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Laura Hunt

A Tropical Wedding
at San Francisco's Old Federal Reserve

Johanna Kaestner

Bernadette and Hayden got engaged in the summer of 2001. Soon afterward Bernadette and her mother started to think about the wedding that was to take place one year later. They knew what they wanted: a celebration of this marriage, a formal, elegant, black tie affair, with their many relatives and friends. They also wanted a great party with good food and lots of dancing.

From the beginning it was clear they needed help because Bernadette's job did not leave her enough time to research all the vendors and plan the elaborate wedding she had imagined. In

Carol Rothman from Glorious Weddings , who came highly recommended, mother and daughter found their perfect match. Carol has been a wedding coordinator for many years, specializes in multi-cultural weddings, and can draw from a wealth of venues and vendors. A good listener, Carol executes her clients' ideas, matching them with the right vendors. Bernadette trusted Carol completely: "I could sit back and let her do the work. Everything she suggested was perfect; we could never have done all this work on our own," Bernadette told me. "It felt like a symbiosis. They were very gracious, trusting me and the other vendors, and we gave our best," Carol commented.  

Bernadette and her mother were attracted to the classic beauty of the Old Federal Reserve, situated in San Francisco's financial district. Unfortunately, it was booked in July, but they loved the elegant venue so much, that they waited for the first opening in the middle of August.

On a blustery, late summer evening, Carol and a team of outstanding wedding professionals transformed the austere marble of the old building into a tropical paradise. When the guests arrived, the venue was set up for the ceremony. A white aisle runner led to the elevated platform. On either side were white columns with large, colorful bouquets on top and cascading tendrils of ivy and stems of orchids draping down.  

In honor of Bernadette's heritage, Filipino customs were incorporated into the ceremony. A silk cord tying bride and groom, signifying the unification of two families. Also, Hayden's little daughter was enveloped into the new family circle. Another custom observed was the presence of chosen sponsors at the ceremony. They usually are relatives who have been married for many years, and are good models for the young couple to emulate.

While the wedding party and the guests had cocktails upstairs, the Park Hyatt, which catered the event,

Floramor Studios , and Impact Lighting transformed the Old Federal Reserve. All the marble columns and the palm trees between the windows were lit from underneath, pale melon-colored wash enhanced the walls, and a vivid, pink rose was painted with light on the dance floor.

A complement to the tropical ambiance were the melon-colored damask tablecloth, napkins, and seat covers on the elegant golden Chiavari chairs. The vibrant red, burgundy, and salmon colors of the large bouquets in the tall glass vases were spot-lit from above. Votive candles; clear glass chargers with gold-beaded edges; glasses and silverware; and the favors, chocolate macadamia cookies shipped in from Hawaii and presented in white boxes with gold ribbon completed the table-scape.

Much attention was given to the magnificent wedding cake from

Elegant Cheesecakes that was placed in the center of the room as a visual work of art. The large chocolate-sculpted cake was designed to look like a pile of packages made out of square, round, and oval shapes and decorated with golden pearls, chocolate flowers, and ribbons in the vibrant colors of the wedding. During the whole evening groups of people ventured to the cake table to try to guess which of the roses and rose petals decorating cake and table were from real flowers or created of chocolate.

"I have done other wonderful weddings, but this one was magical. It is such a wonderful family and there was so much energy and joy, even the band 'Pride & Joy' did not want to break the spell and took fewer breaks than usual." Carol Rothman told me. Thanks to Photographer Bruce Forrester for all the beautiful pictures!

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