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 


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


Florist Spotlight: Kiana Underwood of Tulipina

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Photo by Corbin Gurkin

There are so many pieces that go into the design of an event: Choosing the perfect venue, selecting furniture and tableware, lighting, linens, and, of course, flowers. When it comes to lush, dramatic floral designs that will truly take your breath away, one of our favorite floral designers to turn to is Kiana Underwood, founder of San Francisco-based Tulipina. She has an eye for color and texture that can’t be beat, and we love having her on board to help transform a space into something totally breathtaking. We sat down with her to find out a little more about what she does and why she loves it.

How did you become interested in floral design?
As a little girl, I spent a lot of time in my grandfather’s gardens. He had a huge estate surrounded by gardens, and my mother always kept her own lovely garden – we always had fresh flowers in our home. In general, flowers are an integral part of Persian culture, and being surrounded by flowers was very much a part of my childhood.

What inspired you to start Tulipina? When did you start?
I earned my Master’s degree in International Relations and Economics from a prestigious school in Washington D.C., after which I returned to San Francisco. I began working at Stanford doing research and writing, but it was within a subject for which I had little passion. So when my first baby was born, I decided to stay home with her. But soon I found myself at home with 3 kids under the age of 5. While I absolutely loved having the privilege of staying home with my children, I always felt like I needed something more, something that was just for me – an outlet. That was when my husband suggested that I start Tulipina. For years I had been creating my own floral arrangements for my home and parties and friends and family would admire them, so with the encouragement of my husband, I launched Tulipina in April of 2011.

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Photo by Corbin Gurkin

What do you love about working with flowers?
One of my favorite parts of my business is the creative aspect. I love working with beauty of course, but the creativity that I’m allowed in doing so is a real blessing. I think of flowers as my painter’s palette, and every arrangement as an expression of who I am creatively.
The other favorite part of my work are my clients and students, especially those who truly appreciate my work and seek me out – they make my job very rewarding.

What makes your approach to floral design and arrangement different? What sets the weddings you design apart?
I think that my use of unexpected floral elements and approaches to color are what set me apart. I’m often approached by those who appreciate my work for what it is, and are not just looking for a “florist“ per se, but rather for someone who does what I do creatively.

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Photo by Corbin Gurkin

Do you have a favorite floral aspect to design? Why?
I love to incorporate elements from my own garden – they add a unique element and help the design stand out.

Is there a type of wedding (location, culture, style, etc.) that you’ve never worked on that you would love to be involved in?
In general, I love being involved in weddings/events that step outside the box. I’ve always had a fascination with the Japanese culture and I would love to incorporate my designs with their traditional wedding rituals.Tulipina_jakarta16-012

What are your favorite flowers to work with? Does this change seasonally?
I have many favorite flowers, and pretty much love all flowers and foliage. In autumn I love dahlias and zinnias. In the spring I love peonies and garden roses. Ranunculus and gardenias have to be my absolute favorite flowers, but for very different reasons. I love ranunculus because they are so beautiful and come in so many different shades and textures (and last for a very long time), and I love gardenias for how delicate and aromatic they are.

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Photo by Corbin Gurkin

What about non-floral elements? Are there details you love to include that are unexpected?
I love using fruit branches in my arrangements.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by music, art, or just a simple walk around my neighborhood.

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I love watching my children play their musical instruments, and I also love playing the piano when I have the time. I also thoroughly enjoy visiting nurseries and maintaining my garden.

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Photo by Sandra Fazzino Photography

What’s a fun fact about you that your clients might not know?
I can speak Farsi, English, Italian, and Japanese (in descending order of proficiency).

What do you wish couples knew before hiring a florist?
I wish couples understood just how expensive flowers are, and the labor that goes into the creation of floral art.

What should couples know about their event or be prepared with when they meet with you for the first time?
They should have a good sense of the overall theme of their event. I can fill in the gaps, but being able to express their likes, dislikes and overall theme is very important to ensuring a gorgeous final result.


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: LOHO Bride

If you follow us on Instagram, chances are you caught LOHO Bride’s takeover back in April. But we couldn’t get enough of this super-chill bohemian bridal salon in San Francisco, so we sat down with owner Christy to chat about her wedding dress-shopping philosophy, what trends she can’t wait to see transition from the runway to the aisle, and what it means to be a bride who’s in a League Of Her Own.

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What inspired you to create LOHO Bride?

5 years ago, I had a crazy wedding season (9 weddings in 8 months!), and became fascinated with the ritual. I’d never fantasized about getting married, but it made me wonder where someone like me would go for a chilled-out, non-traditional bridal experience.

Over a glass of wine, my previous partner (Brittany Castanos of Daughters of Simone) and I joked about the subject, did some research, and started reconstructing and modernizing vintage bridal gowns for women looking for something one-of-a-kind — that’s how Daughters of Simone was born! Brittany transformed the brand into a made-to-order line (that I’m thrilled to carry at LOHO Bride!), but I was still caught up on creating an experience for this niche group of women who often had to forfeit the salon experience in order to stay true to their aesthetic. So I opened LOHO Bride to create a place where the bride I was imagining, inspired by my friends, can come and find a gown and a comfortable experience that fits her personality.

What makes the LOHO Bride experience different from a traditional bridal salon?

Our focus is the personal experience, so the 1-hour private fittings in our studio are extremely tailored to our brides — it’s important that we know who they are before they step through our doors, because we want them to feel as comfortable as possible during what could be a very stressful process. The goal is to make dress shopping a fun, light-hearted part of wedding planning! As long as they leave feeling good and relaxed, we’ve done our job. That will likely involve champagne and a customized playlist, but only if that’s their preference, of course!

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How have you combined a more fashion-forward boutique with the process of shopping for a wedding dress?

We’ve been able to combine the two by committing to who our bride is. We keep our selection edited and tightly curated with the new-age bride in mind, which means she doesn’t have to comb through traditional styles trying to find what she’s looking for. She has an appreciation for the right cuts, fashion-forward designs, rich materials, and something that makes her feel completely her own. She doesn’t let convention get in the way of the look she wants to exude on her wedding day. Authenticity means everything to her, so we keep that attitude while we’re curating our selection.

What can a bride expect when she visits your boutique?

Our brides can expect one-on-one attention, privacy for her group, personal touches, and honest styling expertise. Many brides say that they feel as if they’re playing dress up in their friend’s apartment, which is exactly what we’re going for! We aim to guide them in a supportive way — no pushiness, mindful feedback and the willingness to help them find the right gown for them, even if it means recommending another store who might have what they’re looking for.

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What are three things a bride should keep in mind when she’s shopping for a wedding gown?

  1. Love your body and stay true to what flatters you the best. It’s easy to fall in love with a dress from a picture, but you have to ask yourself if the style of the dress highlights all of your most beautiful features. It’s a tough realization at times, but you’ll appreciate it when you see yourself in photos!
  2. Try to avoid bringing too many opinions with you. It breaks our heart when we see a group tear down a bride’s confidence, or kills the vision/vibe the bride is going for. Bring friends or family members who know your style and who respect that this is your day and your time to shine. Stand your ground!
  3. Don’t forget to enjoy the process! We get it — the wedding industry can be pushy. It’s easy to get pressured into making decisions and spending loads of money, and it can leave you feeling downright confused. We like to remind brides that they’re throwing a big, raging party with their all-time favorite people in the world. Relax and enjoy the ride! We hope that the LOHO experience we provide our brides can remind them of this and keep them centered.

What should a bride have with her while she’s shopping?

Good, positive energy ready to pour into the experience, an open mind, and nude undergarments. If you have these three things, we should be golden!

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Which trends or details have been most popular? Is there a style that you’ve been surprised to see take off?

Forever and ever, I think the low, open back is going to be popular. Who doesn’t love a sexy back coming down the aisle? And off-the-shoulder styles have been glorious options for a bride who wants to show off her collar bones, but doesn’t want to wear strapless.

As for a surprising style — I think the reign of the two-piece has been shocking, but now that I’ve seen it on so many women, I get why it’s popular! High waisted skirts are insanely flattering and the separates look is super inventive and playful — it allows brides to create their own look through layering and mixing textures.

What are some new trends that you’re excited to have in the shop?

Thanks to Solange, the cape has been asked about and we’re excited to have one coming to the shop soon! Dramatic sleeves are also really catching our attention this season, so we’ve picked up some Stevie Nicks inspired sleeves. Last, we’re loving illusion gowns this season, and have recently thrown a few into the mix too!

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Do you have a favorite gown or trend in your boutique right now? Why do you love it?

I can honestly say that I’ve only personally tried on one gown myself and it’s the “Gamila” gown by Houghton. It’s an off the shoulder style, 6-ply silk gown, with cape-like sleeves. I could envision Carolyn Bessette wearing it on the red carpet. I love that it makes a modern, edgy statement, but is still so elegant and timeless. On the dance floor, the sleeves would have such killer movement, which is a major bonus in my book! All in all, it has all the elements and personality that I love about a great dress. It’s especially cool to see the brides who have purchased it evoke a similar feeling once they have it on.

How can brides incorporate ready-to-wear and runway trends into their bridal look?

I think that the rehearsal dinner is a fun opportunity to shake things up with a favorite ready-to-wear look. Accessories and layering can be added to a more timeless gown to give the bride’s look a current feel. And so many runway trends make their way into bridal these days anyway, that I think they’re naturally intertwined.

Is there a venue or location where you’d love to be a wedding guest? What would you love to see a bride wear down the aisle there?

I’ve fallen in love with this wedding venue in Bali called the Bambu Indah. It would pair so perfectly with our Bo&Luca ISRA gown and I would die to see it all come to life!

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What’s a fact about you or LOHO Bride that your clients might not know?

Many clients might not know that I came from a tech background and was working in mobile advertising up until a month before we opened! I’m a big advocate of exploring being an entrepreneur while still having a day job; take the leap of faith when the time is right. I was fortunate enough to get a small business loan through the SBA, but it took years of juggling both my business idea for LOHO and having to pay my expensive San Francisco bills!


Vendor Spotlight: Stag Dining

We caught up with Stag Dining this week and got a fun glimpse into the world of catering. Stag never fails to bring a fun touch of edginess and we love them for it! And their dream meal? Amazing….sign us up!

 

 

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Where are you based? San Francisco, CA

 

 

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What do you specialize in? Creative Catering & Beverage Catering

 

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How did you get started?
As a Supper Club, in 2010 Throwing underground dinner parties with our favorite Winemakers, brewers and bartenders

 

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What inspires you/your work?
Nature first and foremost. We also believe that there is a unique power in connecting people through culinary experiences & events. Often times, the event that we are producing is the first opportunity for our guests to step away from their highly connected and device-filled schedule and allows them the opportunity to relax and connect socially in an authentic way.

 

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What’s a fun fact about you that clients may not know?
We started making wine last year. We partnered up with our good friends from Bodkin Wines for a beautiful rosé we call Deerblood and Derby Meritage Red. The fruit is from Sonoma County from some small family farms and is tasting quite lovely. We have always been about collaboration so when the opportunity arose to create food-friendly wines with one of the most up and coming winemakers in Sonoma we jumped at the opportunity.

 

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What is one of your favorite venues to work in and why?
Our Russian River outpost, The Rio Theater in Monte Rio, Sonoma. It’s a slice right out of of Wes Anderson’s imagination on the sunny sandy banks of the Russian River.

 

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Do you see any trends happening in the catering industry?
Away with the white tablecloths! The Craft-Casual approach that is dominating the hospitality scene in restaurants, bars & hotels, is something we are are applying to the mobile landscape (catering and beverage catering).

 

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What’s a dish or meal that you would love to put together if you were given free reign at an event?
Take over a seated section at a major league baseball stadium, serve 9 courses of gourmet-inspired take on baseball food during a game… an event within an event!

 

Tell us the best way to reach you and check out your work.
Instagram: @stagdining
Website: stagdining.com
Tumblr: stagdining.tumblr.com


In the Press: A Healdsburg Inspired Dinner in the City

We’ve been counting down the days till we can share this oh-so-gorgeous event with you and the day is finally here! Our Healdsburg inspired dinner is featured on Green Wedding Shoes today!

Guests arrived to Pier 48 in San Francisco and were transported to wine country for the night. We can’t resist a good entrance and this one was seriously good.  The laidback yet sophisticated design created the perfect atmosphere to relax and enjoy the evening.

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Event Planning & Design Alison Events//Photographer: Edyta Szyslo // Venue: Pier 48 in San Francisco  // Floral and Production: Brown Paper Design //  Catering: Componere Fine Catering // Cake: Perfect Endings // Rentals: Wine Country Party & Events, Hartmann Studios, Classic Party Rentals // Lighting: Got Light // DJ: Josh Dukes of Boutique Entertainment // Music: Entire Productions // Photobooth: Tomfoolery SF // Valet: Soiree Valet Parking Service, Inc. //


A Northern California Gala

This year marked our second year working with La Cocina on their annual gallery. The non-profit incubator kitchen works with low-income and immigrant women entreprenuers who are launching, growing, and formalizing food businesses, and this year we were honored to design the event yet again. The gala hosted 200 guests and took place at the AirBnB headquarters here in San Francisco.

Photography by Drew AltizerSilvana di Franco, and Gustavo Fernandez

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In the Press: Rachel and Abhishek’s Indian and Western Wedding in San Francisco

Rachel and Abhishek’s wedding bonanza was featured on 100 Layer Cake this week.

Here’s a little taste of this colorful celebration. With a traditional Indian ceremony, followed by a Western ceremony, and a wardrobe change in between, the reception after was filled with much revelry and celebrating—not to mention florals that made us swoon, a pretty and delicious cake, and 360 views of the city by the bay.

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See more of this wedding over on 100 Layer Cake.

Photographer: Kate Webber // Ceremony & Reception Venue & Catering: Fairmont Pavilion & Fairmont Crown Room // Event Coordinator: Alison Events // Florist: Natalie Bowen // Hair: The Red Chair Salon // Makeup: Lili from Artists by Sherrie Long // Invitations: Alexandra Rinde of The Aerialist Press // Cake: Inticing Creations // Rentals: Hartmann StudiosFrances Lane VintageClassic Party RentalsOne True Love // DJ: DJ Cams / Photobooth: The Magnolia Photo Booth Co. // Horse: Hackney Horse // Bride’s Dresses: Oscar de la Renta from Marina Morrison in SF & Sahil Boutique in Chicago // Jewelry: Kate Spade // Wedding Rings: Smythe Jewelers // Lipstick: Bobbi Brown // Groom’s Suit: Brooks Brothers // Shoes: Bruno Magli // Bridesmaids’ Sarees and Bangles: from India // Bridesmaids’ Ceremony Dresses: Joanna August // Groomsmen Suits: Jos A. Banks


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.