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$18.00 US $20.00 CAN


i s s u e 1 / 2017



A note from the editors


Matthew's picks: bride


Paul's picks: groom


Understated romance


Something old!


Styled by nature


Let them eat cake


Matt & Carey: rustically refined nuptials


Celebrate in the tropics


Brooklyn united


Botanical wedding


A summer brunch


Making plans


Wedding in the garden


Fashion stylist: Q & A


Proper Flower: alternative floral accessories


Get inspired


Painterly bouquets


Suite details


Magical Merida


Love in the Catskills

Handmade at Amazon, a store featuring genuinely handcrafted items sold directly by artisans, is thrilled to introduce their Wedding Store. Featuring artisan-crafted items to take couples from engagement to “I do”, Handmade has everything from engagement rings, to wedding decorations, fashion and favors. For brides and grooms looking for a personal

Handmade at Amazon Maker Prof ile Steve and Jacob Midgett, owners of Steven Jacob Wedding jewelry makers Boulder, CO & Franklin, NC What do you make? Steve: My son, Jacob, and I make wedding rings and other wedding jewelry. We specialize in patterned metals like Damascus Steel and the Japanese Samurai sword technique Mokume Gane. All of our work features these layered metals that are patterned to look like wood grain, flowing water, or other nature-inspired patterns. Tell us about your creative process. Jacob: Mostly I just wing it. Okay, not quite, but there is an element to my creative process that is very spontaneous. I start with the blue sky, big picture ideation. Once I dream up something fantastical, I work backward to make it realistic and functional. How has working with Handmade at Amazon changed your business? Steve: Amazon has really done this handmade thing right. They are completely dedicated to the idea of promoting truly handmade works and offering a venue for artists to showcase their goods. It’s actually quite astounding that a small father and son jewelry business can get our work in front of Amazon’s huge customer base.

What led you to your path as an artist/maker? Jacob: When I was growing up, my father's studio was only a few steps out the front door of our home. This was incredibly entertaining for me and my siblings, although with the three of us running in and out of his workspace all day, I don't know how he ever got anything done. Both of our parents were so encouraging of our creativity and they prioritized the time to make things together as a family. I think living in a creative household combined with the skills I learned in my father's studio and around our mountain home instilled in me the confidence to seek a career as a maker. What does the future hold for your business? Steve: Very good things, I think. It is growing like crazy and as it does we are working on introducing more and more really unique patterned metal items. That means lots of innovation and development work, which I love to do. Having a family business is a dream come true, and I love thinking that maybe one day the business Jacob and I have created will be passed on to his children and beyond! Discover more of Steven and Jacob's amazing work at handmade/StevenJacob

touch, over half of the items listed on Handmade at Amazon have an option for personalization.

A. This orchid terrarium by Leosklo is perfect for your tablescape or as your envelope box. Learn more at B. Handmade vow books by Noteworthy are keepsakes you'll cherish forever. Learn more at C. Letterpressed "sweet" wooden spoons by Half Pint Ink Studio are great for dessert, or to tie to pots of jam for wedding favors. Learn more at D. This custom printed ring box by KMK Studio will help you keep track of your rings on your big day and for years to follow. Learn more at E. Rustic wooden place card holders by G360 Designs will keep you organized and guide everyone to their table. Learn more at F. The Stout Cake Stand by American Heirloom is perfect for a groom's cake and will be a treasure in your kitchen for years to come. Learn more at G. Custom invitations by Love It Invitations add rustic charm as you announce your big day. Learn more at Love-It-Invitations


Visit HandmadeWeddings for inspiration, and get planning!







Matthew Robbins Editor-In-Chief Paul Lowe Co-editor Paul Vitale Marketing & Business Development Director Joline Rivera Creative Director Nellie Williams Graphic Designer Laura Kathleen Maize Copy Editor Advertising Inquiries General Inquiries

CONTRIBUTORS Alexandra Grablewski Chellise Michael Photography china squirrel Christian Oth Dietlind Wolf Genevieve Espantman Heather Waraksa Kim Moreau Larisa Makow Leela Cyd Luis Otoya Marta Delvalle Perna Mel Barlow Natalie Hincapie Sasithon Photography Susanna BlĂĽvarg Valery Rizzo

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a n ot e f r o m t h e


I first met

Matthew a few years ago at a flower workshop where he was teaching us to make stunning wreaths. You know how it is when you meet someone and really hit it off? Well we did. We have been great friends ever since that day. What I love most about him, apart from being the nicest guy ever, is his sense of understated elegance. It’s never over the top—simple but with a twist. So when we decided to do a wedding magazine together our styles met perfectly. We didn’t want to make another magazine filled with tons of white dresses and unreachable weddings. Our magazine is meant to be an inspiration for the bride and her party. A flower idea, a color idea, or a craft idea. All within reach. So use the magazine, have fun with it, and make it your own. (And don’t be a Bridezilla!) Lots of love,

I’m so excited and admittedly a little anxious about sharing this new project. Launching this wedding magazine is truly a labor of love, and I’m thrilled to see this idea come to life. This partnership with Sweet Paul Magazine is extra special because Sweet Paul is a dear and wonderful friend. It’s so rare to meet people who just get it and really get you! That type of friendship feels effortless because there’s no doubt you are almost always on the same page. Effortless and authentic are two words I associate with Paul and our friendship, but also with Paul’s approach to his work. That sense of natural, unfussy style is exactly what I love about this magazine. Luxury is not about how many layers of tulle you have on your gown or how many flowers you have on your cake; it’s all about the beauty that comes from embracing really good ingredients, materials, and details. Luxury is the beauty and elegance that comes from knowing when enough is just enough. That’s something my friend Paul is really, really good at and something we share as a common thread in our work. Gorgeous, timeless, and breathtaking things happen when you find magic in the moment. I hope you see some of this magic in the pages of our new magazine. Enjoy the ideas and inspiration and best wishes as you celebrate your own sweet moments in life! Best wishes,



Wedding menu planning tips

Bring passion to the table



Draw inspiration from the memories you have created with your fiancée. What types of restaurants and cuisines do you usually enjoy? Are there dishes you enjoy cooking together? Where have you traveled together—were there particular foods that you really enjoyed eating? Are there foods that are tied to your culture and heritage? The menu is a projection of who you are and what you want to share with your family and friends.


Think about how you want your guests to interact with each other. Food is an important element in how people come together and you can influence how by designing the format. When do you want to incorporate an open bar? Will there be a cocktail reception, and is it a buffet or passed hors d’oeuvres? Will you have a seated dinner with tableside service? Or will it be family-style or buffets and interactive stations? You can

choose when you want to incorporate food into your celebration, how it is presented, and the level of interactivity.

Style and Cuisine

Think about the style and cuisine that works for you as a couple. Are you looking for a more formal or casual style? What are your favorite cuisines that you’d like to incorporate into the menu? How does the food tie into the overall theme for the wedding? Consider your guests' preferences and diet restrictions, as well. It’s always good to provide a vegetarian option and a mix of choices for guests.


The simplest way to achieve delicious food is to consider using ingredients that are in season. Beautiful, local produce at the peak of its harvest yields amazing flavors, color and nutrition. You can draw lots of inspiration just by looking at the vegetables and ingredients that are bountiful in your region.

GREAT PERFORMANCES brings passion to the table, enhancing life’s celebrations with delicious food, artful culinary presentations, impeccable service and grace. The menus are a celebration of contemporary American cuisine, inspired by seasonal ingredients and local flavors. Great Performances is the first caterer to own and operate an organic farm—Katchkie Farm, a 60-acre organic farm in Kinderhook, NY. | @gpfood

m at t h e w ' s p i c k s


Stone disc pendant, $95





4 7

5 6

1. Erin Fetherston dollface clutch $395,

3. Tiny copper bowls (set of 6), $16,

5. Peppermint foot scrub, $15,

2. Maison Francis Kurkdjian candle, $65,

4. Porcelain tree peony napkin ring (set of 4), $156,

6. Korres golden krocus ageless saffron elixir, $98,

7. SKII facial treatment mask $17-$135,


pa u l' s p i c k s


Photo by Sylvain Deleu

Nomad watch, from $240,










1. Lacquer backgammon set, $395,

3. Mr. needlepoint pillow, $165,

5. Ceramic mugs/planters, $37,

7. Trophy jigger cocktail measuring cup, $20,

2. Dean’s purgo sneaker, $390,

4. Penguin Books cufflinks, $20,

6. Leather canvas tote, $120,

8. Angry Norwegian beard kit, $67,



the story of


When she founded Minted in 2007, Mariam Naficy intended to create an online stationery boutique. As the company grew, Minted adopted the technique of crowdsourcing as a way to determine what products it would offer. The company considers itself a design marketplace which sources its creative content from a community of independent artists, based worldwide. Minted holds regular design challenges that are open to artists and designers who submit their work for consideration for the opportunity to have it be sold on Minted. Customers then vote on the designs they like best and essentially get to “curate” the offerings on the website, allowing the winning designers and artists to essentially set up shop on the Minted marketplace, selling their work and earning commission via Minted’s commerce platform. Given its revolutionary approach to selling (in which the desires of its customers drive its decision-making), it’s no wonder that Minted is now applying its untraditional approach to another very traditional industry: weddings. More and more, gone seem to be the days in which couples dutifully submitted to the tissue paper-enrobed white wedding invitations of decades past. In a society in which people share their lives candidly on social media, there exists a sense that expressing oneself and “standing out” is not only socially acceptable, it’s straight-up fashionable. Thus, these days, brides and grooms are interested in having bolder, more bespoke-feeling wedding celebrations that reflect their individuality and they want their invitations (and

other elements) to reflect this new, vibrant sentiment. Enter Minted and its seeming never ending array of hip, striking and uncommon-feeling paperie options for every taste. Want an invitation suite that takes its inspiration from vintage library book cards? Done. Or maybe a gilded border meant to resemble agate stone is more your thing? That exists too­­­—and in a variety of colors replete with real gold foil. Naturally there are more classic options, and with all of the customization available, everything feels like that rare combination of effortless yet totally unique and personalized. Extra emphasis is being placed on “effortless” at Minted these days, in which couples can choose and integrate the design they like from their save-the-date to


minted designer spotlight

Annie Clark

their complete invitation suite, wedding website, decor (table cards and numbers are just the start) and finally, thank you cards. (Note: At extra expense, one can go entirely custom work with a Minted design associate to create a completely original look.) The remarkably painless process begins with a visit to the Minted website where one can peruse over 1,000 design options. Ordering is simple but Minted also offers help from style consultants (via phone or screen share sessions) to walk one through the process because even with an incredibly streamlined system, sometimes a little hand holding is welcome. Next, customers can upload their guest list onto the Minted site and even send requests to guests via email or Facebook asking for confirmed mailing addresses and then have the responses automatically populated into their account. For the time being, Minted is also offering the incredible time-saving option of having guests names and addresses printed directly onto their super-luxe envelopes, at no cost - and the choice of fonts and design can (of course) mimic one’s theme so everything fits together just-so. (Bonus: You won’t develop a severe hand cramp from writing them out yourself...or can avoid hiring that insanely expensive

I’m a creative director and designer in San Francisco. Lover of all things paper, I discovered my passion for stationery when I was a wedding invitation designer at a local boutique in San Francisco and knew it was the thing for me.

calligrapher). Guests may RSVP to your Minted-created website, and as you get a sense of headcount, you can start contemplating how you’d like your design of choice to be woven into the decor of the big day. More obvious choices include incorporating it into your program, place cards, table number and seating cards, but Minted also offers you the ability to coordinate some of its designs into table linens, photo backdrops, banners and tablescape confetti. Need bridal shower or bachelorette invites, too? Bespoke stamps that coordinate with your mailings? Minted has them all and they’re refreshingly easy to order as well. As a business that found a way to channel the passion and love of independent artists to express the passion of people about to embark on the ultimate expression of love, Minted is a unique and special entity, indeed. And in a world that is constantly demanding, bigger, bolder, faster and better, Minted is up to meeting the demands of its customers while still operating a service that feels as personal, effortless and happily-ever-after, as ever.

Where do you find your design inspiration? It’s a bit cliché, but really everywhere! I’ll spot a piece of typography on a poster, or even the color a building. “Big Sur” came together after a drive down the coast and I spotted an old barn nestled on a hillside. My mind immediately started planning a wedding there—fog rolling in, simple bouquet made of olive branches, guests nibbling on charcuterie, figs, and cheese while sipping champagne… What's the biggest trend in wedding invites? I love how people are taking risks with their invites, you’re no longer limited to ecru card stock and engraved bickham script. Handdrawn typography, luscious watercolor illustrations, bold typography—I love it all! What mistakes should folks avoid when choosing invites? Following tradition and rules, especially if it isn’t true to the couple. Wedding invitations are a perfect place for a couple to infuse their personality into their big day and set the tone for guests. It bums me out when couples feel obligated or pressured to follow old standards of etiquette, so don’t be afraid to break the mold when it comes to wedding stationery. Any tips on keeping all communications cohesive? Having a common design thread running through all of your stationery helps. Minted definitely makes it easy for couples to have a complete look from start to finish.


Mix textured elements such as a unique fabric with a nice print and natural wood vessels.

Surprise your guests with smaller floral moments throughout the table and a few lidded jars or vessels filled with sweets for after dinner.

Limit your color palette to three important tones like we did here with the blue, yellow, and white.

Make it personal by adding a place card with hand calligraphy and a printed menu for each guest.


Anatomy of a place setting

Setting a beautiful table is like putting together the perfect outfit. Start with the basics: color, form, and texture. Use the season and setting to help inspire your color palette. Define your style by choosing forms such as modern, eclectic, or whimsical. Finally, layer textural elements to add depth and interest to the setting.

A deep, saturated color in the linen such as this beautiful blue tone adds instant drama to your table.

Available in 5 colors! Black, White, Grey, Navy, and Red

The Colorscapes collection features organic motifs subtlely interpreted as a tone-on-tone surface decoration. The entire collection is available in place setting components, as well as extensive accessories, to mix and match in your own curated dinnerware collection. Colorscapes offers 3 textures (Swirl, Dune, and Snow); and 5 colors (Black, White, Grey, Navy, and Red), all of which are perfect together, or on their own. Featured: WoW (White-on-White) Swirl and GoG (Grey-on-Grey) Swirl.

Layer your place settings with subtle tone for the first course plate and a clean neutral for the base plate.

We teamed up with our friends from Small Masterpiece and Bellafare to curate this dreamy collection of ideas for styling a perfectly elegant and unique wedding Photography by Heather Waraksa

Romantic doesn’t have to be over the top or fussy. We love the modern romance featured in each of these ideas. Eclectic is key, so always add a fresh twist by combining vintage and contemporary pieces. Remember to balance the sweetness by adding in a touch of something heavier, such as the black tones we used as accents in this soft color palette. A unique flower such as an anemone with a dark center can add a nice accent, but a beautiful vase or urn in a darker tone will do the job. Tie your look together by keeping the overall color palette consistent throughout your wedding. This can happen in everything from the bouquets to the cocktail reception food and drinks and table settings. If you are in love with gold, incorporate this metallic in places that really work and have substance, such as the china and stationary. We love mixing in unique vintage pieces into place settings to add a touch of glamour to a table. Most importantly, remember to have fun and focus on the things you love!






VENDORS Tableware (china, glassware, flatware) Small Masterpiece Stationery I DO INVITATIONS by Sue Coe Designs Photography Heather Waraksa Planning & Design Bellafare and Matthew Robbins Design Food Styling Luis Otoya


! d l o g n i h t Some china squirrel has collected something old, something new, some-things crafted, and a few things blue to create an inspiring collection of wedding ideas Recipes+crafts+styling+photography by china squirrel


Iced Donut Croquembouche Borrow a collection of old cake stands and stack them with our pretty turquoise iced donuts to create a super fun retro-style wedding cake. The donuts are best made on the day of the wedding. MAKES ABOUT 20 DONUTS DONUTS

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted ²⁄3 cup superfine sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ cup milk 4 oz butter, melted, cooled 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste ICING

1 egg white 1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted 2 teaspoons lemon juice turquoise food coloring cake stands 1. Preheat oven to 320°F. 2. Lightly grease 2 10” donut baking pans. 3. Place flour, sugar, and baking powder into a medium-sized mixing bowl. 4. Make a well in the center and stir in milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla bean paste. 5. Mix until well combined. 6. Spoon mixture into a sealable plastic bag. 7. Cut a corner from the bag then pipe mixture into the donut pans. 8. Bake for 18–20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into a donut comes out clean. 9. Remove from oven and turn out onto wire racks to cool completely before icing. 10. Dip the top of each donut into icing, place onto trays, and allow to set. 11. Stack the donuts onto cake stands. 12. For the icing, place egg white into a medium bowl and whisk with a fork until foamy. 13. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating with a wooden spoon until icing is thick and smooth. 14. Add lemon juice and mix until combined. 15. Gradually stir in drops of food coloring, mixing well until desired color is reached. 16. Ice donuts and serve!


Handmade Paper Boutonniere An easy and inexpensive way to create beautiful boutonnieres for the groom, his best man, and the groomsmen—these lovely flowers won’t wilt! We used natural twigs and dry leaves from the garden as the base for our boutonnieres. SUPPLIES:

blue fabric dye water round coffee filters (1 filter will make about 2 boutonnieres) wire cooling racks scissors florist tape hot glue gun twigs dried leaves 1. Prepare a small amount of fabric dye following the dye packet directions. You will need about 3 cups of liquid, so only a few pinches or so of dye will be needed depending on the depth of color you want. 2. Allow dye to cool slightly before adding the coffee filters. 3. Carefully remove the filters from the dye bath and place into a bowl to cool. 4. Once cool enough, squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can from each. 5. Place onto wire cooling racks and allow to dry completely (this may take a day depending on weather). 6. Fold each coffee filter into 4. 7. Cut 2 circular sections from the top. (You won’t be needing the leftover center section of the paper filter that is remaining). 8. While the circular pieces are still folded, cut a petal pattern along the topside of each. 9. Open out and make 1 cut through each circle so you have 2 long lengths of paper petals. 10. Roll the petals to make rose buds of various sizes, cutting off any excess paper as you go. 11. Secure base of each bud with tape. 12. Attach 2 rose buds and a few dried leaves to each twig, using hot glue. 13. Carefully wrap each twig in florist tape.


Bowtie from



Vintage Map Airplanes I used a vintage map of Australia to create colorful paper airplanes as a fun replacement for the traditional confetti. Fill vintage wire bicycle baskets with the paper airplanes for guests to fly into the air as the new Mr. and Mrs. walk on by. Allow one airplane per guest. SUPPLIES:

vintage map(s) printer paper scissors 1. Photocopy a map onto both sides of a sheet of paper (or take to a print shop to have printed). 2. Repeat until you have the required amount of printouts. 3. Trim printed maps into 7”x5½” rectangles. 4. Place 1 of the cut rectangles lengthways in front of you. 5. Fold in half, lengthwise, then unfold. 6. Use the folded center line as a guide and diagonally fold the top corners

diagonally across to meet the center crease line. 7. Again fold the top edges diagonally over the last. 8. Fold in half again with folded section on the inside. 9. Finally fold the same 2 edges over on the outside of airplane. 10. Repeat with remaining paper. Vintage Photo Table Runner Use old family wedding photos to create a charming centerpiece for your wedding tables. (If family photos are unavailable, simply collect a mix of vintage photos from charity stores, online, or at markets.) SUPPLIES:

collection of vintage wedding photographs inkjet printer inkjet printable fabric (available at craft stores and online) scissors pins hot glue gun and hot glue

1. Individually photocopy each photograph onto sheets of inkjet printable fabric, following manufacturers directions. 2. Enlarge or reduce the printed sizes of the photos to create an interesting array of photos for the table runner. Photos can be repeated. 3. Allow printed photos to dry, use scissors to trim edges, then remove the backing paper from each. 4. Use a large table to arrange printed photos in an attractive arrangement then pin together. 5. Turn table runner over, then using a small amount of hot glue on the edge of each fabric photo, join photos together, removing the pins as you go. 6. Allow glue to set. 7. Decorate the center of wedding tables with vintage photo table runners. Linen Heart Cover old rusty wire with your choice of linen to create a romantic decoration for reception chairs and/or to decorate guest place settings. SUPPLIES:

2 pieces of raw edge linen, each 18”x2” pins needle and thread 28” of old wire 1. Fold and pin each piece of linen in half lengthwise with right sides on the outside. 2. Sew along the long edge of each piece, leaving raw edges exposed. 3. Thread linen pieces onto the wire piece, gathering the linen as you go on. 4. Shape wire into a heart shape making a loop at the top of the heart with the wire. 5. Allow the loop to be exposed (not covered with linen). 6. Twist the wire ends together at base to join then re-gather the linen to look nice and to cover over the twisted wire ends.


styled by


Flowers and fashion complement each other effortlessly. We allowed the shapes, forms, and textures from the garden to inspire these naturally beautiful combinations Photography by Susanna BlĂĽvarg Styling by Genevieve Espantman+Paul Lowe+Matthew Robbins

Embroidered peach dress by Sau,; Embellished belt by Erica Koesler, available at Kleinfeld Opposite page: Embroidered dress by Patricia Bonaldi,






1. White gown by Zuhair Murad, available at Kleinfeld 2. Embellished headpieces by Maria Elena, available at Kleinfeld 3. Embellished headpiece by Maria Elena, available at Kleinfeld; Eye broach by Gucci,




3. 1. Heart and kiss shoes by Gucci; 2. Floral tie by Ted Baker, Bowties by Fab, Printed ties Tom Ford and Brioni, 3. Navy blazer and printed shirt by Ted Baker,; Red and blue silk flower pins by Gucci,; Leather flower pin by Lanvin,

4. Embroidered evening slippers by Gucci,; Tapestry slippers by Res Ipsa,; Gold sandals by Nina




Sweetheart ball gown by Pnina Tornai, available at Kleinfeld Opposite page: Lace and embroidered blouse by Tenby,


1. Top to bottom: clutch by Patricia Bonaldi,; Gold sandals by Nina, Gold pump by Stuart Weitzman, Blush peep toe pump by Vera Wang, White satin peep toe pump by Oscar De La Renta, available at Kleinfeld


2. Top to bottom: clutches by St Xavier, bloomingdales. com; Jimmy Choo,; Patricia Bonaldi, 3. Rose gold drop earrings by Wilkening, available at Kleinfeld 4. White embellished ž sleeve bolero and blush netted bolero by Camilla Christine, available at Kleinfeld







Let them eat

We asked our six favorite cake bakers to bake us their dream cake. We ended up with coconut, spice cake, vegan, butter cream, almond, and chocolate. Something for everyone. Enjoy! Styling by Matthew Robbins+Paul Lowe Photography by Heather Waraksa

Ron BenIsrael Ron BenIsrael Cakes

Tell us about the flavor and décor of your cake. Layers of spice cake (a vanilla cake flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and a touch of clove), with dulce de leche cream filling and dark chocolate ganache. We wanted to capture in frosting the ancient technique of laying marble tiles in a complex pattern as the background, and capture the transition between summer and fall with a mix of mid-season sugar flowers. What is the biggest trend in wedding cakes right now? Trends come and go, but the most important element in wedding cakes now is customization. We strive to develop a relationship with each couple, so their cake will complement their design and taste sensibilities. Our clients insist on a delicious cake inside and a unique design on the outside, which for me is the perfect “marriage” between style and substance. What's your favorite flavor combination? My favorite flavor ever is ginger, and I like to add it as a spice to cakes, even a bit in a carrot or chocolate cake. I also love making a buttercream with candied ginger that is simply beyond.


Tell us about the flavor and décor of your cake. This cake is a vegan and gluten-free almond cake layered with raspberryrosewater icing. A transparent naked cake tops a fondant covered cake with a hand-painted modern gold pattern for an eclectic design of natural elegance. Sculpted sugar leaves and berries create a stunning Grecian crown. In your mind, what is the biggest trend in wedding cakes now? A relaxed upscale aesthetic is becoming more popular. Gone are the days of over-used fondant and cascading stiff sugar flowers. My clients want their cakes’ unique ingredients and flavor combinations to shine more than ever, without compromising their black tie affair. The idea that delicious looking cakes come across as rustic is becoming less of a concern when they can be styled thoughtfully with chic decorations. Cakes that are naked, transparent, or subtlety spackled with icing are being accented with delicate sugar work, hand picked fresh fruit and flowers from the farmers market, or gold leaf to create a scrumptious elegant work of art.

Emily Aumiller Lael Cakes

What’s your favorite flavor combination? My favorite flavor combination is our lemon cake with lavender-rosemary icing and candied lavender.


Jordan Slocum Baked

Tell us about the flavor and décor of your cake. Here we have our Coconut Dream cake. This coconutbased cake has layers of coconut pastry cream finished with a vanilla-coconut buttercream. While Baked's cakes are all usually three layers, this Coconut Dream is baked with six thin layers—allows for lots of color! We garnished this beauty with white sprinkles! Sprinkles are fun, "classy-ish", and always a showpiece. In your mind, what is the biggest trend in wedding cakes now? Color! Couples are starting to toy with the idea of going against a traditional white frosted cake. Ombré style buttercream is always a fun way of incorporating matching wedding colors while still having a classic approach to a white frosted cake. Another huge trend is naked cakes. Naked cakes expose the actual cake layers leaving only buttercream and either jam or curd between each layer. At Baked, we love to do a simple crumb coat of frosting over the cake layers. What’s your favorite flavor combination? Elvis was pretty accurate with saying the banana and peanut butter combination is the best thing ever! However, I have fallen in love with Baked's Aunt Sassy Pistachio over the years—a pistachio-infused white cake with a honey vanilla buttercream. You can't go wrong with Aunt Sassy Pistachio for any special occasion!


Tell us about the flavor and décor of your cake. For this cake, I wanted to use colors and textures that I don't normally see with cakes, especially with the thought of fall and winter wedding season in mind. I was inspired by a watercolor class to create a hand-painted ombré effect to pull in the colors and tones of the flowers. I'm always inspired by florists on Instagram with arrangements that use a whole spectrum of flowers and foliage that really gives a natural and loose feel to the composition. In sugar flowers, this can be hard to achieve. I think using a broad range of colors, textures, and mix of sizes of blooms helps to create a more natural and loose feel to the arrangement. For flavor for this cake... gosh, the sky's the limit! Unless there's a fruit or chocolate decoration element to the exterior of the cake, I always feel that the interior can be whatever the client wants it to be. In your mind, what is the biggest trend in wedding cakes now? There's a big trend in metallics and jewel-tones at the moment. But more golds/rose golds and reds/magentas/ oranges/coral tones. For this cake, I wanted to look at the other side of the trend with purples/blues/greens and silver instead. What’s your favorite flavor combination I always say that people have such different flavor profiles for what they like for combinations… you're either a chocolate, fruit, nut, vanilla, or caramel type of person when it comes to desserts and what you are drawn to. Me, personally, I'm a fruit person. I adore our Triberry Compote Filling paired with our scented lemon cake and recently we created a strawberry compote for a client and former pastry-school classmate of mine for her wedding this fall. It might be my new favorite filling. I also adore our coconut cake with lime curd filling and our dark chocolate cake with hazelnut cream. It's sort of akin to picking your favorite child and it depends on the day and what mood I'm in.

Lauren Bohl A White Cake


Liz Shim Eat Cake Be Merry

Tell us about the flavor and décor of your cake. It’s an almond cake with vanilla buttercream, decorated with piped buttercream peonies. In your mind, what is the biggest trend in wedding cakes now? I think buttercream flower cakes are the big trend right now. They are delicious, silky, and entirely edible. What’s your favorite flavor combination? My favorite flavor is chocolate cake with hazelnut buttercream.


Tell us about the flavor and dÊcor of your cake. The cake is a tiered buttercream cake with a tumble of sugar flowers down the side for a bit of whimsical drama. A bright, fresh color palette, and perfectly delicious inside as well: lemon cake layered with lemon curd, fresh strawberries, and cream cheese icing sweetened with white chocolate. In your mind, what is the biggest trend in wedding cakes now? The biggest trend in wedding cakes now is texture, done in an elegant way without being rustic. Sugar flowers are more loosely arranged, spilling around the cake in an organic way. All the classic components, but cleaned up and unfussy for a more modern fresh look. What’s your favorite flavor combination? My favorite cake is our almond cake layered with cardamom cream, fresh raspberries, and chocolate shavings. It's divine.

Betsy Thorleifson Nine Cakes




Text by Larisa Makow Photography by Chellise Michael Photography

Matt and Carey

Bernstein had a one in a million chance of meeting—and they celebrated beating those odds by marrying in the most unique of settings: a glammed-up beer hall in heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Carey, an author and publisher, was living in California when he read about a website that randomly paired up people all over the world to chat. After talking to a Dutch sports fanatic and a French mom, up on his screen popped Matt, a New York City native. After an enjoyable chat, Matt serendipitously thought to ask Carey for his last name before they both signed off (the site was for one-off conversations and the two would have had no way to find one another were it not for Matt’s quick thinking.) Matt then sent Carey a Facebook invite and their love story kicked off. Now a full-fledged Manhattan family with four-year-old twins, Matt and Carey became engaged in 2014 and looked to Matthew Robbins of Matthew Robbins Design and Eyal Tessler of Tessler Events when it came time to plan their nuptials. They considered tying the knot in upstate New York, but instead found a venue near their own Manhattan neighborhood that had the pastoral feel they wanted coupled with the convenience of being located near where they live, work, and where their son and daughter attend school. Feeling it was a true reflection of them as a family, Matt and Carey booked Houston Hall—a handsome throwback beer hall that felt like a barn in the middle of Manhattan. Their refined rustic aesthetic was evident in every element of the event, beginning with the invitation suite, designed by Regas Studio, which consisted of dark green lettering against craft paper with an vintage map of Manhattan juxtaposed by romantic calligraphy. The party began at sundown on a late September evening, with one hundred guests arriving at Houston Hall and upon entering, greeted with the site of a raw beer bar dramatically transformed into a lush, bucolic setting. All was staged by Tessler Events, with verdant arrangements abound by Matthew Robbins Design and warm candlelight adding to the glow everyone was already exuding. The ceremony took place beneath a chuppah, adorned with leafy greenery and the names of all guests in attendance as well as those whose presence was missed. The grooms stood surrounded by their dearest friends


and with their children at their side. They exchanged vows and wedding rings of forged woodgrain, created by Rhodes Wedding Co. to complement the titanium rings wreathed in iron wood that Carey had proposed to Matt with. Guests were then ushered into cocktail hour while Matt and Carey shared a private moment with their children and wedding party, as their closest friends read their ketubah aloud and signed. As guests mingled, drank Prosecco and cocktails, and noshed on bacon wrapped dates, mini crab cakes, sashimi, and Houston Hall’s signature soft pretzels, they were entertained by Brooklyn-based bluegrass band Riverside Drive. Dinner was then served at long tables, draped in white and layered with Matthew Robbins’ rich woodland-inspired arrangements, accompanied by charming vintage clocks, Scotty dog statuettes, and other sweet relics. Guests were treated to a family-style dinner of fried chicken, ribs, grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables while Eyal Tessler and team swiftly transformed the adjoining space into a swank lounge for the reception, replete with plush sofas, bright pillows, and a cozy seating nook beneath the chuppah. Matt and Carey wanted their reception to feel like a full-blown bash and to do so, secured Jarrell Entertainment to DJ and Eyal Tessler staged a dizzyingly fun bat-mitzvah level light show. The merriment hit fever pitch just as it came time for the grooms to cut their three tier Ron Ben-Israel cake. In keeping with the hinterland theme, the cake was designed to look like parts of a felled tree stacked up, complete with a moss-like finish and ladybugs for a touch of luck. Sensing the crowd was game, the DJ spun Bang Bang by Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, and Jessie J. Matt and Carey were swept up in the energy of the moment and turned the cutting into a spontaneous performance with their daughter, in which they tore into the cake and fed it to any willing guests with their bare hands. The dance party was still going strong two hours before dawn, when the cherry pickers arrived to begin dismantling. Guests departed with Regas Studio designed totes featuring the grooms’ monogram and a vintage Manhattan map. Inside, they found numerous goodies including a big chocolate babka to ward off any impending hangovers—a final touch which perfectly expressed the sentiment Matt and Carey wished for their entire wedding: for their guests to walk away feeling as loved as they did.







VENDORS Photography Chellise Michael Photography Location Houston Hall Event Planning Tessler Events Catering Houston Hall Event Design & Flowers Matthew Robbins Design Officiant Rabbi Jason Klein Stationery Regas Studio Cake Ron Ben-Israel Music Jarrell Entertainment Rentals Party Rentals LTD Wardrobe Styling The Stylish Bride (Grooms’ suits by Tom Ford and Thom Browne)


Celebrating in the tropics This colorful party in Cartagena is the perfect blend of local traditions and flavors with fresh ideas for a tropical celebration Photography by Marta Delvalle Perna+Natalie Hincapie Food styling by Luis Otoya Produced+styled by Luis Otoya

Cartagena is a city filled with magic and energy

In recent years this coastal, tropical city in Colombia has become a hotspot for travelers and couples planning destination weddings. We recently connected with Luis Otoya who spends his time between New York and Cartagena. This beautiful city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and provides the perfect backdrop for any wedding or event. The Rosario Islands just off the coast of Cartagena provide a beautiful escape from the bustling streets and a wonderful option for a welcome party, rehearsal dinner, or island wedding. Cartagena is a city with history, romance, and mystery. At times it feels as if you are walking through a small town in Europe and suddenly you are in Old Havana.


The old and the new come together in Cartagena with such intensity that there is no escaping the beauty and inspiration this city offers. We recently spent some time in Cartagena to check in with Luis and team in order to experience all of this magic first hand. Luis created this lively cocktail party and dinner for a group of guests gathered in Cartagena from around the world. His company, Evento y Cocina, and the planning company, RobbinsOtoya, put together the perfect party filled with local flavors and details. We sat in the shade of a huge palm tree in the old city to ask Luis a few questions about Cartagena and one delicious, beautiful event!

What are a few of the signature dishes of Cartagena? Traditional Cartagena food includes coconut rice, fried fish, and patacones. Fresh fruit such as sweet mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and the most delicious bananas are some of the few things that palenqueras carry as they sing with their vibrant Caribbean voices through the streets of the Old City. The food is not fussy and the culture is warm, inviting, and celebratory. How is Cartagena unique when compared to other tropical destinations? Cartagena is unique because it provides incredibly beautiful, casual tropical environments, and more urban, sophisticated restaurants, hotels, and services all within the same city. There is a wide range of services available in Cartagena that can sometimes be hard to find in other tropical destinations. There is also a slightly more exotic tone to the city that is unusual and gives Cartagena a special place in the lineup of destinations in South America and the Caribbean. What did you do for this event to infuse Colombian traditions, colors, and flavors? We provided guests with stations filled with locally made treats during the cocktail/welcome reception. They could pick up a mochilla and fill it with locally made crafts, candies, and savory snacks. This is a wonderful way to give your guests the best introduction to a country they might not know. The cocktail hour featured classic tropical cocktails such as mojitos with Aquardente (a Colombian spirit) and savory bites featuring plantains, ceviche, and even chicharrón. For dinner guests enjoyed a refined version of local classics such as fresh crab salad, steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf, and tres leches for dessert.

What do you love about Colombian food? The focus on simple, straightforward flavors and ingredients make Colombian food very satisfying. The spices and flavors of the Caribbean, Africa, and Spain all make for a really amazing collection of culinary experiences. Colombian food and especially Cartagena food is always based on fresh, local, and simple ingredients. The magic is in the unique twists each neighborhood or family might bring to traditional recipes. What makes a destination wedding extra special for clients planning a wedding or celebration in a foreign country? Paying attention to local ingredients, crafts, and traditions will make your destination wedding extra memorable and truly special. If you choose to have a destination wedding you obviously crave something unique and out of the box. Providing your friends and family with an experience in a country or city they might not know is a sure way to leave a lasting impression. Remember to allow the destination to infuse your wedding plans and design with ideas and a unique aesthetic. Mixing the best of the local culture with your own sense of style is the best way to create something unforgettable. Destination weddings allow the hosts and the guests to let their guard down a little as they are in a new place with a different set of rules. This

leads to nothing but a great celebration and an experience you can only find when stepping outside of what is familiar. Any advice for couples planning a destination wedding? Remember to do your research! First thing is to check out the flight options for your guests. A destination with a direct flight is obviously a plus. Don’t forget to check out local weather patterns for the time of year you are considering for your event. If you live in the Northeast of the United States an escape to a tropical destination like Cartagena is definitely appealing during the winter months of December, January, and February. These are also peak travel times for tourists so planning ahead is a very good idea. Once your choose your destination work with someone who really knows the place to create a weekend itinerary that highlights the diversity of the terrain and the local traditions. Remember to give your guests a taste of local culture either in the food, music, or crafts. A welcome bag made with local fabrics or a locally made basket filled with traditional treats is a perfect greeting for your guests. Include a letter detailing what you love about the location, some of your favorite “must see” hot spots, and a brief overview of the history and culture. It can be helpful to work with a planner from your city or a local team who knows your location and has many great contacts.


Caption here



Brooklyn United For the proprietors of Escape Brooklyn, there was never a doubt their wedding would be a trip-worthy, DIy affair Photography by Mel Barlow Text by Kim Moreau Styling by Matthew Robbins+Paul Lowe


rin Lindsey and Denny Brownell live in Brooklyn, but they make their living on the road— exploring and chronicling their weekend getaways for their website, Escape Brooklyn, and scoring vintage finds to sell via their imprint The Brew And Compass. The couple met in Brooklyn and bonded over their love of music, but it was their joint love of adventure that sparked a business plan. After an anniversary trip upstate lead them to more travels, their website was born. So, it’s no surprise that they decided to wed at one of their favorite spots. “The Catskills has a very big place in both our hearts,” Denny said. “We chose The Graham & Co. Hotel partially because a good friend worked there, but also because it was where we went on one of our first trips to the Catskills, ever. It feels like home away from home—and the view is incredible.“ The crafty couple eschewed a wedding planner in favor of creating something as unique as their wanderlust-loving lives. “We wanted the wedding to be an extension of our personalities and what we do as a business,” Erin said. “We got to show all our family and friends what we do for a living now. It was really special to have everybody in one place, our favorite place in the world, and have this incredible party. Everything was very ‘Denny and Erin.’” Very Denny and Erin means 80 guests descended upon the Catskills, staying in the hotel or nearby cabins. The weekend kicked off with an informal gathering at the hotel Thursday night and continued with a cocktail hour at famed local hotspot, the Phoenicia Diner. “It felt like a bunch of friends and family hanging out and having a great time and sharing that special day with us,” Denny

said. “Nobody that was involved really was an outsider.” Those insiders included some of the best local purveyors in the business: Dinner was meat-eater-friendly vegetarian cookout fare from Grounded NY and cider donuts from Davenport Farms. Drinks included a Catskills Cub, a riff on the Moscow Mule with Indigenous Empire State Wheat Vodka by Tuthilltown Spirits, kegs from Brooklyn brewery Other Half, and wine from Whitecliff Vineyard in the Shawangunk Mountains. Decorations were rented or borrowed from the pair’s vintage stock, while wildflowers came from local Tiny Hearts Farm. Instead of the standard photobooth, guests were


treated to hand-drawn portraits by Will Lytle of Thorneater Comics and small pendant flags from the couple. The handmade touches came together perfectly, with the only minor hiccup involving a lighting DIY entrusted to some over-eager, and perhaps over-qualified, family members. “Erin’s father is a former architect and her cousin is an engineer in the army,” Denny said. “It got way too complicated.” When their very detailed, elaborate, and askew (three feet short on one side) hanging light plans weren’t making much progress, Denny took matters into his own slightly shaky hands. “I did it very cutesy—just looped them

throughout the tent—but I’m not good with heights and I had to go pretty high up on a ladder,” Denny said. “Getting them up was a bit of a challenge.” Light in place, guests arrived in the encouraged dress code: “hillbilly chic.” The bride and groom both wore Ralph Lauren—Erin in a white hand-crocheted dress, paired with a borrowed turquoise squash blossom necklace and her trusty brown boots; Denny in linen trousers, dress shirt, vest, and vintage wing tips, sans socks and tie. “There’s always that stress of I’m going to a wedding and what am I supposed to wear?” Denny explained. “With this, people that wanted to dress up did, and

people that wanted to wear jeans and a T-shirt could do that too.” After a short ceremony performed by Denny’s cousin Ryan McKay, original music by Morgan O’Kane started and immediately guest headed to the dance floor. As the party bled into the night, Erin took a moment to revel in the action. “I had gone to back to the hotel room for something, and when I walked back out I just kind of paused and looked across the dark field,” Erin said. “All of the sudden, sparklers were lighting up in the dark around the campfire. Music was playing. And I thought ‘We did it. This is the wedding, and it’s beautiful and amazing.’”




VENDORS Tent Sperry Tents Rentals New England Country Rentals Flowers & Styling Matthew Robbins, Luis Otoya and Paul Lowe Caterer Grounded NY Donuts Davenport Farms Location The Graham & Co, Phoenicia NY Music Morgan O'Kane Wardrobe Bride: vintage boots, hand- crocheted dress by Ralph Lauren Groom: pants by Ralph Lauren, vintage shoes, vest and shirt by RRL


�botanical� w e d d i n g

Our Dietlind Wolf got inspired by vintage botanical prints and old pharmacy bottles for this stunning wedding. These crafts are all about wisdom, transformation, and love—always love Styling+photography by Dietlind Wolf

registr ation desk The wall is decorated with old botanical prints, and as a symbol for the couple, two different plants in two vintage pharmacy pots under a cloche and a votive for companionship.


wedding bouquet A mix of lilacs, rosemary, jasmine, anemone, sweet peas, and brodea, all tied together using vintage velvet ribbon.


rings Instead of a ring cushion, place rings in a small bowl filled with beautiful flowers.


bridal shoes Go botanical and decorate your shoes with fresh flowers!


table numbers Find old pharmacy labels and print them out. Place on a small stand and write the number on the label.


table decor ation Flowers are in vintage bottles from pharmacies—the place where in former days the alchemists were searching for the stone of wisdom and trying to make gold. Marriage is a similar transforming process. The real transforming process starts with the marriage, and it needs this special mixture from both. In every bottle are two different flowers, which symbolize the two different personalities who are now together.


hearts Fill the table with all kinds of hearts, from vintage tin hearts to modern heart-shaped vases. Create the perfect mood. 86 MATTHEW ROBBINS + SWEET PAUL WEDDINGS 2017

favor s Test tubes are filled with earth, seeds, and fresh water, and stamped and written on old pharmacists labels. Copy an antique label from a book, cut out all texts, copy again, and fill the blanks with monograms for the couple, the date of the wedding, and ingredients. • Earth, for good ground and a clear heart • Seeds for ideas, love, wishes, and desires • Water for realization, recreation, and nourishing elements Close firmly with a cork, and adorn with elements as in an old pharmacy.




BRUNCH Styling by Matthew Robbins Food by Paul Lowe Photography by Alexandra Grablewski

HOSTING A BRUNCH PARTY for your wedding celebration can be a wonderful alternative to a typical seated dinner in the evening. If you prefer to stick to the traditional approach, consider a beautiful farewell brunch to finish off your wedding weekend. Garden settings are one of our favorite options for a colorful, seasonal brunch party. Choose a great color palette to tie things together. We chose a wonderful palette of soft, muted blush tones with pops of various aqua blue and green tones. The table runner and napkins are both from Matthew’s own line of textiles produced in Guatemala with plant-based dyes. Use seasonal produce as part of your décor. Place bowls of beautiful fruits in a great dish for added color and texture on your table. Eclectic styling is our favorite, but remember to rein it all in with your edited color palette. We mixed various white plates and dishes with vintage glasses in a blush tone to pick up on the tones in the garden flowers. It’s also a great idea to pull materials directly from the garden. We used fresh thyme, mint, and oregano in our arrangements and in the menu.






Fennel, Apple, & Cherry Salad with Pancetta

1. Cook the spaghetti al dente in salted water.

9. Top with lemon curd, cherries, and fresh thyme.

A super fresh and tasty salad. The sweet apples and cherries blend so well with the fennel and the balsamic. If you want to make a bigger meal of it, simply add some shredded rotisserie chicken.

2. Place in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and zest, olive oil, Parmesan, and thyme.

Rose Sangria


8 oz chopped pancetta 1 small fennel, thinly sliced, save the greens 1 red apple, cored, thinly sliced ½ cucumber, thinly sliced 30 cherries, pitted, cut in half 1 head Boston lettuce 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons white balsamic salt and pepper, to taste 1. Cook the pancetta in a pan until golden and crispy. 2. Let drain on paper towels. 3. In a large bowl mix fennel, apple, cucumber, cherries, lettuce, and pancetta.

3. Season with salt and pepper. 4. Place the shrimps, olive oil, garlic, chili, thyme, and salt in a bowl, toss well, and cook the shrimps about 2 minutes on each side. 5. If you want to be extra fancy, make skewers out of the rosemary and skewer the shrimps on them. 6. Serve the pasta with the shrimp and some extra Parmesan on top.

1. Add rosé, sparkling wine, ginger ale, and Cointreau to a pitcher.

Pavlovas with Lemon Curd & Cherries



1. Preheat oven to 190°F.

15 oz spaghetti salt and pepper, to taste juice from 2 lemons 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest 1 cup grated Parmesan + more for serving 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 16 shrimps, cleaned 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced pinch of red chili flakes 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 16 rosemary sprigs, for serving

2. Fill into ice-filled glasses and serve with cucumber and thyme.

I love making pavlovas. It’s like eating sweet air. I love topping them with lemon curd—the sweet and the sour is perfect together.

This is the perfect brunch dish—it’s light with lots of flavor. You can serve the shrimps skewered on rosemary for a fancier look. You can also serve the pasta as is, it’s delicious.

Lemon & Thyme Pasta with Spicy Shrimp


1 bottle rosé 1 bottle sparkling wine 2 cups ginger ale ½ cup Cointreau cucumber, thyme, and ice, for serving

4 large egg whites pinch of salt 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon corn starch 1 teaspoon white vinegar drop of vanilla extract 1 jar lemon curd 30 cherries, some pitted and some whole fresh thyme

4. Add oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper, and toss gently.

Super simple cocktail, perfect on a warm day in the garden.

2. Use a mixer and beat egg whites and salt for a minute. 3. Add sugar and beat another minute. 4. Add corn starch, vinegar, and vanilla and beat another 30 seconds. 5. Make “clouds” on 2 baking trays covered with parchment paper. 6. Make a little “bowl” in the middle of each. 7. Bake for 1½ hours, turn off the heat, and leave them in there for another hour. 8. Take them out and place on a tray or plates.


Eyal T ess

Learn more about Eyal and his team at


Thoughts on what to avoid?

penchant for planning was evident early in his life due to his talent for staging events at the kibbutz where he grew up. Tessler grew from running that kibbutz event space to now being one of the most sought-after event “architects” in New York City. Tessler’s passion for interpreting his client’s passions into real-life experiences keeps him busy and his team booked. And when he’s not magically transforming a loft in Brooklyn or the re-envisioning the ballroom of a grand hotel, he’s already planning his next big oeuvre. Here, he shares some perspective and advice about planning remarkable celebrations.

Don’t spent hours and hours on the web! It’s a great tool to get ideas but you should focus on your own feelings and create your special day based on who you are not what you see on the internet.

What do you tell clients who are having difficulty determining a vision or aesthetic for their wedding?

From very early on I remember loving the moment of seeing all the details come together. That “ah ha” moment is everything, and I still experience it at every event.

You can’t have five different styles in one event. Focus on who you are and go what you love. Sometimes less is more. What feels fresh and exciting planning-wise?

I think it’s all about creating experiences and combining trends in food, mixology, fashion, and other elements. Our industry is no longer about cookie-cutter events.

How would you define a successful wedding in terms of the overall experience?

I think a successful wedding is one that is an experience for you and your guests—from the save the date to the thank you note, and everything in between. You’ll know it was a success when you keep hearing “WOW. I didn’t realize a wedding could be so fun!” all night. Tell us what you find most rewarding about your work.

If you weren’t a planner you’d be...

An owner of a bed and breakfast on a faraway island, because I’d love to live on the beach in a simple way. Maybe in my next life!

Eyal portrait by Christian Oth. Lauren portrait by Marjorie Prvl Photography

Our industry friends share their tips, stories, and some invaluable advice for planning your big day

Making plans


Lauren Fremont Lauren Fremont was born in Paris and grew up in Switzerland and New York. As the eldest of three children, her love of organizing and “bossing” her sisters around, combined with a tendency to daydream and create pretty things, made her a natural planner. As an intern at The Estée Lauder corporation, she found herself inspired by the female executives she met and drew on those experiences when she formed her company, Loli Events. Her A-list clients adore the sense of grounded luxury she brings to her work. We asked Lauren to divulge some of her wisdom and she generously indulged us. What are the main goals you keep in mind when working with your clients?

Building trust with them. Really understanding their personalities and aesthetics. Genuine hospitality for them and all of their guests. Most unusual moment you’ve planned for a wedding?

Once we recreated the surprise gospel singing post-ceremony from the movie Love Actually. Guests were shocked and it was awesome! How to find the best vendors?

Get great referrals from friends and/or your planner. Try to meet them all or at least speak to them on the phone before booking. Make sure their personality and work style truly meshes with yours. Tips for what to avoid when planning a wedding?

Don’t spend your money on non-impactful elements like a champagne toast—let guests toast with their favorite drink. Another would be huge floral elements or installations that are not used throughout the whole wedding or at least repurposed. What do you consider a successful event?

Meeting all of the couple’s needs and melting their stress away. Throwing the best dinner party of their life that also happens to be their wedding. An event that is super fun, thoughtful, beautiful, and full of the couple’s personality— with no pretension. What feels fresh and exciting in the wedding and event world for the near future?

Less waste. Not theme-y, but creating experiences. Bringing the outside in if you are having an indoor wedding. Excellent service that really takes care of your guests.

Meet Lauren and view her work at

If you weren’t a planner you’d be…

A children’s book author because it’s creative and education is everything. @MRSPWEDDINGS 97

Originally an industrial designer who has long been immersed in the art world, Cartagena-based Simone LeJour was the first official “wedding planner” to ever exist in the Colombian city. Since having set that precedent, she has gone on to plan hundreds of spectacular celebrations as well as founding Cartagena’s annual bridal week (which she has also directed for the past four years). We asked this creative force-of-nature for her thoughts on throwing unforgettable parties, and here are her insightful responses. What inspired you to forge this career path in your native Columbia?

I was inspired by a fabulous couple for whom I planned a three-day island wedding when I was the manager of a hippie-chic hotel. How do you help an undecided client determine the look and feel they’d like for their event?

What’s a good strategy for choosing vendors?

Trust your heart, not the trends. Your wedding should not look like anyone else’s. What feels fresh and exciting in the wedding and event world for the near future?

Less is more. Back to basics. The couple getting married are the center of attention, not the décor. Describe a moment when you’ve thought “I love this job”.

When I am sitting with the client or the designer, creating the overall idea on a napkin or piece of paper, with a glass of wine. That is the start of the dream. How would you define a successful wedding in terms of the overall experience?

When the final result is identical to the initial piece of paper. The first idea is always the best one. If you weren’t a planner you’d be...

A theater director, because life is all about playing a role and being in the moment.

I ask them what their favorite color is. Follow Simone @simone.lejour

GROWING UP surrounded by family in Brooklyn, Francesca Abbracciamento’s exposure to the service industry came early: at three years old she was known to take reservations at her family’s restaurant. When she wasn’t penciling names in time slots, she could be found organizing lists of of tasks to be done, setting tables and creating menus. Later she attended the French Culinary Institute and worked with the city’s top catering companies before opening her much-lauded event firm. As so much of her life has revolved around celebration, it is natural that Abbracciamento brings a sense of joy and care to her work for her top notch clientele who are in turn, equally dedicated to her. Describe a moment when you think “I love what I do.”

I honestly have this moment at every event. My colleague, Christina Morales and I joke about it—we call it “the nod.” It fills me and my team with an extreme joy to help create these experiences for our clients that they will savor for years to come. Advice for a couple feeling lost in terms of a vision or aesthetic for their wedding?

It is important to not get caught up in the endless sea


Find more fantastic remarks from Francesca at francesca

of options and images. Our advice to clients is hone in on a few key pieces that make them feel good. I believe that if we ask the right questions we can target the elements that make our clients smile. We inquire a lot before we get to the design and décor details. It is usually one of the tasks we hold off on until we are a few months into the planning because the aesthetic will unfold for them with the help of our thoughtful questioning. Most unusual requests you’ve encountered?

There have been some wacky requests over the past two decades: toy blimp races, a petting zoo, a custom miniature golf course, toy red trucks for 200 guests, indoor Moroccan tents, custom Pez dispensers... to name a few. How would you define a successful wedding in terms of the overall experience?

I quietly observe my clients, their families, and their friends during the evening. I recognize success when the couple are in the moment, just allowing the evening to unfold naturally... when I see they are present and connected to their guests.

Simone portrait by Marta Delvalle Perna. Francesca portrait by Ira Lippke. Ann and Nicky portrait by Nick Baratta

Simone LeJour

esca Abbra c n a cc i Fr

nto e am

What do you perceive as being your most important duty for your client? Nicky: It depends on what the client considers are the most

important to them. Our role is to listen and offer advice on how to make the night feel seamless and as if it just came together, leaving everyone having a good time with wonderful memories. But we do always want to make sure that first and last impression is well noted meaning valet parking, music not being deafening and a cocktail hour doesn’t last too long. Ann: We want our clients to feel like guests at their own

wedding. The timing has been discussed and thoughtfully put together but then they get to “let go” and us take it from there on the wedding day. Tips for what to avoid when planning a wedding? Ann: I love the quote “If you think it’s expensive to hire a

professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” Be smart about who you hire. What’re you seeing trend-wise in the wedding world these days? Nicky: Making weddings that are personal and that truly reflect

the couple is always fresh and exciting. Ann: Giving back. Last summer, all the drapes and the carpet

from a tent wedding we produced were donated to Habitat for Humanity. We are working with a company Repeat Roses that repurposes flowers and gives them to nonprofits.

Ann David & Nicky Reinhard Coasts collided when Californian Nicky Reinhard teamed up with Connecticut-native Ann David to create their event producing firm, David Reinhard. Having had her curiosity piqued by a friend working in the industry, Nicky established her career executing events for corporate clients in Los Angeles before making her move east. Ann gained experience in the field planning various Olympic-related events but serendipitously decided to return to New York and there crossed paths with Nicky. Since founding David Reinhard 16 years ago, the duo have been in high demand due to their reputation for seamless events with thoughtful details created in partnership with their highly-cultivated list of vendors. Here, Ann and Nicky share some of their vast and valuable knowledge.

Advice for a couple feeling lost in terms of a vision for their big day? Nicky: Think about places you have been and love (hotels and

restaurants are great for inspiration). Or take a cue from the setting you’ve chosen, whether it be a barn or a loft. Ann: We help by asking about things our clients love and it is also

great to know what they dislike—it can be just as illuminating!

Want more of Ann and Nicky’s brilliance? Find them at


Wedding in the


Beth and Ian’s backyard wedding takes it to the next level. Chic and artful details elevate this beautiful summer celebration with effortless style Photography by Sasithon Photography


Beth and Ian grew up on the same street,

only about a quarter of a mile from each other. After drifting apart during their college years they reconnected through social media and they soon fell in love. As Beth describes it, “It was like falling in love with an old friend and a new friend at the same time.” They were soon inseparable. Hosting a wedding at home in Connecticut was an idea Beth and Ian tossed around even before they were engaged. It just felt so right to get married in the neighborhood they grew up in, surrounded by so many memories and friends. The location also provided the perfect opportunity for an awesome party and an intimate, personal celebration. One of the Beth and Ian’s favorite memories from the day is before the ceremony, they watched from an upstairs window as all of their family and friends arrived at the wedding. It was so wonderful to see this group of people come together, amazing to see people who knew each other re-connect, and so exciting to know that an incredible celebration awaited. That view and moment was the best, the precipice to all the magic. Beth’s cousin is a brilliantly talented pastry chef and it was so fun to have her create the wedding cake and mini sweets. Her recipes are rich with family history. Cobblestone Catering brought a spirit of fine service and hospitality to the day that helped turn this backyard party into an extra special occasion. Beth chose napkins with a playful, eclectic pattern. Yellow is such a fun and underused color. Copper details also played a big role in the décor. Beth and Ian learned through the planning process that their shared style is a mix of modern and rustic. Copper became a theme in the escort cards, table numbers, and vases. The tables were a perfect mix of modern and romantic details. The overall vibe was natural and unfussy, but also formal and elegant. The lawn and garden did most of the work setting the scene, but the beautiful decor details made it clear that this was an important day. Wood chairs and palm fans worked perfectly in the outdoor garden setting, and copper accents and lanterns added the perfect amount of sparkle to the celebration.


VENDORS Planning Matthew Robbins Design Styling & DĂŠcor Matthew Robbins Design Tenting Stamford Tents Band The Elements, Elan Artists Cake Sweet Pistachio Patisserie Catering Cobblestone Catering Rentals Party Rentals Ltd and Broadway Party Rentals Wardrobe Bride: Amsale Groom: Custom tuxedo by Jay Walter


fa s h i o n s t y l i s t

QA +

New York–based stylist and fashion editor Genevieve Espantman consults for a multitude of private and corporate clients. With dynamic personality and style, Genevieve creates a seamless experience on your special day

Q What’s your advice for adding just the right amount of glam to a wedding day look?

A Pick one trend and stick to it. Whether it is gold, sparkle, pearls, or bling—don’t mix and match!

Q Your favorite quick and easy ideas for upgrading your look on the wedding day?

A A quick makeup touch-up before the reception can instantly switch up your look. Try to add a bold lip or smoky eye. You can also try adding a statement accessory like a bolero or embellished headpiece.


Q Any advice for how to dress groomsmen? Is it best to match the groom or compliment his wardrobe?

A I always like when groomsmen compliment the groom. The groom should stand out, it can be something subtle like wearing a tie when the groomsman wear bow ties or be a bit bolder like wearing a different color suit.

Q What's the best way to determine the right hair style and makeup when putting together a look for the bride and bridesmaids?

A Match your makeup and hair to your dress, meaning if you have a romantic or whimsical dress, style your hair accordingly with soft curls or a braid. If your dress is a sleek show stopper, try out a creative up do or a sleek ponytail and a bold lip.

Q If you could dream up your favorite look for a bride to be what would that be?

A I like when the dress is the ultimate show stopper. The dress would be different depending on the bride but I would love to play with a vintage couture like a Dior or Givenchy form the 1950s.

What are your top 5 tips for anyone looking for the perfect dress, suit, or accessory for their wedding day?


Have an idea of what you want before you go in. Peruse bridal magazines or blogs to find inspiration and price point.

Be Open

Keep an open mind to suggestions from your bridal salon, family, and friends. Often times an unsuspecting silhouette can be the one.


Make sure you love and trust your seamstress, there is nothing worse than an ill-fitting dress.


This is key to a flawless look. If you are not comfortable it will show.

Stay True to Yourself

At the end of the day it’s about you! Feeling your best is the secret to looking your best.

Q What are your thoughts on a dress change for the bride? Change to a party dress for dancing and late night?

A I love a dress change! It is an easy way for a dramatic entrance into the reception and allows the bride to wear something a bit more comfortable and better to dance in.

Q Any advice for the mother of the bride looking for an elegant and fabulous dress?

A The mother of the bride should be looking and feeling her best. Her look should be well-fitted, age appropriate, and timeless.

Q Any trends for winter/spring 2017 to be aware of?

A 2017 is all about the romantic look. We are seeing a lot of laces and 3D floral. Also, plunging necklines and off the shoulder gowns have been seen all over the bridal runways.

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Succulent Bow Tie


alternative f loral accessories

Photography by Paul Lowe

F LORAL HAIR COMB The floral hair comb or barrette is a great option for adding a floral accessory to your hair on your wedding day. Instead of a traditional bloom that wilts quickly, try this idea. Remember to use strong, hearty textures such as succulents, berries, and moss. Small flowers and textures such as wax flower, celosia, hens and chicks, seeded eucalyptus, brunia, sedum, and gomphrena are just a few examples of great natural materials that will hold up for this piece. When applying the tiny flowers and textures it helps to secure them to a piece of preserved moss with a floral adhesive and green wire.


started Proper Flower in 2015 providing custom and vintage props, beautiful flowers, and fun creative workshops to Charlotte, NC. After living and working in New York city for over six years as a floral designer and production manager at Matthew Robbins Design, Melissa wanted to bring a fresh perspective back to her hometown of Charlotte and start teaching all the amazing things she learned over the years. Proper Flower creates custom workshops and provides gorgeous arrangements and props for special events.

SU C C ULENT BOW T I E The succulent bow tie is a fun and quirky alternative to the traditional floral boutonniere. Use creeping sedum or another hearty texture to create this beautiful accessory. It’s great to cover an existing cut out wood shape or actual fabric bow tie with preserved moss, giving the succulents something to attach themselves to and continue to thrive. Remember to get in all the nooks and crannies of the bow tie to give it dimension and shape. You can attach the succulents to the moss-covered bow tie using hot glue. Be sure to keep it nice and neat, and don’t have any of those messy hot glue strands showing. A little goes a long way.

Floral Hair Comb


F LOW E R BE LT The possibilities when creating a floral belt accessory are endless. It’s a really chic option for changing things up before or after the ceremony. You can choose any flowers and colors as long as they are hearty enough to hold up for the duration of your event. Remember to select a beautiful ribbon that coordinates with your dress and overall décor plan. Attach the flowers and succulents to a piece of preserved moss and leave plenty of room for the beautiful ribbon to tie and trail down the back of the dress.

Colorful Cuff Bracelet

White and Green Flower Bracelet

FLOW E R B R AC E L E TS This flower bracelet is a great alternative to the traditional corsage. A basic cuff bracelet is the base, covered in natural materials such as tiny flowers, succulents, and textures. The colorful cuff is covered in a variety of small succulents, berries, hearty blooms, and sedums. Think about color, shape, size, and texture when putting one of these together, mixing everything up a little and making sure they are securely attached to the cuff. Attach the flowers to a piece of preserved moss and attach the moss with floral adhesive to the cuff. The white and green bracelet is covered with fresh andromeda, which is simple, organic, and effortlessly romantic. It’s definitely a beautiful alternative to the old school flower corsage. These are perfect for the mother of the bride or maid of honor. They feel sophisticated and super chic. Wrap the draping andromeda around a cuff bracelet with wire and filled in with tiny flowers where needed.


Succulent Ring

SU C C ULENT R I N G When creating a succulent ring there are a few things to keep in mind: select a nice, petite succulent. Insert a piece of floral wire through the middle of the succulent and attach it to an existing ring of your choice by wrapping the wire around the ring. Allow yourself a little wiggle room to attach the succulent to the ring with the wire.

SU C C ULENT SU N G L A S S ES Who wouldn’t enjoy this botanical accessory? The best part about these fresh and funky succulent sunglasses is that they will last for months if you take care of them. The key is to mist the natural material with water once a week and store the glasses in a cool place. You can prepare these weeks before the big day. If you’re having a daytime wedding, these would be an awesome addition to your bridal party. Bridesmaids and groomsmen will enjoy wearing this botanical accessory.

Succulent Sunglasses


Get inspired Simple and unique details to bring a little extra magic to your celebration Photography by Thuss+Farrell

Sometimes a few huge blooms make the perfect bouquet when paired with great textural elements. Here we mixed giant cafĂŠ au lait dahlias with fresh lavender, hosta leaves, and astranthia blooms.

The world of event rentals can be overwhelming! Define your color palette and your general aesthetic before heading into the rental showroom to choose chairs, china, stemware, and more!


We chose some of our favorite moments from Matthew Robbins’ Inspired Weddings to share in this issue. It’s a wonderful feeling to revisit some of these images that are timeless, inspired, and filled with good ideas for creating a beautiful wedding. Each of these images embodies a sense of old and new and an eclectic but unfussy aesthetic that we love to celebrate. What makes a wedding extra special is the sense of authenticity that comes from the love between the couple but also from the details that are infused with their own sense of style



1. A chic and simple way to make your table instantly unique is to feature a collection of smaller arrangements featuring a single flower or variety. This allows your eye to move throughout the table to each unique piece but they also work together as a whimsical and fabulous collection. Mixing vessels is also a fun way to bring color to your table. 2.We can never get enough of beautiful ribbon! Choose a variety of widths and styles for your wedding to make the look more interesting. A trip to the ribbon store can also be a great way to define your color palette and style.


3. It’s always great to start things off with a personalized and original detail. This welcome note was crafted to hang on the doorknob of each guest room. A custom luggage tag is a perfect takeaway for everyone to remember your awesome wedding weekend.


4. This bouquet is filled with unusual textures and the dreamiest pastel color palette. The washed out pastels in the zinnias and scabiosa flowers are even more interesting when paired with the quirky textural elements.




5. This simple and cheerful table features floating peonies, lisianthus, and hydrangea blooms. Simple can look lush and layered by using a variety of vessels, shapes, and patterns. A small detail, such as the ribbon on each napkin finished with hydrangea blossoms, turns each place setting into a beautiful gift. 6. A fabulous vessel can make any floral arrangement extra fabulous. This vintage pitcher with gold botanical details is the perfect compliment to these romantic blooms.





7. A bridal bouquet filled with lily of the valley and snowdrops is the perfect, effortlessly chic combo for any bride looking to compliment her look without allowing the flowers to take over. Remember it’s not about the bouquet! You don’t want to look like you are carrying an urn arrangement down the aisle. Go for luxurious and simple by choosing a super special flower like lily of the valley.

grosgrain ribbon to pick up the blush tone of the jasmine vine. This would be perfect for the head table. 9. This invite is fresh and crisp. Make a statement by simplifying the details. The green liner allows the clean design to really pop.

8. This garland of wax flowers and jasmine is lush but not messy. We love the soft palette and simplicity of these materials. The garland is attached with a simple





10. The yummy sorbet tones in this table setting are perfect for a room that needs a little pop of color. Pairing these soft and lovely blooms with a really unique vintage urn is a great way to balance the sweetness.

from the middle of the table to the place settings; we did this by wrapping a single green stem around each napkin with a small purple bloom.

11. Make a statement with a tall arrangement to greet guests as they arrive. Blossoming branches are perfectly beautiful on their own, especially when arranged in a unique vase or urn. 12. Going monochromatic is always a key to a successful tabletop design. This lush arrangement is filled with a full range of purple tones ranging from deep aubergine to pale lavender. The neutral table linen and place settings provide the perfect balance and base for this vibrant palette. It’s always a great idea to add a pop of color



Painterly bouquets Flowers+styling by Matthew Robbins Photography by Paul Lowe

Pink, Peach, & Apricot

Red, Yellow, & Pink

Sometimes lush and romantic is just the right thing for a wedding bouquet. This combination would be perfect for a bride or bridesmaid. The palette is soft, dreamy, and delicious with a combination of pale pink, apricot, and peach tones. This feels like the perfect early summer palette. The garden roses and ranunculus mix beautifully to create a lush, tailored, but unfussy bouquet. The vibrant bouquet, at left, was inspired by the bold red paint I started with on the canvas. Red can be intimidating but when you add a touch of yellow the palette becomes varied and playful. A touch of water and white to the palette even brings out pink tones to mimic the blooms in this bouquet. This arrangement features a variety of painterly ranunculus, vibrant sweet peas and a touch of fern green to anchor this fun palette.

Color is everything when planning your wedding décor. My background as a designer started out in art school during my college years when I studied and trained to be a painter. My love for color started at that time. Today I allow color to define the vision and style for the weddings we plan and design. I wanted to allow the energy and rawness of vibrant paint and painted surfaces to define these beautiful bouquets. Color conjures up an immediate response as we experience the world around us. I allowed the simple and intense color of the paint to inspire these bouquets. I allowed my initial reaction to each palette to inform my decisions for the blooms in each arrangement. They are spontaneous and filled with the tonal varieties that make working with paint and color so exciting. If you are feeling overwhelmed by color or you just can’t settle on the perfect palette, try spending an afternoon with a set of watercolors or acrylic paints. Playing with paint will allow you try out a variety of color palettes. You might surprise yourself with how much you love unexpected color combinations.

The simple beauty of black and white is effortlessly chic and dramatic. I was inspired by the grey wash of the ink with the graphic dots and shadows created by the black ink moving around the surface. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect combination to embody this bold palette other than the anemone and sweet peas. They work together so perfectly. The graphic quality of the anemone with their black centers paired with the light and airy sweet peas bring this beautiful palette to life. The polka dot ribbon adds a playful element to this chic bouquet.


I was so inspired by the purple tones that came to life on the canvas as I experimented with the tonal varieties in this palette. This electric and delicious color palette is rich and decadent. The bouquet is filled with nothing but gorgeous and fragrant sweet peas in a range of lavender and purple tones. They even created this unexpected heart shape as the bouquet came together. I love when the materials dictate the final product. In this case the paint inspired the palette and bouquet and the sweet peas inspired the perfect, romantic form.


I can never get enough green when designing weddings. This bouquet is filled with hellebores, viburnum, ferns, and tropical leaves. When you feel unsure about your color palette you can always go green! It is mother nature’s neutral and everything looks great with a touch of green. When using green materials remember to vary shapes and tones. In this bouquet we have everything from emerald to chartreuse. This combination is so refreshing and perfect for any season.


Every wedding needs that something blue. This refreshing and crisp palette is a nod to tradition with our added twist of deep blue thistle. The pale blue delphinium and tweedia add a touch of whimsy. The small muscari (mini hyacinth) bring a delicate element to this textural bouquet.


Suite details Designing a paper suite has never been so much fun. From your save the date to the wedding cake, there are so many opportunities to feature unique paper creations for your big day

Wedding Cake: We really wanted to see a unique and fresh cake topper idea. Displaying the initials in a heavy card stock with patterns and tones from the save the date and invitation are so cool and a great new twist on the traditional cake topper.

Photography by Christian Oth Styling by Matthew Robbins Cake by Billy’s Bakery NYC Paper Designs/Creations by Regas Studio

Save the Date: Sending a save the date is always a challenge. There are so many things to consider and often times it feels overwhelming for couples, as it is the first big piece of the wedding to be designed. Regas set the tone for the wedding and the general aesthetic by featuring playful botanical patterns, an unexpected and vibrant color palette and clean modern fonts.

Chair Décor: For a modern but fun detail we asked the Regas team to come up with a great and simple décor idea for embellishing chairs. This would be great on the wedding couple’s chairs or along the aisle for the ceremony. Paper is always so wonderful and playful. Paring the vibrant tines with the black chairs added a level of modern sophistication.

when I first set my eyes on a playful and beautiful invitation Meredith Kurosko of Regas Studios designed for her sister’s recent wedding. It embodied a sense of whimsy, a slightly tropical vibe, and a colorful palette that felt so refreshing. After a few meetings and lots of emails the Regas team created this incredible story filled with ideas for anyone thinking about how to incorporate handmade paper pieces and unique ideas into their wedding day. Our goal with this story was to illustrate how one design idea or aesthetic can turn into an entire suite of fantastic details from the save the date to the wedding cake topper. Designing your special day is like telling a wonderful story. Incorporating an artistic and editorial eye into your design plans can help maintain consistency and at the end your story will be even more clear and inspiring for your friends and family. The team incorporated deconstructed

shapes and playful moments into each of these pieces. There is the lively handmade quality in the painted, folded, and calligraphy pieces. The end result is modern and fresh with motifs and design details that create a wonderful, connected series of ideas. According to Meredith, the key to maintaining a cohesive collection for your paper items is to keep a consistent tone throughout all of the pieces. The graphics and even the formats can vary but the overall spirit and aesthetic should be maintained. This allows your vision to really come to life from the minute your guests receive the save the date to that moment when they find their escort cards. It’s all in the details. Remember to maintain a sense of balance in your designs. If you go heavy with pattern and color as we did here try to keep your fonts and type combinations minimal. The Regas team provided a few helpful tips for planning your wedding paper collection.


The Invitation: This piece really allowed the initial inspiration from the save the date to come to life. Regas incorporated various versions of the botanical pattern and used a very modern clean approach for the fonts. The envelope liner was the perfect unexpected detail. The black and white pattern is a wonderful compliment to all of the other design elements.


Dinner Napkin: The envelope liner was so great we decided to have this pattern printed on fabric to create dinner napkins. The subtle nod to the invitation is a wonderful way to keep some design consistency in your wedding dÊcor. Menu: Day of items such as these menus are a great opportunity for even more detail. To bring the color to life from the invitation design Regas incorporated a vibrant hand stitched element on the personalized menus. In this case the menus feature each guest’s name so the menu also functions as a place card.


Program: A ceremony program is often a great moment to have a little fun with the design. To continue the design story from the save the date and invitation Regas infused the program design with the bold botanical pattern and a beautiful stitched border to add a handmade, crafted detail. Escort Card Display: This amazing display keeps the focus on craft and material. We love this design Regas created with a base of a heavier card stock paper in pattern folded in an almost origami fashion. This base holds the simple escort cards, which are calligraphed and stand perfectly in this sculptural and unique display. Remember you don’t need a theme. You just need good style and great ideas to make your wedding unique.



Magical Merida Text+photography by Leela Cyd

Taking a dip in a xenote in Valladolid

Bicycles are available to use at Rosas y Xocolate hotel

A A tangle of mangrove trees, a slight breeze, pregnant clouds, a flock of flamingos and jungle for days—we pass them all as we touch down into the easy town of Merida, Mexico, capital city of the Yucatán state. From the airport, a quick, prepaid, and totally reasonable taxi into town—not a honk among drivers. Our cabbie jolly, talkative, and his mirror chock-full of

Above: Maya pottery excavated at the current site of Hacienda Yaxcopoil Right: Kitchen at Hacienda Yaxcopoil

good luck talismans. Among the curio: a baby’s shoe, a black and white checkered air freshener tree, rosaries galore, and pendants of all types—buena vibra (good vibes) set in for sure. We arrive in style at the hot pink boutique hotel, Rosas y Xocolate— formerly two colonial homes merged into one special oasis on the Paseo Montejo, Merida’s version of a the Champs-Élysées, not far from el centro; expertly managed and lovingly appointed. The owner, Carol, greets my father and I as friends and fellow citizens of the world. Carol was born in Mexico City, raised in the States, and back in Merida with a knock-out hotel that he is expanding to occupy the modern building next door. The charm of pink walls, azure blue pool, tropical plants, and cruiser bikes for rent is undeniable. The warm staff helps with organizing a cooking class with Chef Daniel Sagoria. I expect the busy chef to show us something simple and quick—we are instead generously shown a complex and wonderful dessert: a bar of ganache topped with compote of red fruits, rose sorbet, and sugared petals. Another hit: poached eggs with the ubiquitous pickled onions of the region, sitting in a bed of chaya (spinach is a close equivalent to the native green of the region), cream, mushrooms, and corn. All is washed down with strong coffees and freshly squeezed orange juice. Merida has loads to offer for the culture-file: a bustling local food market, one of the oldest cathedrals in Mexico (built on top of Maya ruins), great clothes

Church of Uayama


shopping (especially for embroidered dresses and men's shirts, known as guayaberas), a comprehensive museum on the Maya people, art galleries, and delicious regional foods characterized by the use of sour oranges, lots of pork, and cooking in a clay pot. The city is also the perfect hub to venture out for day trips—Uxmal and Ek Balam are Maya ruins of exquisite

Top: Dancing in the main square on Sunday nights in Valladolid Bottom: Colorful streets of Merida


beauty and are very well preserved (skip Chichen Itza with its Disneyland-esque queue, shop, and guides). Their complex of buildings, sculptural glyphs, and mathematical systems for time telling/ record keeping beguile and delight the imagination and are within reach by bus or hiring a taxi for a day of site-seeing. Another ideal stopover for a day or two is two-hour bus ride away—Valladolid, a smaller town, equally charming. Stay at the oldest hotel in the small town: El Meson del Marques; its courtyard restaurant serves classics and much-needed margaritas after long days of walking down candy-colored streets, shopping at tiny local stores, swimming in zenotes (large sink holes full of fresh water dotting the village), or even dancing the night away in the main square (every Sunday, people of all ages crowd the streets for a live band and lots of laughing).  Not far from either town is Hacienda Yaxcopoil, a must-visit for any design lover or history buff. The historic guest house and home dates back to the 17th century. It was a major hub for rendering fiber from the abundant henequen plant and had its heyday in the late 19th century. The hacienda has original furniture, paintings, books, as well as Maya pottery found on the site. Everything is exposed, used, and in the most beautiful state of almost-decay. It’s a time warp, an education, and a beauty to behold. Each courtyard, overgrown plant, and dramatic painted ceiling holding secrets of past opulence.

Clockwise from top: Pool at Rosas y Xocolate; Street scene in Merida; Waiter at El Meson del Marques; Flower shop in Valladolid; Doorway at Convent de San Bernardino de Siena


Clockwise from top: Poached Eggs with Pickled Onions & Spinach with Cream at Rosas y Xocolate hotel; Assorted tacos at Wayan'e in Merida; Tamale maker in Merida Market


Poached Eggs with Pickled Onions & Spinach with Cream

Yucatan Style Scrambled Egg Breakfast Tacos




½ red onion, sliced thin ½ cup red wine vinegar ½ an orange, just the juice 1 tablespoon sugar pinch of salt 1 tablespoon butter spinach

2 bunches spinach, washed, trimmed 1 cup sweet corn 1½ cups shiitake mushrooms, cut into ¼” slices ½ cup cream salt and pepper, to taste eggs

4 eggs 1⁄3 cup white vinegar 1 tablespoon salt 1. For the onions, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, cover, and allow to marinate at room temperature for about 4 hours. (Use for desired dish, then keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.) 2. Next, the spinach. In a cast iron skillet on medium heat, heat butter until melted. 3. Add mushrooms and sauté until they’re golden brown, about 5 minutes. 4. Add corn and cook 1 minute more. 5. Add spinach and cream, allow to wilt, and remove from heat. 6. Keep in pan until ready to plate. 7. Make the eggs by heating a large pot of water to boil. 8. Add vinegar and salt. 9. Meanwhile crack each egg into a small cup. 10. Moving quickly, whisk the water into a whirlpool and carefully pour each egg into the water, stirring the circle continuously for the first 10 seconds of poaching. 11. Set timer for 3-4 minutes (3 is soft, 4 is medium) and remove with a slotted spoon at desired doneness. 12. Make a little bed of spinach/cream mixture on each plate, place 2 eggs on top. 13. Finish with garnish of pickled onions and freshly ground pepper.

4 corn tortillas 1 tablespoon butter ½ serrano chili, finely chopped 1 medium tomato or a scant handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped 4 eggs 2 tablespoons queso fresco, crumbled salt, to taste ½ cup black beans, divided 1. In a medium skillet on medium heat, sauté the chili and tomato in butter until slightly golden, about 3–4 minutes. 2. Add the eggs into the pan directly, scramble with the back of a wooden spoon. 3. Season with a pinch of salt, cook, stirring gently for about 2 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, heat the corn tortillas directly over the flame of a gas burner (or in a pan if you don’t have a glass stove) until warm and a little toasty. 5. To serve, plate each taco with 2 tortillas, half of the scrambled egg mixture, crumble the queso fresco and a scattering of ¼ cup black beans on top of each portion.

Top: Women making tortillas at Chaya Maya in Merida Bottom: Owner Lupita (in apron) from La Lupita's Chicharranoeria in Merida with a customer and friend

lov e in the

k i s l t l a s c

Text+photography by Valery Rizzo

Our fri e nd s Bri an and L aura

were getting married in the town of Roxbury, New York, an area they loved. The wedding day began with guests walking across a small bridge above a creek, leading to an open meadow surrounded by trees strung together with globe lights and the Roxbury Barn in the distance. There was badminton and horseshoe being played and a raw oyster bar, which was a boat loaded with fresh local Island Creek Oysters from Duxbury, Massachusetts, served with white wine and garlic scape mignonette. Cocktails were being served in the barn. All the drinks were created by Laura and good friend Holly Sheppard, chef and owner of the Brooklyn catering company, Fig & Pig, who catered the entire event. Cocktails included Cava, The Panty Dropper (a rosy pink cocktail made with vodka, rhubarb syrup, orange, triple sec, topped with purple basil), The Carpet Bagger’s Wife (cava, currant pureé, and elderflower liqueur) and The Love Balm (lovage and lemon-balm infused gin, lovage simple syrup, lemon, mint, and seltzer). There was also a wooden canoe outside filled with a variety of local beers. Hors d’oeuvres included beet lollipops, deviled eggs, boiled peanuts, lobster with micro beet greens, canapés, and grilled pimento cheese sandwiches.


Laura also personalized each of the dining tables with jars of her homemade pickled ramps along with Brian’s sister and brother-in-law’s pickled watermelon, and bottles of her favorite seasoning, crushed salemme pepper. Dave Salemme, Brian’s brother-in-law is part of the Salemme Pepper Company in Connecticut. Laura also baked her heart-shaped lavender shortbread cookies as favors. The ceremony took place up a hill, inside a forest of towering pine trees, surrounded by a circle of family and friends. Afterwards, all the guests followed the happy couple down the hill, returning to the barn where the food and dancing began. The show-stopper of the evening was a roasted whole heritage pig along with 16-hour brined fried chicken, yogurt, and herbed potato salad, farro with baby squash, purple cauliflower and roasted garlic dressing, asparagus kale salad with lemon anchovy vinaigrette, heirloom tomato and corn salad with cotija and lime vinaigrette, and a salad of local baby lettuces with Muscadet vinaigrette. To end the night, it was back up the hill, now lit by a path of candles and troops of flickering lightning bugs, leading the way to a spectacular bonfire and a crawfish boil under the stars!


VENDORS Food Fig & Pig Catering, Brooklyn Local Island Creek Oysters from Duxbury, Massachusetts DJ Sasha Foo, Brooklyn Venue The Roxbury Barn, Catskills

Profile for Sweet Paul Magazine

Matthew Robbins Sweet Paul Weddings #1 2017