Last Night with Tourism New Zealand


Despite the rain, nearly fifty guests joined us last night in celebration of our partnership with Tourism New Zealand. We are proud to unveil the beautiful Postcard Travel Journals that we created as a way to showcase the country’s breathtaking landscapes and natural beauty. Our showroom was meticulously decorated with enlarged versions of the journal’s photographs, surrounded by complementary Dempsey & Carroll papers.



DSC01531In addition to the stunning visuals, the wine was plentiful and the food was truly divine. We were treated to Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay Winery paired with delectable hors d’oeuvres from The Musket Room.

The Michelin Star rated restaurant presented us with a range of incredible, scrumptious treats. We enjoyed pork rillettes with huckleberry jam, squash tarts with zucchini puree, mushroom custard with truffle oil, and an outstanding cheese board. The canapés gave us a taste for New Zealand’s culinary flavors, leaving all of our guests eager for more.

We were able to learn more about New Zealand’s rich cultural identity by chatting with Adriana, who came as a representative of Tourism New Zealand while sipping on some of the finest and most delicious wines from New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region.



DSC01568Before the night was through, our guests were given gift bags which included copies of the Travel Journal, a Pure New Zealand pen, and other mementos. We would like to extend a special thank you to our friends at Tourism New Zealand for contributing to the wonderful evening and for working with us on this exciting collaboration. We hope that this event was an inspiration to visit one of the most diverse and unspoiled places on Earth.




Spotlight on Jordan Payne

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event planner, Jordan Payne, of Jordan Payne Events to chat about the great state of Texas and beyond. 

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AA: What should we think of first when we think of Jordan Payne’s style?

JP: You know, I like to think that when you think of Jordan Payne’s style you think ‘versatile’! When it comes to style and design, each bride is so unique and so designing very different weddings is something that makes me fall in love with designing over and over again. If I were to choose 3 words to describe my personal favorite style it would be ‘elegant’, ‘luxurious’ and ‘timeless’!


AA: We’ve talked to a number of event planners who’ve had clients come to them for an aesthetic that is not really what that planner is known for. How do you handle this type of situation?

JP: I say bring it on! I love a design challenge and honestly, it shows you can work with any type of style and can be creative with your craft. I truly want to be celebrated as a planner and designer that when you look at our portfolio you cannot believe the same designer did those same events because they are so different and versatile. Being able to go in so many different directions is what is so exciting! I would say my favorite type of wedding is a big, luxurious, elegant affair! But hey, bring on the contemporary, chic bride too!


AA: What’s the best way to guide a client with the biggest dreams but without the biggest budget?

JP: You know, be honest. Always do so in a way that never puts a bride down. Transparency is key. Yes, you may not be able to fit A in your budget, but let’s look at B that may give you a similar look and not cost as much. Sometimes even just the slightest adjustment can save thousands.


AA: What’s your favorite thing about designing for Texas venues?

JP: You know, us Texans like to do it BIG! You know what they say, everything is bigger in TEXAS! I love so many things about Texas venues. The amazing catering directors, captains, etc. we get to work with at each of these locations is some kind of wonderful. It is always refreshing knowing that you are all one big team and all you want is to bring the best service and memories to your couples and their families.

There are so many aesthetics to the venues in Texas. We have a big state, so there is so much versatility. From beautiful, grand ballrooms to open ranches to art museums, Texas has it all! Regardless of where you host your wedding, you can design out any location too. Transforming spaces is so exciting and really gives your guests a memorable experience!


AA: Can you tell us about the absolute best place you’ve done an event outside of Texas?

JP: You know, there are so many amazing places to plan and design weddings in this world-even many I have not had the chance to see. I have a wedding bucket list and Ireland is at the top! So when that happens, that will take the #1 slot, but I have to say of all places we have planned, Napa, California takes the top spot… The experience, the views, the weather, the vineyards, it is just stunning and special. Just LOVE Napa!


AA: And what location outside of Texas would you love to design for but it just hasn’t come about yet?

JP: So we know Ireland takes the top spot and in a close second place is Dubai. I mean, the dreams I have to plan and design here is beyond words…

There are so many amazing places in this world. The beauty that we get to surround ourselves with in the wedding world is just mind boggling and special. Yes, it is hard work, but at times I have to pinch myself!

Spotlight on Sarah Goodwin

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with Sarah Goodwin of Daisies and Pearls to chat about Maine and the coming seasons.

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AA: How did the name Daisies and Pearls come about?

SG: DAISIES & PEARLS pays homage to my two German Short Haired Pointers, Daisy Mae and Pearl, aka The Pointer Sisters.

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AA: What is your favorite thing about working in the beautiful state of Maine?

SG: What makes Maine the perfect wedding backdrop is the state’s versatility. It offers the ocean, lakes and mountains.

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AA: In the dead of Maine winter, how difficult is it pitching venues to clients looking for a vibrant summer festivity?

SG: Photography plays a key role in the wedding industry in so many ways. One role is it enables a client to visualize something intangible by painting a vivid portrait even in the dead of winter when summer seems so far away.

Justina Bilodeau Photography

AA: When you’re doing an event in winter, do you do any special preparations in case of exceptionally heavy snow?

SG: Regardless the season there should always be a Plan B. Outdoor events are very popular in Maine so I always coordinate a rain plan. The same for winter events. However snow is such a common occurrence of a Maine winter, it takes a real blizzard to slow down a Maine wedding.


AA: What materials are exciting and new for you right now?

SG: I try to steer away from trends drawing inspiration from my clients and their love story. Personally I am drawn to classic, timeless design.


AA: Where do you like to take Daisy and Pearl for some R and R?

SG: Daisy, Pearl and I love to relax in my hometown located in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York.


Photo credits: Carrie Pellerin Photography, Justina Bilodeau Photography, Melissa Mullen Photography

Spotlight on Sofia Crokos

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event planner Sofia Crokos of Sofia Crokos Events to talk about her favorite venues and more. 


AA: Please tell us about your favorite venue in Greece and how you took advantage of such a spectacular location?

SCE: One of my all-time favorite venues is in Athens, called Island Art and Taste. It is located on the water, with a view that can take your breath away. The way that the space is designed and all the details of the venue makes you feel as though you were on one of the Greek Islands, all while conveniently in the heart of the Capital. From the food, to the vistas, this venue is truly a gem hidden in the Capital.


AA: And in New York?

SCE: In New York City, I would have to say, the New York Public Library, because in addition to being such a grand space, it is a landmark and in the heart of the city. The library’s extravagant size and beauty makes for some truly spectacular events.

Outside of the city, Locusts-on-Hudson is one of my favorite venues for an outdoor event. It has beautiful views overlooking the Hudson River Valley. I love creating tent events, and with the acres of meadows and gardens, this location is perfect for doing so.



AA: What destination have you worked in that proved the most logistically challenging?

SCE: All destination events prove to be challenging in some way or another. Planning an event requires a lot of communication and a long checklist of items to be completed in a timely manner. In my experience, Turkey and The Caribbean have been some of the most challenging locations. Outside of New York everything is very lax. Try to plan a wedding in the Caribbean when everyone works on “Island Time”, it is the definition of challenging! The language barrier is another issue we have to deal with. This complicates communication, which is extremely vital to the planning process. However, no matter how many challenges my team and I have to face, because of my strong contact pull, support group, and positive outlook, everything always falls into both the client’s and my favor.



AA: Any weather nightmares? And, if so, how did you remedy things?

SCE: Unfortunately, yes. At my own wedding! Can you believe the irony? After a track record of beautiful weather for every event I had done-weddings, dinners, milestone birthdays, you name it-there was a hurricane on my wedding day! After our clambake rehearsal dinner on the beach in the Hamptons, we quickly realized that with the brewing hurricane we weren’t going to be able to have our reception. Luckily the weather did not keep us from saying our nuptials, in the safety of a church. Almost five years later, I can finally laugh about the events of that weekend. My husband and I are planning on doing a “re-do” (minus the bad weather), with our closest friends and family in Greece or Italy for our five-year anniversary.


image001AA: When all the work is done, where do you love to go and recharge?

SCE: Whenever I am done with an event, whether it was a destination event or local one, there is nothing I enjoy more than returning to my home in Sag Harbor. I love the beach! It recharges me. The water is so peaceful and relaxing, and it helps me clear my mind to think of new creative ideas for my future events.



Photo Credits: Christina Oth Studio, Judith Rae Photography, Allan Zepeda Photography, Stephen Karlisch


Spotlight on Doug Wright

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event producer, Doug Wright, who’s in the middle of choosing the perfect venue for a corporate anniversary bash.


AA: You do a lot of marketing environments, product launches, and sales meetings. Is it a nice change of pace planning a big party?

DW: The diversity of my clients always makes the work interesting, whether it’s a gala charity event at a Manhattan hotel, condominium sales centers around the country for New York based developers like The Related Companies and Extell, or a hospitality lounge for Grand Centenario Tequila at the bi-annual Mercedes Fashion Week in L.A. In this instance, a financial services firm approached me to handle their 10th anniversary gala, and they want to do something a little out of the ordinary.

AA: And this client was considering an overnight somewhere up the Hudson?

DW: We began by looking at unique sites outside of the city itself, and thought an overnight at a spectacular location would be memorable. One of the biggest challenges is securing venues for the dates the client needs, so when you’re looking at six locations or so during peak season you need to move quickly. Many places like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Locusts-on-Hudson, and Wave Hill are very in demand as wedding sites, so the competition is steep. We fortunately managed to get reservations at each of them with the exception of Locusts.

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AA: But now it looks like your client will switch to a location closer to their offices?

DW: As we dug deeper into the weekend plans, it became apparent that bussing 120 people on a Friday night in August could require that dinner be served on the luxury coaches themselves given the likelihood that traffic would be at a standstill. We’re now also looking at several spectacular city locations like the new Whitney, The Glass Houses in Chelsea, and 4 World Trade Center, which has incredible city views. We still will need to bus everyone in luxury coaches, but on time arrivals are more of a sure thing.


AA: Are there other activities planned for the guests?

DW: Yes, there is to be a team building event on Saturday, and we’re very excited about doing it at Rustico Cooking on 39th St. They have marvelous programs overseen by Micol Negrin. We want to have the group break up into small teams, each of which will be responsible for preparing one part of the meal. Not only is it fun to work together, but you get a great dinner in the end, and their wine pairings are delicious.

AA: What else was in the running?

DW: We also considered the Manhattan Yacht Club for a sailing event where everyone breaks out onto 15 sailboats, learns to sail, and competes in a race to the Club House for lunch, but the uncertainty of weather precluded that in the end.

AA: And Dempsey & Carroll will be doing a set of engraved correspondence cards for each guest?

DW: That’s what I’ve been discussing with the client. We’d include the copper name plates of each employee in a custom plush velvet bag. It would be a very luxurious and personal gift, and the custom white linen boxes would have the company’s logo embossed on them as a nice reminder of the anniversary, and the event. The client loves the idea!

Photos courtesy of: Doug Wright,,

Spotlight on Janel Gonzalez of Janel Events

Dempsey & Carroll event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Janel to discuss her event style. 


AA: What’s the most exciting new space in the Los Angeles area?

JG: Millwick is an amazing, modern venue. It’s industrial but chic, with vibrant colors and lots of greenery.



AA: Is there a classic venue to which you often return?

JG: Yes, The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa is one of my favorites. I had my wedding there and have planned clients’ weddings there as well. After all these years it still takes my breath away.



AA: Can you recommend three fabulous champagnes for three different budgets?

JG: Of course! Champagne is the universal drink of choice for so many happy occasions. I like mine extra dry personally. For years, I have loved Jaume Serra Cristalino . It’s not champagne per se, but I had it at a black tie event for Placido Domingo years ago and when I got home and looked it up it was only $6! So of course for taste and price it’s amazing. I do love my Veuve Cliquot, of course, and my favorite is the Brut Rose; you can find it for as low as $59 at some stores. And of course I love Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut — the bottles are just works of art.



AA: Next time I’m in the area, where should I go for chocolate?

JG: In Los Angeles, head to Compartes. They have so many decadent flavors, sophisticated shapes, and they’re artistically packaged.



AA: What is your favorite use of event papers that goes beyond the essentials like escort cards, place cards, menus, or programs?

JG: I’m a sign person. I feel like the more signs the better, even if we are just stating the obvious like “Desserts” or “This way to the party.” I just feel like you can never have enough signage, especially in beautiful or whimsical calligraphy.



AA: What locale, if any, would you choose to plan your dream event?

JG: If there’s a region of the world I feel most enamored by, it is the French Riviera. I love French culture and their sophisticated yet simple approach to weddings. It is a style I identify with as well. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times and would love to plan a wedding in a luxurious Villa or Chateau overlooking the Mediterranean. Sounds like a dream!

Pop, Clink, Fizz: Five Bubbling Beverages Sure To Be the Life of the Party

Dempsey & Carroll’s event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Tana Povolo of A Day in May events to recommend five fantastic wedding champagnes…Here’s what she said:

Jen Kroll Photography (2)

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label – There is something to be said about the phrase, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!”   We think French Champagne is the bee’s knees and Veuve Clicquot’s label just happens to be the color of honey. This well-known Champagne has developed a devout following that continues to grow as the brand evolves. Fun packaging and unique gifting ideas have set the company and their products apart and their contemporary approach to traditional champagne appeals to young, modern couples. What better way to invite your bridesmaids and groomsmen to be a part of your wedding party than with the gift of bubbly? The Clicquot Mailbox and Clicquot Clutch both make that possible.


Why buy? Great price point for a French Champagne, well-known, classic taste and brand, fun gifting opportunities (1) 

Rose Imperial by Moet Chandon – Think pink; pink Champagne that is! Just the right amount of girly with juicy berry tasting notes this blush hued bubbly would be the perfect way kick off a tea party themed bridal shower complete with vintage china, lush garden floral arrangements and miniature desserts. Light and lively, why not serve this distinctive beverage in one of Waterford’s etched Champagne coupes. The perfect finishing touch!


Why buy? Ladylike flare from a well-known, quality producer. Perfect for pre-wedding festivities or other wedding weekend events. (1)

Blanc de Bleu Cuvée Mousseux by Premium Vintage Cellars – No, you’re not seeing things; this unique sparkling wine is indeed a brilliant shade of pastel blue! This Chardonnay based bubbly features a hint of fresh blueberry making the final product “dry, crisp and refreshing”. The perfect color for a waterside affair, Blanc de Bleu would be best served in a crystal clear, modern style flute, or better yet, let your guests enjoy the beautiful label on one of the Piccolo bottles.


Why buy?: Unique, fun color, something different, hint of blueberry is perfect for summer, sold in Piccolo bottles for easy passing and individualized consumption (1)

Blanc de Blancs by L. Mawby Winery – Your first thought when you think of sparkling wine is most likely not Northern Michigan but due to the large bodies of water that surround the Leelanau Peninsula, the temperate climate makes for the perfect place to grow grapes. Listed as one of “The 20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry” by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine, Proprietor and Winemaker Larry Mawby made his first bubbly in 1984 and has never looked back. Made entirely of Chardonnay grapes, the Blanc de Blancs features “spiced apple aromas” and is described as “zesty and crisp”. Taking a cue from Northern Michigan’s casual, yet sophisticated appeal, this sparkler would stand out in a personalized, stemless flute which could be gifted to the newlyweds with a personalized monogram.


Why buy? Casual enough for a vineyard wedding with a relevant palette for Champagne lovers


Sparkling Pinot Grigio by 2Lads Winery – Another fabulous Michigan sparkler this time from the Old Mission Peninsula, the Sparkling Pinot Grigio from 2Lads is as unique as the bottle it comes in. “Natural aromatics of almond biscotti, baked pear, toasted oats and crisp apple” tease the palette as you imbibe in this Brut bubbly. The pry off cap and sleek bottle design may convert your microbrew loving man over to the dark- or light and refreshing- side. So grab your sweetie along with a well-stocked picnic basket (GoVino glasses are great for the outdoors) and head to the hills for a relaxing pre-wedding night out.


Why buy? Unexpected, traditional with a modern edge, approachable to the masses, low quantity high quality producer (1) (1)


Photos courtesy of:



Blanc de Bleu



Jen Kroll Photography

A Spotlight on Cait & Jules

Dempsey & Carroll’s event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Julianne Austin of Cait & Jules to learn about their work as event planners.


AA: How did you and Cait meet and what is yourfavorite thing about your partnership?


JA: We met as project managers producing high end private events at David Monn.

Our favorite thing about our partnership is collaborative creative process as we conceptualize an event.  We have been doing it for so long together that we don’t even need to finish a sentence or thought and one of us will know what the other this thinking.  Oftentimes it’s hard to trace back who came up with an idea because it is such a team effort.



AA: We worked together on an incredible save the date and invitation suite for a wedding in Vermont. Are you doing many events right near home-base in Brooklyn?


JA: A lot of our events are outside Brooklyn.  We travel all over the world to create one-of-a-kind events for our clients.  However, we would love to spend more time in our own back yard!



AA: Since Brooklyn has entirely come into its own, are you seeing Manhattan-based clients specifically asking for a venue in Brooklyn?


JA: I don’t know if they are specifically asking for a venue in Brooklyn but the are definitely more open to it!  A few years ago most of our clients would not even entertain the idea of looking at venues in Brooklyn, now they are much more accessible.



AA: What is the most exciting new venue in Brooklyn?


JA: We love the Duggal Greenhouse.  It’s a special space with an environmentally conscious vision.  We are excited to see how the Brooklyn Navy Yard changes in the next couple of years!


A Spotlight on Alicia Caldecott

Dempsey & Carroll’s event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Alicia Caldecott to learn about her work as an event designer. 1543image001

AA: By now, you’ve done just about everything imaginable lakeside but what was one of the biggest technical challenges? 


AC:  This summer we designed and produced a destination wedding for over 300 guests and for the wedding reception, we built a dock over the water at the client’s cottage! We have been very fortunate to work at some truly remarkable and beautiful locations around Michigan’s Gold Coast however this was a chart topper! The lawn of the cottage was not deep enough to host the reception and the only solution was to select another venue or venture out into the water. After surveying we discovered that the lake bed was not solid enough (too much decaying matter and clay) to lay footings and have the flooring rest on the lake bed- we needed to jettison the supports of the flooring into the lake bed just like you’d do to the pylons of your dock. 330 guests plus a stage, dance floor, lounge area and ample gathering areas require an abundance of space and the resulting platform that was constructed from timber and hand painted was just shy of 16,000 square feet.


Building the dock wasn’t the hard part, but it was a challenge. The length of time required for the build meant strict schedules and when Mother Nature wasn’t playing nice either with thunderstorms or small craft wind advisories we had to push through. The biggest challenge was the painting of the dock in the bride’s signature colors, Lilly Pulitzer Pink and white stripe, on the bias of course! The weather pushed our painting schedule back and we had to install the main tent structure while priming and painting were taking place under the canvas. Being on the water meant working in a constant humid environment on top of the humid summers we have in Northern Michigan. Large thunderstorms the week before the wedding meant warping wood and veneer had to be replaced and restained.


When the sun finally came to stay on Wednesday before the wedding we were blessed with great weather, the kind you dream of on the lake, and our teams kicked into gear putting the final touches on our happy couple’s special venue!


AA:  What’s your secret weapon for a buggy August evening?Stegner (542)


AC:  We have a “layered” strategy for helping make our guests comfortable when insects can be a nuisance. First, start with the welcome bags or gifts. Include a few bug wipes for their convenience. Next make sure to have on hand additional towellettes in the restrooms. If it’s a particularly challenging case of bugs, keep some spray on hand behind the bars. Citronella works like a charm and a quick and easy remedy is to swap out your standard votive candles with citronella scents. Also, around the inland lakes “up north” we have mosquitos and they are not particularly fond of garlic. Now, I don’t recommend having an entire meal of garlic or over seasoning, however it’s amazing the difference even the slightest bit of garlic in one’s diet makes in the resistance to those pesky bites!


AA: Has there ever been wildlife making a surprise appearance at one of your events?


AC: Working around state and national parks there are abundant amounts of wildlife. Thankfully we have not had anything “large” crash a party but we did have a very interested and rather sizable, momma raccoon make her way into a tent the night before the wedding while we were running and lighting and rehearsal. She was hanging onto the tent pole behind the drape and when I turned to adjust the uplight I was greeted with a gnarly hiss and growl!


AA: What’s the hardest thing to make happen in a remote location?


AC: With enough time and resources there isn’t much that is that hard or too difficult to happen. I will say that one repeated challenge is lack of modern conveniences. You have to know your resources before you arrive on location and most importantly, their hours of operation! The mom and pop hardware store may have everything you need to McGuyver the problem you need to solve but if they close at 4:30pm and don’t open until 10am no amount of duct tape or zip strips will make them open for you! Knowing your resources can result in more work for our team but it’s not an unsolvable challenge. The biggest challenge and hardest thing to work with in many remote locations we work with is the lack of total or reliable cell phone services. Short of getting a satellite phone, which those have even been a challenge at one particular “remote” destination we have produced two events at, there isn’t much you can do. In today’s day and age, it’s amazing how dependent we are on our mobile devices and when you don’t have them, or a way to make them work, you best hope that the team you have assembled is sharp and on point!


AA: When you’re doing an event out west, what do you miss the most about working back home?


AC: Aside from working around Lake Michigan, we have been fortunate to travel to California, Colorado and Texas to name a few, to produce events for clients. Working at “home” is never really “home” for us. We are always traveling to our venues so operating in a mobile capacity is something we are very comfortable with. With that being said, I don’t know that I really “miss” working at home when we are in a new state or across country. New locations, challenges and venues are inspiring just like the families we serve and although we may not be able to bring our exact tool kits, team of vendors or families we sometimes have more fun learning the new and reinventing what we do on the road!

AA: What can you get in northern Michigan that you can’t find anywhere else?


AC:  For those that are fortunate enough to have spent time around Northern Michigan I think you would agree with me in saying that there is a certain sense of self and wholeness here that resonates in one’s soul. Our clients may not reside up north year round but it’s their favorite address and they want to share the magic of what we have here with the ones they love. The natural beauty found along our shores, crystal clear waters and intoxicating sunsets provide the back drop for the effortlessly perfect summer day. Now, if you are a four seasons lover like I am, you’ll have no problem swapping your swim fins for snowshoes and your fresh roadside fruit for campfire chili!



A Spotlight on Emily Thompson

Dempsey & Carroll curator, Austin Ackles, sat down with Emily Thompson to discuss her work in floral design. Emily Thompson Potrait

AA: The White House is the ultimate canvas and the work you did there was phenomenal! What venue in New York City has come the closest in excitement for you and how did you transform the space?

ET: One favorite was an event at the Armory in NYC, where we designed undulating meadows down the dining tables to spectacular effect. They were both intimate and expansive, which is a big challenge in that vast space.

Large Arrangement

AA: Your creations feel so exquisitely edified. What is the secret to making them look as if they’ve always existed?

ET: A great deal of the power of the designs comes from the choice of the most special materials, or the ones with the most interesting contrasts with one another. I love to choose materials that are represented in ancient art, as well, such as lotus blossoms, which immediately evoke an Egyptian papyrus.


Autumn Witch HazelAA: Your compositions have the serenity of a Japanese garden and the quiet majesty of a Chinese scholars rock. They are at once grand and understated. Are you inspired by Asian art?

ET: Very much so. I love to strip things back to their most essential components. My efforts are in service of displaying the deeper nature of each bloom of leaf, so I seek to find ways to bring that out and exaggerate it. I love ikebana, though I have never formally studied it.


AA: As you continue to chart your own course, what can we expect to see next in your exploration of natural materials?

ET: We are perpetually seeking new ways to bring the wilds of our landscape into the stark towers of New York, and to draw the eyes of the world to the delicacy and mystery of the uncultivated forest and meadow. We have some amazing projects planned but they are still top secret, for now.


Photo credits:

Veranda Large Winter Arrangement by Max Kim-Bee
Autumn Witch Hazel by Sophia Moreno-Bunge
Large Arrangement by Ngoc Minh Ngo
Emily Thompson Portrait by Maria Robledo