Photos: The Ritz-Carlton Wedding Experience

Photos: The Ritz-Carlton Wedding Experience


Late last month I attended a lovely event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel for media to experience their wedding experience. Clever idea. I was only able to make it to the first event, and just a bit as my schedule was packed.  They sent a long some copy of the event and what they were out to achieve for this post. I will be returning soon to experience the rest of the great adventure when time permits. ….




A small exclusive group of national, regional and local members of the media were invited to attend a Wedding Experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia on April 21-22.


This 24 hour event was hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia by Bradley Pacana, Dayna Leaventon and Jimmy Contreras. The Wedding Experience was created for members of the media to experience Weddings at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia and everything we offer at our property. At The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia we love weddings and celebrations of every kind.
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The Wedding Experience Event included overnight accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, lunch in the Grand Ballroom with coursed cuisine by the Ritz-Carlton Chefs and Pastry Team lead by Patrick Morrison, Spa time with signature treatments at Richel D’Ambra Salon & Spa (you don’t have to stay at the Ritz to enjoy her services), Lavish Family Style Dinner at Aqimero with a five course meal,

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Guests experienced Club Lounge on the 30th Floor for Breakfast on Saturday morning and Explored Philadelphia. Visit Philly and Philly Phlash provided VIP Passes to see Philadelphia’s museums and cultural institutions and rides on Philly Phlash.
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Partners of the event included Aqimero a Richard Sandoval Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, BVTLive!, Carl Alan Floral Designs LTD., Casa Papel, Evantine Design, MK Photography, Nicol Floral Design, Philly Plash, Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon, Van Earl’s Cakes, Visit Philly and Whipped Bakeshop.
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Here’s a list  of our partners:


Aqimero – Private Dinner experience

BVTLive! – Live music for the lunch event

Carl Alan Floral Designs LTD. – Tablescape and Floral Designs for Dinner at Aqimero

Casa Papel – Invitations for event, signage, menus and gifts

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Evantine Desgin – Tablescape Floral Designs for lunch in Grand Ballroom

Mk Photography – Photographed event

Nicol Floral Design – Flower Wall at Lunch

Philly Plash – Provided Travel for Exploring Philadelphia

Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon – Spa Treatments

Van Earl’s Cakes – Personalized mini wedding cakes for all guests at lunch

Visit Philly – VIP Passes for media to Explore Philadelphia

Whipped Bakesshop – LOVE cookies for guests gifts
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delicious sorbet, and the presentation was spectacular
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Van Earl’s Cakes – Personalized mini wedding cakes for all guests at lunch

Ritz Ritz

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Nicol Floral Design – Flower Wall at Lunch

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Thanks to Jana Bannan, MK Photographer for these shots.


Maria Papadakis and Chris Konopka Get Married

OMG has it been a week already since my girl Maria Papadakis got married to the guy she’s been looking for all her life, Chris Konopka, it has. What an amazing wedding; and very intimate with only 65 people invited. What an honor to witness their special day, and to re-connect with old mutual friends and make a few new ones.

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Welcome to Naples!
Maria and Christopher get married weekend
Mike and I arrived at our hotel, Inn of Naples, on Thursday and was greeted at the desk with two
lovely gift bags from the intended couple. The bag included personalized M&M’s with the initials of Chris and Maria (they were so good I ate Mike’s too), gifts, snacks, and towels for the beach party.

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Come enjoy a beautiful dinner with us outside on the bay into the Gulf to get our wedding weekend started Thursday night!




Friday – Cocktails, Ceremony, & Reception at The Ritz-Carlton Naples Florida

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Dress was beach chic and well Chris’ uncle wins


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Folks came from all over, even from Dubai and as close as Miami, where Michael Lahoud, who met Chris Konopka when they both played for the Phila Union 2012 – 2013 travelled from. He now plays on the Miami team; Director/Producer Clayton Hansler traveled from Toronto, where Chris played for Toronto FC for a few years.

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The Konopka FamilyMarried Married

Antonis Papadourakis and Grigorios Papadourakis HD1_0556 (Custom) HD1_0592 (Custom) HD1_0621 (Custom)

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John and Rachel Paz

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after the ceremony and cocktail party we headed to that cute little event space on the beach, that looks like a houseMarried

For dinnerMarried

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Eliana Papadakis and Maria Konopka HD1_0743 (Custom) Married HD1_0749 (Custom) HD1_0751 (Custom)
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Mike Toub is learning to dance, thanks Jenna E. Moore, Hair Stylist at Moore is More

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Marisa Magnatta, Maria and Vasiliki TsourisHD1_0827 (Custom)

Then the groom got up to serenade his bride, and he’s a darn good singer. Sometimes he joins his brother – Ned Ryerson (r) and his band The Groundhogs at the gigs they play in South Jersey. Chris Konopka was on stage with their wedding band  Land Shark Band and Ned Ryerson on singing and on lead guitar. That’s Chris & Ned’s dad on keyboard and mom on tamburine


Posted by Gary Roland on Saturday, January 21, 2017

OMG so glad someone had a clip of this, I accidentally deleted mine grabbing the turbulence vids on Monday and ran out of phone space & deleted previous videos including this clip of Chris’ rapping.


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Saturday – Brunch, Brews, & Beach – Pelican Bay Pool & Beach Married Married
Sunday Chris and Maria hosted 11 of us, who were still in town, on a tour of the Everglades, and Wooten’s Animal Sanctuary

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Penny from Eviama Spa in Midtown Village


So fun

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Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Chris and Maria Konopka.
(this last photo was taken by their photographer)




Congrats to Nina Tinari and Michael Schulson, 6ABC’s

Good Monday morning. Lots of happenings in the dog days of summer here in Philly. Hope everyone made it out to the 2nd Street Festival. I met old friends, and I mean old as in grade school friends for lunch at LaScala’s Burn in Marlton NJ. They have the hottest long hots that will be memorable the entire week for me. This week I’m gettng ready to cover the Girl Scouts Smores Competition in Chesapeake. Remember I went there last year and stayed at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake. It was fabulous. So glad they asked me back again this year to shoot it. Let’s see what’s happening with our neighbors….


Congrats to longtime couple Michael Schulson and Nina Tinari on their marriage Saturday at Le Cheri. The bride wore creame, the groom wore sneakers and the flowers were by Ten Pennies.


Congrats to Perry O’Hearn, Owner of Philly Phitness and 6ABC’s Melissa Magee on their engagement which happened in Hawaii during the DNC and you know how I missed things then.



Ian Larson and Jamie Reibenbach had their engagement photos taken by Phil Kramer. The duo are set for their nuptials in orange, which is perhaps why Jamie is wearing orange?


Don’t know what to do with that wedding dress after the ceremony, why make tiny wedding dresses for bears. They’re so cute.Nina

Jameer Nelson stopped by D’Angelo’s for dinner Friday night. I was there and saw he was with two friends dining al fresco.  Nina

On the mend, baby Rocky. Keep those prayers coming.



Christopher Wink, Technical.ly and Shannon Wink, Billy Penn commissioned this awesome mural on their home by artist Sean Martorano.



Happy Birthday to Kathyrn Ott Lovell


And Laura Burkhardt


Christie Honigman Marries Brandon Mandia

Christie Honigman Marries Brandon Mandia

What an amazing weekend for Philadelphia; Chita Rivera was honored by The Voice Gala at Westin Hotel, Stanley Tucci dined at SuGa, Nicki Minaj & Meek Mill stepped out on the town for the first time together since Mills house arrest was over; Usher was in town for The Roots Picnic, he was found wandering around North Philly, also in town the Will Smith family, as Willow performed at the Roots Picnic, and bought fans gifts and Comic Con brought in the big stars like Chris Hemsworth, Lea Thompson and Michael J Fox, but nothing could keep me from attending the wedding of


Christie Honigman and Brandon Mandia Friday night, at The Reeds Hotel in Stone Harbor.Christie

CJ Honigman and Colleen Honigman (Mother of the Bride) Christie

Parents of the Groom: Gary and Peggie MandiaChristie

Chris Honigman escorts his daughter, Christie Honigman, down the aisleChristie

The stunning gown was bought at Nieman Marcus.


The ceremony was officiated by Father Jack RyanChristie

Mr and Mrs Brandon Mandia


Jen Creed Rego,  Mr Rego, front row John “Gonzo” Gonzalez, CSN Sports and wife Colleen Wolfe, NFL MediaChristie

Chris Smith, Justin Pizzi, Ben Haney and Tony FrickChristie

Lexie Norcross, The Philly Voice and Ian LeonardChristie

Judy Munroe and Steve Sidewater (Behind them were Celeste and Peter Madden)Christie

Guests checking out their table seatingChristie

Dad Chris Honigman giving the congratulatory toast and it was hystericalChristie

Erin Como Fox 5 DC (remember Erin used to be at NBC10, then went to Nashville Fox 17, and now is in Washington DC at Fox 5) where she met this great guy Chris Smith.Christie

Sheena Parveen, NBC10 and MoiChristie

The ballroom at The Reeds Hotel fit 150 guests perfectlyChristie

Shelter Haven Harbor.

The house I spent 25 years of summers is behind them with this awesome sunset view, so the wedding was extra special to me.Christie

Ryan Gagnon, Chris Smith, Erin Como, Tony Frick, me, Justin Pizzi, Katie Gagon, Kristin Detterline, Christie & Brandon, Alissa Frick, Vasiliki Tsouris (I think V would be impressed that I spelled her name correctly after 6 years of friendship, w/o looking it up), Colleen Wolfe (nearly hidden), Marisa Magnatta, Sheena Parveen, Ben Haney, Jamie McFadden, Marilyn Kellmer and CJ Honigman.


Laura Powers, Christie Penn State roommate (I bet she has some great stories), Christie, and  Julie Perkins (both Julie & Laura worked with Christie at KB Consultants – which is when I met Christie about 7 years ago)Christie

friend and Taylor Ciallella (r)Christie

Next up is the wedding of these two – Ben Haney and Jamie McFadden – YEAH!!Christie

Mike Toub and moiChristie

Eddie Tully spun his magic all night


The cake was delicious, but was cut while everyone ate dinner as to not invoke cheers of smash it in his face, I guess


The room was gorgeous. OMG I tried to take home a flower centerpiece, don’t look at me that way, we were allowed. The problem, it weighed about 25 pounds cause it was full of water at the top. I got a half a block away and left it on a nice bench outside a store. It stayed there nearly all week.Christie

Ryan and Katie Gagnon, recently moved back to NJ, closer to NYC, expecting their baby boy in about 15 weeks. Katie also works with me at PhillyChitChat and sells my ad space, so if you want to advertise on PCC I’ll put you in touch with her.

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Congrats to Brandon and Christie Mandia


Bill Murray In Philly For His Son Luke’s Wedding to a Philly Girl #Emmys2015 #SNL #Philly

Follow me on Twitter @iPhillyChitChat for Philly happenings and celeb sightings.
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I started getting texts and tweets from people Friday night. The first one was where he was eating dinner, but you know it is the very busy social season and I couldn’t get away to greet Bill. 

My bud Larry Giuffra texted me to say that he saw Murray in the Rittenhouse Sq area, I knew for sure Bill was here but why?  

When I got home from the Franklin Institute’s Vatican Splendor Gala I jumped on the internet and started to do some research. Thanks to the guy who DM’d me with the answer.

The next morning I tweeted  @iPhillyChitChat Bill Murray was spotted at Oscar’s Tavern the night before, and cringed when I saw I made an era in saying “why is he hear?” instead of here. Then the Philly Voice picked up my tweet, which is awesome except for that mistake – ugh. Twitter edit button please. But the tips started flowing in.

Bill was here to attend the wedding of his son Luke Murray (assistant coach of Xavier University), who was marrying Philly hometown girl

Kara Cassidy, former Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach University of Pennsylvania 2009 – August 2013 (4 years) and South Philly native and now working for ADP.

Basketball runs in her family, her dad Fran Cassidy is Vice President, Premium Seating at Comcast-Spectacor

How’d They Met: They met on a plane to Italy, his team was playing in Europe, she was going to recruit academic basketball Europeans. How random was that.

Before Murray headed over to Oscar’s for a nightcap, he attended the rehearsal dinner at the Acorn Club (actual set up before the dinner). Traditionally the grooms parents pay for the meal, and they did. I hear Bill was very generous with gifts for the wedding couple helping out with the most beautiful wedding to hit the Bellevue since Sabrina Tamburino Thorne‘s. He also paid for all the groomsman’s tuxes and rented out the 27th floor at the Bellevue Hyatt for bridal party preparations and rooms for the guests to stay.

Walking down the aisle St. Monica’s Church in South Philly Bill Murray, with his mom Lucille Murray, and former wife Mickey Kelly, mother of Luke Saturday around 3PM.

Bill Murray stopped by The Palm restaurant at the Bellevue on his way to the reception.

Uncles Joel Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray with the groom, Luke Murray with a few SNL writers Friday night.

Bill Murray on the right dancing to the introduction of the bride and groom song “Feels So Close” by Black Eyed Peas (Which was Tamburino/Thorne introduction song too), at the Bellevue Hyatt. Congrats to the Murray’s and the Cassidy’s, looks like it was an awesome time!!

 The name of the band at the Murray wedding:

Chevis Entertainment headed by Chevy Chevis (l), pretty ironic I’d say. They’re from NYC and the biz address – Rockefeller Center.

At one point Bill Murray jumped up on stage and rocked out with the band. One guest told me it was the best band she’d ever heard, and the Murray’s really know how to party. I say girl, they’re Irish, we know how to party.

Can we talk about this awesome dance floor installed at the Bellevue for the wedding.. It was placed on top of the wooden one that’s normally used.

Follow me on: https://instagram.com/phillychitchat/

BTW there is still a few items left to get on their Wedding Registry 


Anne Hathaway Spotted in Philadelphia Saturday & Sunday

It’s nice to know that actress and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway still visits her family here in Philadelphia.

Both of Anne’s parents were born in the Philadelphia area Gerald T. Hathaway and Kate McCauley Hathaway, and met while they attended La Salle University during the 1970s, graduating one year apart. (Congratulations La Salle with a return to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in 21 years.) (I shot the above pix outside another bar/restaurant, The Waverly Inn in NYC. She was looking at her mom who was standing next to me, when I took this photo.)

Last night I received a tip that Anne was at The Ten Six Club, 1709 Walnut St. celebrating a cousin’s bacherlorette party.

She was in disguise wearing a pink wig and sunglasses.  Expect her to be at the wedding in a few weeks too, she’s not shy about attending them or buying the dress on the day of as she did nearly 2 years ago for another cousins wedding, read about it here.

Sunday night she was spotted at 30th Street station boarding an Amtrak train back to NYC. 

  1. Nothing like seeing Anne Hathaway disguised like she was in the princess diaries in the Philly train station!
  2. Just saw Anne Hathaway in a Philly train station, nbd

    (I received the tip about 1:30AM and had just arrived home exhausted. Otherwise I would have gone back out. Thanks to my tipster.)