Destination Spotlight: Valley Trunk in the British Virgin Islands

I recently had the pleasure of checking out some great islands and properties in the Caribbean thanks to Katie Frederick of Ever After Honeymoons—who by the way, plans awesome honeymoons and trips with a boutique feel to them—and I’m super excited to share my highlights. I couldn’t stop taking photos, each of the places we visited were breathtakingly beautiful!

First up, Valley Trunk in the British Virgin Islands. They’re just starting to do weddings here and it’s a great fit for ones with smaller guest lists, say 30 or fewer people. With 15 rooms and a private beach complete with a yacht you can use to check out the scenery, it’s a great setting for a relaxed destination soiree. Plus the food and service were great! With lots of activities to do to keep you entertained, it would also be good for a family trip or a getaway with the girls!

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In the Press: Kate and Sean’s Napa Rehearsal Dinner on Martha Stewart Weddings

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We’re always thrilled to see our work graces the pages of magazines and blogs, and this sunny, sleek, yellow-and-grey rehearsal dinner we did in Napa last summer is no exception. You can check out the full story and  more images over on Martha Stewart Weddings! We loved layering the textures and patterns together for this modern event, which also boasted a fun tent for the kids in attendance, a one-of-a-kind seating chart, and loads of cheerful yellow flowers.

Photography: Josh Gruetzmacher  // Location and Catering: The Carneros Inn // Event Planning: Alison Events // Flowers: Kathleen Deery Design // Cake: Baskin-Robbins // Hair: Diana Lyons, Napa Valley Hairstylist // Lighting: Jeffrey Stone, PSAV Presentation Services // Nannies: Joanna’s Nannies


Ten San Francisco Rehearsal Dinner Spots

If you’re considering a wedding in the San Francisco area, then you should definitely check out our list of great spots to host a rehearsal dinner. So many great options in this city, it’s hard to narrow down, but these are our top 10, in no particular order:

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Central Kitchen (ok, well all of the Flour + Water private dining rooms, really). Great food, lots of different areas for different party sizes, and the pasta tasting menu is amazing. Have more that 25 people? The courtyard fits 40 for a semi-private buyout and boasts a nice layout.

Bar Agricole. The private dining room fits 40, and the patio is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails (which are fabulous).

La Mar. This Peruvian seafood joint has one gorgeous view. And the patio seats 100 guests.

AQ The look and feel of the restaurant changes every season, as does the menu. You can invite two dozen loved ones to join you in their cellar room.

Town Hall. Perfect for about 40 people, and for Southern and comfort-loving foodies.

Tosca. You can fit up to 32 people at this former dive bar. Chef April Bloomfield always serves stellar cocktails and Italian cuisine.

Park Tavern. -The Eden room seats 50 and the burger is simply amazing.

Wayfare Tavern. Chef Tyler Florence’s restaurant that serves upscale bar food done right. Choose from two private rooms—one for 16 and one for 50.

Foreign Cinema. Want a beautiful outdoor setting? Consider buying out the courtyard, where you can even play movies on the large wall. The food is consistently great.

Cotogna. With 50 guests you can buy out the restaurant (which is a sister spot to Quince) and have a rustic Italian feast.


An Indian Wedding in New Jersey

From the moment we met Saiba and Blake, we knew their wedding would be filled with unique elements. Both Saiba and Blake wanted their wedding to have a vintage Indian look that also evoked a feeling of warmth with personal touches. It was important to the bride and groom that both of their backgrounds were represented as well.

Since Saiba is Indian, the duo followed the tradition of having a Baraat as well as a traditional Indian ceremony.  The view at Natirar provided the perfect backdrop for their stunning Mandap. Then, before the reception they both changed into the traditional white dress and tuxedo.

Their guests had an amazing time dancing to their DJ (the proof is in the photos below) and then noshing on the delicious cake made by Momofuku Milk Bar cake (a must for the bride and groom).

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Photography: Lev Kuperman // Wedding planning: Alison Events Planning & Design // Location + catering: Natirar // Florals: Ariel Dearie Flowers // Lighting: Ken Lapham // Linens: La Tavola // DJ + audio: DJ Kucha Company // Cocktail hour music: Mike Lukshis of Taalim School of Indian Music // Officiant: Anju Sikka // Photobooth: We Love Photobooths // Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar // Hair + makeup: Shelby George // Invitations + paper goods: Katharine Watson // Hair + makeup: Susmita Patel // TransportationA1 Limousine // Horse: Caliber Farms

 


Vendor Spotlight: Lisa Francesa

When it comes to weddings, as much as we love designing them and personalizing the look, feel, and details—what’s essentially at the core of the event is the start of the marriage. And we tend to leave that to the pros—the talented officiants that help a couple actually get hitched.

Back when Alison did her first wedding in 2002, she worked with Hank Basayne, a sweet man with a very gentle disposition. A man who would walk into the room and make you feel at ease just by his presence. Someone who thought before he spoke, said nice things about everyone around him, and was so calm when things went hectic. And earlier this year, over a decade later, when it came time for Alison to actually be the bride herself, she turned to Hank’s daughter, Lisa. “Lisa is the exact same way as her father. She really listens,” Alison said. “She listens to your story and navigates through everything that is important to you and then she customizes the ceremony to work for you. If you want God in the ceremony or if you want a more spiritual service she caters to your wishes. Markus and I spent about an hour with her on two occasions and she wrote the most beautiful ceremony that was so reflective of my husband and I. She suggested several readings as well that were so on point. Lisa is very special to me and to many of our clients.”

Now that Alison has worked with Lisa as both a planner and a bride, it’s only fitting to shed more light on her ability to create a ceremony befitting of each and every couple she encounters. But first a bit more background…

Lisa Francesca got a voice mail from her father around the time that Alison and Hank started working together. Hank, a humanist minister, left a message saying that he had ordained her online. It came as a surprise to Lisa, though she had shown an interest in ministering and he had trained her over the years, it wasn’t something she expected. After Lisa married a few couples she really grew a passion for it, and the way in which she could bring her writing and poetry skills to the forefront, completely tailoring each service. Now, 80 weddings later, she’s written a book, The Wedding Officiant’s Guide, which will be published by Chronicle at the end of the year! You can pre-order it right here!

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Here, some tips to consider whether you’re the bride, groom, or helping out by officiating for a loved one. Certain ceremony milestones, such as the ring exchange and the recessional when the wedding party walks back up the aisle, tend to stay pretty much the same from wedding to wedding. But you and your officiant or celebrant can often craft a ceremony that is really unique. You can make the most significant changes in these three areas:

Write Your Own Vows
It’s not difficult to write meaningful vows. First, take some time to talk through the vow exchange as a couple: Will both of you recite the same vows, or will you each write your own? If you do the latter, will you show them to each other before the ceremony, or keep an element of surprise? Once you decide, it’s time to sit and reflect with a pen and a piece of paper (and maybe a mug of tea or glass of wine). Start with this simple pattern: think of a few things that you love about the other person. Jot them down. And then, think of a few promises you would like to make to your beloved. It can be very simple, and it must be from your heart. Later on, review what you wrote and see if you can polish it a little. That’s all there is to it. Print your vows once you have written them, and ask your officiant to hand them to you at the appropriate time during the ceremony. That way, since public speaking is a bit scary for nearly everyone, it will be a lot easier for you to simply read them and not have to memorize anything.

Unusual Readings
Many of us have heard the same classic wedding readings recited over and over. Consider choosing your readings from an unexpected source. In one wedding, a 12-year-old child stood and recited Edward Lear’s charming antique poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat.” All the guests agreed that the poem fit the couple perfectly. At another wedding, the groom himself recited a very modern poem to his bride that was written by NPR host, Garrison Keillor.

Sincere Ritual
Finally, think about what kind of ritual you could add to your wedding ceremony that adequately communicates to your guests something about who you are. Not every couple needs to light a wedding candle. In fact, in many outdoor weddings, candles are not even allowed. Take the time to think about your own cultural background, your own tastes and desires, and those of your intended. Between the two of you, you may decide, for example, to have both a Jewish chuppa and a Chinese tea ceremony. Or you might bake bread that morning and share it with your guests. Sometimes a couple will leave the altar to embrace each other’s mother and give her a flower. That always draws smiles and a few tears from those assembled. Google “wedding rituals” to fire up your imagination.


In the Press: Val and Lee’s Florida Camp Wedding on Green Wedding Shoes

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Last year we announced our involvement in Cupcake Vineyards’ “Love Deliciously Dream Wedding” contest, which took place via Pinterest. Val and Lee—the lucky winners— were gifted with the ultimate wedding package, including photography by Elizabeth Messina and design planning services from us. And now, their romantic, dreamy, laid-back day is now featured in full over on Green Wedding Shoes!

Both the bride and groom are adventurers who love hiking, camping, canoeing, etc. Mixed with their appreciation for design and movies and their overall great taste, the inspiration for the wedding started with Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. Their venue, a remote private campground in the middle of the Ocala National Forest, was the perfect fit. We incorporated details such as a canvas tent, oil lamps, a custom made flag that said “Camp Waters,” a neutral palette, textural floral elements, and vintage-inspired postcards for guests to fill in with best wishes and funny.

It was so great working with this awesome couple, and we’re so excited to share their wedding!

 

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Photography: Elizabeth Messina // Wedding planning: Alison Events Planning & Design // Location: Lake Doe Campground in Umatilla, Florida // Catering: Green Coat Catering // Florals: Natalie Bowen Designs // Bride’s dress: Chaviano Couture // Bridal headpiece: Twigs and Honey // Bridal jewelry: Free People // Bridesmaids dresses: Katie of Coralie Beatrix // Groom’s attire: J.Crew // Dish rentals: Dishie Rentals // Décor: Wish Vintage Rentals // Linens: La Tavola // DJ + lighting: Jacob // Ceremony + cocktail music: Landon Pontius // Officiant: Keith Kolakowski // Cake + desserts: Michelle Calabro, Owner of Bakers Cottage Cakes // Hair + makeup: Shelby George // Tent: Shelter-co // Invitations + paper goods: Designed by Lee and Val, Owners & Founders of 48 Savvy Sailors and letterpressed by Mama’s Sauce

 


Destination Spotlight: Cartagena, Colombia

We love traveling and discovering new destinations. With so many places we still have yet to explore sometimes we just have to live vicariously through others as they traipse around the globe. After we saw Belathée Photography‘s pics from a recent trip to Cartagena, Colombia, we were completely smitten. It was their first trip to South America and now we want to go check it out for ourselves. In the meantime, a little scoop and a lot of eye candy from the ladies at Belathée. Pack your bags!

Complete with remarkable charm and old world appeal, Cartagena is only a 4.5 hour nonstop flight from New York City. There to document a wedding at a private home, Dorothee and Annabel also covered the rehearsal dinner, which took place at Hotel Casa San Agustin. And while in town, they also dined at La Cevicheria, where naturally their favorite dish was the ceviche.

What they really enjoyed most was that the city is a mix of historic and colorful facades and beautiful people. The quiet side streets invite for strolls — though they highly suggest that you bring a map because the city, especially inside the wall, is a bit of a maze. Fruit vendors are setting up around every corner and everyday life seems to happen right on the street, from restaurants to car repair shops, everything happens out in the open. It’s a great place to soak in sun and culture, especially getting away in the winter months as the weather is pretty reliable. It was our first time to South America and it makes us want to come back for more.

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In the Press: Courtenay and Larrison on Martha Stewart Weddings

Last summer we worked with Courtenay and Larrison to bring their wedding weekend to life. These hands-on brides crafted quite the vision, mainly inspired by Tiki elements and the innate style of Palm Springs. We loved the ceremony and Tiki-Q dinner party, followed by dinner and dancing the night after. And these gals really fused color and patterns in such an impactful way.

Now you can see the wedding weekend in full, over on Martha Stewart Weddings.

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Photography: Tory Williams // Venues: Frederick Loewe Estate +  The Gene Autry Residence // Event Coordination: Alison Events // Floral Design: Gilly Flowers & Events // Music: High Rize // Stationery Design: Happy Menocal

 


An Exotic and Eccentric California Wedding

We’ve been going through the Alison Events archives lately and couldn’t help but share this oldie by goodie. About five years ago, Jackie and Joby’s wedding at Costanoa, in Pescadero, California, was not only fun and exotic — with a “The Beatles go to India” theme — but it was also eco-friendly. Many of the elements in this tented soiree were reusable, the food was entirely organic and many of the flowers used throughout were locally grown. The 200 guests also enjoyed a trio of Beatles impersonators on stilts at this marigold and paprika-hued party.

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You can read even more about this one right here and here.

Location and Catering: Costanoa // Photography: Jesse Leake // Flowers and Event Design: Sillapere // Tent liners: Raj Tents //


In the Press: Katie and J.D. on Style Me Pretty

Another one of our recent California weddings made its debut today on Style Me Pretty! We’re super excited to share Katie and J.D.’s elegant yet relaxed celebration, which is completely charming. It took place on the bride’s family’s ranch, and unlike most of the times when that happens, the bride’s father actually built the massive tent himself. In addition to some hands-on work by dad, the talented team that worked with the couple on this event crafted loads of loveliness, like the top notch flowers that were present from start to finish.

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Photography: Adriana Klas // Planning: Alison Events // Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering // Floral: Brown Paper Design