ABC Florida State Conference Recap #BeBoldABC

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This week, I had the pleasure of working with my dear friends and fellow Master Wedding Planners Carmen Mesa of Carmen Mesa Events and Tammy Waterman of Special Moments Event Planning to produce a fabulous conference for wedding professionals. The Association of Bridal Consultants' Florida State Conference is always a labor of love, but hearing each and every attendee walk away saying how much they had learned makes it all worth it! Here's a little recap: Saturday night, we treated our amazing speakers to a fun evening at Sweet Pete's and The Candy Apple Cafe and Cocktails.

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Sunday morning kicked off with brunch, where I got to tell everyone some interesting facts about Jacksonville. (#ILoveJax)

brunch collage(thanks to Rose of Sharon European Florist for the centerpieces, Beachview Event Rentals for the chairs, and PRI Productions for the super cool Jacksonville backdrop)

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After brunch, we went into our general session room for lots of great educational content:

And then it was on to the poolside cocktail reception! The weather could not have been more amazing. As event planners, we always worry about the weather when planning outdoor events - especially in August in Florida! But there was not a drop of rain that day, and the breeze made the rooftop deck quite comfortable.

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Day 2 of the conference started with a casual breakfast. How cool are these centerpieces from Rose of Sharon European Florist?

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And the Omni Hotel Jacksonville staff created the letters "ABC" out of the parfaits!

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For Tuesday's lunch, each speaker was assigned a table. Lauren from Ten23 Designs created these adorable signs with their names! She also made tons of other cute decor pieces that were used throughout the conference.

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Monday's educational sessions were just as amazing as Sunday's:

  • Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting - Attaining Expert Status: How to Become on Expert Industry Leader
  • Susan Southerland, Just Marry! - Selling to Couples at Every Planning Phase
  • Charlene Shirk, C. Shirk Productions - Pitch Perfect: How to Deliver A Great Media Interview
  • Bryan Glynn, BGPictures - Critical Website & Internet Tips for Your Business and Making $$ with YouTube
  • Donnie Brown & Steve Kemble - Social Media As Your PR Consultant (Round Table)

Sadly, it was time to say good bye to all of our friends, new and old. These little snack packs had water, chips, and sweets for the drive/flight home.

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It was an amazing (and exhausting!) three days, and I am so thankful for everyone that attended. Want to see more photos? Check out the ABC Florida Facebook page.

ABC Florida Shine Conference 2014

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I had such an amazing weekend last week! Not only did I get to attend the Association of Bridal Consultants' Florida State Conference - shine - but I also got to speak at the event. Here are a few images from Day 1 of the conference, taken by fabulous photographer Claire Pacelli. If you've wondered what happens when a group of wedding planners get together for continuing education, here's a little peek:

View More: http://clairepacelliphoto.pass.us/shine       View More: http://clairepacelliphoto.pass.us/shine

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View More: http://clairepacelliphoto.pass.us/shine

My fellow speakers, along with the conference co-chairs: Sharon Baragona, A Chair Affair; Kelly McWilliams, Weddings By Socialites; oh hey, that's me!; Mark Kingsdorf, ABC Florida State Manager; Coach Jenn Lee; Brian Joyce and Richard Streitler, Flourish Floral Productions; Elisa Delgardio, A Flair For Affairs

View More: http://clairepacelliphoto.pass.us/shine

Oh, and did I mention, another fellow speaker: celebrity wedding planner Donnie Brown?

View More: http://clairepacelliphoto.pass.us/shine

There are so many more fabulous photos, but this one I think is my favorite:

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"The Speaker Selfie." This beauty was captured by Kelly McWilliams (and posted to Instagram) after we posed for a more formal group photo. Love it!

If you work in this industry, and you aren't attending conferences like this, you are missing out! And if you are a bride or groom, as your wedding professionals what they do for continuing education. It makes a huge difference!

Breath of Fresh Art Fundraiser

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Weddings aren't all we do around here! I was happy to serve on the planning committee for the Breath of Fresh Art fundraiser last night. The event benefited Wish 2 Breathe, a National Foundation for Transplants' campaign in support of Jacksonville resident Lindsey Miller. The campaign's goal is to help raise money for expenses related to Lindsey's double lung transplant and the lifelong care she will need as a result. The fundraiser was held at one of Jacksonville's newest event venues - The Fountain View Room. Several area restaurants and caterers donated food stations for the event, including Nippers Beach Grille, Davoli's Catering, Renna's Pizza, Red Elephant, Flippin' Good Cookies, and Edgewood Bakery. PRP Wine International also offered wine tastings to the events' guests.

The event also featured a silent auction (with some heated bidding at the end!) as well as an art exhibition by two local artists -  Mobarick Abdullah III and Adam Brett. It was a fun night for a great cause!

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Fun To Do This Weekend: One Spark

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One Spark 2014 Looking for something fun (and FREE!) to do with your sweetie this weekend? Head to downtown Jacksonville for One Spark!

One Spark is the World's Crowdfunding Festival, and it takes place right here in Jacksonville. Over 600 creators are on hand to showcase their ideas in the fields of art, innovation, science, technology and music. Held over 20 square blocks, you can also enjoy the food village and beer village, plus tons of live bands. And where else can you see a giant Goldfish (known as "Colonel Crackers") floating in the Hemming Plaza fountain?!

The 5-day festival started on Wednesday with an estimate 40,000 people attending the first day. Free parking is available at the convention center parking lot, and then you can take the free Skyway (did you know Jacksonville has a Skyway? A lot of people don't!). Or, you can park at EverBank Field and take the free shuttle bus.

You're probably asking, what exactly is crowdfunding? Well, the concept is that great ideas can be found everywhere. But not everyone has the resources to find large-scale investments. So crowdfunding take little donations or investments ($5/$10/$50 etc.) and pools them together to make big things happen.

When you visit One Spark, you can vote for your favorite projects (known as "creators"), and the creators that get the most votes win a share of over $300,000 in prize money. Or, if you see a project you are passionate about, you can even contribute right on the spot.

One Spark is FREE to attend, so why not check it out? Plus, it's a good chance to see how awesome Jacksonville is, in case you might forget. Visit http://www.beonespark.com for everything you need know!

A Girls' Guide To The Super Bowl

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football field I was raised in the South, where football isn't just a sport, it's a religion. But I know not every girl is as lucky as me. So if you are newly engaged and find yourself invited to join your fiancé for The Super Bowl Party, here are some tips.

  1. Don't talk during the game. Unless it's "that was an awesome play!" or "can you believe that call?" Listen to what everyone else is saying, and play along if you don't know what context those phrases would be used in!
  2. If you must talk, leave the room. The kitchen is usually a safe haven for those that aren't hardcore fans to take a break and chit chat. Just don't hide for too long - pop back to the big screen every 10 minutes or so, and no one will miss you!
  3. Be helpful. If you are heading to the kitchen for a break, offer to bring back beers for everyone, or replenish the bowls of chips and pretzels.
  4. Pay attention. Don't play on your phone or tablet. At least not the whole time. Besides, everyone knows that the Super Bowl commercials are just as important as the game! You won't want to miss seeing what everyone will be talking about at the office on Monday.
  5. Don't ask questions. This is not the time for Football 101. If you have a few minutes this weekend, and truly no nothing about the game, check out the Girls' Guide To Football to get the basics.

The most important thing to remember is to blend in. Don't pout, or whine about how long the game is lasting, or constantly remind the group that you don't know what's going on. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to find a cute outfit in one of these color combos! (Ask your fiancé which team he's rooting for if you don't have a favorite yourself.)

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ABC Business of Brides 2013

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Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Bridal Consultants' annual conference, Business of Brides. It's one of the highlights of my year to see friends from around the world, and learn and grow with them. Association of Bridal Consultants Business of Brides Conference

I got to spend time with wedding planners from Latin America, Canada, Japan, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the list goes on and on. But even better was getting to spend four days with my direct competition. You read right, there were four wedding planners from Jacksonville attending the conference. And not only did I share a hotel room with one, I spent a total of eight hours in the car round trip with them.

I'm very proud that our town has such a great wedding community. While we are competitors, I see these wonderful ladies as allies. In fact, one of them, Tanya Hendricks of Southern Charm Events, and I did a presentation together. It was called "Playing Nice: Cultivating Alliances Not Animosity," and focused on building relationships while focusing on your own business instead of worrying what everyone else is doing. It was a huge hit, and I met some terrific ladies that came up to share stories after the session.

I also got to spend time with Monica Bernhardt of To-Doers Event Planning, and my fellow Master Bridal Consultant Lisa Burnett of Elegant Weddings By Lisa. While we see each other at local networking events, we don't often get to spend that much time together, and it's always great getting to know these ladies a little bit better.

The conference theme, Palm Beach Chic, was inspired by Lilly Pulitzer, so lots of bright colors greeted us at each breakfast, lunch, and break. With the exception of one - The White Party, a welcome reception where everyone donned their white resort casual wear for a great cocktail party. The bar from Just Bars was an amazing focal point - I can wait to use one of these at an upcoming event!

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And the speakers - wow! Matthew Robbins of Matthew Robbins Design was our design speaker. As a contributing editor for Martha Stewart Weddings, he had lots of great insight on finding inspiration for an event theme. Plus he shared photos from his own wedding!

We also heard from Susan Southerland, who we are happy to have as a top-notch Florida wedding planner - she owns Just Marry! in Orlando. She is a phenomenal speaker, and all-around great person.

And lastly, we were reminded of our brilliance (his word, not mine) by Simon T. Bailey. If you haven't read his books, go buy them now. I'll wait. I think that all of us in that room have made changes (some significant) that will affect our lives forever. If you ever have the chance to hear Simon speak, don't hesitate.

But in addition to these fabulous keynote addresses, there were over 25 amazing breakout sessions. I attended "Modern Jewish Weddings," and "Are You Ready for the Storm? Disaster Preparedness for Wedding Professionals," both of which gave me great information to bring back to our team.

I can't say enough about how great it is to be in a room of 300+ wedding professionals from around the world. Every year, I come back energized and renewed, and ready to tackle the year ahead. If you are a wedding planner and aren't an ABC member, or you are a member that doesn't attend conference - call me! I'd love to share more about the experience.

 

Bridal Show This Sunday!

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Premier Wedding Expo Sunday September 9thLooking for a great way to meet lots of wedding professionals in one place? Stop by the Premier Wedding Expo this Sunday! We have been proud to help produce these great events for many years, and they keep getting better.

  • Over 100 exhibitors
  • Great discounts and prizes will be available for brides planning their weddings
  • Each bride gets a bridal bag when entering the show

The event runs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the UNF University Center (12000 Alumni Drive). Tickets are $10 at the door, but if  you purchase the online in advance they are only $7! Be sure to visit the show's website, www.TicTocEvents.com, to learn more.

Bridal Shower Recipe Fun

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Letterpress Recipe Card BoxMy mom and I were recently visiting my 97-year-old Great Aunt Cora, and the conversation turned to cookies. Even at 97, Aunt Cora can still remember who preferred peanut butter and who preferred chocolate chip.  Each Christmas, she would make batches and batches of cookies, seal them into decorative tins, and give them as gifts. I never understood why I had to share a tin with my mom - but now as an adult, when I think of how many hours of baking that was, I get it! After cookies, we talked about other favorite family meals, and there was a slightly-heated discussion about who is in possession of Aunt Cora's invaluable recipe box. That conversation got me thinking - my generation, and those younger than me I'm sure, don't really treasure recipes. If we want to try something new for dinner, we turn to Google or AllRecipes.com, rather than a treasured family recipe box. So for your bridal shower, why not start your own?

How it works: Include a recipe card with the shower invitations. Be sure to include instructions for your guests to write down their favorite recipe and bring it with them to the party. You might want to write a meal type on the cards, so that you don't end up with all cookie recipes! If it is a small shower of mostly family, you may even want to ask each guest to bring their dish with them, pot-luck style.

My tip: Choose a recipe card that is blank on the back. Then ask each guest to write a little note with the origin of the recipe, a special memory of you, or a wish for you and your husband. I love the stylish letterpress recipe set shown here from OneCanoeTwo Letterpress on Etsy.

During the party, be sure to save time to ooh and aah over all the recipes in your collection!

Blueprint for Wedding Success

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Blueprint for Wedding Success

Announcing our newest seminar, Blueprint For Wedding Success!  Join us for an afternoon of valuable tips and information from Master Bridal Consultant, Heather Canada. Topics include:

Basics:
  • Selecting a date
  • Themes/color schemes
  • Budgeting
  • Choosing locations

Ceremony:

  • Interfaith weddings
  • Traditions

Reception:

  • DJ vs Band
  • Meal types
  • Bar

Extras:

  • Favors
  • Invitations
  • Personalization

Followed by individual Q&A with Master Bridal Consultant Heather Canada. Plus:

Tickets are only $15 per person, or two tickets for $25.  Plus, clients of First Coast Weddings, Avalon Hall, and The Perfect Pear get a special discount! (Ask us for details.) Seating is limited, so sign up today at http://weddingblueprint.eventbrite.com.

Fun Bridal Shower Game - Memories of Us

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Shower games are a great way to bring together a group people who might not know each other well.  Even if you’re not a game person, this bridal shower activity is ideal for everyone.

To start the activity, instruct the guests to write down one of their favorite memories that they shared with the bride-to-be on an index card. When everyone has their memory written down, have them place it in a jar. Ask the bride to draw the memory cards and read them aloud, then she will guess the person the memory belongs to.

This game is unique because it reveals fun and sentimental stories about the bride and is enjoyable for the entire group to participate in. The bride especially loves hearing all the special memories she’s shared with her friends and family.

Jacksonville Wedding Giveaway Worth $30,000!

How would you like to win a FREE wedding?  Register now for your spot in The Wedding Party's Dance2Wed "Don't Stop the Music" Dance-a-thon!

When: Friday, October 21 9:00 pm - Saturday, October 22, 2011 until last couple is standing

Where: Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park

Who: All Engaged Couples & Friends

The Grand Prize:  A wedding valued at over $30,000!

That's right... all you have to do is be the last couple dancing on October 22nd, and you score a free wedding package! The dream wedding prize package includes:

  • Ceremony and reception for up to 100 guests at Aloft Hotel
  • Catering package from Mai Oui Gourmet
  • Photography package from The Wedding and Portrait Photographers and Thomas Lester Photography
  • Videography package from In Motion Video Productions
  • Wedding cake by Simply Delicious! Cakes
  • Stationery from Celebrated Occasions and Kouture Kreations
  • DJ services from D'Land Entertainment and Y? Entertainment
  • Photo Booth provided by Y? Entertainment
  • Hair and Makeup services from A Glamour Bride
  • Floral arrangements for the ceremony and reception
And of course, coordination by First Coast Weddings and Events!  Find out more details and review the complete rules on The Wedding Party's website. We hope to see you there!

Couture Gown Trunk Show

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Essense of Australia is launching their new couture line, Martina Liana and Love, A Bridal Boutique in Jacksonville Beach is hosting an exclusive presentation of the new Couture Bridal Line!  The trunk show will be held September 4-5, 2009.  Contact Love, A Bridal Boutique at (904) 242-9800 for reservations. I could describe some the gowns’ amazing details, but think I will just share a few of my favorites (be forewarned, few things make me as happy as sparkles and lace).  These gowns are from Martina Liana’s 2009 collection…imagine what 2010 is going to bring!

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Diva's Night Out

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I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for "Diva's Night Out" last weekend, and let me tell you, what a great way to spend an evening with your girlfriends!

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The event started with some yummy hors d'oeuvres and "adult" punch provided by our host, The Omni Hotel Jacksonville.  While we were mingling, some ladies got their makeup done by Patricia Kozack, while others enjoyed a quick, sassy photo session with Jennifer Brum of Peek Romance Photography.  Then it was time for the real fun!

Lynn Maxey of VIP Women’s Dance Parties led the group in some basic belly dance moves, followed by a sexy chair dance demonstration.  But ladies, this isn't just for fun - talk about a work out!  Lynn actually teaches these classes for fitness - one hottie in the group lost a whole dress size after just a few weeks working out with Lynn.

Following our dance lesson, we got to hear about some of the exciting (no pun intended) products from Sugar and Spice Passion Parties.

And of course a diva party wouldn't be complete without some treats!  Edgewood Bakery provided a yummy cake for us to enjoy.

These parties will be great for bachelorette and birthday parties - check out the website for more info!

Pictures of Hope: Naomi Williams

Earlier this week, we learned some heartbreaking news about friend and wedding photographer Naomi Williams... please read the information below:

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Just one month ago, 29-year-old wedding and portrait photographer Naomi Williams of Ponte Vedra Beach was living a normal life; watching her 2½-year-old son Jake grow bigger by the day, running a successful studio and together with her husband Nik of 8 years, they were looking for a bigger home and hoping for a little brother or sister for Jake.

That was before everything changed. What started as a pain in Naomi’s back led to several tests and surgeries and then, the verdict: Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma - a type of skin cancer which has spread from its original site to other parts of the body, in Naomi’s case into her spine, pelvis and lungs.

The emotional burden of this grim discovery and the journey ahead is difficult enough. We can all offer words of support and our heartfelt prayers, but there’s something equally powerful we can do for Naomi, Nik and Jake. Like so many other, the Williams family lives on dual income. Obviously, Naomi is unable to work causing a financial burden that this young couple simply can’t concentrate on right now.

Pictures of Hope is a collaborative response initiated by family and friends of Naomi Williams. We are trying to raise funds for Naomi and her family who have just begun a very tough and challenging journey. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of currently approved treatments - such as Chemotherapy and Radiation - for Stage 4 Metastic Melanoma are very limited. Should Naomi’s body not respond to her current treatment, she and Nik will be seeking alternative treatment programs abroad which have had greater rates of success but are not covered under insurance.

In addition to this website initiative, we have also designed an event called Picture A Cure which is aimed at raising awareness of skin cancer - so that other families can be reminded of the importance in taking measures in disease protection, living in the moment, and planning ahead if disaster should strike. Picture A Cure is scheduled for June 13th 2009 and will help raise  funds for Naomi and for skin cancer research. Tickets will have a suggested donation value of $50 per person. Due to space considerations, a limited number of tickets are available. If you’d like to request a ticket, please email your address and your desired number of tickets to: info@naomiwilliams.com.

Please join us as we support an incredible woman who has had a huge impact on so many lives - through her work as a wedding and portrait photographer, as a mother, wife and as a friend.

Please join us in sending your prayers and well-wished to Naomi and her family, and visit the website at http://fornaomi.com/.

New Forum For Jax Brides and Grooms

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At The Wedding Party, we are always looking for new ideas!  We had a bride recently mention how nice it is to talk to other brides to share ideas and tips, which sounded like a great idea to us! So we created a new group on Meetup.com just for you.

We have set up an online community where you can post messages in the forum, but we will also host monthly meetings.  These meetings will NOT be sales pitches - the wedding professionals of The Wedding Party will be available to answer any questions you may have, but the whole concept is to bring brides together with other brides!

Our first in-person get-together will be held next Wednesday!

When: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Where: The Wedding Party office, 8640 Philips Highway, Suite 8, Jacksonville

More Info: http://www.meetup.com/Jacksonville-Brides-Grooms/

Liz Stewart Floral Designs Grand Opening

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Well, the term "grand opening" isn't really correct - it was however, the grand opening of Liz Stewart's new studio on Third Street.  What a big change, literally!  Liz, Tiffany, Shae and the rest of their team have so much more space at their new location! The studio is breath-taking!  I am so jealous, although I know a lot of hard work went into creating the space.  Here are some snapshots I took:

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Bride Wars!

Tonight Melanie and I joined some of our favorite wedding pros to watch Bride Wars. Unless you live under a rock, I'm sure you've heard of this wedding-themed movie staring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson.

The premise of the movie is that two best friends who have been dreaming of their wedding days all their lives are accidentally booked on the same day at The Plaza.  Hopefully a far-fetched occurrence, I'm sure, and one that wedding planners will ensure never happens after this movie!

The movie was great, and if you haven't seen it yet I'd highly recommend seeing it with your best girl friends. Thanks to Christine Hoffman at TPC for coordinating our outing! It was great spending time with Chris, Nicole from Sharon Batten, Monica from To Do-ers, and Cate from TPC.

Fashion Show Fun!

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Last night our team has the pleasure of attending a fashion show and cocktail party at Sharon Batten.We also ran into Christine Hoffman from TPC Sawgrass, super photographer Agnes Lopez, extraordinary floral designer Liza Chung, and Ashley English from Bella Bridesmaid.

We didn't take any photos during the show, but these are some of the styles that were featured:

Danielle's fave - Oscar de la Renta

Another Oscar

I liked this cute little number - Vineyard Collection

Also from Vineyard Collection - this was the last dress of the night and a clear winner in our opinions!

If you haven't purchased your wedding gown, be sure to schedule an appointment with Sharon's knowledgeable and friendly staff!

An Excellent Open House

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It was a great night last night as The Wedding Party, Jacksonville's only wedding mall, welcomed dozens of brides and grooms to our open house.  The passion and energy that you feel walking through the doors of The Wedding Party really lets you know that all the businesses inside strive for excellence in everything they do.  If you missed it, watch the blog for announcements about the next one! The food by Serenatea was delicious - especially the Pina Colada dip!  (these are my snapshots, stay tuned for pro pics from Kevin Winter!)

I could eat a hundred of these truffles!

Ham rolls, stuffed olives, sausage wraps, oh my!

And of course to top it all off, fabulous wedding cake from Simply Delicious!

These cake truffles live in the freezer just two doors down from my office...very dangerous indeed!

Another fun treat for the night: a photo booth!  This is "glamour girl" Kimberly, a former client and now friend, goofing off for the camera.  I would highly recommend this for a wedding, birthday party, any even really!  This one from Photobooth To Go, a division of Dan Harris PhotoArt.

There is so much more to write about!  But I'll wait to get Kevin's photos...