amanda Chan, www.westcoastlions.net, Lead lion dancer
Eddie, www.eventmagic.com, ping pong tables
Natalia, www.got-light.com, warm ambiance throughout
Rachel Hanson, www.rachelhansondesigns.com
Denis Kilen, www.elithomasformen.com, tuxedos for groom and groomsmen
Jesse Bresnahan, www.gardencourt.com, hotel for guests

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Walk through for a street wedding...

When planning a wedding it is always important to have a "walk through" at the ceremony site to be sure that the engaged couple have conveyed their desires for the set up, decor and flow of their wedding ceremony. Equally important is that each member of the team executing their wedding know what is expected of them on the wedding day.

Pictured here are: Jenna, the bride; Christine one of my assistants; Jenna's mother; Julie Briggs Dunn and Alice Grisez, my two other assistants for the wedding day; and Justin's mother.

When a wedding ceremony will be in a crosswalk on a San Francisco street, it is even more important to be sure that each detail of the ceremony has been discussed thoroughly!

This week I met with my clients, Jenna and Justin, who will be married this summer in the crosswalk where Justin proposed to Jenna, at the very spot where he proposed. My team of assistants (each a professional wedding planner herself) the sound technician for the wedding, and both Jenna and Justin's mothers joined us for the walk through.

During this meeting we discussed where to place the barricades to block off traffic, how to disguise the generator for sound, location of the AV speakers, and of course, when the police would post the No Parking Signs!

This is the location for the wedding...there will be a platform just to the right of center (we have to leave an opening for emergency vehicles); the entire block will be closed off to parking and traffic for 7 hours while we set up for the wedding, bring all 200 guests up on shuttles, have the wedding, and then transport the guests to the reception at Julia Morgan Ballroom, while the wedding party and parents have a photo session at another SF location.

Jenna and her mother, with Justin and his mother, at the very spot where the their "children" will be married in just a few weeks!

Oh, and another important question, where do you have the rehearsal for a wedding in the middle of an intersection, the day before, when the block will not yet be closed off?

How about the terrace of the hotel where the bride and family members will be staying on the night before the wedding?

The groom and his mother, at the spot where we will have the wedding rehearsal.

My idea for the rehearsal location was embraced by Jenna, Justin and the family members, as well as the staff at the hotel, so the second part of our walk through was at the Hotel Vitale, where we viewed the rehearsal site, the terrace near Jenna's wedding suite.

We needed to be sure the 20+ members of the wedding party would fit, as well as having space to create an aisle with chairs for the family members to sit. We drew out where everyone would stand or sit on the terrace for the rehearsal, hoping that the pattern would transfer the next day to the Crosswalk at an intersection atop Potrero Hill.

Here I am with the groom, the mothers, and my team, discussing how best to use this lovely terrace for the wedding rehearsal the afternoon before the wedding.

We concluded that the Terrace at Hotel Vitale will work perfectly for the rehearsal, and that every detail we can think of so far about the street intersection wedding has been addressed.

Now, it is just a matter of determining how to duplicate on the wedding day the amazing weather we had for the walk through!

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes stories about my most unique professional challenge to date; to plan the first Mid-Street Wedding Ceremony ever issued a permit by the City of San Francisco!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Evening of Inspiration

Thank you so much to the creative team at Hartmann Studios for creating such an inspirational and elegant party for all of us who enjoy partnering with you in events and weddings here in the SF Bay Area!

Fort Mason was the location for an extravagant evening where Hartmann Studios partnered with many of the premier caterers and floral designers in the Bay Area to completely fill the expanse with vignettes, and full party set ups, which inspired and delighted all who attended.

Spiral Hand Floral Design Studio created a vignette in purples, blacks and reds that evoked mystery and romance.

Colorful Events used bright colors and abundance of textures in shades of apricot, peach, orange, and pinks to evoke a bright Tuscan wedding celebration.

The lively party lounge included a DJ on a raised platform with sparkling beads masking him from view, numerous bars offering a myriad of exotic cocktails, and food stations with every delicacy from Duck Confit to pot de creme.

The more subdued and sultry red lounge area showed off Hartmann's custom lanterns and rich table settings.

The leadership and staff of Hartmann Studio put their creative design energy and multi-faceted event experience to work on this Showcase, and their efforts were appreciated and enjoyed by over 1500 guests. I am so grateful to have been one of them!

However, the most amazing display presented that evening had to be the sunset which I enjoyed at the very end of the Fort Mason dock. For this gift, I am thankful to God for displaying the wonder of His design in all its beauty!