This Classic Black & White Wedding is Also Classic Philadelphia

When in doubt on wedding colors, you can never go wrong with classic black and white. Add in a touch of gold for a festive feel, but otherwise this timeless palette is exactly that — timeless. No matter the decade, Philadelphia couple Stephanie Searles and Louis Vogel, Jr. will be able to look back on these gorgeous photos captured by Rachel Pearlman Photography and never feel they look dated.

Despite being in the same undergraduate class at the University of Pennsylvania, Lou and Steph didn’t actually meet until their first year of law school at Villanova. First impressions were positive all around — “He was tall and an Ivy League graduate and I was impressed!” says Steph; “She looked like royalty,” remembers Lou — but, even then, it took until a shared international law class in their third year to get them on a date. (With the help of a friend, Lou discreetly “borrowed” Steph’s keys and left roses and a hand-written note asking her out in her car.)

Three and a half years later, Steph was out to dinner with her friend Jenna one mid-December night. During the meal, a server handed Steph a note from Lou requesting that she meet him at 17th and Locust at 9 p.m. There, Lou was waiting with a dozen roses and a request that Steph accompany him on a walk around Rittenhouse Square, which was decorated for Christmas. He popped the question, Jenna hung back and took pictures, and when Steph said “yes,” Lou thrust his fist in the air. Steph assumed it was for a photo opp, but at that very moment a group of Mummers lead a parade of their friends and family into the park to celebrate.

The couple married on April 29th, 2017 in a classic black tie affair. After exchanging vows at the Church of the Gesu at St. Joseph’s Preparatory Academy, the celebration continued at the College of Physicians. The groom performed a surprise dance with his father to “Tequila” by The Champs, and sang “It Had to Be You” to his new wife. The Mummers made a second appearance in the form of the Quaker City String band, and, at the end of the night, guests were encouraged to indulge in sugary treats from a massive candy bar. The pair honeymooned in Vienna, Budapest, and Barcelona, then returned home to their Washington Square West residence in Philly, where she is a tax attorney and he is a litigation attorney.

Venue: The College of Physicians of Philadelphia | Photographer: Rachel Pearlman Photography | Event Coordinator: Gina Sole of The Wedding Planner | Florals: Garnish of Catering by Design | Catering & Cake: Catering by Design | Bride’s Attire: Pronovias gown from Elizabeth Johns, Gucci shoes | Hair: Amanda D’Andrea | Makeup: Beke Beau | Groom’s Tux: Trussini from Boyd’s | Transportation: Cescaphe Trolley | Videographer: Video by Louis Anthony | Music: Vincent James Band and Quaker City String Band | Invitations & Programs: Little Pearl Designs | Candy Bar: Nuts to You | Favors: Custom matchbooks from Gracious Bridal | Calligraphy & Signage: Ellsworth Imagined | Photo Booth: Snap That Photo Booths

These Are The 10 Most Affordable Homes in Washington Square West

1324 Locust front elevation

This is the front elevation of all 10 of the most affordable homes in Wash West. | TREND image via BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

Talk about efficiency apartments!

These 10 condominium units NeighborhoodX dug up when it went looking for cheap homes in Washington Square West easily qualify as the 10 cheapest homes they’ve run across since this survey of inexpensive housing in hot neighborhoods began. They’re also the 10 smallest homes we’ve seen since starting this series.

The most expensive unit comes in at a mere $126,900, which is less than what the least expensive residence costs in the other Center City and adjacent neighborhoods we’ve surveyed to date. In fact, it’s less than the least expensive residence in every neighborhood surveyed to date except Point Breeze, where it would be the second-least-expensive property.

But if you’re looking for a place to call your own, you’d probably want to steer clear of all 10 of these units, unless you plan to stick around a while after graduating from the University of the Arts or Jefferson. That’s because all of them are in one building, a hotel-turned-condo in the 1300 block of Locust Street.

This building is now known as the Arts Condominium. When it opened in 1922, it was known as the Sylvania Hotel — the second-largest hotel in the city at the time. By the 1980s, the hotel had become an apartment house, and for a while it was known as the Arts House before it became a condominium in the early 2000s.

What has remained constant throughout all these decades is the rooms. The condominiums in question were all once hotel rooms, and they remain small — 317 to 388 square feet. Their kitchens barely even qualify as “kitchenettes”: they consist of a few cabinets, a small sink, a two-burner cooktop and a mini-fridge. Click through to the listings, though, and you’ll find that some of the units have been updated or renovated by their owners.

“When we analyze the asking prices using price per square foot, it ranges from $235 to $374 within the same building,” said Constantine Valhouli, director of research for NeighborhoodX. That’s still on the cheap side.

Sylvania Hotel postcard, 1920as

Postcard depicting the Sylvania in the 1920s

All of these condos are being promoted as investment properties, which makes sense, given their Spartan in-unit amenities. They do come with access to a fitness center, community room with Wi-Fi, coin laundry room and bike storage, however, and the former hotel ballroom and theater have been restored as an elegant function facility.

If you have a child who’s planning on attending UArts or Jefferson, you might want to consider buying one of these units as an alternative to dorm living. Or if you’re looking for an investment property that you could rent out to some young adult starting out life on their own in Philly, these all make excellent buys. Their condo fees range between $423 and $426 a month.

If you’re looking for a place to hang your own hat in Wash West, however, you probably want to look elsewhere.

Philly Just Got a Hate Crimes Hotline

hotline, phone, hate crime, hate crimes hotline

Image via Gajus/

It’s been about a year since former District Attorney Seth Williams (now in prison) created a Hate Crimes Task Force to “vigorously prosecute” hate crimes in the city.

On Thursday, the task force (now helmed by District Attorney Kelley Hodge) joined the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to launch a hate crimes hotline: 215-686-8931.

“Hate has no place in the City of Philadelphia and if someone sees it happening, or is the victim of a hate crime, we now have a hotline for them to safely file their report,” Hodge said in a statement.

The task force’s creation followed a notable uptick in hate crimes after Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and inauguration this year. Rue Landau, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, told WHYY that the organization has received about 100 reports of hate and bias incidents in the past year. Reported incidents include alleged crimes against Jewish people, Muslims, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.

Per Hodge’s announcement on Thursday, the 10-member task force includes assistant district attorneys from each of the city’s geographic bureaus, as well as the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, the Municipal Court Unit and the Juvenile Court Unit. The group expected to meet on a quarterly basis and inform the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission about its work. The hotline, meanwhile, will be staffed by a victim and witness services coordinator.

Because Pennsylvania does not have a statute defining a hate crime, the office typically charges individuals with ethnic intimidation, which is defined as a defense committed “…with malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin of another individual or group of individuals.” Hodge told WHYY that the DA’s office has charged nine defendants with ethnic intimidation so far this year.

Members of the LGBTQ community are not covered under such legislation.

Review: Eugene Onegin, Seen Through a Snowglobe

Eugene Onegin by Curtis Opera Theatre at the Prince. (Photo by Cory Weaver)

It’s always a treat to see Tchaikovsky’s magnificent opera setting of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, and here we have the additional plus of an intimate venue. The Prince Music Theater has fewer than 500 seats—smaller even than the Kimmel Center’s Perelman, where Curtis has done some magical work in recent years. It puts the audience up-close-and-personal with the performers. Since they’re the driving factor in a production from one of the world’s great music conservatories, let’s start there.

All of the group at opening (individual singers change during the four-performance run) showed promise. Pride of place goes to the secondary couple, Lensky (Evan LeRoy Johnson) and Olga (Anastasiia Sidorova). Johnson especially was notable, his honeyed tenor caressing the long lines of Lensky’s gorgeous, celebrated aria. Sidorova has a wonderfully plangent, deep mezzo and very clear diction. Among the supporting cast, I particularly enjoyed baritone Patrick Wilhelm (as Zartesky)—his distinctive timbre would be a good fit for the title role at some point. Conductor Joseph Mechavich and the orchestra did well in revealing the glorious colors of Tchaikovsky’s orchestration, though the reading needed more urgency and momentum. (more…)

Have an Early (Or Late) Venezuelan Thanksgiving at Puyero

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Venezuela. But Gil and Simon Arends and Manuela Villasmil from Puyero Venezuelan Flavor aren’t letting that stop them from putting together another special menu of American-Venezuelan mash-ups, this time inspired by Thanksgiving leftovers.


The Secrets to Staying Fit While Traveling, According to Philly Fitness Pros

It’s no secret: The holiday season is full of land mines just waiting to blow up your fitness plans. See: holiday parties that end with you belting out Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” at 4 a.m. and the brutal holiday-party hangovers that follow. Then there’s all the traveling the holiday season brings, which can totally screw with even the most dedicated person’s workout schedule.

We’ve already given you a cheat sheet for staying fit during holiday-party season, so let’s move on to the second speed bump: We asked some of our favorite Philly fitness trainers to share their top tips for staying on top of your workout game while traveling. See what they had to say (and then copy ‘em) below.

1. Do your homework.
“Before you go, research the local gyms and boutique fitness studios and find out what equipment they have. If they’ve got what you need, ask them what their drop-in fee is, or if they have a week-long pass,” Katie Gould, the trainer behind Bok’s KG Strong gym, says. “Once you’ve landed on a gym, decide which days you’re going to work out and for how long.”

2. Pack accordingly.
Take note: Resistance bands are your BFFs when it comes to working out while traveling. As trainer Fabiana Ferrarini says, “I love resistance bands — I always load a few in my luggage. They are small and take very little space. I sometimes tuck them inside my extra pair of shoes. I can work out outside with them or indoors and can totally do a full-body workout if need to.” (Need band guidance? We’ve got plenty of exercises to try with resistance bands here.) If you’re driving to your destination, Gould is a fan of throwing a kettlebell in your car. As she says, “It may be heavy, but it’s a relatively small, functional piece of equipment you can do so much with. In 20 minutes, you can get your strength, mobility and cardio with one simple tool.”

3. Take advantage of first-class-free deals.
As Jayel Lewis of JL Fitness says, “A lot of studios offer their first class for free. Give a quick Google search to wherever it is that you’re traveling to and try something new and FUN!” Gould is also a fan of trying new studios when she’s in new places, saying, “When I go to visit friends, I love trying out their yoga studios, dance classes, CrossFit gyms, etc. It’s actually really fun to be the new kid in class. You get adjusted in new ways, teachers offer unique and helpful tips, and you could meet some really cool people.”

4. Rethink your idea of what counts as a workout.
If your family is anything like mine, your vacation itineraries leave little room for extracurricular activities (see: hitting the gym). But depending on what you’re doing, some of the activities you’re filling your days with might count toward your fitness goals. As Lewis points out, “Sometimes we get so caught up in our usual fitness routine that we forget to think outside of the box. It’s a great time of the year to go hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and snow tubing.” Same goes for spending some time in the hotel pool. Even just going for a lengthy sightseeing walk around a new city can double as your workout, if you’re keeping an open mind.

5. Remember: You can always bounce back to the basics.
As Rachel Rubin of Fitness with Rachel says, “An easy way of working out the body and getting it into motion is simply circling out each part. Start with your ankles, move to your hips, shoulders, neck. Make your way from your feet to your head, giving each part attention. These simple circles help to increase mobility, are super functional, and awaken your energy within.” Gould follows up with five basic exercises you can do just about anywhere: plank shoulder taps, prisoner squats, single-leg deadlifts, push-ups and supermans. “For a more aerobic workout,” she says, “perform these exercises in a circuit for three to five sets of 10 to 15 reps.” Poof: There go all your excuses for falling off the fitness wagon.

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I Love My Job: Meet Center City’s Biggest Cheerleader

Michelle Shannon. Courtesy photo.

We’re pretty certain that no one knows more about Center City than Michelle Shannon, the woman who’s been pushing downtown Philadelphia’s development for nearly 30 years. Shannon’s love affair with Center City started well before she began working for Center City District where she’s been for 20 years now. It began back when she was a student at Temple University. Her first job in the city was at the Gallery’s The Limited store, right when the fortress mall first opened. And after college, she launched her career as a special events coordinator with the Rouse Company, the Gallery’s previous owner. “I had never seen a shopping center that big,” Shannon told me, recounting her first visit to the mall. To see the structure under major construction so many years later is “beyond exciting,” Shannon said. And if you stay in a place long enough, you get to see the fruits of your labor and how things endure, said Shannon. In this interview, the Center City maven highlights the best of what Philly’s downtown has to offer and tells us what she never leaves the house without.

I grew up in… Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

I firmly believe in … fashion as a form of self-expression, and also retail therapy.

If I knew the world would end in a week I’d … grab my husband and two cats (Frankie and Gianni) and jet off to a beach somewhere and eat a lot. I’d do all the things I always stay away from.

A project I’m knee-deep in at work is… our new Shop Center City campaign. It focuses on Center City’s regional market share by encouraging customers to discover the “only in Center City” experience. We think our shopping experience is really unique and has much more to offer than a typical shopping center. You can grab a drink and visit all the holiday attractions while shopping. We’re also knee-deep in all of the attractions at Dilworth. We just opened up the Rothman Institute Ice Rink last Friday, and we’re getting ready to open our holiday market on Saturday. On Monday we will open our new Deck the Hall light show at City Hall.

The No. 1 Center City fact I like to tout is… that there are more than two million square feet of retail under development in Center City that will dribble in over the next 18 months. MOM’s Organic Market and Target have already opened on East Chestnut and East Market. I think it is all incredibly exciting. If someone told me 10 years ago we would have two million square feet of new retail being developed, I would have told them they were crazy.

A fact about Center City I wish were untrue is… that we are incredibly modest about all that our city has to offer. We have so much going for us and I don’t think we crow about it nearly as much as we should or as other cities do.

Philly’s Center City shopping scene still needs… some big box stores, like the TJ Maxx’s of the world. I think you will see them come to Market East because if you look at the type of space that’s available, it’s bigger space than over on the west side of town. On Market East, you have the kind of footprint that you could accommodate some of these big box stores that might not be here already.

I don’t leave the house without… lipstick.

A skill I’m honing is… knowing when to shut up. I talk too much.

Neighborhood revitalization means… a commitment to making an area clean, safe and attractive for the residents and developers.

Those brawls at Center City Sips last summer were… unfortunate. We had a highly successful promotional event that hundreds of thousands of guests enjoyed for more than 11 years.

The last song I listened to… was something off the new Taylor Swift “Reputation” CD I bought last weekend. I’m probably the only person who still buys CDs.

My favorite things about Philly during the holiday season… are all of the holiday attractions. On Black Friday, after I do Santa Express at Dilworth Park, my husband and I like to go see the light show and the Comcast holiday spectacular. Just doing all the old-fashioned, cool things and some of the new things.

The state of Center City in one word is… vibrant.

If Amazon comes to Philly, the city will… continue to thrive, grow and expand to meet the needs and wants of the new residents.

A local restaurant I’m newly addicted to is… Aqimero. It has all my favorite things in one place, like sushi and tacos. They also have a great lunch special.

An oldie but goodie restaurant is… Happy Rooster.

Something Philly still needs to get right about its brand is… again, our modesty. I don’t know whether it’s our Quaker roots of humbleness that make us the way we are, but I think we need to show our pride even more than we do. We need to realize what a gem we have in our city and how fabulous it really is.

John Connors, Angela Val, Paul Levy, Michelle Shannon and Harold Epps. Courtesy photo.

Working with Paul Levy is… a new adventure everyday. It’s been 20 years and no day is the same as any other.

A Philly business I want to know more about is… Girls Auto Clinic. I think it’s such a cool concept. I’d love to meet the founder and bring the business into Center City.

A Philly business leader I admire is … Sharon Pinkenson. She is the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. She’s such a strong leader. I love everything about her.

I’ve always been bad at… math, just anything numbers oriented.

Everyone should binge watch… Law and Order SVU. When I get home on Saturdays after spin class, the Law and Order marathon is usually on. It’s the best! I’m also a fan of Blue Bloods.

When I want to relax… I go to Rescue Spa. I love to go there for a facial or a massage.

If you’re visiting Philly for the first time, be sure to visit… Reading Terminal Market. I think it’s the city’s biggest gem. It’s unique and everything is delicious. It crosses all ages, and ethnicities, and income levels. And because everyone is in one place, it’s a melting pot.

If I weren’t in marketing and the VP of marketing and communications at CCD I’d… have some sort of job in fashion or maybe work in a salon or spa. I always did everyone’s hair and makeup when I was in college.

Some of Center City’s best secrets are… some of its independently owned retailers like Joan Shepp, Kimberly Boutique, Boyd’s, and Nicole Miller. Because these stores all have independent owners, you get a different kind of service. For example, if a new item comes in, they’ll call you to tell you all about it and even have it sent over to your office if you can’t make it to the shop.

The best career advice I’ve ever been given … I think came from my dad. He had a real hard work ethic. He told me to just get out there. It’s important to show up, work hard, and work as hard as you would expect your employees to. It’s important to set that example and treat your employees well.

The best part of my job… is that it enables me to meet some really interesting and fun people that I get to work. And with this job I know I’m having a lasting impact on the city.

School Reform Commission Votes to End Itself

src, school reform commission

The contentious School Reform Commission voted to disband itself on Thursday night.

The long-anticipated decision will have a significant impact on Philly and its schools: The commission (consisting of three members appointed by the governor and two members chosen by the mayor) has served as the governing board of the Philadelphia School District since 2001.

If the SRC succeeds in abolishing itself — the state’s Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera, still has to approve its decision — Philly will regain local control of its schools.

Mayor Jim Kenney pushed for the commission to end itself earlier this month, finally choosing a clear side in the heated debate. While some claim the move would potentially threaten funding from Pennsylvania lawmakers, others, including education activists, point out that the SRC has not done its job of effectively reeling in state funding.

“With a return to local control, the people of Philadelphia will finally be able to hold one person accountable for their school system, the Mayor,” Kenney said.

If Rivera approves the commission’s vote by January 1st (which he is expected to do), Kenney and a 13-member nominating panel would appoint a new nine-member Board of School Directors. Members must be Philadelphia residents, and their terms would be concurrent with the mayor’s.

What does local control mean for Philly? Perhaps most important (for taxpayers, at least), Kenney has promised that the city will cover the $700 million deficit the school district is projected to accrue over the next five years. There’s a decent chance that will mean increased property taxes.

Last month, deputy mayor for policy and legislation Jim Engler told that to cover that deficit, Kenney will choose “the best options that he thinks are reliable sources of revenue” for the cash-strapped district. On Thursday, City Councilman-at-large Allan Domb introduced legislation that he said would help close that gap by allowing the city to collect millions in delinquent real estate taxes.

Pending Rivera’s approval, the SRC will cease to exist by July 2018.

What $500K Will Buy You in Lansdale

997 McNair Dr., Lansdale, Pa. 19446 | TREND image via Elfant Wissahickon Realtors

If saving up for the down payment on a home is proving a daunting task for you, there’s a builder outside Lansdale who has an option waiting for you.

There’s a fair bit of building going on in the townships that surround Lansdale, the bustling Montgomery County community where every other train on the Lansdale/Doylestown Regional Rail line ends. And while houses at our target price point are scarce in the borough itself, there are several currently on the market in the townships around Lansdale that share its zip code.

All three of this week’s featured homes are either brand new or of relatively recent vintage; the oldest home in this week’s selection dates to 1988 but looks like new. All of them have nearly identical base stats; the only difference is in their total square footage. One of them, however, is a builder’s model home, and the builder is making it available on a lease-purchase, or rent-to-own, basis. More on that home in a bit; meanwhile, today’s survey starts with the oldest of the homes currently on sale in the middle of the market:

997 McNair Dr. (above) | 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths, 2,906 square feet, $515,000

The owners of this handsome, spacious home built in 1988 have poured a good chunk of change into updating and improving it since 2005 — $141,000, to be exact, according to figures posted on its listing on Zillow — and it shows. This house is loaded with stylish upgrades, including a new master bathroom, kitchen, and laundry/mud room, and boasts an attractively designed and landscaped patio and outdoor spa in the back. There’s a wet bar in the casual dining area and a gas fireplace in the family room to boot; those two areas combine with the kitchen to form one single open space that makes relaxing and entertaining easy. The kitchen, by the way, is kosher, and there are a second fridge and pantry in the mud room.

This home’s sale price was reduced by $20,000 on Nov. 15.

997 McNair Dr., Lansdale, Pa. 19446 [Schwartz-Nealy Team | Elfant Wissahickon Realtors]

115 Addison Lane, Lansdale, Pa. 19446 | TREND image via BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

115 Addison Lane | 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths, 2,548 square feet, $499,900

This meticulously maintained Colonial in the Penn Forest subdivision sits on a lot that backs up to protected township land, which means you will always have nature for a back-fence neighbor. Built in 1995, it too has been updated and upgraded over the years; newer features and additions include a spacious deck in back, an upgraded kitchen with stainless steel appliances and multicolor tile backsplash, new hardwood floors on the main floor and new carpeting upstairs. Both the master and hall bathrooms have dual vanities, and the family room has a charming raised-hearth fireplace. Its traditional detailing makes it ideal for the modern traditionalist.

This home’s sale price was reduced by $5,000 on Sept. 10 and by $20,000 on Sept. 23.

115 Addison Lane, Lansdale, Pa. 19446 [Rheta Santangelo Team | BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors]

1622 Walnut St., Lansdale, Pa. 19446 | Bright MLS image via RE/MAX 440

1622 Walnut St. | 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths, 2,636 square feet, $499,900

No down payment? No problem: the builder of this home in Fortuna is offering it for sale on a lease-purchase basis for $2500 a month in rent, half of which will be credited towards the down payment and closing costs on this home upon settlement. That will get you a nicely outfitted model home with a covered front porch on the outside and loads of traditional style on the inside: wainscotting in the living/dining room, a main staircase with wood handrails and wrought-iron spindles, traditional cabinetry in the kitchen and a step-down family room with raised-hearth gas fireplace and tray ceiling. The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling to boot. The sliding doors off the breakfast area await the deck they should open onto, but the rest of this home is move-in ready. The settlement date is contingent on approval of the property subdivision, which the builder anticipates will take place in six to 12 months.

1622 Walnut St., Lansdale, Pa. 19446 [Cheryl Goedeke | RE/MAX 440]

Report: Comcast Wants to Acquire 21st Century Fox

Comcast Center in Philadelphia, PA against clouds and a blue sky. andrewhuynh265 | iStock

Comcast has approached 21st Century Fox over a possible acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, and it’s currently unclear whether the company wants to buy all or part of Fox, the publication said, citing sources.

Just ten days ago, news of acquisition talks between Walt Disney and Fox set the internet ablaze. Those talks are no longer active but Fox had proposed selling its film and TV divisions, including networks like National Geographic and FX, and the company’s ownership of international networks like Sky and Star TV. And under that deal, Fox would have certainly slimmed down but kept its broadcast network, Fox Sports and the Fox Business and Fox News brands. The WSJ reports that a deal with Comcast might take the same shape.

Such a move could be the ultimate example of consolidation in the increasingly competitive media and telecommunications landscape. 21st Century Fox has a market cap of $53.68 billion, according to the WSJ.

Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment.