April 10, 2014

HONORING LOVED ONES WHO HAVE PASSED




Weddings are one of the most joyful celebrations that bring families together. For some families, it's also a bittersweet reminder that some of their dearest ones will not be present. 



We are always overjoyed for our clients when parents, grandparents, and all of their closest families and friends are healthy and well enough to celebrate with them. For those that have loved ones who have passed already, there are still many ways to honor these special people at your wedding. Here are a few ideas:

1. Save them a seat at the ceremony. You can place a small card on the chair to remember them, with some fresh flowers from your florist.

2. Pick a special reading or song that is significant to your relationship with them, and ask a close friend or family member to read or sing it during the ceremony.

3. Include a photo of them at the wedding. Our couples love incorporating old photos at their weddings, to bring in some history. Whether through a slideshow, album, or framed photos on a table, you can include images of those that have passed who holds a special place in your hearts.

For one of our weddings last year, our bride Wendy had an incredibly close relationship with both of her grandfathers, who have passed. It was important to her that she could feel their presence at the wedding, and to include them in some way. We saved 2 seats at the dinner tables, and placed special items that were significant to them. For one of the seats, we had yams, because her grandfather loved yams. For the other, we had a beautiful orchid strung onto the chair, as her other grandfather loved orchids.




One of the sweetest part of that wedding was watching Wendy's grandmother hold onto her husband's photos throughout the day, even as she was dancing, to be sure that he was included in the festivities. It's so heartwarming to see love in such depth, and is exactly why we love what we do!

Photos above by Augie Chang Photography


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April 7, 2014

TIPS FOR SERVING A FAMILY STYLE DINNER




There are many ways to serve food to your guests at a wedding. The individually plated dinner is a more traditional and formal style that most couples still gravitate towards. However, family style dinners are increasingly popular and here's why...



A reception luncheon or dinner served family style creates a sense of community at a wedding. It reminds people of family celebrations such as Thanksgiving and holiday dinners, where there is a certain level of warmth and intimacy from sharing dishes with loved ones.

We're big fans of the family style dinner for weddings that are in between formal and casual because it encourages more interaction between guests at the table. Rather than focusing on the own plates in front of them, guests pass around the shared plates and engage in more conversations, especially around the menu. Family-style service also allows guests to taste more items, as it is common to have a couple of options for starters, entrees, sides, and desserts.

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel Photography

If you're interested in a family-style menu, we have a few tips for you:

1. Long tables lends itself better for family-style service, but make sure your table decor leaves plenty of space for the shared plates. If you don't have a planner, then you should work directly with your floral designer and caterer on this. Ask your caterer for the approximate size of the serving plates on the tables, and then have your floral designer come up with the right sizes and quantities of arrangements and decor for the table.

2.  Work with your caterer to devise a menu that's best suited for family-style service. Dishes with a lot of sauce, or are generally a bit messy to eat, are harder to be passed around. However, one option to get around that is to have certain dishes be served table side, where servers will go around offering the dish to each guest.

3. Be very strategic with your seating assignments, as it may feel awkward to some guests if they are sharing plates with people whom they do not know very well.

4. With shared plates, there will be a lot of movement during dinner. Therefore, it's best to keep all toasts and entertainments to the beginning, or the end, of dinner. If you try to interrupt dinner with toasts or announcements, it would be very difficult to get everyone's attention.

Have a great time creating your wedding menu, and if you need ideas, visit our Pinterest board here!

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel Photography



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April 2, 2014

KAREN + ORSON'S WEDDING AT BLACK SWAN LAKE



When Karen and Orson first shared their wedding vision with me, it was clear that a wine country wedding was where their hearts were. They were an incredibly laid-back, fun-loving couple with a sense of humor, so we wanted to plan and design not only a gorgeous wedding for them, but one that would be reflective of their personalities and their desire to bring their closest friends and families together for an amazing celebration! 



Though Karen and Orson loved the idea of a wine country wedding, they wanted to find a venue that felt both private and special. I narrowed the list down to just 2 places for them to visit, and as soon as they stepped foot onto the property of Black Swan Lake, a private estate in Calistoga, they knew they had found "the one."

With a wedding date and wedding venue secured, we were ready and excited to begin the rest of the planning. They envisioned a whimsical and festive event that felt classy, yet cozy. Karen loved the idea of a fresh summer color palette with pops of bright here and there, balanced with muted neutrals. This worked out beautifully within the natural setting of Black Swan Lake.

Being big foodies and wine connoisseurs,  the wedding menu was a top priority for Karen and Orson. We brought in Paula Le Duc Fine Catering to devise an amazing, custom menu with them that included some Asian-inspired hors d'oeurves like peking duck bites, an oyster bar for the cocktail hour, and a sumptuous 3 course menu followed by a dessert station, passed ice cream cones, and mini ramen bowls + mini bubble milk tea shots as late night snacks. To add a personal touch, Karen's family shipped over cases of red wine from their family vineyard in France--a deep, rich Chateau Haut Brisson, St. Emilion 2009 that paired wonderfully with the duck confit entree.

Over the course of 13 months, we worked meticulously to plan every aspect of Karen and Orson's wedding. We love working at private estates, but it does require quite a bit of logistical planning. For one, we were not allowed to disclose the venue's address to any guests, so everyone would have to be shuttled in and out of the property. Fortunately, our team is quite the experts when it comes to logistics and production, so we loved the challenge! Gloria and the design team conceptualized a number of brilliant ideas to bring Karen and Orson's vision to live, and we were all extremely excited to see everything come together on their big day.

On the morning of the wedding, we arranged for a luxurious SUV to bring Karen and the ladies from a nearby hotel to Black Swan Lake, where they enjoyed a relaxing morning in the guest house taking turns to have their makeup and hair done by JBeautique's team.


Karen and Orson's first look took place in the shade, under a weeping willow tree next to the lake. Can't really get more romantic than that!


Thirty minutes prior to the ceremony start time, the shuttle buses began arriving with guests. We staggered the arrival time for each bus to prevent a bottleneck at the entryway, which allowed guests to take their time in absorbing the magnificent view in front of them upon their arrival. They picked up their programs and snapped lots of photos while Paula Le Duc's bistro-attired staff tray passed a refreshing minted ice tea drink to welcome each person.


The short, but sweet, ceremony was officiated by one of Karen's best friends. Once pronounced husband and wife, the giddy couple recessed down the aisle as guests tossed small rosemary sprigs on them to celebrate.


The cocktail hour was where we really played things up to make it cozy and comfortable while maintaining the classiness of the overall wedding. In addition to cocktail tables and some vintage furniture for guest seating, we laid down a variety of large, colorful rugs and pillows underneath the weeping willows for guests to truly kick back and relax.


Karen, a collector of cookware and cookbooks, loves to make elaborate meals herself, so we thought it'd be fun to create a small "marketplace" with an assortment of cookware for guests to take home. To ensure that they had something to hold all the goodies, we made escort "totes" in lieu of escort cards, hand-calligraphed by the talented Bianca of Little Miss Press.


After the cocktail hour, we led guests up a short path amongst the vineyards to the dinner area. Long wooden tables with natural linen runners lined up underneath hanging votives, next to the estate pool. Bright, colorful arrangements adorned each dining table, and to encourage a sense of community, guests passed around a menu that was calligraphed on a slate chalkboard. 




As guests dined al fresco, Karen and Orson sneaked away for some gorgeous sunset shots by the vineyards, in one of the vintage cars from the owners of the property.


That evening, guests rocked the dance floor to the performance of live band Big City Revue, while continuing to feast on desserts, cake, and late night snacks. A Photo Booth was available with colorful wigs and googly glasses amongst other fun props for guests to goof around in, and it was such a fantastic party that nearly every guest stayed until the very end!



Immense gratitude to an amazing team who supported us greatly to make this event as beautiful and successful as it was.....

Event Planning + Production: Jubilee Lau Events
Event Design + Styling: Gloria Wong Design
Venue: Private Estate (aka: Black Swan Lake)
Catering: Paula Le Duc Fine Catering
Floral Design: Cherries
Photography: Lisa Lefkowitz Photography
Lighting: Got Light
Calligraphy: Little Miss Press
Paper Goods: Good on Paper
Makeup/Hair: JBeautique
String Quartet: Eloquence String via Bay Music
Band: Big City Revue via Bay Music
Cake: Studio Cake
Transportation: Pure Luxury
Dining Chairs: Blueprint Studio
Linens and Napkins: La Tavola
Ceremony Chairs: Hartmann Studio
Tabletop Rentals and Dining Tables: Classic Party Rentals (Napa)
Vintage Furniture: One True Love
Photo Booth: Snap Yourself!
Cabanas and Iron Lanterns: Wine Country Party Rentals



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