Thursday, August 16, 2012


At Le Chatelet, we are still smiling after celebrating the private nuptial of Kimberly and Bob.  We have yet to see a couple more in love than these two! Kimberly and Bob are truly an inspiration.  As their friend Michelle puts it, theirs is a love that shows, not from holding hands or PDA, but that it's more like an aura that surrounds them.  I couldn't agree more. 

Kimberly and Bob met in college, became best friends and, upon Bob's graduation, decided to share their lives as husband and wife.  Wise for their years, they know that friendship and respect are the pillars of a good marriage. I have no doubt that, 50 years from now, they will be celebrating their golden anniversary in total bliss.

Best wishes to this wonderful couple for a happy marriage full of joy, health and good fortune.

Photography by Jessie Ruvo

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Wearing your mother's wedding gown is the ultimate green wedding statement--with good reason. Not only is is good for the environment, but it also sets the tone for a wedding celebration that honors family.

At Le Chatelet, we were delighted to celebrate Jessica and Richard's elopement, our first vintage wedding. I was pleasantly surprised to hear she would wear the wedding dress her mother, Susan, wore when she married Jessica's father, Jim, in 1969.

Jessica looked radiant donning this refined and tasteful ivory satin and lace dress, which she made fresh and modern wearing beaded thong sandals.

Jessica and Richard's wedding captured the essence of eloping. They shared a romantic ceremony they co-wrote, with beautiful readings, the inescapable tears, and lots of joy. Jim was visibly touched to see his "sunshine" wear his late wife's dress, which Susan had sewn herself. This beautiful union was followed by a casual reception, where the adults relaxed and toddlers got to explore exciting new surroundings in the country.

Not every bride is lucky enough to have a mother's wedding dress that is tasteful--and fits! On future posts, Lorraine Victoria, vintage fashion expert and owner of The Vintage Fitting Room, will tell us how to transform your mother's wedding dress into a custom made confection that honors your mother, and reflects the true you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Unfortunately, the word elopement doesn't call to mind visions of elegance, let alone communing with nature. Yet, elopements are good for the environment, because they sharply reduce the pollution and waste resulting from a large affair.  

While I am not a fan of destination weddings, on my recent trip, I found Costa Rica to be a magical place to celebrate a green elopement, and a very elegant one, to boot! Costa Rica, a beautiful country blessed with natural resources, has become a model of sustainable tourism, and provides the perfect backdrop to celebrate a green wedding and an ecologically-responsible honeymoon.

One step into the exuberant  gardens of the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, and I was smitten.  Located near Costa Rica's Arenal volcano, the resort boasts the most beautiful gardens in the country, reeking of spectacular waterfalls and lush tropical flora.  The resort can arrange for a wedding officiant and hotel staff can act as witnesses, so that nature lovers can tie the knot privately in its luscious gardens.

The hotel rooms are luxurious and beautifully appointed, and the staff will make newlyweds feel extra pampered.  Soaking in the delicious thermal waters in the garden makes for an excellent beginning of a honeymoon, as well as cozying up in the cabanas of the relaxing adults-only Shangri-La Garden. The resort is accessible for doing a variety of nature tours in the area, but guests can enjoy fantastic views of the volcano without having to leave the hotel.

The hotel has received many awards as a leader of the hospitality industry in Costa Rica. Visit their website at

For a taste of rustic elegance, head a half an hour south to the Chachagua Rainforest Hotel. Located on 247 acres of tropical rainforest, the hotel is a model of sustainable tourism. Included in the book "1000 Places to See Before you Die," the lodge is the ultimate rainforest experience. 

Within the reserve, you may take one of many available nature walks with Naturalist Cristian Padilla. We got to see a variety of flora and fauna, and fell in love with the colorful toucan birds and the shy two-toed sloth. You will find the sustainability tour inspiring, and Cristian will offer you excellent suggestions to set up a green household once back home. 

But the magic of the Chachagua Rainforest Hotel is that you do not need to leave the lodge to feel immersed in nature. Spending lazy days on the hammock of your intimate bungalow will surely hit the spot, while their chefs and attentive staff will delight you with the yummiest of food. For more information on this fabulous spot, go to their website at

And to prove wrong the skeptics who think that luxury and sustainability are incompatible, check in at the Gaia Hotel and Reserve.  The Gaia has received multiple awards as a leading green hotel, as well as in recognition for its commitment to excellence. This five-star property is minutes away from Manuel Antonio National Park and has its own 14-acre reserve on a tract of lowland coastal forest.  There you can enjoy luxurious rooms, a dizzying array of spa treatments and delectable Costa Rican fusion meals, while enjoying a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. You can even join the chef in their kitchen and participate in preparing your meal.

Naturalist Erik Ramirez will acquaint you with the flora and fauna within the Gaia reserve, and guides escorted tours to Manuel Antonio, where you can see, among many fascinating creatures, the red-eyed tree frog (sleeping), and the park favorites--the playful white-throated capuchin monkeys. The pristine beaches of the park are a perfect place to cool off after a walk on the warm rainforest. Take a look at their website at

But the highlight of the trip was our stay at the Quetzal's Paradise.  You can enjoy the most beautiful sunset from their charming rustic cabins, scattered on a cloud forest. Their mountain fresh air and lush vegetation brought me back to my childhood vacations at my grandfather's coffee farm.

Among their celebrity residents are several species of hummingbirds and, most importantly, the elusive Magnificent Quetzal, an exotic bird considered one of the most beautiful in the world. I can't begin to describe the thrill of holding the hummingbirds at the feeders of their Restaurant de los Colibries and feeling them buzz around me like little flying rainbows. 

Without a doubt, the crown jewel of this vacation was the viewing of the quetzal, a rare bird sacred to the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures.  Fabio, our guide, was very knowledgeable of their habits and whereabouts, and spotted for us their nests, where we had the opportunity to view a female and two males, with their long tails and exquisite feathers. Find out more at

As my husband and I held each other in the cool darkness of our cabin, we had a chance to reflect with gratitude on this marvelous vacation, and the love of nature and travel that brought us together and defines us as a couple.  We committed to, as we vowed five years ago, to continue on sharing together this adventure we call life.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Regret is no place to be... For my husband and I, eloping was hands down the best way to celebrate our marriage, and we encourage other couples to spare themselves the drama and simplify the wedding process.  In comparing notes with other fellow elopers, however, I notice that some look back with nostalgia and regret. The major complaints? The courthouse wedding was uneventful, it is sad to have no photos of the momentous occasion and not having someone special to share it with. Below are the top elopement regrets and my suggestions on how to avoid them, so that your elopement can be as special and memorable as a grand affair.

The Courthouse Wedding
While seemingly glamorous in the movies, the elopement at the elegant historic courthouse performed by a distinguished actor bears no resemblance to its real-life counterpart.  Having witnessed several of those, I can assure you there is nothing glamorous about donning your wedding attire through a skanky courthouse full of onlookers--some of them criminals.  Sitting through other people's boring proceedings while you wait for your turn is plain anticlimactic, and there is nothing special about having a cranky judge read your wedding ceremony with the same passion he enters a divorce judgment into the record.  The classic cup of coffee at the shop around the corner from the courthouse is not exactly festive and, obviously, not what beautiful memories are made of. Ditto for weddings at City Hall!

Not Capturing the Moment for Posterity
A friend who had a small private wedding does not regret taking that step. She only wishes that they had worn more festive clothing and had taken pictures to capture the moment and share it with their children.  Years later and still happily married, these friends look forward to making up for the quick small wedding by having a beautiful anniversary celebration with renewal of their vows.  Unfortunately, the fact remains that their very special moment went by and they won't be able to recreate it, frame it or share it with their loved ones.

Eloping Can Feel Lonely
For some, the thrill of the elopement consists of the illicit secret of running away without telling anyone.  This shared complicity, however, can turn to emptiness after the vows are exchanged, the pronouncement is made and there are only strangers surrounding the happy couple on the happiest day of their lives. 

Fortunately, all of these pitfalls can be easily avoided. Elopements are not all or nothing propositions.  Eloping is all about marrying on your own terms, in a ceremony that expresses your love and defines your relationship, and includes the people dearest to you. The recipe for a memorable elopement calls for only two ingredients: a lot of thought and a little planning, as explained here.

Elope in a Place that is Special to You 
Marrying in a place that has special meaning to you makes all the difference in the world. It can be the place you met, had your first date, vacationed, fell in love or realized that you wanted to spend your lives together.  An elopement can take place in a beautiful park,  your favorite inn or restaurant or your new home where you hope to grow old and raise your family.  In looking to your future together, it can be a place that you have chosen to become your new special place.  The possibilities are endless!

Create a Beautiful Ceremony
While the receptions typically take center stage at wedding celebrations, the ceremony is the real thing. Make it meaningful! Let your heart guide you. Write the ceremony together, write your own vows, pick readings that resonate with you, your relationship and what your marriage will be about.  There are plenty of resources at your disposal online.

The celebrant is another key component to a memorable wedding.  Select an officiant that will support and respect your choices, will help you craft your ceremony and deliver the words you have chosen with dignity, passion and joy.  Depending on what state you live in, an articulate friend or relative could be ordained for the purpose of officiating your ceremony, and making it more personal.

Share the Moment with the People You Love
There is no rule dictating that elopements are totally secret and must be kept from everyone besides the bride and groom. Eloping is about freedom from convention, so including your closest friends and relatives in this momentous occasion is a wonderful option. Including your parents, siblings, children and closest friends will make you feel loved and supported.  Think carefully and decide who are the people you want there.

Create and Preserve a Beautiful Memory
It is your wedding day.  Make it unique, romantic, unforgettable.  Dress up, feel wonderful, and bring your cameras!  You don't need to invest in a wedding photographer if you don't want to.  Ask a friend or relative with a good camera and reasonable skills to take pictures.  Enjoy the moment and make it last.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days in your life.  You only have one chance to get it right.  Happy eloping!

Monday, February 6, 2012


With romance permeating the air, Valentine's Day is a great time to tie the knot.  Following an afternoon ceremony, treat your guests to a decadent all-dessert reception in keeping with the holiday.

Red velvet mini-cupcakes frosted with white chocolate icing chase away the winter blues when decorated with fresh natural flowers.  Remember to use organic, pesticide-free flowers. If you don't have organic flowers, those little candle holders used for birthday cakes will keep your cake safe in a pinch.

For a break from classic chocolate-covered strawberries, serve instead fresh strawberries with custard.  This delicious custard tastes so good that no one will guess it takes minutes to prepare!
Vanilla Custard Recipe
Two envelopes of 1/2 cup vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cup Light cream
Brandy (optional)
Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine pudding and light cream.
Beat at high speed until combined.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Add brandy to taste and blend well.
Sprinkle with nutmeg. 
Serve with fresh strawberries.

Too early to drink? Have little ones in attendance? Fruit-flavored ciders will stand in for the toast.  Try Christian Regal's dark currant cider, my husband's favorite!  

For a sweet ambiance, chocolate scented candles in candy shapes set the holiday mood.

Roses are a must for any Valentine's Day celebration, and look especially festive layered in a dessert bowl.


Friday, December 23, 2011


The holiday season is the perfect time to celebrate an intimate wedding.  After all, you have already made plans to spend time with those nearest and dearest to you, and travel arrangements are already in place. With holiday decor adding a festive touch everywhere, it is easy to pull together a spontaneous celebration that captures the spirit of the season and a provides for a one-of-a-kind wedding.

Whether or not snow is in the forecast, you can enjoy the magic of a white Christmas with these holiday wedding ideas.

The Perfect  Holiday Wedding Dessert: Eggnog Panna Cotta

Eloping is about breaking free from convention, so instead of a wedding cake, consider serving a festive eggnog panna cotta. This delicious dessert takes five minutes to prepare, and makes a lovely display served on a silver cake stand on a vintage lace tablecloth. Silver ribbon adds easy elegance.

Eggnog Panna Cotta Recipe
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
12 Tbsp cold water
6 cups of your favorite eggnog
2 cups whipping cream
sugar to taste (optional)

Lightly grease an 8-cup mold with canola oil.
In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 12 tablespoons cold water.
Let the gelatin dissolve for 5 to 10 minutes.
While the gelatin dissolves, heat eggnog and whipping cream until hot, but not boiling.
Add sugar to taste.
Add the hot eggnog mixture to the gelatin.
Mix well and pour into a mold greased with canola oil.
Refrigerate overnight.
Invert the panna cotta on to a serving platter.

To prevent a disaster, immerse the mold in hot water for a few seconds to loosen the panna cotta. Shake it a few times to make sure it has loosened enough to plate it. I highly recommend a "dress rehearsal" to master the technique before showtime.

White Christmas Wedding Decor
Poinsettias are the quintessential holiday flower. Poinsettia blooms in a silver pot make the ultimate fuss-free centerpiece of the season!

Coconut Eggnog - A Tasty Wedding Favor
Your guests will delight in this divine coconut eggnog, a Christmas tradition in my native Puerto Rico. Bottled in vintage bottles and embellished with holiday ornaments, they make the perfect wedding favor. 

Coquito Eggnog Recipe
One 14 oz can of coconut cream
One 13 oz can evaporated milk
One cup white rum
One tsp lemon rind, grated  
One tsp vanilla 

Put all the ingredients in a blender.
Serve ice cold in shot glasses.

Friday, December 9, 2011


You may wonder what elopements , the main subject of this blog, have to do with green weddings.  The answer is deceptively simple, because it is all about simplicity.  While not all green weddings are elopements, green weddings, by definition, are small and intimate.The eco-friendly wedding keeps the guest list down, not necessarily to save money or avoid drama, but to keep to a minimum the impact on the environment, gas consumption and emissions related to guest travel. The green wedding is not premised exclusively on the love between the bride and groom, but on their shared love for the planet that sustains them.

Having a green wedding makes sense, and elopers would be well served by incorporating eco-friendly practices into their celebrations.  Green weddings are often officiated in beautiful natural places that are perfectly suited for small groups.  The use of recycled and reusable materials in their invitations, celebration and favors make environmental and financial sense.  Serving locally-grown products sustain the local economy and make a healthy food choice.

On future posts I will share with you ideas that can be adapted to elopements and green weddings with ease and success.