To register or not to register, this is always a question we hear from soon to be brides and grooms. More than not, their answer is no to register because they “don’t need anything.” That may be the case but gifts aren’t always about needing something. Our advice is to register for something you would like to have but won’t buy for yourself. You may want to think about luxurious new linens for the bed or special dishes or table linens. Your flatware may not all match, your pots and pans may be a mix of his, hers and borrowed! You can even register for gift cards from big box home stores. The issue here is that if you don’t register for things you would like to have, your guests will decide what they think you should have. While you love your family and friends, chances are they don’t have the same taste you have in home décor. So register…you have nothing to lose and may gain some great new stuff!
Almost anyone can plan an event when the budget is limitless, but planning the event of your dreams on a shoestring takes a little bit of maneuvering. A recent bride and her fiancé had all the big pieces in place when they called on us to help them pull it all together. They were clearly at the point of pinching pennies when we met, to the degree that there might not be centerpieces on the dining tables. “How could that be?,” we lamented. And this is what separates Stela from other event planners!
We love a challenge and we respect a budget. Now we are not floral designers and certainly do not intend to take anything away from those talented people who do it for a living. Luckily, however, we have put a few arrangements together over our event planning years.
After some conversation about how much money could be squeaked out for centerpieces and with a bride who was confident she could arrange flowers with a sample to follow and an army of friends and family to help, we left to think about a solution. We brainstormed some ideas and came up with a container that cost pennies compared to fancy vases usually seen at your neighborhood florist. We checked in with the floral designer who was creating the couple’s bouquets at Stop & Shop (http://www.stopandshop.com/our_stores/locator/store_details.htm?storeNumber=0682&storeType=GROCERY&groceryStoreMiles=10&gasStationMiles=10) for the colors and types of flowers she planned to use and one beautiful Saturday afternoon we cut and arranged various designs using more of the less expensive flowers and just a touch of the statement flowers. We used interesting, affordable fillers and the result was incredible. The next day our bride could choose the style centerpiece she wanted for her reception staying within her floral budget and we could breathe again knowing her tables would not be naked!
Chris and Danielle’s wedding was beautiful. The time they took planning their wedding day was well spent. Stela was there early on the wedding day to put their plan into action. We met with Matthew’s Catering (http://www.matthewscatering.com/) and Arrow Paper Party Rental (http://ez2party.com/welcome.html), setup the venue, placed their special touches and, because Stela was able to listen to a problem and develop a solution, set the beautiful centerpieces that reflected both their taste and talent. Dashing over to the Noank Baptist Church (http://www.noankbaptistchurch.org/), we were able to ready the music, meet the photographer (http://brandontaelor.com/ ), set the altar, organize a very large wedding party and get the ceremony started. As the bride stepped off, part of the team returned to the Groton Long Point Yacht Club (http://www.glpyc.org/GLPYC%20Website/welcome.html) to be sure everything was perfect for the guests when they arrived. After a quick consult with Deejay Derrick Williams (http://www.dwilliamsentertainment.com/) we were ready to get the party started. Following the ceremony, the remaining half of the Stela team quickly led the wedding party and family to the photo area, directed the guests to the Yacht club and tidied up the church.
Chris and Danielle’s wedding is a clear example of the value of Stela’s ”Day of Wedding Coordination Package.” We love to think outside the box to solve problems and help couples carry out the wedding vision of their dreams on a budget they can afford! Call us! Let us make your next gathering a Stela event!
You might think fundraising is boring but the Stela Parties and Events Relay for Life team knows how to jazz it up!
With the demise of First Night Westerly, this family friendly party helps to fill a gap. Thanks to the generosity of the Westerly Land Trust, the Westerly Community Credit Union and many small businesses in our community, not to mention an amazing team, 100% of the dollars taken in tonight will go directly to the American Cancer Society.
Our New Year’s Eve Family Party will kick off our 2012 fundraising events for the June American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Last year’s event was incredibly successful and tonight’s party is shaping up to be even better. From carnival games, hoola hoop contests and dancing to a magic performance, visits with a few familiar princesses, fire truck tours, hay rides and a balloon drop to welcome in 2012, this party will rock from beginning to end.
Join the fun at 5:30 at the Westerly Land Trust building (the former Industrial National Bank building) in downtown Westerly. Admission is free, donations are always welcome and there is a small charge for some activities.
For further info go to http://stelaparties.com/NYE.html or call 401-688-6659
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Many of us go to annual events this time of year. Bazaars, fundraisers, dinners are bountiful throughout November and December. I really enjoy looking forward to chatting with people I may only see once a year, wandering through the crowds, smelling the familiar aromas of the season and hearing the sounds of holiday joy! What I don’t enjoy is the predictability of some of these events. Those who manage them best, shake them up a little each year. Much like commercial retailers moving our favorite things to other parts of the store forcing us to discover merchandise we never knew existed, designers of bazaars and fundraisers need to help their attendees rediscover why they love attending their event.
Stela is now offering a special consultation for non-profits. Stela will meet with your planning committee to hear about your event and learn its history. We will then prepare a comprehensive, revised plan for your organization to give your event a facelift! Finally, we will meet with your event chair to discuss our suggestions and develop a plan to implement them. These services are affordable at $75. Call STELA at 401-688-6659 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to assist your favorite non-profit in making their event the community showpiece it once was.
Imagine you are getting married in a few days when someone comes knocking at your back door and says, “Not so fast!” This is what happened to a recent Bride and Groom at the end of August when Hurricane Irene promised to pack a few good punches right in the middle of their southern New England wedding!
Mallory and Goeff had planned an incredible wedding on the Alton Jones Campus of URI. You would think a conference center wouldn’t be a very beautiful setting for a wedding but deep into the woods surrounded by ponds, the Whispering Pines Conference Center is just that. The center has lodges throughout that can provide housing for all the guests. The “party lodge” has a long covered porch overlooking a pond where the cocktail hour and after dinner dancing takes place. Inside the lodge is a lovely dining room beautifully set with rounds with huge windows that overlook the woods. Through the alcove is a comfortable, cozy living room complete with a piano and fireplace. This lodge houses the bridal suite where brides descend a great staircase to proceed out to the ceremony just outside the lodge. After the wedding reception the guests are invited to a bonfire surrounded with Adirondack chairs and served s’mores! The next morning the wedding guests enjoy breakfast before departing home.
As the week before the wedding progressed, the weather forecast became more and more grim. By Wednesday, we were on the phone with the director of the conference center playing out different scenarios as the forecast necessitated. That evening we had to start the rain conversation with the Bride. It may have been the saddest time in wedding planning for us. She was upbeat and as usual kept a smile on her face but we knew she wasn’t smiling on the inside. Her caring Groom tried to keep it light, suggesting they just get married and cancel the reception, but Mal had put so much thought and planning into her special day, she wasn’t ready to give it all up. If the storm just brushed our area, her vision for the day would still be changed, forcing all the activities indoors. We all decided to be patient, watch the weather and hold off on any decision. By Friday, the path of the hurricane was clear and emergency planning began. The director of the conference center called time and decided for the safety of their employees the facility would be closed during the storm and the wedding would be canceled!
We kicked into gear and contacted all the other contractors to choose another date. Everyone (the Judge, the deejay, the photographer and Whispering Pines) agreed on September 25, almost four weeks later! Flowers were already ordered but the wholesaler was able to absorb most of the order into their regular stock. Only the Gerbera daisies would be a loss. (We were actually able to sell them to another bride having her wedding on the Saturday afternoon before the storm). Now for the guests! The bride turned her email list over to Stela and we quickly sent an evite out to her entire guest list to re-invite them to the rescheduled wedding. Some who had planned to come in August couldn’t make it in September but those who had responded no to the August date could now attend in September. The guest list changed but the numbers remained stable.
As the adrenalin settled, our bride started to become less enthusiastic about her new date. We couldn’t blame her for being disappointed. She worried that her summer wedding decor would seem awkward in the early fall. She didn’t know what to do about her printed cigar labels and her personalized matches. Their honeymoon plans couldn’t be postponed without a huge monetary loss. She was close to throwing in the towel, and who could blame her. Instead of giving in, Geoff and Mal packed their bags and left for Napa. We hoped they would return filled with excitement again.
True to form, Mal and Geoff returned home with a new sense of anticipation for their wedding. Flowers were reordered, contractors were ready to go and on September 25 on a warm and sunny, fall afternoon that felt like summer, Mal and Geoff had the wedding they had planned.
The bride appeared radiant as she descended the staircase preceded by her beautiful bridesmaids dressed in watermelon colored gowns with her maid of honor in yellow. Their bouquets, designed by Stela Parties, were constructed of shades of pink Gerbera daisies. She walked down an aisle lined with mason jars filled with dainty daisies of yellow and white hung carefully with pink ribbon from Shepherd’s hooks. The wooden arbor under which they would be married was softened with off white chiffon barely moving in a light fall breeze. There wasn’t a dry eye as this great couple pledged their lives to each other in an extremely touching ceremony.
Guests proceeded to the cocktail hour on the covered deck which we had filled with candles and Mason jars of Gerbera daisies, Pom Daisies, and Spider Mums. Flower boxes planted with grass held the escort cards. A large glass decanter filled with pink lemonade and lemons made guests feel like it was a sultry August afternoon. Following cocktails guests filed into the main dining room for a delicious dinner. The tables were decorated with more Mason jars filled with flowers and smaller jars with candles. The daisy filled jars from the ceremony had been carefully hung from hooks around the perimeter of the room.
After dinner guests took time to relax in the living room filled with more candles and family photos the bride had provided for us to decorate with. As the dancing geared up on the porch, guests enjoyed taking fun pics in the “goof booth”. The cake was cut, the bouquet was thrown and as the party wound down the bonfire was lit. The guests changed into comfy clothes and returned outside to enjoy the fire and s’mores.
In retrospect, Mal and Geoff were lucky the wedding was canceled and not just made to be held indoors and have their vision completely changed. Into every life a little rain must fall…let’s hope its sunny skies here on out for this incredible couple.
“If I can plan my wedding, I don’t need a wedding planner!” Maybe, but you probably need a wedding coordinator. Stela Parties recently coordinated a wedding that was completely planned by the bride and groom but all of the fabulous details couldn’t have been carried out without a coordinator.
During our first meeting with this lovely couple half a year ago, we knew it would be a blast working with them. It was clear that they truly loved each other, respected each other’s opinions and had discussed all the important things that need to be discussed before the planning begins…vision, budget, and guest list. They were so excited and had lots of great ideas for their wedding. They quickly engaged us by enthusiastically describing their day step by step.
They chose a small, coastal community, non-denominational chapel for their ceremony. When we visited this sweet, old New England, secluded house of worship, we found a beautifully simple, well cared for venue. The windows had mixed panes of clear and red glass and the white walls held small sconces for warm lighting. The “altar” was undecorated, leaving it a clean slate for each bride to personalize. Our bride ordered 4 canvasses, each painted with one letter to spell “love.” On the wedding day, we hung these with removable hooks in the center of the front wall. It was so simple but all that was needed. As guests entered the chapel their eyes were immediately drawn to the letters setting the theme for the day. On the left side of the “altar” we placed a small blue table (something blue) to hold her unity candle. At the door of this small church we handed out programs fashioned to be fans with dainty, handmade (by her mother) handkerchiefs embroidered with the words, “For the happy tears in life.”
The processional was complex and included parents, grandmothers, and the wedding party. With no rooms other than where the guests were, we had to carefully coordinate the processional to unfold as it was supposed to. The bride had a specific post ceremony photo in mind and wanted to be sure it was captured so as she and her new husband walked out of the chapel, we handed her a “Just Married” parasol and closed the chapel door. Anticipating a warm day, the bride had us set out a pink plastic bucket with ice waters just as guests were exiting. As quickly as they arrived, the bridal party and guests departed for pictures. We cleaned up, removed the couple’s personal touches and locked up, leaving the chapel as we found it. All of her careful planning needed to be carried out by someone other than a friend or family member who should be enjoying the day. Our coordinating efforts were well needed here.
The reception venue was as unique as the ceremony location in a beautiful, historic building on the property of Roger Williams Park Zoo. This is by far, one of the most interesting venues we have ever seen, but there is no staff member to assist with putting the event together. Any services or supplies must be secured from contractors. Our bride and groom put together a great team to provide rentals, bar, food, and music. They also spent time and effort on extra details to make their reception memorable but help was needed to carry out on the details on the wedding day.
When we arrived at the Casino, we kicked into action making sure the tables were set up according to the floor plan, then setting up a Del’s Lemonade bar for guests to enjoy as they arrived (“Love is Sweet, so Have a Treat”), a long ledge of pictures and bio’s of the Bridal Party entitled “Meet the Maids and Men”, a mantle of family wedding photos the bride and groom called “Generations of Love”, cocktail tables with photo props as centerpieces, and the blue table from church complete with guest book, cigars and personalized matches. Perhaps most important to the bride, we removed the large potted plants and fake trees and found inconspicuous places to stash them in. The room was set up exactly according the bride and groom’s plan. The guests arrived to abounding food from the family bakery and signature cocktails at the bar.
Over the months preceding their wedding, our bride and groom searched out antique coffee pots, cameras, books, kitchen utensils and tiered dessert stands. Were they decorating their home? Not a chance! These became their table centerpieces. Along with rose petals, pearls and candles, each table had a different centerpiece to be assembled exactly as described by the bride. No two tables were alike. It was a very different style from any we had any seen. But as it came alive in the ballroom that day, it opened our own minds to the uniqueness of each couple. Although the main part of each centerpiece was different, the unifying pearls, rose petals and candles tied them all together perfectly.
The set-up wasn’t complete yet! The ladies restroom had special décor including a beautiful bride doll, candles, pearls, and rose petals. We prepared the bridal suite for the bride’s and mother of the bride’s outfit changes and laid out certain items for the requested special photos. After that, we set up the favors- the “J&R Bloom Bar.” We set a long table and stocked it with four different kinds of flowers, scissors and twine so guests could make their own bouquet. Of course, there were a few more potted plants and fake trees that we moved out of the reception space before set-up was complete!
The bride and groom peeked in just before we were done and were speechless to see their carefully planned vision become a reality. This reality would not have been possible without us, their wedding planners, to carry their plan out to the end. Unique venues are becoming the norm for wedding receptions, but for the most part, these locations only employ staff to watch over the building, not to be each couple’s private wedding coordinator. In addition to the set-up, we were still left with coordinating times with the other vendors, gathering the bridal party for pictures and announcements, and keeping the bride and groom on schedule. By having wedding planners on location, the bride and groom could place the details in our hands and enjoy the magical day they had taken such pains to plan.
For brides and grooms like our latest, the “day of wedding coordination” package is the answer to a carefree wedding day. We will be there for couples from ceremony to cake carrying out their day, their way!
She is quiet, never pushing into the crowd. But don’t let that fool you. Randi Crowe Carroca’s art speaks volumes about her talents. Randi is one of the newest members of the Stela design team. Her creative inspirations have recently influenced Stela’s table centerpieces. In addition Randi creates incredible jewelry to match any theme or color palate.
Randi is the owner of 4 Nomads, “an online marketplace devoted to providing natural, organic, recycled and sustainable lifestyle products while embracing style and aesthetic. According to her website, “4 Nomads offers handmade jewelry, accessories, and home or event decor elements with environmentally conscious ethics and fair trade practices.”
After spending so much time, energy and money on the wedding dress of your dreams, make sure you find the right jewelry. You will want to have just the right necklace, earrings and bracelet to match the dress and your fashion style. While a borrowed piece may have always been your vision, it may not go with the gown you chose. Just speak with Randi about your ideas and you will be amazed at how she can bring them to life! Her most recent custom jewelry designs for a seaside wedding can be seen in the Stela display window at Melissa Ashley Brides on High Street in Westerly. But don’t think custom design is unaffordable. Randi is able to work within most anyone’s budget. Imagine owning a one of a kind piece or giving one as a gift to your attendants.
You don’t need to be a bride to look for jewelry. Randi can create elegant jewelry for any occasion. Check out her website http://4-nomads.com/default.aspx or give her a call 860.514.9268 to schedule an appointment to chat about your ideas. Don’t forget to tell Randi that Stela sent you!
Much like cooking the same food all the time, it is easy to always think about the same places to hold events. Today the Stela team explored three incredible locations that don’t often cross our radar.
Our first stop today was the Westerly Armory (http://www.westerlyarmory.com/). We had both been there before but not in recent years. It is a beautiful, historic venue large enough to hold 500 guests. Walking through the lobby of lovingly maintained dark woodwork is a quaint museum room which can be open for guests to peruse during an event. Entering the main room, the walls are a lovely neutral shade, the wooden floor is beautifully finished, and the windows are nicely shaded leaving a completely blank slate for any themed event. In addition the kitchen is immaculately clean and fully licensed with modern appliances in which any caterer would be happy to cook. The Armory even has tables and chairs available for reasonable rental. This hall could be a beautiful location for a wedding, family reunion or any other large party.
Driving north up Rt. 1 into Narragansett, we headed to see the South Ferry Church. (http://www.southferrychurch.org/history.htm) Turning at the tower at the Junction of Rtes. 1 and 138, we meandered down Bridgetown Rd. Heading toward the URI Bay Campus, the road narrows and whispers “you are in the country now”. There across from a historical cemetery on a large grassy plot is the sweetest little chapel. As we walked inside, the whitewashed walls and pale blue pews were framed by tall windows with a few red glass panes mixed in with mostly clear ones. There was a beautiful chandelier near the front of the chapel with wall sconces in between the windows. Looking down the hill from the church you have an expansive view of the Narragansett Bay which could easily serve as a backdrop for post wedding photos. When asked about non-sectarian chapels to hold weddings, most of us will probably mention the Watch Hill Chapel or the Avondale Chapel. But this gem is worth putting on your list.
Up Rt. 4 to I-95, we proceeded to Roger Williams Zoo. Within the grounds of this Providence oasis is the Roger Williams Park Casino that overlooks the pond and the gazebo. (http://www.providenceri.com/vacation/RWPCasino.html) The grounds around this old building are beautifully manicured but nothing compared to the elegance of the interior. The lower level boasts fabulous woodwork and a gas fireplace. Doors open to spill out onto an enormous veranda. This room can house an incredible cocktail hour without giving away the secret of the reception room on the upper level. The main ballroom upstairs has breathtaking art on the ceiling that gives you the feeling of being transported back in time and sets the stage for a most elegant affair. The woodwork has been incredibly maintained and adds richness to this room rarely seen elsewhere. The room is so beautiful it could easily stand on its own without adding anything but tables and chairs.
What an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon, uncovering hidden treasures in our little state. When looking for venues, it is so important to keep an open mind and explore the secret treasures hidden right here under our noses.
I am as big a fan of shopping online for bargains as the next person but sometimes it just can’t compare with the real deal.
Tonight we met with one of our brides and a member of the Stela Design Team, Patti Murphy of Seed Factory. Patti is a young graphic designer with fresh ideas and a gentle disposition. It was so much fun to watch our bride’s eyes light up as she found the perfect invitation for her and her soon to be groom.
We all know the importance of watching dollars when embarking on planning a wedding. But when it comes to the internet, sometimes you get what you pay for. Not everyone receiving an invitation will save it for posterity, but it is what speaks for you as it arrives in everyone’s mailbox. Our bride is no pushover and is certainly internet savvy with the latest in high tech electronics tucked in her purse. As she spoke with Patti, it was clear she had done her homework and was familiar with invitation designs, fonts, paper weights and prices. Even with all she knew, Patti was still able to pull something new and fresh out of her portfolio that just fit the bill. When push came to shove, Patti could provide her with something she had never seen on the internet at an extremely reasonable price. That, my friends, is the real deal.
You can learn more about Patti on her website, www.myseedfactory.com or on FB at www.facebook.com/SeedFactory. Some of Patti’s designs can also be seen in the window of Melissa Ashley Brides in downtown Westerly. Stela Parties is certainly lucky to have her on the team.
A wedding, is a wedding, is a wedding! Not so if you take the time to add a few personal touches that really speak to who you are as a couple. Paying close attention to a few details will make your wedding stand out in guest’s memories but not completely break the bank.
Are you winter people? Embracing your favorite season of the year for your big event can begin to let you surround yourself with reception décor that really speaks to you personally. If you love the cold winter, ditch the pastel flowers and go for stark icy touches. Furry wraps for the ladies, bare branches surrounded by candles on tables, an urn of warm cider, or a cake resembling a snowy mountain will remind people of the season. Like to ski? Table cards named for your favorite mountains and escort cards that look like lift tickets can add to the theme.
Choosing an offbeat location for your reception will also make yours standout in the list of weddings your guests have attended. Depending on your own interests, you can choose from art galleries, museums, town halls, libraries and even zoos. Many daytime attractions have venues available for rental after hours for all types of events including wedding receptions. Having your reception in an unusual location will have your guests talking about it for years to come.
If you love travelling, plan a menu that takes your guests around the world. Your caterer will be able to help you select a country’s cuisine for each course. Have your table cards and escort cards match the theme. Dinner music can be used to set the mood for each course. Guests will enjoy the adventure and be talking about it long after the wedding day.
If you come from a close knit family, you may want to include that as a theme at your wedding. Consider having all the children in the families play a role. Display family pictures around your reception hall including wedding photos of the parents and grandparents. Have your musicians play wedding songs from the past. (you can ask your invited guests to list their own wedding song on the response card)
Making your wedding an extension of your personality should be fun and not stressful. Working with an experienced wedding planner will be helpful in brainstorming ideas and also editing them to keep your celebration from becoming a spectacle. The right wedding planner will understand exactly the feel you are trying to convey to your guests and carry out your plan.
There is nothing wrong with a traditional wedding reception. But for the couple that wants to put their personal signature on theirs, the possibilities are endless.