A Winter 60th Birthday Party

Recently I had the great pleasure
of planning a big family party at the house, honoring my father’s 60th
birthday. We typically host his birthday party every year, however this year we
wanted to make our traditional party a little more special and add some
twists.  Every year we do a potluck
party and all our friends bring their favorite dishes.  This year, while it was difficult to
give up the foods we look forward to every winter, we decided to hire a
chef.  A friend of mine had hired
Michael Lewis for a brunch the day after her wedding and he was a big

menu was so diverse and customizable, with such reasonable pricing; we decided
we couldn’t pass up this opportunity to surprise my dad.  Due to our appetizer style parties every
year, I decided to keep the theme and serve strictly hors d’oeuvres.  The choices were endless on Michael’s
menu but we finally narrowed it down to about 15 different items.  We set up a tasting so my mother and
sister could meet him and also to make sure the food was what we were really
looking for.  The tasting went
amazing and we knew right away we had book him.


a few small decorations and some balloons, the real surprise for my father was
the catered menu.  Michael arrived
at our home with coolers of food, platters, garnishes and much more! What made
this experience so unique was that it wasn’t a caterer dropping off some
food.  Michael stayed to cook the
food and prepare all the platters in such beautiful and elegant ways.  We had so much to choose from:  mini crab cakes, seared tuna, coconut
shrimp, fried wontons, a Southwestern 7-layer dip, baked brie, and stuffed
mushrooms…to name a few things. 
Our guests were truly indulging and enjoying everything.  What made it more fun was that Michael
interacted with the guests and he brought a wonderful server, Julie who
interacted as well and took care of serving drinks and cleaning
everything!  What a treat for us!

ended the evening with a toast in personalized champagne glasses that each
guest also got to take home with them as a favor.  And of course for dessert we had Michael make homemade
crepes and bananas foster!!  
The best part… all the leftovers we got to eat for a few days!

Happy Planning,


Check out our recent coverage in NJ Bride

The New Year is off to a great start, and Candice Benson and the team at The Finishing Touch have been featured in some of the most popular magazines in the tri-state area, along with some of our fabulous couples!

Take a look at some of our fun coverage!

In NJ Bride, Candice reveals great ways to make your wedding day truly unique, and our bride Tiffany is featured for the sweet surprise she planned for her groom Howie.




Watch for more coverage to be shared soon and be sure to catch Candice on Lifetime's "Get Married" at 7:30 AM on February 19th and 26th, March 26th and April 21st.

The Team at The Finishing Touch


Watch Candice on Get Married TV


Candice was recently interviewed for Get Married on Lifetime hosted by Colin Cowie and Deanna Pappas about creating the perfect table design for your wedding.  To watch the episode, click here.

Rose & Mike: Pink & Brown Chic


With the cold weather outside, it is hard not to reminisce about the warm weather and beautiful colors of summer.  We love looking through the bright beautiful pictures from our summer weddings ~ like the one we coordinated for our couple Rose and Mike in July. 

Rose MacKenzie - M&R Foto

The Bride looked gorgeous in her stunning gown and crystal trimmed veil.  To tie in Rose's color theme, her beautiful bridesmaids were clad in lovely pink dresses with brown sashes and held simple yet elegant clutches of pink roses from A Touch of Elegance


This chic color combination of was woven throughout the day starting with the ceremony programs which our Event Design division created for the event.


During the wedding ceremony , to honor Rose's Filipino heritage, the couple participated in the traditional Coin, Veil, and Cord ceremony.  During the ceremony, sponsors were present to witness the union of the couple. The sponsors symbolized guidance and support – people that Rose and Mike can turn to in times of need throughout their lives together. 

During the ceremony, the priest gave Mike 13 coins (or Arrhae) which he then gave to Rose.  Then Rose gave them back.  The Arrhae represented the Groom's dedication to the welfare of the Bride. It signified the their mutual hope for wealth, prosperity, and security as they build their lives and family together.

Then came the placing of the veil, a symbol of the faithful and everlasting love the Bride and Groom have for each other.  It was placed around Rose and Mike by a set of their sponsors.  Through the passing of the years, it will remind them that they belong to each other.

Finally, there was the placing of the cord.  Another set of sponsors draped the cord (or yugal) in a figure eight over the veil.  The yugal symbolizes the love and friendship that bind the couple together.  The figure eight shape represents the infinite nature of matrimony.


After a beautiful and meaningful ceremony, it was on to the reception at the magnificent Venetian in Garfield, New Jersey.  


As guests enjoyed the Venetian's fabulous cocktail hour, they picked up their adorable pink and brown seating cards.  Each seating card jacket contained a note letting guests know that a donation was made in their name. 

The guests danced all night with the help of Gemini Productions, accompanied by a percussionist, Howie Bongo, who played along with the music.  Rose and Mike's guests enjoyed the touch of live music.

The Filipino traditions also carried into the reception where Rose and Mike participated in a Dollar Dance.  During the Dollar Dance, guests line up to take turns dancing with the Bride or Groom.  To be able to dance with the couple, the guests need to first pin a dollar bill to the Bride or Groom's clothing.  We had a lot of fun handing out the pins to guest patiently waiting for their turn to dance with the couple. 

To put a sweet ending on this perfect day, guests were treated to a beautiful pink and brown cake from Palermo Bakery and the Venetian's unbelievable Viennese hour – quite possible the most inventive and extensive Viennese available in NJ.  It included everything from "fruit sushi" to a Malt Shoppe Station with mini milk shakes and "hamburgers", "hot dogs", and "french fries" made out of cake!
Happy Planning,

Candice and Priscilla


New York City Gift Fair


Last week, Candice, Priscilla & I headed into the cold of New York City to attend the annual New York International Gift Fair held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The event draws in large volumes of a variety of industry workers, from wedding planners to department store buyers. For those who may be unaware of what a gift fair consists of, thousands of international vendors rent out "booths" to market and sell their various products and services, typically at wholesale price in bulk quantities. Booth categories range from Homemade Crafts to Bath & Bedding to General Gifts. This year, the Javits Center housed over 3,000 exhibitors which were handpicked to serve more than 36,000 buyers.

As event planners, our primary focus was in the General Gifts section as we searched for fun trends in favors, gifts and décor items for our current and future clients. From 9:30am to 4:00pm, the three of us trekked down aisle after aisle, searching for ideas and meeting with some wonderful vendors. For an upcoming wedding, we researched straw baskets and fans, as well as some very cute table centerpiece umbrellas.  For another wedding, we found the perfect table lamps to add to our centerpiece design!

Hand Fans  


We also of course browsed stationery booths for fabric, ribbon and specialty paper to add to our new design division inventory.  We found some beautiful new papers that are sure to add a touch of personality to our clients invitations and decor pieces.

Of course as Candice is a crazy purse lover, we must admit that we also scoped out some personal goodies for ourselves and some amazing prices!



We found the gift fair to be a great place to spark design and décor ideas. The fair was full of unique and fun items that you may have never even thought of to incorporate in your event. We must have exclaimed 'oh we should do this!' or 'let's show (bride) this idea!'  over and over again. Thankfully we had our notepads and cameras handy.

After a tiring but fun day, we headed home to start sharing some of the awesome new design trends and favor ideas we had found with the team and our clients.

To learn more about the gift show you can visit their website:  www.nyigf.com.

Happy Planning!!!



The Nalini Method Workout


On Sunday, January 25, 2009 I took a morning class at Nalini Method in NYC.  I must admit that I was pretty nervous.  I had done my research online, so I had an idea of what I was in for, but having not participated in a Pilates class before, I was concerned that it would be difficult to keep up.  I made sure I didn’t make any plans for Saturday night, as I wanted to be very well rested.


Upon entering the studio, I tried to put myself at ease.  I was greeted by an extremely friendly Rupa Mehta, the owner and instructor.  As I signed in, she asked me my name, welcomed me, and warned me that she would be calling my name throughout the class.  She told me that even though it was my first class with her, she wouldn’t be taking it easy on me.  She wasn’t kidding!


Nalini Method 001  


The class had about a dozen women, and as we all gathered our equipment, I surveyed the room.  We would be using a mat, hand weights (3, 4 and 5 pounds), a resistance band, rubber ball, blocks, and a sturdy strap attached to the ballet bar. 


As soon as we got started, I knew I was in for a tough workout.  We started down on the floor doing sets of modified push-ups and then bicep curls.  As my arms are the weakest part of my body, it was a struggle to push through.  True to her word, however, Rupa called out my name occasionally and kept me motivated by urging me to “find the strength, even if I didn’t think I had it.” 


Then it was off to work on our legs.  We did leg exercises at the ballet bar, and ended things with an intense ab workout. I must admit that I took a few short breaks, but I kept up through most of the hour.  Throughout the class, Rupa gave personal attention to each student, and each time she assisted me, I felt the difference in how I was executing the positions.  I also found the stretching at the end very rewarding, as this helped me to relax.


Nalini Method 008-1

Needless to say, at the end of the class I was exhausted, but I was never bored during the hour.  It flew by and I realized that I had worked muscle groups that I had forgotten about.  I also enjoyed the music in the class.  Moving to everything from Britney’s “Womanizer” to Christina’s “Keeps Getting’ Better” kept me pumped.

The next day my arms were really sore, but I was motivated to keep up with my exercise plans.  I am looking forward to taking the class again.  This is my year to get in better shape!


If you are interested in getting in great shape, we have worked out a special for our brides…… just contact Nalini Method and ask for "The Finishing Touch Three Month Turn Around Package."

Take 15 classes in five weeks and you will receive:

Guest passes for your new husband and for two bridesmaids, and a 20% discount on a 20 class package (a $208 savings) for you and your husband after your honeymoon. This way you can keep your body long and lean, and keep your husband from post-wedding weight gain.


Happy Training!