11.17.13 – Frances’ 75th Birthday Celebration – Royal Park Hotel (Rochester, MI)

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In addition to photographing weddings, I have had the opportunity to be commissioned to photograph non-wedding events over the course of my career.  Events like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceaneras, birthday parties, and anniversary parties.  From all the years and all the non-wedding events I have had the privilege of photographing, I can honestly say that I have never photographed one as beautiful as Frances’ 75th birthday party! In fact, I have photographed a handful of her family’s events in the past – a couple of family birthdays and anniversary parties – all of which have been extraordinary – but none coming close to this one!  In fact, I would dare say that this birthday party rivals some of the best weddings I have ever photographed! It was just that beautiful!

You will see what I am talking about by scrolling through the photos below.  Actually, to see a more comprehensive peek, click >>>>HERE<<<< to view the entire highlight slideshow of this fantastic, and heartfelt party!  There is so much to talk about regarding why this was such a grand affair! The event was hosted at the beautiful Royal Park Hotel and coordinated by Michigan’s premier event planner, Carolyn Hefner of the China Closet.  Carolyn’s job was to help bring Frances’ dream of recreating 1920’s, Cole Porter-era Paris to life! I cannot say enough for the immense talent of Mrs. Carolyn Hefner! She absolutely pulled this off to the nines! In the main corridor, outside the ballroom, you would have thought you were on a local boulevard near the Champs de Mars in Paris in the Spring!  From a six foot tall, Eiffel Tower ice sculpture, to the extravant roses and floral arrangements, to the string quartet musicians and pianist on a baby grand piano entertaining arriving guests, to wandering professional mimes, street magicians, clowns, and a wait staff dressed in berets!

This was just a taste of the visual delights waiting for the guests in the Grand Ballroom that was decorated by Colonial Events, Breco Interiors, and Blueworld Productions; topped off with the exquisite and signature floral designs by Ralph Bellisario and his team from Bellisario Florists!  I would dare say that the entertainment even rivaled the productions of Cole Porter!  Complete with a professional ballroom dance team, incredible Big Band-era music provided by the extraordinary talents of Simone Vitale – who lead both his own multi-talented band and an additional complete brass orchestra! In addition, the guests were treated to the Sinatra-esk great: Mark Randisi! Back out in the main corridor, as guests were being served extraordinary cuisine, deserts were being set out from one end to the other! I’ve included photos – which I never, ever do in my blog posts – of these details below! I am telling you, this was a party to end all parties!

The day began for me photographing Frances and her family getting ready in a suite at the Royal Park Hotel.  I arrived about the time breakfast was being served.  Frances was with her make-up artist, and her husband Dominic was quietly sitting on a sofa.  As breakfast was being catered, the suite began to fill up with the six sons of this lovely couple, and their families.  It wasn’t long before the room was filled and food was on the table! Even though I had a job to do, I felt at home! The scene reminded me of my own upbringing having come from an Italian family! What clued me into how special this day was going to be, however, was the love I could see beaming from Dominic’s eyes, and would last the entire day!  I was taken back by this! I had the privilege of photographing both their 50th  anniversary, and Dominic’s own birthday party years earlier, but what I saw in his eyes this day was pure love and admiration for his beloved wife Frances! I thought to myself, nothing in life can compare to this: a marriage that has produced a beautiful family, six sons, dozens of grandchildren, and a love story between a husband and wife that has lasted over a half century!

This birthday party needs no more words.  Clearly, it was Dominic’s gift to Frances to express his deep love for her.  So much so, that he had their Catholic priests renew their vows to one another in front of all their guests!  Not a dry eye was in the house! Enjoy the photos and slideshow while I go get a tissue to dry my own eyes reminiscing over this wonderful day!  Happy Birthday to you, Mrs. Moceri! It was my honor to be the photo documentarian of your extraordinary day!

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