f. Duncan Reyes Events by Design bio picture

    His successful career all began as a Corporate Event Planner until his tenure as Catering Manager for luxury hotels such as The Portman Hotel and The Pan Pacific Hotel San Francisco, The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco & Chicago, General Manager and Director of Events at The Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchants Exchange Building, and at the historic Westin St. Francis Hotel San Francisco as their Catering Manager for Weddings and Social Events.

    His impressive accolades have given him credentials to recognize him as an Independent Food Editor, Restaurant Critic and a Contributing Writer for San Francisco, Chicago and New York media publications. Spanning over 30 years in Wedding, Corporate and Social Event Planning, his passion has taken him to new career heights that led him to create F. Duncan Reyes Events By Design and is renowned as the Event Industry’s most Premiere Wedding and Event Planner Extraordinnaire. In January 2009, he was honored by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the Top 100 New Businesses for 2009 and as published in their “Book of Lists 2009”. Duncan is a member of the National Association of Catered Events both for the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Chapters, and was voted in April 2010 as NACE’S “Member of the Year”. And just recently in January 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, was recognized by WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards for Wedding Planning. Committed to creating special events that are as distinctive as his clientele, he creates and executes flawless affairs with sophistication and panache yet with a personable approach that represent your own unique style, exceeding expectations for the planning and design experience. The myriad of Weddings, Corporate and Social Events accommodate all requests large and small with a touch of class. With years of experience conceptualizing ideas, themes and budgets for all events, his capabilities and resources are endless in an effort to create memories that will last a lifetime.

    . . . . Hundreds of Dreams . . . Thousands of Details . . . Millions of Memories

    Contact F. Duncan Reyes Events by Design


Finally . . . Brian and Neil are engaged and are tying the knot!  I’ve known them both for about 15 years when I first met Brian at the Stop AIDS Project where he was Development Director and I was a Board Member and VP of Fund Development creatively assisting him with raising money and planning fundraisers for the agency.  Since then, we’ve become very close friends over the years, and it was also the same time he had just met Neil during a business trip to San Francisco.  Neil lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland and both have never been apart since the day they first met, traveling between San Francisco and Geneva, and all parts of the globe where Neil’s job takes him (I want their mileage points!).  This perfectly matched couple will celebrate their nuptials on Saturday, August 12th at The University Club of San Francisco, San Francisco’s most elegant and elite historic clubhouse located atop Nob Hill.  With the help of my “Dream Team” of wedding professionals, I can’t wait to see the fruits of our labor . . . I can’t bare it! (said with an English cockney accent – that’s just for you, Neil . . . LOL!!!)

Congratulations, Brian & Neil . . . your Wedding will be nothing less than fabulous!

Wedding Planning and Event Design  |  Duncan Reyes with Alex Barranco – F. Duncan Reyes Events By Design

Photography  |  Dario Leventini with Robyn Navarro – F3 Studios Photographers

Cake  |  Chef Bala Subrahmanyam – The Cakemaker

Catering, Ceremony and Reception Venue  |  Julia Nguyen – The University Club of San Francisco

DJ Entertainment, Ceremony Sound, Lighting and Photobooth  |  Jason Mitchell with JaDonna Lewis – Gatsby Entertainment

Floral Design  |  Jeeryn Dang – Petite Floral Company

Hotel Accommodations  |  Maria Vollenweider-Diaz and Dustin Cousey – The Westin St. Francis Hotel

Officiant  |  Peter Goetze (Friend of the Grooms)

Printing  |  Jacques Oskanian and Munnie Tran – Hyegraph

Rentals  |  Irving Gonzalez – Abbey Party Rentals

Welcome Reception Venue  |  Jasmine Tomelden – Hotel Vitale


Renowned Restaurateur, Willy Ng, tied the knot with his long-time Bride, Jenny Huang at the majestic Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.  For both Jenny and Willy, their Wedding Day couldn’t come any sooner, as they celebrated their nuptials with their adorable son, Jayden and many of their closest Friends and Families who traveled far and wide, mostly from Asia and worldwide.  They pulled out all the stops to make sure that their Wedding vision became a reality and it certainly proved to be just that – a magical affair.

Willy & Jenny are proprietors of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most elite Chinese Restaurants such as M.Y. China, Koi Palace and Dragon Beau, just to name a few.  So you know that their Wedding Day’s dining experience was going to be nothing less than fabulous.  Special kudos goes out to David Robinson, Director of Catering for the Four Seasons San Francisco, and his amazing team of hotel professionals who executed their flawless Wedding with such great élan.  The cuisine provided by their talented Culinary Team excelled far beyond their expectations, and even to those with the most distinguished palettes such as Willy’s and Jenny’s.

My heartfelt thanks to my incredibly talented team of Wedding Vendors who helped me create this fantastic Wedding they will long remember.  My hats off to all of you!

Wedding Planning and Event Design  |  Duncan Reyes, Claudia Chao and Alex Barranco – F. Duncan Reyes Events By Design

Photography  |  Dario Leventini – F3 Studios Photographers

Cake  |  Jasmine DeLung – Jasmine Rae Cakes

Catering, Hotel Accommodations and Venue  |  David Robinson – The Four Seasons San Francisco

Drapery  |  Courtney Jones – Blueprint Studios

Entertainment and Ceremony Sound (DJ)  |  Art De Vera

Floral Design  |  Nicole Peacock – Peacock & Co.

Lighting Design  |  Jason Mitchell – Gatsby Entertainment

Officiant  |  Barbara Boyd – Barbara Boyd Ceremonies

Specialty Hors d’oeuvres (Abalone Bar and Roast Suckling Pigs), Specialty Chair Covers & Table Linens  |  Koi Palace

Specialty Linens  |  Diana Cardenas – Napa Valley Linens

Videography  |  David Ethridge – AVR Films

Wedding Gown  |  Vera Wang


Graced with a breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay, The Presidio Chapel was an incredibly beautiful and an inspiring location for Kiana & Brad’s Wedding.  Built in 1931 by the U.S. Army, the chapel’s Spanish mission revival architecture features arched stained-glass windows, a magnificent fresco, a high ceiling with redwood beams, wrought-iron chandeliers, and lovely oak doors making it the perfect setting for this beautiful couple’s special day.  Following their Ceremony, the Reception followed at The Commissary, the Presidio’s latest gem of a restaurant that is a Mexican-inspired Arguello with lots of “heart and soul” showing craveable Spanish-influenced California fare by Owner/Executive Chef Traci Des Jardin.  While the “mess hall” dining room has been redone, its earlier use is still evident in the exterior, the metal support columns inside and the preponderance of communal tables.  The dining experience could not have been more exquisite while the atmosphere provided an energetic vibe, exactly how Kiana & Brad would have imagined. And how can you not with this couple – they exude so much love!  Like their magnetic persona, they’re wedding was full of vibrance, high energy, enthusiasm, warmth and love.  And that’s exactly how I designed it to be . . . a Wedding bursting with life.  What an incredible evening it was – all I heard was nothing but rants and raves, and saw hips shaking’ and breaking’, booties bumping’ and everyone swaggin’ and swayin’ as they tripped the lights fantastic.

Through the eyes of their masterful photographer, Dario Leventini with F3 Studio Photographers, you can’t help but reminisce that memorable day through images he froze in time.  And special kudos to my superb “Wedding Dream Team” – you are all exceptional beyond words, with talents unmatched like no other.

To our lovely Bride & Groom, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for our lifetime and newfound friendship, and for allowing us this opportunity to create the Wedding of your dreams!

Wedding and Event Planning  |  Duncan Reyes and Alex Barranco – F. Duncan Reyes Events By Design

Photography  |  Dario Leventini – F3 Studio Photographers

Cake  |  Executive Pastry Chef Ian Farrell – Bakery 350

Catering & Reception Venue  |  Randalyn Young and Stacey Aldrich – Bon Appetit Catering at the Commissary

Ceremony Venue  |  Helen Wu and Natasha Zellerbach – The Presidio Chapel 

Entertainment (DJ)  |  Jason Mitchell – Gatsby Entertainment

Floral Design  |  Jaimie Giorgi – The Monkey Flower Group

Hair  |  Jean Riley – Mirror Court Salon

Hotel Accommodations  |  Terry Haney & Madelyn Ramirez – The Inn at the Presidio

Hotel Accommodations (Overflow)  |  Gill Eklof – The Laurel Inn

Make-Up  |  Gaje Garcia

Officiant  |  Dean Goodwin

Rehearsal Dinner  |  Sessions at the Presidio

Slo-Mo Photobooth  |  Francis Basco – Motionscope Booth

Wedding Gown  |  eDressit

Wedding Bridal Shoes  |  Michael Kors



Photos by Clane Gessel with Clane Gessel Photography

Wedding Highlights Videography by David Ethridge of AVR Films




The couple met in Chicago back in 2010. The groom was a professional golfer at the time and the bride was pursuing medical school. On May 5, 2010, David’s 25th birthday, he convinced Jordan to meet with him on a first “official” date. Although Jordan paid the tab (David always has to point out ‘it was his birthday!’, it was very clearly love at first sight and their relationship blossomed despite career changes, long distance, and attending different medical schools.


Jordan’s golden birthday was February 27, 2014. David had been planning to propose since October and had ample time to create the perfect engagement. On February 28, 2014, he had arranged for his family from Wisconsin and Baltimore, and her family from the San Francisco Bay Area, to fly out to Chicago where they were living together at the time to celebrate the proposal with them. David proposed by giving Jordan three gifts the day after her birthday – claiming that some gifts were “delayed by the mail.”  The first, a pillowcase with the phrase “Mr.” embroidered on the front, followed by “Mrs.” and then the ring in multiple boxes that Jordan had to unwrap. The ring itself was symbolic – David designed it to sit atop the letter “M,” the first initial of his last name. After the proposal David told Jordan that there were more surprises- family had flown in to celebrate. We all spent the weekend together at some of the couple’s favorite Chicago eateries.

View More: http://emiliajane.pass.us/jordan-david



“My husband and I are both medical students across the country, so planning a wedding several time zones away was going to be challenging. Additionally, I am a self-described personality type “AAA” so I knew I wanted to be as involved as I could in the wedding planning process but also have someone on my team that I could entrust with all other details when my wedding could not be prioritized. As a thorough individual, I wanted to do my due diligence in researching a wedding planner who would protect my vision, understand my neuroses, and be flexible with a demanding schedule. In the end I made a spreadsheet of 46 wedding planners – spoke to most of them over the phone and eventually landed on Duncan Reyes. Duncan was truly the brains behind our entire wedding- not to mention a complete genius when it comes to knowing who’s who in the Bay Area wedding scene. In the end Duncan did so much more than plan our wedding; he introduced us to vendors that I never would have found, answered thousands of e-mails (responding to all of them with lightning speed!), and kept meticulous records of budgets, payments, and meetings. To those of you weighing whether or not to have a wedding planner – it was an absolute must for us and really allowed us to enjoy the wedding planning process and most importantly our wedding day. Duncan Reyes truly has our highest recommendation and is a pleasure to work with. He coordinated our wedding, dealt with crazy nuances (and personalities), and handled all stress and anxiety with poise and grace. Several weeks have gone by and we are still getting endless compliments on our wedding and wedding weekend. Duncan absolutely knows how to make YOUR special vision come to life in the most vibrant and fabulous form. Most importantly, my husband and I were beyond floored our wedding day and would not have changed a thing.” – Jordan Scher Merkow



“It was crucial to have vendors that I trusted and could be myself with. The wedding planning and photography were two areas that I really cared about – and I am thrilled that throughout the planning and the wedding I really feel like both the photographer and planner are true friends. On the actual wedding it was great to see the dance floor packed and people inhale their appetizers and dinner – so clearly a major applause must go to the entertainment (strings, band and DJ) along with the catering team. What left me the most speechless were our florals, they are absolutely breathtaking and completely magical. David is most excited about seeing our wedding video, and we have loved getting to know our videographer Dave Etheridge throughout the past year as well. We’ve been so lucky with our vendors!” — Jordan Scher Merkow

Wedding Planning & Event Design  |  Duncan Reyes along with his Wedding Associates Halina Brown, Heather Vaughan and Tam Garner – F. Duncan Reyes Events By Design

Bridesmaids’ Dresses  |  Monique Lhuillier

Cake  |  Gabrielle Feuersinger – Cake Coquette

Cake Pops  |  Lauren Martin – Sweet Lauren Cakes

Catering  |  Jane Hammond, Ceanna Stephens, Naomi Ages – Jane Hammond Events

Choreography  |  Cynthia Glinka

Shriver Chair Rentals  |  Beverly Yip – Especially Yours Chair Covers & Rentals

Entertainment (12-Piece Band)  |  Dick Bright – Dick Bright & His Orchestra

Entertainment (DJ)  |  Jason Mitchell – Gatsby Entertainment

Entertainment (String Quartet)  |  Su Buchignani – Golden Gate String Quartet

Floral Design  |  Jeeryn Dang – Tanjeeryn Designs

Hair & Make-Up  |  Sherrie Long

Honeymoon Travel Agency  |  Amy Tam – Planet Hoppers

Hotel Accommodations (Wedding)  |  Stephanie Otter – The Fairmont San Francisco

Hotel Accommodations (Honeymoon)  |  The Resort at Pedregal

Jewelry (Engagement & Wedding)  |  Douglas Jeweler

Jewelry (Bride’s)  |  Family Heirlooms

Ketubah  |  Alexandra Mink

Lighting Design & Drapery  |  Michael Kuhlmann – Got Light?

Men’s Grooming Services  |  Julie Moore

Officiant  |  Carolyn Sorensen Balling (Aunt of the Bride)

Photography  |  Clane Gessel, Alex Lexson, Danielle Barnum and Marie Normandin – Clane Gessel Photography

Post-Wedding Brunch  |  Stephanie Otter – The Fairmont San Francisco

Specialty Linens & Napkins  |  Diana Cardenas – Napa Valley Linens

Tablescape Rentals & Specialty Linens  |  Mindy Roark-Aldridge and Nicole D’Andrea – Classic Party Rentals San Francisco

Transportation (For the Welcome Reception)  |  Jennifer Jaciw and Aisha Best – Lone Star Transportation

Transportation (For the Wedding Party & Families)  |  Jeff Thorpe – Classic Cable Car Charters

Transportation (For the Bride & Groom)  |  Carl Payne – Carl Payne Rolls Royces

Tuxedo Rentals & Sales  |  Michael Davenport – Black Tie Tuxedos

Tuxedo (Groom’s)  |  Hugo Boss

Venue (Rehearsal Dinner)  |  Casey Hunt – Waterbar

Venue (Wedding Ceremony, Cocktail Reception and Dinner/Dance)  |  Jim Bruels and Diane Lo – The Bently Reserve

Videography  |  David Ethridge, Jim Snow, Phil Sheffield and Noah Clark – AVR Films

Wedding Invitations  |  Paper on Pine

Wedding “Day Of” Stationeries  |  Mercurio Brothers Printing

Wedding Gown Design & Veil  |  Mark Zunino

Wedding Shoes (Bride)  |  Manolo Blanik

Wedding Website  |  Riley and Grey


To Jordan & David,

So many paths to choose from — yet a moment here, a different turn there, and you may never have met to experience a love so right!  Isn’t it amazing the way life works?  Here’s wishing each new day finds your hearts closer, your lives fuller, your love deeper.  May your love bloom brighter and your companionship grow sweeter with each passing year.  To a beautiful life together!” — Duncan


In choosing a style, documentary photography is a series of posed photos that are candid or spontaneous, photojournalistic that captures the moments exactly as they happened and tell the story, while group portraits are traditionally required for weddings for a more formal composition.  But really, every photographer has a great artistic license to infuse their particular point of view and style into their photographs.  So while their shots reflect reality, it’s their reality.  The photos are dramatic and gorgeous, but are shot with a grainier, dreamier, more muted appearance where usually the subject photographed is in focus and the background appears to blur.  They both also take a fine-art approach shoot.

What sets apart one photographer from another is their creativity in editing each photographed image.  Some have a very extensive experience such as use of lighting, colorizing and saturation and exposure whether it be soft natural lighting or vivid clarity.  Whereas others are hazy, light and airy.  Some angle shots can be more theatrical while others shoot straight without any creative thought on angular options to take the picture.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how they tell the story that matches your idea of how your wedding will be.  You just have to ask if the photo they take has a sense of humor?  or romance?  or softness?  Is it crisp like magazine image?  Each of their stories will be YOUR story through THEIR eyes, so you’ll want to make sure that they match up.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of liking and bonding with your photographer.  For example, were they excited by your vision when you described it?  When they make suggestions, do they present them in a clear and respectful way, or were they timid?  Are their mannerisms off-putting?  In order to get the best photos, go with a Pro who has a firm grasp of social graces but is bold enough to go out hunting for great images and who, above all, puts you at ease and doesn’t irritate you in any way.  Remember, they’ll be shadowing your every move, and the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out.  Likewise, you don’t want the photographer to offend or annoy any guests, but to shoot them in their best light in an unobtrusive way.  To get the best photos, your photographer needs to be assertive enough to seek out great moments, cajoling enough to coat relaxed smiles and natural stances from guests, and calm enough to be a positive force.  They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.



The Pros have it, and so here are a few more tips from a few of my favorite Wedding Photographers who have a keen eye for other details you may not think about.


Vicens Forns, Vicens Forns Photography:

o  As you are looking through different photographers’ portfolios, find the ones that make your heart beat a little faster and cause a reaction deep down inside.  If you are not well versed in photography style terminology (photojournalism, fine art, editorial, artistic, etc) it will probably mean nothing to you so search for the images that move you and tell a story.  Request real wedding samples so you can see variety and make sure the photographer is able to cover all aspects of a wedding such as getting ready, details, ceremony, posed group shots, reception and party time.  Look at the different lighting as the day progresses.  Look at color, and composition.  Are the images focused?  Are they clear and crisp regardless of the style?
o  Trust your wedding planner’s suggestions.  They have worked with the individual before and are familiar with the photographer’s professionalism, technical expertise, personality and trustworthiness.
o  Meet with the photographer and see what his personality is like.  Do you feel a connection or does it feel awkward?  Does he inspire confidence in his abilities?  Does he show the personality traits that you are looking for?  Ask lots of questions.
o  Check online reviews.  If there are negative reviews, take the time to see if the photographer has answered and if so, if they give their side of the story in a calm and professional manner while stating the facts.  It is not always the photographer’s fault and weddings are fast-paced events where complications can arise.
o  Check if the photographer has reputable photography awards because this usually further proof that they are technically good.


Brian MacStay, Brian MacStay Photography:

o  Can your photographer shoot in the dark?  Literally half of your day will take place at night.  Ask to see low light, night time photos.

o  Don’t just look at their posed portraits.  Ask to see “real moments”.  Their ability to tell stories with emotional impact.

o  Ask to see a “full gallery” of images (meaning all the photos they delivered to you!).  So for example, I show my new clients, and give the password to past clients’ galleries, so they can see exactly what they will get.  The overall quality of the photos from the start of the day, to the end.  Not just seeing the photographers “best” photos that they put on their website or blog.



Clane Gessel, Clane Gessel Photography:

o  Ask the photographer who’s editing their photos.  Talk about the images and use of them.  For example, does the photographer edit their own images or do they outsource it to companies who edit them for him/her?

o  Ask if you get a full resolution disc.  What’s the point of having great photos if you’re not allowed to print them?  Sometimes, they’ll have to pay more for the usage rights.


So there . . . now, who will you choose?  Good Luck!