Archive for June, 2012

I’m still not over the loss of my dog Sidney.  It’s been over a year and my heart is still broken.  I knew this would happen, I said it for years, that I would be devastated when I lost her – and I was.  She was 16-years-old, the dog I adopted in Bloomington from the pound while I was in college.  She weathered many, many years of busy, busy times with me and never complained once.  She died of cancer after holding on as long as she could for me, it was the saddest day of my life.

Dogs teach us so much about what’s important in life, like: you never get too old to play, showing unconditional love (always, no matter what) comes back two-fold, it never hurts to beg (and you almost always get what you want when you do)…they are full of love and optimism and happiness and give us so much more than they take.

I’ve been getting many little messages from the Universe about doggies lately so I thought I’d include all of them in a post today…

The first two doggies pictured above are family members to two dear friends of mine.  Sasha, the white cutie lives in Dayton in a beautiful spot and is spoiled rotten, as he should be. He’s five and his mom just learned he has cancer.  Wiener Schnitzel just had a lump removed via surgery and her mom is helping her recover.  I think it’s especially hard when your dog is sick because they don’t show their pain or weakness, at least mine didn’t.  I knew she was holding on for me right up until the end because when I told her she could go she did.  They aren’t cranky, they don’t yell…  I’m sending mad love to Sasha and Wiener Schnitzel today and to their mommies too.

The last two dogs teach us so much about tolerance, acceptance, courage and kindness.  That’s Marshall, the dog behind The Marshall Movement.  He’s a miracle dog that was rescued just in time by a woman named Cyndi and together they are doing big work to share his story and message.

The Marshall Movement mission, straight from the website:

“The Marshall Movement serves to carry a universal message of acceptance, tolerance, and kindness. Our goal is to help children recognize, prevent, and speak up when experiencing or witnessing tough social issues such as bullying, peer pressure, abuse, or animal cruelty. The Marshall Movement, with the use of thought-provoking character building programs and activities, strives to provide children with the strength and path to find their own voice. We inspire them to be empowered.”

The last dog is a cutie that I happened upon last year while I was at team camp with my cycling team.  We all thought the dog’s mom was just a fashionista and wanted her cutie to follow suit but then we learned that the dog has light-sensitive eyes so the Doggles, especially fit for her, were more for protection than style.  I’ve kept this photo for many months and the story of this dog and her devoted mother touched my heart.  There isn’t anything most of us wouldn’t do for our dogs.

Whether you are a dog lover or not lessons can be learned from our furry friends, lessons about life and what’s important.  Love. Courage. Tolerance.

Please “Like” The Marshall Movement facebook page, share the loooove, and think about helping with Marshall’s mission in your own special way.

I still think I will have another dog someday, when I slow down a bit (when, oh when will that ever be?).  I want a mini Yorkie that I can fit in my purse and take with me everywhere I go…her name will be Papillon.

Until then…wishing you lots of love, lust, butterflies & puppy kisses!



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Today, and everyday, I’m crushing on SKULLS!  I got this great pink skull ring from my dear friend Mo for my birthday this year.  It’s one of the many fab finds she has gotten from Favor on Polk Street in San Francisco, a store full of really, really cute things.  This ring comes from the Hotcakes Design Studio just above Favor where everything is made in San Francisco – by hand!  You can find other hand cast resin rings here, be sure to check out their facebook page too!

I’m happily adding this crushably cool skull ring to my collection…oooo laaa laaa!

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“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

— L. Frank Baum from The Wizard of Oz

So here’s the thing, for years and years I’ve wanted to write a book called “Memoirs of a Wedding Planner.”  It’s really good stuff, the stuff that happens behind-the-scenes and most people think being a wedding planner is so glamorous.  I feel sure it would be a good read.  Thought I’d start with this post and a few quips about this past weekend – the only problem is, like the Wizard, I’d like for my clients to think none of this happened and that things went according to plan, well…actually, better than according to plan.

I lost count of the number of times guests came up to me during the weekend and complimented me for the job I was doing.  And, many of them said that they were impressed with how “calm” I was.  This struck me as odd the first time I heard it and I joked back by saying that it was easy to be calm because I wasn’t the one getting married on Saturday.  By the time I’d heard it a handful of times I began to wonder what exposure these guests had had to wedding planners.  Were they all frantic, crazies who looked like they weren’t holding it together?  If so, shame on them!

The trick is to remain calm at all times, even when being calm seems like the craziest thing you can possibly do.  I wonder if I always looked as calm as I do now.  It seems like everything that could have possibly gone wrong at a wedding over the years has – I’m weathered.  And, it’s true, I’m not the one getting married, it’s much easier to plan for someone else.

Sometimes I do lose my cool.  I did this weekend, for a split second.  I have a love-hate relationship with form versus function.  Sometimes practical things aren’t the most beautiful, so shoot me.  Brighter lighting so that the musicians can read their music or dim beautiful light that makes the room glow and the guests feel cozy?  I will opt for blind musicians every single time and sometimes when posed with this option on the spot I will be a tad bit out-of-character cranky and NOT CALM about it.

Here’s the skinny about my latest wedding, the good stuff…

I drove approximately 620 miles from Sausalito to Lake County and back this weekend, I must have circled the actual lake about 100 times and I can honestly say it is one big, beautiful county (and lake)!  The Dollar Store in Lakeport does NOT carry bed sheets or linens, I’m making a mental note for the next time I’m in a pinch for such things.  If you find yourself looking for an AT&T “sweet spot” at Laujor Estate Winery to make a special call to your boyfriend on his birthday you can find the spot between the tractor and the porta potty…assuming both are still there when you go.  (Ask Cheryl, she’ll point you in the right direction.)  5 oz Tulip Sundae Glasses really are not good for anything but 5 oz sundaes, and especially not perfect for ceviche at a Black tie reception.  Dresses with pockets are essential.  Forgetting a mic stand is costly, to the tune of 4 more hours (and many more miles) in the car when you’d really rather not.  “Little Butterflies” miss buses sometimes and chefs pout if you promise them a hug and don’t pay up – thank you Chef Mario, for proving that I CAN eat peppers again without getting heartburn!  (A hug for you the next time I see you, I PROMISE.)  I committed shoe-icide over and over and over again this weekend, my feet are still recovering.  I didn’t shower for two days because I opted for sleep instead…and the list goes on and on.

I spent the weekend behind the curtain, don’t mind me…I was the one tugging, pulling, pushing the buttons and levers and doing it with finesse and calmness – it wasn’t super glamorous but there’s a tremendous amount of pride and happiness that comes with being the “Wizard” and behind the curtain is exactly where I love to be!

I’m breathing the biggest sigh of relief today, the wedding is behind me and everything went (nearly) perfectly.  And most of all, my clients are happy and THEY ARE MARRIED!

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“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” ~ George Sands

Forgive me past couples for saying this, I think I say it at every wedding but it’s true…this was one of my very favorite weddings of all time.  Sure I’ve helped with weddings that haven’t been my favorite, things weren’t smooth, the couple didn’t sync, there was a lot of stress involved, etc., etc., etc. but in terms of all of the things I could be doing during my time on the planet, helping someone plan their wedding and then being there for them on the day-of is one of the best feelings in the whole Universe.  Today, I am on top of the podium with this one and feeling so incredibly proud of the part I played to help Jon and Christian realize the plans that they have been working so hard on to celebrate their love for each other.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the day…

Our venue was absolutely, ridiculously, unbelievably spectacular today.  Ceago Vinegarden located in Nice, CA (…isn’t that nice?) in Lake County was host to our Black tie ceremony and reception for about 120 guests.  Guests were welcomed with white wine and cheese as they mingled before the ceremony.  They took their seats in the courtyard looking out on the lake and consumed by the fragrant lavender. The thoughtfully prepared ceremony, led by a dear friend, was sealed with personal vows and the couple led guests through the lavender field while being serenaded by Kim Kuzma’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

It was a night filled with string music, bubbles and sharp wines paired perfectly with the most delicious passed and station-ed food prepared by Aimee and Peter of Devoted Catering.  The sky was clear and the dippers were as bold as I can ever remember.  The cake, a stunning masterpiece made by Gabby of Cake Coquette, was cut carefully and served while the wedding party took turns toasting the couple.

It was, and always will be, one of my very favorite wedding days (errr..weekends), EVER!

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This should come as no surprise: I LOVE CAKE, and the WEDDING CAKE is one of my all-time favorite parts of the day!  So, when Jon and Christian told me that they wanted a special cake I knew just the girl to call.  That’s Gabrielle Feuersinger of Cake Coquette in San Francisco with the A-MAZING cake that she designed and baked for us today!  Gabby has been baking for ten years and her cakes have been featured in countless publications but most importantly, her cake is absolutely delicious!

This one almost stole the show.  You might remember my post “Fancy Pants Cake Tasting :: Crushing on Gabby” back in February.  We visited Gabby in her studio for a cake tasting.  The boys settled on a design they loved, it was Gabby’s wedding cake that she made for herself on her wedding day – only the colors of ours would be chocolate brown and purples/lavenders.

I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with this cake genius.  She paid close attention to detail during our tasting and carefully sketched out the design, she suggested yummy flavors that the boys love and she showed up today (after 2+ hours of driving from SF) cool as a cucumber and assembled her masterpiece, level and all, in minutes.

Gabby’s specialty is wedding cakes, as you can plainly see, but she has experience working with Cake Divas in LA and she can make ANYTHING out of cake for your next special event!  Reach out to her and tell her I sent you!

Wishing you lots of love, lust, butterflies…AND CAKE!


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Practice makes perfect!  Today we woke up to sunshine streaming into our rooms, I’ve never been so happy to see blue skies and sunshine.  It’s going to be a perfect day for a wedding!  And, I have my Bossy Pants on – that’s me running through the ceremony with Steven and Kim when I landed on the scene at Ceago Vinegarden this morning.  The mist and cool temps have been kind to the lavender.  A football field size area of lavender covers the grounds, our canvas for the ceremony/reception; it is in full bloom, standing tall in all its glory and the beautiful bouquet is permeating the air with an intoxicating sweet, sweet smell of love.

After the rehearsal, the boys met their wedding party on a private beach hidden on the property for a yummy lunch in the sun provided by Chick le Chef.  They feasted on crab cakes, noodle salad, couscous and sweet treats and washed it all down with crispy white wine from Ceago.


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I’ve said this for years: “if you don’t have a rain plan for your (outdoor) wedding it will likely rain, it’s Murphy’s Law…” former brides, chime in here…back me up. I’ve done more than 120 weddings in the last ten years and I’ve never, EVER, not had a rain plan – until today.

In the many, many months of planning this Lake County wedding the idea of possible rain in June never came up, because it NEVER (well, now we can say, almost never) rains in June in Lake County.  At each and every stop I made today to pick up florals, boxed lunches and check on rentals, everyone said the same thing to me, that they couldn’t believe the weather.  Rain in June, never.

Well, it rained in June at our beautiful dinner atop the valley at Laujor Estate Winery and we made the most of it.  And, the irony of the big, bold, beautiful RAINBOW that came out just before dinner for Jon and Christian was not lost on any of us as we took full advantage of the moment and captured many photographs of Mother Nature’s gift – or mockery.

The party had to go on, and it did.  We moved the tables and chairs THREE TIMES because the weather toyed with us throughout the day and I led a team of optimists until we just couldn’t deny the heavy, ominous clouds in the distance.  Then the mist began.  The light was a photographer’s dream, and the mist gave everyone a glow – I gave in, finally, to not having any control over the plan.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from tonight…

Proof that it WAS sunny when the boys arrived, we set up tables covered in a khaki colored bengaline from Classic Party Rentals in Napa and accented these with mossy green napkins.  The backdrop of the valley and vineyard was so spectacular that we didn’t want to upstage it.  Simple but elegant florals in shades of the deepest purple to the lightest lavender by Miss Tina at Middletown Florist & Gifts sat neatly in square vases in the center of each guest table.  The estate with its outrageous panoramic views and infinity pool welcomed guests and the three-course meal was artfully prepared and carefully served by Julie and her team at Chick le Chef in Hidden Valley.

Guests were entertained by Kim Kuzma‘s sassy stage presence and sultry pop voice until late into the night – rain, what rain?  And they were sent away with sweet treats of Red Velvet Cupcakes from Kara’s in San Francisco, the couple’s favorite!

It was a spectacular night before the big night and the forecast for tomorrow says sunshine and mild temps so I’m a happy, happy girl.


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