Monthly Archives: May 2011

Stephanie and Andy

TC Millwork Design’s inspiration board
Gold urchin placecard from etsy, bouquet from Ben Godkin, tablescape from 100layercake, Grecian wedding gown by Carmen Marc Valvo, tablescape from brides inspiration gallery, Grecian hair inspiration, star of bethlehem boutonniere, invitations from anemone letterpress, anemone arrangement by saipua, Grecian cake from martha stewart weddings, black bridesmail dress by jlmcouture, anemone boutonniere via the knot, jewelry purchased by the bride for the bridesmaids, Mr and Mrs chair back signs from etsy
Way back in July of 2010 I received an e-mail from a bride to be who fell in love with Fleur de Lys Villa from photos and wanted to see the villa in person.  I met with Andy and Stephanie a short month later for the villa viewing.  After taking a quick peek at the beautiful beach access around the corner, they were both thrilled with the venue and we agreed to stay in touch.  After a few weeks, and a rowdy hurricane, our story took a dramatic twist.  After hearing first hand all the trials and tribulations this couple had endured, (their December 2009 wedding had been postponed due to Stephanie’s diagnosis with thyroid cancer), I was absolutely gutted to tell the lovebirds we had received an offer we could not refuse; a year long lease by a savvy, successful tenant we clicked with on our first introduction.  Originally Andy and Stephanie had planned to host their wedding at Footprints on the Beach, with the clean, contemporary style of the villa highlighted by the vivid turquoise sea as their background.  Their reception was to be held in the lush Caribbean courtyard of Fleur de Lys. The change of plans meant both functions would be held at Footprints, a chic location that would work famously regardless.
With that in mind, I started on the tablescape design. I knew I wanted to re-create the lush, romantic garden ambiance of Fleur de Lys so this deserving couple could have both styles as the originally intended.  I wanted them to be able to have their cake and eat it too!    Indeed it was a very full table of florals, dark stained driftwood, lanterns, apothecary jars, and a collection of glass bottles found on several beach combing expeditions.
Placecards were hand scripted and the gold sea urchin holders were made by an etsy vendor.  The apothecary jars were filled with succulents from the Fleur de Lys courtyard, white lisanthus, grand bulbous buds of chincherinchee, and the show stealer; white anemones with black centers to coordinate with the black gowns that were originally intended for the December 2009 wedding. 
Stephanie also found these stylish Mr. and Mrs. chair signs through etsy.
The reception was catered by the always incredible kissing fish, who I must thank for letting me have my way with the bar front and who also managed quite nicely with the limited table space I left for their plates of delicious food!
A white capeze shell chandelier was hung over the bride and groom’s table for two.
This little table was placed perfectly to soak in the entire scene; pool, band, dance floor, and the ocean.
A rainstorm threatened our lovely laid out plans at 3:30pm.  At precisely 4pm we made the now or never decision to hope for the best, stay calm and carry on!  Wise decision as not a drop fell for the rest of the momentous evening. 
Driftwood and foliage details of the sweetheart table.
Earlier I mentioned the creme de la creme flower of this wedding, the white anemones with black centers. These are the pair of lovelies pictured above in the porcelain dish on the right.  Five days before THE big day, Environmental Arts had some stunning news for me; the same anemones ordered for an earlier wedding had made their journey but arrived in less than perfect condition, far from favorable with browning leaves and slime covering the stems.  My heart sank and I spent the entire weekend trying to come up with an alternative flower . . . . white dogwood with dark stems?  Not available.  White magnolias with twisting and turning espresso branches?  Not available either.  I had to face it, there simply was no replacement for these dainty, perfect little blossoms.  By Sunday night I had called and left messages with every floral supplier listed in South Florida for both faux and real anemones.  The majority of Monday was spent on the phone, with suppliers from across the US.  The cold hard facts were that these picturesque anemones had just finished their season, earlier than expected, and were in very large demand and the most lively looking artificials were able to make it in time but the shipping alone was going to cost three times the price of the original budget. 
I had almost admitted defeat when an e-mail from dear old dad popped into my inbox.  His message read that he would be fed-exing some mail from Wyoming and to be on the lookout for it.  Wait a minute . . . . they might just have artificial anemones in Wyoming!  I knew it was a stretch but I called up the local Casper Hobby Lobby and spoke with the floral department.  Yes, they have something called anemones!  Yes, they have white petals and a black center!!  Can they send me a photo?  No.  Call to dad.   ME: “can you go to Hobby Lobby in a hurry, take a photo of this anemone, send the photo to me, then possibly buy the entire stock they have, and fed-ex the box to get here by Thursday???”  Dad:  “no sweat baby!”
Dad’s photo proved that indeed we had the right flower and off they were shipped.
On Tuesday morning I miraculously received a call from Environmental Arts that their supplier had a box of anemones just arrived and they looked splendid.  They were soon on their way to the island after all! 
Not only did we have the precious and now very appreciated real anemones, we also had 9 stems of the faux to get creative and set the scene.  Here a pair are on the parasol basket; a perfect placement as they were far larger than the real so made a stronger visual impact for the hundreds of photos that ensued.  Thanks dad!  Your my hero every day, not just for this weddings save the day!
Stephanie truly looked the part of a Grecian goddess!
For the ceremony Stephanie knew she wanted to keep the decor minimal to not take away from the view.  In her gallery of inspirations she sent there was one photo of a pair of urns holding towering branches on either side of the aisle.  I knew this would be this couples ideal set-up as Stephanie is 6′ tall or more in flats and Andy must be well over 6’5.”  (Pastor Padmore is around 6’4″ for reference)  Almost any minimal decor would look  . . . . well, TOO minimal next to these two statuesque physiques. 
Not only are they tall, they are also blessedly elegant!  All who witnessed this special occassion can clearly see these two are seamlessly matched.
Stephanie expanded on the Grecian style with the cake, beautifully executed by Diane Guess, featuring gold laurel leaves, ribbon, and details.
Stephanie also had several photos of lovely birdcages in her inspiration gallery.  We put these to good use welcoming the guests as they arrived.
The little lanterns created a warm glow for guests exit as well.
Stephanie had the general idea for the bouquets in that she knew she wanted primarily white, fluffy, and round in shape.  I requested Environmental Arts use a dash of white anemones amongst white peonies, white rananculus with green cores, chincherinchee blossoms with their little black bead centers, and white stars of bethlehem.  They made the wonderful suggestion of adding mini coin crest and green lilacs for accent color.  Stephanie brought the Greek key patterned gold and white ribbon which made the bouquets much more unique than the standard white trim.
The bridesmaid bouquets were slightly smaller versions of the bridal bouquet, minus the infamous white anemones!  Not only were the bouquets oh-so-pretty, they smelled heavenly!

Very early on in our style discussions, the intentions were to give the originally December wedding intended black gowns a more relaxed look with accessories.  Beaded necklines were removed and Stephanie found these bold, fun aqua and lime necklaces and earrings that did the trick with panache.  To go along with the spectacular Grecian one shoulder gown she herself decided on, the entire bridal party wore jeweled sandals which not only looked great, were very practical for the beach.  

Environmental Arts did a highly impressive job with the style of boutonniere I specified, I just adore them!  I believe this detail should not be made with overly feminine and fluffy flowers.  I prefer the men to wear a style complimentary to a wedding yet a touch masculine, more graphic and simple in shape and finished with more natural or organic details like the twine you see here.  
This photo displays that the ultimate goal was very much achieved.  Here you have it; a glowing tropically lush and woodsy tablescape amongst  . . .
minimal and contemporary surroundings.

With the right stylist, anything is possible!  
TC Millwork Design would like to thank this gracious couple for the fabulous opportunity to turn their dream into reality.  We would also like to thank all the vendors and assistants that made this wedding possible.  BIg thanks to all the super friendly bridesmaids and guests who we chatted with and who offered help!  Stephanie and Andy, we wish you all the best and hope to see you back in the Turks and Caicos soon!
All images by Stacie, please stay tuned for the far more spectacular and justice giving images to come from the professionals at

Wed Day- Sarah and Matt

Top two images by, please click here to see more photos from this colorful wedding on their blog.
Sarah and Mathew were married on May 5th at the The Sands Resort, organized impeccably by Teresa of tropicaldmc.  This cheerful couple picked a vibrant color palette full of fuscia, orange, and yellows.
Images by PepperKeyStacie
Not even a blustery day could hinder us from making certain Sarah had her dream ceremony set-up with sheer canopy top and dangling white capeze shells.
Their reception was held seaside at Hemingway’s restaurant.  The dark decking and chairs made a beautiful contrast to the bright floral arrangements provided by Environmental Arts.  Congratulations to this sweet couple!

Wondrous West Indian Wetlands Workshop

 On Thursday April 28th and Friday April 29th I had the great opportunity to attend the Wetlands Education Workshop and Fieldtrip organized and conducted by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds, the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, and the DECR.  Lisa Sorenson, President of the SCSCB, has spent over 25 years researching birds in the Caribbean region, a well known “hotspot” for biodiversity.  We boast over 770 species of birds, 148 of which are endemic and 54 of which are globally threatened.  Lisa explained that many of our birds are neotropical migrants, and our islands wetlands serve as important resting points for many species on their long journeys.  The Important Bird Area Program (IBA) has determined that there are over 283 IBA’s identified in the Caribbean and alarmingly 43% of these are unprotected.  Studies have shown that only 10% of birds original habitat remains which is why many species are declining rapidly.  Among them, the endemic West Indian Whistling Duck, one of the rarest ducks in the Americas.  This large nocturnal duck perches in trees and is unique in that both parents incubate eggs in 24 hr shifts and have long term bonds.  Loss of habitat, mongoose and rat introductions, and overhunting has caused their populations to diminish.  If you are lucky enough to see one of these graceful, goose-like brown spotted birds or hear them vocalising with their enchanting chiriria whistle, please log your siting on

The West Indian Whistling Duck is depicted on the Wonderous West Indian Wetlands Resource Book, a copy was given to each workshop attendee for future reference.
  Wetlands have historically been viewed as wasteland, and that development of wetlands was a sign of progress.  Lisa, and her colleague Michele Kadind from the oak hammock marsh interpretive center, were here in the Turks and Caicos to educate us on just how inaccurate those mistruths really are.
“through interpretation, understanding; through understanding, appreciation; through appreciation, protection.”
-Freeman Tilden
Michele is an educator who leads programs and training workshops at oak hammock marsh and her speech dealt with teaching techniques.  She highlighted the basic steps of educating: first, introduce, second, expand knowledge, third, nurture their caring, and fourth, encourage action.  She stressed that showing enthusiasm, addressing fears, and managing fears are vital throughout the process.   She also touched on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, relaying the theory that the physiological needs of the student must be paramount, followed by safety and security, then social acceptance, then the students esteem will be at a level conducive to learning and that learning will  lead to wisdom.  Learning is maximized through the senses.  People retain 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, 50% of what they see, and 90% of what they do!  Makes sense right?  She then went through the various learning styles and explained that most people are a combination of two or more.  Verbal/linguistic/auditory are individuals who learn through listening.  Visual learners learn through seeing things, they often need to write things down to retain them to memory (these are the to-do listers and I am definitely one of them).  Kinesthetic learners are educated through action, demonstrations and hands on activities.  There are mathematical/logical learners who like to apply formulas and calculations to their learning.  Musical learners will often put lessons to song  (remember your ABC’s).  Interpersonal learners enjoy group dynamics and working with others whereas intrapersonal learners that soak in information the best on their own.  Last but not least, there are the naturalists, those that investigate, research, and categorize.  Which learning styles are you?
  Next up we had local naturalist B. Naqqi Manco discuss TCI’s wetlands.  Naqqi explained there are 20 different categories of wetlands but the three broadest are palustrine, estraurine, and lacustrine.  Palustrine wetlands lack flowing water, are non-tidal, and contain concentrations of ocean derived salts.  An estuarine system is a partly closed wetland with a coastal body of water flowing into it, a connection to the sea. is present.  A lacustrine system is a wetland that is permanently fed groundwater,   Cottage pond would be a good example.  Naqqi explained that wetland flora is typically diverse and ephemeral but and that a forested wetland is technically a swamp.    The most well known wetland flora are mangroves and here in the TCI, the red mangrove would be the most identifiable.  Popular wetland shrubs include the locally known jamaican trash, sleepy morning, ollie bush, and false frangipani.  A wetland made up of herbs, grasses, or forbs is a marsh.  Naqqi demonstrated a musical learning technique with his short poem to help differentiate the three; “sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have joints when their folks aren’t around!”  Maybe not a good poem for the kiddies but hey, a little humor helps people learn too!  Popular TCI marsh shrubs would be ferns, heliotropes, heather, and sea purslane.  As for wetland fauna, flamingos are likely the best known of the bird species but waders, waterfowl, sandpipers, plovers, seabirds, and birds of prey all frequent wetlands.  Sometimes these birds can be seen feasting on other wetland inhabitants, invertebrates such as fairy shrimp, sea monkeys (whose eggs can live 6-8 miraculous years!), crabs, dragonflies, damselflies, diving beetles, remipedes, butterflies, moths, toe biters, and everyone’s most despised, mosquito’s.  Fish like killifish can also be found in wetlands, and sometimes even marine fish like small barracudas and snappers.  Reptiles and amphibians love wetlands.  We all know frogs, especially greenhouse frogs and cuban treefrogs, live in our wetlands but also snakes like the rainbow and pygmy boas, anoles, and geckos are often found in these systems.  The only mammals typically seen in wetland areas would be bats and feral livestock for watering.  All of these animals make wetlands their homes and our ecosystem relies on all of these flora and fauna to survive and thrive.  Sadly the largest threats to wetlands are . . . us.  Development; infilling and draining these areas mean loss of habitat to all of the above mentioned. If you live or own property near a wetland, preserve it, protect it!  Pollution and littering can have severe effects on the wetlands and the wildlife that rely on these areas.  NEVER throw any piece of non plant based garbage into the environment, ANYWHERE!  Garbage belongs at the dump, not on every road, beach, and wetland in our beautiful islands.  Invasive species such as livestock, dogs, and cats, can also have ill effects on these areas.  Make certain your dog, cat, goat, horse, or cow is not endangering any other species in a wetland area or natural habitat. 
Images by pepperkeystacie

  The term “wetland” would be quite logical except for the fact that they are not always wet.  Wetlands are often seasonal, transitional habitats, that are regularly flooded with water.  Here in the Turks and Caicos we boast 23,600 acres of wetlands!  Once educated on the many benefits of wetlands, you will see why they play such an important role to our safety and the islands overall health.  Wetlands firstly provide flood control, these areas basically act as sponges that soak up excess waters from heavy rains and surges.  Hurricanes would be far more devastating should our wetlands deteriorate as they provide coastal protection by impeding storm forces.  In addition they help provide climate control.  Wetlands act as filtration systems breaking down and removing pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and pesticides.  They also act as a sediment trap, which can be valuable in slowing down sediments before they cause damage to coral reefs and other areas.  Wetlands can be used as a a water supply, both for human and animal use.  They literally are living nurseries; they host a great deal of sea life at some stage of development in their lives which means that much of the seafood we eat needs these areas to develop.  They are a habitat full of biodiversity of which the Caribbean is rated in the top 6 of the top 25 most biodiverse regions on the planet which gives our wetlands an even greater importance. Workshop attendees got to see for ourselves just how beautiful and active our wetlands are on day two of the workshop, the fieldtrip.

The group was given binoculars, bird identification cards, and a journal to log entries.  Within minutes a dozen different species of birds were spotted.  Lisa and Michelle demonstrated how to properly use the binoculars (you should never see two separate circles like in the movies), how to register various markings and bird shapes, and how to listen for clues to assist bird identifications. 
Each attendee was also given a Mangroves of the Caribbean Identification Guide, please click here for a great website that explains and shows the differences between the Rhizophora mangle or Red Mangrove, the Black mangrove, the Laguncularia racemosa or White Mangrove, and the Conocarpus erectus or Buttonwood mangrove
For more information on how valuable wetlands are and what you can do to help protect them please visit  If you live or plan to visit Turks and Caicos, please spend some time appreciating our wetlands and the many species they support.  Then do your part to introduce that knowledge upon others so that they too may be able to appreciate, then care, then take action to protect a wetland near them.  My sincere gratitude to these two passionate ladies, Lisa and Michele, who lead a fantastic workshop that was enlightening and enjoyable for all who had the pleasure of attending. The Turks and Caicos Islands thank you for your incredible and steadfast efforts to keep our region “beautiful by nature.”

Wed Day- Jodi and Brad

All images by PepperKeyStacie
Last Saturday, Tropical DMC assisted Jodi and Brad with their contemporary wedding at the famous Grace Bay Club.  Jodi and Brad had stylish paper products ordered for their big day; fan programs for the ceremony, fold-out schedules, and fun circular menus for the reception.
Grill-Rouge provided a fantstic seaside venue for their reception dinner.  Jodi and Brad had the great idea to take whimsical pictures of themselves with table numbers in hand which were then framed in shadowboxes and placed on the tables to indicate to guests where to sit.  Cute and a great conversation starter!
Flowers provided by Environmental Arts
Jodi and Brad also had an interactive guest book signing complete with polaroid camera for instantaneous memory making!  Our congrats to the happy couple!