Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Hugh Groman, Caterer

Connect with Hugh at:

For Hugh Groman, business goes beyond the simplistic and flavorful culinary reputation he’s known for. He's worked with the same friendly, professional staff for years and credits them with helping him to achieve success as a premier Bay Area eco-friendly caterer. Oh, and he makes sure to credit his dog, Scratchy, too.

Hugh’s career started in New York at Gramercy Tavern, which gave him the aesthetic sense that he now uses everyday. From there, he did a culinary tour of the U.S. where he staged in many restaurants. Returning to New York, he began a catering business out of his kitchen and opened the Boerum Hill Food Company in Brooklyn, which was an immediate success. Two years later, he moved back home to California, where he now runs his two catering companies: Hugh Groman Catering and Greenleaf Platters.

Hugh loves helping couples plan and simplify their wedding so that they can actually enjoy the day. “If you have great food and drink at your wedding, a beautiful set-up, great staff and a fun group of guests, many of the little extras aren’t always necessary.” Enough said.

Luckily for Hugh, creative freedom is part of almost every job he accepts. Often his clients are so busy they just ask him to suggest a menu – something he’s always happy to do. A balanced and seasonal theme will always get his juices flowing. And one last thing worth mentioning, Hugh constantly tries to be an outstanding member of the community through his commitment to the environment, giving 1% of his proceeds to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Kudos to Hugh, his business practice and his charitable spirit.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Best Man on the Street: Brides, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

Julia's Fashion File: Make or Break, Headband or Tiara !

We all know accessories can make or break an outfit and when you're walking down the isle, this is an especially important thing to keep in mind. The last thing you want is to look like a gaudy mess. Your guests should be transfixed on your beauty and elegance, your husband and the gorgeous gown you've chosen. I've always been one to step outside of the box a little when it comes to jewelry but as a bride, I would stick to a few elegant pieces that I adore.

With today's post I'd like to focus on headbands. They can often be overlooked or misused. You can go very (VERY) wrong when choosing a headband (e.g. tacky rhinestones, too much embellishment, huge princess tiara...eeeeek!) and that could be why some brides steer clear. However, I have seen some gorgeous selections that have topped off the dress, hair, and jewelry beautifully.

When I embarked on my search for a couple perfect headbands I came across this gorgeous Swarovski crystals and Freshwater Pearls tiara (I don't like the term tiara but that's technically what this is classified as) on http://www.bridalfashionmall.com/. I had to sift through a lot of the aforementioned fashion no-no's but this one really stood out to me. It's delicate, sweet and with the right dress, will only embellish your style.

A great alternative to the more traditional style headband is wearing one from ribbon. For example, this one is made from sheer ribbon, is delicate and ornamented gorgeously. Wearing a ribbon option could also help with those pesky headaches that we so often get from wearing a metal or plastic headband.
If and when you decide to choose a headband, my advice to you gorgeous brides is to stay true to your authentic style while keeping in mind that you don't want it to overpower all the other things you've worked so hard at putting together.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Inspiration Point : Macy's Flower Show

Need some floral inspiration? Head to Macy's Union Square starting tomorrow through April 11 and view beautiful floral arrangements made by many local and national floral designers. We can't think of a better way to get a head start on finding ideas for arrangements, bouquets or even floral types. Best part? It's free! And also a great way to welcome Spring.

Vendor Spotlight: Christina Danner, Cake Designer

Christina Danner, Cake Designer

Christina has been baking from as far back as she remembers, learning her mother and grandmother’s recipes. Seven years ago, she baked a cake for her cousin’s baby shower and received rave reviews– that day she decided she to start her own business, Occasional Cakes, as everyone began demanding and ordering her delicious creations!

Christina thinks of her designs as blank canvases. She strives to make the most unique cakes possible, and enjoys the challenge of replicating designs like bridal gown lace, patterns or even designs from invitations. Sometimes all she’s given is a color theme from the bride; it’s then up to her to create something incredible (and delicious).

From where does Christina draw her inspiration? “Much of it comes from my family, which is full of artists and creative people. My husband provides constructive feedback, whether I ask for it or not, and a lot of times he has changed my idea for decorating a cake.” She also credits local vendors, online research, Julia Child, Martha Stewart, and most recently, getting structural ideas by watching Cake Challenges, Ace of Cakes, and Cake Boss. She loves trying new things and continually adds new flavors to her kitchen. By the time you interview her, you may just be the first to dry a new one. And by the way, her cake tastings are free, which is just one example of her self-described, “extreme customer service.” I’ll lick frosting to that!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Allyson Wiley, Photographer

Allyson Whiley, Photographer

Every photographer has their beginnings; Allyson did her graduate work in commercial photography and worked with some fantastic Bay Area clients like George Lucas and Sunset Magazine. So, why weddings? I asked her. “The emotion,” she began, “When I started shooting weddings I was amazed by the creativity you could use to document the day. I'm drawn to human connection and I love showing that in my photographs.”

Another reason she enjoys shooting weddings is because every couple has a story. “By getting to know my clients beforehand and making them feel truly comfortable with the process, I can capture their unique relationship. Maybe they hate posed pictures, maybe they love traveling, food or sports: all of these can be captured. And you give them a great gift; a true representation of their relationship.”

Though weddings take up a majority of Allyson’s time, volunteer assignments are just as close to her heart. Each year she chooses an organization that needs visual representation. Her most memorable project was traveling to Zimbabwe and photographing children in orphanages, a feat that is almost impossible for even photojournalists. Her images were used in a presentation made to the UN to raise awareness for the AIDS pandemic: one of her biggest honors to date.

So what makes Allyson truly stand out in the Bay Area wedding vendor world? Besides from being the type of photographer she’d want to hire on her wedding day, Allyson feels she relates to her clients: she’s a young woman obsessed with fashion, wedding trends, and pop culture (reality tv!). And while she’s worked with many couples over the years, she never ceases to tire of hearing every little detail about her clients’ wedding. It’s really about the agenda for Allyson: capturing the emotion on film.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Torryne Choate, Floral Designer

Torryne Choate, Floral Designer

For Torryne Choate, weddings just never get old. “I tear up each and every time,” she sees the bride in her dress and her reaction to her bouquet. Torryne takes great pleasure in working with each client individually to create a one-of-a-kind look for their big day.

A florist for 19 years, Torryne began as an apprentice and quickly became a staff designer at a small florist in Los Altos, California. She told herself that as long as she enjoyed working with flowers, she would continue. To this day she loves her profession and now has her own company, Birch SF. Her storefront in Hayes Valley is beautiful and modern; design magazines stack the walls, as do unique plants and flowers and gifts. And her adorable Jack Russell terrier may even greet you with a ball if you’re lucky – he’s a ham.

In addition to her daughter, music, fashion, and her friends, what inspires Torryne: “I start each day at the flower market, selecting my product for the day. I liken this daily experience to choosing my paint colors for my work.” She’s a true artist – and you can tell by the way she describes the experience.

One of the most unique jobs she’s ever done happened for a bride that had an upscale farm stand. Torryne created fresh soil mounds running down the center line, adorned with farm-stand fruits, vegetables and rustic flowers. Aaah, the fruits of labor. Check out Torryne’s website for her most original creations.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Best Man on the Street: Lanvin Store Windows, Rue St. Honore, Paris

Vendor Spotlight: Chef Stephanie, Culinary Mistress & Caterer

Chef Stephanie – Culinary Mistress & Caterer

Chef Stephanie may just be the quintessential Bay Area, eco-minded, culinary artist that you read about in magazines. Stephanie has been cooking for 25 years and began catering exclusively 12 years ago after serving as the executive chef at a large, Bay Area catering company. So what makes her tick and why are weddings one of her favorite events to cater?

It's an honor to be part of her clients’ wedding day, but there are other goals behind her cuisine and business. As a San Francisco Certified Green Business, Stephanie has a deep commitment to sustainable business practices, using the finest local, organic and seasonal ingredients - including produce, meat and fish. She also has an extensive background in vegetarian and global cuisines. So, for all you vegetarian couples out there – Chef Stephanie may just be your answer to having guests talking about the food at your wedding for years to come.

“I approach cooking with a balance of positive intention and playful ingenuity,” is how Stephanie describes her methodology when it comes to creating a menu for weddings. She tells me one of her favorite compliments is when a client tells her they’d never liked a certain dish until they tasted her preparation. It's total thrill.

Stephanie credits our beautiful city for keeping her inspired at the cutting board. “My main inspiration is the environment, the seasons, the current bounty and the challenge to do something new with it each day,” and continuing, “I am so lucky to live in the SF Bay Area with all the amazing produce, artisan products, and sustainably-raised animals to work with. And I earn a living making delicious food for appreciative clients. How great is that?”

Pretty great!

Julia's Fashion File: Authentically, Fashionably, Uniquely...Me

I'm not anywhere near ready for marriage and if I'm really honest with myself, I was never one of those little girls dreaming of her wedding. I haven't planned, picked, or conjured up any ideas regarding my future big day. I have however, always known two things: 1) that I would have an absolutely FABULOUS dress and 2) that I wanted something authentic and uniquely me. That can mean a lot of different things to different people and since I myself am not planning a wedding, I look forward to helping you all uncover some of those rare, unique, elegant and simply divine wedding fashion finds that a bride like you will love.

What better way to start than looking at vintage dresses! I just discovered http://www.antiquedress.com/ and while a lot of the designs they sell are completely over the top (although, to each their own...if it inspires you then go for it!) there were a few that had my head twirling with possibilities.

For example, take this fringe, floor length vintage gown in ivory with a low v-back. This is a dress that when its rock star owner rightfully claims it, will take down the house. There's nothing more thrilling than seeing a woman work a dress down the isle that only they can pull off.

Or this Audrey Hepburn bubble dress with a v-back. I LOVE this dress and could actually see myself pulling off a similar style with soft gold jewelry.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to picking a vintage gown that's right for you. If that's a route you'd like to explore than the internet will be a great resource for you. I'll be sure to write about more sites like this in the future so keep an eye out!



Vendor Spotlight: Penelope Jane, Cake Designer

Penelope Jane, Cake Designer

For Penelope Jane, life is sweet. She has been baking professionally for 13 years, starting her career working at 4-star restaurants and 5-star/5-diamond hotels in New York. She moved back to Napa four years ago and now runs her own company, baking about 60 wedding cakes a year.

Her favorite thing about her job: “When I can make the perfect wedding cake look fabulous- that is my reward. And to hear the thank-yous from the bride and groom is even better.”

Aside from her creating unique wedding cakes, Penelope designs all the elopement cakes for Harvest Inn and Solage at Free Reign. She describes them as “little 6-inch cakes for the day, sometimes they're larger. They pick the flavor and I design whatever I want to on it.”

So what keeps her creativity fresh? “Trying to reach my personal goals inspires me. However, the biggest inspiration to me is my husband (also a chef). He keeps me motivated to try new things and think outside the box. We brainstorm together and, because he is so passionate about his cooking, we often talk food.”

What can you can expect from Penelope?
Dedication: She hand-makes and custom designs each delicious creation, using only high-quality local ingredients.
Professionalism: If she feels she can’t execute what the bride and groom want, she won’t bake the cake.
Originality: Her own wedding cake is proof. Surviving on PB&J sandwiches while baking in New York, she decided to “bake homage” to the famous sandwich and create a delicious Peanut Butter & Jelly Wedding Cake for her and her husband’s special day.

And there’s no reason she can’t do that for you!

Will you...?

Welcome to our Bridebound blog!

We’ve hit the ground running and we’re excited to bring our readers unique content about California’s Bay Area wedding planning community. From trends to fashion to venues to DIY ideas to profiling wedding vendors we think are the cat’s meow, we look forward to bringing you all that’s worth mentioning in or around the Bay. If your eyes have spotted something fabulous or your ears have heard about something delicious, give us the scoop at bridebound@gmail.com

XX Meredith & Carlos