OBB Weekly – 12-11-18

Versus a newsletter, I would prefer the content to live on the internet that can easily be referred to at a later date and look back at when needed. One of my most popular posts is from years ago! This will be a weekly post highlighting picks of the week in all that is One Busy Bee Enterprises LLCTravel, Concierge and Event Planning. I hope you come back and click on the links for more information and it inspires you to book travel (with me!) and plan an event, again, with me.

With basically two weeks until Christmas, let’s get festive!

As a Certified Travel Agent and no family of my own, I took off on a Holland America cruise to the Mexican Riviera after the visits with family were done. Folks tend to escape the cold and take advantage of their children having a school break and head for warmer weather. It was great to sit by the pool on the Oosterdam and get in the water in Puerto Vallarta. Let me help you plan a getaway!

Do you escape during the winter months and holidays?

A common gift that is given to us Concierges from vendors are cookies and wine. I am in the middle of the studying for my Napa Valley Wine Certification test and have an abundance of wine at home that I need to have a party so you can help me drink it! One of my favorite experiences recently was getting on the Napa Valley Wine Train. I had no idea the food was going to be so good, the service was great and it was a nice, gentle ride. NOT like Bart. It is also a Noble House Hotels entity, the same parent company of the Argonaut Hotel, where I am a Concierge at. Contact me to book your wine train experience with me with lunch, dinner and/or visiting 1,2 or 3 wineries. They also have special events such as Santa Train, New Year’s Eve events and tequila pairing dinners.

Does the Wine Train sound like a fun experience to do during the holidays?

Event Planning
Look up ‘holiday engagements’ on Twitter and you’ll get a mix of feelings on the topic. You will at least know one person that has gotten engaged or announced they are having a baby during the holidays. If it’s not you, be happy for them. My holiday engagement and marriage came to an end. But you might be invited to an epic party! For those planning for holiday nuptials, you may be competing with companies’ holiday parties. However, if you find a great venue like Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, California, they may be already decorated for the holidays which may be less cost accrued for decor of your own. Contact me to help you plan your event!

How many couples do you know that got engaged this holiday season?

Foodie, Owner of the Instagram account ‘werehungrytoo‘, former San Francisco restaurant Co-Owner and experience in the food and beverage industry for almost two decades (gasp!), I like food. And the holidays makes plenty of it available. I had two Thanksgiving dinners last month and the menus being released for Christmas dinners from San Francisco restaurants look delicious.

Which dish are you most looking forward to enjoying this holiday season?

Deep fried turkey by my Cugino.
Octopus Salad at the Cocina Del Mar at the Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Cookin’ Cabo cooking class in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Where to Eat Christmas Dinner in San Francisco – Time Out (12/6/18)Come get a 10% off coupon from me as a Concierge


They say that if you aren’t working on your goals for the upcoming year, you’re already behind. And I’m one of them, and I know I’m not alone! Though I have already started promoting myself to get my calendar booked with weddings, I have a lot of work to do to reach a goal to be fully booked in 2019. I have quadrupled the weddings I have worked in 2018 from the year before and would like to do the same for the upcoming year, and travel a lot. Quarter 1 is filled with going to Orlando, Florida for my first half marathon at Walt Disney World, a familiarization trip to Fiji with Pleasant Holidays and Journese and my graduation cruise from Princess Cruises from Melbourne, Australia to New Zealand. But there are plenty of weekends left for weddings for this One Busy Bee

What are your goals for the new year? 

Happy Holidays from this One Busy Bee!

Gabe & Maria – Thomas Fogarty Winery

The last wedding of the year for this Event Planner and Coordinator is complete. I am so happy for Gabe and Maria. This lovely couple tied the knot at the gorgeous Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, California on December 1, 2018.

Gabe and Maria did a beautiful job of doing majority of the work of planning this memorable event. They were very organized and stress-free and made the wedding day one of the easiest I have ever worked. I reviewed their work, brought up tasks and ideas for them to think about, put some ideas together for their honeymoon and recommended periodic status meetings to help with anything they may need. Otherwise, they did a really fantastic job. I didn’t have a lot of pre-wedding work to do and my car wasn’t filled with wedding items to where I couldn’t see out of the windows. Yes, this happens.

The wedding rehearsal took place at 10 AM the day before the wedding on a windy and chilly morning. The initial thought of how the wedding party would perform the procession was rethought during this time as it didn’t flow as I liked and there was a chance of rain the next day. We moved the starting point to inside the reception area, timed where they would start, stop for a photo, start, where to stand, how to angle themselves, how to hold their flowers and of course smile. “Don’t be that Bridesmaid/Groomsmen.” We ran thru it twice, made modifications as necessary and timed it just right. I figured out where I was going to stand, how I was going to queue the parties involved and more. We nailed it.

I relaxed the rest of the day as I knew it was going to be 12-hour day on my feet the next day. However, I was sure to pack my bag of usual goodies and items in case of an emergency – scissors, tape, markers/Sharpies, pen, lighters, lady toiletries, etc. I was out of my mini first aid kit and a mini sewing kit I had thanks to the JW Marriott in Los Cabos. Funny how that I needed both of these things on Wedding Day and came up short. I know better than that! I need to be better prepared. One thing the Bride and Groom did need were easels for their signage. I had three wooden ones and I laid down the backseat seats and loaded them in. 
As it was a rainy day and about an hour drive to the venue, I took off a little early just in case. I had time to spare so I took some time to review my timeline and other documents. Then it was showtime.

The photographers, McElvy Photography, beat me to the venue and Mike McElvy was up on a ladder adding lights to make sure the ceremony photos came out with the brighter background. I was super impressed with this husband and wife photography couple. Jack, I mean Mike, (inside joke) and Jill even came to the wedding rehearsal. They were so easy and a pleasure to work with. I hope to work with them again.

Kaitlin of Thomas Fogarty Winery introduced herself and looked incredibly relaxed. I was about to find out that it was because of their list of preferred vendors. She knew that the selected group for the day knew exactly what they had to do and knew the venue inside and out. Kaitlin was available for any of my questions and answered via text and/or came to find me with assistance. In the evening, Sherie took over and she also had the same demeanor. Over a break, (yes, I got not just one, but several!), she, Tony, the DJ and I had some time to chat. Some laughs were made but there was another reason why this venue was so great. Amazing people!
Toast Catering was also there unloading and prepping. I met their lady in charge, Mam (unsure of the spelling), and she was all over it. The schedule was taped to the fridge and things were being moved and progress was being made. I was introduced to Laura and Walter. They answered all of my questions, fulfilled my request for moving workers to the reception area to put down tables per the florist’s request and moving the heaters into place. I then later saw them running the show during the reception and killin’ it, plus making sure my Bride and Groom’s sweetheart table was perfect, they had their entrees along with their salads as requested and more. They were awesome. I even got to sit down at a table and enjoy the meal. The filet mignon and sauce was fantastic! The to go plate I enjoyed the next day of their salmon, massive stuffed chicken, veggies and rice was filling and flavorful, even as leftovers. That means something! I was super impressed by the quality, reliability and professionalism of the service staff. We had one boo boo where a tray of glasses hit the floor but thankfully nobody got hurt. Toast was also in charge of rentals. One
less additional vendor to worry about!

Tony V. with Elite Entertainment was great. He knew exactly what to do, hooked up the Officiant, also named Tony, with a mic for the ceremony even though he wasn’t aware of the need. He had a great personality and did great on the mic. He even spoke Spanish and kept the party going. He had Spanish versions of songs I didn’t know was around! I now know and want them as part of my music library. Por supuesto!
The Officiant Tony was also on top of it. He has experience and was a friend of Maria and Gabe’s. It was Uncle Tony to be exact. He was good, voice great ideas and took the lead well during the ceremony. May I also add, he was stylish in his deep purple suit.

The florist was made up of family members and were friends of the family. The arch was constructed and flowers were attached. The bouquets and bouttainaires were pretty.

TIP: If you want to save money on flowers. Fake ones are OK. Especially when they’ll only be seen for 20 minutes.

Corinthian Ground Transportation shuttled guests from the Courtyard Marriott Palo Alto to the venue. For an almost 200-person wedding, there wouldn’t be enough parking for each guest. Two trips were made and they were on time, reliable and friendly. 

The three layer cake was delivered and set in place. Only one layer was an actual cake.

TIP: The Bride and Groom were smart and saved money by ordering two sheet cakes to serve to guests. 

Walter of Toast called it a “cake weave.” I’m sure the couple’s pocketbook was A-OK with saving some money.

I love my job, my business. It is experiences like this and working with great vendors that make my job so easy. It was a pleasure to be a part of this special day.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, you totally rocked. Everything was flawless thanks to you. It was a long day and yet you always had a smile on your face. Everyone loved everything and they were very impressed with how it all turned out” – Maria, the Bride.
Just want to say Thank you for everything!!! Idk what we would’ve done without you!! Sorry for the late text. But you’re the bomb!!!” – Gabe, the Groom.
Maria also says “I’ve never seen you in the zone like that before. You rocked it! Thank you!” I met Maria and most of those in the below photo maybe ten years ago through our love of music, specifically for the band Los Lonely Boys. Now she’s married! And the band Liked my Tweet to them that it was them that brought us together. I am thankful for their trust in handling their special day, but mostly for their friendship.

So happy for you, Maria and Gabe!

Wait, I’m not putting on the Bride’s shoes or bustling her dress? That’s what that silly face is for.

Money dance! Paying to dance with both of them. 
Had to do an example for the guests. Happy to be the first one to sign.

Are we in Hawai’i?

The Charles Dickens Christmas Fair – San Francisco, California

“We’re watching Mickey’s A Christmas Carol,” says a friend while being a good daddy. This Disney Certified Travel Agent hasn’t seen it, but I have been to the Charles Dickens Christmas Fair. Tickets were given to myself and colleagues thanks to a vendor of ours. The tickets were only good for the first two weekends so I made a point to make it happen during the long holiday weekend.

Do you like fish and chips?” This was the response to asking the gent that took my $12 cash to park my car at the Cow Palace of what to expect at this fair. Beyond stuffed from eating Filipino food nearby at Goldilocks, I rubbed my tummy knowing there wasn’t any room. Hey, men like women with a healthy appetite. Right? I didn’t think this would be the reason to come to this fair but he did add that if I did want to experience their fish and chips, I should go early. This is because as the day goes on, the pieces get smaller and smaller.  We did see a mom carry a tray full and they didn’t look good. 

Thinking we were early, one parking lot was already full and there were folks directing us to park as if were planes at the airport. Folks in the dressed to the nines in period costumes, top hats, feathers in their bonnets, big cloaks and cinched waists. The closest I could get to dressing up was wearing my long black, floor-length DKNY coat and to the knee Cole Haan black boots. 

Walking across the pedestrian bridge, we thought the entrance would be right under the words that said “COW PALACE.” Nope. Before moving on, we posed for a picture with the name behind us. “Say ‘Mooooo.” Kim took direction well and I should have kept the photo. I laughed all the way to the entrance.

To the right, along that building, down the ramp and to the left was the entrance. Past the ticket booth, I noticed these tickets were $30 per adult. Was it going to be worth it? Obviously this fair happens every year and there were already tons of folks there. We shall see.

Our tickets were scanned and were handed an old newspaper of events. With small print! Oh, goodness. This seems a bit intense. In the middle of the paper was a map. It was massive with shows, stores, places to eat and drink! Can you guess where our first stop was? Yes, the bar.

In the line, we observed the bartenders in their costumes and the way they communicated. They had English accents, were polite and incredibly expressive. It was going to be fun talking to all the workers here. You can’t help but smile. Given that it was a Saturday morning, we were thinking a mimosa. But the pour was the same amount of Mumm as a shot in a cocktail then filled with orange juice out of a gun. We decided to go with the red wine once I knew the white wine was a Chardonnay. I couldn’t imagine the Chard they would serve would be anything I liked. The bartender put two plastic cups in front of us and they were the size of shot glasses used for party. Can you imagine the look on my face? I paid the man $6 for our shots of red wine and tipped him $2. I know he has no control over the pour amounts. We definitely were not going to go for seconds.

The area was a bit dim, like you’re walking the streets of an English town filled the street lamps, trees and stores from hats and dresses, jewelry, places to eat and drink and even a kids’ area. One of the first stores we went into was inviting guests to send a telegram. You fill out a form, they write it out and they walk the streets looking for this person. If Kim, my roommate, wasn’t the only one with me, it’d be fun to have someone call their names throughout the venue. 

You could get old school black and white photos done, your profile drawn (including your dog’s via a picture) and even get your hair braided. It’d be great to have my hair braided but I’m sure it would cost $65. I sent a Snap (@bappletree) to my Hairstylist and friend, Justina. If she ever wanted to play with my hair, it’d be fun to get an intricate hairstyle done for the day.

For couples getting married and are Game of Thrones fans, this would be a great gift for them.

I personally enjoyed the hat stores/booths. I would have bought one but I didn’t need to spend $85.

We went down each row once and decided to head home. It was an experience and if I was in more of a festive mood I would probably enjoy it more. But go see it for yourself! The fair runs now thru December 23rd from 10 AM – 7  PM at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

God bless, Everyone!

A Texan Elopement in San Francisco

This is why I need Bernadette!” exclaims my Bride to her new husband. He nodded as if saying “Whatever makes you happy, my Love.

What does a Day Of Wedding Coordinator do? Duties may or may not include, but not limited to: Button the dress, fluff the dress, straighten the veil, share your candy with the Bride, get just as excited when it’s time to get married (see SF Mayor Breed’s excitement too!) and much more, including try to stay out of the Photographer’s way. She also leaves them a nice note to welcome them to San Francisco.

I received a call at the Concierge desk I work at from an incoming hotel guest that were eloping from Texas. The Bride needed assistance finding someone to help on day of. “Well, I am one.” Next thing I knew, I was hired.

My Bride was on top of it! She was very organized and solely needed help finding cleaners to get her dress pressed after the plane ride, a vehicle to escort the Bride, Groom, Photographer and I around the city for photos, the ceremony and the dinner with cake and champagne. I also helped finalize the timeline and made sure her sister’s gift arrived on time and was placed at the best time and location as I saw fit. It was delivered to Epic Steakhouse with clear instructions on the boxes. I also aided with carrying whatever she needed, ran a quick errand for her and help flowers, helped her use the restroom, hold important paperwork, etc. 

I sent sneak peeks to someone special and he said I had a fun job. I do, indeed. 

Thank you to my Bride, Victoria, for trusting me with such an important day in her in life. Please contact me if you need assistance with your destination wedding. Willing to travel.

Happy Bride  = Happy Wedding Day for this Coordinator. I arrived to meet my Bride in great spirits and in even better hands with Felicia at Bun Bun Bridal on Grove Street. Felicia had my Bride’s hair styled and make up done. Felicia was friendly, sweet and personable. She gave me tips on how to put her veil in and ways to remove it. She also set her up with tools she would need for touch ups throughout the day and recommendations on products to remove the make up. I hope to work Felicia again!

Please Like my Facebook page HERE.

The Mill House – Maui, Hawaii

As an Event Planner and Coordinator, there is absolutely no way we would know or have worked with all the thousands of vendors available. I have compiled a workbook of wedding and event vendors I have come across and worked with over the years. It has their contact information, important notes such as where their costs start, what they offer, how they are different from other vendors and how we met. With my love for Hawaii and the goal to one day have property there, I am lucky to have my father, AKA my Papa Bear, and stepmom living on Maui and sending me photos of venues they come across. For instance, this is The Mill House.

They visited the property as they explored their island and noticed they had event space. They sent me photos I posted on my Facebook pageeven though I haven’t personally been there, yet. When I asked my Papa Bear what we were going to do the day before I had to work the Hawaii Food &Wine Festival, he asked me what I wanted to do and of course, I wanted to explore places I haven’t been to yet. I let him make the plans and I was pleased. Road trip! And the grounds! Keep reading.

Our first stop was The Mill House. I was excited to visit an event venue. Visiting a venue and envisioning where the ceremony and reception would be, or where photos would be taken always helps when recommending venues to fit the Bride and Groom’s vision. The property was large with plenty of parking. You are faced with stores, a quick window for quick bites and drinks, the café and outdoor space. The restaurant is surrounded by ponds with fish and ducks, large pieces of historic machinery, green grounds and a few ziplines. There is not an ocean view but the mountain range is a beautiful backdrop. A ceremony may be held on some greenery with a white gazebo. The reception can take place in the restaurant with plenty indoor and outdoor seating. The circular bar is cool and rustic and the kids will love the choo choo.

On top of special events grounds, they do tours of the property and you can see all the different fruits, flowers and greens they have an abundance of. I would love to do an event here. Contact me!

See other posts soon of other stops made on this day on the beautiful island of Maui.

Curious About the Mission

It’s nice that some people think I would know where some of the new and hot places are. Thank you to those folks, but in fact, I have a lot of places to try. The list is long. I do not have to add Curio to that list, however, I do need to go back and try their protein dishes as I went on Meatless Monday.

The invitation to preview Curio at 775 Valencia in the Mission district came to the Concierge team and we jumped on getting a reservation. Because of my schedule, I typically miss out on quite a few of these events but it was great to attend this one! I invited my #Instafriend, Julia. (What’s an #Instafriend? I should probably do a blog post on that.)

We both arrived via our separate Ubers (use my code: cmo4h) and sat at the bar. The location is attached to The Chapel, a music venue I have yet to go to as a live music lover. It has two bars, three separate dining areas and a patio. The windows bring in a lot of natural light, the decor is a mix of wood, deep colors, neon, an assortment of clocks and bronze chandeliers.

The establishment was full of staff, standing around awaiting customers to come in, an extra attention to detail was made to every cocktail, dish and arrangement of the furniture. I know all about opening a restaurant and first impressions and I think they were doing a good job. They had their big smiles on and were very attentive. My first impression was of the hosts. Silly me, I didn’t book the right date in OpenTable but they let me in anyways and I was happy to sit at the bar for front row seat to the bar action.

I waited for Julia to arrive and chatted it up a bit with Marjorie the Bartender. She was busy making drinks but smiling the entire time. I decided to get started on a cocktail and order the cheese board so Julia didn’t have to wait to snack on something. I ordered the Unicorn. 1) because my Sunshine calls me that. 2) because it sounded pretty delicious and I typically don’t order vodka based cocktails. It was vodka, pisco, strawberry, szechuan, lemon, amaro, benedictine, rainbow bitters, egg whites and strawberry dust. It was tasty and foamy.

Julia arrived and ordered the Banshee with light and dark rum, makrut lime, pineapple, coconut, turmeric, pebble ice, angostura bitters and fresh nutmeg. A bit sweet for my straight whiskey loving donker. I ordered the Mermaid because I just bought tickets to the SF Symphony showing of The Little Mermaid. It was another vodka cocktail with grapefruit, raspberry, mint, lime, seltzer and peach apertif. It wasn’t my favorite but the Mermaid was left dry in no time. 

We went to town with ordering food. We ordered the Impossible Burger (my first!) with crimini mushroom, tomato jam, fried onion and raclette cheese. The Baby Kale Salad with yellow wax bean, brussel sprouts, parmesan dressing and sourdough garlic bread. The Seasonal Fried Vegetables were beer battered and served with a sour cream and pepperconcini sauce. The cheese board of four cheeses, delicious lavash crackers and pita bread also came with honey, pickled vegetables that were very hot and beer mustard. 

Hands down, the Impossible Burger was my favorite dish. I could not put it down. Julia and I split it so it was the perfect size but I’d go back again. She said Epic Steak’s is pretty phenomenal. I’ll take her word for it but hope to try it myself someday. My next favorite dish was the salad. I am a salad freak and I almost ordered one to go. It was delicious, flavorful and with different textures. I love me some garlic bread and bread in general but felt the bread was too hard. The vegetables and the sour cream mix was my next favorite. Veggies are so good for you, minus the fried and sour cream part but let’s not dwell on that. The rammies full of goodies that accompanied the cheeses were great. But my favorite was the lavash crackers. They were like, well, crack. I paid no attention to the pita bread. They shouldn’t even had pita’d on the board! OK, I’ll stop.

Two friends showed up, a cocktail and wedding photographer and rep for San Francisco Magazine. Attending these sort of events are pretty common for them so they’re always a great time. More the merrier. We then got to try more drinks on top of Marjorie’s off the menu Negroni made with rum for Julia. That was tasty! I’m not a fan of Campari so well done, Marjorie. Jasmin ordered the Leprechaun with Bummer and Lazarus gin, apple, tarragon, lemon, pineapple, bay leaf and cochi americano. It was tasty! Then the man, Adam, had to show up these Eves and order the best cocktail of the evening, the Jackelope. Remembering that time I sat on the Jackelope at the Jackelope bar in Austin and always wanting to go to the Jackelope Bar here in San Francisco. His tasty cocktail had tequila, honeydew, tangerine, aloe, lemon, bianco vermouth, orange bitters and pink peppercorns. Wow. Get this one if you’re only “going to have one drink.” Good luck with that at Curio.

We were introduced to the talented Chef Mario Tolentino, formerly at Betelnut and The Market and one of my favorite shows, Chopped. And we got to chat with their Bar Manager, Darren Crawford. Great drinks and very friendly staff. This place is going to do well. Go check it out yourself if you’re curious! You won’t be disappointed. 

Destination Wedding Photographer, Vanja Melnik

I absolutely fell in love with Santorini. We came across several brides and groups and wedding ceremonies as we explored every corner of the island. I would love to be your Event Planner and Coordinator for your destination wedding, especially in Santorini! Scrolling through photos on Instagram of this gorgeous land, it took me back. In hopes of learning more through other wedding professionals who have done weddings in Santorini, I reached out to Wedding Photographer, Vanja Melnik. Her photos are beautiful and she was open to being interview for my blog. I picked her brain to share with you some information should you need a destination wedding photographer. As an Event Planner and Coordinator, I am always in search of talented and reliable vendors to work with. You will see by this interview that Vanja is incredibly experienced, takes pride in her work, is fun and we have some similarities! Perhaps that was also why I was drawn to her. I hope to be able to call on Vanja someday for a wedding here in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Santorini, Greece or wherever your heart desires.

Introduction: Hi, I am Vanja Melnik, destination wedding photographer based in Novi Sad, Serbia. I lived 10 years in London, then I moved back to start my wedding photography business with the aim to shoot worldwide. I shoot mainly in Santorini, but I was fortunate to travel to France, Montengro, Croatia for weddings.

My website is www.vanjamelnik.com, I am also very active on Instagram and Facebook.

BM: I came across across your photography in Santorini via Instagram. What are your top three destination wedding locations have you shot and why?

VM: The place where I discovered wedding photography, I like to call it ‘shooting love around the globe’ is Santorini, Greece. But, I have had the opportunity to shoot in St. Stefan, Aman Resort in Montenegro and at a secluded villa near Nantes, France. These three are my top destinations so far. And why? Because, Santorini has so many amazing spots wherever you look. St. Stefan is a very old and historical place with stunning spots with the sea in the background and Nantes gave me the opportunity  to change my usual summer light conditions and blue sky and sea, with something more green.

BM: What travel tip do you have to aspiring photographers interested in shooting destination weddings?

VM: I like to arrive two days prior ot the wedding date to the location. I have one day to meet the couple in person, even tough we get to know each other via Skype and have many spontaneous and informal chats via social media from the day we meet until the wedding date. Those days are used to check the location where the wedding wil be, the hotel where the couple is getting ready, church location and make the logistic to be best used time we have on the day. Then, the second step is to make a plan for the photo session, check the light at the time of the shooting and take some test shots. This is important for me to make myself feel at home at the new location. What I do prior this, is really to find on Google as many location ideas as i can for that particular place. But, nothing can compare that with being on the location and having a feel for the place.

BM: What inspired you to be a wedding photographer?

VM: I came from the hospitality industry where I spent 10 years working for some of the most prestigious hotels in London, UK. I learnt there what great customer service is and how much we should love what we do in order to give 100% and be happy. When I needed a break, I took a year off and starting asking myself what else I could do. Then, I concluded that I could use my hobby as a photographer’s assistant. After four months I fell in love with it. I realized that I am not that bad in technical aspect of photography, but there are so many things I should learn. But, the most important I noticed that my passion for coordinating events from my previous career complement my passion for photography. Knowing that photographer plays such an important role on one of the most memorable days of the couple, inspires me to do my best, to be their best friend on the day and someone who will ensure that all those emotions are captured in the best possible way, without being too noticed. Even though, I get noticed as soon as the party starts, as I love to dance so I can’t stay still 🙂

BM: What is the most challenging or unique request a bride and groom have requested of you?

VM: The most challenging was when the bride decided on the wedding day to bring all her bridal party to the photo session that was dedicated to just two of them. Despite all conversations we had prior where I highlighted pros and cons of it. Cinematographer and myself remain behind for half an hour because she put her friends in the car instead of us and we couldn’t get the taxi in the busy city. I put lots of effort to tell myself that it has nothing to do with me, and it’s their choice to prioritize.

BM: What location have you dreamt of traveling to to shoot a destination wedding?

VM: In Europe that is definitely Italy (Tuscany and Venice) and worldwide Iceland and New York.

BM: What would be the appeal in shooting in the San Francisco Bay Area?

VM: Wedding photography as an art started in America, way before it was on the same level in Europe. All of us in Europe are learning from American photographers. In general, opinion is that American weddings are more glamourous, more perfectly planned, with much high budgets for decoration and ensuring the whole day looks like a dream. For any European photographer is a dream to shoot there, especially in San Francisco area. Having the city in the backgroun
d, stunning streets, beach or national parks is an ultimate goal.

BM: How do you improve your skills as photographer?

VM: By shooting almost every day. Following works of other photographers and playing with editing whenever I can.

Please consider booking Vanja and I for your next event! We are both willing to travel. Please be sure to mention you found her via this blog. Thank you and happy wedding planning!

Vanja Melnik

An Evening in Palo Alto, California

In the Silicon Valley of California, come down to Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University. Friends who want to switch it up on the weekend from going to ‘the city’ aka San Francisco or staying local such as the country bar called The Saddlerack or the fun downtown Livermore, downtown Palo Alto is a nice option. It has shopping, restaurants and is mainly safe.

Shop the high-end stores at the outdoor mall or by walking down University Avenue. Feel all the ‘like butter’ things at Restoration Hardware. Don’t mind the show-like ready dogs accompanying their owners placing custom orders of leather couches and matching plush robes. Not going to lie, that $3,500 headboard was on sale and a bit tempting. The other store I was ventured in was Letter Perfect, a stationary store with cute cards, notebooks, books, paper gifts and an area for custom invites. I checked in alerting my followers they do wedding invitations.

I had plans to have dinner with my lawyer-friend, Ivan, after a brief appearance at a gathering for Stella & Dot. I didn’t want to eat anything heavy. I almost went to the French bakery and purchased a coffee as I have just come from Paris, France. I also almost grabbed at beer at The Taproom. I love cute A-frame signs like the one below. However, in an attempt to not overspend, I found a spot that was offering happy hour. There were many options however I decided to stop into Local Union 271. When dining alone, I prefer to sit at the bar, unless I will have my laptop with me and I need more room, I would then grab a table.

I was greeted by Katie, the Bartender, with a beautiful smile and she asks, ‘Your name starts with S, right?‘ Apparently, I look familiar. I have been getting that quite a bit lately. There’s an imposter out there! Don’t be fooled! She apologized but there was no need. She highlighted the happy hour offerings including where to find particular items on the menu. Sticking to my ‘budget’ for this dining experience, I went with the $7 sangria and two chicken tacos, stacked high with cabbage, jalapenos and sides of guacamole and salsa for also $7.

The bar had decor on its shelves, spaced out placement of liquor bottles, a wine dispensing section and I overheard that they replaced Bud Light with Coors Light. No big deal to me! I don’t drink that stuff. They also had two large televisions playing the basketball game and the US soccer game. On our last day in Santorini recently, Papichulo was explaining soccer to me. I have never watched an entire game and I was completely ignorant. I sent him a Snap (‘bappletree’) asking him if he was proud because I was watching soccer. Apparently, he was also watching the same game in his hotel room in Tampa, Florida. I asked my several questions and the game had my complete attention. I did not need my phone to keep me entertained. Papichulo explained the current rankings and what would need to happen for the US to make it to the World Cup. My face and complete devotion to this game must have communicated that I knew more than what I actually did about this sport because a gentleman left his table and asked me how the US was doing. I relayed Papichulo’s knowledge to him and I think it made me appear pretty smart. I think I also impressed the doctor that was sitting next to me too because we started talking about sports. In summary, thanks for the televisions and entertainment, Local Union 271.

I had to head over to my next meeting at Gravity Bistro & Wine Bar around the corner to meet with my Stella & Dot upline and I wanted to check out the new holiday collection. Sandy had a long high table on the second floor and the new collection was absolutely gorgeous. I’m glad I waited until that event before placing another order to add to my collection. I loved the Constantine Feather Necklace ($149) the best. Of course I do! I naturally have expensive tastes. ‘Fancy’ is what Papichulo calls me. It’s accurate. Other items include pieces from Designer Rebecca Minkoff and they now have a beanie with detachable poufs and inside it says ‘Hello Gorgeous.’


I do have to mention that every time I see Sandy, she does a little gasp. I have been a Stylist for six years and am One Busy Bee, as my readers know. To show up at one of these events and being able to put some energy into this business, I think she’s always shocked when I do and definitely when I do well. She has been a wonderful mentor, trainer and motivator and someone I call whenever I need inspiration, assistance and guidance. I am thankful for that. I also love the Stella & Dot business. It’s fun, flexible and I get to work in fashion and get compliments. I like words of affirmation.

We got into discussions about the business, the pieces, what the trends are but I had to go. She sweetly but firmly asked me “Where are you going?!?” I had to meet with Ivan, a former Law Clerk of mine turned Lawyer and Entrepreneur needing help with his start-up. We were going to catch up and talk business. She understood and said goodbye after a selfie.


I walked over to Zola and waited for Ivan to arrive. Guests were seated
at the couple of tables outside and the tall, smart blonde walked in and gave me a hug. He was greeted by the staff and I realized he was ‘that’ guy, the regular restaurants love to have. He even brought over a bottle of wine for them to decanter before dinner so it was ready to drink. This is a guy that has Tiffany martini glasses! The man is smart, classy and damn, did he used to irritate me. He was that UC Berkeley kid that just wanted to argue with me as the Office Manager and then send me borderline sexual harassment email responses to new guidelines and procedures. It’s great to now call him a friend. I was honored to have sworn him in as a lawyer. As a bonus, I am honored to have shared this special bottle of Bordeaux wine with him. I was EIGHT during this vintage. Holy!


As Zola was his regular spot, I told Ivan I wasn’t that hungry and allowed him to order dinner. It really is nice when a man can do that. He ordered the delicious ricotta gnocchi with brown butter and summer truffles, an endive and pear salad, the flounder and pork chop. This was a dinner I did not break out my camera and take photos of EXCEPT that bottle of wine. If I have another opportunity, photos will be taken, I promise! The salad was light and for this salad lover, gone in 60 seconds. The flounder was also light with capers and a burre blanc sauce, a classic French sauce of butter, wine and cream and the pork chop was absolutely delicious. I was so full but I continued to eat. I think I could have rolled to my car if I was allowed to.

It was a great night in Palo Alto with old friends and making new ones, and exploring what this city has to offer.


Wedding Planning Update

It just happens to be my last bride’s wedding anniversary this past week! Happy Anniversary, Fatima & Tim! It took place at the beautiful Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, California.

I have been quite consumed opening and trying to keep a new business adventure, Dirty Water, keep afloat. A few responsibilities have shifted and I have goals that I am kicking into high gear: #goalby40. I am looking to gain more experience and saving money for that 2 bedroom 2 bath condo on the beach in Maui. I am determined to make that happen.
What would you do on that island? 

I am an Event Planner and am doing well with my Stella & Dot business. I am planning a wedding for September 2017 and June 2018. I have also an On Call Banquet Server at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, California to gain event experience from a hotel perspective. Maui is a common wedding destination. I’d fit right in, don’t you think? I will also be going back to Maui in October for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. I love researching venue, food and this gorgeous island.

As for the two weddings on my hand, here is what’s happening:

September 2017 Wedding
I was recommended to the Bride by my former colleague, friend and my future Paris travel partner post wedding. I had an initial meeting with her at a local Philz, recapped our meeting by updating an Excel workbook of tasks that need to be completed and a timeline. My Bride and busy executive was consumed as a female Partner at a firm. (GO women in business!) I didn’t put too much pressure on her but with being three weeks out, work needs to get done. Majority of invitations are out, existing contracts have been reviewed, a site visit was done, rehearsal dinner venues have had site visits and inquiries sent, bridesmaid dresses options have been researched, etc. There is so much to do!

June 2018 Wedding
I immediately thought of you!” How sweet it was to hear that I am trusted with such an event. Of course I said ‘yes!‘ My Bride is in Southern California but would like to have a 120-person affair in Northern California. We scheduled a phone call to discuss her wants, do not wants, ideal budget and next steps. A proposed budget and how it should be spent was prepared with a recommended budget, how to cut costs, etc. As the Bride has not narrowed down a city or area of Northern California, there are so many options! I have a few in mind but have also visited venues in Sonoma County. Photos to come soon!

Today happens to be their four-year anniversary. Lots of love in June.

Re-Post Love

It’s always nice to get notifications when your photos are re-posted on Instagram. To do so on IG takes a lot more effort than hitting the ReTweet button on Twitter so a special thanks for the IG love. I definitely appreciate and love the Twitter retweets, don’t get me wrong! I just started a list of those users that have retweeted me in appreciation. Check out my lists!

But to focus on Instagram where I finally reached my first 1,000 followers on my main account, shout out to The Stratosphere in Las Vegas, Gillythebugg and Manila Bowl who have reposted pics from each of my accounts! Please show them some love too!
Now with 298 likes

Posted because I’d want Bevo returned to me!

 I do re-post IG posts myself, check them out on my main account (bappletree) for @gardenshf @hyattsfo and @emarqana. I am currently working on a wedding at the Gardens at Heather Farms in Walnut Creek, Ca, I am a new Banquet Server at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, CA near the San Francisco International Airport to get an idea of banquets from the hotel perspective. And being inspired by my friend, Rob Arias and Owner of The E’ville Eye blog, I am trying to get more involved and support my city of Hayward. I have been a resident there of 15 years. I should and could do more!

If you have a moment, re-post, reTweet, share, Like and invite friends to an event, like a page or even show some old fashioned love by word of mouth, we small businesses and bloggers would much appreciate it!
And I love these kind of follows – DANNY WOOD of New Kids on the Block. Awesome. Wuv u!