Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Garnish Boutique, for the Modern Bride & Maid

I mentioned in my last post that Shana found her wedding dress at Garnish Boutique. When she called to let me know she found her dress and got it for $20 I immediately got in my car and drove to Ruxton to check out this charming bridal boutique. Maybe in the back of my mind I was thinking I could pick up a cocktail dress for twenty bucks. I ended up talking to the owner Mia Antalics for what feels like forever connecting all of our connections.

Mia and I met at the Rusty Love event with my friend Janelle. At that party I remembered when Mia was over on Falls Road but I had never been to the Ruxton property. The gallery is tucked back in the upper part of the building, directly above J McGlaughlin. You enter through the side street. It was filled with sunlight and what seemed like wedding dresses for miles. 

The shop is spacious and lends itself to lots of ladies coming in to help their friends find the perfect gown. 

Bridesmaid dresses have come a long way. She has a great selection of these as well.

A new trend that wasn't around when I got married five years ago are these bedazzled belts. 

Shana found hers on Etsy because Garnish has items to be ordered, not necessarily always for sale in the boutique. You have to absolutely love someone who is so willing to help her customers no matter if she spends $20 dollars or $2000. I swear I love Mia with every fiber of my customer service soul! Seriously Mia, you are simply the best.

There are a few items for sale as bridesmaid's gifts and things to embellish every maid and maiden.

So my darling readers, mention Stone Hill Farm when you shop and you will get 10% off at Garnish!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shana & Alexis' New Years Eve Wedding

On New Years Eve, our friends and neighbors Shana and Alexis tied the knot at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum (BSCM). We were with them on election night when they didn't believe Maryland would pass the equality act. Oh yes we did pass it and got to celebrate seven weeks later on a beautiful afternoon just a mile from Stone Hill. I told them I would help them plan their wedding. A week later they called and said, "Help, we need you or this isn't going to happen." As I've written you all throughout this past year, I've admitted to not understanding God's plan for me. Well, this was clearly one of the biggest blessings of the year. I had so much fun and Eric and I were invited as guests so it was double fun to be in charge of the details and get to square dance joyfully with the happy couple.

The ceremony took place on the historic Carey Street Trolley. We used Crimson & Clover Floral Design, Inc in Roland Park for the flowers, bows and votive candles. The brides wanted a very understated theme and these "pew" bows set just that on the trolley to mark where their family should sit.

Alexis wore a simple boutonniere with winter sprigs and small roses.

Shana's bouquet had matching roses, rosemary and cedar pine as well. It was simply gorgeous.

One of my favorite details of the wedding was their invitation. The graphic designer created a ticket as the invitation. When doing a site inspection at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, Jerry Kelly agreed to let the ushers borrow the ticket punch for the invite. It was the smallest but most wonderful detail.

Each trolley conductor has a unique punch with different shapes. The spade marked the date as you entered the train.

Alexis and Shauna, the green haired officiant, walk past the fire pit to the front of the train. We found Shauna through my coffee buddy Lindsay at Johnny's. When meeting with S&A to discuss linens we stopped in for coffee. I knew Lindsay had recently gotten married and asked her who officiated her ceremony. She said, "Oh Shauna! She is a punk rock feminist!" Boom, perfect fit with a good name. 

Everyone stood and Shana walked down the aisle after her parents brought her to the train. It was the most cozy and unique sanctuary with forty guests.

When it was time for the rings to be exchanged, their two rings were passed from the back of the train towards the front along each set of seats. One on the left and one on the right. You can just make out the ribbon in the photo below. 

This was such a special way for the entire "congregation" to be involved in the act of witnessing their marriage. Shauna, the officiant, did such an incredible job marking this historic occasion with grace and a relaxed ease. When the brides exchanged their vows the conductor rang the trolley bell. As a group, we travelled on their first journey as Dr. and Mrs. Boscak-Greenstein together down the tracks. It wasn't legal until midnight, but the symbol alone was very significant and we wanted to catch the afternoon light for photos.

I had asked the fellas at the BSCM if they had a "just married" sign for the train. They didn't but surprised me that day with this brand new painted metal sign for the trolley. At the half-way mark during the little ride the ladies got out for a few photos. I was so excited to capture their first glances of this little sign that brought so much joy. I really think it is the little things that make a difference on your wedding day. Thank you BSCM!

We had to "flip" the seats on the trolley to get back to the party. Now the guests that were in the back were the first on the train.

Hot cider and a fire were waiting for the guests when we returned.

The brides and their families got on a second train for photos and took another short ride with Maria Linz, the official photographer.

Inside, the reception was a celebration of all things Maryland. Shana and Alexis wanted to celebrate the state that made it possible for them to be married legally. We feasted on fresh Chesapeake Bay oysters, Baltimore Pit Beef, a roasted pig from This Swine's for You. Steve and Lorainne Austin were pros and couldn't have been more helpful on the day of the event. The smells from the smoky grill tempted all of us during the ceremony. The Smith Island Wedding Cake was made by the pastry chef at Gertrude's. Thanks Doug!

The table setting was casual with burlap linens and kitchen towel napkins. Instead of renting china, the ladies collected a mismatched set of white China from Good Will's all up and down the East Coast. This shabby chic idea worked so well and they can now entertain for 50! 

Open flame is not allowed at the BSCM so Crimson & Clover used the ribbon and river rocks to show off the electric votive candles. I had no idea those votive lights can last for two days straight!

The museum was decked out for the holidays and the orange chairs just fit perfectly with the relaxed theme. It was important that their guests sit with friends that they knew so we set place cards to ensure that. I love nothing better than a good place card and seating arrangement. It's like the most fun puzzle putting this all together.

Lindsay at Flaunt on the Avenue did Shana's hair and arranged to have her makeup done. The snowflake pin was a perfect touch on this cold winter's night. I figure you should stick with people you know and Lindsay did such a great job with Susannah's hair at her wedding that I knew she would be perfect for Shana. 

This fun and fabulous bride wore the perfect pink dress from Garnish Boutique. Mia, at the shop, was having a sale and Shana walked away with this silk gown for twenty dollars! Yes, 20 bucks. The sparkly belt was added later and found on Etsy, again with a great lead from Mia. 

The youngest guest at the wedding drew this fantastic rendition of the bride! 

Music was very important to the couple. We searched high and low for this amazing band called the Vacuu-tone's. They played bluegrass and square dance music all night long. A caller helped lead the dancing and we all learned how to Contra Dance. I got my wish for more square dancing in my life and haven't smiled so hard in weeks.

The BSCM is made up of an all volunteer staff. Jerry Kelly was a true professional and his entire team was so extremely helpful. The pride they all take in this location is unmatched.

The littlest guest and artist was given the bouquet at the end of the night. 

We really could not have imagined a better or more fun day. I don't know that we can fully express how grateful we are for your work -- both leading up to and the day-of. When we were there, each of us was totally in the moment and not worried at all about any details or what we were supposed to be doing. You made it so effortless. On your wedding day, you want to be remembering the look on your dad's face as you start down the aisle -- not whether everyone has water glasses!!!!  --Shana and Alexis
I cannot thank you ladies enough for the honor of planning your wedding. You gave me purpose in this ever challenging and scary job search time. We are so thrilled to have you as neighbors and call you friends! Thank you again to all of the amazing vendors that helped make this day possible. The best part was running into Alexis' sister and brother-in-law the day after the wedding and hearing them say how much fun they had at your wedding. Cheers to equality and a lifetime of happiness.

The Grove Isle Resort and Spa, Miami, FL

The conference I helped @eduncanevents with a few weeks ago, took place at the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa. It was such a treat to head to warm and muggy Miami during the middle of January. Although we had such a mild January that the humidity was the only big difference. Today, however, is another story. It was 17 degrees as I headed to a tennis match this morning. Welcome winter. Nice of you to show up. 

The property is on it's own private island so we really had a retreat experience. It was a small conference so we took over most of the hotel feeling very spoiled by their wonderful staff.

Lobby columns

The fire pit, just beyond the lobby, was a great spot to sit and take in the ocean views at night.

While sitting at the fire pit you can see the bridge to Key Biscayne. The hotel was closer to Coconut Grove and about a 25 minute cab ride into Miami Beach.

I woke up very early on my last morning to see the sunrise. Nothing like the fresh morning air to wake you up.

Our meeting rooms were off of the long corridor heading out to the pool and ships deck.

Their on-site restaurant was wonderful. We had breakfast and lunch there the day before the conference began and they also had a more casual pool bar for salads and sandwiches.

It was warm enough during the day to get some sun but we were busy getting the conference details together. Again, as a reminder to people who think meeting and event planning is glamorous, it does have it's perks, but you are often watching everyone else enjoy the pool, while your face is pressed inside registration packets and rooming list details. 

I have loved working with Elizabeth Duncan Events as a consultant for these last few months. She always gives me the task of managing the catering details at her weddings and meetings. The Grove Isle did such a great job with the menu. The food was outstanding and the staff knew our every wish before we even thought about wishing it! That is my definition of hospitality. 

The displays were creative and beautifully constructed, but the food itself was delicious and a nice surprize for "conference food". 

Most, if not all, of the rooms had a balcony and view of the water. They were simple and had a beach feel with terra cotta tiled floors and bamboo chairs.


There was a walking path around the whole island as well. There are residences on the island and it was nice to see so many active and healthy retirees. 

The best part is that you could really kick off your shoes and conduct meetings on the pool deck. That's my idea of a great meeting location.

Thank you to EDE for inviting me to assist you in Miami. To the staff at the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, you know how much you meant to all of us. We will never forget you Rodolfo, Megan and Ben. Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty. I hope to return for a tennis vacation and enjoy the property again.