Gracious Events Blog

{VENUE SPOTLIGHT} The Ocean House

Written by Nicole Mitsakis

The Ocean House is a breathtaking iconic New England seaside resort high on the bluffs of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  They are the first and only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel in the state and were also ranked No. 1 Resort in the Continental United States and No. 5 Hotel in the World by the 2014 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards.  Originally built in 1868; in the early 2000s the building was beyond repair and had to be torn down.  The new owners at that time managed to salvage more than 5,000 artifacts from the original hotel, so that today’s Ocean House evokes a feel of the golden era of New England hospitality, but provides all the modern convenience.

Did you know that they have their very own, on-site Food Forager who is available to work with brides/bridal parties for some fun pre-wedding activities, such as teaching the bride how to make her soon-to-be husband’s favorite dish.  Whether you are coming to relax as family, celebrate a life moment or just dropping by to see the views it will not take you long to figure out why you will never want to leave.

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PHOTOGRAPHS- Pinterest

Eric Foley Photography

No Eye Has Seen

Two Chefs Really Are Better Than One!

Written by Tania Atkinson

From the moment the first plate was presented, we fell head over heals in love with Two Chef Are Better Than One catering! They have mastered the art of full-service catering, and even set a new standard in service, personality and presentation.  We were invited to a tasting in their facility in Lowell, Ma  where they not only run their catering business, but also operate a corporate kitchen for the employees of 1001 Pawtucket Blvd.  We were not alone in our tasting, as a number of soon-to-be brides and grooms were also having their tastings, however, the service we experienced was as if we were the only people in the room with an entire staff dedicated to just us.  Our meal began with the most elaborate cheese board I have ever experienced.  It included the most diverse array of tastes, color and texture all presented on a rustic wood board.  Every course from then on consisted of the most delicious combination of flavors we have ever experienced.  From the cajun style shrimp with a slight hint of sweetness, lobster crostini that melt in your mouth to the chicken skewers with mango chutney, every bit was delicious.  But the chefs at “Two Chefs” didn’t stop at the mouth watering food.  Their thought to presentation was flawless.  From the simple placement of the each bite sized mouthful, to the single fresh bloom on each plate perfectly coordinated with the color and season of food; their plates were a work of art.

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We can’t write this blog without mentioning the fabulous staff of Two Chefs are Better Than One.  We had the most enjoyable time chatting with Tara, Jamie and Alison who truly made us feel like the only ones there.  They had a very easy way of working with their guests that was efficient, yet not intrusive at all.  They were extremely knowledgeable of the foods that were being presented and easily answered any and all of our questions.  We can’t say enough about this fantastic organization and their outstanding quality of work.

{VENUE SPOTLIGHT} The Chatham Bars Inn

Written by Nicole Mitsakis

The Chatham Bars Inn is by far one of the prettiest venues on Cape Cod.  Whether you are planning a wedding, corporate event, family outing or just a vacation it’s a little slice of heaven.  A four diamond resort and part of the Leading Hotels of the World, CBI (as the locals refer to it) is hard to beat when it comes to view, location and service. In New England you have a choice of four seasons and CBI does not have an unfavorable one.  No matter what time of year you chose to visit I am positive you will want to stay and never leave.

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Photos: Pinterest

Michael Barnholdt Photography

KristinSutdio

Joe Mikos Photographers

GH Kim Photography

Not Just a “Guestbook”

Written by Tania Atkinson

If you find yourself wanting to put your own personal stamp on one particular corner of your wedding that showcases the fun and creative side of your personalities, make it your guestbook.  The guest book has come a long way from the days of signing an oversized photo album embossed with the couples’ initials.  Check out these fun ways of collecting and saving the names of all who attended your big day!

Show your guests your playful side with a little Jenga.  Guests can take a tile (without knocking down the stack, of course), then after successfully removing it, sign it with a funny comment or words of advice. Every time you play the game, you will be reminded of your special day and everyone who attended!

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We all like to be recognized and feel important, even though as guests, weddings aren’t really about us! A birthday calendar is a great way to keep track of all your friends’ birthdays, and it makes your guests feel special too!

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Guests love to give newly weds suggestions and tips they have learned over the years.  Why not take a cute jar, some popsicle sticks and  have your friends and family fill the jar with date night ideas.  It’s  a fun and interactive way to collect all of your guests names, and you have a full jar of ideas to put on a sofa table or bookcase to tap into whenever you are looking for a fun night out!  A “message-in-a-bottle” is another way to capture words of wisdom from those experienced at love and marriage.

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If you just feel that you need that guestbook, in actual “book form”, why not try this modern, yet rustic twist on the traditional guest Book.  This book is made of carved Pine wood with recycled brown paper, ideal for the more eco-friendly couple.  Each book is hand carved, making it that much more special.

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For the fun loving, comical couple looking for the complete opposite of a traditional guestbook, there are “Guest Libs.”  Guestbooks don’t come any more interactive then this! Have each of your guests fill out a Guest Lib card, and put them all in a fun, decorative basket.  When you return from your honeymoon, grab a glass of wine, sit by a fire and the two of you have a howling good time reading through them all!

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Remember that your wedding day is a representation of the two of you.  Whether it’s just the guestbook, or every aspect of your ceremony and reception, make sure there is something that is all about you!

Tradition and Charm

Written by Tania Atkinson

Planning Jenny and Patrick’s wedding was such a pleasure because so many of the details of their special day were full of tradition or emotion.

The Ceremony took place on the grounds of the historic Groton School, in Groton, Massachusetts, where Jenny was a graduate of.  St. John’s Chapel needed little by way of decoration as its original stonework, vaulted ceilings and ornate choir lofts set the style all on its own.  As she walked down the aisle with her mother and father, Jenny carries a gorgeous bouquet of cream, white and soft peach colored blooms with just a hint of fall color – a perfect compliment to the colors of the fall leaves on the campus grounds on that mid-October day, her former choral director played the Bridal March on the chapel organ.

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The bridesmaids wore royal blue dresses in various styles, and carried simple bouquets of lavender and white loosely tied blossoms.  Hymns were not sung by hired professionals, rather the brides mother and former classmates sang The Rose.  Following the exchange of vows and signing of the marriage certificate, Jenny and Patrick excited the chapel to the sounds of the chapel bells being rung, just as they had been heard years ago when the bride was a young student.  After spending some time touring the campus and reminiscing high school stories – even visiting the old “School Room” on campus, the guests and bridal party headed off to  the gorgeous Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Massachusetts.

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Upon arrival, guests walked passed almost two dozen wedding photos of both Jenny’s and Patrick’s relatives, providing a continuous source of conversation throughout the night! Guests found their escort cards attached to miniature white ghost pumpkins which created a lovely fall look for the place card table.  The ballroom tables were adorned with simple, yet elegant centerpieces of deep fall reds, oranges and bright yellows.  Jenny and Patrick found a creative way of displaying table numbers by using photos of themselves at the age of the table number. These also allowed for lots of reminiscing among guests!

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Before the party really got started to the sounds of “District 21” the bride and groom found another way of using tradition and charm in their wedding celebration.  Instead of the typical wedding cake, Jenny and Patrick cut a traditional apple pie with Patrick’s grandmother’s antique wedding cake topper on the pie as a way to honor his family.

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Guests kicked off their heels and danced late into the night reuniting old school friendships and enjoying the laughter and company of new faces.  Jenny and Patrick captured the charm of New England, the fondness of school memories and the warmth of family all on their wedding day in Massachusetts.

To the mother of the bride, Maryanne, who made this process such a joy, we can’t thank you enough.

 

Event Vendors

Nashawtuc Country Club

Flourish

Scott Zuehlke Photography

Wedding Tresses

 

 

 

Welcome to our Newburyport office

Written by Jennifer Hansen

For years, we’ve been dreaming of our own space – one that reflected who we are as a team and as a company.  We love light, we love design and we love to have fun! Probably means we should have an office next to a circus, but this is the next best thing. We moved into our new offices, and over a course of 6 or so months (yes, too busy to get it all done fast) we worked with a fantastic designer, Deborah Allen of Deborah Allen Design from Georgetown, Massachusetts.  She seamlessly brought our new work space to life from our comfortable white leather office chairs to our fabulous chandelier that came in 300+ pieces…thank you Deborah (and her daughter) for assembling it for us!  She also hand applied the floral wall images which we love – although no doubt she wondered why she suggested them. Every day when we look out our office window onto State Street in Newburyport we realize how truly lucky we are to be able to live the dream , and it doesn’t hurt that there is many places for wine on the tough days!

Thank you  as well Becca O’Malley of Ophoto for capturing the homey feel of our space!  Great real estate photographer.

So if you are in the area please stop by!

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Peterson Party Center

We’ve said it a million times to clients, we LOVE helping you pick out linens and rentals! We understand that it sounds like we should get more hobbies, but I challenge anyone who is planning an event not to fall in love with this process.  Where else do they let you tear all their linens down (and then kindly put them up for you after), move chairs all around the showroom and stay for too many hours (and shockingly they still let us back in).

So it was with much excitement that we visited Peterson Party Center last week!  Alicia Lessing, Event Consultant, began our tour in the main showroom of Petersons’ new 100,000 square foot facility – unbelievable.  Conveniently positioned around the tables were samples of all the chairs and stools they offer and we were extremely happy to see new ideas for our industry.  Fantastic inventory as well – all of their stemware, flatware, dishes and linens make it easy for anyone to visualize their upcoming event!

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As eye popping as the showroom was, it was all the other stuff that really excited us! The warehouse (or the back of the house as we say) is where Peterson’s really earns the “one stop shop” title.  We are still amazed at the architect that had to come up with the floor plan that houses, cleans, maintains and organizes all the inventory they have.  Something new to us, they even boast the largest tent inventory in New England, which I may add, is also cleaned and stored on site!

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Lastly, the linens.  Oh the linens…there isn’t a fabric, color, texture or pattern the most mercurial bride can’t find in their collection.  All linens are made by in-house seamstresses and implanted with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip, so one extra overlay added to an order, just hours before an event, will be guaranteed to land on a table before the first chord of the cocktail hour is played! The endless selection of in-house linens (which will be even more “endless” once the official merger with Table Toppers takes place, and they move all that beautiful fabric on in!).

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And here is where Peterson Party Center exceeded our expectations – they have an in house suite of offerings for our clients that just made our job easier.  They offer a state of the art chef’s kitchen available for tastings using the clients caterer, a large boardroom where multiple tables can be set for easy decision making, as well as a smaller conference room for individual client meetings.  Our clients are busy and getting things done in a timely, and productive manner, is key to our success.

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Peterson Party Center has come a long way from it’s early days of supplying chairs for local funeral homes.  For those visual folks like ourselves, it is a virtual candy store of color and texture only to be truly experienced in person! Thank you Alicia for a great tour and we look forward to working with you soon!

Images provided by Luster Studios

 

The “Post-Wedding” brunch

Written by Tania Atkinson

The main focus of any wedding is of course, your big day! All the months and months of planning come down to that one moment when vows are exchanged and the party ensues.  Countless articles have been written on how to plan the perfect reception dinner, how to find the best band, and where to hold this festive occasion.

As wedding planners, we’ve noticed that about a month or two before the wedding, the dreaded question hits the couple: “What do we do with everyone the day AFTER the wedding?!” Don’t be so quick to dismiss this dilemma. We’ve seen many a wedding where guests just don’t want to leave! They had such a great time the night before, they don’t want the fun to end!

Well, never fear.  Here are some fun and easy ways to celebrate your friends and family one last time with a post wedding brunch or breakfast, and then send them on their way.

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Espresso shots adorned with cute little tags are a great way to get the morning started. Using signage of any kind is a great way to continue your wedding theme, but in a more playful way.

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Your wedding breakfast or brunch doesn’t have to be anything formal.  In fact, after a late night of celebrating, your guests may just appreciate a casual, come-as -you-are morning meal. Ideally, the brunch should be close to where the guests are staying, and having to-go options for food makes in easier for those who need to hit the road or catch a flight home. A cereal or juice bar is something that can be prepared ahead of time and is inexpensive too! they are great ways to add color to any hotel lobby, small function space or even your home!

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And for those friends and family who don’t need to hit the road, don’t forget the Bloody Mary bar or Mimosa Bar. Nothing like a little “hair of the dog” to go along with all the rehashing of the night before!

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Choosing foods that are easy to prepare and can be made ahead of time makes it especially helpful when you’re not quite sure how many faces may appear after the night of festivities.  Make your wedding breakfast or brunch fun, easy and a reflection of you!

 

All images found via Pinterest!

The Governor’s Academy Wedding – Byfield, MA

Written by Tania Atkinson

We are always blessed with cool and kind clients – and this wedding was no exception.  We got the chance to work with a wonderful couple, and their equally amazing parents, at Governor’s Academy in Byfield, MA.  What was even more special was that the bride’s family has a long history at the school, her father actually grew up on the campus and her grandfather was an important part of the staff.  C.J. and Michael planned a unique, interactive weekend long event for their guests – that would give them a little glimpse into their past and their joint present interests.   We had school bus rides to and from campus on yellow school buses, guests stayed in the dorms on campus, and a wedding day softball game was played on the Navins Field…named in honor of her grandfather.

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The ceremony was a beautiful collegiate affair.  Bridesmaids in navy blue, groomsmen in khakis, navy blazers and red striped ties complimented the father-of-the bride, ring bearer and flower girls all in seersucker.  The bell in the tower of the chapel rang as the newly married couple left the church and all the guest gathered for a group photo on the campus green.

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C.J. and Michael chose a creative way of naming and displaying their guests’ tables.  Every table was given a saying, name or word that had significance to both or either of them, and those table names were displayed on a barn door at the cocktail reception.  Duplicate table signs were hung on tree branches.

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Following a lovely open-aired cocktail hour, guests were directed to the gorgeous Sperry Tent, which was tastefully decorated with navy, sailor striped, and white linens, centerpieces with antique library books stacked under mason jar floral arrangements.  The Japanese lanterns that hung above the tables provided the perfect warm glow to illuminate the beautiful sail cloth tent. It was a truly magnificent sight.

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Everyone danced well into the night to the sounds of the Wicked Smart Horn Band.  The stars were out that night in June when friends and family convened on the grounds of this historic school to celebrate the marriage of two really down to earth, fun people and to remind everyone that friendships last long after school.

 

 

 

 

“Bling…a beautiful thing in a wedding!

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Written by Tania Atkinson

The beautiful Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts set the stage for this gorgeous fall wedding.  Michelle and Eric wanted a fun urban setting to reflect their young, full-of-life personalities.   Michelle’s one wish (one that we applauded) was that she wanted her wedding to have that elegant, old world feeling, but was afraid that too much “bling” would be a bit too much.  Our feelings, you can never have enough sparkle and pizzaz, but please don’t overdue it…a little goes a long way!

That is exactly why Michelle and Eric’s wedding was so successful – from her fantastic Jimmy Choo shoes, to her beautiful sash on her wedding dress, to the hidden diamonds in her centerpieces, to her stunning bouquet.  She did an absolutely wonderful job marrying sparkle, elegance with her great personal touches.

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The talented staff of Flou(-e)r Specialty Florals transformed the open courtyard of the Charles Hotel into an intimate ceremony space. Beautiful floral arrangements with pink satin sashes adorned the aisle chairs of the guests seats.  The use of soft pinks and simple whites in the ceremony florals and bridesmaids bouquets complimented the elegant crystals and rhinestones in Michelle’s gown, hair and jewelry.

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Following the ceremony and outdoor cocktail hour, guests entered a fairytale-like ballroom which was illuminated in soft pink uplighting.  The crystals adorned floral centerpieces and candelabras complimented the silver table chargers, accented menu cards and gorgeous silver floral table overlays.

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Michelle and Eric shared their fun side with the use of their favors.  In the ballroom lobby was a table of colorful sunglasses with a personal saying from the bride and groom, as well as a creative and interactive guest book.  Again, as we always tell our clients make sure your guests come away from your wedding knowing who you are as a couple just a little bit more!

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Late into the night, guests danced to the high energy music of  Sweet Tooth and the Sugar Babies on a beautiful white dance floor -which was never empty. Michelle and Eric did a wonderful job tastefully marrying sparkle and elegance which highlighted their great ideas, their great guests and  fun filled wedding.

Michelle and Eric thank you so much for being a fantastic couple to work with…you will be missed and we can’t see you again!

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Event Vendors:

Nikki Cole Photography

Petersons’ Party Center

Cloth Connection

Flou(-e)r Specialty Floral Events

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Pick - Best of Weddings on The Knot
Weddings, Wedding VenuesGracious Events Management, Best Wedding Planners in Boston - 2013 Bride's Choice Award Winner