Archives for category: Wedding

Or, the ten best…in Italian.  Here’s our top ten list from our Italian honeymoon.

10.  Our Itinerary:  Milan – Venice – Florence – Tuscan Countryside – Rome – Amalfi Coast.  I received some great recommendations from my cousin’s wife when I asked for her “ultimate itinerary” if she were to have 3 weeks in Italy.  She did not disappoint.  In most cities, it felt like the right length of time; and in Tuscany and Amalfi, we wished for even more.


A Typical Venetian Scene

9.  Old stuff.  Duomos, cobblestones, the Colosseum, ruins.  What better way to reminisce about all my art and architectural history classes than to see these places and pieces of art in person.


Really old stuff, Rome

8.  Traveling by train.  What a way to go.  No security lines.  Watching the countryside fly by.  I wish the US had a train system like Europe (and that SF had a metro system like Milan!).

Stazione Milano Centrale

7.  Cappuccino.  Every morning.  And I don’t even drink coffee.  With only one exception, everywhere we stayed included breakfast, and I just could not resist saying, “Un cappuccino, per favore,” when the nice waiters came by.

Breakfast at Villa Podernovo, Tuscany

6.  Meeting up with familiar faces.  Our friend Nicco took us on a walking-eating-drinking tour around Florence, his home town, complete with childhood stories, and Chris’ cousin Melissa and her Italian boyfriend, Vincenzo, took us out for an amazing dinner in Rome – we didn’t have to order a thing.

familiar faces in far away places

5.  The wine.  Whether it was a Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany or the glass of Prosecco every night before dinner at our hotel on the Amalfi Coast, we were never disappointed.

Vino in Firenze

4.  The food.  I think we ate our weight in prosciutto and salami, more than our fair share of pizza, some amazing Risotto Milanese and a couple kickass sandwiches from the Mercato in Florence, but…we had some standout memorable meals – particularly our dinners at Trattoria Quattro Leoni and Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco in Florence, and our honeymoon finale at Le Sirenuse in Positano.  Huge thanks to our friends for the recommendations!

Happy Hour at Enoteca Gola e Cantina, Florence

3.  Gelato!  Favorite flavors were definitely pistachio for him and hazelnut for me, but we never met a flavor we didn’t like.  It became our daily ritual.  Walk around until we’re hot, get gelato, repeat.

Our very first gelato in Italy; would not be our last

2.  Villa Podernovo in Monticiano, Tuscany.  It was a beautiful villa (found via in a teeny tiny village, but a perfect home base for exploring the nearby hill towns of Siena and San Gimignano.

Villa Podernovo

Villa Podernovo, aka heaven – our apartment was upstairs in this building

1.  The Amalfi Coast, by scooter… When the road is really only about one-lane wide, you definitely want the smallest, most agile vehicle.  We were so glad we rented a scooter for three of our days on the Amalfi coast.  Zipping to Positano or Amalfi for dinner, from our centrally located hotel in Praiano, was not only convenient, but so much fun!

Sunset from Praiano, looking towards Positano

La dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing” – really the best thing we learned in Italy, and what we hope to maintain, at least a little bit, in our lives back home.


It has been waaay too long since I’ve posted anything here.  Wedding.  Getting back to work.  Holidays.  You know the drill.  And then it started to get intimidating – what do I have to write about?  Well, I finally logged back into my account and stumbled across a draft I had written several months back.  It’s about some lessons learned in the midst of the wedding-planning process.  I figured I’d go ahead a share it, and I can follow up with the post-event lessons learned.  Call it an inspirational cop-out, but it’s something.  ; )


Sample from a To Do List

17 days.  It’s so hard to believe.  When we started this whole engagement thing, we were at 447.  When I think about the “day of,”  I get really excited, even a bit teary-eyed, but when I think about all that’s left to do, I get more than a little anxious.  And I’ve been tested a bit lately.  Would you believe me if I told you that I filed two police reports in the last week and a half?  I know!  Seriously.  The first was for a stolen wallet, whose contents included my driver’s license, every credit card I own, my checks, zero cash (thank God), and several gift cards for stores where we’re registered.  Oh yeah, and our Costco card – and we still haven’t bought our wedding beer yet.  (Wedding beer?  That sounds so much sillier than I meant.)  The second police report was filed just today.  I was leaving for an 8 o’clock meeting this morning (who schedules these?!) when I realized that my front license plate and driver’s side mirror had been stolen.  The very same mirror that had been replaced back in 2001 when it was “watermeloned,” but that’s another story…  Anyway, just when I thought my plate was full, I’m finding a few more things added to it.  It’s causing me to reflect on wedding planning items that I wish I had done differently or that I’m glad I did the way I did…  I’m sure I’ll have a completely different list once the wedding day has come and gone, but here’s where things stand now, just two weeks away from the big day.

So here are a few lessons learned:

1)  I wish I had discovered Pinterest when I started this process.  It’s been so wonderful for keeping track of online inspiration, especially from the blogs that I frequent – namely, stylemepretty, snippetandink, greylikesweddings, and 100layercake.  It’s also much more convenient for sharing with the groom, bridal party, and vendors – as in “Here’s what I’m thinking…”

2) Remember that your groom may not have the same vision that you do.  Ask him what he envisions for your wedding.  Also, set some expectations early.  How much does he want to be involved?  Does he want to give input on everything?  Does he want to see options and then help choose?  Does he really just want to know when and where to show up?  And from my own experience as well as informal surveys of friends…fighting more during wedding planning is totally normal.

3) Delegate.  This one is very hard for me.  There are often people who sense that you may be overwhelmed and want to help.  Take them up on it.  Decide which tasks you are willing to have slightly less control over and gratefully accept the assistance.

4)  Don’t freak out when the “Yes” responses start coming in.  The “Accepts” come before the “Declines.”  I was worried that we weren’t going to be able to accommodate everyone at our venue, but we ended up with approximately 75% of the guests accepting.  (Post wedding note:  In the week before the wedding, another 5% had to decline because of sick kids, travel issues, etc.  The number ended up right where we expected.)

5)  Find a way to “let go.”  You can only do so much.  Prioritize what is really important to you and your fiancé and be willing to let the little things go.

6) Be gracious.  With your higher-than-normal stress level, it’s easy to forget that most people are really trying to help, and that cashier at the store or the person who cut you off on the road has no idea what you’re going through.  Take a deep breath, relax, smile, and say thank you.  Trust me, you’ll feel better saying thank you than if you explode at random strangers.

How about you?  Any suggestions for stressed brides out there?

According to a particular wedding website that I frequent, my countdown stands at exactly seventy-one days.  I was told by a friend that the double digits would be daunting.  Needless to say, I’m in the thick of it.  There’s still so much to do, and I’m starting to worry that there aren’t enough weekends left… But…I’ve discovered the latest-best-thing.  In an era of text messages, evites, and facebook updates, the stuff that comes through the mail slot is typically reduced to bills, catalogs, and pizza coupons.  With one very brief, but very wonderful, exception.  Reply cards.  Now I can’t wait to get home and open the front door, to see if any of these little guys have arrived back at my doorstep.  Thanks for the smiles, friends and family!  You’ve made my day!

reply card envelope

I have a new obsession.  It’s the biggest computer time suck since Tetris in the early 90s (for me, at least).  And I love it.  It’s called Pinterest.  Slap me if you’ve heard all this before, but it’s fairly new to me.  It is genius.  I’m sure I’m not the only one with a folder full of of inspiration images on my computer (and several binders-full, torn from magazines, on my bookshelves), but this great little website allows you to “pin” your favorite images from around the interwebs, with links to the original location (great for tracking things down later), and you can share them with friends who “follow” you.  You can also sort them into “boards,” which is great for categories like food, clothes, design, etc.  I really wish I had discovered this at the beginning of my wedding planning, instead of near the end, but hindsight…oh well.

Crack – well that’s one way to describe it.  I’d rather think of it as a place for all the pretty things.

Happy Friday!

Okay, back to the wedding in Lake Tahoe.  Aside from the 4 hour drive from San Francisco to Incline, we had a few other concerns about assembling the flowers “on location.”

1)  Weather:  Tahoe during the “in between seasons” can be a little unpredictable weather-wise.  You can have snow one day and bluebird 70 degrees the next.  We were a little afraid that we could have some scorching weather and we wouldn’t be able to keep the flowers cool.  Would we have to enlist the refrigerators at everyone’s condos?

2)  Workspace:  We were staying in a rental house in Incline Village.  It was also three stories.  Fingers were crossed that we would even have access to the garage, but we also didn’t want to be trekking up and down several flights of stairs all day.

3)  Transport:  Half of the arrangements were about five feet tall – how would we get them to the ceremony and reception sites?

4)  Timing:  It’s always hard to do the flowers for a wedding that you’re also attending.  It’s even harder when the reception site will only let you set up 90 minutes prior to the reception, and the ceremony starts 60 minutes before the reception.  You do the math.

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Driving up Highway 80, with an SUV full of flowers and the thermostat set to “chilly,”  the clouds started rolling in.  By the time we hit Auburn, in the foothills, it had started to rain.  It was coming down pretty hard as we came over Donner Pass and the temperature dropped into the mid 40s.  Brrrr…  Well, no fear of scorched and wilted flowers – just frost.  And hopefully the rain wouldn’t last until Friday and dampen the spirits of the wedding party.

We arrived to the house after dark and quickly unloaded all the buckets into the garage (yay – it was open!).  With the cool temps outside, the garage served as an ideal walk-in cooler.  Even better, as Megan quickly discovered, the pool table had a ping-pong topper that would make the perfect workbench – score #2!

The next morning, we woke to a cool, crisp day, with clear blue skies!  It was gorgeous out.  After a brief rehearsal at the church, the guys headed out to golf and our little team – Meg, Mom and I – got to work.  We had tall centerpieces, low centerpieces, bouquets and boutonnieres to make, and we needed to be done before the rehearsal dinner that night.  For the most part, we divided and conquered.  Mom’s specialty is the large arrangements, and she even figured out how we could have them all prepped and then assembled on site, which helped with the transport.  After some quick prototyping, Megan and I got to work on the lower centerpieces and the arrangements for the cocktail tables.  Megan then handled the boutonnieres and I tackled the bouquets for the bride and her maids.  We had a blast – hanging out, catching up, making pretty things, listening to music, and we even finished ahead of schedule.

The next day was a bit of a whirlwind.  Megan was also in the wedding, so she had to leave early for hair and makeup.  I got the car all loaded up and then showered and got dressed.  Mom and I made the deliveries to the guys (boutonnieres), to the church (arrangements at the entrance and bouquets for the girls), and then quickly to the reception site to drop off everything else.  Back to the church…

The ceremony was awesome.  The priest was by far the best – personable and funny.  The vows made me cry.  And the view beyond the altar – evergreens and Lake Tahoe – was stunning.

Mom and I, with much help from a very pregnant friend, Anna, used the cocktail hour to get the reception room set up.  The rest of the guests were enjoying drinks on the deck, overlooking the golf course and the lake, while waiting for the wedding party to arrive.  Centerpieces were placed.  Escort cards, table names, and votive candles were laid out, and we managed to put fresh flowers on the cake.  Phew!  At that point, we were ready to join the party!  Congratulations Cameron & Amanda!

Women of Honor?  Best girls?  The term is still up for discussion.  I don’t much care for the word “matron,” especially if it’s going to be used to describe my lovely honor attendants who are not matronly at all.  They are, however, married.  Apparently, they’re no longer considered “maids.”  I have yet to determine, with their input, what they will officially be called, but I’ve taken care of the more important part – asking them to be in the wedding.

I have two amazing BFFs – Emily & Megan.  We’ve all known each other since we were about 6 years old.  I met them in Mrs. Gramling’s second grade class, and we went all the way through Senior year of high school together.  Em & I even roomed together freshman year of college.

We’re at 28 years of friendship and counting.  There’s something so wonderful about friends who’ve known you all your life – when they’ve been around this long, it makes you pretty confident they’ll stick around for the future.  I was honored to stand up with each of them for their weddings, and I can’t wait to have them stand up with me at mine.

I wanted to ask each of them to be my Women of Honor in a special way.  I pulled together photos of us from over the years and put them together in a little photo book with captions and a little note at the end.  Also included was a CD I burned – a “mix tape” of songs that reminded me of each of them and our friendship over the years.  Lucky for me, they both said yes!

I had the honor and pleasure of arranging the flowers for Cameron & Amanda’s beautiful wedding in Tahoe two weekends ago.  The ceremony was at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and the ceremony followed at the Chateau, both in Incline Village.  But the adventure started long before that…


Flowers prepped in the garage


It’s been ten years now that I’ve been helping Emily do wedding flowers, but this is the first complete wedding I’ve done on my own.  Well, not completely on my own.  I certainly couldn’t have done it without huge help from my mom and Megan!  Thanks you two!

But back to the adventure…I started some time around o’dark-thirty on Wednesday morning.  I made it to the San Francisco Flower Mart before the sun.  Armed with my buying guide (you’re a Godsend, Em!), I made the rounds to all the different shops and booths, searching for calla lilies galore (and orchids, and bells of Ireland).  It was a little nerve-wracking, a little thrilling, and a lot of fun.  And I am not a morning person.

With flowers and greens loaded up in the back of my dad’s SUV (so thanks to Dad, too!), I headed to Chris’ garage to prep.  This involved unwrapping all the bunches, removing rubber bands and cellophane and cutting all the stems.  Hundreds of stems.  I should’ve counted.  Not really.  Then with the flowers in buckets, I loaded up the car once more.  It was packed.  To the gills.  Side-to-side and floor-to-ceiling.  Thank goodness I got Chris’ golf clubs in there beforehand.  I went upstairs to break the news to him that he could only pack about two cubic feet worth of clothes because that’s all the room I had left.  I drove the whole way to Tahoe with my purse in my lap, that’s how packed it was.


Ready to go!


Oh, and then there was the temperature.  We had to keep those flowers fresh!  A/C the whole way.  Chris thought he was in a meat locker.  Stay tuned for more about the wedding and pictures of the end results!

I don’t know what brides-to-be did before the internet.  Really.  I guess it was all about the bridal magazines.  These days, there’s a veritable plethora of virtual wedding planning going on.  (Full disclosure:  while I never bought a wedding magazine before I got engaged, there may have been a wee bit of wedding blog browsing going on, but purely to help friends getting married, or floral design research for helping out E.  Purely.)  I’ll admit there are at least five wedding blogs that I stalk on a regular basis.  One of them – Style Me Pretty – is pretty amazing.  And I just discovered the best part.

Many of the photos on the site have little color palettes at the bottom when you hover the cursor over them…then you can click on a particular color and see more photos using that color!  Trust me, it’s awesome.  So then, you can add these photos to your favorites and then create your own inspiration boards.  It’s almost too easy.  So…I made a couple.  Just starting to get my head around some color schemes and ideas that I may like.  Let me know what you think!

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The engagement bliss was wonderful.

Minutes after the proposal...

But, the whole point of getting engaged is to someday get married. Now it’s time to get to the real task at hand.  And as anyone who has gotten married will tell you, the first sentence after “Congratulations!” is “so, have you set a date?”  Perhaps they don’t realize that in today’s era of the multi-billion dollar (just guessing) wedding-industrial-complex, the setting of the date and the reserving of the venue(s) are inextricably tied.  So the short answer to that question is – not yet.

I would like to say that we’ve narrowed it down, but everywhere from San Francisco to points 50 miles north sounds pretty wide to me.  It’s hard to choose between a venue in the City we’ve both come to call home and one in the more rural countryside/wine country where I grew up.  Here’s hoping that by visiting various sites, we’ll stumble upon “the one” with the right mix of modern and comfortable, classic and charming.  Oh, and keep your fingers crossed that it’s available.