Home  |  About  |  PortfolioExperience  |  Services  |  Raves  |  Blog  |  Contact

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Under the chuppah in the Redwoods

On a recent warm June afternoon, the Ketubah beautifully displayed beside the Chuppah in the sheltering shade of century-old Redwood trees, Amanda and Brenden became man and wife, incorporating many of the Hebrew customs passed down through generations of their family members.

It is the tradition in Jewish weddings for the Ketubah, their official marriage contract, to be signed by the parents, officiant, bride and groom before the ceremony, and then displayed near the chuppah when the wedding ceremony is taking place. The Ketubah is a work of art, with Hebrew text describing the joys and responsibilities of marriage; it becomes a focal point in the home, proudly displayed by the newly married couple as a beautiful and joyful reminder of their wedding day.

The framed Ketubah was transported by hand from the barn where it was signed, to the Redwood Chapel, where an easel was placed for the display of the Ketubah during the ceremony.

When the ceremony began, after the officiants and the wedding party had taken their places in front of the arbor, the four chuppah bearers, each a family member of either Brenden or Amanda, entered and stood holding poles supporting the same square cloth used by both of Brenden's brothers in their wedding, to create a symbolic shelter for the bride and groom to stand.

Brenden entered the ceremony with his parents and took his place under the Chuppah, to await his bride, Amanda who entered next, escorted by her parents. Once the two were together they moved to stand under the chuppah, which as the officiant explained represents both the new home being established and the spiritual covering provided by the Jewish faith.

Amanda and Brenden under the chuppah as the officiant explains the origins and meanings of the Hebrew customs being honored in their wedding ceremony.

After the ceremony, Brenden and Amanda had a few moments alone to savor the beauty and excitement of what had just happened; their guests were lead up to the cocktail reception by Brenden's Uncle Jerry, playing his accordion. When the ceremony site had cleared of guests, Amanda and Brenden joined their family members for photos, and then entered the cocktail reception via the Nestldown train.

Amanda and Brenden joining their family for photos after their alone time following the ceremony.

As soon as Brenden and Amanda stepped off the train into the cocktail area behind the Fantasy Garden, they lead their guests in a joyous parade to dinner on the lawn near the barn; as everyone enjoyed a sumptuous family- style dinner, humorous, creative and touching toasts were made by both sets of parents, and the three brothers in the families. The celebration had officially begun-- the sound of laughter and chatter filled the sun-drenched lawn.

Amanda, Brenden, their flower girl, Brenden's niece, and the bridal party led the wedding guests to dinner from the cocktail hour on the Bocce Ball field.

After dinner, everyone was invited into the barn for the First Dance (which Brenden began with a back flip, walking on his hands, and some quick break dancing moves..he surprised everyone with his gymmastics!), followed by the Parent Dances, and of course the Hora!
The foot- stomping music of the dynamic Blue Grass band, Hot Buttered Rum had the bride, groom, family and guests dancing without a break for 2 solid hours! As the guests waved goodby to Amanda and Brenden, as they made their exit in Nestldown's signature English taxi, sounds of Mazel Tov! filled the air!

The band played acoustic instruments of all types, from guitar, to mandolin, fiddle, flute, upright bass and slide guitar...the only musician who played the same instrument all night was the drummer! What a versatile and energetic group of musicians!

Brenden and Amanda's fantastic vendor team included:
Thomas John Events, Caterer
Tim Sohn, Photographer
In Full Bloom, Florist
Hot Buttered Rum, Band
Lone Star Transportation
Nestldown, Venue

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SF Street Wedding, Part Two

Jenna and Justin say their vows to each other in the same location where Justin proposed to Jenna, the crosswalk of 19th Street and Texas. The ceremony was the first incredible part of the day, but this was just the beginning of an afternoon and evening of celebration!

What could be more appropriate after a wedding on a Potrero Hill Crosswalk, with a magnificent view of San Francisco, than to continue the celebration in the heart of San Francisco at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Historic Merchants Exchange Building. The guests were transported from their view of the SF skyline to the magnificence of the Julia Morgan Ballroom set elegantly to welcome Jenna and Justin's 175 guests.

The Julia Morgan Ballroom set and ready for the Jenna and Justin's guests when they arrived from the ceremony in the Crosswalk of 19th Street and Texas. The umbrellas are checked at the coat room, and now it is time to celebrate!

A warm welcome has been prepared at the Head Table for Jenna and Justin, their family and wedding party members after the adventure of participating in the first Crosswalk Wedding ever done in the streets of San Francisco!

Each guest table was washed with light so that the wine glasses sparkled, and the centerpiece "popped" with color and texture. I can never over state the importance of lighting in the overall ambiance and feel of an event.

Another aspect of what makes Jenna and Justin's wedding so unique is that they have known each other since birth; Jenna's parents and Justin's parents were good friends in the same small neighborhood in Philadelphia, so the two children played together during family celebrations, summer gatherings, vacations, and often attended each others birthday parties.

A matted photo of toddler-aged Jenna and Justin was used by guests to leave messages for the newly married couple, now celebrating together again, but this time as Mr. and Mrs!

Jenna and Justin's families have been close friends for decades; even after Justin's family moved to San Francisco, there were frequent visits and shared vacations planned so the families could stay in touch.

Now, because of Jenna and Justin's marriage, the two families have officially become one family. It was appropriate that treasured wedding photos from several generations be lovingly displayed on the mantle at Julia Morgan Ballroom during the reception.

And as a reminder of the long-distance connection between Jenna and Justin, which was often maintained by mail, the guests were invited to write a note on one of the vintage post cards, and place it in a mailbox for Jenna and Justin.

A gourmet 3 course meal prepared and served by Joshua Charles Catering, each course paired with fine wines carefully selected by Jenna's father, began with the Roasted Asparagus and Morel Mushrooms. Yummmm!

After the dinner, Jenna, Justin, their family and guests almost never left the dance floor..... there was so much to celebrate, and so many wonderful friends to celebrate with!

The stage was set for action as guests arrived, and when Pop Fiction Live started playing, the action never stopped!

Congratulations, Jenna and Justin! We know your hearts will always be in San Francisco, as will these amazing memories from your wedding day! It was my privilege to help you during the last 8 months to plan and carry out your romantic wedding vision in a street in San Francisco!

To read more about Jenna and Justin's wedding ceremony, and to see information on each member of my team, please take a look at Part One of this blog post.

Monday, June 6, 2011

SF Crosswalk Wedding, Part One

Planning a wedding ceremony on a crosswalk in San Francisco was probably the biggest challenge I have had during my 8 years as a wedding planner; and it has become one of the most rewarding and enjoyable weddings I have ever coordinated! The challenge was so worth it in so many ways...just take a look at a few of Rhee Bevere's images!

When Jenna and Justin hired me in early Fall of 2010, they told me right away that their goal was to be married in the crosswalk of Texas and 19th Streets on Potrero Hill, in the exact spot where Justin had proposed. I of course had my logistical questions about how we would pull this off, but I quickly realized that I wanted to support their vision to the best of my ability, and would shift into a new gear of research and planning tactics!

Eight months later, despite the dire weather forecast for their wedding day, Jenna and Justin moved forward with their vision, and were blessed for their romantic perseverance by a break in the rain which created incredibly clear visibility for the SF city scape they adore.

The shout of Mazel Tov from all of the guests may have been heard in the streets of San Francisco!

Rhee Bevere captured this photo from Jenna's suite in the Hotel Vitale; a cousin had sent Jenna the white rain boots as an encouragement to move forward with the outdoor wedding no matter what the weather would be. Fortunately, Jenna was able to wear her Ferragamo pumps instead of the rain boots, and the wedding party was all smiles during pre ceremony photos!

Below are a few photos I took during the time just leading up to the ceremony; from the sky, you can see that the weather was changing moment by moment.

Just 3 days before the wedding, I been able to locate a large quantity of white umbrellas so the 175 guests would have protection if needed. They came in very handy for the time just before the ceremony began....

...but by the time the family members were walking down the white carpet, between the benches, the rain had stopped and umbrellas were put aside to welcome the wedding party, and Jenna accompanied by her proud parents.

The sky was beginning to lighten up as Jenna and Justin expressed their love, commitment, and pure enjoyment of each other in their wedding vows...

..and by the time they headed back down the aisle, the sun was shining on their day and on their marriage. As a wedding planner, it does not get any better than this!

Planning and executing this wedding allowed me to rely on a team of professionals who are also my dear friends in the wedding industry; I also made some new friends in the offices of the City of San Francisco! It took over 7 months to attend public hearings and obtain all the permits needed to officially block off Texas between 19th and 20th. Residents were asked to move their cars for the day and traffic was halted for the 8 hours we had to set up, have the ceremony and remove all traces that we were there....it was quite a tight timeline!

I am so grateful to each person who worked alongside me to see Jenna and Justin's dream come true!

My Planning/Execution Team:

Michael Daigian Design
Rhee Bevere Photography
Everything Audio Visual
Mori Achen
Judge David Cena
C and M Limousines
Joshua Charles Catering
Get Your Do Up
Studio Cake
Julia Morgan Ballroom
NorCal Portables

Alice Grisez
Julie Briggs Dunn
Tony White
Adrienne Lee
Jayne Marason

Cindy Shambam, Dept. of Parking and Traffic
Officer Tim Dalton, Permit Officer
Crystal Stewart, Entertainment Commission
Simon Chang, Street Usage Supervisor