We are blessed in the Reno/Tahoe area with beautiful natural surroundings, first-class hotels and dining, and top-notch venues that really attract destination weddings. Many couples spend time together skiing nearby or enjoying Lake Tahoe and want to share these surroundings with their guests. Some grew up here and still have family and friends and have no hesitation when planning to pick one of our amazing venues for their special day. This really is telling when you hear where these couples are from or live now. We sometimes take the area for granted, but when these couples choose the Lake, the Valleys or the Sierras I am so honored to be chosen to be a part of their celebrations.
One such couple is Anton and Celena. Anton's folks live in the area but he is a lawyer who met and fell in love with another lawyer, Celena, working in NYC. They now live in Brooklyn and both work as public defenders or for the state, dedicating their talents to the noble cause of a court system that represents all people equally and fairly. I was impressed with the two of them from the get go when we first met. Extremely bright, deeply in love, and conscious of the legacy they are creating, both in the public arena and in the life and family they were joining together. I immediately wanted to be a part of their special afternoon & evening.
They were planning the whole thing very quickly and though our initial visit was brief, I was honored to be chosen to be a part of their vendor team. Throughout the rest of the time between then and the big day we stayed in touch though phone calls, through Skype, and through quick emails & texts. We were able to formulate a plan for the music and events and last Sunday it all came together up on the shores of Lake Tahoe in beautiful Incline Village.
|The Hyatt's Kendra straightening Celena's dress just before she walked down the aisle|
They picked the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort on the beach at Incline Village. I like the Hyatt because it is truly a one-stop resort with cabins, hotel rooms, a casino, and most importantly gorgeous areas on the Lake to be married and celebrate in. The ceremony was held in the beautiful Lakeside Cottage Green- a stunning meadow within the Lakeside Cottages that looks right down the entire Lake. I was appreciative of the Hyatt staff, especially Kendra the coordinator and Guillermo one of the helpful workers who made my job easy while setting up and while later moving. I played some classical and string quartet selections as guests began arriving for the nuptials.
|Beautiful setting for the ceremony!|
When everyone was ready, Derrick, our officiant and Anton stepped up and awaited the bridal party. I played "All You Need Is Love" while the BP walked down the aisle and then a string version of "Can't Help Falling in Love" for Celena's entrance. The ceremony was really well done by Derrick (I believe it was his first one) and included a couple of readings that spoke well of the commitment and love that Celena and Anton share. When all was said and done, they kissed and were pronounced husband and wife and they made their way back up the aisle to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by the Funk Brothers. Pictures and cocktails then ensued with me being able to play lots of Motown and classic rock & roll that they had picked for their guests.
|Beautiful bridesmaids & flowers :)|
I have to say that not only were the bride & bridesmaids glowingly pretty, but the flowers and bouquets by Sharon Buckley at Blake's Floral Design were amazing! I took a pic of the bridesmaids because I thought the dresses with the bouquets were spectacular, and I don't usually notice these things!
Speaking of pictures, one of my favorite photographers, Belinda Grant of Belinda Grant Photography was snapping pictures all throughout the afternoon and evening. She and her crew were constantly at work posing shots, getting candid images and running a photo booth at the reception. Belinda is so talented and innovative- the shots she frames are unlike anything anyone else does- she is always looking for unique angles and perspectives while being so personable and fun. There are many photographers with talent and experience. There are many that are super friendly to be around and work with- that connect with the bride & groom on a personal level. Most photographers have a good deal of one but are missing the other. Belinda is one that achieves all of these characteristics and at a high level. I am always happy to see her at a wedding because the professionalism and just the pure fun factor goes up a bunch of notches :)
I was kind of sorry to leave the Cottage Green- the guests were swaying to the music and enjoying the fantastic weather and views but dinner was about ready so we went inside to the Lakeside Ballroom where the views and party continued. Soon James Brown was doing double duty in the background as I introduced the bridal party to "Get Up Offa That Thing" and then Anton & Celena to "I Feel Good". They then went into their first dance, "All of Me" by John Legend and after that Anton's parents Dimo & Dora welcomed everyone to the reception.
The distances and diverse places the guests came from was really inspiring. Anton's family comes from Bulgaria and Celena's family is Puerto Rican and Irish. Add a bunch of guests from both coasts and lots of places in between, family from Bulgaria, and a Jamaican bridesmaid and you have an outstanding and fun group of people that gathered from all over to celebrate with Celina & Anton. Nothing can beat that.
|Dora & Anton|
Anton then danced with his mom Dora to Lennon's "Beautiful Boy", an inspired choice. The first of three courses then was served and dinner was on. As the final course was being finished the toasting was started, and three exceptional toasts really set the tone. Omar, the best man, talked about friendship, college and law school and about Anton's character & humanity- what a great way to start off! Keisha, a fellow lawyer and colleague of Celena gave a poignant speech about what a force Celena is, how she does her job so well yet still exemplifies motherhood and family. Finally, and I may have this out of order, Celena's sister and MoH Caitlin spoke. She really hit a home run, and considering her fellow toasters' oratory skills, she even outshone them. Just totally from the heart, talking about the importance of family to Celena. Such great toasts!
The bouquet was thrown with the Weather Girls providing the vibe while the garter was removed to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and then caught to "All I Do is Win". Very fun!
|Bulgarian Horo dance|
We started open dancing right after that, and the crowd was fun and involved the rest of the evening. There were many special moments in this special night- I was able to welcome Anton's aunt and uncle to the United States in Bulgarian (with a little help from Dimo!) and then we played a horo, a traditional Bulgarian folk dance. It reminded me of Greek horos, but while the Greek songs start slow and gradually get faster, this horo started fast and never let up!
Another phenomenal moment was when Anton surprised Celena by singing "Wonderful Tonight" to her. She had expected the song but not him singing it to her :)
I was also able to get an East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry going through their suggestions of Biggie vs. 2Pac- very fun! I ended playing a little of everything- from Funk to Reggaeton; Hip Hop to Dancehall; Electronic to the 60's. We ended a great dancing night with Beyonce and then Nina Simone's "Feeling Good", and we all were.
Thanks to everyone at the Hyatt Regency! Thanks to Sharon from Blake's Floral Design for your fabulous flower artistry! Thanks to Belinda and Leanne from Belinda Grant Photography- always amazing working with you!
Finally, thanks to Celena & Anton. I love your dedication to one another and to your friends & families- that happiness that emanates from your two is so contagious! Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your special day a& evening. Nazdrave!