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Laura Hunt

San Francisco on their Minds

A Destination Wedding for Two
Johanna Kaestner
Photography: Eli Pita

Elizabeth and Tom, work day-in and day-out in the event industry. They wanted peace and quiet for a change.

They had visited San Francisco before and felt this was just the right spot for a meaningful, memorable wedding.

Read about their experience.

After three weeks of pouring rain in San Francisco, Elizabeth and Tom woke up to a cloudless sky. From their bed in the corner suite on the 40th floor of the Mandarin Oriental they could see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the distinctive TransAmerica Building. This day, March 5th, was their wedding day. Both married previously, are holding management positions in the Las Vegas event industry. With such a busy life they envisioned a quiet wedding: just the two of them at a beautiful, elegant place. All they wanted was to be together away from their hectic schedules, celebrating the beginning of their marriage in style.

The planning had been almost too easy. Through her friend's recommendation Elizabeth got in touch with the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco. They referred her to Vera Schmidt who had worked for the hotel before starting her own wedding consulting company, Magnificent Moments. Within three weeks and with the help of e-mails and phone conversations back and forth, Vera had everything organized.

 On Thursday morning the civil ceremony was performed in Las Vegas. In the afternoon the couple boarded the plane, Tom's suit and Elizabeth's gown carefully packed. It wasn't a real wedding dress per se. It was a find it in her favorite store at the Mirage after the search in the bridal salons was fruitless. Elegant and sexy, it was just perfect for an attractive 42 year old woman. The symphony of white satin and sheer lace was embroidered and heavily beaded. It was late that night when they finally arrived at the hotel. It was so relaxing to settle into their luxurious suite, pampered by such an attentive staff.

Eli Pitta, the photographer, accompanied the bride to the Elizabeth Arden Salon to take pictures during makeup and hair styling where Vera joined them. Back in the hotel, Tom already in his suit, adorned with a boutonniere, was waiting for her. She slipped on her wedding gown and took the bouquet of ivory white roses which she absolutely adored for the photography session.

At five o'clock they walked over the few steps to the sky deck where the ceremony was performed overlooking San Francisco. Henry Basayene, a senior minister of the Humanist Society of Friends, performed a meaningful, personalized ceremony, created with Tom and Elizabeth's thoughts on sharing, appreciation, compassion, understanding, and friendship. During the following champagne toast they snacked on miniature wedding cakes. Dinner was served in the signature room in the hotel.

And they had yet another day to spend together in their chosen destination. As a newly married couple, they spent a day sightseeing, exploring, and shopping in this attractive city. "We remember every minute of our wedding weekend in San Francisco."

Destination weddings add a special dimension to the marriage, as the couple will have a special attachment to the place in which they are married. Advice from an event coordinator is especially helpful for a couple planning a destination wedding. Often there are packages available, and many of the best venues are available on weekdays. By choosing to get married on a Friday, Elizabeth and Tom had many options from which to choose, and they had the whole weekend following to enjoy their destination city.

Read more about Vera and her company Magnificent Moments and the the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

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