Emily + Siddhartha’s Abundant Love

For their wedding, Emily and Siddhartha wanted to celebrate not only their love, but the natural bounty and sweet refinement of California’s wine country. With thoughtful design elements, powerful color choices and a gorgeous venue, we were able to highlight the peaceful nature of Napa’s rolling hills and green vineyards.

The invitation suite, created by Yonder Design, was thoughtful and well curated. With a unique horizontal orientation and muted color tones, the cards added style and reflected the understated elegance of the day. It was the perfect way to set the rustic yet modern tone for the wedding.

Photography by Jesse Leake Photography 

Emily’s garden-inspired bouquet was a sight to see, tying in richly colored dahlias, sweet smelling jasmine, and gorgeous greenery. Natalie Bowen Designs tied it all together with a hand-dyed silk ribbon. The bouquet and the bride were stunning. The groom and wedding party added to the vivid color pops, looking dashing in various shades of blue.

In classic Indian tradition, the groom traveled with friends and family to the venue, encircled by loved ones while dancing to hit Bollywood songs and the beats of traditional Indian dhol drums. And when they arrived at the barn, Emily and her side of the party joined in the celebration, a beautiful blending of the joining families.

Guests were then led to the dreamiest of ceremony sites: a large, wooden structure with airy, white drapery. The neutral palettes of white and green florals were highlighted with wooden elements, creating a relaxed and natural atmoshpere for Emily and Siddhartha to begin the rest of their lives. The service was perfectly blended with Hindu, Jewish, and non-denominational elements to create a personal and beautiful moment.

As the celebration continued into cocktail hour, pops of color were introduced through the florals and intimate lounge settings. Soft pinks and bright raspberry tones in the flowers brightened the space, while the vintage rentals from Found grounded the space in luxurious comfort.

Multiple design elements throughout the night gave nods to the couple’s love of fresh food, local markets and the abundance of California’s wine country. The escort card display utilized fruits and veggies, which were nestled in wooden market crates. And all the fine produce served as a delicious parting gift to guests.

Guests were wowed when they finally entered the barn for the reception. They were greeted with abundant greenery, vivid florals, and bountiful produce that added natural warmth and wonder. Organic wood tones and textures paired with linen runners along the farm tables added to the pastoral feel.

Jessica Lasky Catering sourced local cheeses, fruits and vegetables for the most delicious family style meal. Marble platters on each table were engraved with the couple’s monograms, adding to the touches of elegance and personality of the evening. The enjoyment was capped with a smattering of their favorite desserts in leu of traditional cake. Such a sweet way to end the evening.

There was bounty and colorful brilliance in all elements of Emily and Siddhartha’s beautiful celebration. The entire event was a true reflection of the joyful and abundant spirit of their love.

 

Event Planning: Jesse Tombs of Alison Events Planning + Design // Photography: Jesse Leake Photography // Venue: The Barn at Green Valley // Catering: Jessica Lasky Catering // Flowers: Natalie Bowen Design // Videography: Shark Pig Weddings // Stationery: Yonder Design // Calligraphy: Plume // Rentals: Bright Event Rentals, Found Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linens, Standard Party Rentals, Zephyr Tents // Music: Dart Collective, Fusion Roadshow // Bride’s Gown: Mira Zwillinger // Hair + Makeup: Betten Chaston // Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Monique Lhuillier // Groom’s Attire: SS Homme, Tom Ford // Groom’s Accessories: Brioni, Mont Blanc // Groomsmen’s Suits + Ties: J. Crew // Lighting: Bright Event Rentals // Transportation: Napa Valley Wine Tours


Caitlin + Michael’s Napa Nuptials

We have a soft spot in our hearts for Napa weddings. There’s just something about the beauty of the natural landscape and the way the area lends itself to events that can be both modern and romantic. Pair lush surroundings and cultivated design, and you’ve got yourself the picture perfect Napa wedding. And that’s just what we did with Caitlin + Michael’s inspired day.

San Francisco natives, Caitlin + Michael knew that Napa would be the perfect destination for their big day. And Meadowood, a luxury resort tucked away in the hills, provided the perfect amount of character and charm for the romantic celebration the couple envisioned.

Photography by Meg Smith Photography

The ceremony was one of warmth and connection, to the couple, their love, and the family and friends they were surrounded by. Light humor and the couple’s loving and deeply personal vows created a sense of intimacy felt by all. It was a truly beautiful ceremony within a beautiful setting.

Cocktail hour took place on Meadowood’s golf course, amidst the picturesque landscape. Vignettes of living room lounge furniture created a casual and welcoming vibe in which guests enjoyed delicious bites and signature cocktails.

The design was all about understated elegance and warm elements to create a serene and rich aesthetic. With personal nods of indigo and deep blues against a neutral palette, it brought Michael’s love of the ocean to life. And with a backdrop of Meadowood’s tranquil and natural atmosphere, these elements completely inspired.

Max Gill Design had free creative rights on the bouquet and floral design throughout, with an inspired result. Caitlin’s bouquet delighted with pale pink and ivory flowers and pops of berries to add natural texture. The same tones were included in the tablescapes, which paired perfectly with the rich indigo elements in the design and the added pops of deep red in some of the blooms, adding to the seasonal warmth.

The cake was a sight to see, incorporating the neutral palette with the deep notes of indigo. The texture and color tones perfectly highlighted the oceanic nod of Caitlin + Michael’s design elements. Not only was it gorgeous, it was absolutely delicious.

The night ended on a high note, with a wild silent disco from Dart Collective. The unique celebration made way for some epic dance moves and enough hilarity to last a lifetime. What better way to celebrate?!

We love everything about this wedding, and are thrilled to see it’s feature on Martha Stewart Weddings! 

Photography: Meg Smith Photography // Event Planning + Design: Alison Events // Location + Catering: Meadowood // Flowers: Max Gill Design // Videography: Elysium Productions // Stationery: Yonder Design // Cake: Jasmine Rae Cakes // Music: Wine Country Entertainment, Dart Collective // Rentals: Casa de Perrin, Found Vintage Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen, Standard Party Rentals, Zephyr Tents // Bride’s Gown: Mira Zwillinger // Bride’s Accessories: Jennifer Behr, Ashley Morgan Designs, Stuart Weitzman // Hair + Makeup: Artists by Sherrie Long // Groom’s Suit + Menswear: J. Hilburn // Groom’s Accessories: Eton, Salvatore Ferragamo


Suzanne + David’s Day of Rustic Elegance

For their wedding day, Suzanne + David wanted a rustic escape that fostered intimate moments and romance. The Peace Barn in Bolinas, California provided all of that and more with its distinctly tranquil and unassuming vibe. It was the most effortlessly romantic and serene day.

Photography by Braedon Photography

The couple kickstarted their day with a distinct ceremony overlooking the grounds. A moss-covered tree was further adorned with florals and greens to provide a beautiful backdrop for their words of forever. After the intimate and heartfelt ceremony, guests then strolled to the charming barn, where they were met with fresh oysters and bubbly champagne.

After a fun group photo, the evening continued within. Amidst the organic setting of the barn, elegant chandeliers provided the perfect touch of sophistication. And Loop Flowers wowed with seasonal blooms that added a wild and organic feel to the day. The flowers paired with the locally sourced family style dinner resulted in a warm and inspired ambiance for all to enjoy.

A blue-grass band serenaded the guests into the night, where dancing and lots of laughter filled every moment. Sometimes you have to escape to reach those places of purest romance. And Suzanne and David’s beautiful day provided an intimacy that will not be forgotten, with laughter and love abound.

Coordinator + Stylist: Alison Events // Photographer: Braedon Photography // Flowers: Loop Flowers // Venue: Mint Locations – Peace Barn // Cakes + Catering: Jasmine Rae Cakes, Paula De Luc // Rentals: La Tavola Linens, Theoni Collection // Paper: Yonder Design // Entertainment: Dart Collective


Heather + Crain’s Distinct Wedding in the Heart of San Francisco

Love and life is about working through the unexpected twists and turns, and Heather and Crain’s big day was no exception. Jesse spent 10 months working with the fabulous couple to plan a beautiful wedding at Durham Ranch in St. Helena, California, but mother nature had other plans. With the spread of wildfires in Napa Valley just a few days ahead of the wedding, it became very clear that their big plans had to change.

The couple kept their cool and Jesse jumped into action, working his magic to create a new plan. By happy chance and everyone’s willingness to be flexible, we were able to move the wedding to San Francisco. Everything came together so beautifully and despite the last minute changes, all the special details of the event remained intact and as special as ever.

Photography by Sylvie Gil 

It was really important to the couple that their personalities shine on their big day. The couple knew they wanted to work with Happy Menocal, and they took Heather + Crain’s inspiration to the next level. After all, no invitation suite is complete without a personalized crest and caricature of the couple. Heather blossoms and cranes were represented in their crest as a nod to their names, and the likeness of their portrait captured their loving spirit.

The bridesmaids dressed in a soft palette of pinks, mixing blushes, champagnes, and other muted tones for a perfectly casual yet elegant style. Heather was radiant in her grecian style Vera Wang gown and crown of white flowers. And Crain kept the vibe cool and personal by wearing the same white Levi’s he was wearing the day the couple met. That paired with a navy blue blazer and custom tie added such a fun and stylish touch.

We were thrilled to be able to secure the Sculpture Garden at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the ceremony. The art installations and skyline views wowed. The couple’s “I’Do’s” were shared beneath a simple chuppah, adorned with greenery and classic hydrangeas. They wanted to keep the flowers simple in order to allow the sculptures of the garden to shine. And as a very special touch, the bride’s brother officiated the ceremony.

Following the charming rooftop ceremony, guests traveled to the historic Ferry Building for an unforgettable reception. Within the Ferry Building’s vaulted ceiling, soft lighting and lounge vignettes transformed the space. Found Rentals provided cozy sofas and love seats in classic blues and whites for a special touch of intimacy.

Charlotte & Daughters perfected the summer vibe with their floral design. Greenery in ornate ceramic vases lined the tables and complimented the decorative plates, while smaller bud vases with neutral florals provided another subtle yet sweet element. Live trees throughout the space created a natural, forest feel that drove home the natural components of the design.

Vintage plates in mixed designs added a touch of blue and white that is so quintessential of New England design. And wooden flatware paired with sleek table numbers added a modern touch to the classic ambiance.

The toasts were heartfelt, the food delicious, and the dance party lasted well into the night. It was a magically beautiful night, full of Cape Cod vibes in the heart of San Francisco. We absolutely adored all the distinctive details and loved sharing in Heather and Crain’s special day.

Planning & Design: Jesse Tombs for Alison Events // Photography: Sylvie Gil // Ceremony Venue: SFMOMA Sculpture Garden // Reception Venue: San Francisco Ferry Building // Floral Design: Charlotte & Daughters // Paper Suite: Happy MenocalUnion Street Papery // Rentals + Decor: Found Rentals, Frances Lane, La Tavola Fine Linens, Hensley Event Resources, Got Light // Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering // Cupcakes: Susie Cakes // Music: Élan Artists 


Potluck Hospitality Conference 2018

Photography by Marble Rye Photography

With hospitality standards constantly being raised and creativity reaching new heights in innovation and artistry, now is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the events industry. So when we were invited to speak at this year’s Potluck Hospitality Conference, Jesse jumped at the opportunity to be part of the exciting conversation on what’s coming next and how to make your mark.

This 2-day conference was designed so beautifully, full of inspiring details and gorgeous moments. Held within a hidden gem in DTLA, Valentine is a distinctive space that was the perfect backdrop for this exciting event. Potluck partnered with the best of the best for this one, pulling out all of the stops to provide interesting and interactive moments amongst industry creatives. And let’s not forget the deliciously fresh eats, striking spaces and fabulously fun details!

Luxury spaces and hospitality are all about the fine details and building a strong sense of brand awareness. And after years of working with event spaces and vendors across the country, Jesse had much to share about creating an authentic hospitality experience and what that means when defining one’s brand and establishing lasting relationships.

After full days of fabulous conversations, the fun was just getting started! A Snappy Camper photo booth brought smiles to our faces, while one of Dart Collective’s DJs provided the perfect soundtrack to the evening. We were treated with delicious foods almost too beautiful to eat (almost) and a dessert table that made your mouth water just looking at it. So many awesome ideas to bring home to our couples!

YEAH! Rentals pulled together striking lounge spaces in which to mingle, adding the perfect touch of mid-century sophistication and California-cool styling to accentuate the tone of the space. And the table settings inspired, showing off varied styles and colors. The bright, spring hues of the florals, designed by Twig & Twine, tied it all together beautifully.

Everything was curated thoughtfully to delight all the senses. A huge thanks to Potluck Hospitality for providing us all with such a meaningful and rewarding experience. We had an incredible time collaborating with and inspiring industry creatives!

 

Host: Potluck Hospitality // Venue: Valentine DTLA // Photography: Marble Rye Photo // Graphic Design + Branding: Oh Babushka // Name Tags + Tassels: The Idea Emporium // Rentals: Bright Event Rentals // Florals: Twig & Twine // Lounge Furniture: YEAH! Rentals // DJ: Dart Collective // Photo Booth: A Snappy Camper // Oysters: Oysters XO // Catering: Whoa Nelly Caters, Hungry Bear Catering Co., Taste of Pace // Crudite: Lady and Larder // Dessert Table: Cake Monkey Bakery // Design + Baked Goods: Wilmarose, Scootabaker // Tablescape Design + Goods: Ro & Co Events, Bright Event Rentals, La Tavola Linen, YEAH! Rentals 


An Autumn Launch Party for Norman & Blake

We love working with The Wedding Artists Collective, and when we heard they’d be joining forces with a new photography duo, we jumped at a chance to be a part of the launch.

Shannen Norman and Emily Blake are fantastic photographers in their own right, and have worked around the country and across the globe. Their work has appeared in some of our favorite magazines (think Martha Stewart Weddings, BRIDES, and The Knot). After working together on several events, the two women realized the incredible value of having their unique perspectives combined on a single day — thus their partnership was born. In early 2017, they joined forces and started Norman + Blake, a Los Angeles-based wedding photography studio.



To celebrate their joint venture, Jesse designed a gorgeous party inspired by the colors of fall, hosted at Upstairs at Central Kitchen in San Francisco. He paired orange, rust, pink, and gray for a warm, feminine design that was still fresh and light. “I wanted the event to reflect Shannen and Emily and their modern aesthetic, while also reflecting their artistic approach to fine art photography,” says Jesse. Working with Yonder Design, Jesse added a modern twist to the event with invitations that paired sleek acrylic and woven caning accents.




The acrylic appeared again in the flatware on the table, keeping the design clean and crisp. Each place setting featured a textured white terracotta charger and smoke glass tumblers, sourced from Theoni Collection, for a contemporary mix-and-match vibe. “I used beautiful velvet pillows in steel, pink, and rose to deepen and soften the decor,” Jesse says. The celebration embraced the fall season with a rich, organic ambiance that fit Emily and Shannen’s brand to a T.








In the heart of the Mission district, wedding industry guests came together to celebrate the launch. The sounds of Laura + Anton greeted guests upon their arrival, where they found glasses of Italian wine waiting. The table was laden with handmade bread, cheeses, and antipasti, which set the scene for the farm-to-table menu. Dinner featured a roasted beet and persimmon salad with tahini yogurt, roasted hen roulade with chestnut purée and grilled pears, hen and chestnut agnolotti with salumi and jujube date, and a chocolate custard with candied almonds and coffee ice cream for dessert.






All in all, it was a lovely way to celebrate the launch of Norman + Blake, and we can’t wait to work with this talented duo in the future!

Hosts: Lisa Ashley of The Wedding Artists Collective & Shannen Norman & Emily Blake of Norman & Blake // Planning & Design: Jesse Tombs of Alison Events Planning + Design // Photography: Norman & Blake // Venue & Catering: Upstairs at Central Kitchen // Executive Chef: Ryan Pollnow //  Floral Design: Studio Mondine // Specialty Table Rentals: Theoni Collection // Specialty Linens: La Tavola Fine Linens // Paper Material Design: Yonder Design // Entertainment: Laura + Anton


Venues We Love from K Venues

We’ve had the opportunity to work in some truly amazing locations all around the world, from Hawaii and Tulum to San Francisco and Ravello. Our clients and our team take us far and wide, giving us the chance to find new and exciting venues around every corner. We never lose that yearning to discover a new incredible place to celebrate, and are lucky to have some amazing partners who help add destinations to our ever-growing list of places we would love to work. One such person is Kristen Stimpert of K Venues, who has connected our clients with some pretty amazing spaces. Below are three venues she represents that we cannot wait to transform.

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Photos by Rebecca Gosselin Photography

Petroni Vineyards

This brand new wedding venue is located on a mountaintop just minutes from the heart of Sonoma. Romantic wine caves and sweeping views of 37 acres of vines make it feel like you’re in Italian wine country, not an hour and a half north of San Francisco. It’s the perfect spot for an indulgent celebration where wine is the star.

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Photos by Megan Clouse Photography

Aventine Glen Ellen

Restaurants come with their own personality and atmosphere, and the vibe at Aventine Glen Ellen is one we’d love to put a spin on. Chef Adolfo Veronese has two other restaurants, in San Francisco and Hollywood, so you know his farm-to-table cooking is definitely crowd-pleasing. From a rehearsal dinner to an intimate wedding on the patio overlooking Sonoma Creek, the sophisticated comfort of this historic space sets the perfect tone for a wedding celebration.

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Photos by Julie Kay Kelly

Mountain House Estate

Located in Northern California wine region, this charming venue is a beautiful mix of rustic and modern. Barn styling, custom bars, and gorgeous outdoor spaces come together for a picture-perfect wedding venue, while a serene bridal suite will calm any pre-wedding jitters. We can just picture a first dance on the patio, spinning under the stars surrounded by family and friends.

 


Vendor Spotlight: Yonder Design

 

Photo by Josh Gruetzmacher

The first thing your guests will see that truly represents your wedding is your invitation, but these days it’s so much more than a letterpressed card in a pretty envelope. Innovative ideas, unique mediums, and the desire to brand an event has led to a new crop of artisans who are taking traditional wedding paper goods to a new level. One of our all-time favorites? San Francisco-based Yonder Design, the brainchild of Chris and Julie Neubauer. They’ve helped us set the scene for some of the most incredible celebrations, telling a story that extends so far beyond the wedding day. We talked to Chris about why they do what they do, and what makes Yonder Design an event branding service that’s not to be missed. 

What inspired you to create Yonder?

My now-wife Julie and I created Yonder in 2011 as we sought to start a business together that fit both of our skill sets. My background is in print publishing, so paper, ink, and printing have always been very familiar to me. Julie formally studied fine arts and graphic design in college, but found herself in the finance world for almost ten years after graduation. After a few pivots and slight refocusing, we combined our skills and passions and Yonder became what you see today.

What makes Yonder Design different from other stationers?

We don’t actually think of ourselves as stationers. This might seem like a silly distinction, as we create a lot of stationery products, but we really identify ourselves with event branding. Changing the label from stationers to event branding helps get both our teams and our clients thinking in a more unique way, opening up the creative possibilities and removing the limitations of paper and ink.

Stationery is intrinsically linked to paper, but with our approach, the paper often comes second. We like to take inspiration from physical materials and natural elements, then weave them together with paper in a cohesive way throughout an event to represent a motif, place or style.

Thinking differently is made possible by our experience with a variety of production techniques using materials like wood, metal, leather, fabric, ceramics, and more. Like an event planner creates a mood board for the overall look of an event, we do the same thing to create an event’s brand. We believe that cohesiveness of materials, graphics and typography helps to leave a much larger impression on the overall guest experience.

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Photo by Josh Gruetzmacher

What can a couple expect when they work with you?

A couple can expect a highly tailored experience that is unique to them throughout the process. We don’t start from templates or past designs, so everything we create is specific to each client and event.

What type of couple do you usually attract?

We generally attract couples who are looking to make a statement and set the tone for their special event to come. We don’t have a set design aesthetic, so the styles of our couples range dramatically.  

How does your work in branding influence your work as a wedding stationer?

Our branding work and process is like that of many other creative agencies helping the corporate world to build identities or brands, but what is unique is our ability to offer this expertise to our wedding and event clients. Our team is comprised of members formally trained in graphic, industrial, textile and packaging design, as well as marketing communication and copywriting. Because of these diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer our wedding and event clients the same professional quality service we offer for corporate clients on the branding side.  

Extensive research, group conceptualization, sample sourcing, prototyping and design boards may be more common for creative agencies exclusively working to build brand identities at the corporate level, but we bring these same processes and level of thought to our wedding and event clients.

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Photo by Josh Gruetzmacher

What are three things a couple should keep in mind when they’re assembling a suite for their wedding?

  1. Just because it goes in the mail, doesn’t mean it needs to be paper.
  2. Less is more. Limit the amount of text and number of cards or inserts to 2 or 3.  Additional information can be presented to guests online in a far more efficient manner–and you can update minor details on short notice. This also allows more room in a budget to do unique things that get guests excited.
  3. Technology is wonderful… But we’ve found that not all guests appreciate email invitations. If you want people to attend your event and get excited about it, send something unique in the mail

What are the most important stationery vocabulary words that couples should know?

Stock: The paper being used.

#/LB: Paper terminology for the density of paper. When comparing papers of the same style (cover stock, for example) the higher the number, the denser (generally thicker) the paper.

Pantone Color: Digital proofs can be very misleading when it comes to color. Different monitors and displays show colors differently, so what we see on our end, might look entirely different to the customer. To avoid any confusion, we use the Pantone Matching System, which is the worldwide standard in the design and printing trades. You can generally get a Pantone book from your planner or order one online

Embossing/Debossing: Printing method used to raise or lower an image on paper, giving a three dimensional effect.

Die Cut: A die is like an industrial cookie cutter, which cuts paper into specific shapes.  This differs from straight edge trimming, where paper is stacked and trimmed along crop lines.

What should the couple already know about their wedding when they start working with you?

The couple should have a venue booked with the dates of their wedding set, as well as an idea of their budget range.

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Photo by Josh Gruetzmacher

Which trends or details have been popular recently? Is there a color scheme or style that’s a go-to? What about one you’ve been surprised to see take off?

We’ve seen a large trend toward the use of non-paper materials in invitations. I believe we are seeing more of this because of the glut of online stores providing basic paper invitations. Our clients tend to want something that has a lot of finishing details that can’t be ordered online.

A lot of our clients have gravitated to neutral tones or black and white color schemes lately. I don’t know if this is a trend or more of a timeless style. However, most of our clients prefer an icon over a traditional monogram.

Is there a style or design element you’ve always wanted to incorporate into a wedding stationery suite?

We are always interested in working with new and unique materials. Recently, we’ve been really excited about mother of pearl, tortoise shell acrylic and rattan paper.

Describe your dream clients.

Our dream client is simply one that trusts us. They are able to articulate what they do and don’t like and aren’t afraid to say it. We’ll try to push the envelope and present a variety of unique concepts that haven’t been done before. It takes a lot of trust to make this happen.

Do you have any tips for couples to help them narrow down a design, or bring their inspiration to life?

Stop pinning pretty styled invitation suites that were created for other people or just for a photo shoot. Styled invitations may look great for a photo, but consider what the opening experience for your guests will be. Instead, pin isolated images of things that express your interests and taste. Pull from packaging, typography, interior design, works of art, architecture, nature, experiences, etc. Most importantly, look at elements from the venue and the local area. Styled images are great to capture a mood, but not what specific design elements you may care for or that best represents you.

Focus on what you do NOT like and make a list. Eliminating options is a powerful tool!

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Photo by Josh Gruetzmacher

Is there one design you’ve created that made you say “I wish I was invited to this wedding!”? What was it about the stationery that got you so excited?

We worked on a project last year with Alison Events that incorporated moss, cork, acrylic, splatter paint, laser engraving, gold foil, screen-printing, lacquered boxes and much more. The design was unlike anything we’ve ever created for a wedding client. The amount of creativity involved and the challenge of creating production techniques to make it all happen was very rewarding.

What is something about you and Yonder Design that couples should know?

We love what we do and we love our clients. We understand that what we create is not for everyone, but we can create something unique for anyone. Our designs don’t get posted on the refrigerator. They are art pieces that provoke conversation and create excitement for the upcoming event.

When we aren’t in the office, we are most likely out chasing the next storm in search for snow.


Photographer Spotlight: Jesse Leake

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There’s no question that wedding days are incredibly beautiful. From the glowing bride and grinning groom to the flower-laden altar and impeccably set tables, there’s something gorgeous, emotional, and meaningful around every turn. It’s a feeling you’ll want to capture forever, and there’s no better way to do that than by hiring a truly talented photographer. One of our favorites? Jesse Leake. He’s been shooting weddings for almost 15 years, and is an expert at capturing those moments and details you’ll always remember.

Where are you based? I’m based in San Francisco. 

Why did you become a photographer? I’ve always loved taking pictures of the people and places in my life. After spending time traveling abroad and taking pictures during my journeys, I got a lot of positive feedback from others about my work. That inspired me to take my photography to the next level.

What do you love about it? With a camera in hand, I am totally immersed in the moment and encouraged to look for meaning and beauty in life.

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What makes your approach to shooting a wedding different? I approach a wedding as an open observer, there to seek out and document the beauty and feeling of the day in a natural way. I am sensitive to respecting the feelings and nature of my clients.

What medium do you work in? I shoot both with film and digitally. 

When did you start photographing weddings? I started shooting weddings in 2001. While in college, I spent my summers as a wedding videographer. At one of those weddings, I met Los Angeles-based photographer Joe Buissink. Watching him work, I was impressed by his easy-going nature and ability to capture candid moments. Later that night, I looked up his website and the inspiration for my career was born.

What is your favorite moment to photograph at a wedding? I enjoy all of it, but If I had to choose, I would say the couple’s portraits. I enjoy the collaborative process of working closely with my clients, implementing my creative vision and bringing out their natural beauty.

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What is your favorite location to shoot on the West Coast? Can’t beat the Napa Valley – Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa and Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel are a few favorites.

Is there a type of wedding that you’ve never shot that you would love to shoot? I’d love to go to Europe and shoot a wedding in Italy or France.

Aside from weddings, what else do you like to photograph? I spend most winters doing travel photography, and am excited about my recent partnership with Pottery Barn, where my work is now available for purchase.

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What inspires you? Location, beauty and people inspire me.

What do you like to do when you’re not photographing? I love getting dinner with friends, doing yoga, antiquing, snowboarding, and traveling. 

What’s a fun fact about you that your clients might not know? I’m a juicer. Green juice is my coffee, and what you’ll find in my bag on wedding days.

What do you wish couples knew before hiring a wedding photographer? Take the time to get to know the photographer you want to hire. How much experience do they have? Are they good-natured? Is their work consistent? How good are they in low light? Are they passionate? Be sure to ask to see a full album or gallery from one wedding, not just a “best of” gallery. 

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What should couples know and be prepared with when they meet with you for the first time? Before meeting me, they should have a date and venue decided. They should have an idea of their photography budget and be familiar with my work.


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.