Napa Fires: Where to Donate
While all of us here at Trish Lee are safe and sound, we're heartbroken for everyone suffering from the fires just north of us in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. It's hard to find words to describe the scope of the devastation. If you'd like to help with the fire relief, the following local organizations are working to aid our neighbors affected by the wildfires:
Napa is such a special place, and we'll be thinking of you as you survive, recover, and rebuild.
OUR FAVORITE GOLDEN STATE WEDDING SPOTS
Planning a CA destination wedding? As a San Francisco company, we’re super proud of our home state. With a broad range of climates, geographies, and gorgeous natural landscapes, California offers a little something for everyone. See our top picks for a California destination wedding.
Mendocino County: Rugged Coastal Forest
Located along the northern part of California’s coast, Mendocino county is known for it’s rugged cliffs and towering redwoods. Mendocino County is also home to the Anderson Valley, one of California’s well renowned regions. The city of Mendocino is popular wedding and getaway location, with many historic hotels and B&B’s, so you can look further afield for a truly unique wedding venue.
Palm Springs: Sun-Soaked Desert
Located in the Coachella Valley about two hours east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the spot for year-round sun. Once a playground for the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, the glitterati are once again flocking to Palm Springs for its quirky boutique hotels, mid-century modern architecture, and vibrant art scene. With winter temperatures in the 70’s, Palm Springs is a great choice if you want an outdoor wedding in the winter. Summer temperatures in Palm Springs can be high, so choose a venue with indoor or shaded spaces - or head up to the nearby San Jacinto Mountains.
Yosemite: Mountain Majesty
Yosemite National Park is one of California’s most recognized landscapes, and our go-to choice for a California mountain wedding. First protected in 1864, the park is full of historic venues sure to please a couple looking for a vintage or rustic feel. The park and surrounding areas have a number of lodging options from campgrounds to luxurious hotels for your ceremony, reception, and even guest lodging. Note that ceremonies in the park do require a special permit and may be subject to size limits.
Carmel-by-the-Sea: Coastal Elegance
Carmel-by-the sea and the Monterey County showcase the beauty of the central California coast. Less rugged than the Northern coast, the area around Carmel is known for golf, art, and cool, sandy beaches.
Wine Country: Farm to Table Sophistication
Our final location is one we hold close to our hearts. Although wine is produced throughout California, Napa and Sonoma counties are nicknamed “Wine Country” for a reason. Both are home to numerous wineries that make lovely wedding venues, but don’t limit your search to wineries alone. With its location just one hour north of San Francisco, wine country is a great choice if you want your guests to be able to extend their trip into a mini-vacation.
For more wine country wedding inspiration, check out the weddings of our brides Priya, Katrina, and Chasa. Whether you want mountains, beaches, vineyards, or wilderness, the golden state has it all. We hope you'll join us here on the west coast for your dream wedding.
We couldn't wait to share this Style Me Pretty feature of Amy and Kent's vintage modern Austin wedding. Although they have lived in San Francisco and New York, they wanted to show their friends what Texas offered and decided to tie the knot in an industrial space set in the countryside outside of Austin. They somehow made the raw gallery-like space come to life with warm touches such as gilded glass keepsake display cases and purple-hued wildflower "sconces" decorating the white-washed walls.
As for the dress, the bride fell in love with the Marie gown, a vintage-inspired backless lace trumpet with cap sleeves as soon as she saw herself in the mirror. Luckily for her, she fit the sample size perfectly - it was an instant match! Congratulations to Amy and Kent - we hope marriage continues to be full of the adventurous spirit that it started with.
Photo: Jenny DeMarco
Wait till you see this one - it's a doozy. Thieny and David's greenhouse wedding is the most original we've seen here at Trish Lee. We're excited to share their feature on Junebug Weddings. Combining the spiritual healing elements of crystals, Rockabilly fashion, and old-Hollywood glamour in an urban rustic setting, their wedding set the bar for cool indie style. There were playful pops of color from the bridesmaids dresses, the healing crystals, and the flowers. They served fusion Asian cuisine that paid tribute to the bride and groom's heritage, such as Vietnamese spring rolls and Korean short ribs.
For the wedding attire, Thieny chose to wear the Kitty gown, a draped V-neck silk crepe sheath wedding dress that gave her curves for days - she was the embodiment sophistication and simplicity. David donned a sharp custom made-to-measure suit from San Francisco’s own Spoon Tailor. TRUST, when we say this is the wedding you wish you had been invited to. We're thrilled for the couple and this amazing Junebug feature.
Photo: Alixann Loosle
In the bride's own words, "I am in the positive energy business (healing arts), so incorporating healing crystals made sense. They didn’t just add natural beauty, but I believe they have an energetic vibration that elevates a space and reflects the positive vibes. We also had a Tibetan singing bell in the ceremony to remind all of us there when we heard the bell to stop take a delicious breath and enjoy the present moment."
Sometimes the unpredictable becomes the memorable. For all the lovely sunny California weddings, there's something to be said about this misty California coast wedding. The ethereal beauty of the coast lends a certain romance to Sandra and Jason's nuptials last fall. Sandra chose to wear our Reagan wedding gown, featuring a deep sweetheart neckline and a soft tulle skirt. The bride also arranged her own flowers! Check out their wedding featured on Wedding Chicks today.
Photo: One Love Photography
We're delighted to see one of our gowns featured on Borrowed & Blue - the premier source for all your wedding planning needs. This Vintage Heaven wedding shoot is brought to you by Ivy from Voulez Events, and it was truly an honor to be included. Light and romantic, the Peony gown, featuring a bateau neckline, is the perfect selection to complement this vintage-inspired wedding in the stunning Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin in San Francisco. We also love the green color palette and gentle use of antique accents in this shoot.
PHOTO: Grier Cooper
Ah weddings, what’s not to love? A big party where the drinks are flowing and friends, and family get together for a milestone celebration. But wait, there are some things that can ruin the good wedding vibes and cause an eye roll or two from guests. While your wedding is your big day, it's also about welcoming your guests. They're here to celebrate your union, and your job as a host is to make sure they have a good time. You would never consider inviting someone to your home for dinner and having them pay their share, right? Then why would you do this on your wedding day? So how do you make sure your guests are happy? We've come up with 5 things guests hate about weddings to avoid.
1. Cash Bar
One word - dreadful. We're not saying you have to break the bank and have a full open bar all night long, but making your guests pull out their wallets to enjoy a cocktail at your wedding is a big no-no. Be creative with your budget. Instead, you can offer a limited bar with beer and wine or you could opt to offer a signature drink. Or you might have to trim the guest count a bit. After all, if you're not willing or able to foot the bill, you should not be inviting that many guests. Trust us when we tell you that your guests will appreciate this!
2. Long Speeches (and slideshows)
Here are some basic rules: Keep speeches to no more than five. Each speech should last for one to three minutes and please no slideshows! There is a chance your neighbor's new girlfriend does not care to see a 10 minute slideshow of your baby pictures. If you absolutely want to show pictures of the best moments from high school, share them at the rehearsal dinner, to a more intimate party. We suggest you speak with those giving a speech and ask them to keep it short and sweet. Good luck!
3. Waiting, Late Ceremony Start
Just because this is your big day, it doesn't give you carte blanche to be fashionably late. Punctuality still applies. Your guests have made it a point to show up on time, maybe some even came from afar, show them how thankful you are, and get the show started in a timely manner.
4. That gap between ceremony and reception
If we're being honest here, your guests are more than happy to be witnesses to your vows, but they are ready to partayyy! They are thirsty. They are hungry. And they've taken time away from their busy lives to spend the day in celebration with you. Keep your guests in mind when you decide to take pictures right after the ceremony, and keep the session short. Plan on taking some pictures before the ceremony or sneak away during the reception. This will help in keeping the photo session shorter after the ceremony. Have some refreshments on hand or activities for the lull so guests aren't left fending for themselves.
5. Not having a plus one on the invite
We understand, weddings can be expensive, and you may not be able to accommodate all plus ones. In this case, we suggest to take a good look at your guest list and trim it. But singling out the "singles" is not the nicest way to go, especially if you know these folks don't know a lot of the people in the wedding. Every adult should be treated equally and not pointed out because of their romantic love life. We're sure you want all of your guests to feel comfortable and happy!
Favorite Wedding Dresses from the Movies
We wanted to go back in history and highlight the 10 most memorable wedding dresses from the movies - those glorious gowns that we can't stop thinking about. We chose gowns we believe to be iconic in style and timeless. These dress styles should inspire brides-to-be during their wedding gown search. There is a little bit of everything on this list, from fashion icon Audrey Hepburn’s gown in Funny Face to Bella's elegant gown worn by Kristen Stewart in the Twilight movie series. We hope our list will ignite your imagination - let us know what you think!
FUNNY FACE (1957)
Audrey sure knows how to wear the fashion icon role. In this tea-length, dropped-waist, satin, and tulle gown by Givenchy, she is a vision to behold.
RUNAWAY BRIDE (1999)
Who doesn't remember this scene of Maggie running away from her groom in a lace-embroidered, off-the-shoulder wedding gown - so on trend even by today's standard.
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
There is no denying that one of the most memorable wedding gowns of all time is this caped column gown by Vera West. Edgy, chic, and fabulous - who could ask for more?
MAMMA MIA (2008)
Searching for a little seaside Greek island wedding inspo? Look no further! This flowy tiered dress with Sophie's beach waves and bare feet is all the inspiration you need!
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)
This feathery piece is one of the most memorable outfits we've seen on screen. With its form-flattering fit, long-sleeves, and sheer silk fabric, it is simply too-cool-for-school, another unpredictable fashion moment in one of our favorite romantic comedies of all time!
THE GRADUATE (1967)
The very chaotic but memorable wedding scene is also one of the best in film history. It's not a coincidence that this beautiful, long-sleeve, lace gown worn by the bride captured our attention over the decades. And we must not forget to mention the veil, so pouffy, so 60's! LOVE!
The moment all Twilight fans have been waiting for: Bella and her beloved Edward tying the knot. To add to this remarkable moment of this ever-so-popular saga, Bella wore a couture gown designed by none other than Carolina Herrera. Crafted in silk and French Chantilly lace, the gown is the epitome of sartorial elegance.
We're readily go back to the early 19th century setting of this epic movie to see dresses like this embroidered silk crepe gown worn by Emma Woodhouse. Luckily, we just have to watch this 1996 movie. Jane Austen would be so proud!
THE NOTEBOOK (2004)
As stunning as the movie's ending, the gown Allie wore for her wedding to Lon that did not happen is one for the books. This long-sleeve lace wedding gown with an illusion-off-the-shoulder-neckline will stand the test of time.
THE WEDDING PLANNER (2001)
Leave it to a wedding planner to pick such a classic and elegant wedding gown. Although, not the man of her dreams, Mary still looked ravishing in this off-the-shoulder, silky smooth 3/4 sleeve piece.
There are many reasons why the classic tune “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” speaks to us. We love this city’s unique character, charm, and not to mention the picturesque hillsides and bay views. And as one of the most iconic cities in America, it does classic very well. Although, there are newer and trendy spaces and places, (see 5 Unique Places to Get Married in San Francisco), it offers a number of true classic establishments that we think are worthy of a wedding celebration. Here we list our top 5 classic places to tie the knot in San Francisco!
When Shakespeare comes to mind, we can’t help but have romantic soliloquies on our brains. Tucked inside Golden Gate Park, entering Shakespeare Garden is like walking into a dream. Imagine as you stroll beneath a charming iron gate on a tree-lined path to marry your beloved. This exquisite garden is the perfect place to celebrate love.
You may just have it all if you're lucky enough to book the Legion of Honor for your nuptials. Not only will you be surrounded by neoclassical architecture and fine artwork, think Rodin sculptures, but you also have the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop. We can’t think of anything more enchanting. If you want to immerse yourself in old-world charm and be captivated by the masterpieces of this one-of-a-kind museum, this is the San Francisco wedding venue for you.
The Julia Morgan Ballroom is one of San Francisco’s most exclusive and distinguished venues. The architecture and interior design are truly a masterpiece. Think, mahogany-honey-combed ceilings, classic gold leaf marble accents, and the grandeur of a 200-foot fireplace. And to top it all off, the windows offer sparkling city views! Every detail of this impressive space screams wedding. We just had to include it on our list.
Located in the heart of San Francisco, this Episcopal house of prayer is iconic across the world. With its 90 foot ceilings, sweeping archways, and stained glass windows, Grace Cathedral is a striking space. Known for its classic gothic architecture and majestic mosaics, the cathedral's grandness and peaceful setting makes for an unforgettable wedding venue.
San Francisco City Hall is not your ordinary municipal building. With breathtaking accents such as marble floors, soaring columns, and a grand staircase that makes for the perfect wedding centerpiece, it's no wonder that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio tied the knot here in 1954. In 1978, City Hall was designated a National Historic Landmark. If you're looking for a place that carries as much history as it does beauty, City Hall might just be the answer.
Unique San Francisco Wedding Venues
If thinking outside the box gets your juices going, San Francisco may be the perfect city for your wedding celebration. There is something for everyone in this wonderfully diverse city. From weird to grand, from natural to industrial, San Francisco offers a range of spaces that will accommodate just about any couple’s vision. To help aid your search, we have come up with 5 unique places to tie the knot in San Francisco. Tell us what you think!
Don’t be fooled by the name. Unlike what it sounds, this magical space resembles an abandoned underground railway station in London. Yes, think mysterious-vintage meets prohibition era. Named one of the best in the world, Whitechapel is known for having the largest gin selection in North America. With red plush seats, beautiful pieces of plaster work, and wooden décor, there is no other place like it. Entering Whitechapel will take you and your guests to another era.
This house of worship is truly a gem. Located in the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, the Swedenborgian Church is a rustic sanctuary with a luscious garden. The interior spaces are adorned with natural tree trunk beams and wooden walls. Imagine saying your "I do’s" in front of a cozy wood-burning fireplace surrounded by candles. We say I do!
Who says you can't have it all? You can have the winery experience without leaving the city. At Tank 18 you can have the best of both worlds in this exciting urban winery located in the SOMA district. We love the contrast of the industrial design with country elements, such as the large wooden bar and high ceilings with exposed wood. Wine displays and barrels lend a romantic ambiance to help create that winery feel you've been daydreaming about.
This is the ideal space for those looking for something al fresco and unique. And what can be more unique than a Victorian-era glass greenhouse where you are surrounded by tropical botanicals and exotic plants and flowers from all over the world? Located in beautiful Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory of Flowers makes you feel like you're in an oasis right in the middle of the city.
This historic landmark sets the perfect tone for that rustic-chic-barn wedding you've spent hours pinning to those Pinterest boards. At the Presidio Log Cabin, you will find oh-so-special details, such as wagon wheel chandeliers, log walls, and a Spanish red-tile roof. The celebration continues outside on the green lawn, part of the Presidio National Park. Need we say more?
Unique Wedding First Dance Songs
One of the last details of wedding planning is picking your first dance song. This is one of those defining moments at your wedding that will mostly likely be recorded and remembered years from now. The moment when you and your partner are whirling across the dance floor to the tunes of what we hope is not another overplayed, tired love song. Yes, you know what songs we're referring to.
This may be the biggest party you'll ever throw, so don’t be afraid to pick a song that is off-the-beaten path, maybe that peculiar song you and your partner hum to when you are alone. Why not surprise your guests and give them something to remember?
To help you get started, here is a list of 10 songs we think are unique:
1. "Let It Be Me" - Ray LaMontagne
2. "A Place To Start" - White Denim
3. "Hold Each Other" - A Great Big World
4. "California Stars" - Billy Bragg and Wilco
5. "Maps" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
6. "Heroes" - David Bowie
7. "Fade Into You" - Mazzy Star
8. "Ascension" - Maxwell
9. "There is a Light that never goes out" - The Smiths
10. "A Million Years" - Alexander
photo:Ktmerry and kevin chin
We're excited to share our conversation with Nancy Liu Chin, owner of NANCY LIU CHIN FLORAL & EVENT DESIGN, who has recently been listed on the The Knot Wedding 100 List, which recognizes the best across all wedding industry categories. NLCD is a floral and event production studio based in the artistic neighborhood of Dogpatch in San Francisco. Nancy spent a summer under the tutelage of respected calligrapher Michelle Papinaeu and apprenticed with floral guru Pico Soriano. Encouraged by her mentors, she enrolled in a Horticulture program, where she studied the art of floral design. Today, Nancy is turning clients' inspirations into beautiful events and has been recognized as one of the leaders in the industry. During our sit-down, Nancy gave her expert advice on planning your big day and shares some savvy cost-saving tips!
TL: HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE FLORAL AND EVENT DESIGN INDUSTRY?
NLCD: That’s an amusing question because I originally wanted to be a wedding planner. And in fact, I had planned several weddings for friends and friends-of-friends after college for about half a dozen years. But it wasn’t until after our first year of marriage (btw: I’m married to SF wedding photographer husband, Kevin “KC” Chin ) that I recognized that what I truly wanted to do was work more creatively with my hands, especially in the wedding and events world.
I’m more of a doer - guess you could say a hands-on person who likes to dream and conjure up things. Naturally, event styling and event design was more my cup of tea. Not to knock down wedding planning, but logistics didn’t engage or inspire me. As the end of the 90’s drew closer, the idea of the event designer hadn’t really taken shape as much as wedding planning was starting to rise. So naturally I thought the best way to get into event design was to be a floral designer. Through interning, as well as going back to school for floral design, I became passionate about flowers. The deeper I got into floral design, the more I realized just how powerful and transformative flowers are when it came to wedding and event design - flowers when done correctly and well can transform a space and it can even bring up emotions. They are beautiful!
TL: WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF YOUR SERVICES?
NLCD: The average cost of a wedding is a reflection of the growing details and larger scale events. I would say that what we do best are weddings in which the client budgets between $100 - $350 per person on flowers. We have a minimum of $6500 for floral services.
TL: HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE TO STAY WITHIN THE CLIENT'S BUDGET?
NLCD: Come up with logistically sound ideas. It’s one thing to talk fantasy, but you have to scale it appropriately for the venue, the time frame, and amount of labor it takes to create something. The more customized one goes, the higher the cost. If a design hasn’t ever been done in this region, one has to get the structure, the mechanics, the props made, and that’s going to raise the cost of the goods as well as the labor. When there is a budget challenge, it’s crucial to ask what are the client's priorities. There are always things that one wants but one can’t afford. For example, if clients want a reception full of tall and dome pieces on tall graceful glass, but they are on a budget, I might recommend doing half the tables with "talls" only.
TL: What's your DESIGN STYLE?
NLCD: I would say, it’s natural, American modern classic. I don’t try to do something too trendy as trends come in and out. Staying more naturally classic has always helped serve our clients from wedding couples to corporate clients. We aren’t too edgy. That’s just not my personality. I love naturally classic design. Clean, romantic, but also without too much crazy wildness.
TL: WHAT MAKES YOUR SERVICES UNIQUE?
NLCD: Thinking like an event designer, stylist, or planner helps during the creative process and adds a layer of experience and ability, such that our team becomes more than just floral designers. I know we’ve saved the day for many clients during the behind the scenes set-up because we are able to edit, style, and eliminate “clunky” elements during the setup.
More critically, we have a continuous staff some of whom have been with me since I started, who just care about the finished look as much as I do. That continuity helps during large set-ups where you need an experienced and calm staff, and veteran designers. In addition, an experienced staff like my awesome team has been trained so that they know how to adjust and make chairs straight, line china, help with those styling details that floral designers or florists may not have time for or care about. Nothing bothers me more than gorgeous flowers with untidy chairs because if the camera sees it, the guests see it. Another aspect that I care about is where and how the flowers are placed in relation to linens, rentals, china, as well as furniture, props, tabletop accessories. These all work together to create an overall look. It’s a matter of looking at the scale of things as well, as the finer details that need to work together not against each other.
Here’s an inside tip: Try looking at the grand picture. Any floral piece looks ten times more expensive when paired with the right combination. I have nothing against white hotel tablecloths, but if they don’t cover the legs of the table, no grand or well completed floral arrangement will make that combination look any better. Because if the eye sees the legs of a table, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t done my job well. My flowers won’t look right and well done.
Lastly, one unique thing we are proud of is that we like to tackle things that many might want to do but have not had the chance to do. Sure, there are tons of designers who can make a beautiful bouquet or a centerpiece, many that I drool over, but do they know how to build a 2000 pound hanging chandelier of flowers? Are they daring enough to create a massive wall of flowers that is 32 wide and 12 feet high? Have they hung dozen of strands of orchids that passed 3 floors at SF City Hall? What makes a designer unique is how they can handle a project just as much as how they can create the fine detail pieces.
TL: MANY BRIDES MAY WANT TO SKIP HIRING A FLORIST OR EVEN HIRing AN EVENT PLANNER TO SAVE MONEY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
NLCD: I think it depends on the event. If it’s a baby shower at a house, perhaps you can do it yourself. A small wedding in your parent’s house or even a restaurant, it’s totally possible that you can do it yourself. Sure, why not! However, it’s about the circumstances, the venue, the time limitations, the number of guests, and one’s own temperament. I’ve been doing flowers for a while so doing a party for 100 guests doesn’t stress me. The more important question: will it stress you?
If I were to get married again, I probably would do the centerpieces myself and have my team work on the ceremony because they have great experience, and I think experience is key to any larger event. And of course, I would order the bouquet. Perhaps I’ll have Svenja from Chestnut and Vine make it for me or Anna from Loop Flowers. I love them. It could be Kathleen Deery, she’s like an idol of mine. Or even something from April or Gaby, my assistants would be fun, but I wouldn’t carry something that I made. Here’s the thing: my favorite bouquets are the ones that other people make. It’s never my own. Sure, there are favorite ones that I like to make but to be honest, I like being surprised and the things that other people make to me are so much more interesting and inviting because I see what I do all day, and there is no mystery. I like and want a little mystery and magic when I walk down the aisle!!!
And definitely don’t skip on hiring a true floral designer, not just a weekend hobbyist. These days, many venues want only vendors with business liability, worker’s comp, and high car insurance. With a hobbyist, they don’t usually carry those things so when something happens, it’s you that is left holding the bag. Don’t be left holding the bag. This is a true story: I had a bride this year (and one a couple years back) who couldn’t find her make-up artist the day of the wedding. Yes, they could not find their makeup person. They had hired someone who was not a professional, vetted vendor, and guess what? They had to do their own make up and that person took their money. Oh well, I could have said I told you so but if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be fooled.
TL: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TYPE OF FLOWER that YOU LIKE TO USE FOR WEDDINGS?
NLCD: I love peonies, ranunculus, lisianthus when they are really open and large, sweet peas for their delicate nature, astilbe for their whimsy, hellebores for their uniqueness, hydrangea for mass pieces, especially cone-shaped hydrangea (a favorite), mock orange, spirea, as well as different and unusual herbs!
TL: EVERY COUPLE MUST HAVE A VISION FOR THEIR BIG DAY. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THEIR VISION IS TRANSLATED IN THE RESULTS OF YOUR WORK?
NLCD: Yes, they do!! We make sure we spend time looking at their inspiration and dissecting what it is about the images that they truly like, so that when we create the florals, we match on the feel and the words. Words are really key, but oftentimes a client will use a word that actually isn’t what they mean, so it’s important to line up what they mean so that when they say "modern hipster,' it matches what I view as "rustic and relaxed." I know, it’s so hard when clients say the word SIMPLE in design. What does simple mean? Clean lines? Low cost? Not too many flowers? What is simple? You have to make your clients define what "modern" is?, what "simple" is.
Hope this makes sense! (laughter and a chuckle). There is a vision which needs to become reality, and it can only become real if clients can pinpoint what they like and trust you.
TL: ANY COST-SAVING TIPS YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH BRIDES?
NLCD: Lower the guest count. You have no idea how shaving 10 guests can translate to thousands of dollars. Don’t be afraid of foliage. Don’t be afraid of not being exact about how you pictured it. It might turn out even better. If you like a pricey flower, go for it, but do it in meaningful ways that don't require ordering tons of them. Don’t do too many long tables. You need more flowers and accessories for rectangular tables versus rounds. Don’t skimp on things that you really need.
Do I need a wedding planner? Lily Spruce Events answers your questions.
There is one debate almost every bride faces during the wedding planning process: whether or not to hire a wedding planner. The benefits of a DIY wedding are many, and being super involved in all aspects of the wedding can be so fulfilling. However, many brides have benefited from the support of a professional to guide them through the process without losing the personal flourishes. How do you decide if a wedding planner is right for you?
We reached out to one of our favorites in the event planning space. Genevieve, founder of LILY SPRUCE EVENTS. San Francisco-based Lily Spruce Events is an environmentally and sustainable events planning company with 11 years of experience helping clients bring their grand vision to fruition in the most organic way. Today, Genevieve answers common bride questions to help us understand the role of a wedding planner. We hope her professional insight can bring some clarity to the subject.
TL: HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE WEDDING PLANNING INDUSTRY?
LSE: I cut my teeth throwing press and social events for a non-profit in San Francisco. I got married in that time, and realized, 'Oh, I know how to do this!' I ended up coordinating the weddings of my co-workers, relatives, friends of friends, and then suddenly I was doing the weddings where I had no existing personal connection. I was helping strangers! I hung onto my full-time job while building Lily Spruce. After three years, I went full time in 2012 and haven’t looked back.
TL: WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE EVENT PLANNING?
LSE: Sustainable event planning is planning and executing an event with particular concern for environmental, economic, and social issues. An example would be using a caterer that sources its ingredients locally from farms use sustainable farming practices (no pesticides or GMOs).
TL: WHAT ARE THE WEDDING PLANNER'S MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES?
LSE: Oh goodness, so many! I use this example a lot: if you think of your wedding as a staged production, we are both the front-of-house manager, director, and backstage manager. We’re making sure the vendors/actors know their call times, responsibilities and “lines” so to speak. We construct what theater people call “run of show” - which is really a fancy term for what goes down from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, the tasks involved and who is accountable. Most of all we work with the biggest “actors” on the stage: the couple, and ensure we have every detail accounted for. We’re the experts in the room, and as such we have every responsibility to think of all the things and tasks they haven’t thought of! This being our ninth wedding season, we’ve gathered what’s essential and important and done all the heavy lifting and thinking for them so they can truly let go and enjoy the day they have crafted.
TL: EVERY COUPLE MUST HAVE A VISION FOR THEIR BIG DAY. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THEIR VISION IS TRANSLATED IN THE RESULTS OF YOUR WORK?
LSE: Number one: we listen. We make sure we are constantly checking in and making sure we are always on the same page. We want to complement your planning and vision and make sure your gathering runs as smoothly as possible, in the most organic way. We are here to share our best advice and practices so that you can hand things off with complete trust and confidence.
TL: MANY BRIDES BELIEVE IT IS MORE COST SAVVY TO PLAN THEIR OWN WEDDING VERSUS HIRING A PROFESSIONAL PLANNER. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
LSE: Of all the milestone events in your life, your special event, especially if it is your wedding day, is not the place to gamble. You need a professional in the ring. After all, you want to be the V.I.P., not the harried go-to person for all manner of trivia. Let us do all the thinking and planning with you so that you can properly enjoy your party and the company of your special guests. Our clients today are busier than ever, and squeezing time before work, during lunch hours, and after work to plan a wedding can be exhausting. By hiring us, you save time combing Yelps and gathering referrals of vendors. We share our little black book of vendors that have proven track records, quality customer service, and product. We’re able to cut through the chase because we’ve been in the game long enough to know the in's and outs of planning. For couples planning for the first time ever, mistakes can be made. By hiring us, they can be avoided, saving lots of headache and unnecessary stress.
TL: HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE TO STAY WITHIN THE CLIENT'S BUDGET?
LSE: It’s about being mindful, but also about providing resources and boring but essential things like Google documents and spreadsheets. Organization is everything!
TL: WHAT ARE SOME COMMON DETAILS PEOPLE OVERLOOK WHEN IT COMES TO WEDDING PLANNING?
LSE: There can be a lot! Big ones include:
- Not budgeting enough--expect when you build your budget that you will likely overspend, so be sure to pad your line items!
- Not realizing that adding things like lounge furniture, upgrading linens or lighting can cost more than you think
- Ditto hiring for shuttles: most companies require minimums. So no, you can’t piece together just a pick-up in the beginning for the ceremony, and then a dropoff for guests at the reception’s end
- Along the lines of shuttles, ensuring that enough time is built in for multiple pickups and dropoffs and knowing who is staying where (so ask this in an e-mail or when people RSVP, please!)
- Deciding on an adults-only reception or inviting kids. You’ve gotta draw a line somewhere!
- That you’ll need to take an active part in the layout of the room and underestimating how much time it takes to assign tables
- Not building a website especially when you need to communicate itinerary and key details. Guests rely on this and there’s really no excuse to set one up. So many free (and beautifully designed) sites exist now!
- Have a Plan B in case of bad weather. It’s a tough thing to think about, but a great planner will work with you on one
- Forgetting to tip your vendors. Though it is never expected, it’s always nice to go the extra mile for those working the length of your wedding day: deejays, photographers, caterers, bar staff (if they’re not part of the catering company), photo booth operators, and yes planners, but again only for jobs well done!
TL: WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST TO HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER?
LSE: You definitely get what you pay for, so hire wisely, ask for referrals, and read online reviews. This being the Bay Area, everyone is priced competitively. We are a boutique business with almost 100 weddings under our belt and nine seasons of not just weddings but social events we have planned from 35 to 10,000 people--so you’re hiring a true professional and our prices reflect that deep experience. If a company is charging for planning services that are too-good-to-be-true, take it with a grain of salt, and always always read the fine print. Here at Lily Spruce, we have several packages that we custom fit for every single client. We spend quite some time with you to determine your package, taking into high consideration all your event details, budget, guest count, locale and the overall scope of work to settle on a flat-rate price.
As the season comes to a close, we're so excited to share the news of Trish Lee on the red carpet! That’s right folks. Trish Lee made it to the 59th annual Grammy Awards. San Francisco-based Tycho received a well-deserved Grammy nomination for their album Epoch in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category, and being the wife of the Grammy-nominated musician has its perks, like getting dressed to the nines and walking the red carpet with your husband! For her first red carpet appearance, Kiyo donned a custom designed Trish Lee gown. Handmade in our San Francisco studio, the gown is crafted in luxurious double-faced silk crepe in an au courant blush color. With a deep plunge neckline, backless silhouette, and a skirt that embraces a thigh-high slit, the gown was a stunner, and our girl rocked her first red carpet Grammy appearance!
Ah, the beautiful gesture of giving a wedding gift. We love the idea of taking this opportunity to gift the bride a heartfelt and thoughtful present. Nailing gift-giving is already difficult enough and factoring in different personalities, expectations, and tastes can turn the idea of finding the right gift into a stress-inducing task. Fortunately, we have done the legwork for you. Here are wedding gift ideas for 5 unique brides.
The Timeless Bride
The classic bride loves simplicity and appreciates timeless pieces. Stay away from over-the-top extravagant gifts. We recommend gifts that are practical and functional with a personal touch, such as a monogramed robe from Matouk she could using during her honeymoon. She would also appreciate a gift she could share with her partner like his(hers)-and-hers personalized aprons from Williams Sonoma. And don't forget that a classic and elegant cake serving set will never go out of style. Tiffany's anyone?
The city Bride
This bride keeps up with trends from culture to fashion. She thrives in a fast-paced lifestyle and is ready to take on its challenges. We suggest classes at Popstar Booty Camp, where you can learn a Beyonce dance routine for six weeks and perform it for your friends or a membership to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The Earthy Bride
This bride is unconventional. She is a wanderer and possesses a certain adventurous quality. She would appreciate a gift that brings out her artistic side, such as cooking classes at Sur La Table; pick a cuisine that she may know little of. This bride will always appreciate a leather journal as she embarks on this new journey, or she may not even want a gift for herself. Instead, opt for a charitable donation to an organization she supports in her name, such as Glide or the San Francisco Education Fund.
The Princess Bride
This bride likes to embrace her inner princess and makes sure to pamper herself. A boudoir photography session by Jennifer Skog or a gel mani-pedi session at Lux SF is an easy answer. She may not be the best cook yet, but she would sure appreciate that Le Creuset Dutch oven.
The Edgy Bride
She is unapologetic for her life choices and at times her risk-taking behavior. This bride likes to stay ahead of the curve and likes to think outside the box. The gift should reflect her unique personality. Get her tickets to see an underground performance artist, sign her up for a play party with Skirt Club, or send this bride skydiving as her last single girl adventure.
We're delighted to see our Reagan gown featured on Borrowed & Blue via the wedding of our bride Natalie and Brian. Borrowed and Blue is the premier source for all your wedding planning needs, and it's an honor to be included. The piece is titled “White Spring Fete with Red Accents.” The photos captured the unique elements that made this wedding oh-so-special, such as the perfect sunset that emerged during the ceremony and the clear blue color of the lake that served as the backdrop. We're honored to have played a small part in Natalie and Brian's special day and grateful to have our work recognized by Borrowed & Blue.
photo: John stone
Before “I do,” comes the ring. To help in your quest of selecting this special piece of jewelry, we present to you 5 unique jewelry designers we're in love with. These independent contemporary designers are exploring new styles and establishing new standards of innovation to jewelry design. The results are unique and breathtaking.
We love the way Bliss plays with geometric contrasts and uses this technique to give her work a personal identity. Her designs are rooted in the concept of jewelry as a physical experience inspired by sexuality and structure.
With a background in fine art, making jewelry is a form of self-expression for Anna Sheffield, and it is apparent in the final product. Her collections vary from mixed precious metals to solid gold with gemstones. Her attention to detail and outstanding stone and metal quality make her designs one-of-a-kind.
When Rony opened Catbird's storefront and jewelry studio in 2006, her vision was to serve the unique client. Catbird is devoted to helping their customers find the pieces they have been dreaming of in a comfortable and helpful manner, while also giving designers like Meredith Kahn and Yayoyi Forest a place to show their work.
We love Baylee Zwart’s minimalist approach on her designs. Her clean designs are effortless, while still showcasing edge and dimension. Zwart debuted Azlee in 2015 after studying metalwork in Guatemela. From this experience, she drew inspiration for her first collection and was quickly recognized by Vogue Paris and WWD among others.
Not only are her designs sculpturally and structurally beautiful but we're fans of Monique’s socially responsible and sustainable design and business model. Monique’s pieces are handmade by artisans around the world and made of sustainable materials. A percentage of sales go towards philanthropic organizations in developing countries.
Do not outshine the bride
When dressing for a wedding, this is the golden rule. You don't want to draw attention to yourself for the wrong reasons. The invitation's style and location should be a helpful guide as to how formal or stylish you should be. Make sure to read over the invitation's dress code to see what may or may not be appropriate and do your best to adhere to this. Keep in mind the location, venue, time of day, and season for the wedding; these factors should help in narrowing the choices. Chances are you may still have doubts as to what your final look should be. Luckily we have come up with the 5 things you should definitely NOT wear to a wedding.
1. A White Dress - I think we all know this but just in case, save the cute ivory or cream dress for a fabulous summer party. White accents or prints are fine but stay away from wearing monochromatic shades of white and light neutrals, like beige. Be careful with off-white dresses as well, like champagne or cream as these can look like a white dress in the dark, and there should only be one white dress in the room.
2. Denim - For all the denim fans out there, we understand denim is your go-to, and you might even feel naked without your favorite piece. We love our denim shirts, jackets, and dresses. But the truth is, making denim work for a wedding is tough. We suggest you leave this look at home this one time.
3. Anything Too Sexy - A wedding is not the time or the place to show off the sexiest outfit hanging in your closet. You can certainly pick an outfit that accentuates your best features, but showing off too much skin is not the way to go. Although there may be dancing all night and single cuties, it’s best to keep the sexy outfit for a night out with your girlfriends.
4. Sweats - This is a very special occasion for the couple, and you have been included in this day. Nothing says not special than wearing sweats. No matter how fancy your sweats are or how trendy athleisure is right now, these belong at the gym or a lazy Sunday-sesh-on-the-couch.
5. The Wrong Underwear - Regardless of what outfit you end up choosing, please be careful in choosing the right undergarments. No couple wants the biggest memory of their wedding to be your bra peeking out from front of your dress the entire time or have their wedding photos marred by visuals of your bra and underpants (or lack thereof) captured by flash photography. Make sure to have the right undergarments for you to not only look your best but also feel comfortable.
Of all the wedding trends we have seen recently, we have to say that the vintage style is still a favorite among brides. Perhaps it is the romantic quality of the style that creates a sense of nostalgia in our modern times or maybe it is the subtle glamour that is captivating. Regardless, achieving the vintage bride look takes some thought and preparation, and we've come up with a guide highlighting important pieces to consider when putting this look together.
The first and most important step to achieving this look is picking the right gown. Paying attention to elements like the silhouette and fabric details are important. One of our favorite details for this look is antique silver beading. Intricate beading on the gown rather than serious sparkle offers a very special vintage look.
Lace is a preferred fabric for the vintage bride, alluding to romance. We suggest combining the use of this fabric with longer sleeves, creating a hint of modesty, which is essential to achieve the vintage look.
Another gown style we like for this look is an off-shoulder gown that dominated the early 19th Century. Make sure to use delicate fabrics across the arms such as: tulle, silk or lace. The contrast of covering part of the arms, while baring the shoulders creates a subtle sexiness while still being modest and classic.
Once you decide on a gown, the next thing you want to think about are the accessories. Accessories have a great impact on finessing the entire look. Making sure your accessories complement the gown will help you achieve the right vintage look.
We recommend a shorter, delicate heel with a rounder shaped toe; closed or peep-toe shoes are a great option.
Veils and Hairpieces
The headpiece is an essential element and one that can make or break the final look. If you are considering wearing a veil, we recommend a birdcage style veil for vintage glamour appeal. Hair combs with embellished details are also a favorite, and if you're feeling very inspired, a fascinator hat reminiscent of the 1940s or a Juliet style soft tulle veil after the iconic bridal look of Grace Kelly will finalize the look perfectly.