The Essence of San Fransisco; The Westin St. Francis

San Francisco is the city of LOVE. If you are looking for love, look no further. Everything about the city is embodied here at this landmark hotel.
Today I have, Lauren Schardt, the Wedding Specialist at the Westin St. Francis, San Francisco, with us to share some details about the hotel and wedding destination venue.

Welcome Lauren and thank you for taking the time to talk with our readers and me about The Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, a luxury landmark destination for weddings and events.

First, let me say I have selected The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco to be on our exclusive A List, which is the best of the best, because it is known for its traditional, legendary location and exceptional service. As you may know, in my best selling book, “At the Altar in Your Underwear – 40 secrets to an Amazing Wedding and A Better You!” I encourage people to be intensely mindful of how they create a once-in-a-lifetime celebration while starting their life together.

Q: Tell me about the history and mission of The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco?

A: The Westin St. Francis has such a rich history and has been an integral part of San Francisco since opening in March 21, 1904. As soon as the hotel opened, it immediately became a part of the social and business heartbeat of San Francisco. That remains our mission today.

In 1906, the hotel survived the earthquake but unfortunately was later destroyed by the fire. After a year of reconstruction, the hotel reopened in 1907 and continued to prosper.

In 1972 the Tower Building opened, doubling the hotel’s capacity from 600 to 1195 guest rooms and adding banquet space including the gorgeous Imperial Floor which is our premier wedding space overlooking the San Francisco skyline.

One of my favorite history details is the beautiful magenta clock that remains in our lobby today. A coin phrase was developed and became very well known in San Francisco, which was “meet me under the clock” hence, the attraction the clock still receives today.

In 1938, one of our most time honored traditions, coin washing, was introduced by our general manager. He insisted that all of the coins at the hotel had to be cleaned in order to ensure ladies’ white gloves weren’t soiled. Today, our very own Rob Holsen is our official coin washer and we still continue this tradition 75 years later at The Westin St. Francis.

Q: Wow, thank you for sharing this, I adore history. Now, you have seen weddings and celebrations of all kinds. Why do you think people select The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco as the perfect place to get married?

A: The hotel is so iconic and such a part of San Francisco history that so many people have special ties back to The Westin St. Francis, whether it’s personal memories such as proms, first dates or even first kisses… to family traditions such as coming to see the Sugar Castle during the holidays, shopping in Union Square or riding the cable car out front. I think these wonderful memories always come to light when planning the most important day of your life.

Q: That makes sense. You have a bit of experience in creating once-in-a lifetime celebrations. Tell me, what do you love about working with people?

A: I love working with couples because you get to see so many special traditions take place during a wedding. The wedding, of course and most importantly, is about the bride and groom. But seeing families come together or grandparents dance after 60 years of marriage is amazing and what makes weddings so special to me. I have the pleasure of getting to know my clients over many months, sometimes years, of planning and seeing them enjoy their wedding just as every detail was discussed. It is truly magical.

Q: Something I deeply appreciate about The Westin St. Francis is the atmosphere and character. As a designer, I love the renowned décor. Can you give some examples of how The Westin St. Francis can customize each wedding or celebration?

A: Absolutely! Each wedding is completely different than the last. When we begin planning at The Westin St. Francis, every detail is discussed so I know what’s most important to each couple and can help highlight those items during the wedding. Beginning with décor, we give couples their choice in colored linen. This makes each wedding look completely different than the last. We work on custom printed menus, ensuring what we place on the dinner tables matches the clients theme and overall feel. We offer multiple planning meetings and walk throughs so we can ensure the cake is placed in the perfect location, the couple and our staff know exactly when the first dance is going to happen and where the bride’s parents are seated so we can extend a very warm welcome to them. Our wedding couples aren’t given lunch or dinner menus to make selections, rather they are given menus for inspiration. Prior to the tasting, I meet with every couple and we talk through their likes, dislikes and their overall vision. Our culinary team then creates a custom menu, ensuring they get exactly what they want. Every step along the way, our mission is to go above and beyond and make every wedding different from the last.

Q: The hotel has a number of services and amenities available. Tell me about how this makes wedding planning less stressful for all involved?

A: When couples book their wedding at The Westin St. Francis they are treated to a complimentary specialty suite the night before their wedding. This allows the bride to wake up at the hotel on the day of her wedding, have her hair and makeup done onsite and not have to worry about a thing. As mentioned, I am here throughout the planning process and can answer questions about how many tables are needed for cocktail hour or when the appropriate time is for the bride’s father to make a toast. I believe having a professional to bounce ideas off of can help make planning much easier. We work to make each wedding more special by providing services like the custom linen, the popular wedding chiavari chair, gorgeous Wedgewood china and a contact whose onsite during the wedding to oversee the timeline we worked so closely on. We want our brides and grooms to enjoy every minute of their wedding!

Q: In my book, I talk specifically about the importance of honoring people. How do you honor their families and their guests when they select The Westin St. Francis as a wedding venue?

A: Before moving into any of the planning stages with a couple, we welcome all family members to join the hotel for a site visit to experience what it feels like to get married at The Westin St. Francis. I want to connect with all of the couples’ families to make sure important traditions are accomplished and carried through each generation.

Of course, the bride and groom are treated like royalty and receive a complimentary specialty suite for their wedding but the parents of the bride and groom are welcomed with custom amenities to deepen the relationship we have built.

Q: Tell me about the most memorable celebration you have had at The Westin St. Francis?

A: It’s always hard to narrow down the most memorable celebration because there is a detail in every wedding that differs from the last or the next but if I had to choose one it would be a couple by the name of Terry & Hans. Terry & Hans said they knew they found the perfect location for their reception as soon as they walked off the elevators on the Imperial floor. After deciding this was definitely the location for their reception, they invited Terry’s mom to see the hotel. She was just as excited as Terry & Hans were and we began planning! The couple had a large guest list of friends they wanted to celebrate with and so did their parents. In order to accommodate the feel of a more intimate celebration they decided to host their ceremony on Treasure Island, invite their parent’s friends for a luncheon in Alexandra’s and then invite their friends and close family for a party reception in the evening on the entire Imperial Floor. It was just perfect! The parents and their friends enjoyed exactly what they wanted, a beautiful luncheon, great conversation and the chance to wish the bride and groom the best of luck. The evening reception, was two hundred and twenty guests that I thought all knew each other from their childhood because of the love and excitement that filled the room. The bride and groom made the evening lively with a dance off grand announcement, the best MOH & BM speeches that had everyone hysterically laughing and the groom topped the show with a serenade to his new bride, as he was formerly a musician that had everyone in tears. The opportunity to have two dream weddings in one day was just perfect. The excitement of guests and the looks on their faces were priceless. The wedding was just perfect!

Q: Weddings can be big and small. Can you describe the range of events that The Westin St Francis can accommodate?

A: The Westin St. Francis has beautiful Specialty Suites which are great for hosting small, intimate receptions or even private dinners. Our St. Francis suite, which is one of the original living quarters of the hotel, offers a lot of historic charm and is an intimate venue option perfect for up to 80 guests. Our premier wedding space is the Imperial Floor where we have two venues, Victor’s Palace which is perfect for receptions up to one hundred and ten guests and Alexandra’s which is ideal for receptions up to two hundred and twenty guests. Both of these spaces have fourteen foot floor-to-ceiling windows and opulent décor that lends perfectly to any wedding! If a couple’s guest list extends beyond two hundred and twenty guests, our Colonial Room, Italian Room and Grand Ballroom are the ideal option. The Colonial Room features balconies that wrap three sides of the room and a beautiful mural that depicts a Tuscany countryside.

While the Grand Ballroom features fifteen crystal chandeliers and a built-in orchestra stage and can seat up to eight hundred guests. One of my favorite rooms often used for wedding ceremonies up to one hundred and twenty guests is the Borgia Room. The Borgia Room is the original chapel of the hotel, offering a hand painted ceiling and original wood paneled walls. It is a must see for couples considering The Westin St. Francis for their wedding!

Q: I know that you are passionate about your facility here in San Francisco. Do you have another favorite Westin location that you love and why?

A: I love warm weather and the summer months so I would like to travel to The Westin Dawn Beach Resort.

Q: This has been so memorable! Would you share with readers what the first step is to planning a wedding or event at The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco?

A: Couples can contact our team at 415-733-1255.

Thank you, Lauren. I am so grateful to have you and The Westin St. Francis as one of my favorite hotels and Wedding Venues in San Francisco. I had the unique privilege to stay here, compliments of the hotel, and attend a wedding in the city with my family. We were all delighted with the historic rooms, service and convenience of the hotel. Union square is bustling with shopping, food and street vendors. I highly recommend staying at the Westin, St. Francis if you have not before. The history, location and décor will capture the true essence of the city of LOVE.

Remember I am your LOVE A.L.L.Y. - all About Love, Life & You!

Peace, Love and tell them I sent you…

Ally