Rhonda Kaplan is an artist, a true connoisseur of all things floral and bridal. Her expansive design experience combined with a genuine excitement towards every bride and wedding day exemplifies both the creativity and care Rhonda consistently employs in her art and at Rhonda Kaplan Floral Design.
I recently visited Rhonda in her design studio, located on Harness Creek in Annapolis, where she shared with me some of her bridal inspiration and behind-the-scenes details which all operate together to bring floral recipes (in this context, a system for planning, ordering and organizing floral designs) to life. “This is really personal,” Rhonda explained, referring to the working relationship and floral design process associated with each wedding “I don’t do what I want, I do what they [brides] want, in my style.” This is demonstrated in part by the setup of the studio; Walking around, the space offers a comfortable and neatly organized environment with a variety of pictures, vases and accessories on display.
In addition to the enjoyment of working with brides, Rhonda’s focus on learning and creativity provide for ongoing excitement in her work. Having had a background involving a variety of artistic mediums, her love of flowers and industry expertise contribute to her approach towards unique arrangements and challenging projects. Over nearly a decade since the opening of her floral design studio, Rhonda has grown her team with the addition of four design professionals.
She explained to me that their work week typically starts on a Wednesday, when flowers are delivered, and involves a substantial amount of time preparing the flowers with the proper care for arrangement, set up at the event, and clean up thereafter. The flowers are obtained from wholesalers as well as local farms, allowing Rhonda to find the exact variety needed for each wedding being served.
Rhonda’s passion for floral creativity and focus on every bride that walks through her doors is evident and consistent in the way she expresses herself through her website, social media, and in person; “I absolutely love what I do,” she told me. From the initial interview meeting, to the reviewing of a bride’s wish list, to the wedding day itself, Rhonda guides brides through each step in efforts of articulating and achieving their vision for the special day. It comes as no surprise that such commitment combined with her sincere and positive disposition often nurtures a relationship that lasts well beyond the wedding.
If you’re looking for a floral designer, I highly encourage you to reach out and connect with Rhonda – You’ll be in a for a special experience.
Images courtesy of Melissa Khuta and Rhonda Kaplan Floral Design
How we met
It was so random, but remarkably unforgettable. It was summer and traffic was heavy, so I allowed myself to be talked in to carpooling. I definitely noticed the grace with which she walked, spoke and how well dressed she was the first time I saw her. We exchanged pleasantries and didn’t think much of it. It will be a while before crossing paths again, when I, by chance, answered her call to the office. She remembered me, and we ended up having a 30 minutes conversation about what we have been up to and ended up meeting for a working lunch. She hated it and made it clear though, but I suspected she enjoyed being around me as much as I did, so I invited her to a social gathering to make up for that disastrous lunch and we just clicked. She was noticeably guarded and cultured but refreshingly curious. I now know we both found each other fascinating, which explains the volley of conversations afterwards. We harmonized naturally and most people assumed we had been friends for a while, naturally after that night, I started thinking “Okay, this could be something!”, the thought of which inexplicably felt like a billion joules. But again, it will be awhile before we will meet again and for the first time, I felt and noticed her absence.
How we got engaged
Kobby and I are both Marine Corps Officers, which has marked and define our relationship. It was days before Christmas, we had spent the day preparing for me to depart the United States and as usual he was playing our favorite song “Lay with you-El DeBarge”. I found myself screaming over the music for him to get my bags without success. The music suddenly died down, I walked in and there he was, down on one knee with a pretty little box! I’ve wondered how long he was in that position waiting for me to walk in. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on, I gasped out of surprise, I shouted “YES,” teared up and we were engaged! There were no cameras, no fanfare just the two of us. And just like that we were split up again, less than 24 hours after being engaged. While he was in North Carolina, I was on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was difficult for us to see each other and we only had an opportunity to do so twice in 2 years. During his last visit he spontaneously planned a backpacking tour overnight which took us from Okinawa and Hong Kong to Palawan, Philippines. After that trip, we decided it was time to let the world know of our love and commitment to each other and how excited we were about the next chapter in our lives.
Best & Worst About Wedding Planning
Best – it is so exciting, to see this picture of this day you have imagined all your life come to life! At a minimum you will be the star and the center of attention of your own coronation, at most you will probably over dose on excitement and love. Worst – wedding planning is a daunting task and should be approached accordingly to avoid chaos, frustration and exhaustion. Expect disagreements and stress and have a plan to handle it.
Advice for Future Couples
Hire a wedding planner, it will be worth it. But if you decide to go our route then have at least one person who can be counted on when you need a hand, you will need it. I am stationed in California and he is Stationed in North Carolina, we planned our wedding from conception to completion. It was stressful at times and we disagreed on a number of things but it was rewarding, fulfilling and helped us build a baseline on how we will handle stress, disagreement and future collaborations. Invest in a wedding website with RSVP, Registry and schedule, it will help you manage and disseminate information effectively. Choose your wedding gown, caterer, and most important your photographer wisely, that is what will define your wedding how you will memorialize your wedding. In general, recognize that your family and friends are there to help you celebrate, do not let them distract or keep you apart! They will out of excitement. Spend time with them during the wedding rehearsal and at the rehearsal dinner. Last, for the first and probably last time it’s about you, you planned it, you created it, it is your coronation! your wedding day! Enjoy it! That cannot be overstated. You will have more fun if you lose your phones, only exchange pleasantries or 30sec conversations, focus on each other and dance the night away!
Videography: David Smith
Ceremony: St Mary’s Parish, Annapolis MD
Reception: Byzantium Banquet Hall, Annapolis MD
Make-up Artist: https://www.facebook.com/cmakeup19/
Hair Stylist: https://www.instagram.com/silk_hairstudio/
Gown: Allure Romance 3059, Brides of California San Jose CA
Bridesmaids gowns: #131933, JJ’s House
Groomsmen suits: Midnight Blue Tuxedo
DJ: Valere Entertainment
MC: Brice Jokung, https://www.jbeventsplanning.com/
Caterer: Jasmin Haralambatos, Custom Catering Annapolis MD
Cake: Cakes Plus, Laurel MD
Florist: Potomac Floral Wholesale MD
Abby and Harry are probably one of the cutest couples ever. They were just so happy all day and just seemed to have such a blast on their wedding day. We ended up with some unfortunate rainy (shocker) weather day of, but The Hotel Annapolis is so pretty inside that it didn’t matter at all! We got all the family shots and couple portraits done no problem! Check out these pics as they had one of the prettiest set ups I have seen!
Looking back at this past year, one of the weddings that stood out the most for me was Brittany and Norwood’s wedding. As soon as I arrived to their venue I could tell a lot of time and effort went into pulling off their DIY wedding. So much so, that I wanted to ask Brittany a few questions on how to create a DIY backyard wedding.
- What made you and Norwood decide to do a DIY backyard wedding?
- It was really important that we picked a venue that was unique and held some special meaning – and for Norwood that was his brother-in-law’s 100-acre farm in Lothian. Norwood grew up working on his grandfather’s farm in Deale and always held fond memories of being outside in a field surrounded by corn, so it felt like some sweet ode to his grandfather’s memory.
- Where did you grab inspiration for your wedding?
- When getting married on a farm, you have to do the rustic thing. We stepped it up by doing what I called “rustic elegance” with lots of natural greenery, golds accents and wood textures.
- We were also super inspired by our venue. It’s an old working farm and we wanted to incorporate that into various element of our wedding. From the ceremony arbor, which my little brother built from the old barn wood, to the farm honey we gave to our guests as a favor. Nearly every single piece of our wedding was hand-painted, drawn, stamped, tied, recycled or built by myself or a family member or friend.
- What was your favorite part of your wedding?
- I truly loved everything about our wedding, but my favorite part were the small details, which went into one big, epic event. For us, we knew we just wanted to throw a good party for our family and friends who we don’t get to see a lot, being as we moved from Maryland to Tennessee. So we wanted them to feel the love in every single piece of the wedding – whether it was from 200 planted succulents guests got as favors, to the signature cocktails we made ourselves, or the take home mason jars they drank them from – everything was about our guests having a good time.
- What would you recommend to others looking to do a similar wedding?
- Through the process, I learned that it’s good to delegate and not get overwhelmed with the small details because it will all come together. We wouldn’t have been able to pull of this wedding off it wasn’t for our amazingly talented friends and family that pitched in:
- My brother built the arbor from old barn wood on the farm, put together the door entrance from old doors we found there as well, and cut the wooden centerpieces and cake stand.
- My dad, a former baker, made my favorite tea cookies from my grandparents old bakery recipe — and my brother made the donuts from the same recipes.
- I made the cake, topped with a cake topper my childhood best friend made.
- A friend designed my jewelry. The pearls were taken from a pearl necklace my grandma gave me for my 16th birthday.
If you or someone you know is planning a wedding in the near future, I hope this post gives you some inspiration to pull off a DIY wedding!
Every time I visit a venue I think “wow, this is my new favorite!” The newly renovated Anchor Inn of Pasadena absolutely exceeded my expectations. I’ve heard so much about this waterfront venue from couples and I’m grateful to finally have been able to work there! Venues that can bring the outdoor feel inside are always a beautiful choice. Those floor to ceiling windows paired with dramatic up-lights personalized the whole evening for this sweet couple and their loving families.
It’s so incredible that this couple was able to have the waterfront wedding of their dreams without worry. The warm fur wraps for the ladies were enough to brave the cold for a few cozy outdoor photos! Oh, and don’t miss those cafe lights brightening up their grand exit!
I first met Paige while photographing Breeda and Joe’s wedding last summer at the Naval Academy Chapel and reception at The Westin Annapolis. When she contacted me about her own wedding in Annapolis, I was thrilled! We had so much fun at Breeda and Joe’s wedding, I knew this event would be just as awesome. And I was right! The day was absolute perfection. I’ll let the bride share their story and advice for new couples in her own words:
How we met – Sort of an embarrassing story…Our good friends Breeda Carbone and Billy Draves had tried setting us up for about 6 months before we ever even met. Over the summer of 2012 they convinced me to text him and I did…I only received one reply before radio silence. To be frank I was mortified about the whole thing. When school started up again for our sophomore year, to my surprise Riley was in my class. He came strolling into class late, saw me out of the corner of his eye, laughed, and then took the only seat available which of course was next to me. Immediately after class I went to my academic advisor to change my schedule but apparently they don’t change classes for embarrassed teenage girls. Good thing they didn’t because a few weeks later I got the courage to confront him about the whole thing. After a few library study dates the rest became history. As it turns out, whereas I thought our first meeting was that embarrassing day in class, I had actually met Riley before. I used to stop and talk to Riley and one of my friends everyday the year prior and had no idea who he was at the time. I also found out later that that summer I had texted him, he had already told his mom about me and how he thought I was a really cool girl and he just wanted to be my friend.
How we got engaged – Both Riley and I are Naval Officers. While he was in Flight School in Pensacola, FL, I was on a ship in Pearl Harbor, HI. It was difficult for us to see each other and we only had an opportunity to do so every few months. One weekend in March my ship pulled into Port Hueneme, CA, so Riley met me there. We were staying in Santa Barbara for the weekend. We went on this completely gorgeous hike with the end destination being a burned down mansion in Mountains that had a panoramic view of the ocean. Riley had asked a stranger to take our photo. As I reached my arm around him for the picture Riley got squirmish because he thought I felt the ring box tucked into his waistband (I hadn’t). The photographer clearly realized what was going on before I did and captured a series of photos of me being upset with Riley for being rude and not posing for the picture, to utter shock as he got down on his knee, to ugly crying happiness afterwards. The full spectrum of emotions caught in about 15 seconds.
Best and worst things about wedding planning – Best: It is exciting to think about and build up the happiest day of your lives and the beginning of the next chapter. Worst – It is daunting the amount of work and planning that goes into it. Luckily Casey Perkins and Kate Burke are wedding experts and basically planned everything for us. At the risk of sounding too basic – We literally could not have done it without them.
Advice for future couples – It seems cliche to say “Enjoy your wedding day” but that is important! Your family and friends are all there to celebrate the newlyweds so don’t let them keep you apart! We’ve been to too many weddings where the bride and groom are separated talking to family but what we wanted was to relish in the moment together. We made a point to talk to family during the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner so that the wedding day could be about us and we could jam out on the dance floor, pizza in hand, for some amazing memories. Everyone we’ve talked to about our weddings has amazing things to say about seeing us so happy and in love because we were able to show everyone that side of us.
Thank you, Paige and Riley, for allowing us to be a part of your love story!
Photography: Kate Fine Art Photography
Videography: Rylan Tuohy
Preparations: GoNavy Rentals
Ceremony: USNA Chapel
Reception: USNA Alumni Association – Ogle Hall
Make-up Artist: Michelle McConarty
Hair Stylist: Nicole Bailey
Gown: Detachable/over skirt – Rosa Clara, Gown –
Bridesmaids gowns: Various (I let the girls pick their own in a certain color pallet)
Groomsmen suits: (USN Unifroms and various tux)
DJ: Black Tie Entertainment – Eric Jaundoo
Caterer: Bayside Bull
Photobooth: Black Tie Entertainment
Florist: Gateway Florist
Baker: All in the Mix, Stephanie Squires
Paper/Invitations: Paige and Pen
We had the honor of capturing Jackie and Kyle’s Chesapeake Bay Beach Club wedding this past May. The two of them share a bond of over ten years, and completely compliment one another from Jackie’s keen eye for detail to Kyle’s love for all things boating and fishing. Their wedding at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club was filled with beautiful colors, and warm laughter from friends and family. As as the saying goes…rain on your wedding day is truly good luck, and although the rain may have hindered our beloved sunset shots the day of, we were able to revisit the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in order to capture a pretty spectacular sunset on the bay.
On Saturday (11/24) I joined Bridget and Jake for their gorgeous wedding day in Annapolis, Maryland at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel. The rain held off and they enjoyed a perfect fall outdoor ceremony overlooking the Annapolis waterfront.
The now newlyweds were married just above the very spot they met years prior! Bridget was home for winter break in 2013 when she met up with friends at Pussers Grille. Jake was also spending the evening with mutual friends after having just graduated from UMBC. They ended up talking all night and both later told their friends: they had found their soulmate. Once engaged they knew they wanted to bring their story full-circle and get married above the very restaurant where they met. They even paid homage to their first night together with a shot of cinnamon whisky at the end of their ceremony!
Their entire day was fun, beautiful, emotional, and truly special. A few of my favorite moments were when Bridget’s grandmother performed hula during the reception, Jake’s reaction to seeing his bride walking down the aisle, and the soft sunset J+B enjoyed during their newlywed portraits. What an extraordinary day!!
Bridget and Jake, Congratulations again!! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your wedding day, it was truly an honor (and a blast)!!
The Naval Academy is one of my favorite places to photograph in Annapolis. I was thrilled when Tatum reached out to me to photographer her and Tyler’s wedding. It made it extra special because we went to high school together at St. Mary’s. When there’s a personal connection it makes photographing someone’s wedding that much more special.
Logistically, their wedding was really nice because everything was a matter of blocks from each other. From where they got ready, to the ceremony all the way to the reception it was a matter of minutes from eachother. Tatum and her bridesmaids got ready at the Governor Calvert House and Tyler and the groomsmen got ready just around the corner at an AirBnB on East St. From there we we’re off to the Naval Academy to take photos of the bridesmaids before the ceremony.
The walkway between Dahlgren Hall and Bancroft Hall is the first of my three favorite spots to photograph on the Academy. This walkway is always a staple for me on the day of a wedding. It’s just to the left of the Chapel and also provides some great shade. The large columns on either side are absolutely beautiful.
My second favorite spot is the backyard gardens of the Commandant’s House. This is a very special privilege for couples that get married at the Academy. The Commandant’s backyard is blocked off to the public but they are very generous to allow couples to take wedding photos in their garden and theirs a wonderful view of the Chapel in the background.
My third and final spot that is a must to take photos on your wedding day is Bancroft Hall. Bancroft Hall, at the Naval Academy is the largest single dormitory in the world. Inside there is stunning architecture that will serve as a lovely backdrop to your photos.
So there you have it, these are my top three photo spots that you should take advantage of if your getting married at the Naval Academy. We are lucky to have so many wonderful places to take photos in Annapolis, with the US Naval Academy being at the top of my list!
Cake: Honey Hive Bakery
Photographer: Drawn to the Image
Chapel Venue: Naval Academy Chapel
Reception Venue: Historic Inns of Annapolis, Governor Calvert House
Hair and Makeup: Image Creators Severna Park
Dress: Wren Bridal
Florist: J Starr’s Flower Barn
DJ: Mixing Maryland
Invitations: Paper in the Park