One day this spring, I spent an entire day driving around Las Vegas, stopping at every bakery I could. I know, I know, terrible job, right? The reason for this Vegas Dessert Escapade was to sample the various treats that could be used instead of a wedding cake which made for a fun day (with a high sugar intake!) But what I found was even sweeter: a favorite hangout.
As some of you know, I don’t actually live in Las Vegas, but do travel there several times a year. Following my brief stop at Chocolate & Spice Bakery in March, I returned in June and will be returning on my forthcoming trip as well. Why does this particular spot call out to me? Well, this chic bakery is not only comfortable and stylish with a great environment for relaxing, getting work done or visiting with friends, it is also incredibly addictive.
Above: The interior of Chocolate & Spice Bakery and set up for a private event
Award Winning Pastry Chef Megan Romano is the mastermind and pâtissière behind this bakery. She has an extensive background in desserts, and has worked in the kitchens of Charlie Trotter and Charlie Palmer, creating beautiful meal finishing sweets. In 2012, she branched off on her own on Las Vegas’s west side with Chocolate and Spice Bakery.
With the help of some key members of staff, in Chocolate & Spice I think she has created what I consider the perfect bakery and cafe. It offers a savory, satisfying menu of items like salads, pastas and meat pies, but also a delectable dessert menu that changes all the time, including hand made chocolates, cakes, cookies, gorgeous couture desserts that look as good as they taste and my favorite: miniature pies!
Although I would say that the desserts and pastries feature an innovative slant to the ingredients and design (for example when I visited in March I tried a Guinness bacon truffle, above left) there are more traditional takes too, and premium ingredients take a center stage in whatever creation you are trying.
Of course, Chocolate & Spice does wedding cakes (including bundt cakes and ice cream cakes) dessert tables and all sorts of wedding cake alternatives, like bonbons, and truffles, pies and meringues, too.
They have also started to offer a private space perfect for rehearsal dinners or intimate wedding receptions, featuring a rotating seasonal catering menu. They even do cooking classes, which would make for an excellent wedding shower idea, I think!
Megan was kind enough to answer my Better Know a Vendor interview, so get to know a bit more about her and Chocolate and Spice below, and be sure to return Monday for a very special giveaway…
Little Vegas Wedding:Hi Megan, thank you so much for your time. So first, are you
originally from Las Vegas? I know you’ve worked in some pretty high end restaurants on the Strip, but also a bit further afield, like Chicago.
Chef Romano: No. I’m from North Haven, CT
LVW:What is your preferred way to work with clients – email, in person, telephone?
CR: It is easiest to start by email, when they can send a description, photos and then we contact more personally by telephone or in person.
LVW: How do you start designing a cake for someone who has an idea, but no photos?
CR: During a conversation, we can get a good idea of what they are looking for. Once we have all necessary details, we will present an complete idea which most often times hits the mark and they feel confident to let us be creative.
LVW: Do you do bespoke/custom flavors?
CR: We do custom flavors all the time. A recent customer would like 10 different flavors of mini pies for a wedding with customized ice creams and sorbets. Anther customer would like a $100 gift box, primarily of milk chocolate so we will customize our chocolates to milk chocolate. We will make gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan upon request.
LVW: Have you noticed a change in what couples are wanting in terms of dessert design for their weddings? Do you predict any big trends popping up for 2014?
CR: Mini desserts are still becoming more popular. Couples like the idea of ending the evening with a bit of whimsy, something unexpected such as mini pie and ice cream bar…
LVW: What were you doing before you got into baking?
CR: I have been in the kitchen since I was little. I thought about getting into advertising, fine art…which seems to have a lot in common with the culinary arts.
And of course, a few fun questions I always throw in…
On a typical Sunday I am usually … but I’d rather be …
CR: I like to sleep in a bit… till 7 am. I can’t waste a day so I most like to get outside, hiking, swimming, which usually involves our 3 kids. After that, we don’t like to have a lot of plans, we have friends over for dinner, love to get out of town to see something new…
If I wasn’t a baker, I’d probably be:
CR: I am honestly not sure what I would be doing. I would love to travel and explore what is out there!
Be sure to come back Monday for a special giveaway hosted by Megan and Chocolate & Spice – it’s a “sweet” one!
Chocolate & Spice Bakery http://www.chocolatenspice.com
7293 West Sahara Avenue, Suite 8 & 9
Las Vegas, Nevada
Fall Hours: 7am to 6pm Monday – Saturday
One of my favorite blog-related things to do has been going on studio visits to the amazingly creative businesses that exist within the realm of the Las Vegas wedding industry. For example, Mina Olive! Since the shop opened in July 2012, word has been steadily spreading of the fantastic, fashion forward custom bridal gowns coming out of it, so I knew I had to see them in person.
On my most recent visit to Las Vegas in June, I was happy when Megan was able to carve out some time for me to drop by for a studio visit. Read on for the full post and information on how to win your very own Mina Olive gown!
Luxurious. Lacy. One of a kind. Perfectly fitted. Detailed. Ruffled. Architectural. This is just a start to how you might begin to explain a made-to-measure Mina Olive gown. The gowns that Las Vegas’s only custom wedding dress boutique Mina Olive provides are unique, fit to order and made of fantastic fabrics and details.
The designer behind Mina Olive, Megan Thompson, began making dresses after being frustrated with her own experiences shopping for wedding gowns. Owning something that another bride might have turned her off, and she often found the the quality was, well, lacking. And so Mina Olive was born – a design boutique that promises a one of a kind gown for a one of a kind bride.
Let’s feast our eyes on these beautiful bridal fashion photos from Ella Gagiano of the gorgeous styles for 2013 from Mina Olive. Ella shot this at Commonwealth, a bar on Fremont in downtown Las Vegas. It’s got a rich, gothic feel with huge chandeliers, unique furniture, lots of dark wood and leather. It’s meant to emulate a pre-Prohibition bar in Boston. To me it feels very masculine, and I think that makes it a perfect foil for super feminine wedding dresses. They just pop!
Wearing these silky, satiny and sumptuous gowns are models Catherine, Danna and Sarah. The dresses are complemented by jewels and glitter from Tower of Jewels and structured floral bouquets by Flora Couture atFloral2000. The models looked fantastic thanks to the artistry of Megan Payne of Makeup in the 702.
I hope you love the dresses and photographs as much as I did. You can view more of the Mina Olive designs on their website or at Megan’s studio in Tivoli Village (by appointment only.)
I get this question posed to me a lot: where can I get married in Las Vegas? I think the better question is: where CAN’T you get married?
There are so many special spots around town that the real secret is to find a minister willing to meet you there to marry you at it. Today’s vendor feature is a little bit about this adorably cute pink Volkswagen Beetle, aka the Las Vegas Luv Bug. This vehicle transports the dynamic duo of Reverend Tim Rowland and his wife, Pam Rowland around to various marriage ceremony spots in Vegas!
Originally from southern California (San Diego), before they transitioned into providing wedding services, they were performing church and ministry work. Using their combined powers of officiating marriages and photography, a desire to work together and provide unique services, Las Vegas Luv Bug was born!
Let’s get to know a little more about them…
Little Vegas Wedding:For those readers out there who may not know who you and the Las Vegas Luv Bug are, please introduce yourself!
Las Vegas Luv Bug: Las Vegas Luv Bug consists of me, Reverend Tim Rowland and my photographer wife, Pam, and a pink VW Beetle that we have named the “Luv Bug.” Our focus is on meeting the couple wherever they would like to get married, and helping them celebrate their wedding day. We provide officiant/ceremony, 20 digital photos, and a witness if needed. We can also assist with expedited recording of the marriage paperwork or an apostille for international couples. We will go anywhere in the greater Las Vegas area that our brides and grooms request.
Reverend Tim Rowland and his wife, Pam with their pink Beetle
LVW:How many years have you been in business and how did you initially get into officiating?
LVLB, Rev. Tim: We’ve been performing ceremonies for 15 years. We moved to Las Vegas in 1997 to plant a church, which we did for 8 years. I was working a full-time job in customer relations as well as church work in the evenings and weekend services. One of our church members suggested weddings as an alternative income source, so I solicited several chapels and found work a couple of nights a week at a downtown chapel. I began to really enjoy it, and it has taken me all over Las Vegas.
Pam has always had a love for photography and taken several courses. She photographed all of our church events over the years as well as family gatherings and annual family photos. This year, we created the Luv Bug so we could work together as a couple, combining our gifts and talents, and having a lot of fun while doing it. Plus, we get to drive a really cool pink “bug” that draws a lot of attention! We REALLY love our pink bug!
Some of the ceremonies the Luv Bug has officianted. Reverend Tim can be seen bottom photos, far left, with a couple from Canada he wed.
LVW: As far as ceremonies, what kind of variety, customization and personalizations do you offer?
Rev Tim: We have a standard ceremony that we use a majority of the time, but many couples have written their own vows, or have specific requests for their ceremony. We are willing to work with any requests a bride or groom may have. One thing I won’t do is prank the bride or groom. Years ago, I had a groom ask me to use his “nickname” for the bride during the ceremony, & I assumed it was a term of endearment between them. As it came out of my mouth, the bride teared up and a look of horror crossed her face. Turns out it was a name that was used to tease her when she was younger and she didn’t find it funny at all. Since then, I have a strict policy of not playing tricks on either bride or groom on their wedding day.
LVW:What is your preferred way to work with clients – email, in person, telephone?
Rev Tim: We have tailored our website to allow a couple to find out about our services and locations, book a date and time, and submit payment- all online! We are also available by phone or email to answer any questions a couple may have. With international couples, we find email is the most effective, because of the time difference.
The Luv Bug in action in the desert, downtown and on Las Vegas Boulevard
LVW: Where is the most unique spot you’ve wed people at?
Rev Tim: There is quite a long list of locations you can perform weddings at … are there any places you can’t do? Helicopter weddings have to be the most unique, because they can go anywhere. We’ve done weddings on Strip tours, Red Rock Canyon tours & Grand Canyon tours. One of the neatest experiences I had was when the bride and groom had me pretend to be another tourist so they could surprise her parents with their wedding over the skies of Las Vegas at night. Her mother was elated! Casino floors or other private property are generally off-limits, unless the couple obtains the owner’s permission. Most public places are fair game, as well as hotel rooms, homes, or backyards.
LVW: Do you provide wedding ceremonies in any other languages other than English?
Rev Tim: I speak Spanish, and have done hundreds of ceremonies in Spanish. I lived several years as a child in Mexico (my parents are missionaries) and learned the language by immersion. ;)
LVW: What is the one thing you wish couples wedding in Vegas knew?
Rev Tim: That their choices for getting married are wide open. They can make it as simple or as extravagant as they want (or can afford) so think outside the box, and don’t be bound by tradition! That’s why we say we service “weddings as unique as you are.” We find many couples will spend extra money on a nice hotel suite, where they hold their ceremony, and when all the guests go home, they can spend the rest of their time on a really nice honeymoon where they got married. Our mobile service is designed to be simple and affordable so they can invest their money into other aspects of their celebration. There is much more to a Vegas wedding than the “chapel.” Often, on-location ceremonies provide a much richer background for their photos.
LVW: Are there any vendors in the Vegas area you particularly like to work with, or would like to work with?
Rev Tim: Most of what we do is fairly self contained, but there are a few we really like:
Kent Ripley, Elvis entertainer. First-class Elvis, I’ve worked with several over the years, and Kent is one of the most sincere & fun entertainers I know. It’s not about him, it truly is about the couple.
Dana Lopez, bridal beautician at Mosaic Salon does an awesome job as a stylist!
LVW: What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
Rev Tim: That’s a hard one. I’ll have to split it: Firstly the moments just before the ceremony when the bride and groom have a child-like excitement for what they are entering into, as well as the moments just after the couple is pronounced husband and wife. There is a relief, as well as an expectancy in their eyes. It’s a moment of “We made it!” coupled with, “We are just starting a new part of our lives together!” There is a sweetness there that is hard to describe. It NEVER gets old!
And my standard “fun” questions:
On a typical Sunday we can usually find you napping after church, but you’d rather be smoking a nice cigar (Tim) or drinking a nice glass of wine (Pam) on the back patio. ;)
If you weren’t a officiants, you’d probably be: Bored out of our minds at 9-5 jobs!!
Thank you so much, Tim & Pam! I can’t wait to see you in your little pink Beetle zooming around Las Vegas, delivering love!
All Photos by Pam Rowland except for the top photo taken by their daughter
Editor’s Note:As of November 2013 Paper & Home now has a shop located at 4555 South Fort Apache Road, Suite 138.
One of the things I love about wedding blogging is that every single day I get up, I’m inspired. By a photograph I see, a wedding submission, a wedding on another blog, a typeface on a piece of stationery – the list goes on! One of the things I find most inspiring however, are the amazing Las Vegas wedding industry professionals.
So, the last time I visited Las Vegas in March, I set up a studio visit with the inspiring Brooke and Michael Coxen at Paper and Home. I’ve been a fan for some time, seeing their invitations and design work in the submissions I’ve received. And I’m a big fan of their Twitter feed and Pins.
They were incredibly gracious and let me into their home studio in west Las Vegas so that I could learn a bit more about their work, their business and them!
Brooke and Michael’s passion for paper stems from successful careers and their meeting (and courtship) in New York City. Originally from southern California, Brooke worked for some time with a luxury, high-end wedding invitation and stationery studio in New York City and learned the ins and outs of the trade, while honing her design talents.
Born and raised in New York, Michael was a marketing guru who specialized in music and media at the time. (The couple met at a music gig!) Drawn together by their love of music, food and great design, they made it official and were wed!
After creating this relationship with dash of creative spirit and business know-how, the Coxens relocated to Las Vegas in 2010 and are in every sense a team operation. Brooke heads up design and Michael takes care of branding. And yet they both wear many hats, and are both extremely knowledgeable about their products and industry.
An indication of what lies within…
I rolled up to their home and was met by a beautiful sign. (Shocking, I know!)
Stepping into their tidy, modern studio I couldn’t help but instantly fawn over the invitation samples out on display once my eyes were drawn to them, and wanted to immediately look through every sample book on their impressive shelves! It’s a bright and comfortable space, and full of creative energy, inspiration and ideas to draw from.
What sets Brooke and Michael apart from other stationers in the area are the premium and exclusive lines of stationery available to them. They’ve handpicked products and vendors that they know, love, and stand behind. Just some of the design houses they are able to offer exclusively to Las Vegas are: Dauphine Press, Smock, Alee & Press, Spark Letterpress and Smudge Ink.
But what is print unless it has some great paper to back it up? Paper & Home offer a luxe line of beautiful paper styles. Of special interest to me were the ecologically and environmentally-minded options such as seed woven papers, recycled papers and sustainable materials being used in yet others, such as bamboo and cotton.
How lovely would it be for your wedding invitation recipients to plant their invite after receiving it?
An example of the Bloomin’ brand seed-laden papers Paper & Home offers
Looking beyond design and paper, they work with vendors they have formed strong relationships with to create unique graphic designs and provide beautiful services such as calligraphy, foil printing, letterpress and illustrations.
I was blown away by the custom watercolor illustrations done for this wedding invitation, below:
Rock climbing, camping and their dogs – how perfect is this bespoke invitation with watercolor illustrations?
As we bonded over our love of visiting the post office, mail and the written word, I knew that they were very passionate about what they have chosen to do. And that’s what I find inspiring. They apply their personal touch and standard to everything they work on – as if it were their own!
Brooke uses her critical eye cultivated through years of working at a demanding high end stationer to apply that to your invitation suite – be it for 10 people, or 1,000. As they showed me some of their work that typified their varied design sense and abilities, I grew incredibly jealous of the personal touches, quality and colors in the suites I saw.
You see, I designed my invites via a stationer on Etsy, and did yet other parts of my invitation and day-of stationery myself. I look back fondly now, but I cannot tell you how much I regretted my decision one particular night at my friend’s house after I broke her printer for the fifth time and we both got toner all over us like something out of an I Love Lucy skit. If I could do it again…
Paper & Home are extremely service orientated and will take care of you from start to finish – initial design to licking the envelope, essentially. Working with you, they want to take your ideas and turn them into reality to create your couture invitations.
They aspire to have a couple’s proofs back within a week (you can read about their entire design process here) and offer unlimited edits to your pieces. They really want you to be happy with what you are getting and for you to get an unforgettable piece that is one-of-a-kind.
The Coxens also strive to work within your budget, no matter what it might be. In light of that, they are very transparent in their pricing and billing breaking costs down line by line, and offer a la carte services.
Keep in mind they do not just work on wedding invitation suites, either! While in their studio I saw phenomenal birthday, announcement and card designs for all occasions. I love a good electronic card as much as the rest of you, but let’s bring the paper back folks!
Thank you, Brooke and Michael for taking some time out of your busy day and allowing me to step into your studio and world. I can’t wait to see what exciting plans Paper & Home has for 2014!
I encourage you to view more of their designs below, online or to set up a complimentary appointment with Brooke and Michael. They love to talk paper and design and are very welcoming!
A cinema-themed invitation (the couple even requested RSVPs by video!)
Indian weddings are multi-faceted with many different parts and traditions, so it makes sense that the invitations were multi-layered as well!
I was in love with the foil detailing and – can you see it? The little jewel between the E and the T!
Custom map? Yup, they can do that too!
PS: In case you were wondering… the “home” part of Paper & Home? That stems from the other part of their business, home organization. Brooke is a qualified personal organizer. You don’t need to look any further than their immaculate studio to see they practice what they preach.