Recommended Wedding Vendors and Venues
Any wedding vendor will tell you that a good coordinator, be it just for the day or throughout your planning process is a valuable asset in making your day run smoothly. However, not every coordinator is a good one. Experience and personality are essential in this line of work. I have found the following people to be delightful to work with, thorough, and do a great job of staying behind the scenes and not in your face on your wedding day.
Crystal Lequang at AmazŠe Special Events
Patty Speirs at Every Last Detail
Stephanie Beer at Wine Country Weddings
Michelle Thornton at Then Comes Marriage
I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to flowers. And I have the utmost respect for florists as, while I can grow just about anything, I am completely and utterly incapable of creating an arrangement, never mind a shapely bouquet. The following women are outstanding. If you are looking for exceptional creativity and great people to work with - definitely check these three out.
Leslie Grady at The Flower Studio
Paige at Passiflora Designs
Julie at Julie's Flowers
Why video if you have a great photographer? Well, no matter how great the photography is, it still has no audio. And if you stop to think about it, there's a lot of important audio going on during your day. Aside from the ceremony and the toasts, you have a room full of people who love you and want to wish you well. However, finding a good videographer is not all that simple. I've worked with a number of people who appeared to be fantastic in the field, but when I saw the finished work, I was shocked at the poor quality. I recommend Martha almost exclusively. Aside from fantastic quality, she is very experienced, tireless in capturing absolutely everything, and her clients adore her. Her humor and sensitivity are always an asset.
Martha at Video Creations
Just on the off chance that you don't have access to Aunt Sophie's 35K sapphire necklace, you might be looking for something special for yourself and your attendants. And, as every woman wants to be unique on her wedding day, finding a one-of a kind piece or having something made especially for you, is an added plus. I highly recommend Kim. Her work is outstanding, her taste impeccable and every piece of work I have seen has impressed me.
Horse and Carriage
Definitely a unique way to arrive at your wedding or reception. I mean anyone can have a limo, right? If you are looking for something different, consider the pleasure of a leisurely ride in a beautiful carriage. Ann Collins is experienced and in complete control of these enormous, beautiful horses and will service most of the greater bay area.
I've worked all over the place, and this list could be long, long, long if I was only going to list beautiful venues in California. So, I thought I would pull a few that are unique and places you might not normally come across.
Love it, love it, love it. This is located up in Hopland and is a wonderful venue for a wedding. The estate itself is magnificent and allows the bride to get ready in complete style - none of this shoving 6 women into some small room with one mirror stuff. There are lawns and vineyards - the ceremony site is up by the house, where the cocktail hour can be had as well, then a short walk down to the reception site. The wine is wonderful and the women who work the wedding will make you feel like you are among old friends, welcome and at home.
Are you into food? I mean really, really into food? Some of the best in the Napa Valley is going to be found here. Not to mention one of the most outstanding wine lists in the Napa Valley. It is a resort nestled in the hills, sporting great views and outstanding menus. The resort is pure luxury, lacking nothing, and offering the finest in all amenities. Top of the line, this is a first class operation.
There are lots of beautiful wineries in the Napa Valley, no doubt about it, but this one has much more than a cool building and grapevines. This has a garden which surrounds an incredible pond and a charm all its own. It also has a fantastic cave where dinner can be served if you like. Its quite dramatic, actually. You open the doors to reveal the candle lit cave and your beautiful table settings and it is not something your guests will soon forget. Its very cool. Staff is friendly and efficient and the wine is excellent. Its located up near Calistoga on the Northern end of the Napa Valley.
This is located off of highway 280, I think it is technically in Burlingame, but I'm not really sure. The ceremony site is one of the best. Green lawns, and this cute little white gazebo sitting on a bluff which looks down into the end of the reservoir. Its a stunning view. Just stunning. If I'm not mistaken, it is also quite reasonably priced. The staff is very accommodating and laid back.
Not too many people have heard of this place, but is a great spot. It is a private home for rent right on the Pebble Beach Golf Course. The house has great ocean views, a lovely yard and the cutest little guest house you have ever seen. Its well structured for weddings and absolutely wonderful. Your whole group could spend the weekend right there without having to worry about traveling anywhere.
I don't know if I can give this place enough of a description for you to really understand the magnificence of this site, but I will give it a whirl. Imagine your guests seated in a redwood grove, deep down in an enclosed circle with a beautiful pond in front of them. Suddenly music emanates from in and amongst the trees and they turn to watch the wedding party begin a decent down, winding through the trees and finally you, standing in your white dress at the top of the trees. Does this or does this not sound like something right out of a romance novel? Its phenomenal. The entire property is incredible, from its story book Snow White house (no idea if it is meant to be a Snow White house or not, but that's what I call it), to the beautiful wood lodge. It is located in Los Gatos and is a perfect wedding site.
Located in Sonoma, this is one of my favorite venues. It is quaint and friendly, which cannot be said for every winery I've been to. The dining room has a cozy feeling to it, the views are incredible, but what I love about it is the shooting opportunities. I've got columns and vineyards, which should be very obvious, but I have also discovered many secret places there which give me amazing light, and give me great photos!
Think Gardens. Think more incredible gardens than you've ever seen, with the possible exception of the Butchart Gardens in Canada. Honestly. I thought I was a pretty impressive gardener until I saw this place. It also sports a beautiful lawn surrounded by redwood trees, a great seating area, and the staff is wonderful. The food arrives in style, adding to the entertainment of the place. It is located in Los Gatos, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which allows for both the heat of the valley and the coolness of the sea and consequently gives you perfect weather.
Like the ocean? Looking for incredible views of the ocean? Envision you and your partner wandering through beautiful fields of wild flowers with the breeze blowing your veil? Look no farther. This place is spectacular. I've shot weddings of all sizes here, some in the restaurant, some down at the barn. The food is consistently good, and the staff is friendly and efficient. Its located on the Mendocino Coast, just below Gualala.
Oooooooo.... if you are looking for an elopement place or somewhere to hold a small wedding - this is THE place. Its located in Glen Ellen, California. The town is charming and has plenty to offer, but even if it were sitting alone in some desert, the Gaige House is enough by itself. Each room is decorated differently and with more decorating taste than I've ever seen anywhere. I have photographed there a few times and every time I do, I go home with some burning desire to re-do my entire house. (Now all I need to do is hijack the women who own the place and borrow their incredible taste!)