SURPRISE: How my Best Friend pulled off her #SecretWedding

Surprise! There’s a bride in here. Preparing for my best friend
Melissa’s “Engagement Party” otherwise known as the #secretwedding

Photo: Brother-in-law’s wife Amber Finsel of JFAB Photography

Joel and I are nearing our 10 year wedding anniversary in less than two weeks. On that special day under the weeping willows, my best friend Melissa as part of our bridal party, gamely attempted to toast us while choking back her free-flowing tears. She is by far my longest standing friend, the daughter of my mom’s high school best friend Brenda (whom is also my godmother). We went on family vacations together, spent countless hours playing Barbies, broke curfew one too many times and even a few hearts while growing up together. Melissa is also my connection to Joel. She introduced us at a Leighton Pool Party in eighth grade (during the two weeks when they dated!)

Always a beautiful spirit with an open heart, Melissa fell in love with Jeff Opp almost four years ago, gushing about how handsome and insanely NICE he is – not to mention family-oriented, much like herself.

When I heard from Melissa in early May that Jeff had popped the question, I was elated for her. Finally! She asked me to take part in her wedding and then let me in on her little plan:

“Jeff’s parents throw the best parties and were already planning an engagement party for us this summer. Jeff and I are laid back and thought it would be great to surprise our guests at our engagement party – and just get married! So with three short months of planning, we surprised over 100 guests with a secret wedding. We had the time our our lives and couldn’t be happier!” (quote from Melissa via her honeymoon)

And that folks in a nutshell, is how operation #secretwedding began. The trickiest part for me was keeping the secret a secret from my parents (nearly an impossible feat) and packing! You see, to keep the secret going, several of the bridesmaids hid out in the house with Melissa while the other bridesmaids (including me) mingled with the guests in the big white tent on the lawn to keep up appearances.

Aren’t we sneaky? See how the big day unfolded below.
And, to Melissa & Jeff – “You down with O-P-P? Yeah, you know me!”
I’ve got nothing but love for ya! Congrats. xo

With the bride-to-be the night before the #secretwedding
at the reception dinner in downtown Bethlehem, PA


Sister of the bride Alison O’Donnell helps fasten Melissa’s bracelet
as her mom Brenda and nephew Brady look on.


L: Melissa’s “something blue” bracelet her aunt Marcie made her in honor of her grandfather.
R: Melissa attempts to relax in a bathrobe with a glass of bubbly while scanning Facebook for any clues on what the guests are up to under the tent out front of her house at her “engagement party.”


The bride anxiously tries to sneak a peek of the “Engagement Party”
in full effect from her bedroom window.


My first #ootn for the “Engagement Party”

DVF 1930’s inspired lavender velvet dress I borrowed from Gay with my vintage 1930’s fringed scarf from the Jazz Age Lawn Party and Esther Jean rhinestone flapper star headband that later doubled as a belt for my bridesmaid dress!


The beautiful bride makes her grand entrace for the first time
on the arm of her proud father, Dave Rehrig.


Mixed reactions to the announcement that they are in fact
at a WEDDING, not an engagement party!


Making my first appearance (in my second costume
change of the night) as a bridesmaid.





My parents (with Joel) reveling in being surprised
instead of doing the surprising for a change!


Toasting with Alison, the lovely sister of the bride,
to a successful #secretwedding heist!


#SecretWedding mission complete!
Presenting Mr. & Mrs. Opp.









Fashion Editorial


As you know, the 4th annual Great Gatsby Gala is upon us. So basically I am living, dreaming, sleeping, and breathing Gatsby till the evening of September 18th. And, I’m not complaining. It’s safe to say I’m in my element.

Two weeks ago, I joined the incredibly talented Lisa Brown of Bella Rose Photography (her 3rd Gatsby!) and an amazing entourage at The City Club and The Blind Elephant speakesy for our latest installment of our Gatsby fantasy.

After a 14-hour-day shoot day and an 8-hour editing session (2,300 photos – eeks!), I am crossing my fingers that you enjoy the images nearly as much as we enjoyed creating them.

Photography: Lisa Brown of Bella Rose Photography
Wardrobe Styling + Casting: Jess James
Hair: Rozy Bathon of Rockin’ Roller Salon
Makeup: Amy Kennison
Locations: The City Club + The Blind Elephant
Vintage Car: The British Taxi

Gatsby – Clark Dean
Daisy – Adrienne O’Docharty
Tom Buchanan – Troy Widmer
Nick Carraway – Ben Jamieson
Jordan – Josie Evans
Myrtle – Michelle Glauber

Paige LaWall
Jessica Baltos

Nnenne Terzian

David Walen

Big Thank You to
all of you for making our Gatsby
come to life so beautifully!

Tom (far right):
Ike Behar Parker black tux from Cape Fear Formalwear


Vintage white drop waist dress $145 from Style Girl Collection, Silver mesh headpiece with feather $125, Deco teardrop rhinestone earrings $125 – All from aMuse. Statement silver necklace with pendant and fringe chain $65 from A Second Time Around, Aquamarine and diamond ring $10,000 from Lumina Gem.
Tan Suit by Perry Ellis, White rapture necktie and Genoa espresso lace-up shoes. All from Cape Fear Formalwear.


Sheer beaded dress w/ wrap $130, Green slip $30, 1920’s beaded fringe necklace $125, Bronze boa $114, Gold wire beaded headpiece $50, Long gold chain with amber colored stones $40 – All from aMuse. Gold and amber statement earrings, vintage compact $35 and beaded gold clutch $75 – All from A Second Time Around. Shoes, stylist’s own.

After Six Riviera navy suit from Cape Fear Formalwear. Tie, stylist’s own.


“Violet” (Daisy’s Mom):
Pat Kusek of Kusek Financial Group, our beautiful presenting sponsor, wearing her new flapper dress with jewelry and handmade headpiece from aMuse

Ralph Lauren 1930’s inspired silver halter gown (size 14 – pinned) and authentic 1920‘s beaded bag $110 from A Second Time Around, Blue velvet and rhinestone headpiece $85, Mesh and rhinestone statement necklace $95, Rhinestone cluster earrings $150, Gray square stone bracelet $105, Rhinestone bracelet with 3 center stones $125 – All from aMuse. Sapphire and diamond bracelet $22,000, Aquamarine and diamond ring $10,000 both from Lumina Gem.


Gatsby & Daisy take a #selfie.

White tux from Cape Fear Formalwear

Wide gold and pearl fringe bracelet $65,
Deco teardrop dangle earrings $125 – both from aMuse,
Vintage kimono, shoes and scarf, stylist’s own.


Jessica McClintock red/orange dress size 2-4 $85, Chandelier earrings $25 and Starburst clip-on earrings (worn as dress clips) from Lumina Gem, Copper snake belt as necklace $40 and Bracelet with gold nuggets $48 from aMuse.

Vintage Cache aqua beaded gown, Snake rhinestone necklace $25, White fur stole, Blue rhinestone drop earrings $30 – All from A Second Time Around. Gold medallion necklace with aqua stone $95, Long gold chain with purple stone pendant $55, Wide gold and pearl fringe bracelet $65, Aqua beaded fringe headpiece $75 – All from aMuse.



Vintage white drop waist dress $145 from Style Girl Collection. Silver headpiece $125, Deco teardrop dangle earring $125 – All from aMuse. Statement silver necklace with pendant and fringe chain $65 from A Second Time Around, Aquamarine and diamond ring $10,000 from Lumina Gem. Shoes, model’s own.


Vintage 1920’s embroidered shawl and mink stole, both from A Second Time Around.

Jessica (dancer):
Beaded bralette $58 from A Second Time Around, Black feathered headpiece $125 from aMuse. Beaded shorts, stylist’s own.

1960’s pink beaded fringe top $95, Silver tiered dress, Rhinestone shoe clips $50 from A Second Time Around, Rhinestone tie choker by Kramer $120, Deco teardrop dangle earrings $125, Rhinestone bracelet with 3 center stones $125, Rhinestone bracelet with center marquise $95, Long crystal necklace $115 – All from aMuse. Pink feather fan and silver headpiece, stylist’s own.

Paige & Porcelain (dancers):
own clothing. Headpiece, stylist’s own.


Tan Suit by Perry Ellis, White rapture necktie and Genoa espresso lace-up shoes. All from Cape Fear Formalwear. Gold deco tie clip from A Second Time Around.

Vintage 1970‘s white tiered dress (size small) $98, Vintage white heels – Both from A Second Time Around, Gold lace headpiece $125 from aMuse, Diamond and opal pendant $1,695, Switch gold filled chain $123, Pearl and diamond cuff $2,995, Tiffany and Co. 18kt yellow gold and ruby $1,395 – All from Lumina Gem. Gloves, stylist’s own.



This just might be my favorite photo from the entire shoot.
(Baz Luhrmann inspired)

Nnenne (Jazz Singer):
1970’s satin peach two piece, size small $58 from A Second Time Around, Long rhinestone necklace with emeralds (worn down back) $350, Gold deco earrings $120, Peach beaded headpiece $99, Oval plate bracelet with multi-stones $68 – All from aMuse.

Vintage print fringe scarf $38 from A Second Time Around Jean Yves black tux from Cape Fear Formalwear



The fabulous Porcelain, our burlesque dancer from the last two Gatsby Galas. The beautiful Paige, dancer/hooper Porcelain is passing the baton to in anticipation of Porcelain’s move to Seattle.


Vintage 1970‘s white tiered dress (size small) $98, Vintage white heels both from A Second Time Around, Gold lace headpiece $125 from aMuse, Diamond and opal pendant $1,695, Switch gold filled chain $123, Pearl and diamond cuff $2,995, Tiffany and Co. 18kt yellow gold and ruby $1,395 all from Lumina Gem. Gloves, stylist’s own



Did you hear our Great Gatsby Gala
is hosting our first-ever official After-Party
at Blind Elephant? Head there at 10:30pm!



Vintage black cab provided by our friends
at The British Taxi – give them a call
to arrive in style the night of the gala!





September 13
Great Gatsby Trunk Show

WHAT: Jess James and Jan Wutkowski, Milliner & owner of aMuse are hosting a joint trunk show featuring 1920’s inspired dresses from Style Girl Vintage and custom flapper headpieces by Jan, along with cases full of Jazz Age jewelry and St. Germain cocktails!

WHEN: Saturday September 13 / 1-4pm

WHERE: aMuse
19 South Second Street
Downtown Wilmington


September 18
4th Annual
Great Gatsby Gala

Pat Kusek of Kusek Financial Group presents the 4th Annual Great Gatsby Gala hosted by Jess James at The City Club inspired by the Great American Novel and the joie de vivre of the Jazz Age glamourized by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Get ready for some Roaring 20’s reverie! As the City Club’s only event open to the public, there will be an exclusive discount (80% discount!) for membership sign-up on the night of the event only.

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate.”
– Jordan Baker


* Delicious food, Prohibition era cocktails and 1920‘s music with
Chanteuse Nnenne Terzian and The Justin Lacy Swingtet.

* Jazz Age dancers and Gatsby models in 1920‘s finery with hair by Rockin’ Roller Salon,
makeup by Amy Kennison and enchanted deco decor by Kickstand Events.

* Speakeasy: Members Only Burlesque show with nationally renowned burlesque dancer.
Sign up that night to enter!

* Portraits in the Garden with Artist Kat Christian +
Photo Booth with Bella Rose Photography

* Coveted Charity Raffle Prizes benefiting our local Make A Wish

* “The Bee’s Knees” Wardrobe Contest – Shop Gatsby attire at Gatsby Sponsors aMuse,
A Second Time Around, Lumina Gem & Cape Fear Formal Wear

* Official After Party at The Blind Elephant Speakeasy!

Thursday, September 18th
VIP Hour in The Gardens: 6pm-7pm
Event: 7pm-10pm / After Party starts at 10:30pm at The Blind Elephant

The City Club of Wilmington
23 South 2nd Street

On sale NOW
Click Here!

General Admission: $60 in advance / $75 at door
(includes heavy hors d’eouvres + 2 complimentary drinks)
VIP: $130 in advance / $150 at door
(VIP Cocktail Hour in the Gardens with Master Mixologist + entertainment.
City Club will waive new membership initiation fee for VIP guests!)

1920’s, “old sport!”




September 20
4th Annual
CARE Project Gala

The CARE Project is an official 501c3 public charity.
Hosted by Dr. Johnnie Sexton, Audiologist,
founder and Executive Director of The CARE Project.

Official Partner Hotel:Wilmington Riverside Hilton
Special Celebrity Guest: Project Runway Finalist Justin LeBlanc

Project Runway Finalist Justin LeBlanc with
Style Girl LLC’s Juliana Williams at Charleston Fashion Week


The CARE Project raises money to provide retreat weekend counseling
experiences for families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Musical Entertainment: Jack Jack 180

Featured Chef Stations with:
1. Top Chef Contestant Chef Keith Rhodes/Catch
2. Southern Smoke BBQ/Matthew Register
3. Wilmington Riverside Hilton Carving Station
4. Pine Valley Market

Live Auction Featuring:
* Custom designed gown by Jessie Williams/Edge of Urge: value up to $1,500
* Pig Pickin Beach Music Party for 75 People from Southern Smoke BBQ: value $3,000
* French Crepe Dinner Party – up to 14 people (incl wine + limo)
from SouthnFrance Bonbons: value $2,000
* 2012 Club Car Golf Cart from Meekins Auction House: value $2,500
* Original Bald Head Island Marshscape Oil Painting by Xris Kessler: value $1,700
* Frying Pan Towers B & B Weekend for 2 (incl roundtrip transportation): value $3,000

Saturday, September 20, 2014
6-11 p.m.

Union Station
502 N. Front Street
Downtown Wilmington

Tickets: $45 – To get yours,
Click Here!


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