Sarah Howery Hart

Sarah Howery Hart

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
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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!
Website URL:

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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!
Website URL:

Catch 'n Release: The Game


Wednesday, 11 June 2014 19:13

Couple Takes Over Entire Inn for Wedding

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!
Website URL:

Catch 'n Release: The Game


Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:46

Hair Today: What’s New for Winter and Spring

Tom HardcastleTom Hardcastle owner of Delilah Salon in Ojai California, creating a romantic up-do. Photo by Maureen Clark.Tom Hardcastle, owner of Delilah Hair Salon in the celebrity-laden hamlet of Ojai, a Hollywood "bedroom community," says there are definitely new trends in hair, as seen this winter and anticipated for spring. "Think Jennifer Lawrence," he begins. "The standout style is the 'crop/pixie' which is gaining in the popular mainstream."

Lindsay Hall, whose four-year-old Baltimore salon, Flaunt, was recently contacted to style for Wilson Phillips on location, agrees. "Whatever is on the red carpet," she says, "popular music artists, and particular celebrities, makes a huge impact on what hair trends are happening in the salon. We are still getting a lot of Miley Cyrus/ Jennifer Lawrence cropped shorter cuts and Justin Timberlake or Macklemore hair for guys."

Regarding color, Tom, who opened Delilah ten years ago, says he's seeing a return to the more natural. "Blondes are heading towards ash, while other colors gravitate towards warmth and red." He adds that, the "ombré" look is on the way out, being replaced by a new 'edgier' trend. "The edgier crowd is wearing panels of color rather than streaks," he explains

On the East Coast, Lindsay says there is still a more subtle ombré, but adds, "I see a lot of natural painted-on highlights (balayage) or looks with blended dimension that are very popular. Metallic color is awesome!" Currently, she's doing the retro look too. "I'm seeing a big wave of 90's hair coming. From grungy pastel fantasy colored hair to French braids. For women, I see a lot of blunt mid length styles with lots of texture. Short hair is still very in and longer mid length hair as well. I would say hair is worn mostly down depending on the length and look trying to be achieved."Lindsay HallLindsay Hall styles a client at her Baltimore salon, Flaunt. Photo courtesy Lindsay Hall.

Regarding length, Tom says it's varied. "But texture is more natural, softer lengths within designs." He adds that a return to natural seems to be a trend in itself. "Natural curl makes a comeback with special curl enhancing products. It's not your mom's crunchy 80's curl." He's also doing up off the face styles in ponytails or twists. He adds, "Bangs are making a comeback, too--soft and sideswept. Bangs set the trend for 2014."

Lindsay concurs. "Bangs are one of the best ways to update or change your look. Natural and thermally created. Bangs 100%."

There are other new looks for brides as well. "Brides are also choosing a softer, 70's-type style," Tom says. "Twisted, sides, looser almost undone, using braids incorporated to bring hair up. With the braids and 'wide' volume, rather than height, simple lines and loose large wave. Flowers are the accessory to look for in an up-do for 2014."

Lindsay says, "Bridal hair now seems more casual. I see one of two things. One, the bride is in a loose but formal up-do and the bridesmaids are wearing their hair down or it's the opposite. I am always doing a ton of volume and making the hair bigger than life for brides' up-dos. Even if the hair is being styled down, there is always volume." She adds that the classic long veil remains popular, and also the birdcage veil.

Regarding bridesmaids, Lindsay says they now choose individual styles. "Before, I think the bride would tell everyone to get an up-do but now it's up to the person." She says retro hairstyles are always in for bridesmaids. "A Classic French Twist or a Chignon never gets old, in my opinion. My favorite thing to do is put a vintage rhinestone brooch in a messier style for one or two of the bridesmaids."

Tom explains the new styles for men also. "Hair shows length through the top, but a high tight back and sides. A bit of an 80's redux."

Lindsay is doing longer tops also. "For guys, the slick side part is moving out and into a more lengthy textured style on top is in. A very tight fade on the sides and a long textured cut on top, which can be worn multiple ways." She adds that undercuts are very popular, as is color. "A lot of blending grey on the sides or bumping the hair at the shampoo bowl for five minutes to brighten it up. I see everything from dark brown grey coverage to painted-on lighter pieces."

Whatever style is selected, "product," is in order, with new trends there too. "Products are looking to exotic oils for nourishment and styling," Tom explains, "such as argon oil and a variety of blends, oil-based shampoos to keep hair soft during the dryness of winter. Oil replaces silicone as the 'must have' ingredient." Among his popular products is the Osis+ Magic gloss, and the Joico K-Pak Split End Mender.

J. Beverly Hills is one of Lindsay's favorites. "His latest product is part of his Platinum line that uses all luxury ingredients for women including shampoo and conditioners to dry shampoo and coconut Revive Oil. We also most always finish the bridal styles with his anti- humectant shine spray to block out moisture in the air and keep their styles looking glossy all day through the wedding." She also uses Kevin Murphy, natural and animal-cruelty free.

"Overall," Tom concludes, styling cues are following the styling of clothes and interior with a definite nod to the early 70's."

And, Lindsay adds one more trend, the blow-out (shampoo, blow dry, and style). "It's a very big trend."


Additional Styles by Lindsay Hall:








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!
Website URL:


Catch 'n Release: The Game


For Southern California residents Sherry and Epher, their first date, scheduled for a July evening in 2010, actually didn't happen. Epher had planned an outing with a friend who also knew Sherry, and although Sherry was invited too, she had to decline due to an early morning trip she was making the next day. However, the women exchanged phone numbers, and while waiting for her flight, Sherry forgot how early it actually was and texted Epher to see how the evening before had gone. That text led to more, and after two weeks Sherry and Epher had begun to know each other quite well.

Having liked what they'd learned about each other via texting, the couple planned several real dates. "The first night we met up, we saw a movie," Sherry recalls. "I was so nervous I must have finished half a bucket of popcorn before the previews ended. We had coffee after the movie and stayed up until 2 pm talking." The next night, they had dinner and talked until 4 in the morning, sharing the various facets of their lives, including Sherry's passion for hiking, reading, drawing, and her love of cars. Epher shared her passions too: cooking, wine collecting, boxing, tennis, and collecting toys.

One common interest they discovered was their fondness for each other, and their life became a round of whirlwind trips between their two households. "Our homes were just far enough to be considered long distance," Sherry explains. "Epher lived in Santa Clarita, and I lived in Camarillo, but between work, home, and family responsibilities we made every effort to see one another at least several times a week." Their travels also took them to visit each other's families in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties.

But there were other trips, too. "Epher was also making weekly trips to San Diego to help her dad out with taking care of her mom," Sherry explains. Taking care of her mom and spending time with the rest of our families became an integral part of our relationship."

In October 2012, the couple formalized that relationship by registering as domestic partners, but on one of their many drives to San Diego in July 2013, they took their relationship to the next level. "We were discussing summer plans," Epher recalls. "Sherry's high school friends were going to be in town, and one of them happened to be an ordained priest." Epher suggested that with the recently adopted legislation permitting same-sex marriage in California, they should ask that friend to marry them.

That decision, three years after they'd first met, led to another whirlwind of activity, this time making wedding plans, including a ceremony aboard the California Princess in San Diego Bay, scheduled for August 10, 2013. "We wanted something a little different than the traditional wedding," Epher explains, "and really liked the idea of a dinner-cruise wedding. The décor was simple, beige linens with lanterns on the table tops, sprinkled with See's Candy favors. We had roughly 80 guests, ages ranged from 5 months to 82 yrs old." Guests were asked to wear "yacht club casual," and upon boarding they enjoyed drinks, baked brie, and hummus.

Both brides chose white, with Epher donning a princess style dress and Sherry a blazer and slacks.  They stood before their officiant, the Reverend Kate Lewis, along with Sherry's high school friend, the Reverend Deborah Noonan. Matrons of Honor included Epher's older sister, Leah, and Sherry's childhood friend, Amanda. Epher customized vows from several traditional ceremonies, and Reverend Noonan personalized a Reflections piece, including the couple's backgrounds, and honoring Epher's late mother. Each bride proceeded down aisles on opposite sides of the yacht, meeting at the front, where they tied the Fisherman's Knot, symbolizing both their individuality and combined strength together. They exchanged simple platinum bands.

They had planned an onboard reception too, and after the ceremony the cuisine included tray-passed hors d' oeuvres of crab stuffed mushrooms, mini-beef wellington, and bruschetta. Following, the buffet dinner included top sirloin round roast, the cold-water fish, arctic char, wild mushroom risotto, and grilled vegetables. The couple offered a choice of Red Velvet cake, with cream cheese frosting, or chocolate cake with raspberry mousse. Epher, who includes cooking among her hobbies, worked closely with the caterers.

A disc jockey entertained the couple's guests. "There was a photo booth, too," Epher says, "and a guest scrapbook, and top shelf open bar! Kids were provided with a coloring/arts and crafts station." There was also a fireworks display.

Both brides had to return to their jobs immediately, Sherry as a Supply Chain Program Manager for a scientific company, Epher as an educator for honors geometry and algebra classes at a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math magnet school. However, their planning continues: now, plans are being made for a honeymoon next year in Italy.


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. To contact Sarah and for more information please visit

 Catch 'n Release: The Game

"I often say to people when I show them pictures of our family that we are the new Norman Rockwell family," says Alexander Fischer-Oelschlaeger, a registered nurse from Rock Island, Illinois. These pictures, though, include two fathers, Alexander and Curtis, two mothers, Suzie and Mary, and two children, Elijah, eight, and Emilie, six, all engaged in one of their numerous family activities.

Alex's husband, Curtis Fischer-Oelschlaeger, director of choral activities for Rock Island's Rockridge School District, recalls this family's beginnings. "I did not know Suzie and Mary when the subject came up as I had just started dating Alex. He asked me what I thought about kids, and I told him I loved my niece, nephew, and teaching. He then explained that he was thinking about helping Suzie and Mary have a baby." Curtis adds that these four became very close. "They (Suzie and Mary) decided they wanted Alex and me to play a larger role in the kids' lives and that is how it started."

There was only one problem. Wives Mary and Suzie lived three hours away. "We were all aware of our living situations when we started, so it is something we continue to work on," Curtis explains, adding that meetings were easier when the children were pre-schoolers. "Weekdays were also options of spending time with them, but now it is limited to the weekends."

But these fathers have happily adjusted. "Curtis and Alex both have weekend schedules and obligations," says Suzie, a Financial Accounting Analyst, celebrating her twenty-fifth anniversary with the same company, "so they work around those obligations as best they can. I'm always amazed at what a crazy, hectic schedule they will have, but will still spend a day with the kids even though they could be resting or taking a break." Suzie adds that she and Mary also take Elijah and Emilie to Rock Island so the six of them can be together and that periodically, Alexander ("Daddy") and Curtis ("Papa") have the children by themselves. Mary, who works for Nationwide Insurance, adds, "It is good to have the support of Curtis ad Alex to provide feedback and an extended loving family for Elijah and Emilie."

The family vacations together too. "This can get a little crazy as any trip with six people would be," Suzie says, "but they have been very enjoyable. This is something we plan to keep doing in the future as schedules permit."

In spite of the distance, this family's experiences have all been positive. Suzie says that having Alexander and Curtis to bounce ideas off of is a definite plus. "We appreciate all the time they spend with the kids and all the things they do with the kids."

Due to the distance, the mothers are in charge of most activities, but when Curtis and Alex are in town they shuttle the children back and forth. "We, also, try to make it to as many of their events as possible," Alexander says, "school or outside of school." Curtis adds, "If there is a practice or a party on the weekend and we are there, Alex and I are more than willing to take the children to those."

Concerning individual time with the children, each adult plays a unique roll. Suzie explains that the children have really chosen their own activities, but the parents will also choose activities for them to try. "Eli really did not like sports," Suzie adds, "but loves competitive cheerleading. Emilie is enjoying soccer right now." They both like swimming, Suzie's forte. "I don't like sports and I don't know anything about competitive cheerleading," she says," but I love swimming and being by the water as much as they do."

Mary enjoys walking, biking, and nature and likes to be outside with them. "I like to kick the soccer ball with Emilie. I also like to read books to Elijah and Emilie. I also take them to the zoo and farmers' market quite often."

Curtis says his position as a music teacher has filtered into working with the children. "I am also involved in theater and both kids seem to really enjoy creating new plays and using their imaginations."

Genealogy enthusiast Alexander wants the children to know the importance of family. "Knowing where one comes from can help where we go and help with our life choices. We can learn from our history."

Having such an extensive family means an extensive family history for Elijah and Emilie. And it means a lot of extra love. "They have four parents that get along and have so much love to give," Alexander says. "The kids also have so much love from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. By having such a big family, I believe Elijah and Emilie understand the importance of family."

The children get lots of love from family friends and acquaintances too, all of whom express happiness for this group. "As far as I know they are very supportive and accepting," Suzie says. "It's funny how when you decide to make decisions such as this, you really don't seek the approval of others. You do what is right for yourself. It has worked out for us and I think we have been very lucky."

"I think everyone that knows us well is used to our situation," Curtis says, "and they love to see the kids' pictures, to hear stories, and see them when they are in town." He adds that his parents travel to watch the children's activities and look forward to holidays together.

Alexander says, "The kids, Suzie, and Mary are loved/supported by mine and Curtis' family. My co-workers have been wonderful and love hearing about us. As I stated earlier, I tell people we are the new Norman Rockwell family."

But perhaps even more so than most families, this modern Normal Rockwell family has had no guidebook. "This has really been a learning experience for all of us," Curtis explains, "as we are really making up the rules as we go along. There is not a model for us to follow and we are just doing the best we can."

Their "best" appears to be fantastic, judging by the children's successes and healthy self-esteem. When asked what he wanted people to know about him, Elijah said it's that he's "awesome," and he has a lot of friends and he likes to play with them. He says it's "cool" to have four parents even though some people make fun.

And Emilie's comment, "I love my family!" seems to summarize the success these two moms and two dads have achieved.


Sarah Howery Hart is a California-based freelance magazine writer, and author of "Catch 'n Release: The Game," the first in her series of murder mysteries.  Visit her website for further information:

 Catch 'n Release: The Game

For Christmas in 2003 Curtis Oelschlaeger asked Alexander Fischer to open a gift, a CD of Garth Brooks' "To Make You Feel My Love." While Alex listened to that CD, Curtis gave him a second present, a diamond ring. "Although Curtis asked me to be his partner for life," Alex recalls, "I did not fully understand at first. I called a friend to tell her about the wonderful ring I had just opened, and she is actually the one that made me realize what Curtis was asking. At which point I said yes!"

Alex, who has an ADN from Iowa Methodist School of Nursing, a BSN from Trinity College of Nursing and Health Services, and Curtis, with a B.A. in music, an M.A. in vocal performance, and M.A.E. in education from Truman State University, met online in 1997. Alex moved to Rock Island to be with Curtis in 2004, and that year they moved into their new home.

Soon, the couple began to fill that home, eventually adding five dogs, three cats, an orange-winged Amazon Parrot, and some fish, and, as of eight years and six years ago, respectively, two children, Elijah and Emilie. Although the children live primarily with their mothers in Des Moines, Iowa, Curtis and Alex keep involved through monthly visits and vacations.

Adding one more element to their full household, once marriage was legalized in Iowa in April 2009, Alex, a Registered Nurse at Trinity Medical Center, and Curtis, Director of Choral Activities for the Rockridge School District began thinking about a wedding. "We started tossing around the idea of having a ceremony," Alex says, "since we had been together for many years and were helping to raise two children." Just eight weeks later, Alex and Curtis had put together a magnificent June wedding at Tanglewood in Bettendorf, Iowa.

"After booking Tanglewood," Alex says, "we really had to get busy. We came up with a theme for our reception which was going to be family trees and in particular genealogy (one of Alex's passions.) We decided that each table would be dedicated to a family surname from one of our families complete with their name and the oldest picture we could find of those family members." The placed a picture of their first date on each table too, to connect it to their new family name, the combination "Fischer-Oelschlaeger." Continuing the theme, tables were topped with tree branch candle holders, and wedding favors were silver tree bookmarks.

For their flowers they chose Calla Lilies, and both "Best Ladies," in one-shoulder black Grecian style dresses, carried a Calla Lily bouquet. Their cake was embellished with Calla Lily accents too. "The wedding cake was easy for us as we were both looking separately at a wedding cake website and selected the exact same cake at different times," Alex says. "We started with that as the basic cake and then had the designer add Calla Lily accents to bring in the theme of our flowers." The cake was topped by a handcrafted gemstone tree with their birthstones.

Keeping with what they referred to as a "very old school tradition," both grooms wore gray slacks with black tail jackets, vests and ascots. "Our wedding was very traditional," says Alex, "and we used traditional vows and readings. Music was provided by musicians that work closely with Curtis and one soloist was a former student; he sang the 'Lord's Prayer.' The other soloist sang 'Build My House.'" The couples' unity candle holders were rough onyx.

In a wedding that was beautifully planned in just eight weeks, there was what Alex and Curtis refer to as the "scariest moment." Alex explains, "Our daughter Emilie walked over to the memory table (in memory of family members who could not be with us) and tried to blow the candle out. We thought she was going to knock the whole table over."

There was a "funniest moment" too. "The pastor," Curtis explains, "asked us to turn and face the audience, and Alex let out this huge audible which point everyone had a little laugh." But that was followed by applause as the newly married couple walked down the aisle, with the congregation singing "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee."

Officiating was Reverend Michael Swartz from their home church, Church of Peace, UCC. Elijah, four at the time, was ring bearer, wearing a tux matching those of his "Daddy" and "Papa." Emilie, two, in a white dress with black flower scroll accents, was flower girl.

For the reception there was a woodwind quartet during the buffet dinner and a dance band comprised of some of Curtis' former students. Alex and Curtis Fischer-Oelschlaeger danced their first dance to the CD that Alex had opened that Christmas six years earlier, "To Make You Feel My Love".


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.  To contact Sarah and for more information please visit


Catch 'n Release: The Game


"This place setting above is an example of how Mango Muse Events owner Jamie Chang incorporated the 2013 trendy color green into a tablescape."

Over the past few years there have been thousands of "green" weddings, in that they are designed to respect and protect the environment. However, this year there is another "green" type of wedding too, those incorporating the color green, Emerald Green, to be exact, the Panatone "Color of the Year." The Pantone company, for nearly fifty years the world's foremost color authority, develops innovative color solutions using a variety of color standards and supports design professionals through a number of services.

Jamie Chang, Lead Event Designer and Owner of the San Francisco area's Mango Muse Events says, "The Pantone color of the year is Emerald Green, which I'm sure we'll see popping up all over the place. There are many trends happening right now in wedding design, but I think there are a few that will be big in 2013. The first is color. ."

But Jamie, who designs weddings world-wide, particularly Northern California and Hawaii, says she doubts that many couples actually choose a color scheme based on the fact that it is an "official" Color Of The Year. "However," she says, "I do think that color (of the year) does become a part of our subconscious because you see it in many places. In addition, the Pantone color can be a good indicator for the style or feeling that is currently happening in fashion or design which in turn influences weddings. These things together, I think, influence both what couples see and like, especially the trendier couples."

To explain further, Jamie says that she saw this phenomenon in 2012 as well. "Last year's (Panatone) color was a tangerine orange. While, I didn't have any couples specifically choose tangerine, couples did choose brighter colors, and I had a few weddings where they either wanted a bright yellow or bright yellow orange."

There is also a trend in color as it relates to emotions and feelings. "I do think there is connection," Jamie says, "If a couple is more calm and quiet, they may tend to like soothing colors like blues, soft grays and ivory. A younger, outgoing couple may use bolder colors with more contrast." She says that to her, green always symbolizes nature, growth and life. "So the emotions behind green for a wedding are the excitement of starting a new life together. Emerald Green in particular, also has a sexiness to it, so I think it also subtly symbolizes creating a family as well." She believes that color may also relate to the economy. "I do think the economy is in a better shape, which may be subtly influencing design and color."

Jamie's perceptions are in line with those expressed on the Panatone website, which states that Emerald Green "enhances our sense of well-being further by inspiring insight, as well as promoting balance and harmony." It further states that the color has always represented beauty and new life, renewed growth, and property. The website adds that no color conveys regeneration more than green.

Jamie sees trends in the colors couples are mixing with their chose of green also. "Metallics work well with Emerald Green,. like silver, gold, or pewter. Emerald Green is a deep color with a richness to it, so the metallics work nicely to accent that richness." She adds that black also complements the Emerald. "It brings with it a bit of mystery and fantasy. Depending on the exact shade of Emerald, you could also bring in a pop of red or purple as well."

Jamie explains that this richness and luxury we're currently seeing is also a trend in style. "We're moving away from the rustic style to one that is a little more modern, classic and sophisticated. It means that the style of the decor and the mood of the wedding will take on cleaner lines and a crispness."

The color green, in general is associated with a certain crispness, as a Google search of "color and symbolism" reveals. Various sites attest that green symbolizes health, new beginnings, growth, security, and possibility.

"We are ready to indulge a little more than we have been over the last few years," she says. She adds that we have missed being able to be extravagant. "Colors do bend to that desire to have a little more luxury in our lives."

The Panatone website sums this all up by saying that the Emerald, a brilliant, precious gemstone, has been a source of fascination throughout history. It is most often associated what is sophisticated and luxurious. It lends itself well to all facets of design, including the design of your wedding.


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.  To contact Sarah and for more information please visit


Catch 'n Release: The Game