What if you could throw a party with all the glamour and magic of a wedding, but just with your gal pals? What would that look like?
Ashley Melanson, owner of Abode Beauty Bar, wondered the same thing and called together some of the most talented women in the Boston area to throw her own Galentine’s Day party, with all the trappings of a posh wedding reception.
“I wanted to put together a large, collaborative shoot that encompassed all women-owned businesses, all women creators in this area,” she says. And she was pleasantly surprised at the amount of positive feedback she got for her non-wedding wedding shoot.
“I didn’t think it would grow to be this large. It just exploded!”
What happens when you get more than 25 of the area’s most creative women to put together a Galentine’s Day wedding party just for the girls? And what did the ladies bring?
First things first. If you’ve already got a theme (Galentine’s Day), then it’s time to pick the right setting for your party.
Ashley chose Warehouse XI in Somerville. The large, industrial space has a light, airy feel. It’s basic, stripped-down look created the perfect blank canvas to make Ashley’s dream come to life.
The strings of bare light bulbs cast a soft light that was perfect for her wedding-that-isn’t-a-wedding.
Next, choose your colors. Ashley softened the stark white setting with balloons in hues of pink, peach and champagne.
Throw in some dark greenery and splashes of gold, and the whole party has a posh, sophisticated feel.
No wedding is complete without beautiful flowers. Jo Hersey, owner of Twig and Briar took care of that.
She provided lush greenery that made a dramatic selfie backdrop (because what’s a wedding these days without a selfie station?).
Her bouquets of roses, peonies and other blooms in shades of pink and cream, accented by eucalyptus and ferns, were elegant without being too formal, which is exactly the way Jo likes it.
She specializes in weddings that don’t necessarily follow the typical wedding-magazine formula.
If she were approached to do a real Galentine’s Day non-wedding wedding, she says “In a lot of ways I would prefer to do that! Weddings that are left-of-center and non-traditional, that’s totally my jam!”
“We’re constantly thinking outside of the box and coloring outside of the lines,” she says. And it shows in her choice of flower and arrangement.
Your Own Marquee
Ashley had the romance and sophistication, now it was time to add some glam with Hollywood-style marquee letters.
Enter Doris Loves, a UK company with it’s first U.S. shop here in the Boston area. Proprietor Alison McDonald only started Doris Loves USA in 2017. So it’s still pretty new on the wedding scene, giving brides (and gal pals) a chance to show off something unique for their big day.
“We have almost 100 different figures, letters, numbers, punctuation marks, symbols, and hashtags,” says Alison. “You can add your own personality. You can spell whatever you want to spell.”
She says she loves helping women create their own look. “You can see them get excited, and think about the different possibilities.”
And that’s what she loved about Ashley’s Galentine’s Day celebration, bringing so many women-owned businesses together for this fun event. “That’s what it was meant to feel like. Flirty, celebrating your best girlfriends, and of course the women who were involved. Doing amazing things in so many different fields.”
The Cake (and Other Goodies)
Having a Galentine’s Day non-wedding gives you a lot of freedom with your sweets. Ashley went beyond your typical cake and included mini-cupcakes and macaroons from Baked Holden, as well as pink and red Starbursts (the two best flavors in the pack).
Still, the cake is the centerpiece of this celebration. But head pastry chef Elena Viapiano cranked the traditional vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting up to eleven with edible gold paint.
The mini-cupcakes are vanilla and chocolate and the macarons are vanilla, chocolate and raspberry.
The Hair and Makeup
Now enough about glamming up the party. Let’s talk about glamming up the ladies.
Ashley kept hair loose and natural-looking, falling in easy curls or bobbing around the nape of the neck.
Makeup was shimmery, but not too heavy, accentuating the natural beauty of these ladies rather than covering it up.
“I wanted to shed light on the fact that women can be beautiful, but they can be smart, and they can build things and make things.”
“I was really inspired by all the great things these women were doing.”
“I wanted a bit more of a fun and flirty look,” says Ashley. And that’s what she got.
A wedding is an opportunity to dress to the nines, but there’s no need to go out and spend when there’s Best Dressed Boston. Owners Vicky and Nikoleta Larantonakis pulled out all the stops with pieces like this red lace dress and white pantsuit.
Add a leather jacket from BHLDN for just a touch of edginess.
Pulling It All Together
And of course Ashley brought on a wedding coordinator to put it all together.
If someone really wanted to throw a Galentine’s Day wedding-not-wedding (“which would be so fun,” says Renée) she has several recommendations.
“I would do a fun brunch theme with mimosas and tea and a waffle station. Or maybe a really chic dinner party, but make it special with calligraphy place cards and a hot cocoa station.”
She feels like women really appreciate those special touches, and she would know!
She styled the shoot to include a lot of unique details, including the candy station featuring Baked Holden’s pastries, a plush couch with fur pillows framed by peach and pink balloons and a fantastic tablescape featuring Twig and Briar’s flowers.
The “Wedding” Photographer
And last, but certainly not least, you need a great photographer to capture the day.
Jessie wanted to reflect the simple, yet posh feel of the party. “We went for a mix of indie and glam, so we dressed our bride-not-bride in a white pantsuit with a leather jacket.”
Allie was inspired by all of the women at the shoot. “It was really awesome to be around other women business owners and be in a more relaxed setting,” she said.
Her favorite part of the whole day was watching the whole event come together. “As a wedding photographer, I don’t normally get to see the magic being made because I’m with the couple the entire day!”
It all came together in an amazing celebration of women, love and friendship.