Bernadette in Curve Magazine

I never thought this day would come, after just about 10 years in business, we finally made the pages of Curve magazine....a lesbian dream come true...check us out below or in the new issue!

Happy New Year

Happy new year, friends and colleagues!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  This post is a little late because our holidays were kind of hectic...between both of us getting horrible colds and Jen's grandma passing away, we have been fairly unplugged. As always, we start the new year highlighting 14 things that were exciting about LGBTQ rights, marriage equality and our company in 2013. Enjoy the list below and we look forward to hearing from you to celebrate this new year!

1. DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court.  In other words, even though about 31 states are behind the times, we have federal marriage equality and Jen and I can file our tax returns as "married" for the first time in 2014. 

2. Since this time last year, we've had 10+ new states with marriage equality...it's hard to be precise as the number seems to change almost daily now.  Utah?! New Mexico!?  It's amazing and inspiring and we are so thrilled for all the thousands of same-sex couples with new marriage rights. And our brothers and sisters around the world have reason to celebrate as well with legal marriage in places like France, Brazil and Uruguay.

3. Prop 8 was overturned on that same historic day as DOMA and marriage equality has returned to California!

4. We saw some notable celebrity weddings (sadly, none planned by us) including Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dot-Marie Jones from Glee, Meredith Baxter, Greg Louganis and TR Knight.

5. We launched an exciting new partnership with the W Retreat and Spa in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

6. My second book, The Lesbian Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, hit the shelves and feedback has been great!

7. 14 Stories worked with 38 LGBTQ couples from 14 different states in 2013!  Thank you so much for your business and we hope we served you well.

8. We co-created (with Community Marketing and Insights) a really interesting survey of 916 engaged and married same-sex couples.  If you want to read the survey results to learn more about what LGBT folks are doing with our wedding plans, check out some of the results.  

9. Our clients weddings were featured in amazing publications like The Knot, Brides and Inside Weddings magazines. 

10. We were featured in articles written in the Advocate, Curve, NY Times, CNN and many more.

11. I was honored to train thousands of wedding professionals around the world about same-sex weddings and LGBT couples. I went to Mexico three times in 2013 to lead trainings and once to Canada.  All of these professionals are now prepared to work with LGBT couples in the most sensitive and equal way.

12. I was Vice Chair of the annual Family Equality Council fundraiser, Night at the Pier, which raised over $800,000 to advocate for the rights of LGBT families.

13. Rhen joined the team as our NYC Wedding Planner and Elopement Coordinator and has been an awesome addition to the team! He's in charge of all the small NYC gay wedding we are planning.

14. We participated in a really fun segment of Huffington Post LIVE talking about gay wedding planning 101. 

A Beautiful Gay Wedding at the State Room

I really really really love the work we get to do and the wonderful clients we meet. Lee and Tom are a perfect example, a very well matched couple, equally nerdy and equally funny. Their wedding had a little bit of geek for everyone - the science geek, the computer geek, the board game geek, the SciFi geek...it was such a beautiful, extremely personalized wedding and we couldn't be more proud to have produced it. This awesome gay wedding was at Boston's State Room, one of the most beautiful venues in the city.

Check out this video trailer from Generations CinemaStories

Tom & Lee Wedding Highlights from GENERATIONS cinemastories on Vimeo.

The Pilgrim Monument Wedding in Provincetown

Provincetown, MA is one of the most spectacular places on earth, and as a big gay travel destination, it only makes sense that we see a lot of weddings there. Anthony and Chad came to us as New Yorkers whose second home is Ptown, and we collaborated to create a beautiful, sophisticated wedding at the Pilgrim Monument. The wedding concept was "preppy garden party" and we brought this extraordinary production together with an incredible team of vendors.   

Our grooms are so gorgeous and happy and afterwards told us, "We cannot express how grateful we are for all you have done to get us to this day. Your patience, guidance and partnership during this process has been remarkable. You and Rhen did an amazing job creating the most incredible moment of our lives. Every detail was beyond what we had hoped for. Hope you had some time to rest and look forward to connecting again! Much love!!"

Please enjoy the photos below by Kate McElwee. 

invitation suite for two grooms

two grooms getting ready together

emotional moment for the two grooms as they are getting ready

monument provincetwon wedding wide shot of grooms portraitstwo sweet grooms holding hands at their monument provincetown wedding

two grooms holding hands one wearing blue plaid custom suit

guests arriving for a monument provincetown wedding

kid looking at the view at the monument provincetown weddingview of town and the beach at a monument provincetown wedding

pre ceremony preparations for the grooms

happy daces smiling in the crowd waiting for the ceremony to start

great moment during a reading at the groomssweet and emotional moments at the ceremony at this monument provincetown wedding

monument provincetown wedding funny moment during the ceremony

monument provincetown wedding happiness at the end of the ceremonygorgeous grooms at the end of their monument provincetown gay wedding

monument provincetown wedding details of cake and popcornwedding tent setup at gay monument provincetown wedding

cabbages and thistles make masculine flower arrangements and centerpiecesbeautiful place settings with burlap at a monument provincetown wedding

monument provincetown wedding men during cocktail hour with great suits and shoesa happy guest enjoying cocktail hour

monument provincetown wedding wedding details and scenic shot

first dance and guest reactionsbeautiful and emotional moment during the first dance at this monument provincetown wedding

cool ring shot using gay wedding stationery for two grooms

dance floor fun and craziness at a tented monument provincetown wedding

monument provincetown wedding reception tent lit up at night

Win a Free Trip to Cancun

Our friends over at GayDestinationWeddings.com are sponsoring a free trip to Cancun.  See below for more details - you can win a 5 night stay + a $1500 credit to LoveandPride.com.  You can enter the contest at this link.

New York City Gay Wedding Packages

Our New York City elopement packages continue to be a big hit with Rhen at the helm.  In the past few months, we've worked with some great couples from Texas and Michigan to create extraordinary mini weddings.

First, Bill and Nick came in from Texas with their teenage kids who didn't know they were attending their dads' wedding!  They also brought the kids moms, some other family and a small group of friends for about 12 in total.  We upgraded to a limo coach, rented a chapel, added in a mini orchestra, upgraded to a custom ceremony officiated by a former priest and made their experience the biggest elopement package to date!  Of course, as they pointed out, everything is bigger in Texas!  

Check out this photo of a wedding with our grooms Stephen and Robert from Hawaii.  Photo by Catherine Hunsburger.

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New Lesbian Wedding Planning Book

My second book, The Lesbian Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, is now on sale! Check it out!

14 Stories and the W Retreat and Spa in Vieques

We have some very exciting news that we've been working on for months.  The press release pretty much says it all, but the short story is that 14 Stories and the W Retreat and Spa in Vieques Island (Puerto Rico) are announcing a special same-sex wedding planning partnership.  It thrills me to be partners with the W, especially since Starwood Hotels is consistently a great ally to the LGBT community.  Keep reading for more details.

Bernadette

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Contacts: Anna Tabakh, Quinn & Co., tel. 212.868.1900, ext. 225, atabakh@quinnandco.com
Keith Flanagan, Quinn & Co., tel. 212.868.1900, ext. 356, kflanagan@quinnandco.com

W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island Launches the Nation’s First LGBT Wedding Planner Partnership

New York (September 2, 2013) W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island has launched what is believed to be the first exclusive hotel partnership with an LGBT wedding planner, the renowned Bernadette Coveney Smith, founder of 14 Stories, to offer destination wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.         

The “14 Stories Wedding Day Experience” partnership pioneers a new era of hotel service for same-sex couples with the nuanced experience of Smith and 14 Stories, the first business in the United States to specialize in planning legal gay and lesbian weddings. Same-sex couples hosting their wedding at W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island will receive customized services to the likes of 45 on-site planning hours with 14 Stories, a legal marriage ceremony in NYC or Boston, one pre-wedding meeting on Vieques Island with Smith and the property’s esteemed culinary team for an intimate tasting and planning as well as Smith’s attendance to personally oversee the ceremony and rehearsal. Smith’s planning will ensure seamless coordination of the couple’s dream wedding along with inventive themes for décor, entertainment, photography and guest activities.

“W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island naturally fits 14 Stories with our aligned values and aesthetics,” said Smith. “Peace of mind for LGBT couples is fully integrated at the retreat, and paired with the location’s picturesque landscapes. It’s the ideal spot for destination weddings.”

The collaboration also assists with personalized vows and ceremony wording for same-sex couples, post marriage resources that specialize in the LGBT community including financial planners and insurance brokers, and will contribute a donation to a marriage equality charity on the couple’s first anniversary. Additionally, couples will receive a personalized website where guests can book sleeping rooms, view photos, learn about wedding festivities and connect to the couple’s complimentary registry. As a signing bonus, couples will receive 12,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points which can be redeemed towards a free night at W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island and other onsite options.

W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island is intimately located just eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico on Vieques Island. Since opening, W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island has welcomed the island’s gay and lesbian travelers with custom packages for LGBT retreats and PRIDE celebrations as well as hosting 2011’s “Out on Film” festival. With 13 states in the U.S. (as well as the District of Columbia) now with legalized same-sex marriage, W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island will become yet another destination to embrace LGBT ceremonies.

“LGBT travelers have sought out Vieques Island for decades,” said General Manager of W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island, Greg White. “We’re excited to provide yet another reason to celebrate our same-sex couples and travelers.”

W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island’s 14 Stories Wedding Day Experience starts with an investment of $12,500 and can be booked by contacting the Destination “I Do” Team, director of weddings at destinationweddings@starwoodhotels.com or by calling (877) 796-8515. More information is available at www.wvieques.com.

About W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island
W Retreat & Spa-Vieques Island opened its doors on March 25, 2010 as the first W Retreat & Spa in North America. Located eight miles off the Southeast coast of Puerto Rico on the peaceful and untouched island of Vieques, the Retreat & Spa features 156 stylish guest rooms and suites, all with private patios and balconies, providing unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel offers a mix of serenity and natural beauty, inviting guests to escape to an untainted paradise that blends soft adventure with soothing relaxation. A Caribbean wonderland blessed with two private palm-lined beaches, the property flaunts waterfront leisure spots such as Living Room, Fire Pit, Lawn and Paradise Edge; five scrumptious dining options; an AWAY Spa for ultimate revitalization and relaxation; and a contemporary seaside sanctuary full of natural wonders and pure indulgence. W Vieques is an undiscovered oasis created by an innovative team of designers including lead designer, Patricia Urquiola, of Milan based Studio Urquiola, renowned design firm, Rockwell Group Europe who collaborated with Patricia Urquiola on the spa and public spaces and architectural firms, Sierra Cardona Ferrer and EDSA. For more information, please visit www.wvieques.com.

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The Dinner Party Style Wedding

(Note: this is a vintage blog post resurrected because we're seeing a lot of these now that DOMA is gone!)

A lot of the same-sex weddings we plan are dinner party style - that is, little to no dancing, with a real focus on the food, beverage, conversation and elegant ambiance.  These weddings are so intimate, and while there's always an extraordinary, formal meal, the atmosphere remains so casual and upbeat because the group is small, mostly knows each other and there's no pressure at all.  Everyone can just be themselves and have a good time.  Doesn't that sound great?

With these weddings, the ceremony is typically short and sweet, with  most guests standing around.  The ceremony is important, the most important part, but a formal ceremony doesn't always lend itself to the atmosphere these couples are trying to create.

Here are some inspiration photos...photo credit, top to bottom:  Jag Studios, Katje Hempel, Jag Studios, Kristen Korpos.








Photo by Jag Studios

Speaking to Wedding Professionals in Mexico

It's no secret that I love planning same-sex weddings.  But I also love making the wedding industry a more inclusive place for same-sex couples, and I do this through my trainings and speeches.  I'm fortunate have a global audience, and just in the past year, have spoken in Mexico four times.  Mexico is one of my favorite places because I love the culture and natural beauty, the warmth of the people, the food, the beaches, and of course the tequila.  By and large, Mexico is a very gay-friendly country and Jen and I really enjoy our trips there, whether for work or pleasure.  

I was recently in Mexico to speak at the Congreso de Bodas y Eventos in Guadalajara.  Speaking is fun, but making new friends with the other speakers and the attendees is just as fun.  Here are some highlights from the trip.

The speakers were treated to an opening night dinner party with fabulous entertainment!

Celebrating the second night at an amazing restaurant, Santo Coyote!

More from Santo Coyote - love those bar stools!

Speaking on stage

With my friends Carmen Laborin from Love Mexico (who first heard me speak several years back and has been instrumental at bringing me to Mexico) and Fabiano Niederauer, publisher of several magazines in Brazil, including a gay wedding magazine, Momento Inesquecível, which will highlight one of our weddings in their next issue.

Celebrating with late night tacos and mariachi on our final night in Guadalajara.