Monday, December 12, 2011

Words of Wisdom: Unique Holiday Shopping in Mill Valley

{vintage cookbook wreath from Tyler Florence Shop, Mill Valley}

Holiday shopping can seem a little stressful and daunting for some, especially if it evokes images of crowded malls and busy parking lots. I wanted to share my recommendations for a perfectly delightful day of gift-buying, one that will leave you with a smile on your face and charming little trinkets to present to your family and friends. 

For fun and unique items discovered off-the-beaten path, I highly recommend heading to one of my favorite little Bay Area towns, Mill Valley. The downtown area is filled with wonderful small businesses, and I always love supporting local purveyors this time of year. Street parking is easy (and it's free for the holiday season!).  Take in the fresh air and enjoy the holiday decorations as you stroll the streets and peruse the quant shops in the area. Here are some of my must-stops:

{Summer House ~ 27 Throckmorton Avenue.
Summer House 57, the newer furniture shop ~ 57 Throckmorton} 
Great eclectic things for the home including unique antiques, cozy linens, scarfs from Europe, great furniture and pottery from Soule Studio in Petaluma (that I happen to use every day and love it).

Moss & Daughters 
{Two El Paseo Lane} 
Opening this week, Moss and Daughters looks to be the perfect stop for a hostess gift this holiday season. The shop carries an assortment of house plants, orchids, wreaths, as well as charming antiques.

{One El Paseo Lane}   
This little antique shop has wonderful gifts, statement pieces, books, and home & garden items...and on Friday nights proprietor Larry Moss treats shoppers to wine and live piano music on the shop's baby grand.

{59 Throckmorton}
One of the best kitchen stores out there, this shop goes way beyond the typical. For food lovers in your life, a stop here is a MUST. They have some of the most beautiful and creative gift baskets I've ever seen - throw in some of Tyler's own products like cookbooks, cutlery, tasty sauces and spice rubs.

{108 Throckmorton Avenue}
Lovely home and garden shop with French roots, the owner Yasmine fills the shop with treasures and fun things for gifts of all ages.

Once you've collected all your treasures, pop into the bar at El Paseo for a bottle of champagne and the restaurant's new caviar service...after all, you deserve a little treat yourself.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekly Inspiration: Fall Flowers

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to share how to capture the essence of fall without using the ubiquitous color palette of red, orange and brown. My long-time colleague Kathleen Deery created these beautiful autumn-inspired flower arrangements for a recent event of mine. Instead of going the traditional route, Kathleen choose pale pink flowers mixed with yellowy green and crimson leaves, and little touches of acorns here and there. Perfectly autumnal, but a fresh and innovative approach.

{photography by Kathleen Harrison}

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sita + Colburn's Halloween Engagement Party

This fall, I had the unique pleasure of planning an engagement party for one of my wedding couples, Sita and Colburn. On Halloween weekend, we turned the bride's family home into a haunted house, complete with cobwebs, misty fog and ghostly creatures lurking in the corners. In fact, my staff and I got into the 'spirit' of the holiday by dressing as zombie maids and a butler to great guests as they arrived at the party.

Daniel Ripley Catering put together an amazing menu of passed hors d'oeuvres, small bites and desserts, including be-deviled eggs, witch hat grilled cheeses and broken finger cookies. This show-stopping engagement cake is by Perfect Endings. Inspired by PS Paper's custom invitations, the three-tiered red velvet cake was a huge hit with guests and a marvelous surprise for the bride and groom at the end of the night.

We've been having a lot of fun at recent events with Smilebooth, a state of the art photo booth camera with lots of custom backdrops to choose from. Guests had so much fun posing in their costumes...just look at some of these fun pictures from the night (including the LASE team, trying our best to look spooky for the camera).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Laurie + Barry: A Look Back at My Wedding Day

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary (we've been celebrating all month actually, but this weekend marked the official anniversary). The beautiful weekend of weather we just had is the exact same weather we had five years ago. A perfect October day in the Napa Valley. I couldn't have asked for anything better. 

We had such an amazing weekend surrounded by lots of family and friends. My husband Barry and I decided to have a big wedding to include all the special people from different parts of our lives. We just couldn't imagine not having them all with us to celebrate. It was especially fun for me to share my work life with my family and friends, many of whom had only seen pictures of my weddings but never experienced one in person. 

Our venue was a beautiful estate called Oak Knoll Ranch, modeled after a famous New Orleans manor. It is so pretty in pale pink, with white wrap-around porches and old wisteria vines. I designed the style of the wedding after the surroundings - we built upon the southern feel and the color palette to create an elegant yet relaxed affair with pale pink throughout. 

The whole day was a bit surreal, but being the bride and not the planner was an easier transition than I thought. In fact, everyone kept remarking how calm I was - I owe that to my amazing staff, who took care of every detail so I could enjoy the day.

It was so special to me to have an incredible team of vendors, people I have known and worked with for years, help make the wedding so beautiful, so simple and so me. Additionally, Barry and I both treasure our parents dearly, and that we both got to walk into our wedding ceremony on their arms is a priceless moment we'll cherish all our lives. And I must mention another special guest of honor, Roscoe. Roscoe was my dog before Barry and I met, but Barry fell quickly in love with the little guy and insisted he be part of our big day too. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank the incredible vendors who made the day so special:

Elaine Bell Catering  ~ all of the delicious southern food, the raw oyster bar at cocktails, all of the passed hors d'oeuvres, the mint juleps in pewter cups and especially the mouth-watering fried chicken dinner

Stanlee Gatti Designs ~ the gardenia chuppah that people still talk about - the smell carried throughout the garden, the largest most beautiful lily of the valley bridal bouquet ever and the pale pink delicate reception flowers

Zephyr Tents ~ the sail cloth dining tent and kids tent

Illusions Lighting ~ spectacular lighting in the tents and on the property to highlight the beautiful trees and architecture

Innovative Entertainment ~ romantic music by the Tim Hockenberry Band

KLC Music ~ elegant string music by her talented string quintet for the ceremony

Johnson Edwards Entertainment ~ a packed dance floor, courtesy of Durell Coleman Band

Perfect Endings ~ the sweetest of endings to the evening - my wedding cake, dessert buffet and mini boxed southern pecan pie favors

A Day in May ~ lovely letterpress custom designed printed materials

Barbara Callow ~ the beautiful calligraphy on my save the dates, invitations and day of materials

Jim Avila and Wallet Luburich ~ flawless wedding day hair and makeup

Joan Gilbert for my wedding gown I felt so wonderful in

Thread ~ for the adorable flower girls dresses

Robert Talbott ~ for the dapper men's and boy's ties

Photography by Thayer Gowdy, Eliot Holtzman and Miguel Fairbanks ~ I still can't believe I was so lucky to have three amazing photographers cover my day. Truly a dream come true!

{photography by Eliot Holtzman}

Monday, October 10, 2011

Engagement Shoots: Jose Villa

The last couple weeks have been all about inspiration for me. I've been traveling in Europe, reveling in the beauty of Paris, Portofino, Florence and Rome. After a very busy fall event season, it's just what I needed to replenish my energy, both physically and creatively. From the food, to the scenery, to the service, I've found so many wonderful sources of inspiration for next year's weddings and events.

One place I continuously find inspiration is in the work of Jose Villa - wedding photographer extraordinaire. His work is filled with so much ethereal beauty, it's heavenly.  Jose recently shot two of our wedding couples for next year in their engagement sessions. An engagement shoot is not only a wonderful opportunity to bond with your photographer, but when you work with someone as talented as Jose, it leaves you with photos you will treasure throughout your married life.

Just look at these two beautiful couples - so in love and picture perfect. I can't wait to share their wedding photos with you next year.

Ruthie + Ian

Jenet + Chris

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Love This: Bloody Mary Brunches

I apologize that I've been a little sleepy on the blog's because I myself have been a little sleepy from a very busy summer season. My last few weddings have been so much fun, with guests dancing into the late night hours.
The perfect remedy for a late night wedding is a Bloody Mary Brunch for guests the next day. I just love these prawn-topped cocktails at a recent brunch, adding an upscale twist to the classic Bloody Mary.

Photography by Abby Ross

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Love This: Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate

One of my favorite aspects of wedding planning is taking things the bride and groom love and making them into special experiences for their guests. At the after-party for Sarah and Joseph's San Francisco wedding, we created a decadent display of Cocoa Bella truffles from around the world for guests to enjoy while dancing. A sommelier even paired port and dessert wines with the delectable little bites.

This abundant and beautiful table is {almost} as sweet to look at as it is to devour.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Roscoe & Jack's Summer Birthday Party

{photo by Kathleen Harrison}

This July, my husband and I were excited to celebrate the birthdays of our adorable westies ~ ten year old Roscoe and three year old Jack. I love a great party almost as much as I love my little guys, so we invited our friends with dogs to come celebrate the occasion in summer style.

Cocktails of limeade and Ketel One Citreon were passed for the grown ups, with bottles of Crush soda with striped straws for the kids. We served a seasonal lunch of lobster rolls, corn salad and beef tenderloin sandwiches.

When I started planning the party, I knew right away I wanted to serve the incredible ice cream sandwiches of Jackson's Ice-Cycle. In fact, Jackson's bicycle inspired the entire color palette for the event. The ice cream sandwiches, made with Three Twins ice cream and cookies by Miette, were a huge hit with our guests, but I didn't want to leave the dogs out of the fun. So I talked to Jackson about making special doggie sandwiches, with homemade dog biscuits and Frosty Paws doggie ice cream. But they weren't done with their treats adorable birthday cake by George was presented to Roscoe & Jack, while each puppy enjoyed his very own birthday cake-shaped dog cookie.

The best part of the day was watching Jack, Roscoe and all their puppy friends play together. Jack's litter mate Maddie, our office mascot Bunsen and the first dog of California Sutter were just some of the party guests...they seemed to have a ball. Each dog took home a personalized placemat (by the ever crafty Jill Sassa of PS Paper) with their owners enjoying custom Jack and Roscoe cookies by Barbara at Felix the Cook.

Take a look at the fabulous photos by two talented photographers, Angie Silvy and Kathleen Harrison.

Flowers & decor: Stuart Gilchrist Interiors & Kathleen Deery Design. Catering by: Rod W. Signs & favors: PS Paper. Cake & dog cookies by: George. Invites by Mr. Boddington's Nephew for Paperless Post.

{photos by Angie Silvy}

{photos by Kathleen Harrison}

{photo by Angie Silvy}

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