Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Sonoma Caterers

Amber Belshaw of Sonoma Caterers is fascinating. A formally US- and European-trained chef she also has people skills down to a science. It’s probably why Sonoma Caterers is such a success. While Amber serves as Executive Chef, she still insists on meeting every couple face-to-face and minimizes her number of commitments to devote the utmost attention to each event. She prides herself on making sure that she delivers exactly what couples want on the menu for their Big Day. “We are not platinum or over the top, I specialize in real events for real couples,” she says humbly.

Amber tells us that unique venues can help to spark unique experiences. “If I have power and water I am happy,” she says. “It’s not uncommon to be on a dirt road in a vineyard or on a mountain top. I have twice cracked the oil pan in my car on the roads that we cater. Yes, a four course wine dinner with no water, no power and you have to bring in all of the equipment.” Clearly she has to think of the location when creating a menu, as there are some things that cannot be made without an oven. “I can do a great menu on a BBQ and you would never know it” she admits.

So beyond the fact that you will have fantastic, fresh food at your wedding, Sonoma Caterers are friendly and warm. “We are a company with a green-certified and moral conscience; my staff has options for medical, health and retirement. Happy staff to me equals happy guests. When you work with us you will feel that you planned it yourself. We sit down and talk about the guests wants, likes, dislikes and put those in the event. I really listen. Our style is ‘good food done well’. We are in Sonoma County and do business in that style. I am blessed that I get to spend everyday doing what I love.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spotted: FMN Design

Laura Reoch of Forget Me Not Design has a super unique business: making custom wedding albums. With a double emphasis major in graphic design and photography, Laura tells us she is thrilled that she’s found a way to incorporate both studies in her line of work.

So what does she enjoy the most about her work? “What I love about working with my clients, is that I get to put together photographs from one of the happiest days of their lives. I have the honor to sort through their images and I get to pick and choose my favorites to tell their unique story from their day.” Taking a graphic or logo from invitations and using it is something she loves to do and it seems to set her books apart from her competitors and cookie-cutter templates.

So what can you expect if you work with Laura on creating the album of your wedding dreams? With photography as her background, the quality of the printed work is important to her as well as the binding and overall quality of the book. “I said before starting this business that I only wanted to do it if what I provided my clients was quality. I wanted to hand over a book that was exquisite inside and out. Not only am I confident in the storytelling of my design but the books themselves are simply gorgeous.”

Contact Laura at:
Laura Reoch
Forget Me Not Design

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Just hearing the name, Ritz-Carlton, evokes imagery of grand, classic proportions. And the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco is nothing short of this. Perhaps the ideal venue for your dream wedding? The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco as we know it today was completed after a four-year renovation in 1991. Since then, this Neo-Classical Nob Hill landmark has been impressing tourists, business travelers, celebrities and couples in their 336 luxury guest room hotel. So what it’s like to plan your wedding here?

Bonnie Crail, President of Crail Communications and press representative for The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, tells us that while they host only about 30 weddings a year, they take weddings very seriously saying, “It’s a seamless service experience”. You will also have your own Ritz-Carlton Wedding Specialist who'll coordinate your every need from floral arrangements, china, chairs and entertainment. Food is catered by their infamous kitchen lead by Chef Patrick Callarec, and you will no doubt receive five-star service in every area from staff to the linens you choose. Sound dreamy? It gets better.

Don’t think just because you’re on a budget or hosting a small, intimate wedding that you can’t host your wedding at a grand place like the Ritz-Carlton. Bonnie details us the many options you have here and we love options:

* The Terrace Courtyard works for up to 250 guests, complete with a white tent and palladium-style windows. And the Terrace Room can host a reception up to 120 with dancing and windows that look out onto its courtyard.

* The Ritz-Carlton Ballroom can host anywhere from 50 to 500. All it takes is the magic that the staff makes to move things around decorate accordingly.

* And for truly smaller, intimate ceremonies and receptions, the Consulate and Colonnade rooms host up to 50 while the Plaza and Diplomat rooms host up to 25.

Still thinking these options will break the bank? They might or they might not. Consider a Thursday, Friday or Sunday affair where pricing can be better negotiated. Bonnie tells us they often do Sunday luncheon weddings or Sunday ceremonies followed by a tea party. Get creative!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Sift Cupcakery, Wine Country

No doubt, cupcakes are all the rage these days. Sift Cupcakery was born in 2008 after the owners weren’t able to find their dream cupcakes for their Sonoma wedding. Was delicious and whimsical looking too much to ask? With so many weddings planned in wine country, they opened their doors and voila! They now have 3 locations: Cotati, Napa and Santa Rosa.

Jordan, Wedding Coordinator for Sift, tells us that weddings are truly the reason they exist: “There isn’t any celebration we love more. We love working with the couples from start to finish, learning about their ideas to seeing the final product."

As for their creative inspirations, Jordan says Sift just loves to create. New flavors, new themes, custom artwork on cupcakes-you name it, they will create it. They've been inspired by movies, Martha Stewart, magic and more.

What can you expect from Sift? Fun, whimsical flavored cupcakes perfectly made for your special day. They can match any d├ęcor, theme or monogram for your wedding. They
deliver, set ‘em up, and will just love being a part of your special day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Julia's Fashion File: These Shoes are Made for Walking

Shoes are important. They protect and provide comfort for our feet from the wear and tear of our daily grind, they keep our tootsies warm in the winter months, they showcase our colorful nails in the summer after an expensive pedicure and most importantly, they're an avenue of self expression. From stilettos to sneakers and every size heel in between, there's something for everyone out there...but is there something for every bride?

Being a woman who has exceptionally finicky feet, I've found myself on one too many occasions breaking in to a cold sweat at the thought of having to pick out shoes for any occasion let alone for my hypothetical big day. I'd like to believe that I'm not the only one out there who can't wear a 5 inch heel but regardless of what you desire out of your bridal shoes, I've found the perfect site for all tastes and sizes.

Bridalshoes.com offers a huge assortment of quality and fashionable choices for a wide variety of brides out there. I've come across quite a few cheesy and cheap looking bridal shoes so it was refreshing to come across an abundance of awesome finds on one site, most of which I'd recommend to a friend. The prices are reasonable as well so you won't feel guilty buying your favorite pair and then kicking them off when the dancing starts.

Speaking of recommendations, I picked out a few awesome pairs of heels that if I could sport, I would wear in a heartbeat. Nina Ambert offers a stunning white satin, strappy open-toe sandal with a 3 1/2 heel for brides who want a classy yet look-at-me style.

Chinese Laundry offers a sassy ivory sandal adorned with a classic bow and a few flashy touches for the bride who wants the wow factor.

Alternatively, for those that can't or don't want to walk down the isle in treacherously high heels, they offer flats as well! This was the biggest selling point for me; elegant and flat don't typically belong together in the same sentence but bridalshoes.com offers a huge variety of small heels to flats. It's a dream come true for sensitive feet.

My favorite pair is the kitten heel with crossed toe straps by Coloriffics.

Your dress is the centerpiece but your shoes are going to take you to the alter. Choose wisely, fashionably and comfortably; you shouldn't have to sacrifice one over the other.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Spotted: Glamour Closet, San Francisco

Who doesn't love designer clothes at a good bargain. Why can’t it be like that for wedding dresses? It is - at Glamour Closet! Rick Wee, Co-Founder, explains: “We felt that if you could buy designer goods from the likes of Gucci, Prada, and Coach at designer outlets across the country, why couldn’t you get a similar offering from Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Reem Acra, Amsale and other luxury bridal designers?”

Glamour Closet is an elegant, boutique-like environment with outlet store price tags. They offer an incredible selection of unique, sophisticated and elegant gowns - all off the rack - including couture and well-known designers at 25 - 75% off retail prices. They work closely with designers and salons across the country and receive showroom floor and runway samples and excess inventory on an ongoing basis. So what this means for you is if you go once and don’t quite your dream dress, plan to go a few other times. No appointments are necessary, they provide one-on-one expert consultation with their style consultants, and luckily, photos are allowed!

So in between those 4am wake-up-calls to those one-day-only sample sales, visit Glamour Closet. It's one of the only ways to save money on your wedding without sacrificing designer quality or the shopping experience itself. They even like to say, “It’s a sample sale everyday!”

Glamour Closet
114 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Tel. (415) 391-1515

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Todd Parsons, Photographer

Todd Parsons tells us about getting his head start to becoming a photographer: “When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot. To make friends, I learned quickly to get a handle on any situation, read people and make them feel relaxed and comfortable. I've studied how to allow people to be themselves my whole life. It was the perfect apprenticeship on the way to becoming a photographer."

When we asked him ‘why weddings?’ he tells us, “I remember when the lightening bolt struck. I was at a friend's wedding, the ‘I want to do this’ moment. The energy, the family, the love. Weddings bring out so many emotions and they are a fascinating experience. I have been behind the camera many times with a tear streaking down; I can't help but sometimes getting wrapped up in it all.”

Todd tells us he looks at work from other photographers whom he respects and admires for inspiration. He loves the outdoors and is equally fascinated with urban landscape. He also stresses that constant education is critical explaining, “Technology is changing so fast, and photographers have to stay ahead of the curve. I attend several workshops a year, sometimes wedding related, but most of the time not. Yet I find applying knowledge learned from photographing landscapes or action sports leads to wonderful wedding images.”

Why Todd? “My clients can expect 100% satisfaction, professionalism and a good-natured human being. Style is important but so is a personal connection with each other. I let my brides know that, ‘Hey, I've got it covered. Of all the things you're going to worry about, photography isn't one of them.’ Grooms? Just buy them a beer and they're good.”
To view more of Todd’s beautiful work, visit:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Scene & Heard: Modern Bridal Faire at the Ritz-Carlton

Ladies, for inspiration and to perhaps meet a couple of your dream vendors face-to-face, head down to the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco for Modern Bridal's Modern Luxury Weddings bridal faire a week from today. Yes, it will be over the top (Monique Lhullier and Vera Wang dresses will be on the bridal runway), but these luxury-type bridal faires are a great way to see things you like and even get creative ideas for your Big Day. Bring a note pad!

For more information, visit www.modernluxuryweddings.com or, if you've made up your pretty li'l mind already and just needed a reminder, RSVP at attending@modernbridal.com.

Modern Bridal Fair
Tickets: $20 (a steal for such an event)
Sunday, August 15
Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
600 Stockton Street

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scene & Heard: Vera Wang Trunk Show at Bridal Galleria

No doubt, Bridal Galleria is fabulously known for their trunk shows and this weekend begs a mention. Beginning yesterday, Vera Wang dresses are adorning their racks beginning at $2500. Of course, not all of us can afford such a price tag, but if you can, head down there stat. Or heck, go and oogle and get ideas for styles and trends as Vera clearly reigns. Call first for an appointment or book online at http://www.bridalgalleria.com/Contact.htm.

Bridal Galleria

3 Embarcadero Ctr.
Lobby Level
San Francisco, CA 94111

Friday, 10-6
Saturday, 10-5
Sunday, 11-5

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Sarah Lindsay Cakes

Ever since she began baking sugar cookies with her Grandma for Christmas, Sarah's love of baking only grew. After a semester abroad exploring all things culinary and pastry, she attended Tante Marie’s Professional Culinary Program and stayed on to tackle their infamous Professional Baking and Pastry Program. And it was after stints at Restaurant Lulu and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant, where she honed in on her dessert making skills, that Sarah Lindsay Cakes was born.

About weddings Sarah says, “I enjoy creating whimsical, unusual requests. I have fun exploring ideas with brides and grooms and coming up with sketches. I call it “cakestorming”. I also appreciate the creative aspect of baking; my favorite – carving the cakes.” Her style: elegant and classic cakes, as well as cakes full of imagination.

Her inspiration? “Nature all around me inspires me. I also love reading cake books by such amazing cake artists such as Collette Peters, Debbie Brown, Margaret Braun and Toba Garrett. The zoo and aquariums; and I am an avid snorkeler and aquatic or ocean themed cakes excite me.”

Why Sarah for the cake of your dreams? Besides excellent customer service and attention to detail, Sarah uses only high-quality ingredients: Belgian and Valhrona cocoa, Madagascar vanilla beans, and Swiss fondant. Plus, Sarah will personally bake and design your cake as well as make sure every ounce of butter cream is whipped and smoothed on your cake to perfection.

Contact her at http://www.sarahlindsaycakes.com/

Monday, August 2, 2010

Planner on Patrol: Ring on Fire

While many prefer to go the tried-and-true route of a traditional engagement ring, there’s also the demand for more avant-garde designs. Refinery 29 has assembled twenty beautiful rings that go beyond the usual expectations for some stunningly unique results. Perfect for engagements, weddings and commitment ceremonies that wander off the beaten path: http://www.refinery29.com/engagement-rings-youll-love-wedding-bands.php