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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Four Seasons San Francisco Bridal Fair 2011

Crowds, cupcakes and champagne! All three were well represented at the Four Seasons' "San Francisco Wedding Fair, A Five Star Afternoon 2011" produced by The Bridal Network.
- Click on any image to enlarge -

My morning began in a suite at the iconic Four Seasons Hotel enjoying the Bridal Brunch that preceded the Bridal Fair. It was fantastic with buffet stations of scrumptious bites prepared by the acclaimed Four Seasons kitchen and many choices of beverages to choose from including a bottomless flute of Moët Rosé champagne. Attendees were given early access to the Bridal Fair downstairs before the general public was invited in, received complimentary valet parking and two great goodie bags!

My hubby would have loved the Shrimp cocktail with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce if he'd attended. He loves shrimp cocktail so much it was the theme for our wedding cake. And crab lovers were not disappointed with the cordial glasses filled with Dungeness Crab and California Citrus Salad.

If the shrimp and crab were too rich, these Yogurt, Granola and Fresh Berry Parfaits and the Heirloom Beet, Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts spoons were nice, light bites.

There were two buffet stations, one serving hot food, which included this fancy yet understated Oatmeal "Brulee." Seriously, it made me wonder what else is better as a brulee? I may have to get a blow torch and find out!

I thoroughly enjoyed the Cinnamon Brioche French Toast topped with a Caramelized Banana Compote. It was so good. Like really, really amazing. It was so good I didn't even need to add maple syrup. That's when you know French Toast is great, when it doesn't need syrup.

And Mmmmm-Mmmmmm. The Applewood Smoked Bacon, Swiss Chard and Caramelized Leek Quiche looked delicious.

If you love sumptuous food be sure to attend the brunch next year. And arrive when it begins so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the amenities...

Massages and facials were provided by "The Spa" at "The Sports Club/LA," in San Francisco. Confused? Me too. The company is called The Sports Club/LA and has three locations in Southern California, but their luxurious fitness centers are also located in San Francisco, New York, Massachusetts and Florida. I particularly liked the facial picture where you can't see the guest but you can see the reflection of her profile in the picture on the wall. I thought it was kind of an artsy shot.

And always a crowd favorite, renowned stylist Jim Avila gave mini hair consults as the brides relaxed, ate, drank and mingled in the suite. A fashion, hair, makeup and image stylist and consultant, Jim has guided over 2000 brides to look their best during his illustrious, 25 year career.

It was an intimate and relaxed affair with hotel staff attending making it a great opportunity for brides and grooms to ask questions about having their weddings at the Four Seasons San Francisco. The hotel offers both wedding packages or the option to custom design your wedding so they are able to make the process as convenient or personal as you would wish.

Registering for the brunch was a special promotion through Gilt City. If you're not familiar with Gilt City I think the best way to describe it is along the lines of the Groupon business model but  focusing on special experiences, pampering services and exclusive restaurant menus for style mavens, fashionistas and those seeking culture and luxury experiences above and beyond the norm for a cost far less than one might expect.

Live models showcased gowns from the Jin Wang salon during the brunch. Not only did I have the pleasure of catching up with Jin, I also met the women of Gilt City,  Bollare PR and Cinch PR who did their best to make me eat more but I was too busy gathering information and photos :)

Kelly Nelson, Director of Marketing for the Four Seasons San Francisco, thanked us for attending the brunch then invited us to depart the suite to enjoy our early entrance to the awaiting Bridal Fair downstairs.

As we entered the Promenade the Starlight Strings quartet greeted us with live music. My day was off to a very nice start...

And we're in! There were many booths with over 75 companies showcasing their products and services as hundreds of brides and grooms perused the booths collecting brochures and business cards while meeting the exhibitors.

Among the first booths I saw as I entered the show was my dear friend Jacques Oksanian owner of Hyegraph, a company that specializes in wedding invitations, custom printing and calligraphy. Located at 888 Brannan, formerly known as The Gift Center, Jacques store is packed with all kinds of invitations, decorations, favor and gift ideas. I always love Jacques' displays when I see him at bridal shows. He really puts a lot of effort into creating a stylish and inviting booth for attendees to enjoy.

Also exhibiting were friends Andrew Hsu from Studio MSV, Megan Woods from Enhanced Lighting and Sound and Ranjan Dey, owner of New Delhi Restaurant. And I met lots of new people including I Do Venues, who maintain a great blog all about Bay Area wedding venues.

Photographer Karl Ko also had a great, easy to see, booth display. The wall of photos was a nice intro to his work inviting and compelling brides to stop, view his albums and chat with Karl himself once the show was underway.

And to the right, before and after shots from the moment I arrived to just a couple of hours later. If you build it, they will come...

A Serene and Beautiful Cake by Katrina Rozelle

A very well presented china display by Heritage House bridal registry.

Guests had their choice of two beverage options: The open bar at the back of the Veranda Ballroom serving champagne and "Color Me Cocktail™" custom colored cocktails or the coffee and tea bar.

These cakes by Montclair Baking really caught my eye. They were so fun and flirty! I was especially intrigued by the very whimsical sugar bubbles. As I chatted with owner and pastry chef Cheryl Lew, she explained that creating the sugar bubbles is similar to blowing glass, only with molten sugar. Amazing.

This pretty floral booth was by Alicia K. Designs. And all afternoon long live models graced the runway styled platforms in the center of the Veranda ballroom posing in a variety of gowns from the Jin Wang salon.

Looking for something blue and new? Blanc de Bleu is a new sparkling wine being produced by Premium Vintage Cellars. And they're a local company. Their website says: "Our grapes from Mendocino County are 100% Chardonnay." It is the first blue sparkling wine to be introduced to the market. It was very pretty! Since I don't drink alcohol I can't say how it tasted but I watched other guests enjoying samples and everyone seemed quite pleased.

There were live models both in the Veranda Ballroom and in the Promenade entranceway. The gowns are from one of my most favorite bridal salons ever, the Jin Wang atelier. Jin creates custom couture gowns and offers a collection of made to order gowns by designers like Angel Sanchez, Ann Bowen, Blush by Jim Hjelm, Carmen Marc Valvo, David Meister, Designer Bride, Doma Adami, Enzoani, Model Novias, Pattis, Selia Yang, Tara Keely, Olivia Couture and more. She and her staff are warm and welcoming making gown shopping the pleasurable experience it should be.

Normally I don't laugh at the misfortune of others... But when I saw Natasha Miller (owner and founder of Entire Productions, an entertainment booking salon) with an ankle brace and crutches and she saw me, we both burst out laughing out loud. Why? Because the day we met I had on a similar brace from when I injured my ankle two years ago. Remember my "Frankenfoot?" The pictures on the right are from when I was wearing the big Frankenfoot boot like Natasha's and a picture from the night we met when I was wearing the much smaller and more elegant "Frankenankle" mini brace with a red dress. LOL

While chatting with Natasha she introduced me to a friend of hers, jewelry designer Rebecca Overmann. If I had to describe Rebcca's designs I'd say many of her pieces shun hard lines and symmetry opting instead for undulating edges and forms that are fluid in an organic way. I loved the daintiness of some of her pieces like the rings pictured above.

So often models have that super serious, blank expression as they pose which is, I believe, a standard pose in the industry. But I like when models smile, and look approachable. I noticed many of the attendees stopping to chat with the models about the gowns they were wearing, which is a great thing imo.

The outdoor terrace had seating and two cabanas set up for guests who wanted to take a break and enjoy the gorgeous, almost summer-like winter weather we had last weekend.

Click on the Image to Enlarge

And a crowd favorite. The Muir Suite had been transformed:
"New to the Fair this year, the “Bachelor Pad” is available as a refuge for grooms-to-be: offering the score of the game and beers. Then head back out to see if anything’s been accomplished in your absence."
After he welcomed me into the lounge, I couldn't help but tease Bartender Bein that he had it made. Instead of being stuck in the main ballroom in a sea of estrogen, he got to hang out and watch the game with the grooms. Snacks included gourmet popcorn, chips and nuts. What more could a guy want except maybe to be at the game. But then they wouldn't have the comfy lounge chairs, private bar and Bein serving them beer in high style.

The "four seasons" themed table tops in the Yerba Buena Room were by Floramor, Hartmann Studios and Impact Lighting. I had a nice conversation with a couple about how much they liked that they could see around the winter centerpiece which would allow their guests to converse even with a tall centerpiece that potentially could, but didn't, obstruct their view when they sat across from each other to test out the design.

Also in the Yerba Buena Room was a beautiful ice sculpture of the Four Seasons' logo by Chisel-it Ice and four wedding cakes by Pastry Chef Jeffery Wurtz from the Four Seasons Hotel. The ice sculpture and cakes were surrounded by four, tall, sparkling, silver, crystal trees by Floramor Studios, a floral design company.

This elegant white on white table top and the paper flower dining vignette was designed by Robert Fung of Hartmann Studios. Design elements by Hartmann Studios.

I wish pictures had smell-a-vision. The scent of sugar and spice wafted in the air around the Sibby's Cupcakery booth. It smelled so good I felt like I'd eaten a cupcake by inhaling one after standing there just long enough to take this photo!

Photo Booth US displayed one of the most beautiful photo booths I've ever seen. A visit to their site revealed they have both modern and vintage styled booths including the one guests enjoyed at the show:
"A stunning beauty! In our opinion, the most beautiful photo booth ever built. With only about a dozen of these booths remaining in the United Stated, we had no choice but to build our own. This photo booth is the replica of the original Auto-Photo Model 11 manufactured in 1958."
Always popular are beauty booths where brides receive some one-on-one quality time with make up artists. Sunday was no exception with plenty of attendees waiting for their turn to sit down with the artists from Lashfully.

And the most unique product I saw was this teeny, tiny wedding invitation (that can only be read with the accompanying magnifying glass) by World's Smallest Post Service. Designer Lea Redmond came up with this concept and has perfected it into a one-of-a-kind line of custom, miniature invitations, cards and gifts.

Wow right? You can order a custom Valentine's Day card or a card for any occasion. Turns out Lea has all kinds of projects going. A visit to her website Leafcutter Designs will show you everything she's up to.

I was just passing hour four since my arrival at that morning when I thought to myself "Stick a fork in me, I'm done!" On my way out I stopped and had a really nice conversation with a woman at photographer Sherman Chu's booth. I really liked both his booth display and his work. Like Karl Ko, Sherman had his work displayed on a wall which is so appealing to people passing by and helpful when the crowds are too large to allow you to get close enough to view an album. They let you know if you should stick around to see more if you like what you've seen so far.

My Pad Thai and Duncan and Jason's Soups

After walking, photographing and interviewing exhibitors all afternoon I'd worked up an appetite and needed a late lunch pick-me-up.

I met up with friends (and industry colleagues) Duncan Reyes and Jason Mitchell at the Bridal Fair and we strolled down Market St. a few blocks to Million Thai Restaurant located on 5th Street between Mission and Market on the street level of the Hotel Milano. The service was pleasant but a tad slow, surprising only because we were there well after the lunch rush and before dinner so there were very few patrons. The Pad Thai was yummy, their prices reasonable and the location convenient so I'm sure I'll go back again.

LOL knowing that I love to photograph my food pics on white backgrounds, Duncan did his best to improvise the perfect white backdrop for my Pad Thai. That's what friends are for :) He also found these cute straw wrappers that had been transformed into paper rosebuds that I found so creative. I love little details. After lunch we parted ways and I headed home with my thoughts all abuzz with the beautiful things I'd seen and all of the interesting people I'd met that day.

The next morning I took a peek in the goodie bags I'd received at the brunch. One was from Floramor Studios and contained these super cute, matching items that included a manicure/grooming set, votive, compact, picture frame and picture holder.

The second was the Four Seasons Gift Bag with Items provided by the Four Seasons and sponsors: Williams Sonoma, Spa (Sports Club LA), Gilt City, Moet Chandon and Joseph Cozza Hair Salon (located in Sports Club LA).

I'd highly recommended making the investment in attending both the Brunch and Bridal Fair in 2012. Between the food and pampering at the start of the day and the valet parking and goodie bags at the end, it's a win-win.

Thank you to Director of Catering David Robinson for welcoming me, Executive Chef Mark Richardson and his entire culinary team for the wonderful breakfast buffet, Director of Marketing Kelly Nelson, Assoicate Director of Catering Stacie Hallinan and the entire event staff at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. Your hospitality was very much enjoyed and appreciated.


  1. wow, blue wine! I must check it out!

  2. It was very pretty!

    Thanks for stopping by Melanie :)


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