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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lake Tahoe Wedding, Sharon and Jason

Sign at the entrance to Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, near Truckee, California

Working with couples from across the country to plan their weddings here in California is not unusual for me, but it is seldom that I plan a wedding for a couple living across the world!

Jason and Sharon are just such a couple! Since they both live and work in Hong Kong, they hired me in November of 2011 to help them select a venue and plan the details for their September 2012 wedding celebration here in California.

As Sharon and Jason described the naturally beautiful, family-reunion type of resort setting they imagined for both the guest lodging and wedding venue, I was able to enthusiastically recommend the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe.
(My strong recommendation was based on the Wedding Planner FAM, or FAMiliarization Trip I was invited to last Fall where I was introduced to the world-class service and amazing beauty of RCLT.)

After speaking with Catering Sales Manager Andrea Daly several times from Hong Kong to discuss the details for their wedding, Jason and Sharon booked the venue, sight-unseen, in early January.

This view greets guests as they enter the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe for the first time. The massive stone fireplace is made of stones hewn directly from the mountains surrounding the hotel; the stairs lead up to the cozy living room/lobby which is definitely the hub of the hotel.

Just last week I was able to meet Sharon and Jason in Truckee when they flew in for just 3 days for their first visit to their wedding venue, The Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe! Finally they had a chance to personally experience the location where they will welcome their 120 guests, who will be traveling to California from six continents to celebrate Sharon and Jason's wedding.

Here Sharon and Jason are seeing for the first time where wedding ceremonies are hosted at RCLT. Andrea Daly and Erica Henninnger were wonderful hostesses pointing out and describing the venues from which Sharon and Jason could choose for the wedding ceremony, cocktails, dinner, dancing and s'mores afterglow.

The Fireside Terrace will be the location for cocktails after the ceremony in the Meadow; in September there will be green instead of white in the background, but seeing it with snow was a nice treat.

As one of the many surprises during the visit to the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Jason and Sharon were greeted with Gummy Bears and an assortment of house-made cookies during our hotel tour. Many of the surprises were put in place because I secretly wrote Jason's mother to ask what special treats might make Jason and Sharon feel particularly welcome during their visit here; one of the answers was Gummy Bears which I brought up for the occasion!

The weather could not have been more beautiful for our visit to the Lake Tahoe area; here we are about to board the gondola from Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe down to North Star ski resort where we would meet with Brett Sneed for a tour of potential rehearsal dinner locations.

Brett Sneed, Sales Manager at Northstar Resort, shows Jason and Sharon the Overlook venue site where they might host a casual barbecue the evening before the wedding for their family and friends.

When a couple from Hong Kong has a chance for a snowball fight, there is absolutely no way to stop them...Sharon had only seen snow a few times before this trip; since Jason grew up in New York state, he thought he had an advantage.

However, once Sharon got the adrenalin rush from being hit full force with a snowball, she was ready to fight in earnest! This snow drift was outside the hotel, on our way to the Gondola and was just too tempting to pass up. I stayed dry to take photos of course!

River Grill could be a venue for Sharon and Jason's rehearsal dinner; it is located directly on the Truckee River, just where it flows into Lake Tahoe.
-After our visit to Northstar Resort, we were picked up by Tae Kim of
North Tahoe Executive Shuttle, for a personal tour of the northern part of Lake Tahoe. I had set up appointments with other potential rehearsal dinner venues, and asked Tae to provide the transportation we would need; as we traveled together that afternoon, Tae acquainted us with both the geography and the history of this part of Lake Tahoe, which are fascinating.

We also visited Gar Wood on Lake Tahoe as another possible rehearsal dinner location; it's upstairs banquet room with floor to ceiling windows and lovely deck provide amazing views of Lake Tahoe.

Ahhhh, I love the Living Room at Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe!

We used several of the cozy spaces in the Living Room at the hotel for the many meetings which I had scheduled during our 2 whirlwind days together. Here Jason, Sharon and I met with our florist, photographer, the hotel's Audio Visual director, Andrea Daly and Erica Henninger, the Catering Sales Managers for RCLT, as well as the Director of Restaurants, the Food and Beverage Director, the Spa Sales Manager, the Director of Meetings and Special Events, and even the General Manager of the entire hotel.

When the staff at the RCLT found out that a couple living in Hong Kong had booked their wedding at the RCLT, sight unseen, the response was overwhelming. Each Department Head made it a point to personally welcome and congratulate Sharon and Jason during this their first visit to their wedding venue.

I was on hand at the Ritz Carlton to say goodbye to Jason and Sharon as they headed back to the Reno airport; we will see each other again this summer when they make one last pre-wedding trip to the US for their menu tasting with the Ritz Carlton. I returned home to Palo Alto where I am busy following up on planning decisions that were made during this visit, and preparing a report for our next Skype call after they return to Hong Kong.

I am thoroughly enjoying this across-the-world wedding planning adventure, and am grateful that Jason and Sharon have trusted me to be their US representative and partner here in California. I am honored and excited to be planning this international celebration of their commitment to each other.

Many thanks to the amazing staff at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, to Brett Sneed Sales Manager at Northstar for her gracious tour of the rehearsal dinner venues there, and to Tae Kim of North Tahoe Executive Shuttle. Each of you provided truly 5 star service and sincere hospitality to Sharon, Jason and me during our visit to the North Lake Tahoe area.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rosewood Sand Hill FAM trip

There are some wonderful educational and social opportunities folded into the career of a wedding planner, and one the nicest ones is called a "FAM" trip. "FAM" is an abbreviation used for a "FAMiliarization visit" to a wedding venue where the management team want to provide planners with a first-hand experience of how they would host a wedding celebration at their location. This is where the educational and the social parts of the FAM come together...we as wedding professionals are treated like wedding guests and pampered the way our clients and their guests would be during a wedding weekend.

Therefore, attending a FAM event usually involves enjoying gourmet meals, luxury accommodations, superb decor, the best amenities the hotel can offer, relaxed time to socialize, and of course the necessity of experiencing the spa services! I am sure you are imagining what we say to each other...."tough work, but somebody has to do it!" Yes, and I am so grateful to be one of the hard-working planners given these assignments occasionally! :)

I was grateful to enjoy the FAM trip to Rosewood Sand Hill with several of my closest friends in the wedding profession. Tony White, Morgan Doan, Jubilee Lau and I have been colleagues as independent planners for over 8 years now. We are usually the ones enabling our clients and their guests to relax and enjoy a cocktail with friends, but in this situation we are the guests being served. We savored every moment of it!

Recently I was privileged to be among a dozen or so planners invited to spend a day and night at the beautiful Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park; we were each treated to a luxurious stay in one of the deluxe king guest rooms, an off-site wine tasting/lunch at the newly opened AutoVino, a spa treatment in the Rosewood Sense Spa, an over-the top dinner in the Rosewood Ballroom, followed by a dessert buffet with cordials and coffee in the Presidential Suite. Wow!

Vero Suh was with us during the dinner portion of the FAM to capture images of the elegance we experienced; I have included a few of her fantastic images, but please take a look at her blog for a more complete visual feast of what Rosewood Sand Hill can provide for a wedding or event hosted at their lovely venue.

Dinner was a work of art from the elaborate table setting to the incredible flavors and presentation of the 4-course meal to the multi-level Dessert Buffet served for us in the Presidential Villa.

The Dessert Buffet was as delicious as it was beautiful...I was there late into the evening with my colleagues doing a bit of personal research on dessert/after dinner cordial pairing!

Below are a few photos taken during our visit to Rosewood by my friend Duncan Reyes, who is both an excellent photographer and wedding planner; I am pleased to say I was too busy relaxing to keep up with photo coverage of our non-stop activities!

The Rosewood Sand Hill pool, surrounded by the guest cottages, as seen from the Veranda just off the Library/Bar on the lobby level at Rosewood.

This lovely fountain is at the center of the circular drive (below) which is the starting point for guests as they arrive at Rosewood Sand Hill.

I want to thank the Rosewood Sand Hill for providing me with a personal taste of the luxury they provide on a regular basis for guests at their resort. I have seldom felt so pampered and cared for as I did during my stay at Rosewood. I am now very "FAM"iliar with exactly how they will serve any wedding couple who chooses to host their celebration at Rosewood Sand Hill. It was a magical visit, and I hope to be with you again soon, either as helping to plan and execute a wedding for one of my couples, or perhaps I will book a luxurious over-night stay with my own groom of 30 years! Either way, I will be back!

Our fabulous hosts for the FAM visit to Rosewood Sand Hill and their sponsor team include:

Clenard, Catering Sales Manager
Todd Outhouse, Catering Sales Manager
Michael Casey, Managing Director
Executive Chef, Peter Rudolph
Executive Pastry Chef, Melisa Root
Sense Spa at Rosewood Sand Hill
Madera Restaurant
Lone Star Limousine
Classic Party Rentals
SWANK Audio Visual