Friday, February 26, 2010

Nothing Bundt Cakes

An alternative to the cupcake is the mini bundt (aka bundtlet) cake! A fellow Bay Area bride sent me a tip on Nothing Bundt Cakes, which has franchises nationwide. If you have 150 guests or less, the bundt cake may be an affordable route - plus it's definitely a breath of fresh air. One dozen costs $45.00 or $3.75 per cake, which is a dollar more than what cupcakes typically cost. You can still have a regular sized bundt cake (like the one Adam Lambert is holding above) as a topper for slicing with your hubby.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inspiration #66: Fabric Swatch Escort Cards

Thank goodness for the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, "an ecological treasure trove of art & craft materials, educational supplies, vintage furniture, home d├ęcor, paper goods, fabric, and much more." A treasure trove indeed! At today's visit, I left with a fabric swatchbook of  beautiful upholstery fabric for only $5.00 (see below)! So, what are my plans with this fabric? Escort cards!

{Above: some of the patterns I get to play with from the $5 fabric swatchbook}
Here are my inspirations:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Inspiration #65: What to do with my birdcage?


Our "musically romantic" save-the-dates feature a pair of lovebirds tweeting to each other on music bars. I had been resisting the urge to buy a birdcage but I finally gave in when I found a rather unique one at TJ Maxx a couple weeks ago.

So, what's one to do with a birdcage? Most people use it to collect love notes from their guests or to hold candles. I like the idea of creating a terrarium (above) or floral arrangement (below). If you're also using a birdcage, what are you planning to do with it?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Inspiration #64: Grubbin' Favors

{Photo of Grub from}

A few years ago, I picked up Anne Lappe and Bryant Terry's cookbook, Grub: A savvy and practical guide to organic eating for urban dwellers. It was the first time I had ever owned a cookbook that also recommended a music playlist (by the way, Bryant has since written his own book, Vegan Soul Kitchen, that focuses on animal free Southern inspired food).

Since music and food are passions for me and Guitar Fred, Grub has inspired me to create favors that reflect them. 

I was heartened to find recipe card favors by Sunday Suppers of New York (see below). These will be perfect for tying to our Stumptown CD covers.

The cost of 100 3x5 index cards at Sam's Club is only $0.56. I would need at least 600 cards for 5 recipes for each of our 120 guests -- that's less than $4.00. Printing may be the most expensive cost in terms of ink cartridge. Fortunately, I've already got natural fiber twine, but I should probably look into purchasing colored twine.

As for the recipes, we're going to share our favorite comfort-foods, including a potato-bacon pie, a succulent wine-braised pork roast, the Goodyear family's Brunswick stew, dino kale with a ginger-soy dressing and a couple favorite dishes from our chef friends, Peter Jackson of Canvas Underground and Efrain Cuevas of Clandestino Chicago.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Scouting in Napa

I'm very excited to be working with a lovely couple who met onstage -- she's a ballerina and he's an opera singer (in fact, he was at San Francisco Opera just before I started working there in 2004)! They're getting married in a very unique venue in Napa -- the historic Napa Valley Opera House.

We met up over the weekend and I took advantage of checking out a few wedding-related businesses on my trip there: Sift, a cupcakery; Avia, a swank boutique hotel; Ubuntu, a Michelin-star rated restaurant and Betty's Girl Boutique, a vintage clothing store specializing in evening wear. If you're planning a wedding in Napa wine country, here's a few places to consider:

Sift (1000 Main Street, Napa): Just next door to the Napa Valley Opera House, this cupcakery houses not only sweet treats but also style -- as in fashion clothing! I had never seen cupcake flavors like Pink Champagne (fresh raspberry cake and champagne frosting) or Snickerdoodle (moist vanilla cake with cinnamon and sugar cream cheese frosting and cookie on top) at other Bay Area cupcakeries, so I was impressed with their range. I sampled the two aforementioned as well as the popular Ooh La La (red velvet cake) and The Sky is Falling (chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse filling and chocolate frosting).Cupcakes are $30 a dozen ($2.75 each), or you can get mini-cupcakes for $20/dozen (2 dozen minimum). Kara's Cupcakes, another popular Bay Area cupcakery, is $0.25 cents more, so Sift may be a serious contender for cupcakes by price and also flavor.

{Sift Cupcakery: Sweet Side}
{The Cake Plate: Fashion Side}

Betty's Girl Boutique (1239 1st Street): Just a minute's walk from Sift is Betty's Girl Boutique. As I entered, I could hear girls squealing with delight as they tried on vintage prom dresses.  The owner, Kim, customizes bridal dresses as well. Kim wouldn't share any photos since her designs are proprietary but she does have an album in store that shows off what she can do for brides on a budget or who want to go all out vintage. Her Yelp reviews boast a lot of happy, loyal customers.

Avia Hotel (1450 1st Street): At first glance, the Avia looks like another modern office building, but the doormen standing outside beckoned me to come in. I was greeted by a very serene and posh lounge to my left and a tree carving that hid the elevator doors just beyond. The restaurant in the back features an open kitchen so you can see the chef and line cooks at work and the second floor offers a great terrace with a couple porch swings and fire pit. Rates are pricey (starting at $179) but discounts are possible when blocking off rooms.


Ubuntu (1140 Main Street): This Michelin-star rated vegetarian restaurant offers not only food, but yoga and a fine wine store at its Annex. At the heart of the restaurant’s cuisine is the seasonal produce grown at the owner’s two acre biodynamic garden and vineyard. Dining at Ubuntu will carry a hefty pricetag ($31-50 per person) but the experience will be memorable with dishes like Hakurei turnips with braised greens, caramelized Napa sunchoke and Fuji apple chowder and warm quince soffrito donuts with cool burata.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I've been a bad girl

I admit it, I've been bad. Last September, I set a goal of getting to a size 10 by 10/10/10 and I'm nowhere near it, which is stressing me out since we now have 7 months until the wedding. So blogging about it is my confession. 

I was on a roll -- working out to my Biggest Loser DVDs, eating oatmeal for breakfast and trying to watch what I ate. I had lost 10 pounds by December. Then I got the flu just before the holidays and was off my exercise and eating routine while we were in Florida over Christmas. By January, my "all or nothing" attitude had set in and the consecutive rainy days forced me indoors with the winter blahs. I love hiking, walking or jogging and not being able to get active outdoors depressed me.

A tennis teammate took a photo of us this past weekend and I really hated how I looked! I vowed never to get as big as that ever again and there was a double-chin slowly creeping back. Ugh.

I have been looking for a gym to join to get me out. There's a climbing and fitness gym (Berkeley Ironworks) just 3 blocks from work that offers spin (yes!), fitness group classes and of course, climbing. It's only $67/month compared to the $399 membership (3 months) at another gym that specializes in fitness bootcamp. I even looked into Jumpstart (advertised heavily in local bridal magazines) but I don't think taking weight-loss medicine at $300 a month is really the way to live healthily. 

I have committed to going to Berkeley Ironworks today to open a membership and dedicate time to work out at least 3 times a week and build up to 4 times a week like I used to.

I also need support. My MOH lost a few sizes over the last two years; she was on Weight Watchers initially and eventually incorporated healthy eating and exercise into her lifestyle -- the ultimate goal, right? She is a source of inspiration and support.

But it's been tough at home. Guitar Fred has a different approach to eating healthy. He eats like a bird in terms of portions but he also eats a lot of sweets and processed food whereas I'm trying to focus on eating fresh "slow" food. We've been butting heads and he finally said, "Maybe we just cook for ourselves." I was disappointed to hear that since we live together and cooking for one is no fun. Nonetheless, I still made us dinner last night -- right sized portions of Niman Ranch pork, steamed greens and fingerling potatoes tossed with chopped parsley and a tablespoon of sour cream. The meal was satisfying and didn't leave me feeling guilty as I've often been feeling. In addition, Guitar Fred appreciated the meal. It's a good sign. :)

To motivate myself, I'm reposting what I wrote in my September 2009 post. 
I vow to give up:
   1. Being too hard on myself (this one is tough because I tend to be a perfectionist)
   2. Carnitas (oh, Trader Joe's $3.99 carnitas are my cryptonite!)
   3. Feeling bloated (yes, I can't wait to give this one up!)
   4. My "big" clothes (Crossroads Trading Company, here I come to trade in)
   5. 1-2 hours every day (to exercise and cook instead of watching TV right after work)
   6. Believing that I will fail after 2 weeks (so far, so good)
   7. Believing that jogging the lake or beach with Munch isn't fun (so not true!)
   8. Resistance to changing the status quo
 What have you been doing to jumpstart your health routine? 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inspiration #63: In-Carnations

San Diego Budget Bride, Alicia, inspired today's post since she's lamenting her DIY carnation centerpieces. Above is a photo of a dinner San Francisco Opera hosted onstage at the War Memorial Opera House inspired by the new opera, Doctor Atomic. My event design mentor, Karman Pave of Special K Events (and also the Special Events Director at SF Opera), directed the floral designer to create pom-poms of white carnations that rested on black flower pots. It was a very dramatic and modern look.

Here's a couple more from the Hostess with the Mostess blog:
And then another from Country Living:

Here's more carnation yumminess from So You're Engayged:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Destination Wedding: Mendocino Part II

Sorry for the long break. We had zero cell phone reception and we left our laptops at home to take a real break from the world in Mendocino. The weekend was amazing and I hope that someday I get to plan a wedding for bride in Mendocino. 

We really fell in love with Mendocino Country -- from the coast to the rolling hills of Anderson Valley wine country. For San Francisco brides on a budget, why not honeymoon in Mendocino?

{Handlery Vineyard - Anderson Valley, Hwy 128}

{Picturesque Historic Presbyterian Church (1859) -- perfect for a wedding; Mendocino}

{Cafe Beaujolais is a highly rated French-California cuisine restaurant that hosts intimate wedding receptions in its modern sage green and white dining room or greenhouse}

{The town is peppered with quaint wooden houses}

{Hiking along the coastal bluffs}

{For the outdoor lovers, hiking in Fern Canyon is only 3 miles away}

{MacCullum House, one of the many romantic inns and B&Bs you can stay at}

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wedding Destination: Mendocino

Guitar Fred and I have never been -- together -- to Mendocino, a coastal town 3 hours north of San Francisco, so we're excited to get away from the kiddies (Munch, our dog, and Speedy, our cat) for a couple nights. We only booked our lodging last week and we were pleasantly surprised to find a room with ocean view, fireplace, refrigerator and large deck for only $120/night at the Sweetwater Inn. There are public and private hot tubs and massage therapy also on-site.

Mendocino is a popular destination for weddings. It offers fantastic coastal views of the Pacific Ocean, hiking in the fern canyon and pgymy forest of Van Damme State Park (no relation to Jean Claude), whale watching and wine tasting. I'm inclined to go horseback riding on the beach (the photo shows riders galloping with huge grins on their faces, but a Yelp review said the pace was more like pony ride at the county fair). Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to our Valentine's Day couples massage and lunch at the highly rated Cafe Beaujolais. 

Enjoy the long 3-day weekend and here are some photos of a Mendocino wedding photographed by J. Perlman and R. Lutge of San Francisco:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spreading the love: contests

It's Friday and to kick off the holiday weekend, here are some cool contests you should definitely enter if you haven't already:

The Swede Records' "I carry your heart with me" decoupage tray from Limonaia

and finally, my friend, Shannon, alerted me of Paper Source's "One Night Only: Wedding Suites":

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Inspiration #62: Handmade Invites

This past December, I met Quyen, a prospective client for my wedding coordination services. I clicked with Quyen straight-away over email and even more in person as we share a love for great design and DIY-ness.

Inspired by a 100 Layer Cake post, Quyen decided to make her own invitations using Amy Butler paper from Michael's. I'm amazed with Quyen's handiwork! She just started her blog for her April wedding, so if you'd like to learn how she designed and hand stitched her lovely invitations, be sure to visit Our Day in April.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inspiration Boarding

If you're like me, you've probably been hoarding inspiration by way of weblinks and torn pages from bridal magazines. With just about 8 months to go until our big day on 10-10-10, I've started to feel the pressure to organize my ideas for each of the 4 spaces we'll be using: the chapel for the ceremony, the patio and garden for the cocktail hour and the parish hall for the reception.

Placing the actual photos of the space alongside the concept -- and particularly elements of what I want -- has been very helpful in bringing my vision to life. Here's what one of my boards (Garden) looks like, showing how I want games and the photo booth in the patio, and balloons, buffet table for appetizers, and mason jars with flowers set on tables and steps in the garden.  What are you doing to bringing your vision to life? 
{Screenshot of my Powerpoint inspiration board}

Monday, February 8, 2010


I spent the last two days in the Marin Headlands, just outside of Sausalito (the town we're getting married in), for a board retreat. Not only did I reconnect with the great outdoors, I was able to re-energize my excitement for our venue. Guitar Fred and I had been somewhat stressing and tossing around the idea of changing our venue because of the restrictions on photography and amplified music. Fortunately, we recently learned we can indeed have an iPod plugged into the venue's sound system to provide music while our band is on break. We also found an Oakland-based Episcopalian minister who will allow photography during our ceremony, so we can still get married at the Christchurch in Sausalito -- just not with the resident minister who restricts photography when he's presiding over the ceremony himself.

Both Saturday and Sunday's weather permitted spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the coast line and the Golden Gate Bridge. Hiking along the coast and exploring the old gun batteries in the Headlands reminded me of the many awe-inspiring activities our family and friends will be able enjoy the weekend we're getting married. 

I envision having our rehearsal "dinner" to be a picnic on one of these bluffs overlooking the ocean and we're going to start researching potential caterers who can make it happen on our budget. We called Guitar Fred's mom yesterday and encouraged her to book accommodations at the Marin Headlands hostel, just a quarter-mile from these beautiful vistas (all photos by me):


Friday, February 5, 2010

Inspiration #61: Birds of a Feather

Southern Weddings featured this real wedding (Kyle + Chris) and I just adore the clever use of a bird's nest -- from the groom's boutonniere, bridesmaids' bouquets and the cake flowers. Very organic and down-to-earth -- the kind of look Guitar Fred and I are striving for.

This weekend, I'm off to the Marin Headlands in Sausalito for a board retreat with Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT). If I get any time to myself, I'll be doing some more recon of good places in Sausalito for a rehearsal dinner, wedding party photos and a dive bar for the wedding after-party. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I-Do Wedding...Hair

{I-Do's Wedding Hair by Dianna Perona}
As a wedding coordinator, a lot of my clients ask me for recommendations for bridal makeup and hair. One of my recent “discoveries” is Dianna Perona of I-Do’s Wedding Hair, based in Palo Alto.

Since I’m getting married this year too, I had Dianna give me a hair trial. Our wedding style will be vintage, with a dash of Southern bluegrass goodness. I’m planning to wear a birdcage veil and Dianna recommended I go with finger waves. It turned out very cute!

I asked her to share what brides should bring to a hair consultation and perhaps this might help you in your search for a hair stylist:

My trial-run appointments are 2-hours long. We would have a thorough discussion about all of the details of the day and then choose different hair looks to try. The end result is a custom hair design for their signature bridal look. I would ask that they bring a camera, any veil or headpiece that they may have, any magazine pictures of styles they like, a picture of the dress, and invite a girlfriend, a mom, etc. - Dianna Perona, I-Do's Wedding Hair
[Continue reading my  interview with Dianna at the Bay Area Bride Guide.]
As for pricing, brides can save money by getting their hair done at a stylist's studio versus on-site. For example, some stylists, like Dianna require a minimum (usually $1,000) for on-site hair and makeup (that's $200 for the bride and $150 for all others).  Otherwise, if the bride and her attendants get done up at the stylist's salon/studio, they aren't held to a minimum (as is the case with Dianna).  This can also allow you to be flexible in choosing a makeup artist; if you do your homework, perhaps you can find a makeup artist that works for Benefit, MAC or She Uemura and gigs on the side (and may possibly charge less than a stylist who does both hair and makeup). In the end, it's helpful to have a wide range of options for bridal makeup and hair. 

If you're on a budget and willing to go to a salon in the same town you're getting married, I suggest you look into it as it usually costs a little bit less than hiring a makeup artist to go on location. At the same time, definitely schedule a consultation regardless if the stylist works out of a salon/studio or independent (on-site) -- you want to be sure whomever you end up choosing is the right fit in terms of being able to execute the look you want to achieve and also if their personality and professionalism suits you.

P.S. In case you're wondering, I'm going with a makeup artist who will be doing my makeup and hair on-site (at our hotel). I'll reveal who in a future post!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nonpareil for DIYers

The new online magazine, Nonpareil, launched this week and offers fashionable brides like you and me, DIY projects and inspiration. You much check out the tablescapes on a budget as well as the DIY headband.

I was excited about the free printable downloads, but the one I wanted required I have Photoshop. Grr.

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