Something for everyone: What to do with kids at your special event

There are many activities for adults to do during a wedding or special event, but not a lot for the younger guests to do.

One of the more recent trends in weddings is to have a goody-bag for each kid who attends.  Usually these bags have coloring pages, some candy and small toys to keep the kids occupied during all the "boring grown-up" stuff.  If you want to go beyond the goody-bag here are a few ideas:

Kids Only:
Have a special Kids Only area that is open for a few hours during the reception.   For safety, create a sign-in, sign-out rule with the parents and the kids and only permit them to leave with the designated parent.  In this area, have board games, coloring books, craft supplies, and goody-bags to keep the kids occupied.  Find out if the venue has a television you can rent and hook up a Wii console for the older kids.

Chid Care Providers:
If you have any responsible, high school age attendees, ask them if they could be in charge of the kids area.   Sweeten the deal by offering to pay them.  If you don't have anyone that could be a sitter, look into babysitting services or home care services that offer babysitters.  Make sure they come with good recommendations and are reliable!

Organize a wedding scavenger hunt.  Separate the kids in several groups and give each group a disposable camera and a list of events during the reception.  The first group to complete the list gets to take a special picture with the bride and groom, or gets a goody-bag.

PiƱatas are always a fun event at any party.  Make sure there is plenty of room in whatever area you designate since candy tends to fly everywhere!

Hiring entertainment:
If the budget allows, hire children's entertainment for an hour or two.  Here are a few magicians I looked into in the San Francisco area:

If you can't find a magician you like, look into face painting, clowns, or puppet shows as well.  If you have hired a photo-booth company for your wedding, have a specific time set aside for kids to use it.  Have a chest with dress up clothes so the kids can get silly and have fun dressing up.  As a craft, you can have them make a photo frame to hold their keepsake in.  You can also have your DJ call up the kids during the cocktail hour and have a "kids only" dance hour with kid friendly music.

There is so much you can do for your kid guests to keep them entertained and have them remember your wedding as something very special!

If you have any other ideas you have used in the past, please post them here and share with all of us! 


Vase arrangements

Roses are such a classy flower.  The color variety is endless and they always look stunning in a vase arrangement.

These roses are hydroponically grown in Southern California.  I dressed up the vase a bit with a bling ribbon and added Lomey pins to the rose heads to add more sparkle.  Very simple yet very elegant.  This is a great arrangement for a centerpiece or to bring to a dinner party.

This second arrangement was for a friends birthday.  Its the same idea as the dozen roses, but its ten sunflowers (the single purple rose was to signify that the arrangement was from my friends mom).  The fun curly-cues are fern curls.  The sunflowers are locally grown and they were absolutely beautiful!  This arrangement gives off a happy, fun feel that I really loved.

Here are the steps for arranging your very own vase:

1:  Start with 5 pieces of leather fern.  Make sure the stems are cleaned of any debris.  Take the first leather fern and lace a second through the bottom leaf.  Repeat with the rest of the ferns and cut them so the bottom leaves are touching the rim of the container.

2:  Place the first flower in the center of the ferns.  It won't stay put until you add more flowers, so just keep adjusting it as you go.  Make sure this is the tallest flower in the arrangement.

3:  Take 3 more flowers and create a triangle around the center.  Cut these a little shorter than the first.

4:  Take 4 flowers and place them around the triangle.  These don't have to be cut shorter, unless you want to create more depth.

5:  Take the last 4 flowers and place them on the outer edge.  Make sure these are cut the shortest in the whole arrangement.

6:  The last step is to add filler like statice, wax flower, babies breath or any other filler you can find.

And there you have your very own arrangement!  If you take it on, send me pictures at

Have fun!


More upcoming Bridal Faire's

For all you brides out there, here are a few upcoming fairs to check out:

Brocade Weddings brings you Bay Area Wedding Fair
September 25 at the Palo Alto Crown Plaza Cabana
October 23 at the Marriot Hotel in Pleasaton 

A City Club Affaire at The City Club
October 2, 2011 
This has some top of the line vendors attending.  Definitely something to check out.

Central Coast Bride events:

October 9, 2011
The Chaminade Resort and Spa in Santa Cruz

October 9, 2011
Dolce Hayes Mansion

And check out this website for even more listings.


Edita and Reyes

In August, I got to be apart of Edita and Reyes' special day.  The ceremony was at St. John Vianney church in San Jose and the reception was at Flames Restaurant in down town San Jose.  The color palette was shades of purple.

The ceremony site was very simple, just a few simple aisle markers on the pews.  She also had her father bring in beautiful flowering trees, inspired by the Royal Wedding.

At the reception we went with two different designs for the 18 tables.  The ceiling of the banquet hall was low, so we wanted to keep the arrangements somewhat low as well.  The first was a single medium sized cylinder with orchids inside and a overflowing arrangement of roses, hydrangeas, freesias and amaranthus.  This was placed on a mirror with small votives surrounding it.

The other centerpiece was three different sized cylinders with orchids inside and a floating candle on top.  We used Oasis wire to add some extra flair to the piece and these were also set on top of a mirror with votives.

For the Sweet Heart table, I took a low oval shaped vase and put purple tea leaves inside and used orchids, hydrangea, roses, amaranthus, freesia, stock and alstromeria to create an overflowing design.  I set votives on the table and used candles and flowers as an accent.

For the flower girl, she had a mini bouquet similar to the bridesmaids and also a clip in her hair which included three spray roses and purple statice.

The bridesmaids bouquets included hydrangea, roses, freesias and lisianthus.

The groomsmen's boutonnieres were purple vanda orchids with bear grass accents and a purple ribbon.

The grooms boutonniere was two mini-cymbidiums with a feather accent and purple ribbon.

The bridal bouquet included roses, lisianthus, hydrangea and freesia with white feather accents.  The purple hydrangea was a Dutch import, but totally worth the price!

The bride requested a hair piece.  We tried gardenias, but they were browning too quickly in the heat so I used the mini-cymbidiums and feathers to match the groom's boutonniere.  I also used Swarovski crystal pearls to add a little bling to the hair piece.  

It was a very beautiful wedding, and the happy couple was very pleased with how it all turned out!  


Upcoming wedding fair

For all you brides out there, I just found out about a fair coming to San Francisco on September 25 from 12-4.  Tickets are $15 if you pre-pay before September 23 or $20 at the door.

Check here for more details on who will be exhibiting.  If you go, let me know how it was! 

Six Degrees of Separation

Head over to Kunde Family Estate Winery and check out the scenes of the film Bottle Shock.  While you are there, bring a picnic lunch and sit in the expansive courtyard of the winery before heading in to taste the wine.  You can also make arrangements to do the Mountain Top Tasting that leaves every hour between 11:30am and 2:30pm for $30 per person.  They also offer horse back riding tours through Triple Creek Horse Outfit.

This is also a great venue for events.  There are several different options to choose from including the Dunfillian Ruins,  the Wine Aging Caves and The Mountain Top.  Guest count can be anywhere from 30-250 people depending on the site you choose.  Kunde has their own event staff who will work hard to give you your dream event.

There is limited to no electricity in most of the sites and you will have to arrange for transportation from the parking lot to the location you choose.

For a Hollywood feel or if you are into barbecues, check out the Boot Hill site where Bottle Shock was filmed.

The wine is decent and priced well.  As with many of the wineries, beer and Kunde wines are the only alcoholic beverages allowed.


Modern European Design

If I was ever to open a shop, it would be a European design shop.  In European design, you generally don't use any foam to hold the flowers together.  Instead, you use twigs, curly willow, rope, stems, and other materials to create what the pro's call armatures.  When you order bouquets from European shops, they hand tie them for you so when you get home, all you have to do is cut them and set them in a need to re-arrange when you get them home.  There is an emphasis on nature in the designs.  Usually, color is just used to accentuate the line and shape of the design.  Here is an example of a European design:

Inside the vase, I used curly willow to construct an armature.  I then brought the curly willow up through the design.  The sunflowers bring color into play and the amaranthus and deflexus continues the line down the side of the container.  The neck on the taller sunflower was weak, so I made sure it was supported by the curly willow.

Here is another example of a modern European design:

In this design, I used an urn shaped container with a bit of an old world flare to it.  I then wrapped the container in a twig ribbon that I got from Michael's and used that as an armature.  The flowers include, lisianthus, a few roses from my garden, a stem of hydrangea and hanging amaranths.  


A French Chateau in California

Heading back up the Sonoma valley towards Healdsburg and Calistoga, you find several large vineyards and castle-like tasting rooms. One of which is Chateau St. Jean.  Located at the base of Sugerloaf Ridge, the setting is picturesque and the mediterranean style gardens are stunning.  It definitely took my breath away.  The Chateau was built in the 1920s as a summer home for Ernest and Maude Goff who made their fortune in iron mining and lumber.  Its now home to the vineyards tasting rooms and event venue.

They have several labeled varieties of grape vines that you can walk through including the gardens.  So many amazing photo opportunities at this venue!

The venue can hold up to 150 guests, any additional guests require permission and add a $25/guest charge.  Rental for the site is from $1500 (Mon-Thurs/ 20 guests) to $12,000 (ceremony and reception/ 150 guests).  The site requires an event planner from a preferred list that you can request with the wedding packet.  There are four venue options:  The Chateaus dining room (24 guests), The Chateau Patio (36 guests), the Visitor Center (100 guests), and the Chateau Front Lawn (400+guests).  Events can be held until 10:30pm, but there is a amplification cut off time of 10pm.

I must admit, I wasn't a big fan of their wine, however they did have some nice whites which is important to any bride...if you spill it won't show up on the dress!

Chateau St. Jean is a breathtaking venue with lots of amazing photo opportunities.  Definitely check it out!


A taste of Tuscany

If you like a Tuscan setting, you will love Viansa Winery.  Located closer to the San Francisco side of Sonoma, its set on top of a hill over looking the valley.

Viansa can hold anywhere from 2-125 guests and has several location options.  Luscious Tuscan courtyards are scattered throughout the site and a beautiful lawn with a bocce ball court is a great location for a summer time reception.  The candle lit wine-cellar is also available for ceremonies and receptions and opens up onto the lower courtyard.

I was very impressed by the choices on the menu and it was one of the only venues I visited in Sonoma that allows an open bar.  In the wedding packet, they also offer add-ons such as: espresso bars, a photo booth, s'more bars, kids entertainment bags, and their market place will give you discounts on wedding favors. Renting the venue runs from $3000 on weekdays to $10,000 on Saturdays and you get a discount on their wine.  I enjoyed their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sonoma Valley

They offer a full event staff so there is no need to hire an outside wedding planner, unless you wanted to hire me, of course!

It was a beautiful venue and they offer so many ways to really make your event personal to you.  Check out their Facebook page for more pictures on the different weddings they have had including a Brazilian wedding.


Rockin' Down the Sonoma Highway

Have you missed the reviews on the Sonoma wineries?  I have!  Need to get them out while the trip is still somewhat fresh in my mind...So lets head back!

Next stop on the Sonoma destination wedding trip is B.R. Cohn Winery and Olive Oil Company.  The owners of this winery are also managers of the band The Doobie Brothers.  Nestled in the middle of the Sonoma Valley, this winery was definitely one of my favorites.

They have several event venue options: The Terrace, Oak Hill, Amphitheater, Olive Grove, and the Poolside Patio.  They can accommodate anywhere from 10-250 guest depending on the venue you choose.  Pricing ranges from $4,500 (Mon-Thur/150 guests) to $9,000 (Sat. 201-250 guests).  

I was able to talk with the site coordinator, Paula, and go on a tour of the venues.  The scenery is breathtaking and I was especially impressed by the Oak Hill site.  To get out there, you would have to shuttle your guests and there is no amplification allowed, but it is very peaceful and enchanting, the perfect fairytale wedding site!  The bridal suite is also one of the largest suites I have seen.  Its a little cottage with a kitchenette and there is a very sweet garden outside the front door.

Of course the important part is the wine, which you are required to have at your event for a discounted rate.  The Doobie Red is one of their Bordeaux style blends.  Created to honor four generations of music, this is a great table wine that your guests will enjoy.  The olive oils available are incredible.  So many selections!  The Meyer lemon olive oil was my favorite.

Another reason why I really liked this venue, is its dog friendly!  When we pulled up we were greeted by the winery dog and a very wet door stop he was playing fetch with!  It was definitely one of my favorites on the trip.  There is so much variety and you can do so much with it.  Definitely check it out for corporate events, weddings, birthday parties or just to have a good time!