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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Child-Centered Wedding Weekend

What could be better than having your face painted, then joining your friends/cousins for a buffet dinner of chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and strawberries?

Planning a summer wedding with the guest list made up of 70 children and 150 adults was a wonderful challenge for me this year! At the beginning of our brainstorming, the bride and groom let me know that each part of the wedding weekend was to be as Kid-Focused as possible, tailoring activities, foods, and decor to welcome and incorporate the children on every level. They wanted to do so in a way that allowed the adults to fully enjoy their time together celebrating with the bride and groom, knowing that not only were their children well taken care of, but they were having the time of their lives! I think we succeeded!

The weekend began with a Friday Welcome Barbecue, with entertainment, decor and food selected with kids in mind.

The welcome dinner on the lawn at Rosewood Sand Hill featured a Margarita bar for the adults, and a Mocktail bar for the kids. Featuring a menu of 8 hand-mixed specialty drinks using Monin syrups, sparkling water and fruit juices, each drink was named after the bride, groom, or one of their 3 children, who were of course in the wedding party! I must say, the candy display which was a part of the mocktail bar was frequented by many adults as well as children!

Soon after the guests arrived, our juggler/magician Thomas John, began moving among the children providing entertainment and humor to groups of 2 or 3 at a time. Just before dinner, we invited the children (and adults) to gather on the lawn for a juggling show, with group participation and lots of giggles to work up a healthy appetite!

The cozy day bed/couch served as a group seating area for the kids as they enjoyed their mocktails, candy, sliders, and barbecued ribs...

The same day bed/couch provided a cozy nap location after dinner when the parents were still enjoying their conversations, but the kids were ready to snooze after a long day.

After such a great welcome dinner, all the kids and parents were even more excited to see what was in store the next day at the wedding reception; we know they were not disappointed, because the fun never stopped!

When the children arrived after the wedding ceremony, and signed into their activities, they were greeted with a special kids-only buffet set up on the veranda at Kohl Mansion...

...as well as relay races, face painting, caricature drawing, parachute games, and even stilt walkers on the lawn to help get the wiggles out; after riding the shuttle from Rosewood Sand Hill to the wedding ceremony at Stanford, and then up to the reception at Kohl Mansion, it was time to MOVE!

After dinner, when the adults went into their elegant tent for dinner, the kids were invited into a Kids-Only Carnival area which included tossing rings on coke bottles for points and beating the Strong Man challenge by hitting the hammer on the base and ringing the bell at the top, eating unlimited popcorn, and claiming prizes when the right number of tickets were accumulated at the game booths.

The prize booth being stocked before the carnival games began!

As the afternoon/evening progressed, the action moved inside to another Kid-Only area for dessert (a cupcake display that highlighted flavors exactly the same as those in the huge wedding cake), story telling and and a magic show by costumed fairies, craft activities, quiet board games, and mats to relax and talk to friends about the excitement of the day.

When the band started in the Great Hall adjoining the kid's room, and the dancing began for the adults, many of the kids jumped into the action with their parents and danced the night away. However, several of the younger children were happy to curl up with a blanket in the lap of one of the child care workers, to just read stories and recoup after a very busy weekend!

There is much more to tell about this amazing wedding; I will be doing other blog posts, and the wedding will be written up in the San Francisco Chronicle soon; but one of the most unique aspects of the wedding planning and execution was providing responsible care and truly unique activities for the large number of children involved. I learned a huge amount in the year long planning process and feel privileged to have been trusted with this project.

It was the vision of my wonderful bride and groom, who desired to make this wedding weekend as much of a treasured a memory for their 3 children as it was for them; their vision gave me and my team the energy and creativity to think like children again! It was magical!

Thank you to:
Nicole Sillapere, Sillapere Eco Events
Anne Millet, Mira Aster Stationers
Jon and Natalia, Got-Light
Natasha Miller, Entire Productions
Neil Adams, Blueprint Studios
Mike Whittle, Corporate Kids
Ethan Mantle, Componere Fine Catering
Alex Subrizi Photography
BethAnn Goldberg, Studio Cake
Paul Scheffert, SF Event Music
Kendall Peterson, Pure Luxury Transportation
George Rose, Elegant Journey Limousines
Eileen, Ritual Coffee Roasters
Armando Sarabia, Get Your Do Up
Miss Ember, Happily Ever Laughter
Daniel Swan, The Cheeseballs Band
Todd Outhouse, Rosewood Sand Hill
Terri and Dianne, Kohl Mansion

Also, many many thanks to my invaluable Day-Of Wedding Team,
Tony White, Christine Brady, and Anjali Nagib

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