“where being different has always been stylish”

designer’s diary blog

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June, 2015

We’re thrilled that Well Wed Magazine featured Elise & Dan’s Wedding on their blog. Check it out!

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Grounds for Sculpture & Rats Restaurant
  • by Melissa Brannon
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Grounds for Sculpture and Rats Restaurant are a little slice of central Jersey heaven that will indulge each one of your senses! As creative wedding designers we are always looking for unique venues and spaces to use as our next canvas. This incredible venue combination in Hamilton, NJ raises the bar.

Grounds for Sculpture is a 42-acre, landscaped garden that is adorned with over 270 modern sculptures. Renowned and emerging contemporary artists from around the world have created these amazing structures. Each piece was carefully chosen and placed throughout the beautifully manicured park, alongside the plentiful exotic trees and flowers.

Grounds for Sculpture's Nine Muses

Photo via David W Steele

Grounds for Sculpture is a great place to host special events or your wedding. There are incredible private areas to hold a wedding ceremony and their restaurant is perfect for rehearsal dinners, company outings, or just a day out with your family or friends. Their facilities regularly host classes, speakers, workshops, guided tours, team building challenges and luncheons—tons of options for any occasion!

Grounds for Sculpture Dejeuner Deja Vu

Photo via David W Steele

Grounds for Sculpture is also home to six indoor galleries and rotates exhibits throughout the year.

Rats, named after the hostess character from the childhood storybook, “The Wind in the Willows”, is a unique French-style restaurant. Located alongside a whimsical lily pond, the building and interior was modeled after Claude Monet’s favorite town, Giverny.

Rats Restaurant New Jersey Claude Monet Lily Pond

Rats Restaurant Jersey Wedding Venue

Photos via Rats Restaurant

The restaurant’s interior is exquisitely detailed with a perfect mix of warm woods, colorful tile, funky light fixtures, eclectic fabrics, fun plate ware and bold works of art. The charming space is also home to quaint nooks, a cozy fireplace and an open-air kitchen.

Rats Restaurant NJ French Restaurant

Rats Restaurant New Jersey Open Kitchen

Photos via Rats Restaurant

Rats Restaurant’s stellar cuisine combined with Stephen STARR Events’ incredible service is a force to be reckoned. This catering duo can create customizable menus that allow for a truly unique and out of the ordinary catering experience.

Rats Restaurant New Jersey

Rats Restaurant NJ Venue

Photos via Rats Restaurant

Whether you are planning a grand affair or just hoping to entertain yourself on a Saturday afternoon, Grounds for Sculpture and Rats Restaurant is a MUST visit. Each aspect of their offerings and unique spaces will indulge your senses. We are looking forward to our next visit!

Xoxo Melissa, FairyGodmotherBadass

 

Honeymoon Hotspot: Cuba
  • by Melissa Brannon
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Cuba, the glorious Caribbean island, seems to have popped up on everyone’s vacation radar with recent talks of eased travel restrictions. Our long and rocky history with Cuba has kept U.S. tourism low, but with disagreements settling we think now is better than ever to plan a visit or your HONEYMOON!

Cuba is known for its pristine white beaches and warm climate, which makes it an ideal place to consider honeymooning. If you are looking for more than just a long vacation in the sun, Cuba has a rich and historic background. This Caribbean island has remained intact and untouched by the 21st century making it an amazing place to tour and adventure.

The long ban on trade after Cuba’s Revolution has forced citizens to take exceptionally good care of their pre Revolution cars. Presently, Cuba has more vintage cars than modern cars on the road. This potentially time sensitive attraction is a must see – especially for car lovers!

cuban vintage cars

Photo Source: Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Let’s not forget about the ever-popular capital city, Havana and its well-known nightlife. Their plentiful nightlife options are a main attraction to Cuba. You and your hubby can spend the night hopping from cabaret clubs to salsa clubs and perhaps end your night with a celebratory (legal) Cuban cigar!

havana cuba honeymoon hotspot

Source: Anna Jedynak / Shutterstock.com

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering Cuba as your honeymoon destination. This small island has a shortage of high-end hotels and as their tourism numbers rise, it may be harder and harder to find a place to stay. The upside to this is that their bed and breakfast options are plentiful and may be the best option. Cuban B&B owners will often provide authentic and incredible meals for their guests. However, we highly suggest booking through a travel agent.

bed and breakfast cuba honeymoon hotspot

Source: Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Another major point to keep in mind, cash is king in Cuba. There are very few ATM machines and even fewer places that offer this service as a form of payment.

Revised regulations took effect early this year, giving Americans several reasons that would allow a visit to Cuba. The most common categories are educational or academic programs and tour operators often use these categories to arrange trips for groups or individuals who do not have family ties to Cuba. As aviation agreements are reached over the next couple of years there is a lot of talk about direct flight from the U.S. to Havana. We are looking forward to the day that travelers can just hop on a plane and head to Havana!

Xoxo Melissa, FairyGodmotherbadass

Philly just got sweeter! Rumors started to fly late last year as word of the 10th Carlo’s Bakery location in the Northeast began to surface. Editor and producer of Philly.com, Michael Klein confirmed the speculation in early January, noting that Carlo’s Bakery would make the former Hollywood Tans parlor, located on 21st and Walnut in Philadelphia their new home.

Carlo’s Bakery gained massive popularity through the TLC show, Cake Boss and they continue to push the envelope as they grow! Well known for their sweet treats, specialty cakes and wedding cakes, Carlo’s Bakery has ventured into other realms of the wedding and event industry.

Buddy V Cake Boss Philadelphia Opening

Just about two weeks ago, Buddy Valastro, owner and famed ‘Cake Boss’ announced the official grand opening of their Rittenhouse bakery location. In addition to their layers of sweet offerings, the new location is offering catering services. Buddy V’s is Valastro’s catering branch and is perfect for events and special occasions of all shapes and sizes.

Philadelphia Cake Boss Carlo's Bake Shop

The icing on the cake, ‘The Kitchen’ is a 30,000 square foot event space that is located in the center of Carlo’s Cake Factory in Jersey City, NJ.

We are looking forward to getting our first taste of the Philly location and we’re so happy they chose our city as their newest home!

Xoxo Melissa, FairyGodmotherbadass

Photos: Carlos Bakery Instagram

Greensgrow is a nationally known urban farm located in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. In addition to offering a wide variety of farm services, Greensgrow provides farm and garden consultations, tours, workshops, a nursery, CSA, farmstand, and now an event space! Their incredible property is the perfect fit for special events and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Greensgrow Farmstand in Philadelphia

As an event space, Greensgrow is available to host a spectrum of events from full-service catered events to small DIY gatherings.

The Greensgrow property offers a variety of spaces for rental with indoor and outdoor options. The outdoor spaces can fit up to 250 people. Their greenhouse is available for indoor events and can fit up to 75 people. This might be a space to avoid in the summer, as greenhouses can hold a lot of heat! So perfect for a late fall or harvest season event.

The Pallet Porch & Stage Area and The Solar Pavilion Area can accommodate anywhere from 100 – 125 people. The Solar Pavilion is an outdoor space that is covered. A great space to create an outdoor feeling without having to worry about rain!

Greensgrow Philadelphia Event Venue

Greensgrow Philly Urban Farm Venue

We love how versatile Greensgrow’s spaces are. Their venue spaces are perfect for anything from a formal affair to a relaxed wedding or even a rehearsal picnic. Our creative design team can’t wait for our chance to reinvent their space!

Xoxo, FairyGodmotherBadass

Photos: Greensgrow and Hazel Photo x Birchtree Catering

In a few short months, the City of Philadelphia will welcome the World Meeting of Families and the arrival of Pope Francis. The 8th WMOF is expected to draw at 1 to 3 million people from around the globe to our beautiful city. Can you imagine what that will look like?

pope mural arts
Pope Mural Arts

In preparation, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program student’s have began painting a mural in honor of Pope Francis! This major moment in Philadelphia history comes with major plans and accommodations. The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and the city in general are making HUGE arrangements to help welcome, entertain, and house the millions of visitors. Philadelphia homeowners and renters are opening their doors with or without a price tag and taking full advantage of this giant influx of visitors!

mass on parkway philadelphiaMass on Parkway

With all of the papal visit chatter our creative wheels started turning and we couldn’t help but dream up an idea to help guests celebrate this special visit. We are lovers of ‘pop-up shops’ in general and what better way to commemorate the pope’s visit that with a “Pope-up” Shop! We’ve been known to open our studio doors to our sweet neighbors and who wouldn’t want to take home a ‘Pope on a Rope’, some ‘Pope-pourri’, or ‘Pope-sicles’! Unfortunately, we weren’t the first to dream up Pope memorabilia. Aramark will begin selling faith-based souvenirs to commemorate this visit that will range from five to $500!

pope francis doll
Pope Francis Doll

We can’t wait to welcome the WMOF and the Pope to the City of Brotherly Love!

Xoxo Melissa, FairyGodmotherBadass

Philadelphia and ‘The Oval‘ welcome Saint-Gobain’s traveling exhibit ‘Future Sensations‘. In celebration of its 350th year as a company, Saint-Gobain has titled this program “350 Reason to Believe in the Future” as a way to mark this special milestone. We are thrilled that Philadelphia was chosen as one of only four stops across the world in 2015 the others being Shanghai, China, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Paris, France.

The Oval is only a few short blocks from our studio in the Fairmount area of Philadelphia so I took advantage and wandered over to marvel at the immense pavilions. The exhibit can be seen from blocks away and is encased in a lining of trees in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Five very distinct and unique structures make up the futuristic experience.

Pavilion one; “A Reflection of Progress” was focused on vision and was comprised of mirrors and light.

look philadelphia the oval

Pavilion two; “A New Sensation” was centered on listening and was a nod to the company’s musical performance materials. The cube was padded and perfectly insulated to take guests on a special journey.

listen philadelphia the oval

Pavilion three; “The Stuff of Dreams” was concentrated on color and was made up of multicolored walls that slowly revolved similar to a carousel.

color philadelphia the oval

Pavilion four; “The Art of the Matter” was by far my favorite aesthetically. The structure was created with sharp edges that spiraled upward similar to a staircase.

create philadelphia the oval

Pavilion five; “History and Future” was designed exclusively for Philadelphia’s exhibition. The 70-foot dome was a 360-degree visual experience that focused on the company’s construction materials.

Food trucks and a beer garden added to the allure of the evening and the exhibition’s all around experience. The Cow and the Curd, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and Yards Brewery Company special brews were among our favorites! Our tip; get there early and just after dark to make the most out of the environment and ensure your chance to see each aspect of the exhibition. Whether you see this exhibition this time around or in another one of the chosen cities; ‘Future Sensations’ is a MUST SEE!

Xoxo Melissa Brannon, FairyGodmotherBadass

Photos: The Oval Philadelphia

EPIC London Calling

English inspired garden and tea parties have made quite the splash in the event world over the last few years and what better place to find or create ‘tea party’ inspiration than in the tea drinking motherland, England! In August 2014, the creative design and planning team at Uncommon Events had the pleasure of planning and designing four incredible days of birthday celebrations in London.

The most important aspect to creating and executing events abroad is finding other designers and artists that share your goals and visions. In my mad search for the BEST in the business, I discovered Simon Lycett. Simon, one of the Queen’s florist’s, is a world-renowned. His over the top floral design and execution exceeded even our highest expectations.

Xander Casey, internationally known, lifestyle photographer and his team captured every moment of the magnificent weekend! Xander’s contemporary approach to photography was the perfect fit.

Philadelphia’s Cinemacake Filmmakers spent the weekend capturing every important moment! They are our usual team in the states so we flew them across the pond for this EPIC adventure.

Guests arrived on Thursday evening and checked into the beautiful Barclay Hotel in the fashionable neighborhood of Knightsbridge. They enjoyed a welcome party hosted at the hotel.

Friday morning we loaded all the guests and their children onto a traditional old Routemaster Double Decker Bus equipped with Blue Badge Guides. They toured the city and saw all the sights en route to The Roof Gardens. The Roof Garden is a 6th floor open oasis, teeming with bird life, plants and foliage. Simply the perfect setting for an outdoor seated lunch. The guests dined on lobster and lamb paired with spectacular wines. The children were greeted by a living topiary and entertained by an iPad Magician. A Punch and Judy puppet show finished the luncheon while the children munched on yummy ice cream cones and cookies. The décor was simply perfect; tons of open garden roses and the linens I chose were the perfect compliment!

On Friday evening, limousines arrived at the Barclay and transported the guests to Hampton Court Palace, 45 minutes outside of central London. This was a SURPRISE to everyone, except the husband of the birthday girl. I knew the weekend needed some kind of surprise and this evening was FULL of them! Limousines circled the world famous entrance with the last car holding the birthday girl. As all the guests exited the limos, Trumpeters and the Queen’s guard greeted them. SURPRISE!

Shortly after guests arrived, King Henry VIII and his last wife Catherine (two extremely well versed and educated actors) arrived to give our guests a tour of the Palace and guide them through the Orangery to the privy garden. Not a small “garden” by any means! Cocktails and canapes were passed as Henry spoke about his “home” outside of London. The string music, provided by Siren, serenaded cocktail hour in the privy garden and Lycett’s team created dramatic floral arrangements that stood on pedestals that towered 15 feet high!

Guests were invited to dine in King Henry’s Dining Room, where robed monks chanted while guests took their seats. The table was 42-foot in length and clothed in one piece of bespoke linen. This dining room is where, back in the day, Shakespeare performed at the Kings request. The enormous centerpieces created a canopy over the table and the table was set with stunning appointments. The dinner menus were designed to match the elegance. Every detail for this EPIC evening was thought through with incredible care and once it was all together, it was simply BRILLIANT!

I partnered with Rhubarb Catering for the Friday and Saturday evening events, a very wise decision. Their culinary creativity shone through every delicious bite. The ‘drinks reception’ (as it is called across the pond) was delightful. The dinner was exquisite and the service impeccable. We mustn’t forget the after dinner “Sweetie Stall”, a sugar lover’s heaven that was artfully presented.

As the guests enjoyed espresso martinis and the outdoor ambiance of the east entrance, another surprise was brewing. The string quartet strolled out to the east entrance and began their stage performance. This group is one of the finest in the UK. To end the evening on another fine note, their last song was choreographed to FIREWORKS!

Saturday morning guests chose a tour of Windsor Castle or a boat ride on the Thames. Both tours ended their journey at Cliveden. Guests were greeted by Alice in Wonderland characters to amuse the children while the mums and dads sipped on the classic summer cocktail, Pimm’s cup. The afternoon was centered on a traditional English luncheon, with poached salmon, scones with clotted cream and many other English delights.

The Saturday evening affair was at Madison in London’s financial district overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral, such a beautiful view. The group wined and dined and danced!

Sunday it was off to Chewton Glen for some seaside fun!

Toodle Pip!

Hampton Court Palace in London EnglandEngland Limousine Event TransportationEngland Queen's Guard GreetingHampton Court Palace Trumpet Greeting

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    Uncommon Events is a creative design studio and wedding planning firm. We have an unending passion for design and a desire to bring our clients ideas to life. Our blog is a place for us to share the cool things we see, do and create. Enjoy!

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