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Sarah Howery Hart

Sarah Howery Hart

Sarah Howery Hart is a California-based freelance magazine writer, and author of the first in her series of murder mysteries, Catch ‘n Release: The Game.  Avaliable now on Amazon.com!

Website URL: http://www.SarahHoweryHart.com

AngAffairsRWN29Kelly Teves, owner and creative mind behind Angelic Affairs Wedding & Event Planning and Floral Design operates her business out of two locations:  Newport,  Rhode Island and in Beverly Hills, California.  However, technically, she operates worldwide, planning weddings as far away as the Azores Islands, and even farther. Her wide array of talents, and those of her staff, enable her to design and personally implement your entire event from save-the-date cards, to personally created florals, to personally created Swarovski and silk ribbon-adorned candles, to miraculously transforming a former 1880’s military armory into a fairytale venue for a fairytale night.

Her knack for armory-to-amorous concepts--backed by her knack for creativity-- is something Teves developed through yeas as a model and an interior designer, her training  through Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, and now ten years as an event planner--has become somewhat of a brand. “We particularly specialize in planning custom, unique, offbeat, out-of-the-box, themed weddings and events,” she says.

Teves’ outside-the-box events require more than creative talent on a variety of levels, however. They include having an up-close familiarity with the latest in wedding and reception trends, and she is on top of it all for 2016, and even beyond, with well-informed predictions, the first being that weddings will be more elaborate, but not in the traditional sense. Rather, they are becoming elaborate in terms of their creativity, with those outside the box themes for which Teves has become widely known.

But she says that although couples are looking for creative weddings, many come to her not knowing what they want, so she begins immediately to develop a theme   “I send a questionnaire and help them figure it out.  For instance, I ask how they first met, about their first date, what they like to do together and individually.  Then, we take their data and design a wedding that is custom tailored to who they are.” One example is a wedding theme based on one partner’s past career as a pin-up model, the other’s career as an entertainer, and a proposal taking place on an island.  Mixing these events led to a vintage 1950s Coney Island theme, with the ceremony on a stage, reminiscent of a stage show.

Teves said that one current trend, which she forecasts will continue, involves another former time period, the 1920s and 1930s, such as her cousin and partner’s Great Gatsby-themed wedding. Teves says this time-frame theme has impacted wedding color choices too, with décor in black with touches of red or pink, or black and gold or silver with accents of deep red.  “I don’t know what started this trend,” Teves says,” but it seems to be here through 2016, and even for my couples planning weddings for 2017.”
 This return to the 1920s and 1930s is impacting other facets of the wedding too, including bridal wear and formal wear, and Teves says this can present challenges.  “They’re looking for vintage, which can be hard to find.  Vintage wedding dresses often have to be ordered online.”

ARMORY21For grooms, Teves sees fewer tuxedos in themed weddings, unless they are 1920s-1930s themes.  “Grooms are trending toward suits versus a tux.  And suits are not all black, but maybe navy blue, or even patterned.  There are patterned ties and vests, also.” She adds that other grooms are even wearing khakis, jackets and vests, such as one Kennedy-era wedding she’s creating for a Newport celebration this spring. 

Couples are also sliding more into what Teves describes as their own “comfort zone,”  meaning going with their own wishes, not necessarily those of others. “In particular, there is less input from parents,” she explains.  “This can be challenging because couples want something new, and parents often want a more traditional wedding.   But as parents start to see things fall into place, most eventually embrace what their kids want to do.”  Again, the armory wedding provides a classic example. “The wedding was at an 1800s armory, which had also been used as a flea market and for bands and shows. One of the fathers couldn’t visualize that place as a wedding venue.” But Teves says he came to love it. “I was actually brought to tears because of his heartfelt speech at the wedding.  He looked around and thanked my vendors for how they had transformed the space.”

Couples are changing up their food and beverage choices too.    “For drinks, a lot of couples want craft beers They like unique drinks, and some couples want no alcohol at all, but rather soda.”   Teves says patterns are similar for reception dining.  “A lot of couples want that casual feel, and they’re going for stations rather than the sit-down dinner.  It’s a little more homey, and people can mingle.”  She adds that food trucks are also becoming a trend, and at one of her travel theme tropical summer weddings she had a huge tent, and a barbecue truck catered the wedding.   The couple and guests wore casual attire including Hawaiian shirts, lace cocktail dresses and flip flops.   She adds that every centerpiece included a photo of the couple traveling, and the cake was a globe.

Teves says  trends in desserts are changing too. “People are pulling away from wedding cakes. First, it was a cake and cupcakes too, or a smaller wedding cake on a table filled with other desserts.” She says that one of her couples opted for a variety of pies.  “Pies have become a favorite.”

There are new trends in music, too, a mix between DJs and bands, especially bands for the 1920s themed weddings.  “A lot of others are going with the IPod,” she adds, “and their own playlist. This is great for the more casual wedding.”  For those who choose DJs she says the more traditional wedding themed songs are no longer that popular.  “The couples who go with DJs aren’t choosing trending music, but instead, their favorite songs, like from 1970s and 1980s.”

There are also new trends in flowers, photos and entertainment.  “Back in the day, flowers were a very big thing for people.  But they’re a lower priority now.  Some go with fresh flowers, even paper arrangements.”  However, Teves adds that photos are receiving more attention.  “People are spending their money on very good photography, with many people leaning toward a vintage look, the older looking photos.”  She says that the use of 35 mm film is popular, or editing photos to “age” them.  Photo booths are popular, and couples are having games such as bocce ball.

Weddings are smaller now, too. “Much smaller,” Teves says. “The average size is now about 60 to 80 guests, versus the 200 to 300 people that couples invited years ago.” She says that even her couples booking with her into 2017 are setting guest counts at under 200.

However, destination weddings are gaining ground, and smaller numbers of guests can facilitate taking over an entire location, and one example is a snowboard/snow lodge themed Vermont wedding Teves just completed.   “Destination weddings are becoming very popular, especially with so many couples being from different parts of the country, and even the world. So, they choose someplace in between and fly their families in.   At one I did recently at a Vermont lodge,  the wedding was small, with 40 guests.  They rented the entire property for the wedding. Guests came in on Thursday and had a rehearsal, then hearty food, stew, then, they went outside and cooked s’mores.”   Other activities included visiting a local bar to hear the band, and some guests went skiing and snowboarding over the weekend.

Teves adds that while destination weddings are on the rise, weddings in churches, synagogues and other religious settings are waning. “A lot of weddings are non-denominational, or they’re merging elements from two different religions. Most couples are being married by a family member or friend who has known them for a long time.”  She says couples continue to write their own vows and readings too.”

Teves is known worldwide for her uber-creative weddings, but she recalls how years ago she had to relocate from New England to Los Angeles to find a larger outlet for her ideas.   “I moved to California to plan more non-traditional weddings because the weddings in New England were still more traditional.” However, as trends changed toward the more creative weddings over the years, New England clients called her back, hence her east coast and west coast locations.

 But Teves can work her magic anywhere worldwide, including the Azores Islands.  “My family is originally from there, so that makes it easier to work with clients there. It’s been fun working there,” she says of one past event, “because they want more Americanized weddings. So I took elements of what was trendy in United States back then, and had all the guests release balloons.”

Regardless of the wedding size, theme or venue, one new trend is catching on fast:  giving back.   “We encourage our clients to donate their leftover food to local homeless shelters as well as flowers to a local hospice or hospital that is special to them,” Teves says. “So far, all of our couples have done that, which is very rewarding for all of us.”


Angelic Affairs
Kelley Teves


Sarah Howery Hart is a California-based freelance magazine writer, and author of the first in her series of murder mysteries, Catch ‘n Release: The Game.  Avaliable now on Amazon.com!
Website URL: http://www.sarahhoweryhart.com

CatchNRelease Banner


For Eric Ross and Mat Wood, July 7, 2007 was an especially lucky day.  “We had our first date on seven-seven-seven, the luckiest day,” says Eric, an LGBT activist and former Chapter Leader for Marriage Equality USA. From that first date, their good fortune has continued, including their Disneyland dream wedding in April, 2011.

But one of the most significant events for Eric and Mat, who combined their last names to become the Rosswood’s when they combined their lives through their marriage, came two years later, in 2013, when the couple combined their lives with yet another by adopting an infant son.  The decision to have a child was an easy one—the couple already knew they wanted to have a family. “We talked about kids on our first date,” Eric recalls.

However, deciding exactly how to begin that family was not as easy. “For same-sex couples starting a family, it can be more complicated than one might think,” Eric says.  He adds that the possibilities when beginning the journey to becoming parents are endless. “We didn’t know how we would want to start out. Adoption, surrogacy, fostering.”  The number of options available led to the couple putting an astronomical amount of hours into research, beginning with various agencies, a frustrating process.

“When I was researching, what I was finding was from the perspective of the agency. My challenge became finding people, those who had been through the process so we would know what to expect.   There can be travel logistics, financial issues, legal issues in different states and countries.”

Then, still more decisions to be made, including what type of adoption, but that issue found resolution too.   “After my husband and I researched different paths for almost two years, we talked long and hard about it, and we decided that open adoption would be best for us.  We liked what it offered, such as staying in contact with birth parents.” He says deciding factors included having an open connection for their child’s heritage and medical background.
Eventually, they found their ideal agency, and then they were on to the next step, which meant that they were on the “being researched” end of the spectrum.  “In open adoption, the birth parents choose who they want to place their child with,” Eric explains.  The birth parent takes the time to research who they want to have their child, and make sure it’s a good place for their child to grow up.   The contact can be as much or as little as people want.”
The next decision was then made: the birth mother chose Eric and Mat, and the couple was present at the birth of their son.  Eric says that, now, two years later, they are like one big extended family.  “We talk to the birth mother once a week.  We have face time so they can see each other and talk to each other.  We send photos all the time, and we visit in person once a year. Our son has a half-brother and half-sister, and he knows that they’re family.”  That means their son also has special names for the adults in the family. “He calls his birth mother “Mum,” influenced by Mat’s British heritage.”  He calls Eric “Dad” or “Daddy,” and Mat is “Pop.”
When it comes to activities and childcare, both Dad and Pop have their own roles, as well as sharing many.  Eric, who continues his career as a writer, now from home for The New Civil Rights Movement, which allows him to be a stay-at-home dad, says, “I’m pretty much the one that does most of the childcare responsibilities.  Our son keeps me busy right now, too, with activities like swim classes.”   Mat, Chief Financial Officer for a large law firm has his role too, at night and on weekends.  “Mat does diaper changes and the bedtime story,” Eric says. “He does things on the weekends, like the park. He’ll probably be helping more with the home work, especially math. That’s not my forte.”
Eric adds that it is he, however, in somewhat the more disciplinarian role.   “I’m probably the one that’s more strict, just because I’m here all the time. I’m the rule enforcer.” He adds, “Our son is two, so he’s testing boundaries right now.”

Outings together for Eric, Mat, and their son include an annual trek to Disneyland.  “We go for every October for ‘Gay Days,’” Eric says. “Starting before our son was born.”  And of course, the theme park can’t help but bring back memories of their Disney wedding.

The conclusion is that there are definitely challenges to the adoption process.  “Another challenge, also,” Eric says, “is the emotional challenge, the high stress that comes with adoption.  Everything is unpredictable while it’s happening. People have to keep open. It can be stressful on relationships.”  

When asked about advice concerning parenting for same-sex couples, this couple has plenty of helpful hints and suggestions, so many that Eric has put them together in a book, Journey to Parenthood (New Horizon Press). His guide, due out in early 2016, is designed to help prospective parents explore the many paths to parenthood, including adoption, surrogacy, assisted reproduction, foster parenting, and co-parenting. It is based on real experiences from people who have taken the parenting journey, and includes the answers to a multitude of questions including what couples should ask themselves before proceeding.
In spite of the challenges, there has been plenty of good luck for this family, beginning with Eric and Mat’s meeting on the ultimate “good luck day,” July 7, 2007.  But now they are planning on bringing even more luck to their family. “We’re in the middle of a move to Kansas,” Eric explains. “After that, we’d like to adopt more children in the future.”


Sarah Howery Hart is a California-based freelance magazine writer, and author of the first in her series of murder mysteries, Catch ‘n Release: The Game.  Avaliable now on Amazon.com!
Website URL: http://www.sarahhoweryhart.com

Catch 'n Release: The Game


All photos courtesy of Kim Reilly of Studio K Photography


“When we decided to get married,” says Deb Leef concerning her recent nuptials with partner of 23 years, Arlene Kluizenaar, “Provincetown was an easy decision. We started investigating venues. Sage is one of the largest bed and breakfasts in Provincetown with an event room large enough to accommodate a smaller wedding with a buffet set-up.”  The Inn is loaded with history too, as Provincetown’s first hotel, the Pilgrim House in the late 1700’s, visited by celebrities such as Henry David Thoreau.

Eight months prior to their May 17, 2014 wedding, the Pennsylvania couple traveled to Massachusetts to survey their proposed wedding venue.  They quickly decided that Sage Inn was where they wanted to be, then started the planning process, from hundreds of miles away.  “We planned everything long-distance,” Deb says, “by phone and emails with the help of Sage's amazing General Manager, Cathy Nagorski. She was able to hook us up with a photographer, florist and trolley company.”

The couple had actually had a lot longer to think about the possibility of marriage, though: 32 years.   They first met in 1982 while volunteering with an ambulance corps in Westchester County New York, where they lived prior to moving to Pennsylvania in 1991 so they both could return to school. They both graduated from Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University in 1993, Deb with a Master's in Physical Therapy, and Arlene with a Bachelor’s degree as a Physician Assistant, and eventually a Master's of Health Sciences degree from Drexel University.

During this time, the nature of their future together was always on their minds. “We had discussed getting married or having a commitment ceremony,” Deb recalls, “but didn't really feel that it meant much. When the federal government decided to recognize same-sex marriage last year, we revisited the question more seriously and decided to take advantage of the protections marriage afforded.”

But there was a romantic side, too, including a most touching proposal. Deb explains, “Arlene proposed by holding our cat in her arms, kneeling down next to our dog and asking, ‘Will you marry us”?

 mg 5084smallArlene and Deb outside of Sage Inn in Provincetown, where they had their wedding, reception, and honeymoon.  Photo by Kim Reilly of Studio K PhotographyDeb said “yes,” the contact with Sage was made, and because the destination wedding meant guests travelling from several states--New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, and Colorado—Save The Date cards were sent half a year prior to the wedding.  Six months later, those 45 guests and the bridal party took over the entire Sage Inn. “Our guests filled all 19 rooms at the Inn,” Deb says.

For the ceremony, itself, Deb and Arlene chose a nearby beach location, Herring Cove, part of the National Seashore. “We used a trolley from Cape Destinations to transport guests from Sage to the beach for the ceremony.”

Their ceremony, conducted by Reverend Kate Wilkinson of the Provincetown Universalist Unitarian Meeting House, included a rose presentation. “It was in honor of those people who were with us in spirit such as our grandparents, Arlene's parents, my dad and uncle, and a good mutual friend of ours. We presented the roses to family members and friends who were significant to those being honored.”

The ceremony also included the couple reciting their personally written vows, at one point humorous. “Part of our vows,” Deb explains,  “included promising to take care of each other as long as possible, and when the time comes, to find a nice place with tasty food, pillow-top mattresses and ‘Animal Planet’ for me, and the ‘Weather Channel’ for Arlene. These are long-standing jokes which our families and close friends have heard us say for many years, and when we spoke those words during the ceremony we could hear a few chuckles of recognition.”

In addition, Reverend Kate conducted a blessing of the rings, with the brides and their brothers joining hands to represent the uniting of the two families.

After the ceremony, the trolley delivered guests back to Sage for cocktail hour before the reception. “Hors d'oeuvres included hot artichoke and tomato cheesecake,” Deb says, “cold whipped bleu cheese and pear crostini and smoked salmon with apple chutney.”

Their buffet dinner included a Spinach Salad with Crumbled Blue Cheese, Toasted Pecans, Dried Cherries, radish, grape tomatoes and raspberry vinaigrette Tomato and Mozzarella Platter; and Sliced Fruit Planner with Mint Flecked Orange Infused Honey. Vegetables included Sautéed Broccolini with Tarragon and Smoked Butter, and Whipped Yukon Potatoes with Aged White Cheddar.  Entrées included Seared Chicken Breast with Leek and Asparagus Saute; Smoked Pork Shanks with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce and Butternut Squash Ravioli with Vanilla Pecan Cream. Centerpieces and buffet arrangements were designed and created by Wildflower Florist.  Beverages included frozen margaritas, Drambuie, and specialty beers, Stone Suede Imperial, Stone Imperial Russian Stout, and Stone Smoked Porter.

Then, dessert, by Dessert by Alana. “We had a dessert buffet which included assorted butter cookies,” Deb says, “and Linzer tarts, mini cream puffs and mocha mousse shooters in personalized shot glasses that we ordered online. They said ‘Stolen from Deb & Arlene's Wedding, 5/17/14’." They also had a beach themed mocha layer cake decorated with a sand colored mocha icing and white chocolate in the shape of seashells. “We did the traditional cake cutting and fed each other a piece,” Deb says, “but after 32 years, no there was no ‘smushing’ it in each other’s faces!”

 mg 5175smallWine flutes inscribed with “Deb & Arlene, May 17, 2014,” were a gift from Deb’s brother, sister-in-law & nephews, given to the couple on the day of their wedding.Photo by Kim Reilly of Studio K PhotographyTable favors for each guest included a seashell place card holder, luggage tag, a Provincetown souvenir refrigerator magnet, butter cream mints, small bag of personalized M&M's, and the mocha mousse shot glass.

Entertainment was provided by Zoe Lewis, and Deb says, “Zoe played during the cocktail hour and for our first dance, her deeply touching rendition of Bob Dylan's, ‘Make You Feel My Love’.  Then she took a break before playing her 45-minute set during dinner.” During Zoe's break, the couple played downloaded music for the guests’ continued enjoyment.  “We had fast and slow dance tunes, including oldies and current hits as well as group dances like the electric slide, cupid shuffle and chicken dance.”

Additional “entertainment” came in the form of the couple handing out prizes to their guests. “We decided to do something a little unconventional in keeping with an unconventional wedding,” Deb explains. “We gave out door prizes to some of our guests: gummy worms to the first guest to RSVP and the first guest to book their room; a stuffed plane from the Disney movie Planes to the guest who traveled the farthest; an alarm clock for the last guest to return their RSVP; and calendars for the guests who didn't return their RSVP's.” All events were photographed by Kim Reilly of Studio K Photography.

Instead of numbering the guest tables, the couple named the tables after women they considered significant:  Edie Windsor, Ellen DeGeneres, Kate Clinton, Melissa Etheridge, Lily Tomlin, and Billie Jean King.

After the Big Day, Deb and Arlene spent several more days at the Sage Inn, on their honeymoon.




Sarah Howery Hart is a California-based freelance magazine writer, and author of the first in her series of murder mysteries, Catch ‘n Release: The Game.  Avaliable now on Amazon.com!
Website URL: http://www.sarahhoweryhart.com

Catch 'n Release: The Game


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