view counter

Articles by Emily Myron

A thrifty couple’s guide to having your cake and eating it, too

Come this fall, I am officially adding strategic planner to my resume. After moving, working two jobs and planning a wedding from 700 miles away, I’ve earned it.
    Some couples hire a wedding planner to help design their special day from top to bottom. My fiancé and I knew from the start we’d be taking on the planning ourselves. So when I got engaged, I started by reading magazines and web blogs. These resources can be a great help, but they lured me into a false sense of confidence. Doing this yourself is a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong: It’s an exciting time, but keeping so many balls in the air takes serious organizational finesse.
    As a bride-to-be, I’ve been determined to create a wedding that is true to my fiancé and me and sustainable for our finances, family, friends and our planet. By sharing my experience, I hope to help other ambitious brides create their own dream weddings.

About Us

My fiancé and I met in graduate school at Duke University, where we were both pursuing master’s degrees in environmental management. From friends, we quickly evolved into something more. Four years later, he popped the question in front of the Jefferson Memorial in D.C.
    Surprised with a photographer to capture the moment, an antique ring I had fallen in love with (that he had hidden in our closet for two years), some beautiful words and a round of applause from the onlookers, I said Yes. It was perfect.
    That was April 2015. We have been wedding planning almost nonstop since, first from D.C. and most recently from our new home in ­Cambridge, Mass.
    My fiancé and I both work in the environmental field, I most recently at Chesapeake Conservancy in Annapolis. We are both conscious consumers. We wanted our wedding to support local businesses, have a very natural feeling and be as gentle on the earth as possible. Through all our planning and decision-making, these values were non-negotiables.

Let the Planning Begin

Get out a new notebook, start a Google Doc or buy a pocket calendar; it’s about to get organized in here! Whatever works for you, use it to track conversations, contracts, payment deadlines and lingering questions. Keep it all organized and in one place. In the future you will appreciate your organization.
    I’ll talk you through my notebook, now nearly full. But first, a few general guidelines.
    Decide up front what wedding elements are most important to you and your fiancé. Develop a budget accordingly. Track your monetary commitments as you go to avoid surprises later.
    The internet is your friend. Good places to start are and Pinterest is also great for figuring out your style, colors and décor.
    Be willing to make tradeoffs. It was important to us to have a seated meal, but we were perfectly happy with a DJ instead of a band. Making compromises in some places will allow you to comfortably spend more funds in others.
    Ask for references. Hell hath no fury like a disappointed bride, so you are likely to get very honest responses. We have done this for most of our vendors, and it has been hugely helpful.
    Don’t overextend yourself financially. If it sounds too expensive, it probably is. The wedding business is priced through the roof, but there are great options if you’re willing to look around and think outside the box.

Where to Marry

Start with choosing your venue.
    For us, this was easy. In graduate school, we spent countless hours exploring the Sarah P. Duke Gardens adjacent to Duke’s campus. That’s where we wanted to tie the knot.
    Popular wedding venues book up quickly, especially in the spring and summer, so we traveled to Durham to secure our spot right away. Even a year and a half in advance, only two Saturdays were available in October 2016.
    If you don’t have such strong feelings, think about places special to you as a couple: a favorite city, vineyard or ambiance. As you dream, consider the time of year you want to marry, the number of guests, whether they will be willing to travel and your budget. Then, visit the contenders.
    Walk the grounds, talk to the staff and envision your day. Some venues require that you use pre-approved caterers and services, which may be a deal-breaker for you.
    Once you book the spot, you can dive into the details.

The Caterer

Catering was our next stop. Duke Gardens had a limited list of approved caterers, which made our decision easy. We were flexible on the cuisine, as long as most was sourced locally. Ultimately, we chose the caterer that presented us with a menu that spoke to our tummies and to our worldview.
    If you have a particular food preference, let that guide you. And, if you’re nearby, definitely meet with caterers in person and try their food.
    Next came choosing between a seated dinner and a buffet. Each has tradeoffs. Buffets generally have lower costs for wait staff but may require you to order more of each dish. Buffets tend to be cheaper overall, but seated dinners seem more elegant. After a lengthy debate, that’s what we choose. All our guests will be coming from out of town, so we felt it important to treat them to a relaxing meal.

The Dress

My dress gave me the most anticipatory heartburn. I am not one to spend a lot of money on clothes, especially on clothes I will only wear once.
    My mother eased my pain with her suggestion of Cherie Amour Bridal Resale in Howard County’s Historic Savage Mill. Cherie Amour sells donated wedding, bridesmaid and mother-of dresses. All proceeds benefit Success In Style, an organization that works to dress people in crisis for employment.
    I saw my perfect dress in the window. Originally priced at more than $4,000, it cost me $550. Mom and I had a special afternoon together, and I was smitten with both my dress and helping others.
    Whether you find your dress at a bridal salon, your mother’s cedar chest or a bargain alternative, remember that you will need fitting and tailoring, so include those funds in your budget.


Making this decision was fun. Hours of looking through photos online helped us decide on a style that suited our wedding vibe and venue. With those elements and our price point, it was easy to find a photographer that fit our needs. Again, online reviews and phone calls to discuss our vision were invaluable.
    Be on the lookout for specials. During the month we booked, our photographer was offering a free engagement shoot. We hadn’t planned on engagement photos, so this was a happy surprise — and a rehearsal for getting past feeling awkward.


Flowers can really rack up your tab if you’re not careful. We found that smaller operations tend to be more reasonably priced. We also supported a small business by choosing a mother-daughter team who grow flowers in their back yard. Their passion for flowers was infectious, as was their delight in using flowers to bring joy to others. It was a perfect fit.
    Using local, seasonal flowers helps cut both costs and your carbon footprint. But the flower industry is weather-dependent, so you need to be flexible. If a flower we want isn’t blooming when we marry, our florist won’t be able to use it. We were fine with that, but you should let your florist know your must-have flowers.


Music was the hardest booking from afar. We knew we’d hire a DJ, but it would be sight unseen. Online reviews and references saved our day — we hope. I’d rather have trusted my ears, and I hope you can.

Hair and Makeup

I knew I’d need help with my hair, and I trolled photos on Pinterest to decide on the look I wanted. Then, I found stylists that demonstrated my aesthetic and chose the one I felt most comfortable with over the phone. I’ll visit Durham before the wedding for a trial run.
    In terms of makeup, I decided to invest in some good makeup and training, rather than a makeup artist for the big day. I went to a makeup store for lessons from a professional, which I see as an investment in my bridal shower, bachelorette party and rehearsal, as well as my wedding.

Plus …

I wish I could say our planning is complete, but we still have a few decisions to make, including choosing our wedding rings. Despite my best planning, others will come up. Yet so far, my type-A personality, obsessive organizing and thorough note-taking is paying off. I look ahead confident that we will have created a wedding true to our ethic and to ourselves, happily shared with our best friends and family.
    Good luck to you, too!

Osprey and falcon chicks thriving, with a little help

True to the saying it takes a village, it has taken the help of many friends to ensure the health and success of the on-cam osprey and peregrine families.
    Two years of broadcasts on Chesapeake Conservancy’s Osprey Cam have shown Audrey the Osprey as a model mother. She has stayed on her eggs in sweltering heat and storms, shielded her chicks from pouring rain and defended the nest from intruders.
    Thus it was even more devastating when this year’s eggs did not hatch. Audrey refused to give up and continued to incubate her clutch of three into the second week of June.
    A new male usurped original Tom early this season (
node/27495). New pairs sometimes do not lay viable eggs, as viewers have witnessed this year.
    Audrey’s determination to be a mother inspired osprey biologist Paul Spitzer, the Conservancy’s expert on the nest, to suggest her as a foster mother.
    Spitzer and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Craig Koppie helped identify foster candidates.
    An osprey family on Poplar Island was raising four chicks, a lot of mouths to feed. To better ensure the survival of all, the two largest chicks were removed and resettled in Audrey’s nest on June 17.
    After what was surely a surprise, Audrey and Tom accepted the chicks and are proving model parents.
    Watch this new family grow:

Meanwhile, high above Baltimore City, Boh and Barb falcon hatched their first eyas, the name for peregrine chicks, on May 18. Over the next several days, two more eyases came into the world.
    Boh and Barb have been diligently feeding the chicks, which once huddled together but now fearlessly explore their balcony. On June 28, at just over a month old, one took the big leap, flying into the larger world. Airborn, the eyasses will learn to hunt before leaving the nest.
    When the eyases were a few weeks old, Craig Koppie paid them a visit. An expert on peregrine falcons, Koppie has worked on recovery since 1979 and bands the chicks at 100 Light Street each year.
    While placing identification bands on the three eyases, he saw that the youngest, a male, appeared to have a cold and be dehydrated. Koppie took the chick to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research where he received some fluids and a bill of good health. After a few days away, the little guy was reunited with Boh, Barb, and his two sisters.
    The eyases have been named Cade, Burnsie and Koppie after Tom Cade, William Burnham and Craig Koppie, three great leaders in the falcon recovery efforts, by vote of 1,500 cam viewers.
    Tune into the Peregrine Falcon Cam:

The Chesapeake Conservancy, an Annapolis-based non-profit, hosts the Osprey and Peregrine cams. Both average 8,000 views a day, from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Chesapeake Country’s celebrity birds

Time to tune into Chesapeake Country’s favorite celebrity reality show.
    Season three of the Chesapeake Conservancy’s popular Osprey Cam begins with drama and intrigue.
    Audrey returned just before St. Patrick’s Day and quickly began building her nest. Day after day went by with no Tom.
    Then, Audrey was visited by two callers. One looked like the Tom we know and love. The other was a new Tom, sporting mottled feathers. After days of sightings of both Toms, mottled Tom seems to have moved into the nest.
    Osprey biologist Dr. Paul Spitzer says that new males may usurp old ones. Such behavior is not common, but it seems to be what happened in the latest season of the Tom and Audrey show.
    No need to learn new names, however. On this show, the male will always be Tom and the female Audrey.
    The new couple seems to be getting along just fine, as Audrey laid her first egg at 6:19pm on April 12.
    Meanwhile, on the Conservancy’s Peregrine Falcon Cam, there was also trouble in paradise. Original Barb seems to have sustained an injury to her eye and has been usurped.
    You can tell the female on the cam is a new one because the bands on her legs are different from those on the original.
    Boh, the male, does not seem to be lamenting the loss of his first love. He has been seen bringing new Barb food.
    The same day that Audrey laid her first egg of the season, Barb also laid her own small reddish-brown egg — 33 stories high on the TransAmeria building.
    Already, differences can be seen in their nesting habits. Audrey began sitting on her egg right away. However, Barb will wait until she has laid her whole clutch before incubating them. These differences in parenting style mean that osprey chicks hatch in the order that they are born, with the oldest having the best chance of survival. Peregrine eggs are more likely to hatch at the same time.
    Despite being laid on the same day, the osprey eggs require a longer incubation period than the peregrines’, 36 to 42 days compared to 29 to 35 days.
    Osprey chicks also stay at the nest longer than peregrine eyases, as the chicks are called.
    These mysteries and heart-felt moments are brought to you live, 24/7, and in high-definition by the Chesapeake Conservancy, an Annapolis-based non-profit.
    Tune into the Osprey Cam at and the Peregrine Falcon Cam at

Ravens and Orioles watch out; Maryland’s going wild over peregrines

Fifty years ago, peregrine falcons were nearly eradicated from the Eastern United States due to the pesticide DDT. Today, they are riding high — literally — on the 33rd story of the TransAmerica building in Baltimore.
    In 1977 a falcon was released at the Edgewood Arsenal as part of the Peregrine Fund’s captive breeding effort. Scarlett, as she was named, made her home at the then-United States Fidelity and Guaranty building at 100 Light Street in downtown Baltimore.
    In 1984, Scarlett successfully mated with a wild peregrine, Beauregard. This love story resulted in the first natural-born peregrines bred in decades in an urban environment on the East Coast.
    The Baltimore skyline has been the backdrop for a peregrine family ever since.
     Visitors to the Inner Harbor may not be aware that peregrines soar above their heads. But now, anyone can watch the birds in their roost, thanks to the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Peregrine Falcon Cam:
    Peregrines live for about 17 years, so the pair on the camera are not the original residents. Already looked in on by folks in 100 countries, Barb and her mate Boh have become overnight sensations since the cam went live March 10.
    “Peregrine falcons are one of the nation’s great conservation success stories. In naming the female, we thought no one reflects dedication to the environment and conservation better than Maryland’s own Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski,” said Joel Dunn, executive director of the Chesapeake Conservancy.
    Peregrines are fierce hunters, reaching speeds up to 240 mph in pursuit of prey, mainly other birds. As testimony to their success, the ledge Barb and Boh live on is littered with remnants of meals past.
    You’ll notice that they have not built a nest. Peregrines don’t collect sticks for a roost; they create a depression in sand or in this case gravel. Soon red-brown eggs will fill that depression. For the first time, the world can watch the next generation of peregrines hatch at 100 Light Street.

The Chesapeake Conservancy, an Annapolis-based non-profit, works to strengthen the connection between people and the watershed, conserve the Chesapeake’s landscapes and special places and encourage the exploration and celebration of the Chesapeake. The Peregrine Falcon Cam is supported by Skyline Technology Solutions, Cogent Communications, Shared Earth Foundation, the City of Baltimore, Transamerica and 100 Light Street.

See them again this year on the Osprey Cam

After wintering in sunny South or Central America, Audrey and Tom osprey have traveled thousands of miles to return to the shores of the Chesapeake.
    Since their live video debuted last year on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Osprey Cam, Audrey and Tom are becoming household names. Viewers from all 50 states and 110 countries watched last summer as the pair built their nest, laid eggs, raised and fledged chicks. Then viewers waved goodbye as the pair and their chicks headed south for the winter.
    Living a wonder of nature, Audrey and Tom have returned to the same Eastern Shore nest for the sixth year in a row. Tom diligently collects sticks as Audrey rearranges the nest for optimum strength and comfort, taking breaks to enjoy the Bay’s bounty for lunch.
    Osprey nesting on this spot have been watched for decades by the Crazy Osprey Family, as the landowners who have the osprey cam on their property choose to be called. They watched the original Tom and Audrey for 10 years, installing their first nest cam in 2002, and have watched the current pair since 2009. To accompany the cam, Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl — as they are known to viewers — maintain a blog that offers behind-the-scenes insights and photos.
    “They have been part of our family since 1995,” says Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man. “We’re so delighted to share our osprey family with your families.”
    The Osprey Cam shows real-time, high-definition footage, complete with sound. Visit to tune into the show.
    Last year, Audrey and Tom successfully raised three chicks, named Chester, Essie and Ozzie by the loyal cam viewers.
    “The osprey represent the magic of the Chesapeake,” says Joel Dunn, executive director of the Chesapeake Conservancy. “Our intent with the camera is to connect the public with these animals and to inspire people to fight for their protection. These birds require healthy lands, clean water and plenty of protected habitat.”
    As Maryland and the U.S. Congress have dramatically reduced land conservation funding in fiscal year 2014, Dunn says, “public support for conservation is essential for their survival.”
    Join the Chesapeake Conservancy on Thursday, April 17, to celebrate the return of the osprey family. This Welcome Back Osprey happy hour is free and open to all from 4-6pm at Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge in Annapolis.

Ships’ graveyard possible National Marine Sanctuary site

The Potomac River continues to bear the legacy of World War I — which ended 97 years ago this week — in one of the Chesapeake watershed’s secret places, Mallows Bay.
    Tucked into the coastline of Charles County, Mallows Bay is the final resting place for 88 World War I wooden steamships of the U.S. Emergency Fleet. Built between 1917 and 1919, these ships were to supply European and American troops with much-needed supplies.

The road was long and never smooth for Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman made history as an abolitionist, as the first woman to lead an armed assault during the Civil War and as a suffragist. Now, over 100 years after her death, she is making history again.
    In December 2014, Congress voted to establish the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park. It is the first national park honoring an African American woman.

Ten ways to help our planet and your purse

On the village Earth, we have many neighbors. As Earth Day turns 44 on April 22 — Bay Weekly’s 21st birthday— we propose 10 bright ideas to make our time in Chesapeake Country more Earth-friendly and our future more sustainable.

We have food pantries all over the state. Why not furniture pantries?

Bruce Michalec’s bank needs a new vault. Deposits are bigger than ever in the three months since Anne Arundel County Food & Resources Bank merged with the Maryland Food Bank. Soon, all the food will crowd out the resources.
    Michalec founded a food bank for Anne Arundel County in 1985. Soon, need and opportunity combined to bring other resources like furniture and medical supplies into the bank.

Help scientists track these invasive fish

What’s big, blue and whiskered and doesn’t belong in the Chesapeake?
    If you guessed blue catfish, you’re right.