Whew, these blog posts end up longer than I anticipate but I feel like I want to preserve my memories so I need to include every little thought and detail that was important to me at the time.... so bear with me while I talk about the reception!
When Roger and I first got "engaged" (I put parentheses because it was more like decided like 2 adults who have 2 kids and already live together than an actual proposal story), the original intention was to elope in Hawaii. I had vacationed there the year prior and absolutely fell in love with the island! I pictured us lounging in the sun and saying our vows on a beach under a palm tree. And it just so happened that my aunt Bev was planning to take Benji to Chicago for a week during the first week in July.... so if we got married then, we would only need a sitter for Aidan! Brilliant, right?
Yeah not so right. I went to a travel agent and discovered that flights and hotel for that week would be around $4k. And then the "wedding" that I wanted, another $2k, thanks to photography and all of the other stuff like dress, hair, flowers, etc. Roger's original idea was to elope, but then have a reception back home. Eloping for $6k plus paying for a reception for our family and friends here sounded really expensive to me. And so I decided that if we were going to have a reception anyway, we might as well just get married here! Plus, when truly thinking about how we got to where we are today, so many experiences include our family and friends.... it would be nice for them to get to see us get married. Roger agreed.
And so began our quest for a venue. I immediately called Sandy, a friend of mine through NACE (Natl Assn of Catering Execs) who worked at a golf course out in Vallejo (about 50 miles outside of SF). She was able to get me a KILLER deal, but it wasn't the venue of my dreams, the menu of my dreams (in her defense she was just trying to keep it at my original price point), the ceremony site of my dreams... it just wasn't it. I probably would have compromised and had it there, but once I saw the ceremony site, I knew it was NOT the place. Plus, Vallejo is FAR for 99% of our guests. So that sucks.
We looked around at a few other places in the East Bay, almost settling on one in Berkeley, when I went to a NACE board meeting and a few people suggested that I talk to the Catering Manager at the Hotel Adagio, in downtown SF. My immediate response was "We can't afford a wedding in downtown SF... not with everything we want!". But I went to talk to Krystal and two things happened. The first was that I fell in love with the hotel the minute I saw the event space. The second was that she HOOKED US UP. I cannot even tell you how amazing the deal she gave to us was. Roger happened to call me a few minutes after I had walked in, and my words to him were "This is it!!! You will absolutely love it!". That weekend we went by to see it again and I was right! He loved it!!!!
The reasons we fell in love with the Adagio are a) location .. it is in the HEART of San Francisco b) decor.. it is modern, yet has elements of traditional San Fran like a gorgeous enormous fireplace and handpainted wood ceilings c) the price we were offered d) the AMAZING terrace attached to the event space that we could use and that overlooks downtown SF... GORGEOUS and e) it was perfect size for an intimate wedding like we wanted ours to be!
Well, nothing is perfect. Krystal had given her notice at the hotel before I booked with her. I knew that. But I thought I'd get to sign the contract before she left!!!! Unfortunately that was not the case, and I was left wonderign what had happened. So the Sr. Sales Manager calls me, introduces herself, and tells me that she will honor what Krystal and I had discussed (YES!) and even sweetens the deal by lowering the corkage a bit and also offering a deeply discounted rate on the suite the night before the wedding. We got it free for the night of the wedding! Score!!!! Thankfully we firmed that up and it was signed before SHE left the hotel. Ay ya yay!
As someone in the events and hospitality sales industry, I am well aware of the fact that sales people are a revolving door more often than not, so that didn't scare me too much. Also, I am aware that detailing an event takes just a few hours generally speaking and that a tasting can be done any time. But when we were just a month out and there was no catering manager to contact, THAT is when I started freaking out! I requested to speak to the chef to come up with a custom menu. Roger and I are not the most adventurous "foodies" per se, but we are definitely picky and have high standards!
We met with the chef to lay out some ideas and in Roger's words "they should not have him meeting with clients". He is a super nice guy, but he let us run the show, he didn't really make suggestions, it was just kind of "sure, I can make that". Which is great... but lacks creativity. He told me he would email me with what we had discussed and we could set up a time to do a tasting from there.
When I got that email, I noticed that it was copied to someone with the last name "Sainz". That isn't exactly a popular last name. And the first initial was "A". Hmmm. I know an A Sainz. In fact I have known him since high school. And I vaguely remember talking to him at a bar one night and him mentioning that he worked in hotels (that conversation is blurry... shocking LOL). Could it be my friend from HS?!!!! Yes it sure could!!! My friend Alfredo started as the Catering Manager of the Adagio right before our wedding. And looking back, we were so blessed for this turn of events!
Alfredo was my knight in shining armor. Having never worked with him on a professional level (think football player, partier, etc in HS) it was interesting to see how he would act. I was highly impressed. He knew his sh--t. He was professional, detailed, VERY diplomatic and his goal was quite obviously for us to walk away happy. He truly went above and beyond. In addition, we (and about 75% of our guests) can thank HIM for the beef menu option being filet mignon. The chef was trying to give us short ribs (EW).
So... back to the story at hand. After the ceremony my feet hurt like a mother. I was able to change into my flip flops, dump the heels in our suite (which by the way is attached to the terrace which is attached to the cocktail room, which is attached to the dinner space!), and head into the cocktail area to say hi to all of the friends and family who were already getting down with the hors d'ouvres! I was handed a glass of champagne, and a delcious bruschetta. YUM!
Every single guest commented on my dress and how beautiful I looked. Once a fat girl, always a fat girl in your head.... it felt amazing to hear that.... I am not used to it at all. My friend's husband told me that I rank on his top 3 of "most beautiful brides". Aww! So sweet. I told him that I understand...his wifey had to be #1. I stopped to take pictures with people who "wanted to send the pic to xyz" via iphone. It was just awesome.
I had requested for the hotel to keep the doors to the dinner space closed until our guests would be seated for the meal. What this also did was a) keep the space perfect until that time and b) let me make sure it WAS indeed perfect before they could walk in. I walked into the dining room and immediately said "where are the bread and butter plates?! why are they not on the table?!". Bridezilla pops out so unexpectedly sometimes :P Alfredo assured me they would indeed be put on the tables. And they were!
I had decided to do assigned seating, right down to which chair each person would be sitting in. The reasons for this were a) there was absolutely no space to display name escort cards. b) there was absolutely no space for people to be dilly dallying about where they were going to sit and c) I knew which guests who didn't already know each other would connect and mix well together. Case in point: my coworker Dave and his wife attended the wedding. He has never met any of my family or friends other than the kids and Roger. But, I purposely sat him next to my friend Jenn's husband Tim. I knew that their personalities (warm, outgoing, friendly, jokesters) would mesh well. And I was right! Dave commented the other day on how much he enjoyed talking to Tim. See! I should be a matchmaker! :P
My decision worked out really well as far as the seating goes, I must say. Everyone sat down, and we made our "grand entrance" which was really Alfredo being kind enough to announce us as we walked in to dinner. But they caught it on video.. that's what is important, right?! I felt a little silly putting my bouquet in the air and being all excited, but sometimes you just gotta toot your own horn : P
I also spoke a few words of gratitude to thank everyone for coming before we sat down. Shortly thereafter the speeches began. My mom got up first and said a pretty generic speech. Then my cousin Cara, my maid of honor spoke. I was a bit worried because she didn't have any note cards or anything of that nature with her, but she claimed she had it under control. She was right. Her speech was personal, heartfelt, and she shared something with me that I never knew. We are only 6 months apart in age (I am older by a smidge) but she has always looked up to me. I never knew that.... in fact it's pretty amazing what came out of ALL of the rest of the speeches. Eric, the best man spoke next. His speech was pretty traditional. Started with some line about how the best way to give a speech is "stand up, speak up, and shut up". Chuckle chuckle. There were a few more of those kinds of jokes, an anecdote about Roger and his antics (I think he said "before there was "Punk'd" there was "Rog'd") because they'd pull pranks on people left and right, and then he spoke some words about love and marriage. A+ for preparation and effort!.
I thought that after Eric spoke the speeches would be over. I mean, we hadn't asked anyone else to speak. But surprisingly enough, we had lots of volunteers! Roger's sisters Becky and Debbie got up and spoke, talking about how much they love him and how glad they are that he is happy. And then all of the sudden out of nowhere, my dad spoke. My dad is very quiet, very unassuming, very under the radar for most occasions. His speech was so heartfelt and so kind, we all were crying. To top it off, my little brother Henry ALSO said a speech which again, was so mature and so sweet for a 14 year old.... cried again. Luke on the other hand just said "what he said" and pointed to Henry. Turd.
After Roger heard these speeches, he felt compelled to get up and say a few words. He thanked everyone for coming, he thanked me for waiting for 5 years for him to marry me, he thanked my parents for all of their help with the kids, and for feeding us dinner 65% of each week night :P, he thanked my aunt & her husband (the kids' godparents) for all of their help with the kids. But one thing he did which no one was expecting, was he spoke about my dad. He spoke about how he is the least assuming person, how his presence speaks more than words, and how he reminds him of his own dad who passed away over a decade ago. And he started crying! Ugh, tear jerker. It was the sweetest thing ever.
After all those emotional toasts, we were ready to EAT. But for whatever reason, dinner service was REALLY SLOW. Like really really slow. Not for our table... the hotel followed the "feed the bride and groom first" rule, which as the bride I didn't like, because I could see our guests waiting and waiting.. and waiting for their food! So that was bad. At one point I went in the back and saw them plating the salads. Immediately I said "That does NOT look like what we tasted. If it tastes good, we're ok. If not, we have a problem". The reason being: When we tasted the salad, the chef had used grape tomatoes which are easy to eat, and pretty. For the salads they served he used BIG ass roma tomato slices. I know that had he served that to us at the tasting, Roger would have ixnayed it to begin with. But alas, it tasted good.
Another issue was the kids table. I had the bright idea for them to pop up a standard table in the cocktail area for the kids. It was connected to the main space so we could see them, but they were separate and wouldn't destroy nice linens, chairs, or decor. In the end that was a great decision. However I should have specified that they needed to eat ASAP after we sat down. The poor kids were waiting FOREVER. I had to ask a server to bring them bread because they were starving. In the end they did like their meals, and according to my friend Yvette, their chicken was really good!
After the salad, we had given our guests the option of beef or chicken. This was indicated on the place cards with a bridge for the beef, and a flower for chicken. This was also indicated per my instruction on the banquet event order. Well imagine my face when a server asked me what I would like to eat, beef or chicken. Ugh. Do these people not read?! Apparently they do not because later on I saw the BEO posted in the back hall and in BIG BOLD letters: bridge = beef, flower = chicken. So annoying. But, depsite that, the food was EXCELLENT!!!! We have received more than 2 handfuls of praise on how delicious dinner was. And it really was. It was filet w/ mashed potatoes and green beans cooked PERFECTLY. Or chicken w/ isreali cous cous & green beans. Yum! We also had a dessert course of chocolate covered strawberries.. omg delicious.
Between the salad and dinner courses we had arranged to show a "fusion" video of our engagement photo shoot. I had no idea what to expect because it had been kept a surprise, even for us. Also, I am not sure that I shared this, but Roger and I got into a HUGE argument the day of our engagement shoot so I was surpised that we had ANY good pictures at all. Also when being asked why you want to marry someone after a knock down drag out argument... it's hard to be chipper about your feelings! And FYI that was a question that was asked of us! In the end, the audio was used without the video because according to Barbara our facial expressions didn't match the kind words coming out of our mouths : P The cool thing however, was that we were separate when answering the questions so I knew what I had said, but not what Roger had said. Well, it turns out we said the same thing!! See, meant to be! lol. When asked when we knew we were in love with the other person we both said "at Harding Park". Friendship can most definitely turn into love.
After dinner I was concerned that people would be bored because we didn't have dancing but my mother took care of that with her "speeches". Apparently her initial speech was just a prelude to her potential speeches after a few martinis! It was great though.... lightened the mood, had everyone laughing, and was definitely entertaining! My favorite line was "Should I stop?! He's telling me to stop (referring to my brother Luke)"... and then someone shouts "yes, stop!" and my mom's response: "I could stop. Or I could go....Or I could stop, or I could go...." LOL! Oh Janet, what are we gonna do with you?!
People started leaving around 10pm, which for a reception without dancing, is pretty good in my opinion. I sincerely hope that everyone had as good a time as we did. We tried to make it to each and every table, chat with all of our guests etc. The reception had the exact look and feel we were hoping for... a very chic and upscale dinner party among our closest friends. When people would ask me "What is the "theme" of your wedding?" my response evolved into "Old San Francisco Glamour". Or as I told my coworkers "Grandma meets modern", which is pretty much how I describe my own personal sense of style. I am pretty traditional in general, but then you get this pop of modernity every now and again. I love classics but also love innovation.
And so, the happiest day of our lives was celebrated with 58 of our closest family and friends. So I guess that only leaves one question... was it worth it?! The stress, the money, the time, the energy... there was a lot of woe is me involved!
You shall find out in my next post what my final verdict on having a wedding after 5 years together and 2 kids later... should we have just eloped as we initially planned???