Elinor & Donny-A NJ Wedding Filled With Filipino Traditions


May 16th seems to be a lucky date for us ~ We have done a wedding on that date in 2008, 2009 and am scheduled for one in 2010!

Elinor and Donny wed at the beautiful Church of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield, NJ with a reception following at the Women's Club of Glen Ridge. Based on Filipino traditions, the bridal party was very large and included several sponsors  chosen by the bride and groom to perform different responsibilities throughout the ceremony. Elinor and Donny asked 12 sponsors to participate in their culturally rich ceremony.  Their duties consisted of carrying the coins, lightings candles, draping a veil over the couple and tying a cord around their shoulders, signifying the uniting of their lives together.


After a full Catholic mass, Elinor and Donny exited and headed to Kips Castle in Verona to take pictures with their Bridal Party.  Within a hidden and  gorgeous small park, Kips Castle is literally an old dark-brick castle, which provides interesting and fun photo-ops. The Bridal Party  celebrated with a champagne toast to the bride and groom, compliments of their limo driver of America's Best Limousines.


After pictures, all  headed to the Women's Club of Glen Ridge for cocktail hour and were greeted with pink Cosmopolitans, green Appletinis and delicious hors d'oeuvres. The Women's Club hosts a great ballroom which acts as a fresh canvas with white walls, pillars and wood floors. To capture Elinor's vision, the team from The Finishing Touch, working with Flowers by Connie Riemer, decorated the room with Champagne Pintuck linen, tall clear vases with a bloom of hydrangeas, orchids and white roses on top and a single orchid hanging inside the vase. The reception was catered by Encore who put an elegant spin on a buffet-style dinner. They used zen-inspired chafing dishes, river rocks, wheat grass and brick to decorate the buffet table.  The best part of course was that the food was absolutely delicious.



Elinor and Donny hired Jason-Craig Entertainment to provide music for the evening.  During dinner guests were delighted and surprised as they were treated to a live performance by the DJ who can also sing!  The guests laughed and cheered as Jay the DJ swooned one of the bridesmaids while singing 'New York State of Mind'.


After dinner, the Wedding turned into a true dance party.  Guests danced the night away and participated in a traditional Filipino wedding dance.


In addition to wedding cake from Palermo's Bakery, Encore Catering provided an elaborate international coffee bar.  As a special touch on the evening, Elinor and Donny presented Junior's Cheesecake Pops to each guest as a favor. Guests LOVE edible favors! 



The night was truly wonderful and we were so glad to send Elinor and Donny off knowing how happy they were with the evening. 

A special thank-you to the vendor team involved in making such a great wedding day:

America's Best Limousine

Jason-Craig Entertainment

Encore Catering

Women's Club of Glen Ridge

Shelley & Keith Photography

Palermo's Bakery

Best Wishes,

Nicole & Leah

Across the Country in 10 Days-Part II

 Welcome back to my cross country trip!  Just to recap, we were on day 4 and just leaving Memphis.  Were you trying to guess our next destination?

If you guessed St. Louis…you are correct!  Although the drive from Memphis to St. Louis was not too long, we got a tip from a friend of mine to stop at Lambert’s Café in Sikeston, Missouri.  The line was out the door and into the parking lot, but Melissa and I could not figure out why this place was so popular.  We went inside to see what the fuss was all about and it wasn’t long before we realized why it was jam-packed.  The restaurant, which looks like an enormous warehouse, has rows and rows of large picnic-style tables, and benches with very high backs.  Behind us, servers wheeling out carts of hot rolls began walking around and yelling out “HOT ROLLS!”  To our astonishment, hands darted up in the air from the benches and the servers actually throw the rolls.  If you put up your hand, be ready, because a hot roll will be tossed your way.  And believe me…they are HOT!  Sometimes, they launched these rolls across the entire room.  We had never seen anything like it.  Melissa and I were standing along the perimeter of the dining area, but we put out our hands and sure enough we each caught a roll.  They were tasty too!

  We left Lambert’s after being mesmerized for a few minutes and continued on our way to St. Louis.  As we approached the city, the famous Arch began to appear in the far distance, and we began cheering at how close we were getting.    We entered downtown St. Louis and apparently took the scenic route through the city to our hotel.  But, we realized that it was all part of the fun.  No GPS system, just old school paper maps!  We had the chance to drive by a fountain where the water was orange!  We might not have seen that if we had gone the direct route!




As we sat in our hotel room (with an awesome view of the arch) we tried to figure out what would be considered a local activity.  We were too late for the St. Louis Blues game or the Cardinals game, and we had done enough karaoke for one trip.  After a little research though, we learned that the International Bowling Hall of Fame had just closed its doors in St. Louis in November of 2008.  We figured, if we can’t visit the Hall of Fame, we should at least honor it.  We asked our hotel for a famous bowling hot-spot and found ourselves taking to the lanes at Flamingo Bowl.    After taking enough pictures of each other and enough self-portraits for one night…we befriended our “lane buddies”.  It’s amazing how many people want to hear about a cross-country trip.  They were intrigued and asking us all kinds of questions.  It was then that we realized how fortunate we were to have this opportunity, and more importantly, to be doing it together.




 The next morning, Melissa’s cousin Chelsea flew in from Virginia to join the fun.   Our first order of business was to visit the Arch.  We were astounded at the magnitude of the legendary structure. Words cannot describe how massive it feels in person.  It was truly breathtaking.  Known as the Gateway to the West, the Arch stands at an impressive 630 feet high and is the tallest man-made monument in the U.S.  (See…the trip was very educational)  We took the tram ride to the top, which we equated to squeezing 5 people into a phone booth; probably not recommended for people with claustrophobia.  I was really proud of Melissa for going up with me considering she is not a fan of confined spaces.  It was a magnificent view of the city and the Mississippi River and definitely worth cramming into a tiny space.




Following the Arch, we toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  It is an incredible facility and believe it or not, beautiful.  Even the famed Clydesdale horses can be seen there!  I would not consider myself a big beer drinker, but the tour is still fun and educational.   I learned that if you wanted to drink the contents of a vat of beer you would have to drink one beer every hour for 24 hours, 365 days a year, for 137 years. WOW!  Of course there were a few males on the tour that claimed they could “totally do it!” 




We were sad to leave St. Louis, but excited to resume the excursion.  We drove through Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas (yes…the same city crosses 2 states).  At that point our state count was up to 9.  I wish I had more to say about the drive from Kansas City to Denver.  Let’s just suffice it to say that the most exciting parts of the trip were the immense windmills and the Oz Winery billboards.  Melissa, Chelsea and I waited the entire 9 hour drive across Kansas to say… “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”  Everyone told us that part of the trip would be painfully boring, but even that was an understatement.  (Sorry to any readers from Kansas)  Eastern Colorado was not really much more interesting, but as we approached Denver our excitement returned.



What a beautiful city Denver is. It’s amazing that you can be in a downtown urban area, and see mountains at the same time.  We walked around the city briefly that evening and sat down for a nice dinner with a group of friends.  Denver was interesting for the three of us to visit together because we each had a friend who lived there!  I only wish we could have stayed longer.  However, the mission had to go on and we got up early the next morning and continued on our way. 

We began heading towards…sorry you’ll have to come back next week to see how our trip concludes!  


Click here to read Part I

Click here to read Part III


Until next week,









The Finishing Touch’s “Ultimate Girls’ Night Out” Client Event

FT Client Party 004 

On Thursday, May 7, 2009 the ladies of The Finishing Touch, Wedding and Event Planning hosted our first annual client party, to spend quality time with our brides as we kick off a very busy wedding season.

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The event was held at the new W Hotel in Hoboken, NJ.  It was the very first bridal event held in their fabulous event space, so we were thrilled to kick off all the great events that we are sure they will have there.

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As a special treat for our brides, the event included delicious hors d’ oeuvres, our signature Finishing Touch-tini cocktails, tasty stuffed cupcakes from The Cupcake Factory and amazing entertainment from Craig Scott Entertainment.

Our guests were also treated to relaxing treatments from Bliss Spa, located at the W Hoboken, and hair and make up consultations from Magda's Desgns, Inc.  The festive occasion was captured by Ron Holtz of Ron Holtz Photography, our beautiful florals were done by The Romantic Garden and our photo montage presentation was put together by Fiore Films.  LED Video screens were provided by In the Mix DJs and lighting was provided by BML BlackbirdParty Rental Ltd provided the beautiful linens and chivari ballroom chairs.

FT Client Party 005 

 Spectacular door prizes were also raffled off during the party.  Guests walked away with fun items including gift certificates from Adorn Brides for jewelry, Jaqueline Pasquale Salon for spray tanning, Alan Gordon for massages, and Juliann skin care gift certificates.  Other coveted items included a JimmyJane Massage Candle,a Vosges Chocolate Hat Box filled with specialty chocolates, full size Bliss Spa products, Warm Whiskers Microwavable Eye Pillows and Slippers, a pearl and crystal necklace from Vandana Custom Jewerly, an autographed cookbook from Baked, and the new W Hotels CD.

FT Client Party 009  

At the end of the evening, our brides left with large reusable purple W Hotels the Store gift bags filled with a Nalini Method workout certificate, Purse Hangers from Purse Jewelrychic accessories from Glam, a facial gift certificate from Dr. Richard A. D'Amico, a copy of New Jersey Life Weddings Magazine, and exclusive Finishing Touch wedding package discounts, as well as DJ discounts from In the Mix.

Overall, the event was wonderful, and we are already looking forward to hosting our next one next year.  Thank you again to everyone for spending the evening with us, and to our fabulous vendors and partners.

Stay tuned for more pictures from Ron Holtz of Ron Holtz Photography.

Happy Planning,

Candice, Leah, Nicole, Priscilla & Soroya

Across the Country in 10 Days – Part I


Ok…so maybe it’s not quite like Jules Verne…but driving across the country was an experience like no other.  My best friend, Melissa, of 25 years, decided to take the plunge and move out to San Francisco.  While I was not ready for her to leave, I knew the best way to accept it was to just bring her myself.  We jumped into her car (AKA Haley), the trip began, the photos commenced, and the rest as they say…is history.

The first day was a big undertaking, but we decided to do our best to drive down to Nashville, TN.  With our adrenaline pumping the first 5 hours flew by and we had already crossed 4 state lines!  We made our first stop at James Madison University in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  Unfortunately, we could not stay too long so we drove through and continued onward.  I learned that Virginia has free-standing Chick-fil-A’s.  While I’m not a fast food junkie, I can make exceptions for this place.  It was there that Melissa taught me that during a long drive it’s important to stretch out and get the blood flowing.  Therefore, she came prepared and in the middle of the parking lot we actually took turns jumping rope.  And to think…that was only 5 hours into our drive!




As our first day continued, we realized that this was going to be the trip of a lifetime.   After refueling with dinner in Knoxville, TN, (and refueling Haley) we pushed forward.  About 35 miles past Knoxville we let out high-pitched yelps as we crossed our first time zone and entered Central Standard Time.  Our friends told us there would never be a sign for that…but to our excitement they actually do post signs on the side of the road when you cross over.  Granted the delirium had started setting in…but it was really awesome.  That burst of energy kept us going, along with Raffi (Don’t deny it, you know who he is) and we even drove right past our exit!  However, we did make it to Nashville late that first night; found a Comfort Inn and slept like babies.

The Opryland Resort was our first destination in the Nashville area.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but it was really beautiful. It was as if we were in a rainforest with waterfalls and foliage everywhere.  There was even a boat ride inside one of the 5 lobbies!  That night we decided to do what was native to the local culture, which included visiting bars and listening to live country bands.  I never thought I would enjoy country music, but hearing it live is a very different feeling and I found myself completely entertained.  At Cadillac Ranch we were even pulled onto the stage by a cowboy!  Karaoke was definitely a popular activity, so we finished out our night with a rendition of These Boots Were Made for Walking.


We waved goodbye to Nashville and headed towards Memphis.  The famous Corky’s BBQ restaurant was apparently a must.  So, we put on our bibs and had a great taste of Memphis! 




But of course, you can’t go to Memphis without visiting the King’s house, so we headed to Graceland after lunch.  Talk about tacky!  Hard to believe he actually lived with green carpet on the ceiling.  That night we went down to Beale Street where you can actually walk up to a window, purchase beer and walk down the street with it.  Quite a novelty for us.  Once again, the most popular thing to do was Karaoke, so we did a tribute to the King and sang Suspicious Minds.  The karaoke host sang Walking in Memphis for the crowd, and we finally had the chance to make sense of all the words! 




My dad’s college roommate lives in Memphis, and he was kind enough to provide accommodations and give us pointers.  He insisted that we visit the Peabody Hotel to see the famous ducks. (For those who watch Jon & Kate, you know what I’m talking about)  We piled into the lobby of this hotel where they laid out a red carpet, and made an announcement that the Peabody Ducks were about to enter.  They prepare the ducks to come down from their penthouse suite (yes…they actually live in the penthouse) and they march down the red carpet and into the small fountain situated in the center of the lobby.  The process is incredible to watch and the amount of people on a Friday morning would blow your mind.  You couldn’t find a spot to stand! At least we can say we did it!  We made a quick stop at the Civil Rights Museum, the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was shot so we could pay our respects.  We then had to continue on our journey.


Our next stop…will be revealed in next week’s issue… Hope you come back to read more about my road trip!


Click here to read Part II

Click here to read Part III


All the best,





The Finishing Touch Team Walks For Multiple Sclerosis


According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s website, “approximately 400,000 people across the United States have MS, and 200 people are diagnosed every week.” Each year the MS Society holds an event where thousands of people across the country can walk to raise money and raise awareness for this important cause.   On Sunday, April 19th, Candice, Nicole and I participated in such an event to support the MS Society.




The walk took place in Ridgewood, NJ where we met up with 13 other friends.  Our team name was Making Strides, for its initials, MS and for the fact that research has “made so many strides.”  As a team we raised over $5,000, which was 3rd best amongst the teams walking in Ridgewood.  I was so thrilled to be walking with such great people and I really hope that we have started a wonderful tradition.  To read more about the walks and the disease please visit their website at www.nationalmssociety.org


Keep Making Strides,


Candice, Leah & Nicole 


Guest Blogger: Ron Holtz of Ron Holtz Photography

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I have the honor of being a guest blogger for one of my favorite wedding planners Candice Benson. Working with Candice is always a joy because of her thorough planning and professionalism along with her light touch (all of this makes it easier to do my job). Documenting weddings requires creativity, concentration, calmness and passion. I strive for images that are beautiful yet real. Candice delivers the setting and this makes it easy for me to focus on the most important subject matter….you.


Ron Pic 1 




No matter how beautiful the bride or the venue, the key to fantastic wedding pictures is a relaxed bride. She sets the tone for the entire day. Have fun, don’t sweat the details (let your planner do it for you) and dance all night.


Online confession: I never throw parties because I worry too much about other folks having a good time. If you are a member of this very large club, I suggest a stiff drink. 


As for looking your best on your wedding day, avoid salty foods and alcohol the day before. Hire a great makeup artist and make sure your photographer is someone you like having around for 8-10 hours of the most important day of your life. A great photographer will also be a great guest.



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When you see your images after the wedding and don’t remember the photographer taking all of these amazing pictures of you at the wedding, he/she did their job. Hire someone who will document your wedding in a style that fits your aesthetic and can also fit in nicely with your family and guests.


Remember: there is no dress rehearsal. You have only one shot at having this unforgettable moment and it is your job to ENJOY it and my job is capturing that happiness and joy.


Ron Pic 4 


To view my work, visit me on the web at www.holtzweddings.com, or meet with me at my office in New York City. I wish you all the best.






A Stylish Spring Engagement Party for Gabby & Mike


Not only does The Finishing Touch plan weddings, but we also specialize in beautiful, creative showers and engagement parties.  Priscilla and Nicole had the pleasure of working for one of our fun couples this past weekend.
Although a rainy day, the inside of Bridgewater Manor was beautiful! Our couple, Gabby & Mike, who plan to wed October 23, 2010, hosted a 90-guest cocktail hour and sit-down Engagement luncheon on Sunday afternoon.
Guests were first greeted with their Escort Cards sitting a top fresh green wheatgrass in clear glass squares and proceeded to the cocktail hour.
This engagement party had everything. From a DJ to favors for each guest to take home; it was like a mini-wedding reception. The tables were gorgeously decorated with brown linens, cream napkins, and custom menus.  Half of the tables had centerpieces of tall cylinder vases filled with cream orchids and terracotta calla lilies surrounded by votive candles & glass cubes filled with two-toned terracotta rose buds. The other half of the tables were decorated with candle illuminated glass bubble balls filled with twisted cream and marigold orchid stems.  All florals and personal stationery touches were designed and created for Gabby and Mike by the Finishing Touch Event Design team.
Each table was named with the word 'Love' or "Marriage' in various languages. Favors were little cream boxes accented with terracotta ribbon full of coffee & hazelnut flavored chocolates. To send guests off, we had wicker baskets full of ribbon-wrapped 'Save the Date' t-shirts.
We are now looking forward to what a stylish party Gabby & Mike's wedding will be in the Fall of 2010.  Here is to all the wonderful details to come!
Happy Planning,
Nicole & Priscilla

Jenn & Eliu begin their Island Celebration

Here on the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic, our client's Jenn & Eliu began their Wedding Celebration last night with a Welcome Cocktail Party for their friends and family at the gorgeous Paradisus Palma Real. I will be sure to share all of the amazing pictures as we have them available.


From sunny DR,


Our First Spring 2009 Wedding

Leah Wedding

Images by Berit

Spring is here!!

Finally, the warm weather has arrived and wedding season is starting to blossom. Alexandra & Camper couldn't have asked for a better day.  Drew University allows for beautiful pictures with a reception to follow at the exclusive Park Avenue Club. I'm so pleased I got to share the day with such a great couple!