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Best of the East Bay: Weddings

Feeling freaked out? Here’s how to survive the planning process.


Photography by Erika Pino/styled by Adrea Cabrera

Which Bouquet Is Best?

Let Florali’s Darwin Harrison work his magic.

Reader Pick: Floral Studio

“The bouquet is an extension of the bride. When I’m making the bride’s bouquet, I imagine it and design it based on who will be carrying it, what shape and color her dress is, and so on.”

2345 Boulevard Cir., Walnut Creek, (925) 934-6877, florali.com.


courtesy of Barbara Llewellyn

Help! We’re Getting Married

Hire Barbara Llewellyn.

Reader Picks: Caterer, Wedding Planner

Barbara Llewellyn is a second-generation party planner who started a catering business and expanded into event planning when she saw a need in the East Bay. Now, with 50 years of experience under her belt, Llewellyn knows what it takes to make your day extra special. 434 25th St., Oakland, (510) 832-1967, barbarallewellyn.com.


1. Spend money where it matters

Choose the elements that are most important to you. Are you yearning for a killer cake, magazine-worthy photos, or a meal to remember?

2. Be wary of trends

Your wedding should reflect you, your partner, your families, and your relationship. The personal details are the ones that are remembered.

By Damion Hamilton

3. Ask your favorite vendor for recommendations

If you like your photographer’s style, he or she might know a band or florist who would meet your vision as well.

4. Recognize your strengths

Unless you are a Martha Stewart acolyte, be cautious about too much DIY, and hire experts to help.

5. Don’t let glitches spoil your day

Remember that the day is for celebrating your love with friends and family.


courtesy of Kinsley James Couture Bridal

What Should We Wear?

Schedule appointments at Kinsley James Couture Bridal and Daskalos Men’s Fashions.

Reader Picks: Bridal Boutique; Men’s Suit Store

Not sure what looks best side by side? Whether she’s wearing a classic white gown or something a little more offbeat, here is your guide to the perfect match—style-wise.

Romantic Vineyard

If she wears: nude.
Then he wears: navy blue.

Rustic Barn

If she wears: blush.
Then he wears: light gray.

Modern Loft

If she wears: ivory.
Then he wears: charcoal.

Elegant Ballroom

If she wears: white.
Then he wears: black.

Daskalos Men’s Fashions, 1243 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, (925) 937-1808, daskalosfashions.com; Kinsley James Couture Bridal, 1623 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 330-9228, kinsleyjames.com.


By Josh Isaacs

We Want Memories That Will Last a Lifetime

Call photographer Josh Isaacs.

Reader Pick: Photographer

Pleasant Hill’s Josh Isaacs started shooting weddings when veteran photog Eli Pitta let Isaacs tag along on the weekends—for two years. When Pitta asked Isaacs to complete an assignment alone, Isaacs knew he was ready to go solo.

What shot can you not miss?

For the ceremony, there’s this one little set: I need her looking at him, but what she’s really seeing is his face as he’s seeing her for the first time.

Tell me more.

The photographer has the most intimate job of the day. We are with that couple—and most often, the bride—in the most vulnerable spots of their lives, in the morning and at the end of the day. The client ends up caring about you very much.

And sometimes, your relationship with the couple endures beyond the wedding?

That’s happened with a few couples. I didn’t understand that part of the job until I photographed a wedding and then a family shoot, and then a first birthday party. If I do my job right, I get to be a part of these families.

How do you keep your cool while shooting an event?

I don’t feel panicked anymore. Usually, the experience is calm, as long as I’m prepared. There are a few tricks that help, too, like checking my work often and zooming in on it really quickly to tell if I got what I needed.

What is the most exciting wedding you’ve been a part of?

I shot a cowboy wedding with Eli at Callippe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton. The men were dressed in their nice Wranglers and button-ups, and the bride rode in on a horse. I also did a 200-person wedding at Alpha Omega Winery alone. The bride was very specific, but she only wanted me. When I got in the car, I was exhausted. My arms hurt.

What do you love most about shooting weddings?

At first, they terrified me because I didn’t want to screw it up. But now, I love the little moments—obvious ones, between him and her and sisters and parents—but also the moments between guests. There are moments everywhere, and that’s what it’s all about. (925) 285-7316, jjisaacs.com.


courtesy of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

We Want to Get Away

Check in to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, the grandest resort on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Reader Pick: Honeymoon Destination (Hawaii)

Lava Bluff Love

Tie the knot at sunset at the world-famous hole number three, situated on a dramatic, secluded lava bluff.

Party Time

For dinner and dancing, choose from the South Point Lawn surrounded by palm trees; the North Point Lawn, where you can have your ceremony on a lava-stone patio; and the tree-sheltered Luau Garden.

Retire Like Royalty

Bid farewell to your guests, and head to the Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa suites located at opposite ends of the eighth floor. Both suites have three lanais, master bedrooms with king-size beds, and big bathtubs.

Soak It Up

The next morning, request the couple’s suite with “balneotherapy” (water therapy), and relax at the Mauna Kea Spa by Mandara.

Table for Two

Make a reservation at Manta and Pavilion Wine Bar for a special farm-to-fork menu, including the to-die-for chocolate soufflé or the Harlequin, a dessert that’s half chocolate and half lilikoi (passion fruit). Or sit under the stars at a private torch-lit dinner back at the third hole, which is just a short golf cart ride away. 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr., Kohala Coast, Hawaii, (808) 882-7222, princeresortshawaii.com/mauna-kea-beach-hotel.


Reader Picks

Denon and Doyle
2245-B Morello Ave., Pleasant Hill, (925) 930-7180, djay.com.

East Bay Wedding Venue
Claremont Hotel Club and Spa
41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley, (510) 843-3000, claremontresort.com.

Paper Source
1567 Botelho Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 357-6200, papersource.com.

Party Rentals
Gagnon’s Party Rentals
1001 Blackwood Ln.,
Lafayette, (925) 284-3000, gagnons.com.

Tuxedo Vendor
Men’s Wearhouse
Locations in Livermore, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek, menswearhouse.com.

Thomas Hughes Films
3195 Danville Blvd., Ste. 7, Alamo, (925) 586-8532, thomashughesfilms.com.

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