Thursday, December 30, 2010

Julia's Fashion File: Tamra-Marie Artistry, Bay Area Makeup Artist

Putting your best face forward takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to your wedding day. Your best is no longer “best” enough when you’re walking down the isle, bouquet in hand and train tumbling behind you. All eyes are on you; the most important woman in the room. You’re seeking perfection. Gorgeously coiffed hair is a big piece of the beauty puzzle but your makeup is the crowning glory. Your face is the first thing guests are going to lay their congratulatory eyes on and you can’t just blindly trust anyone to do it the way you envision. Tamra-Marie Artistry may be the inventive hands and long lashes you're looking to lean on.

Having been creatively inspired at a very young age, Tamra-Marie always knew she was artistically inclined. “I would color everything; my doll’s faces, the walls, coloring books – you name it.” However, it wasn’t until later in life that she realized her true passion lay behind glitter and the soft hair of a contoured shadow brush. “After growing completely bored with my cubicle life I leaped in to the creative art world where I could color beyond the lines. Makeup has no rules…it transforms us.”

Drawing inspiration from fashion, art, photography and cinema, Tamra-Marie strives to strike the perfect balance between natural and over-the-top; it can be challenging to find a pallet that stands out without looking heavy. “Makeup should be clean and add fresh elegance to the bride. My signature is to give her an understated look with a pop!” This motto is exactly why so many brides are turning to her; they know they’re going to walk away looking exactly like they dreamed of as a little girl. While we all know that striving for bridal perfection involves much more than the eye shadow swept across your lid, it’s important to recognize its significance. When your big day finally arrives and everyone’s attention is on you, there’s no better feeling than knowing their gaze has fallen on perfectly lined lips, luscious lashes and high cheekbones brushed with rouge. Your 10 year-old self would be tickled pink.

To read another fun article Tamra-Marie was featured in recently, click here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Anne Appleman, Sonoma Wedding Florist

Sonoma florist Anne Appleman has a wonderful history, starting with designing for corporate lobbies, of all places. Event work soon followed. She was living in a small apartment in San Francisco and designing out of the back of her '54 Chevy Suburban and business began to outgrow her surroundings. She moved to Sonoma with the hopes of establishing a name there, but continued to commute to pay the rent. She moved into her current space in Sonoma about 15 years ago. Reluctant to commit to retail, it seemed the only way to establish herself in a new place. She also saw her shop as a place where people could see and touch all of the amazing floral materials she has that are being produced locally and abroad. Her abilities in design increased tremendously as a result.

We asked Anne what she likes about designing for weddings. “I really like meeting brides. They're so excited and they usually have great ideas about what they want or how they want their big day to feel. Interpreting that and ‘getting it’ is a great feeling.” Anne says her ideas come from others, mostly. She looks at all kinds of things and in all kinds of places to see what other people are doing. Sometimes she copies design ideas and sometimes she improves on ones she’s seen. She explains that certain clients truly challenge her. For example, themes like cartoons or places are always a fun challenge for her. She also tells us her sales floor is great for inspiration: she can choose from a vast array of materials to create all kinds of wonderful designs on the spot.

What can you expect when working with Anne? “Once I've met with a bride and I've had the opportunity to think about their wedding and go through any swatches, photos of materials and designs, I invite them back to the shop to approve the designs. I don't like people to be surprised unless they want to be. I have the advantage of having a store full of flowers.” Essentially, you get a wonderful test run early on with Anne: she’ll pull a bouquet for you to see on the spot. And you get a veteran floral designer who’ll be by your side much like a friend throughout the planning and creative process. Anne is absolutely, positively Bridebound approved.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Oui Cater, Sonoma Wedding Caterer

We spoke with Randi Kauppi Oui Cater in Sonoma and she’s pretty fabulous. Hailing from family of foodies, Randi was raised around a big table where every night was spent at home at the dinner table. She remembers her first job at her favorite Italian restaurant in Philidelphia where she washed spinach, made gelato and other tricks of the trade for no money- but it paid off. Ironically, Oui Cater was started by her mom and sister in 1978. Together, her sister, a chef from the Culinary Academy and San Francisco and protégé of renowned French chef, Yvonne Boulleray, and mom, an old fashion home economist, opened Oui Cater. They rented a kitchen at Rodney Strong winery and Yvonne served as their consultant for many years. Dinners were commonly French themed and held in the barrel room. With a background in art design and education, Randi joined in 1981, excited to share her equal passion for food and wine with her family. Eventually, her mom began restoring Victorians in Geyserville as bed-n-breakfasts full-time and her sister moved on so Randi took over the business. 10 years ago, her husband Randall, a produce industry expert, joined her.

Randi tells us she loves creating menus and food for weddings. Doing about 20 weddings a year, she only does on per day, which means you get her all to yourself. You also get her for the duration of your planning and her experience makes her more than just a caterer, but a mentor, too. You’ll also get delicious food cooked with total love. She says her true rewards, besides watching people enjoy her food, is the letters that come after the weddings.

As for creative inspirations, Randi says, “My husband says I should have been a chemist!” Because they have no single working recipe, she and Randall customize and tailer all menus using seasonal and local foods. She calls her cuisine straightforward and fresh. Not a fan of heavy sauces and arranged plates, Oui Cater's food is meant for enjoying. This lovely husband and wife team love experimenting with ethnic cuisine and welcome any challenges thrown their way, saying they often do renditions of ethnic dishes. The response? "Always positive!" We love it. Totally Bridebound approved.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Michelle Walker, San Francisco Wedding Photographer

Ever since Michelle Walker was a little girl bouncing on her Papa’s knee looking at his beautiful photography, she knew she wanted to follow in his footsteps. So many years later, she enrolled in San Francisco’s Academy of Art school for photography and in her final semester, assisted a wedding photojournalist. It was love at first snap for her. While Michelle feels fortunate to do travel photography on her time off from weddings, weddings are the real icing on the cake for her.

“I love the raw emotion,” she tells us, “and I get to spend the BEST day with people—brides are excited, nervous,'s awesome to capture those real emotions.” We asked her what inspires her and keeps her fresh and she tells us she just started a photo project called The 100andOne Project, created to keep her photography just that. It’s a pure, simple, elegant way to photograph portraits. 100 days only, one set, one prop and one light. Her goal is to get 100 different sessions and potentially turning it into a book.

So why do we love Michelle and her images? Beyond the fact that she’s delightful and witty, you can expect gorgeous, relaxed and fun photography of your Big Day. Her goal is to capture the emotions of the day rather than just a record of who was there and what events took place—she photographs in an unobtrusive style giving you the feeling that she wasn’t even there. And that’s kina what you want when you have a room full of guests swarming around you in awe.

Visit to view her entire portfolio.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Scene & Heard: Fleur De Lisa Cakes on TV!

One of our favorite Wine Country cake designers, Lisa Kincaid of Fleur de Lisa Cakes , will be featured tomorrow evening on a show called Fabulous Cakes featured on The Learning Channel. Set your DVRs or sit down and oogle at 7pm PST (HD) or 10pm PST (SD). Yum, we can't WAIT. And we will be featuring Fleur de Lisa in the coming weeks so watch out!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Butter Love Bakeshop, San Francisco

Baking is in the blood of San Francisco based baker Esa Yonn-Brown of Butter Love Bakeshop. Formerly a pastry chef, she took a low-demanding but well-paying job as a data processor so she could spend time with her newborn daughter. While the benefits couldn’t be beat, her soul craved to be in the kitchen, not in a computer chair, so she began to feed her soul through baking cakes and treats on the side. Eventually, she began baking pies. Esa grew up eating pie; her mother has mastered it. Her parents were transplants to the city; they met while working in a restaurant and were both inspired by the food movement taking place in the '70's. Everything in their house was made from scratch, their walls decorated with cookbooks high and low. Food was literally family.

So a question remained: why couldn’t she find the perfect pie in San Francisco? “Every time I ordered pie I compared it to my mother's and I was never satisfied, so I started practicing making it myself. My mom showed me her tricks and I ran with it. It took a few years to really master it. Butter Love Bakeshop was born as a full-time adventure once Esa was eventually laid off. She’s gained a bit of a following over the past four years and she now participates in the Homegrown Marin Market. Recently, she was featured in this NY Times article.

We asked her, besides the obvious, why pies for weddings? “Many times you go to a wedding and the cake is amazing looking but really not that interesting to eat,” she explains. “Not bad but maybe uninspired. I have also had amazing cakes, but some people, like me, just prefer pie. The thing about pie is it is usually a comfort food for those of us who grew up with parents who were really skilled at making it. It is simple in both its ingredients and appearance. Unassuming but so hard to get just right. A marriage can be similar. You are comforted by it. It is not exciting or fancy most of the time, but it is valuable and hard to get just right. It takes love as well as commitment to make a quality marriage or pie. Plus, it is something unique for a wedding for those people who want something that speaks more to their lifestyle then a fancy cake.” We love this thought…!

Esa tells us her family keeps her inspired. “I am one of those people who is always looking for something new to work on. It drives my husband crazy that I have several projects scattered around the house at any given moment. I am inspired by people who have passion and drive. I am inspired by natural, fresh and local produce. I find the most beautiful things in the world are sometimes the most simple and there is a peaceful kind of elegance in that.” A romantic at heart, Esa truly loves to please and being challenged to bake something new. “I made lolly pies for my husband last year for Valentines day,” she says, always trying to think of ways of utilizing things for both practical uses as well as festive ones. You can assure yourself that if you work with Esa to bake pies for your wedding day, she’ll bake it all by hand using all butter, which is challenging. But she does it with love, and we can’t think of a better ingredient for your wedding day. And note, with a charitable heart, if you order three pies or spend $75 this December, she’ll donate a teddy bear hat or scarf to Cubs for Kids.

All photography by San Francisco based photographer, Michelle Walker, who we’ll be proudly featuring next week right here on Bridebound Blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Venue Spotlight: The Temescal Beach House, East Bay

Think: rustic elegance. The Temescal Beach House overlooks Lake Temescal in Temescal Regional Recreation Area in the East Bay. A perfect small venue for a more intimate wedding, The Temescal Beach House is part of a select few and beautiful venues of the East Bay Regional Park District. It was built by the Works Project Administration in 1940 and features cut stone foundation and wood logs and was also the first headquarters of the East Bay Regional Park District. Both the Fireside Room and the Lakeview Room boast beautiful views of the lake and together can seat 80 guests. At the entrance to the facility is a stone patio that is surrounded by a terraced garden, perfect for your wedding ceremony.

The venue also offers an approved catering list or you may choose the non-catering option in which is detailed on their website. The Temescal Beach House can be viewed during their monthly Open House on the first Tuesday of the month: October – May (1:00 to 3:00 pm) and June – September (1:00 – 8:00 pm). For viewing on another day and time, call the wonderfully friendly Michael McNally at the Facility Office at 510-544-3164. Tell him Bridebound sent you!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Venue Spotlight: The Lyford House, Tiburon

If you’re looking for a truly unique wedding venue with history and views, the Lyford House may be just the perfect place. Built in 1878 and barged in 1957 to its current location on the Richardson Bay Audubon Center bird sanctuary, it’s set on a bluff overlooking Richardson Bay. A Victorian Registered Historical Landmark, it offers stunning views of San Francisco, Sausalito and Mount Tamalpais.

Gretchen Grani, Office Manager for Lyford House, tell us the space hosts a maximum of 150 people on their terrace and meadow surrounding the actual house. “It’s ideal for couples looking for an outdoor wedding location with a stunning view, or couples planning a green wedding,” she says. And for those nature lovers, Lyford House is on an Audubon Sanctuary, so you shouldn't be surprised to see hawks, ducks, sandpipers and the occasional heron. How cool is that?

When working with the Lyford House event planning staff, you can expect prompt, accurate, and courteous replies. Having just gotten married herself, Gretchen is very in tune and empathetic with what couples are going through. She allows couples to bring in their own vendors, except for caterers, and she is happy to help recommend vendors, should you need that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Hannah's Edible Art, Vegan Wedding Cake Design

When Hannah Tai was growing up, she had a fascination with food and an appreciation of all things beautiful. She was lucky to travel the world alongside her folks, who were travel and food writers, so she was exposed early on to some amazing desserts. She remembers swooning at the stunning cakes sparkling in the windows of Paris Patisseries on a trip there. A vegetarian, Hannah knew her focus would naturally be on the sweeter side of the culinary coin.

She tells us that, ironically, her focus in the early days of her career was on plated desserts because she loved the complexity and beauty of a composed dessert. A Chinese language major in college, Hannah soon realized that baking was her true calling. She went through a pastry and baking course at a local community college and was itching to get real baking experience. She wound up as the pastry chef at a high-end restaurant in Lafayette called Tourelle, and after that worked as lead pastry chef at Jeremiah Tower's Santa Fe Bar and Grill in Berkeley. After the closing of Santa Fe, she took some time off, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley and launched Hannah's Edible Art in 2000. Her commitment? To bring high-end, organic vegan wedding and special occasion cakes to her customers. She also creates gluten-free cakes.

Hannah truly enjoys working collaboratively with couples, explaining, “A cake is definitely a blank canvas that ultimately takes on the character of those two people getting married. I take quite a bit of time to get to know the couple, and how best to represent them to their guests through their cake. A cake, though temporary, is an art piece which is an important part of pulling the wedding together visually and gastronomically, so I take my job very seriously! If a couple trusts me enough to be part of their special day, then my goal is for them to feel 100% confident in my abilities. My philosophy has always been to give it my all. I take great pride in the uniqueness of my designs, and my clients seem to gravitate towards me for that reason.” Take a look at them and it’s not hard to understand this. Hannah is a true cake artist, in our opinion.

We asked her about any favorite cakes she’s created, wedding or not. “One of my favorite cakes to create was a special birthday cake for one of my best friends, a bird lover. She purposely gave me no direction because she didn't want to stifle my creativity. It wound up being one of my prettiest cakes, with handmade chocolate birds, black flowers with a gold patina, and a beautiful bird design that I stenciled on the sides in black. Another cake that stands out on my mind was for an event commemorating the anniversary of the first same-sex marriages in San Francisco. The cake was an enormous six tier monolith, hand painted and featuring edible jewels, gold bows and sugar roses, along with edible images of the first couples to wed, with a delicate handcrafted sugar vase with hundreds of tiny sugar pearls as the topper. The cake took a full week to make!”

As for her inspirations under her baker’s hat, she tells us they come from all corners, from nature, architecture, art, or simply a beautiful design or color that calls to be translated into sugar. Because her cakes are all vegan, she explains there’s an ethical aspect to her cakes. “The great thing is that when clients and guests taste my cakes, they are universally in awe that vegan can taste so good. I have been told that not only are my cakes the best vegan cakes they’ve ever had, but the best, period. Who can ask for a better comment than that?” Agreed.

So what can you expect from working with Hannah? For one, she aspires to make the experience of working with her as seamless and wonderful as the cake she promises to make for you. You’ll sit down with her for a tasting and consultation where she’ll go over every nick and cranny of details with you. Then she’ll sit and let the info sink in so she can sketch her ideas out so you have a visual mark to go by. On your wedding day, you’ll have a beautiful piece of art that will be created personally by Hannah from start to finish. View her beautiful cakes on her website here at Hannah's Edible Art.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Scene & Heard: Designer Sample Sale at Bridal Galleria

Bridal Galleria is one of our favorite picks for wedding dress retailers in San Francisco. They always seem to have something worthy going on and the service is top-notch. Well, this Saturday they're hosting one massive sample sale where their fall and winter 2010 designer gowns will have their price tags knocked down 50-75%. It's one day only, so hop to it and get there early for the best luck.

Bridal Galleria
3 Embarcadero Center
Lobby Level
San Francisco, CA

Monday, December 6, 2010

Julia's Fashion File: Shiny Orb, Virtual Dressing Room

If you find your attention perpetually divided, you might find shopping online particularly challenging. You’re browsing one site but then you think of something else and go to another… and then another and another. Before you know it, you’ve viewed 30 pages and you’re not any closer to finding the perfect purchase or even anything remotely resembling what you had in mind.

At the end of the day, no harm is done; you’ve burned through a couple more hours than you originally intended but when you’re shopping for a wedding, time is of the essence! After all, that looming date on the invitations you sent out isn’t going anywhere, even when you frantically tell it you can’t find a dress.

Jennifer Chin and Elizabeth Yin, the founders of the website, Shiny Orb, have your busy brain in mind when it comes to just this issue. Their comprehensive site gives brides a huge selection of bridal, reception, bridesmaid, mother of the bride and flower girl dresses all in one, easy-to-navigate place. You can literally knock out all of your wedding attire in one fell swoop.

To make the experience even more resourceful, they’ve added in a social networking dynamic. Yin explains that, “Bridal parties can come together virtually in an online dressing room to browse and shop dresses for the big day.” This is particularly useful for long distance bridal parties; it essentially eliminates the distance and alleviates pressure for extra travel. That paired with their ample selection of dresses creates the perfect bridal storm of efficiency.

As Chin and Yin gear up for the busy wedding season, they’re working hard to maintain their increasingly bustling business and generous stock. They’re buffing out their Shiny Orb, making it even shinier and brighter for brides that have yet to come across its guiding luminosity. Which leaves us to the age-old question: Your dressing room or mine?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: AV Consultants, Wedding & Events Videographer

Excited to feature our first videographer, we met Stu Sweetow of AV Consultants and figured he’d be a great first for us. We asked Stu all about his career and got some great responses. During his college years, he experimented with making movies as abstract art. He also took courses in filmmaking and even won first prize at his university’s film festival. He began working as an AV tech and video producer and went off on his own 25 years ago. AV Consultants was born.

Of all the events Stu enjoys shooting, he tells us, “The bride's procession is frequently emotional; we like to show expressions on family's faces. The minister sometimes has wise words to help couples navigate the rough seas ahead. Sometimes the bride and groom have loving messages to one another, and I love it when the groom gets teary. After the recessional, family and friends all share their joy with the couple. At the reception, I like when grandma and grandpa dance together and I ask them to speak on camera about what they wish for the couple.” Sounds like he’s seen it all!

View two sample videos here.

If you have Stu by your side on your Big Day, you can actually bet he won’t be exactly by your side. Stu says he and his team remain unobtrusive and avoid getting too close. He insists they show shots of their guests rather than only shots of the couple. They get reaction shots from parents during the first dance and father-daughter dance. And obviously, they pay careful attention to audio, during the ceremony and reception, so you can assure all the witty and beautiful sentiments will come through for years of enjoyment (and laughs!).

Stu is constantly learning and improving all he’s learned throughout his career. As a member of the Wedding and Event Videographers Association (WEVA), he screens some amazing wedding videos at conventions and online. Once he gets his main shots during the reception, he says he tries different things, such as tilting the camera unusual ways, holding it way up high over peoples' heads, fooling with the controls to create blur, and other effects. You can count on creativity and utmost professionalism should you book Stu and AV Consultants.

Kudos to his fantastic blog as well. Be sure to check it out. And should you have any concerns, questions or confusions about anything videography-related for your big day, Stu authored this incredibly helpful article. Totally Bridebound approved.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Venue Spotlight: The Burritt Room, Crescent Hotel San Francisco

If you haven’t already visited the The Burritt Room in San Francisco, then we think you should step to it, sit at the bar and enjoy one of their many exceptional cocktails right before you tour the space. The Burritt Room is located in the Crescent Hotel San Francisco, just steps away from Union Square. Perfect for out-of-town guests as some of the best shopping, sightseeing, theaters and restaurants are just a hop, skip and a jump off the property. Room blocks can be accommodated as well as local suggestions for your guests.

Originally opened in the Speakeasy era, The Burritt Room is a rare find in San Francisco as it imbues a historic ambiance with an urban edge, not found in typical wedding or engagement party venues. The façade, molding, wainscoting and hardwood floors tie in with vintage tiles and exposed original brick to showcase the historical bones of the property. The interior design team sprinkled luxurious chandeliers and vintage mirrors throughout the main floors for a touch of old-world grandeur, while offsetting these elements with a modern, clean color scheme of black, white and red.

Talking with Matthew Medinger, General Manager of The Burritt Room, he tells us the large back room is ideal for parties from 50 - 300 guests and features wainscoting detail and large windows bringing in natural light – which is not typical for “wedding ballrooms” around town. The open space can be modified to suit any design need, from a lounge feel to a table set-up for dinner. You can think of this backspace as a blank canvas to create your special day. The staff is happy assist with ideas for other special touches. For smaller celebrations of 50 or under, consider the spacious open room just off the bar area which can be blocked off. It’s perfect for an engagement party: we know because we’ve celebrated in this very space and can attest for it’s awesomeness (picture above).

Hosting your wedding celebration or engagement party at The Burritt Room means letting your imagination run wild to create the exact experience you want in its space. Their amazing cocktail program includes punch bowl recipes that are sure to provide a twist to the typical wedding experience, as well as classic cocktails. Matthew says they’re happy to work with local caterers and can offer DJ and live band suggestions – some of the best in the business. Simply put, you’re in great hands with the staff and space at The Burritt Room and Crescent Hotel San Francisco. Now it’s time to start planning with them.