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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

After my "StayCation", an update

As you see, there has been a slight gap since my last blog entry.  After a very busy 2012 wedding season, this wedding planner decided to have a
"StayCation/Sabbatical for 6 weeks!

 It has been wonderful to enjoy long days in my home town of Palo Alto, as if I was on a vacation in some far-away location such as Italy, which I might have preferred, but could not manage this year. :)

After many long walks, intense weeding/pruning sessions in my garden, date nights with Jeff, wine tasting at yummy local wineries a short drive from our home, lazy evenings of reconnecting with friends and neighbors, sleeping very late in the mornings (I call it partial hibernation) and local adventures with my children, I am easing back into the profession of Wedding Planner.

As I get back to my wedding world, I want to offer a big THANK YOU! to Tony White and Elka Goldstein who were my Loyal, Steadfast and Rock Star wedding team for 2012.

 Tony and Elka at Fogarty Winery, where we worked together on my last local wedding for 2012.

Thank you so much Tony and Elka for all your hard work and special care for our wonderful clients in 2012.  I look forward to working with you again in 2013!!!

Welcome Dinner for 100, Northstar

Sharon and Jason's Welcome Party at Northstar

It was an interesting AND challenging job to help Jason and Sharon plan their Fall 2012 wedding from Hong Kong, with only 2 visits to the US before the wedding day.  Via carefully scheduled Skype calls the 3 of us were able to make arrangements for 100 family and guests from 5 continents to gather for 3 days in the Lake Tahoe Area to celebrate with Jason and Sharon.  The fantastic events that spanned 3 days will be remembered with joy by all who attended.

Day one was the Welcome Barbecue just a short gondola ride from the Ritz-Carton on the mountain.

....just before the guests arrived on the gondola from Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe; the site was guest ready,  and the weather was perfect, and I was excited to see the events unfold.
The first 2 guests were the honored couple, Sharon and Jason...after 9 months of planning from Hong Kong, Sharon and Jason were finally here in California to celebrate their wedding with 100 close family and friends from 5 continents!  An enthusiastic "High Five" was very much in order!

The Overlook at Northstar provided a perfect location for Sharon and Jason's guests to relax after their long journeys, enjoy a barbecue, and reconnect or get to know the folks they would be spending 3 days with in the mountains.

The outdoor movie "theater" and s'more pit ready for the sun to set and the moon to rise.

This birthday cake (...it is all cake, made to order by Studio Cake) for Sharon and Jason's fathers, whose birthdays happened to be the same week as the wedding celebration.  We can see from the impish photo below how happy the bride and groom were to shock the unsuspecting FOB and FOG.

Yes, we lit the sparklers which Jason had strategically placed, and No, the fathers did not have heart attacks on the spot when the cake was presented...but neither one wanted to blow out the "candles". :) 

After the laughter about the birthday cake, some very eloquent and hilarious toasts to and of the groom and bride, it was time to enjoy toasting marshmallows by the fire, getting very sticky making messy s'mores, and discussing the plans for tomorrow's wedding celebration. 

The last gondola up to the Ritz-Carlton was at 10pm, so those whose jet lag allowed it, reconvened in the Living Room at Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe for warm drinks before heading off to bed.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stacie and Ron on Style Me Pretty!

Congratulations to Stacie and Ron on a beautiful wedding and most importantly, a beautiful relationship!  
Please read my description of their love for family and each other, as well as the exquisite celebration of their wedding, on Style Me Pretty.  Thank you Stacie and Ron for including me in your lives and in your wedding planning.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Suzi and Drew, married at last!

For those of you who read my blog post about Suzi and Drew's walk through at Villa Montalvo last month, this photo of them exiting their wedding ceremony as husband and wife will complete the story.

After two years of planning and waiting, Suzi and Drew's wedding day finally arrived last weekend, and the joy between the two of them was contagious to all of us involved.

A classic marble statue of Adam and Eve is part of the garden elegance at the Villa Montalvo Love Temple; Suzi and Drew's single focus on each other matched the embrace of Adam and Eve.
(In the background, the photographer, Sam Potter, is tucking Suzi's bouquet into the arms of Adam and Eve; I am looking forward to seeing that image!)

After the photos were completed, Suzi and her new husband Drew, came up to the Bride's room and the Villa so Monina Wright, Suzi's friend, and professional hair/make up artist, could redo her hair before she and Drew were introduced into dinner.
Drew was capturing every moment, with his heart and in his iPhone.

Drew and Suzi at their sweetheart table on the Veranda at Villa Montalvo.  Suzi's aunt and cousin lovingly provided all of the florals for Suzi and Drew's ceremony and dinner reception.  As symbolized with the abundance of flowers on their table, Suzi and Drew were surrounded by love in many ways on their wedding day.  But the most intense love and brightest smiles of the day were definitely emanating from the bride and groom...it was wonderful to see!

As the evening faded, Drew and Suzi shared their first dinner together as husband and wife, enjoying each other and the beautiful view down the sweeping lawn to the Love Temple....exactly where they had been married a few hours before.

(By the way, did I mention that Drew proposed to Suzi in front of the Castle at Disneyland?  He wanted to make her his princess forever...and she said YES!)

Thank you so much to the wonderful vendors who worked tirelessly to make Suzi and Drew's wedding vision become a reality:
 Catered Too
 Big Fun DJ
 Samuel Potter Photography
PermaGrin Films
Moderne Beauty
Villa Montalvo

and to my A+ team:
Tony White
Elka Goldstein

Monday, July 30, 2012

A planner's view.....

It is always fun to watch an artist in action, and I am able to do that whenever a photographer like Vero Suh is shooting a wedding I coordinate.  

Throughout Jennie and Andrew's wedding day, I was in the background managing the timeline I had created, directing and confirming the arrival and departure times for each vehicle at each location, and gathering the necessary participants for each photo session in each location.

In a way, I am always setting up the scene so the artists (Photographers and Videographers) can take over to capture priceless images of the bride, groom, family members and wedding party.  Photographers and Videographers need time to be creative with the memories they are capturing, so I am happy to be someone who can build that time into the wedding day.

 For this shot,  I needed to let the driver of the vintage Plymouth  know where to pull into Gamble Garden so there would be privacy and shade; the car had been chosen as a tribute to Jennie's grandfather who worked in the auto industry for decades.  In this car, Jennie would ride to the church with her father to marry Andrew.  It was a nostalgic moment, and needed to be well recorded.  Therefore, I allowed extra time for photographs before Jennie's departure to record the details.

Thank you Vero, for capturing timeless images, and for sharing them so beautifully in your blog

I look forward to seeing the footage of these same scenes captured by the videographer, Major Diamond Productions

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A walk through at Villa Montalvo

Within a few weeks of each of my weddings I schedule a "walk through" with my clients to finalize the vision and details for their wedding day; recently I met with Suzi and Drew to walk through the spaces they will be using for their ceremony and reception in August at the beautiful Villa Montalvo.  

 This photo embodies what I am most passionate about in my role as a wedding planner...helping a couple who love each other deeply walk into their future as husband and wife.  What a privilege it is to walk alongside them and help as needed.

The ceremony will take place in the romantic Love Temple, located at the lower part of the Villa's expansive lawn.  Drew and Suzi were walking ahead of me as we made our way down to the ceremony site to determine where the wedding party will stand.  I am so glad I could capture this image-- Drew and Suzy have been looking forward to their wedding day for over 2 years, and now in just a few short weeks, it will become a reality.  I am extremely grateful to be enjoying the company and friendship of Drew and Suzy in the process of helping plan their wedding day.

This is the view Suzi and Drew will have as they exchange vows before 150 of their friends and family.  After the ceremony the guests will be invited up to the Villa for cocktails in the Spanish Courtyard, dinner on the Veranda looking across the lawn towards the love temple, and then dancing inside the Villa to celebrate Drew and Suzi's marriage.  

The Italian Garden, which has the love temple at its center, was built by Senator James Phelan in 1912 as part of his estate, Villa Montalvo.  You can learn more about the history of the Villa here.

I promise to share photos of the wedding day itself as soon as I have them...right now I need to get back to work on the timeline, vendor management and logistics, which are also a big part of how the romance and beauty come together on the wedding day! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Alice and Mike are in the Knot, Northern CA!

Congratulations to Alice and Mike!
Their beautiful Spring wedding at Rosewood Sand Hill was made even more unforgettable when  a rainbow appeared just as they were exiting their wedding ceremony. White umbrellas had been supplied quickly to guests and the wedding party as the raindrops started falling during the processional; but by the recessional, the umbrellas were put away and all eyes were following the bride and groom as they walked towards the rainbow.  Click here for more photos and vendor details.

Monday, June 18, 2012

All you need is love...

As a reminder of her grandfather who worked for the Chrysler Auto company in the 1930's, Jennie chose a classic Plymouth to transport her with her father from Gamble Gardens, where pre-ceremony photos were taken, to St. Thomas Aquinas Church for the ceremony, and then from the ceremony with  Andrew to the reception.

When I first met with Jennie almost a year ago, she cried tears of joy as she described her relationship with Andrew, and the romantic vision she had for her wedding celebration this June.  All of her ideas became reality this past weekend as she and Andrew, along with their 200+  family and guests proved that "all you need is love"  as the beginning point to create a very personal and extremely joyful wedding day.
The guest book was made up of photos from Jennie and Andrew's engagement session; throughout the evening family and guests enjoyed writing notes around the romantic images.

The escort cards surrounded a silver tray which belonged to Jennie's grandmother, and the Happily Every After sign which will welcome guests in to the home of Jennie and Andrew from this day forward.

As a part of each guest's place setting was a custom-wrapped candy bar with the welcoming note attached:  "A Sweet Thank You for coming, Jennie and Andrew."

The reception florals were elegant and romantic, incorporating hundreds of fluffy white peonies, one of my all time favorite flowers, which are most plentiful and huge during this month of June.  As a gardener I especially appreciate the perfection of a peony and know how difficult they can be to cultivate.

  I wish I could also share the soft and yummy scent of this peony, but you will have to find one in the florist shops or at a local garden, and sniff for yourself! 

My photo of the center of one of the peonies shows the abundance of ruffled petals which combine for an ethereal and soft cloud-like effect....as Jennie agreed, the look was very, very romantic!
  This bloom when it was fully open at the end of the evening was 9 inches in diameter...I was so impressed that I actually measured it!

While Jennie, Andrew and their guests were inside enjoying the delicious dinner, the sunset was providing a blaze of color as the backdrop to the grounds at Menlo Circus Club.  Again, all you need is love, but the beauty of a summer evening underscores the beauty of the moment and creates memories to be treasured by the romantic couple for years to come.

When the guests came outside after dinner as the dancing began, there was a fire prepared for roasting marshmallows and creating s'mores with the chocolate, graham crackers and skewers provided alongside the marshmallows.  What do you think the sign said at the s'more station?  "Smore Love" of course!

And inside, the dancing went on for hours, with all ages and generations joining Jennie and Andrew in the celebration that stated over and over that..."All you need is love, and  love is ALL YOU NEED!" 

It was a joy to be a part of Jennie and Andrew's wedding planning and of course the celebration itself.  What made the entire wedding day run so perfectly was the amazing team of wedding professionals working alongside me; each one of us was fully committed to supporting Jennie and Andrew, and working together to create a wedding which was even more wonderful than they had imagined.  From the comments by Jennie and Andrew at the end of the evening, I think we accomplished that goal!

Huge thank yous to:  
Menlo Circus Club in Menlo Park
Barbara Brooks and the MCC catering team 

Vero Suh, Photography
Florabella, Floral Design
Major Diamond Productions, Videography

Raffi Nalvarian, Sound in Motion, DJ
Margaret's French Bakery, Wedding Cake
Selya Medford, Make up
JBeautique, Hair Styling
El Paseo Limousine, Transportation
And  many thanks to my stellar day-of team:
Tony White
Jutta Lammerts
Elka Goldstein

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why I love San Francisco

Yesterday I spent the day in San Francisco for a mixture of work and play, and I want to share the fun!
Having my office just 23 miles south of the City, one would think I spend lots of time there.  But because so much of my wedding planning work is done via email and phone, I do not get up to SF as often as I would like.
But now, after discovering a new-to-me wedding venue, reconnecting with beloved friends over lunch, and taking a refreshing walk along the SF Bay, I am reminded once again why I love San Francisco. 
My first stop of the day was to tour a potential wedding venue in a neighborhood of San Francisco known for lovely homes and quiet streets.  Forest Hills Clubhouse was built in 1919 by Bernard Maybeck and is still owned and maintained by the Forest Hill residents.  My friend Jutta Lammerts, who is the property manager for the Clubhouse, invited me for a tour so I would have all the information needed to recommend this hidden gem to my wedding clients for their upcoming celebrations.  Thank you, Jutta!

 From left, Gloria Wong, holding Ginger's baby, me, Joey Cheung, Ginger Wada, Associate of Gloria Wong, Jubilee Lau, Megan Woods, Amanda Kong (baby due in 3 weeks), Associate of Jubilee Lau, John Woods, and Kevin Chin.

After my time at the Clubhouse, I met for lunch at Palomino Restaurant  with several dear friends whom I have come to know well during my years as a wedding planner.  Hosted by Jubilee Lau, we were all invited to relax over a delicious 3 course lunch, celebrating the babies being born into our "family".
I am so grateful for the professional connections and loving relationships  I have developed through partnering with such creative professionals to serve our clients; now we create celebrations to mark and remember the milestones in our lives.

 After our delicious lunch, I took advantage of the beautiful day,  the 3 hours I had before my next appointment, and the fact that Palomino is directly across from the Coastal Public Walkway, to explore more of my beloved San Francisco.

  This plaque quoting the well known SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen began my adventure at Pier 1, and is an apt description of my experience of San Francisco.

"It's the indescribable conglomeration of beauty and ugliness that makes San Francisco a poem without meter, a symphony without harmony, a painting without reason--a city without equal."  
My first view was of Treasure Island with the Bay Bridge

Farther down I walked to the end of  the promenade near the Waterfront Restaurant to look back and enjoy this stunning view of the SF Skyline.  I seemed to have this lovely area all to myself. 

I continued my walk down to this point, near Pier 23, and returned along the other side of Embarcadero which has its own diverse beauty to explore.

Just past this intersection is the Fog City Diner, a San Francisco dating back to the 1920s; shiny metallic front with neon signs, black and white tile facade, and spinning stools at the counter.

Within in sight of the trolley cars and busy traffic I found this idyllic scene...Levi Park, created by the Levi Corporation adjacent to their headquarters to provide a respite for their staff, and a place of beauty for all to enjoy.

Several fountains which are very much like natural streams and waterfalls are scattered through out the park; I stopped to enjoy this one before heading back to where my walk began, near the Ferry Building, another SF landmark for tourists, and a cornucopia of enticing food options for SF locals....I was ready for some refreshment!
SF Ferry Building is still the arrival/departure point for ferries from Sausalito as well as cruise boats for tours of the entire SF Bay.

Once I entered the Ferry Building Pavilion, I knew exactly where I was headed....Ciao Bella, my favorite gelato shop in SF.  As I was deciding what flavor to order, my friendly servers offered to pose for me to get a unique shot of 2 unexpected flavors...what can I say?  Only in San Francisco!  One more reason why I love it  here!
By the way, I chose Raspberry, but next time I am going to try the mixed Berry Rhubarb....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Gardener and a Wedding Planner

People who have known me before I was a wedding planner can attest to the fact that I was an avid flower gardener; many friends I have made in the wedding industry understand that when I am not working at a wedding on the weekends, I spend as much time as possible in my garden.  Today I had fun creating several bouquets from the flowers currently in bloom.

This bouquet includes some of my favorite perennial flowers:  deep purple Clematis, blue Love-in-a-Mist, the small daisy-like Feverfew, and the roses Evelyn, Summertime, Iceberg and Polka.

It was actually my gardening that drew me into wedding planning; because my love for flowers I sought out part time employment with florists in my Palo Alto area, Susan Groves and Laurie Chestnutt.  As I helped Susan and Laurie purchase, design,  deliver and set up florals for weddings throughout the San Francisco Bay area, I saw the amazing amount of work carried out by a multitude of vendors on any wedding day.  I wanted to come alongside the bride, groom, family and guests to help answer the questions I was often asked but could not answer..."where should I be for pre- ceremony photos?"  "What time will the limos be arriving?" etc.  I knew that my background as an Administrator of non profit organizations would provide the basis I needed to coordinate all the activity I saw swirling around me.
 This bouquet includes the Eden, Iceburg, Koriokole, and Summer Wine rose and the perennial Nepeta, or Cat Mint.

 Within a year of realizing my goal of becoming a wedding planner,  I completed  my training with the Association of Certified and Professional Wedding Consultants, developed a business plan, created a logo, business card and website and launched Jean Marks Weddings.  Now after 9 years of assisting couples in the planning and carrying out of their wedding celebrations, as you see from these bouquets, I am still a gardener when I am not working on weddings.

 These roses are  Westerland (the rose in my logo), Climbing Royal Sunset, and Eden, with touches of Nepeta for contrast.

This Spring my garden is overflowing with 18 varieties of Roses and over 20 perennials including Nepeta, Honeysuckle, Feverfew, Hydrangesa and Clematis.  My hydrangeas and dahlias are filled with buds just about to burst open.  I have a hard time not being in my garden more often, but the wedding season has begun, so I try to allow one passion to "spill over" into the other.  Whenever possible I create flower bouquets for my brides to use at their rehearsal, or just to enjoy as a reminder of the beauty and joy that is part of both wedding planning and the wedding celebration itself.

I sometimes think that my love of gardening, and my understanding of the foundational work that goes into establishing and maintaining healthy, strong plants has somehow translated into my role as a nurturing and caring wedding planner.  From years of experience I know how to prepare the soil, solidly establish the plant, provide guidance and nourishment for it from root to bud to bloom, and stand back to enjoy the bouquets which are results of my hard work.

 Similarly, I can use my wedding experience to help couples create a foundation,  plan and fine tune a myriad of details for their wedding day, and then oversee the entire wedding day as I enjoy with my clients the bouquet of lovely memories being created on that day.

I have chosen to have my garden rose, the Westerland, included in my business logo; whenever I give my card to a vendor, client, or potential client, I am reminded of my roots as a gardener...someone who nurtures life, appreciates beauty, and understands the process of establishing a strong foundation, assisting in growth and following through to maturity.
 My business logo incorporates my photo of the Westerland rose (incorporated in the bouquet above) which grows in my Palo Alto garden.

I would love to be able to give each person reading my blog one of these bouquets, but I am thankful that I can share the images with you.  If you would like to come by to smell my roses, gather a bouquet and talk about wedding plans, you are more than welcome!  Happy Spring!