There is no doubt one of the best parts of being a wedding planner is that clients arrive strangers and depart friends. I was so fortunate to have been the wedding planner for Katharine’s sister only two years ago, so I was especially honored when I received her call to be a part of her wedding in the “city by the bay”. I adore Katharine and her family (and now her new husband Alex and his sweet family, too) and being a part of this destination nuptial celebration was one of the highlights of my career.
Planner’s notes: Planning a destination wedding in San Francisco was fabulous; planning a wedding at the historic Presidio provided a highly unique guest experience but definitely involved more work than an average wedding location. Here’s why: it is managed through a Trust, so the details can be complex and layered (i.e. make sure you ask about parking for guests and compare paying per car for parking permits or buying out a parking lot- and make sure you allow for time restrictions for all your vendor’s and their set up , load-in and strike times- there are fees for everything and all time-sensitive); you will also work with one person for any and all food and beverage needs (all managed exclusively through Presidio Catering), who will also coordinate all rentals and specialty lighting; and yet another contact for all A/V needs, parking permits and more. The Presidio Trust staff were polished and professional and helped guide us through the complexities of planning a wedding at The Presidio.
One of the best things I loved about the wedding at this location was that guests could stay at one of the brand new Presidio locations (The Presidio Inn and the Presidio Lodge) and within a 7 minute walk be at the wedding ceremony or reception site. I stayed at the Presidio Lodge for my planning sessions and the weekend of the wedding and cannot recommend it enough (that’s another BLOG). Of course, the Golden Gate views and fireside wine every night didn’t sway my bias (wink wink). Guests stayed at the Presidio Inn, Presidio Lodge and the bride and her family chose to stay at the historic Funston House on property, which can be split up into individual rooms/accommodations or opened up as an entire house. Again, everything within walking distance for convenience. The entire Presidio is blissfully peaceful and quiet – especially at night. It is low key, easy to navigate and little to no traffic. Its own little “island” , if you will, which makes a big city wedding not feel so overwhelming- in fact, makes it charming and extra enjoyable. With views of the Golden Gate on one side and Alcatraz on the other, you are in a quintessential San Fran location.
The buildings chosen for the wedding and reception are historic and beautiful in their own style. But they needed some design elements to showcase them, as well as pump them up a bit for this VIP client and their families. I’m a firm believer that when you entertain, every event is a reflection of you, the host. And this extraordinary couple and their families deserved something extra special to accurately convey who they are. For example, Chapel of Our Lady ( built in the 1800’s and served as the primary chapel for the military in its time) has gorgeous ceiling wood work inside, but as you approach the outside, required a little something to lift the eye up, lighten it, and set the tone before you walk in; the Golden Gate Club (reception site) with the Golden Gate Bridge right behind the 2 story glass windows is stunning, but some textured specialty lighting to showcase the ceiling beams helped to add some interesting elements to what would otherwise be a large blank wall space going up. We wanted guests to marvel at the architecture and ceiling beams and the lighting plan did just this. Also, due to the unfortunate circumstance that the entire city of San Francisco was under thick smoke from the fires this particular weekend, the Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t as readily visible, so the lighting inside was extra dramatic (and needed) and the grounds lighting outside showcasing the Cypress trees and landscape provided some dimension with occasional peeks of the bridge from the distance.
Special Touches: As you enjoy the photos below, note some of the special touches: The welcome /hospitality bag from the bride and groom to their guests containing fun/practical items that represented both the bride and groom (Groom-Georgia; Bride-San Francisco); Cable Car for those guests who didn’t want to walk to the reception, the Blue Breeze Band who is a family favorite whom we brought in from Los Angeles and provided the dancing vibe all night long; a guest book that was a San Francisco coffee table book; Exquisite florals done by Green Bouquet (who fittingly also has done work at The White House) – note the garlands hanging from the balconies overlooking the reception; Katharine’s dress (note the nude modesty panels on the side giving the illusion of low-cut, but preserving the classy femininity Katharine exudes); and not pictured: Ghiradelli hot chocolate packets with personal note from bride/groom as wedding favors for guests to take home and enjoy.
Event Partner Team: Wedding & Reception Locations at the Historic Presidio: Ceremony: Chapel of Our Lady ; Reception: The Golden Gate Club | Caterer: Presidio Catering | Rentals: Bright Event Rentals | Florals: Green Bouquet | Lighting: through Presidio Catering | Ceremony Music: Joseph Hébert & Co | Dinner, Dancing and MC: The Blue Breeze Band | Photography: Emily Merrill Weddings | Cable Car Guest Transportation: Events West| Hair/Makeup: Triple Twist | Wedding Officiant: Father Vincent Burns | Wedding Coordination: Kerry Lee Doehr and Associates, Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events