Erin and Tom

Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Ian Martin Photojournalism

Erin and Tom’s wedding was our most “scientific” wedding to date – but led to such fun creativity and the opportunity for us to work with some really amazing vendors!

Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Ian Martin Photojournalism

Erin and Tom had hired many of their vendors by the time they brought us on board, and already had a killer vision together, but it was a joy to bring it all together.

From the graduated cylinders as centerpieces, lab book guest book, and the clincher – periodic table memes featuring their adorable kitty, this was a unique wedding that was “so Erin and Tom” for their guests!

Photo by Ian Martin Photojournalism, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events Photo by Ian Martin Photojournalism, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events

Erin homemade all of her paper flowers, and the venue contributed to the feeling of a science – oriented wedding for these brilliant scientist lovebirds.

Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Ian Martin Photojournalism

Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Ian Martin Photojournalism

Popcorn bar!

The best part of being a part of this wedding is the relationship we formed with the couple. I’m so happy and excited to say that we’re still in touch and are actually due for a hangout again soon, I hope – right, guys? :)

Thanks to everyone who helped make this day super special!

Venue: Lawrence Hall of Science

Photographer: Ian Martin Photojournalism

Flowers: Homemade

Cake: The Whole Cake

Music: Corelli Strings and Talon Entertainment

Catering: Miraglia Catering

Videography: Martin Wong Photography

Hair and Makeup: Shawn Cavlan Beauty Co.

Tina and Adam

Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography

Tina and Adam’s wedding was such a special pleasure for us to plan and coordinate, because it was hosted at Adam’s parents’ home in the hills of Los Gatos. Private home weddings require some extra planning work, but are so much more gratifying and leave a lot more room for creative outlets. The space is yours to play with! And that view! :)

Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography

What makes our job so much more special sometimes is the way we’re able to work with a couple through every portion of the planning and creative process – the design, the vendors, the execution – it’s like combining everyone’s expertise to create the “dream team of weddings.” This wedding certainly had some of our favorites on the team!

Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography

Tina’s dream was to have Tiffany blue and peach as her colors, then we had the natural beauty of the surroundings, the creative forces of our team, the floral designer and Adam’s mom, and the goal of a fun night for everyone to work with.

Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography

It was a pleasure and honor to have been a part of Tina and Adam’s day, and we look forward to many more creative private home events next year!

Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography Wedding at private home in Los Gatos, Wedding Planning by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events, Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography

Thanks to all of our fabulous vendors:

Venue: Private Home

Catering: Weir and Associates

Photography: Andre Nguyen Photography

Florals: Lani Elizabeth

Rentals: Unica Party Rentals

Lighting: Unica Party Rentals

Cake: Cake Expressions

Music: Carl Mindling Music

Hair and Makeup: Lux Image Agency and Salon Mona Lisa




Jessica and Chris

The silence has been broken! After a total whirlwind year for us (but boy, do we have some fun and awesome updates and changes coming your way!), we actually have some time to catch up on our blogging – and are we behind! Considering we only got through half of our 2013 weddings here on the blog, you’ll have to excuse the lack of non-real-wedding related posts for the rest of this year. We have to get everyone’s darling pics up and share the fun ideas and love! Every so often, we’ll try to throw in a unique idea or topic post, and at some point we’ll be ready to unveil all the new things we have in store for our 2015 clients and beyond, but for now, we hope you’re excited to see regular posting again!

Have a specific topic you’d love to see us write about soon? Share it with us in the comments!

For now, I have the privilege to share the lovely photos by Andre Nguyen Photography of a truly darling wedding in the hills of Woodside, Jessica and Chris’ special day!

Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events

What made Jessica and Chris’ wedding extra special was the intimate involvement of their families, in the ways they truly shined. For example, I had the privilege of attending their rehearsal dinner, lovingly hosted by Chris’ parents at their home. It honestly felt like one big family that evening, with jokes, smiles and down-to-earth comfortability. The most exciting familial component, however, was the venue itself – Jessica’s parents’ farm. There were details that we see at professional event venues, all handcrafted and made just for this day. It was the perfect combination of rustic, simple and elegant.  Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events

Jessica won the prize for perhaps the calmest and happiest bride I’d ever seen – right down to the moments before the ceremony! It was truly a day of joy for everyone. Jessica’s dad gave a toast that had everyone in stitches, and the family dog even participated in a toast!

Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events

Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events

The wedding went so well, and the homemade venue was so beautiful, that I had the pleasure of meeting with Jessica’s parents and advising them to open up their farm as a venue! They now host weddings for couples other than their daughter – and we’d love to work there again! You can check them out at

Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events Photo by Andre Nguyen Photography, Wedding Coordination by Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events

Congratulations again to Jessica and Chris!

Photos: Andre Nguyen Photography

Florals: Sweetness and Light Floral Design

Catering: Weir and Associates

Music: Carl Mindling Music

Officiant: Barbara Boyd

Cake: Icing on the Cake

Limo: Elegant Journey Limousine

Rentals: A-1 Rentals

Hair and Makeup: Salon 121

Do’s & Don’ts of Wedding Attire: How to Dress to Impress

Our intern Cara is guest blogging for us with her tips and tricks for dressing appropriately for weddings. Enjoy!

Each and every wedding should have its own style, its own flow, and its own personality! But a few tips and guidelines never hurt when it comes to dressing to impress.  Weddings and other social events are always a fun time to get dressed up.  No matter what, you should always portray your own style and individuality but here are a few tips when preparing an outfit for a wedding.

Guidelines for men and women.

Guidelines for men and women.


DO dress accordingly to the invitation and location – You always want to double check the attire that is posted on the invitation! There are many different types of attire, such as semi-casual, cocktail, black tie, beach, etc.  The bride and groom specify their desired attire so their guests can dress appropriately and feel comfortable on their big day! Also, the location can make a difference on what one may choose to wear.  Outdoor ceremonies versus indoor can change your choice of footwear or whether or not to bring a light jacket.

DON’T wear a new pair of shoes – One should never break in a new pair of shoes at such an event! New heels or flats can become painful and uncomfortable after a few short hours and we all know we want to be content and focused on the couple – not how much our feet hurt!

Cute flats that aren't too casual.

Cute flats that aren’t too casual.

DO bring flats/sandals just incase! – Bringing an extra pair of comfortable shoes is always a good idea.  Weddings can be an all day event and by the dinner and dancing, throwing on a pair of sandals or flats can save your feet for the night.

DON’T wear white – This celebration is for the bride and groom! They should always be the center of attention.  This is one day for the bride to be the main focus and her dress to be outstanding.  The color white is saved for the bride on her big day, so steer clear of any shades of white when planning your outfit.

Necklaces are great accessories for simple dresses.

Necklaces are great accessories for simple dresses.

DO accessorize! – Adding fun jewelry, bags, or shoes can always pull an outfit together.  When attending a wedding you want to feel feminine and confident so why not add some great accessories to complete your look! Bold necklaces, cuff bracelets, and a simple clutch are just a few items that can add to a great dress.

DON’T dress in any lavish colors, patterns – Again, we want the bride and groom to be the main focus on their amazing day of celebration. There is no need to pull any attention away from them with extravagant patterns or colors (such as animal prints, neon colors, or excessive sequins).  Try to choose a subtler, fun look for the evening.



DO come clean-shaven – You always want to look in tip-top shape, so a clean shave or well-groomed facial hair will always pull off the perfect look.  A clean cut and style will help one feel groomed and ready for a great night.  Remember we are celebrating and want to look our best.

Simple ties can really pull together the look.

Simple ties can really pull together the look.

DON’T rent your clothing – This can lead to issues of style, comfort, and fit.  Having a tailored suit is one of the most important aspects to a suit.  Style can go a long way but when it comes to a loosely fitting suit, you may look a little out of place.  Renting your clothing can cause conflict with size, color, and so much more.

DO keep ties/bow ties simple and subtle – Accessorizing is important but you never want to draw too much attention when it comes to your tie/bow tie decision because this day is all about the couple.  Keep in mind that your outfit should be sleek and representative of you, yet nothing too extravagant.  Try to minimize the attention and stick to simple patterns and colors.


DON’T wear jeans, EVER – Underdressing is the sworn enemy.  You should rather show up to an event or wedding overdressed than underdressed.  Jeans and a jacket may seem comfortable and “your style” but it is a celebration of those you care for, so why not add a little and go with nice slacks and a blazer or even a full suit? Its better to be safe than sorry and attend well dressed.

A little addition to a great outfit!

A little addition to a great outfit!

Matching your pants and socks is a must.

Matching your pants and socks is a must.

DO add a pocket square – A pocket square is the perfect opportunity to add a touch of color or personality to an outfit! You want to include a pocket square at a wedding because not only is it a nice fashion statement but also you never know if someone may need to borrow it at such an amazing celebration and ceremony!

DON’T forget to match your socks with pants – Cohesiveness is key! It is very important for your socks and pant color to look consistent.  The awkward gap in between can look unprofessional and sometimes sloppy, so making sure they are at least somewhat similar can go a long way for the outfit.

Myles and John’s Vintage Estate Wedding Featured in Today’s Bride SF

We’re thrilled to announce that Myles and John’s wonderful Vintage Estate wedding was featured in the Winter 2014 edition of Today’s Bride SF! This elegant event used an eclectic mix of round and banquet tables in the dinner area with low and lush centerpieces to highlight the understated natural elegance while vibrant pops of orange pumped up the ambiance throughout the day. A lounge was set up in the Historic Barrel Room where the night ended with dancing to create a relaxed and fun atmosphere.  Check out the pictures in Today’s Bride SF feature below.


Thanks to all our wonderful vendors for making the day so amazing! – Rhee Bevere Photography, Sweetness & Light Floral Design, Sweetie Pies, DJ Carl Mindling, Harpist Krista Strader, Napa Valley Linens, and Hartmann Studios.

Our fabulous baby book shower!


It seems fitting that my last blog here on the Caitlin Arnold Events site for a while should be just before I go on maternity leave and be about my baby shower, there’s something nicely poetic about it! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful team to work with who threw me and my husband an amazing baby shower using some of the tips we shared on our Planning the Perfect Baby Shower blog back in January.

Thanks to an amazing team effort on the part of Caitlin and Wendi Goad (our florist extraordinaire over at Sweetness & Light Floral Design) the shower was a huge success. I knew going in that I wanted a casual, co-ed baby shower as I’m not huge on being the center of attention and wanted my husband to get some of it as well – after all it’s his baby too!


My mom and dad graciously offered their house to host the party and we gathered about 40 friends and family to enjoy some delicious food, amazing desserts, and just have a good time!


As I said in the earlier blog, ours was a “baby book shower” – meaning we asked all of our guests to bring a children’s book with a note written inside to create our baby’s library. Wendi provided a vintage bookshelf in the entryway for people to drop their books off.


Even though I couldn’t partake, I didn’t think everyone should go dry just for me so Caitlin created a delicious pineapple, ginger and orange punch that could be spiked for some added fun, along with some adorable custom cups with “This book belongs to” name plates.


Wendi used our blue, orange and aqua color palette to amazing effect with her flowers, which we enhanced with some custom block letters that I made and will later use in the baby’s room.


Our food was courtesy of Weir & Associates Catering, who provided some delicious – and pregnancy-safe! – foods for everyone.


And the amazing dessert spread was from Honeycomb Events who really outdid themselves with a custom background made up of old library check out cards. I couldn’t resist having one of each dessert and they were delicious!


As for games/events we kept it low-key with just a custom word search that I created for the day, providing a Starbucks card to the winner.

Overall, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect baby shower for our growing family – a chance to gather family and friends, eat some delicious treats, and open some presents! My huge thanks go out to Caitlin and Wendi for planning such a great day and special thanks to Shannon Joesting for the amazing photos! Check out our gallery for even more photos.

The final week of our 4 weeks of great date nights!

We’re capping off our 4 weeks of great date nights to celebrate February with Caitlin herself sharing her favorite dates and tips. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series and that it’s given you tons of inspiration for your own great date nights!

As I was thinking about this post, I had the benefit of more time to think being the last one of the series and the month of February, but also the downside of having some great ideas stolen by the other ladies of the Caitlin Arnold Events team! Regardless, I think I’ve landed on what I’ve really loved about every amazing date I can think of – and it was that they weren’t really “dates” by the traditional sense of the word, but “experiences.” Maybe it’s a whole day exploring Monterey, or being tourists for a day in San Francisco, but whether or not it was 1 hour or 12, included a meal or not, I just love spending time doing a fun activity with the man I love and my best friend. And my husband and I have decided we prefer saving and spending our money that way, as opposed to gifts or smaller dates more often. So here are some of my favorite “experience” dates!

Behind the Scenes Tour at the Monterey Bay Aquarium 


This one was a surprise for me (actually as an anniversary gift). We got up way too early (I’m not a morning person), and headed to Monterey to tour the aquarium before it opened. I have always said that in a second life I’d like to be a marine biologist, so this was not only thoughtful and personal, but fun to do together! We got to see behind the “employees only” doors where they nurse sick or young animals, do some of the feedings and have the entire aquarium to ourselves for a couple of hours. If you’re a member of the aquarium, you can also attend one of their member nights, which significantly reduces the crowd and involves some fun activities for aquarium members.

Playing Hooky at Great America on a Weekday 


Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned spontaneous skipped work day to go to an amusement park! Don’t worry, this was before owning my own company where I can’t get away anymore! I’m a firm believer that to do this date right, you have to go all the way – cotton candy, henna tattoos and every ride till you’re just sick. Just you and the one you love – maybe end with some In N’Out and a movie night – the AMC Theaters and In N’ Out are just down the street!

Going all out at La Fondue


For the opposite of the Great America suggestion, go a little more high brow and splurge on a fabulous dinner. Now while going to La Fondue is a perfectly legitimate date on its own, to be in tune with my “experience” theme, you’ll have to do the full shebang – Le Freak C’est Chic. Literally every single meat that La Fondue has to offer – 25 oz of 19 different meats on the regular menu, plus their special me ants. Before you look that up and think we’re way more baller than we are, Travelzoo occasionally offers this amazing deal for LFCC for two and a bottle of champagne for less than half the price that would’ve added up to. So set up those email alerts now and have the date of your life!

Being the “Best Significant Other” for a day


This one my husband asked me to add to the list when I asked him what his favorite dates of all time were. As a surprise for him ( a flip side to the first on listed above) I decided to be the best significant other for a day. I learned how to play one of his favorite video games on expert level and make it without failing for 5 straight minutes (talk about practice!), i had awesome Giants tickets and even decked myself out in all Giants gear (this is back when I was a Cubs fan, so even more of a gift than it would be today), and had nothing but red meat for dinner. Show your real sacrificial side for your loved one and make a date out of being “perfect” for them for a day.

I hope some of these were inspiring to you to cap out our “month of love,” or at least entertaining to read! What are some of your favorite date nights? We’d love to hear!

Week 3 of our great date nights to celebrate February!

In honor of the “month of love” we decided a great way to celebrate would be to each share our favorite date nights with you readers. This week, Chelsea will be sharing her ideal date night ideas.

When the ladies of Caitlin Arnold Weddings and Events decided to write about our ideal date nights, my mind kind of went blank. I’m not very romantic when it comes to Valentine’s Day—I’m not a fan of chocolate, I dislike roses, and going out to dinner on February 14th to me screams marked up pre fixe menus and crowded restaurants. I’d simply rather take the money my husband and I would have spent and save it to go to a Niner’s game. When this thought came to my mind, I realized that my husband and I had recently just had my fantasy date night.


December 23, 2013. The day my beloved 49ers would play their last game at Candlestick Park. Going to the ‘Stick isn’t incredibly romantic or five-star, but I could think of nothing else I’d rather do than grab some hot dogs and beers and celebrate a Niner’s victory with my husband and 69,731 other screaming fans. An additional plus: we saw NaVorro Bowman’s Pick at the ‘Stick, one of the best pick 6 of all time, and you better believe that we recorded the game on our DVR and re-watched that play over and over again! Someone, somewhere has a video of me being that crazy 49ers fan crying my eyes out with joy as we celebrated clinching the playoff berth. To top the night off, fireworks lit up the stadium to send all us happy fans out with a bang.


I recommend that every couple see one of their favorite teams live and scream and cheer together, it’s a great way to let loose and have some fun. You may not be fans of the same team, but making time for each other’s team is a wonderful gesture to show your love. Better yet, go when they play against each other for some friendly competition!

However, since the football season is over and I understand that not every couple is sports fan, I’ll share with you another date night idea my husband and I enjoy, which costs a lot less than most tickets to sporting events. Recently moving to San Jose from Los Angeles, the one thing my husband and I miss most about LA is the abundance of food trucks. We would track down our favorite ones, hop on our beach cruisers, and grab an inexpensive and amazing meal. I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered Moveable Feast—a fleet of food trucks that set up in various locations throughout the Peninsula. If it’s cold, they set up heat lamps, if it’s hot they have tents for shade, and they have stacks of big red buckets that when turned upside down make a great place to take a seat and enjoy your meal. They even have live music and entertainment every so often.


One of the cool things about food trucks is that they typically have amazing chefs working out of them as a way to make and save money before going on to bigger ventures like opening restaurants. So you get great food that is super creative for less than $10 a meal.

Some of the trucks I’d recommend following? MoGo BBQ (@MoGoBBQ on Twitter)—Korean/Mexican fusion, with great Korean tacos and burritos with kimchi fried rice. If you’re looking for a healthier or vegetarian option, Eat on Monday‘s truck is a local organic truck. They have an organic veggie burger, and though their menu changes regularly they always use local, organic produce and grass fed beef. If you’re looking for something sweet, Treatbot (@Treatbot) has delicious homemade ice creams. Their signatures include The 408 (caramel ice cream, fudge swirl, and crushed Oreos) and Ube (purple yam and taro).


These are just some of my suggestions but make it a date night and try some food trucks with your significant other. It’s a great reason to get out of the house and enjoy some great food—with none of the kitchen cleanup afterwards!


Week 2 of date nights to celebrate February!

In honor of the “month of love” we decided a great way to celebrate would be to each share our favorite date nights with you readers. This week, Cheryl will be sharing her favorite date night ideas. Don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is Friday!

Although I consider myself a hopeless romantic, I’ve never really been that into Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I like flowers, fancy dinners and chocolate just as much as the next girl, but I like them every day of the year, not just on February 14. That being said, I can always appreciate a good old-fashioned date and Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse. This year, I suggest going a bit beyond the typical fancy dinner standard and trying something new that you and your date will never forget.

Since I represent the San Francisco contingent of our team, I thought I’d offer some fun date ideas that are unique to my favorite city by the Bay.


1. Row Boats in the City – Looking for some classic romance? Then head to Golden Gate Park where you can rent row boats to float around Stowe Lake. Long considered to be one of the most romantic date ideas in the city, this little trip around the lake is sure to set the right mood, especially with a picnic basket filled with delicious food and wine!


2. Adventure on High – San Francisco has helicopter tours! Soaring above the famous hills and distinctive landmarks like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll see the striking cityscape from a whole new, and unforgettable, angle.


3. Love on Main Street – For a more vintage-themed evening, the Disney Museum is hosting a turn-of-the-century after-hours party. Think old-time music, Prohibition-style cocktailes and a moonlit picnic on the porch.


4. Food from the Heart – Calling all foodies! Take a stroll through the Ferry Building and sample the merchant’s delicious bites and sips. Taste your way through the wines and seasonal hors d’oeuvres with candlelight, live music and tango dancing.


5. Pillow Fight! – Feeling a little feisty? Your inner kid does not want to miss San Francisco’s annual Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight. Grab your old synthetic pillows (feather are super messy) and head to Justin Herman Plaza. (This idea is not just for couples, it would be great for a double date or just a group of friends!)

B Street Waffles Gerald

6. Breakfast date – Three words: Free Valentine’s Waffles! Head to the Financial District for some freshly baked, Belgian-style street waffles from b.street waffles. Including local chocolate and raspberry jam – that’s the sweetest way to start your Valentine’s Day, even without a date. Get there early so they don’t run out! All the details are on their Facebook page.

So, what are my plans for Valentine’s Day? Unfortunately my weekend plans with family do not involve my hubby (who is starting a tour with his band this week). Instead, we’ll celebrate on our own in a couple weeks when we head down to the San Jose Tech Museum for the Science of Star Wars exhibit. Because nothing says romance like storm troopers and Wookies! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!


We’re Celebrating February with 4 Weeks of Great Date Nights!

In honor of the “month of love” we decided a great way to celebrate would be to each share our favorite date nights with you readers. This week, Lisa will be sharing some ideas, next week Cheryl will be sharing her ideas, followed by Chelsea, then Caitlin will bring us home!

As we were discussing this series of blogs, some of us shared that we aren’t huge celebrators of Valentine’s day, my husband and I included. When we do want to have a special evening together, our first idea is to make a reservation at a nice restaurant, however we rarely go out to dinner on V-day, usually it’s just too crowded and forced for our taste, so I try to make something nice at home.

The first year we were married, I went with elegant steakhouse fare and made filet mignon with a red wine reduction, broccoli, and mashed potatoes (no garlic of course!) – see the recipe below. I grabbed a bottle of nice red wine to pair, and set the mood at the house. You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to feel fancy, mainly just get out of those yoga pants or jeans and act like you’re going out – put on a nice dress, and some earrings and you’re set! Also, actually setting the table goes a long way if you’re like us and tend to eat in front of the tv. I pulled out the fancy table cloth we got for our wedding and rarely use, along with candlesticks and a nice flower arrangement, and our dining room looked like the nicest restaurant in town, minus the crowd!

If you don’t mind a busy restaurant, or love to be out in the thick of things on a holiday like Valentine’s, lots of local restaurants offer pre fixe menus for Valentine’s dinner. We live in San Mateo, so below is a list of some of our favorite places to have a romantic dinner:

  • Kincaid’s – we go here for my birthday almost every year, it’s a great restaurant with classic food, lots of options in the steak and seafood varieties, not to mention a spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay and SFO airport. They are offering a special Valentine’s Day Menu this year, which can be viewed here.  
  • Central Park Bistro – Another one of our favorites, with a wide range of delicious dishes. The intimate atmosphere and friendly wait staff make for a perfect evening. And if you like dessert, I can’t recommend their bread pudding highly enough, so tasty! Check out their menu here.
  • Three Restaurant – This is a new one on our favorites list after we went here a few weeks ago with some friends. It’s in downtown San Mateo at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (now Draper University), in what used to be Astaria Restaurant. The style has changed since its days as Astaria, but the quality has not. A little hipper, they feature a tapas-style menu that’s great for sharing with your loved one. They are doing a 4-course “aphrodisiac” menu for Valentine’s Day, which you can view here. 

Whether you decide to stay in or go out, it’s all about the ambience. Find a place where you and your special someone can enjoy each other’s company and remember why you’re together in the first place. Even if you aren’t a fan of Valentine’s Day itself, use it as an excuse to appreciate each other and take a break from your hectic lives to share some love!

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Reduction

2 (4 to 6-ounce) filet mignons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper and drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Grill to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the wine. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Strain the sauce into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids in the strainer and return the sauce to the saucepan and bring back to a slow simmer. Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into small 1/2-inch chunks and whisk in the sauce a little at a time. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Place filets on dinner plates. Drizzle the sauce over the filets and serve.