Spotlight on Erica Beckman

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked Erica Beckman of Clean Plate Pictures to tell us about her absolute favorite spots for engagement and wedding photos in and around New York City. 

  1. DUMBO/Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO are classic shooting locations, and for good reason. The bridge itself is iconic, and it’s absolutely stunning at sunrise. The DUMBO neighborhood has an amazing variety of environments in a a small, walkable area. With gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline, tons of cool graffiti, and lots of cobblestone streets and alleyways, it’s ideal for getting lots of different locations. Even after shooting there for years, I always find something new!

 

  1. Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill is right next to DUMBO, so I usually shoot in both locations together. Vinegar Hill is such a colorful neighborhood; it’s filled with brightly painted doors and store fronts and lots of industrial brick and wood textures. It also has tons of my two favorite things: graffiti and vines!

 

  1. Fort Tryon Park

Fort Tryon Park is another hidden gem. Most people immediately think of Central Park when they want a green location in the city, but Fort Tryon is just as gorgeous – and usually a lot less crowded! The gardens there are stunning, especially in the spring, and there are amazing stone structures and steps (plus, it’s got incredible views of Hudson)!

 

  1. Rockwood Hall – Tarrytown, NY

If you’re willing to venture out of the city limits, Tarrytown is just a short train ride away and home to Rockwood Hall Park. The grounds of the former Rockefeller Estate overlook the Hudson River. The ruins of the old mansion are a great spot, and the park is full of these weeping trees that are dreamy to photograph.

 

  1. A Special Location

I love when clients suggest a new location to me. Photographing a location that’s special and unique for them makes the photos that much better, and it’s always a pleasure to find new places! Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City was suggested to me by a couple and I was so pleased to see how cool it was – full of awesome structures and with a gorgeous view of the city. Another couple invited me to their country home upstate where we got to shoot in this dreamy, woodsy atmosphere– we even found this amazing covered bridge in the area. I encourage everyone out there to think about spots that are special to you!

Erica BeckmanErica Beckman makes the experience of being photographed easygoing and fun, so couples look and feel happy and relaxed. She started Clean Plate Pictures 8 years ago with the goal of capturing the heart and soul of a celebration, recording the big events as well as unexpected candid moments. Today Erica runs her busy wedding photography business from her studio in the Hudson Valley, photographing weddings all over the Tri-State area.

Spotlight on Marcardin Calligraphy

We sat down with Heather Brock of Marcardin Calligraphy to talk about her beginnings as a calligrapher and how she became inspired to start her own company. 

Q: “Marcardin” is such a unique name. Can you please tell us the significance of why you chose that name for your company?

HB: The name Marcardin is very dear to me because it is the name of an old family estate located in Shelbyville, Kentucky that belonged to us for over 150 years. Much like other homes and farms of that era, the estate was named by its builder, Mark Hardin. Fast forward to the early 1990s and my family was faced with the tough decision to sell it [Marcardin Farms] once my Great Aunt passed away. Most of the family memorabilia was kept in the attic; old letters and notes penned by ancestors, including those from my great uncle Mark Hardin, dated back to around 1856. All of the letters feature beautiful pen and ink calligraphy, and as an adult, the penmanship is my favorite thing to exist from that attic. I’m very fortunate to have such richly documented family history to reflect on. Marcardin, which was once known as Marcardin Farms, is now calligraphy for me.

Q: When did you first learn calligraphy and how did you know that you wanted to do it as a career?

HB: I was probably 10 or 11 when I picked up any sort of calligraphy pen for the very first time. I remember mastering (or so I thought I did) any instructional books I could get my hands on, but I moved on with other art mediums as I grew up. In my 20s I decided to pick up a pen again to learn the refined skill of pointed pen calligraphy in hopes to address my own wedding envelopes some day. When I realized how therapeutic it was to put pen to paper, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue for a long time to come.

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An envelope addressed to Marcardin Estate 

Q: How long have you been based in Kentucky? Do you have a wide client base in your area, or does most of your clientele hail from elsewhere? 

HB: I was born and raised (and still reside) in Louisville, Kentucky, so I’ve always stayed put. I am very fortunate to work with some of the absolute best wedding planners and designers in the city and state, so I do get a lot of referrals through them. I also serve nationwide, working with some stationers out of New York City and Los Angeles.

Q: We see that you offer a variety of calligraphy styles for your services. Do you think that there is an even split between interest in more traditional styles versus a more modern look? img_5198

HB: I would say nine times out of ten, my clients choose my Signature style. It’s definitely more modern, but it still gives that flourished feel that can be found in some traditional styles. I’m definitely more of a modern calligrapher; traditional calligraphy, such as Spencerian and Copperplate, can take decades to master. I certainly envy my calligraphy colleagues across the world who have the patience and skill set to achieve those writing principles.

Q: You have done beautiful work on everything from outer and inner envelopes, to escort cards and menus. How do you ensure that your pieces reflect overall aesthetic of the event?
img_0083HB: I love when I’m able to help design an entire invitation suite, so it can be printed or pressed in every which way. I like to start with my bride’s ideas of what she is thinking by getting inspiration photos from her. I’ll go through my series of questions which can turn into a few different pencil sketches before I put ink to paper. I then send my work to my go-to designer to do all the digitizing for me. From there, we meet to make sure everything is set perfectly for print.

 

 

Q: We were thrilled to work with you on pieces for a Dempsey & Carroll wedding recently. How did you first hear about Dempsey & Carroll? 

HB: I was so excited to finally get my chance to calligraph the beautiful paper from Dempsey & Carroll. I’ve seen it [Dempsey & Carroll’s paper] in many areas of the wedding industry, and have always heard great reviews from other calligraphers. The paper is exquisite and I am in love with everything from the texture to the watermark logo– It’s hands down my favorite to write on.

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Heather’s work for a recent Dempsey & Carroll wedding 

A Spotlight on Molly Middleton Events

Events Curator Austin Ackles sat down with Molly Middleton to discuss her wedding & events business. 

AA: You hail frommm3 the Atlanta, right? Sadly, I’ve never been to a big southern wedding. What’s so different about them and what makes them so incredible?

MM: BIG is right!  Everything is better when it’s bigger in the South!  Actually, I think that is more of a Texas thing.  Everyone is so hospitable and friendly in the south and they want to share their big day and celebrate with as many friends and family as possible.  I think the southern charm combined with the amount of people creates an amazing energy. Everyone is so happy and they just want to eat, drink and be merry together!  Also, I find that southern weddings are often a celebration of all things southern, like the strong food culture, southern drinks and the beautiful landscapes (think live oaks dripping in Spanish moss).

AA: Do you still work down south often?

MM: Yes, I have been so incredibly fortunate to be able to continue to work down south.  Most recently, I have done a few weddings in Sea Island, GA.  It is such a DREAM to work down there!  The level of sophistication and professionalism is incredible and they still manage to be calm, cool, collected and so much fun to work with!  Sea Island does a great job of balancing luxury and professionalism with that family feeling of the South.

AA: What’s the biggest difference between working with clients down there and those in the New York area?

MM: I would say that the southern weddings tend to be steeped in rich, family tradition.  I recently had a bride from Chattanooga, TN who wore a beautiful cathedral-length Duchess Lace wedding veil that her great-great grandparents had purchased on a trip to Brussels, Belgium. The veil had been passed down to all of the women in the family to wear on their wedding day.  Now, this is not to say that I don’t have traditional clients from New York, because I do.  I also have a lot of highly successful professional couples who come to me who might be getting married in their mid-late thirties or forties for the first time and they are paying for the wedding themselves.  When the parents are not footing the bill, they have free reign to express themselves however they want!  For example, last year I had a client in New York who processed down the aisle to Alicia Keys’ and JAY Z’s Empire State of Mind and then I had another couple who recessed down the aisle to the theme-song from Superman.  Being from the South, I so appreciate tradition, but I also LOVE it when clients want to mix things up.  It’s fun for me from a creative standpoint.

AA: For every wedding there’s a rain plan. Have you ever done a wedding that required a hurricane plan?

MM: Good timing on this question.  I’m planning a wedding in the Bahamas for next spring.  Technically, it isn’t hurricane season, but I’ve got to take that into consideration in the planning process.  Stay tuned!

AA: If your daughter was to get married in 2040, what will her wedding invitation look like?

MM: If I have anything to do with my daughter’s wedding invitation, it will be a beautiful custom letter-pressed invitation on a nice 6-ply card stock.  I happen to love charcoal as opposed to black ink, and I may add a little pop of color with a beveled edge. Laura Holder & Will Menkes

 

A spotlight on AaB Creates

We love weddings. A lot. We love them for one of the most beautiful of reasons—it’s the celebration of two people committing their lives to one another. It is the moment when a couple embarks on their new life together. But what goes into the making of a beautifully executed wedding? To find out, Dempsey & Carroll event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Xochitl Gonzalez of AaB Creates to discuss her 2014 wedding season.

AA: This summer, was there a venue you were not initially excited about that ended up exceeding your greatest expectations?

XG: Yes!  I had booked a wedding for a client at the Metropolitan Club and had been a little bit apprehensive about making the traditional space not only fit our clients’ more quirky style, but also if we would be able to help bring in a bit of summer to the rich space.   Ultimately we ended up really playing with the legacy of the space of setting the dining room with long king’s tables with garlands of greens on the back of each chair.  The staff and team there were so flexible and accommodating with putting together a menu that evoked the season and were beyond helpful accommodating a lot of our unique details that helped to make the venue seem not only exciting, but the absolutely perfect location for our clients.

 

AA: Is there a piece of advice you give every bride that almost all seem to ignore?

XG: Fall in love with your rain plan.  Spend the energy getting just as comfortable with it as with your fair weather plan. Not only is it simply no fun spending the days leading up to your wedding obsessing about something over which you have no control, but you should wake up on your wedding day delighted and excited, not anxious.

 

AA: It was a very cool summer in much of the U.S. Did this create any surprises?

 

AA: Next summer, what do you hope to do differently with your schedule?

XG: Because we do a lot of destination weddings, I found myself traveling in and out of the city seemingly constantly this summer: Hudson Valley, Hamptons, New England, California, etc.  Next year instead of rushing back and forth, I’m hoping to have my office as mobile as possible so I can extend my trips and comfortably mix work and pleasure a bit more.

 

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(image: Xochitl and her partner Mayra)