When my friends and Morris dancing teammates, Meg and Kevin, announced their engagement, I immediately sent them a copy of Here Comes The Guide to help them plan their wedding. That’s where Meg found the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club in Oakland, the site they chose for their reception. Her daughter clinched the choice saying, “Lots of places are really elegant, but this one makes me happy.”
Deep red walls and lovely flowers greeted guests as they arrived. At the bar, a drink menu with Kevin’s original cocktail recipes was prominently displayed. Kevin is known for his custom cocktail creations, so it’s only natural they were featured at the reception!
Cocktail in hand, guests filtered into the ballroom and listened to the Montclair Women’s Big Band play. Strings of tiny white lights draped along the ceiling beams and dancing flames from tea-light candelabras provided a magical ambiance. The wedding cake, created by Montclair Baking (detail above), was patterned after two family heirloom vases whose designs were expertly translated in fondant. The result was a true work of art.
The day was picture perfect, and most of the guests were out on the patio enjoying the sunshine. I was enamored with Meg’s dress, which she had made herself. It had a corset-style bodice decorated with three-dimensional embroidery of leaves and flowers. It must have taken her months to complete. Truly a labor of love!
After dinner, the Morris dancing began. I took the stage with my fellow musicians and played for my teammates. The evening was a steady stream of lively music, laughter and dancing. As it turned out, Meg’s daughter was right: You can’t leave Montclair Women’s Club without a smile on your face!
The great thing about weddings is, it’s all about personal style. Take wedding dresses, for example. A bridal gown is the ultimate way to express yourself on your wedding day, and each year brides flock to California bridal salons to seek out that one gown that makes them feel stylish and special.
But then there is the bride who wants her dress to be a more individual expression. We’ve heard of creative women sewing their own gowns out of the fabric from their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown, or brides letting friends or family members make their dresses for them. In my opinion, Kathryn Ashley’s endeavor beats them all. Not only did she design her own Victorian-inspired gown, she’s knitting it herself out of thin silk yarn. And in case she gets chilly at her late summer outdoor wedding, there is also a matching shrug in the works.
Why knit a wedding dress? As Kathryn says, “I needed a really big, daunting project!”. For those who do not knit, let me assure you this is no small undertaking. Kathryn’s wedding will be in September, and yes, it may take her that long to finish. If she loses track of time, though, don’t worry: smart woman that she is, Kathryn completed the most important pieces of the gown first, including the bodice (loosely-based on a corset pattern from Lace Style). At the moment her creation could pass for a mini-dress. You can follow the progress of Kathryn’s wedding dress at the Ewetopia Fiber Shop blog.
How far would you go to express yourself on your wedding day?
Every Valentine’s day, my husband Jaya brings me truffles from The Candy House of Davis, a wonderful chocolatier in Davis, CA. Each box comes with a card, picturing each of the 30 different kinds of truffles they make by hand. By comparing the way the truffle looks to the picture, you can find out what flavor ganache is inside. Whether it be Irish Creame, Decadence, Grand Marnier or White Russian, each one is so beautiful I almost want to save them… but of course, I never do. Each one I taste is more delicious than the one before.
For a wedding present, almost 4 years ago, my wonderful husband presented me with a Golden Oke from Suedy’s Koo-ki Sushi in San Jose. What does this have to do with chocolate, you ask? Believe it or not, this scrumptious looking sushi is made entirely out of chocolate. Sushi is one of our favorite foods, and receiving this incredible, hand-made chocolate version just blew me away. Needless to say, it didn’t last the night!
Another amazing chocolatier that has recently come to my attention is Bittersweet, the chocolate café. Some friends of ours took us here for dessert when we were visiting in the Rockridge area of Oakland last weekend. It’s a tiny café; we had to sit outside on the sidewalk because all the inside seats were taken. The wall to the right is filled with chocolate candy bars: exotic, fair trade, organic and unusual. Behind the counter, there are chocolate drinks made to order, and pastries and desserts. Jaya ordered the chocolate Mousse Cake. He describes it as the perfect balance of chocolate, mousse and cake. The contrast in textures made the dessert very special. Our friend Jeff ordered The Bittersweet, a non-dairy chocolate drink. This is advertised as ‘a deeply chocolate experience’ and we all agreed.
At Here Comes The Guide, we’re not just experts on all things wedding: we’re also extremely knowledgeable chocolate connoisseurs. We’ve been tireless chocolate taste-testers for years—eating, judging, then trying just a little bit more to be absolutely sure of our decision. With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought it was time to impart some of our expertise to you for all your gift-giving needs. And if you need an extra box to give you a little moral support during the wedding planning process, we completely encourage that.