Ask The Expert: InterContinental Mark Hopkins
September 25, 2013
United States
Winter Weddings
Good morning loves. We've got quite the treat for you today. You may have been following along with our Ask the Expert series over on the Little Black Book Blog, but today we're bringing it local because we have an expert from one of the most beautiful wedding locales in San Francisco, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, answering all of your pressing venue questions. I'm a little envious that this stunning hotel is in your backyard!



1. What floor plans work best for flow? I'm wondering how to best arrange our cocktail hour, dance floor, and buffet in order to cause the least amount of traffic jams.

It really depends on the space you are working with and the number of guests. Logistically it’s always best to keep bars and buffets away from entrances/exits areas and not close to each other. If you have a live band they prefer to have the dance floor in front of the stage so they can interact and have more of a presence with your guests. If you have a DJ then you have the flexibility of having the dance floor in the center of the room with the DJ either across from the head/sweetheart table or on the stage. Fortunately 99% of our weddings are plated service so you don’t have to worry about buffet lines and congestion during dinner. On a side note, offering your guests butler passed clear liquids like white wine, champagne, and sparkling water upon entering the cocktail reception is a great way to alleviate the bar congestion, it’s also very inviting. When you have a hosted bar the lines are always quicker versus a no-host bar (cash bar) as the lines will be longer because the bartender(s) has to do transactions for every drink ordered.
2. Is there a big difference between round tables vs. rectangular when it comes to creating a layout that works?

With our ballroom, combination layouts work extremely well for weddings for up to 230 guests. It’s always eye catching as centerpieces are usually different depending on if the table is round or rectangular.
3. How early in advance can my vendors (event planner, band, floral designer, etc.) come in and set up?

The hotel pride’s itself on not being a wedding factory and because we typically have one wedding a weekend it allows our couples and their vendors the flexibility to have access to the event space much earlier than most venues. On an average wedding day vendor access time is usually 12:00pm which is reassuring for the vendors and results in better overall production. Special accommodations for earlier vendor access time can also be requested.
4. I'm in love with my venue, it's absolutely beautiful. But I have been to a wedding here before. What tips do you have for me to transform the space to really make it feel like us?

I recommend to first write down the details that you liked about the wedding you attended at your wedding venue. It could be the time of day it was held, the layout, the cuisine, and/or the tablescapes. Next I would make a list of details you were not too fond of and focus on adjusting those to make them more suited to your personal wedding style. If you have selected a florist who has done weddings at your venue before, ask them for their opinion on arrangements, décor, and colors and trust them with their recommendations.

5. What kinds of unique things do you provide that brides often overlook or think they need to go elsewhere for?

As the resident wedding planner at the hotel I work directly with our couples through ought the planning process from initial site to cake cutting. Having that foundation built with one Catering Sales Manager ensures that the planning is smooth and enjoyable and is incredibly reassuring that each wedding will be seamless. Our couples choose our venue for various reasons, the ambiance, the location, the cuisine, convenience and luxury for their guests, and the all inclusiveness it offers. They love knowing there is attention to detail and complete focus on them not just on their wedding day but with every interaction. Because I love what I do I go beyond my job duties to assist my couples with their requests from table mock ups, to securing Top of the Mark pianists for their cocktail reception, solidifying rentals, ordering custom cake stands, and have even hired a magician for the children’s room. My top priority is to have incredibly happy couples and assist them in whatever way I can, that is something you can only find at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins. Our wedding cakes are also produced in-house through our Executive Pastry Chef and Team using the original oven from 1926. Cake tastings are conducted at the menu trial and designs are completely custom to the bride and grooms preference.
6. How far in advance should we book our venue?

Anywhere from 12-18 months out is recommended.

From the photographer... Marianne and Colin married at one of San Francisco's historic hotel, The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. With sweeping view of the entire city and red carpets fit for a queen, it was the perfect place to say "I do." Marianne wore a gorgeous princess gown by La Sposa. Her dress featured a sweetheart neckline and a body filled with layers of tulle. Her look was complete with gold Jimmy Choo heels. Marianne and Colin knew they wanted their reception to have tall centerpieces. Their florist, James Yee did an amazing job designing the piece using yellow baby orchids on each table. Their reception also featured a popcorn booth with all kinds of delicious flavors: Creamy Caramel, Chunky Chocolate, Double Butter, and White Cheese.

One of my favorite moments during the wedding was Marianne and Colin's first look. Because it was raining, we decide to photograph underneath the entrance to the "Top of the Mark." While Colin waited patiently for his beautiful bride, Marianne exited through the doors and both saw each other for the first time. Their reactions and expressions were some of the sweetest first looks I've ever seen and made for incredible photos.

Family and friends from all over the world came to witness the exchange in vows for Marianne and Colin. The affair was truly memorable and filled with so much happiness, elegance, and love.