Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Destination Wedding...Rehearsal Dinner, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Destination weddings are usually a three-day event. Part I of this weekend was at the incredible rehearsal dinner held at Hidden Court, Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Guests were escorted through the courtyard to the room overlooking the Koi pond. There they found the escort table…where they looked for their seating cards which rested atop a bed of wheat grass:

In the living room, this dramatic arrangement of roses and scabiosa pods sat on a sideboard. It was created in a large square glass container, lined with ti leaves. Bright oranges and shocking pinks were featured both in the house and in the tent.

After enjoying cocktails on the back terrace … overlooking the endless meadow and the Atlantic ocean …on a “perfect” weather day….the guests walked to the tent where they were awed by the decorations on the French farm tables and the spectacular buffet table. The long centerpieces, which included an abundance of unique ferns and flowers: crocodile ferns, fiddle neck ferns, mini calla lilies, cock’s comb, pin cushion flowers, poppy pods, gerber daisies, roses, asclepia and kangaroo paws, artistically arranged in rectangular glass containers. On either side of the centerpieces the d├ęcor included very long bird nest ferns and votive candles. For a special effect, each centerpiece was “pin spotted”.

The “Barbeque Chic” menu included shelled lobster on a bed of lettuce, pork ribs, corn, baked beans, grilled vegetables, jalapeno corn bread and much more. Churchill Caterers provided the most delicious food and impeccable service.

An arrangement of vegetables and flowers sat atop a small table in front of the buffet table.

What a fabulous evening at this magical estate: happy guests, delicious food, beautiful flowers, perfect weather…and yes, a full moon!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Danbury News Time: Flower arranger divulges trends for weddings

"Wedding season is here again, and Loretta Stagen, a transplant from the state's Gold Coast happily acclimated to western Connecticut, is fired up with enthusiasm and ideas.

Yes, the recent royal wedding and the U.S. Color Council's 2011 palette can't help but influence choices in style and color, and the average spending for one family's personal extravaganza could easily buy a mid-size car.

Stagen has overseen flowers at weddings over the top as well as modest, and she believes beautiful bouquets and arrangements can go a very long way to setting a tone.

On a recent Friday at her studio in New Preston, she was working on a wedding for a bride with only $1,400 to spend on flowers.

The solution? A large arrangement that would be mounted on a pedestal for the service and a bouquet of double white freesia, snowy sweet peas, and purple lianthus and anemones.

"This is going to be elegant and gorgeous," she declared, "and well within her budget."

After more than 20 years of enhancing brides and tables in Fairfield County, and now Litchfield County, Stagen has learned to deflect any practical problems that might come her way.

The week leading up to such occasions has been whittled to a science -- whether it's ordering and fetching flowers from her favorite vendors in the New York flower district, to conditioning them and saving the very best to arrange on the wedding day.

Stagen gets her ideas from upscale designers and from shops, from her travels, and sometimes from museum exhibitions. She has done ethnic weddings and theme weddings, weddings with orchids and roses. as well as with sunflowers.

She has done glorious weddings at the ocean and in the country, and weddings for a succession of a client's daughters and cousins.

Receptions these days are a far cry from ones many aging boomers remember -- at the church hall after the service or the potluck celebration in a field.

And the flower budget, once about 10 percent of the total cost of the wedding, must now often compete with spending for lighting. For the average wedding with 150 guests, Stagen said, the flower tab now runs about $5,000.

Tastes are formed not only by British royalty, but by what the stars are decked out in at the Oscars and the Golden Globes.

The colors are already shifting from Sandra Bullock blush to Angelina Jolie's emerald green, and mixes like hot orange and pink (think of Sasha Obama's dress at the presidential inauguration) are gaining popularity.

Stagen was among the 28 vendors displaying their wares recently at the Washington Club, where a modest smattering of brides-to-be strolled from table to table.

The young women seemed cagier --or was it better informed? -- than in previous generations. They were taking samples and looking through portfolios, but not necessarily committing to anyone or anything.

Stagen had set up two tables that showed the sweep of this season's fashion, one a serene and elegant table with modern square plates on a celadon-colored cloth.

A centerpiece of Dutch white hydrangeas in a cube-shaped glass container lined with leaves and sliced limes made a refreshing focal point, while matching celadon napkins and satin ribbons with individual sprays of verbena finished off the look.

At table No. 2, for contrast, she showcased the new melon-color "Free Spirit" rose in an arrangement set in a strikingly tall glass vase. Wire reminiscent of Alexander Calder's circus creations added to a look that was color-popping and contemporary.

Taking in the room of caterers, photographers, travel planners, wedding stationers and booking agents, it was clear it easily can take a village, or an ample assortment of local merchants, to get a wedding day up and running.

During the planning, Stagen said, she makes a point of steering clear of family dynamics.

"Right off the bat I want to find out who is in charge of the decision making," she said, having dealt with some "bridezillas" in her day. Because so many brides and bridegrooms are marrying late, they may want to micromanage, even if the bride's parents are picking up the check, she added.

" I make a point of being kind to the mothers," she said, who are not only giving up a child but paying for it -- big time, in a myriad of ways."

Published 06:07 p.m., Saturday, July 16, 2011