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To say that Melissa Comito-Aakre of A Simple Ceremony is merely a florist is akin to saying that Coco Chanel was a milliner. Melissa brings some of the most creative and vibrant ideas to her weddings and events that we have ever seen (see “Designing a Dream” Feature in the Fall/Winter issue of Destination I Do). It’s no wonder that she was voted Best of the Bay for Top Bridal Florist in San Francisco! Spoiler alert: she is my personal soul sister, hiking buddy and margarita enabler. That she also looks like a Vargas-worthy pin up girl in her cherry red muscle car also adds to her magical mojo. But all that said, even if I didn’t love her to death I would write about her in a heartbeat, because her heart is in her work and it shows. Enjoy our new ambience blogger, and her hip handle: “Heavy Petal!” Find her on Twitter @Petal2metal….

Who: Renae and Zared
What: A multinational vibrant wedding
When: May 29, 2010
Where: Cavallo Point

img bouquet and bridal sari...

Bouquet with detail of bridal sari.

Renae and the bridesmaids wore intricate saris in vibrant colors for the wedding. I wanted to work with these colors and bring that detail of design into the design of the flowers as well as incorporate the international aspects of this couple.

Centerpiece from the Japanese table.

• The Chapel at Cavallo Point is old California. For the ceremony I wanted to work with the wood in the room and surrounding scenery.  The design was natural with moss, bark, branches and wild orchids.

Chapel arrangement: Vase wrapped in date husks.

The chairs were not arranged in traditional rows.  I mixed cocktail tables with clustered chivari chairs to create an informal and inviting ceremony. Outside the chapel, tall bamboo poles with clusters of marigolds at the top and streaming ribbons in orange and red lined the path to the cocktail hour. Guests walked through the long strands of flowing ribbon.  It was interactive and playful, well suited to this couple.

Paper cranes decorate guest plates.

• A mariachi band played during the cocktail hour, the décor was thick Mexican glass in rich colors for the containers, vibrant flowers and eclectic handmade quilts draped over the outside furniture to create a welcoming space.  Candles everywhere!

Bright and beautiful bridal bouquet.

• For the reception, the coordinator, Melissa Panico, MAP Events, and myself, decided to create three long tables for the guests that would surround the dance floor. These tables would be representative of the three countries/places most important to the bride and groom. I used the same type of flowers and intricate design to maintain continuity.

Candle table detail.

One table was Japan. For this table I used rice streamers stacked at different heights for the containers. Japanese lanterns were used instead of candles.  An origami crane was placed on each guest plate. For the Indian table I made a field trip to the local Indian store and used vibrant empty food cans and Indian fabric wrapped around the vases.

California table setting.

The candles were glass hurricanes with Indian images.  A marigold in a mini vase was placed on each guest plate. The third table was California nature with shells, wood trunks and coral. The candles were glass hurricanes with sand and shells. A shell was placed on each plate as a gift to the guest. Paper lanterns and garlands of orange flowers hung from the ceiling (thanks to the help of Jimmy from Creative Lighting!).

I try to encourage each client to make their wedding personal and about them.  That is what makes it a wedding that is talked about and remembered for years to come!  Renae and Zareds wedding was an event that their guests will never forget!


Infusing new and eclectic ideas in flowers, design, lighting, décor, table-scapes, point of view, and ambiance, and really getting to the heart of who a couple is, is what Melissa and her company, A Simple Ceremony, does best. Whether you are an eco-chic vegan couple or rock and roll royalty Melissa has the design know how, historical references and the resources to turn on the juice. This wunderkind got her start in Beverly Hills working with celebrities such as Jane Seymour, Bette Midler, Joan Rivers, and Barry Manilow; and companies such as Pixar, and George Lucas. Her work has been featured in several magazines including Martha Stewart and Grace Ormand. Her inspiration comes to her in random ways: a building, a pattern on a skirt, the color of a sunset, a trip to Home Depot, a stack of vintage Tarot cards, a mad scientists laboratory. If you have a dream for an event that must be expressed and created down to the detail, Melissa is the girl for the job like no one we’ve yet seen.

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