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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!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pebble Beach is a Perfect Destination

   On the way to Pebble Beach I made time to drive beside one of my favorite walks in the world...the coast line of Pacific Grove.  The tiny pink ice plants were in full bloom creating a pink carpet which only lasts a few weeks in the area.  What a warm welcome to the area.

Recently I was fortunate to be one of the wedding planners hosted for 2 nights at the Italian-style Villa, Casa Palermo, which is the most recently added property of the Pebble Beach Resort located on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.  

Because Casa Palermo is often used to host intimate weddings with all the guests staying on property, we as wedding planners were offered the chance to experience what our brides, grooms, their families and guest would experience if they chose to host their wedding at Casa Palermo, or at another of the incredible Pebble Beach venues.

 Upon check in to my suite I found this lovely welcome bag containing cozy Pebble Beach slippers to begin my relaxing 2 days.  This was going to be unforgettable, I could tell!

 The wood burning fireplace stocked with a pre set fire, guaranteed to burn for hours, or the concierge on duty will come to build it up for you again. :)
Just outside the comfortable living room was a private jacuzzi; now this is a luxury item to which I could easily become accustomed!

After a delicious dinner at the Pebble Beach Resort, all of us went back to Casa Palermo for a gourmet presentation of hand made marshmallows, house baked graham crackers, and 3 kinds of dark, rich chocolate...you guessed it, S'mores buffet with outdoor grills for our dessert and bed time snack.  We slept well and awoke to a beautiful ride from Casa Palmera to the Beach Club where breakfast was served!

This window table was my location for a leisurely breakfast getting to know fellow wedding planners, learning how weddings are hosted here at the Beach Club, and watching the sea otters and seals play just below us.  It was incredible!

After Breakfast, the Pebble Beach Resorts Shuttle picked us up at the Beach Club for a professionally guided tour of the Seventeen Mile Drive

The Lone Cypress has become the symbol for Pebble Beach. We were able to enjoy a private tour with stops for savoring the beauty and hearing wonderful stories by our experienced guide about the history and local color of Pebble Beach.

 When we returned to Casa Palermo for lunch, we were invited into the courtyard of the Villa which had been converted into a tea party with pearls and succulents creating a decadent welcome for already beauty sated wedding planners!

After we entered, none of us could sit down until we had taken photos of each and every detail Shannon and her team had put into the decor of the table settings.

 Our linen napkins were the menu...hand drawn and silk screened details from the succulent/pearl design created just for this luncheon. 

The menu included six kinds of tea sandwiches, and at least 10 different tea desserts...plus chilled rose wine and English tea with scones and lemon curd....sigh!

 Once we did stop taking photos, we were able to savor the delicious sandwiches, salads and desserts.  It was by far the nicest tea party I have ever attended.

Thank you so much to the amazing staff at the Pebble Beach Resorts for introducing me to the warm welcome, incomparable beauty and ultimate luxury of a visit to Casa Palmero, Pebble Beach Lodge, Spanish Bay Inn, and the Beach Club.