Saturday, July 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Wedded Blizz Update

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Wedded Blizz Update

The Strangers,  including bandleader Denny Bloomindale (in the white hat), are no strangers to making sure the show goes on, blizzard or no blizzard.
The Strangers, including bandleader Denny Bloomindale (in the white hat), are no strangers to making sure the show goes on, blizzard or no blizzard.

I hate when this happens.

My column about Stephanie Sudzina and Anthona Campanale gave shout-outs to the wedding saviors at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia who helped rescue the couple's wedding on Dec. 19th, when the Blizzard of 2009 threatened to white-out out the nuptials.

The story warmed a lot of hearts, including those of producers at FoxNews "American Morning," who interviewed the newlyweds on national TV yesterday, on Christmas Eve.

Sadly, the story left some non-Ritz wedding vendors feeling unacknowledged for the lengths to which they went to make sure Stephanie and Anthony's life as man and wife started with a kick-ass celebration, not a lame party.

I take full responsibility for the unintended slights. The newspaper's space constraints kept me from naming every name and telling every backstory. Happily, this blog has plenty of room to right the wrongs.

So hat's off to Donna O'Brien and her people at Beautiful Blooms, to hair and makeup artist Claudia Seyler
and to photographer extraordinaire Marie Labbancz, whose gorgeous photos accompanied my column. All of them moved heaven and earth to work through the worst December storm in decades.

And here's a special shout-out to Stephanie and Anthony's band,  The Strangers, who made sure that, once Stephanie and Anthony's snowed-out wedding reception shifted to its back-up venue, it would have the kick-butt music it deserved.

The 11-piece Strangers, bandleader Denny Bloomingdale tells me, perform exclusively for Brandywine Valley Entertainment and is a favorite among those looking for customer-committed pros to carbonate their special events.

After hearing what the band went through to get to Stephanie and Anthony's wedding, it's easy to see why they're held in such esteem.

Anticipating the blizzard, Denny says, he'd been in contact the night before with all his band members - some of whom live in South Jersey and southern Delaware - to tell them to allow plenty of time to get to Glen Foerd Mansion on the Delaware, the historic site in Northeast Philly where Stephanie and Anthony's wedding reception was supposed to unfold.

The band's drummer, who lives in far-flung Oxford, Chester County, left his house at 8am for the 2:30pm reception. The sound man and lead guitar player, who lives near Newark, DE, also got on the scary roads good and early to haul a 22-foot trailer of sound equipment up I-95 in the battering storm.

The others traveled  up to four hours to get to the Ritz from home - or from Glen Foard, at which they'd already arrived. The planned reception there, however, imploded when a privately hired transportation company cancelled its rides on Stephanie and Anthony, leaving their 70-plus guests stranded downtown.

"I did have two singers, one from Williamstown [NJ], where the heart of the storm hit, and one from West Chester, who were snowed in and unable to dig themselves out," says Denny.  "But I was able to find three other singers, some who have worked with the band in the past and live closer to Philadelphia, who managed to make their way into the city to sub for my regular singers."

The singers, he says, are all young students at the University of the Arts, and they blew the wedding guests out of their soggy boots. So props to the ridiculously talented and professional Megan Rozinski, Megan Wellman and Tyler Bellinger.

The Ritz, says Denny says, secured parking for The Strangers and gave him a price break on rooms for the band, since there was no way the musicians would make it out of snowed-under Center City that night.

Even with the discount, he says, The Strangers made "very little money" on Stephanie and Anthony's big day.

"It doesn't matter," he says sincerely. "We wanted to give them the wedding they wanted. It's what it's all about. We take very seriously that saying, 'The show must go on.' It would've been a very quiet wedding without us."

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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