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Holiday Gift Ideas

In my humble opinion, some of the best holiday presents don’t require wrapping paper. Experiences—especially those that fall under the category of sinful and relaxing—make thoughtful gifts that never gather dust. Here are a few holiday gift ideas, for you or someone you love:

  • Sandalwood Spa inside the Monarch Club at TrilogyStart the season off right by making an appointmentat Central California’s Sandalwood Spa inside the The Monarch Club at Trilogy for an indulgent spa package that includes a moisturizing pumpkin enzyme facial, herbal spice pedicure, and warming therapeutic massage.
  • If you’re having a hard time working out how you’ll gather your holiday guests around your dining room table, invite them to join you for a memorable holiday get-together on Shelter Island in San Diego Bay instead. Kona Kai Resort and SpaKona Kai Resort and Spa has a fabulous deal for your holiday party or event: 20% off menu pricing. 
  • Then, if all that holiday partying has you feeling a little frazzled, why not ring in the New Year with a Chardonnay sugar scrub or cranberry-infused massage at River Oaks Hot Springs Spa in my new favorite wine region, Paso Robles. Pure bliss, without the morning hangover!

Allison Posted by Allison on Dec 19, 2008.
Filed under Honeymoons and TravelLocationsSpas and PamperingStuff We Love

My First Legal Gay Wedding

I had the privilege of attending my first legal gay wedding on September 20, 2008 for my friends Dan Joraanstad & Bob Hermann. Since this was a same-sex wedding, I’d been especially curious about how my friends’ marriage ceremony would play out at the rather traditional Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. I was delighted to see that the adorable (female) pastor at the church wholeheartedly blesses these unions.

Dan & Bob's Wedding at the Old First Presbyterian ChurchThroughout this charming and touching service, there was much laughter and wild applause from the gay contingent as well as us straight folk upon announcing the official union. Surrounded by the inspired Rose window architecture, the music from dual pipe organs and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (Dan is a singer in the chorus), I felt tears of joy for this momentous occasion streaking down my face. Looking around, I discovered that almost the entire congregation was moved to tears—or maybe it was relief at the fact that this couple could finally express love openly. This particular church believes that opening oneself to the creativity of music or artistic inspiration leads one to the divine. I love that concept.

Whatever it was that stirred my soul that day led me to think about societies that disallow some people to fully express that which is most vital to life: love. What if I couldn’t publicly express my love for my husband?

Thanks to Mark Rogers Photography for this darling photo, and to Dan and Bob for allowing me to share this most personal experience with our readers. You inspire us.

Allison Posted by Allison on Nov 03, 2008.
Filed under CeremonyReal Weddings

Finding Gay-Friendly Wedding Services

Since California legalized gay marriage, many same-sex couples—including Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi—have already happily tied the knot. So after all is said and done, what is the difference between a same-sex wedding and a straight one?  “Gay weddings don’t seem to be much different than straight events, except for what’s on top of the cake: two girls, two guys or a mix,” quips Mark Belhumeur from the Russian River’s Village Inn.

Cake Topper from GayWeddings.comGay couples are now (finally!) legally allowed to marry anywhere they wish in California, but like everyone else they still have to contend with planning their event. Karen Hester of Here Comes The Pride (great name, isn’t it?) is doing what she can to make that easier: Her wedding packages include hand-picked gay- or lesbian-friendly wedding locations and services. “We want to offer the best possible wedding for those couples who have waited a long time for this historic moment,” notes Hester.

Not coincidentally, Hester recommends some of our loveliest Here Comes The Guide wedding venues, including: The Claremont Resort and Spa, Hotel Durant, Terrace Room at Lake Merritt Hotel. She’s also personally approved Boon in Guerneville and The Village Inn in Monte Rio.

Trend Alert: According to Denon & Doyle Mobile DJ, the hottest “First Dance” song for same-sex weddings is ‘I’m Coming Out’ by Diana Ross. “The same sex weddings we have been doing are all about fun,” says Brian Doyle.Cake Topper from

Allison Posted by Allison on Oct 06, 2008.
Filed under CeremonyLocationsReceptionsRehearsal Dinner

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