Here Comes The Guide's Blog

Wedding Thank-You Notes: A Small Thing That's a Big Deal

I rarely go to weddings (maybe it’s because most of my social circle is either already married or never going to be), but a year ago a friend invited me to one.

As my friend’s date I wasn’t obligated to bring a gift, but I’d I’d been told the bride and groom liked to cook, so I got them a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets from Sur La Table as a wedding present. I put my present on a table with dozens of other gifts, and hoped that it wouldn’t get lost in the pile.

Wedding Paper Divas Photo Thank You NoteI was fairly certain that soon after the wedding I would receive a thank-you note for my modest-but-thoughtful-and-super-practical gift. Alas, the postman never brought one. Months passed, and I wondered…Did the couple not like my gift? Had it disappeared? Been regifted? Eventually I just forgot about it altogether.

Until yesterday, that is. I flipped through my mail and was surprised to see the long-awaited thank-you note. Oh it was beautiful, all right—handwritten, very personal. But I have to say I had mixed emotions: Sure, it was great to know that my gift had been received and, in fact, “loved.” But I couldn’t help feeling that I shouldn’t have had to wait an entire year to learn that my present hadn’t been disliked, lost or regifted after all.

Actually, Emily Post states that thank-you notes should be written within 3 months of the receipt of the gift.

Moral of the story: Honor your guests—don’t wait a year to send out your thank-you notes!

To find the wedding invitation and thank-you note designers we love see Wedding Invitations.

Recyling Heirloom Jewelry: Turning Something Old Into Something New

A while back, my mom gave me her diamond engagement ring. She said she wanted me to have it now so that I could enjoy it sooner than later. I was very touched, of course, but given that it was several sizes too large for any of my fingers there was no way I could wear it. So…it sat around in a box for over a year. Clearly I wasn’t enjoying it as my mother had intended, and I’m sure she was quietly wondering if her gift would ever see the light of day again.

Since I’m not really a ring person, I decided to turn my heirloom into a pendant and I knew just where I wanted to have it done: the Christensen Heller Gallery in Oakland. I love going into their store on College Avenue, because it’s cozy and intimate, their display cases are filled with lots of distinctive jewelry, and their staff is incredibly easy to work with.

Christensen Heller GalleryWhen I sat down with gemologist Baird Heffron, I asked him to design something simple, elegant and not too pricey. He not only satisfied me on all counts, he and Jan Christensen Heller, the owner, were able to use some of the settings from the original ring, which made my pendant even more affordable. Angela Prieto stepped in to help me select a chain, and Baird even did an appraisal of the completed necklace. What more could a woman ask for?

Whether you come to the Christensen Heller Gallery to snap up a pair of earrings you saw in the window or to order a custom-designed piece, these very talented professionals will take care of you. They’re knowledgeable, patient, and will make your whole experience a pleasure.

Your wedding day is a perfect excuse to breathe new life in your family’s heirloom jewels. For inspiration to help you turn your “something old” into “something new,” check out their gallery.

Lunch With A View At The Lake Chalet

When we wanted to go to a cool restaurant for our recent staff luncheon, we chose the brand new
Lake Chalet, at the edge of Lake Merritt in Oakland.

The Lake Chalet

As an Oakland resident who walks around the lake frequently, I’d been watching this place being built over the last couple of years and was really curious to see how it would turn out. Well, the Chalet is gorgeous! It’s amazing how a building that started out in 1909 as a pumping station and boathouse could have been transformed into such a stunner. Lots of wood and windows plus high ceilings and a 70-foot marble bar overlooking the water create a warm, convivial ambiance.

We dined in the Lake Room upstairs, which extends over the lake and has views on three sides plus a fireplace and it’s own bar. This room, as well as the Gondola Room on the opposite side of the restaurant, is a charming space for a rehearsal dinner, reception or other kind of private party.

The Gondola Room at the Lake Chalet

I definitely plan to come back to the Chalet for a stint at the main bar, where I can scarf down a pile of sweet potato fries with my beverage of choice and watch the sun set. Oh, and I can’t wait for summer, when the outdoor decks (there’s a bar conveniently located there, too) are sure to become the local hangout of choice. Hey, I might even take a ride on the genuine Venetian gondola that embarks on scenic tours of the lake from the Chalet’s dock. Who needs to go all the way to Venice?

A Gondola Ride at The Lake Chalet

When The Sun Don't Shine

Your dream garden wedding is all set for next weekend, and you know it’s going to be perfect: your dress is stunning, the location is super photogenic, and the weather should be great because, hey, it’s been great for months. No need to worry about a contingency plan, right?
 
Castle Green WeddingWrong. Here’s a tale that should encourage you to always be prepared with a Plan B if you’re hosting an outdoor event: Recently, a couple getting married at The Historic Castle Green had planned to have their ceremony in a clear tent (outfitted with a gorgeous chandelier, of course) on the facility’s grounds. Special lighting would wash over the tent, as well as the surrounding trees and pond for a lovely, theatrical effect. Oh yes, it was going to be a magazine-worthy affair. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. Three storms in the week before the Big Day made it impossible to risk an al fresco wedding—even with a tent.
 
Although the couple had really been looking forward to tying the knot in their clear tent under the sky, the ceremony simply had to be moved to inside. 
 
Castle Green WeddingFortunately, their experienced (not to mention clever) coordinator, Gianna Provenzano of Gianna & Company, was ready with a backup strategy. In no time at all, the wedding pros had transformed Castle Green’s ballroom with chocolate and amber lighting, tall hurricanes with mini candles down the aisle, white petals on the aisle runner, and tiny crystal-and-silver chandeliers suspended from dark chocolate velvet ropes which hung from the ceiling. The room was breathtakingly beautiful and romantic, and, most importantly, the bride and groom loved it. They didn’t even miss the tent!

Event Experts:
Wedding Location: Castle Green
Catering: Dickenson West Fine Catering
Coordination: Gianna & Company
Flowers: Ixora Florist
Officiant: Reverend Clint Hufft
Photography: Soria Weddings


Book Lovers Rejoice!

Our hot-off-the-presses Here Comes The Guide, Northern California book is now available in retail and online bookstores. No N Cal bride-to-be should be without this handy, portable reference, which features almost 100 new event locations and services. We may be biased, but we think it makes a great engagement gift. Hey, one guy even presented it to his hoped-for bride when he proposed to her!

Here Comes The Guide 11th Edition Northern California Book CoverWant a free book? You can pick up a free copy of The Guide at these select bridal salons. Or, send us a quick email telling us what you think of MyGuide, the newest feature on our website, and we’ll send you a copy.

And if you’re looking for other wedding books to jump-start your wedding planning, check out Here Comes The Guide’s bookstore.