Romantic and luxurious; rustic yet refined, the new Ryland Inn is an inspiring setting to mark your new life together. Your total experience at the Ryland will start upon your entrance, past the open pastures and hydroponic farm, a path leads you to the main house, where the restaurant will live. Overnight stone cottages situated on a private courtyard complete with their own patios allow you to completely relax in a warm, homey atmosphere. Your indoor or outdoor ceremony will take place in the stunning refurbished barn area, adjacent to a magnificent patio. Your reception and cocktail hour will provide the perfect mix of country charm and modern sophistication.
In addition, The Ryland will host a myriad of unique amenities that no other venue has. You and your bridal party will be pampered in the new spa rooms, complete with professional hairdressing and makeup stations, a media room that serves as a living room and dining room, and fully-equipped dressing rooms. For your groom, the Ryland will offer an incomparable experience. The renovation includes a fully equipped bar, a billiards and game room, a media room that serves as a living room and dining room and dressing rooms. Gentlemanly touches include shoe-shine and barber stations. For your guests, a luxurious hotel will reside on the grounds, so everyone can thoroughly enjoy themselves the evening of your big day and reconvene to chat about the fabulous time they had over a farm fresh breakfast the next morning.
Executive Chef -- Anthony Bucco
The roots of Chef Bucco’s cooking philosophy and passion come from the central role that food played in his family growing up. He is indebted to his grandmother Adrianna Bucco, who passed that heritage on to him. Chef’s passionate menu captures the season, while relying on quality ingredients and advanced technique. Chef Bucco honed his skills working in a variety of restaurants, always with an eye for local ingredients, farmers, sustainable agriculture and bold, natural and honest flavors. With over 12 years’ experience in some of the best kitchens on both sides of the Hudson, Chef Bucco’s resume includes leading the kitchens of Uproot in Warren, NJ, Provence in NYC, Restaurant Latour in Hamburg, NJ, and Stage Left in New Brunswick, NJ, in addition to opening Catherine Lombardi, while Chef at Stage Left. One reviewer called his food “streamlined and focused, achieved through a razor-sharp, almost contradictory balance of minimal cooking and maximum consideration of elements paired in each dish, [it's about] control of fresh ingredients and flavors, [cuisine] at the top of its game.” Chef Bucco is a graduate of The New York Restaurant School and is excited to start a new journey at The Ryland Inn.
Craig Polignano -- Chef d’Cuisine
Inspired by his family’s own kitchen and garden growing up, it seemed natural that Craig Polignano would, from the age of 13, choose to work in an array of local NJ restaurants before making the decision to attend the Culinary Institute of America in pursuit of his career in food service. After completion of his studies, Craig’s relentless enthusiasm landed him a spot in the kitchen of The Ryland Inn of Whitehouse, NJ. There his passion and dedication prompted him to enhance the existing 3-acre organic garden by building a 15-bed specialty herb garden with dozens of varietals. Craig went on to expand his knowledge base and worked for such titans as Sous Chef at Copeland in the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown, NJ, and shortly after was promoted to Chef de Cuisine at The Bernards Inn. Following his experience at the Bernards Inn, Craig was offered an opportunity to work for the Michael Mina group at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California as the Executive Chef of the Stonehill Tavern. After experiencing California, Craig is excited to return home to New Jersey and the Ryland Inn, the beginning of his fine dining career. His energy and diligence will enable him to join two complimentary halves of fine restaurant service: the marriage of art’s passion and sensory explosiveness with an earnest commitment to service.
Ed Torres - Restaurant Manager
Got his start in the restaurant world while studying History and Political Science at Rutgers University. He needed a flexible part-time job while in college, and bussing seemed to fit the bill at the time. He started at Clydz Creative Food and Drink as a busser and quickly moved up the ranks to become a bartender there. Then he went on to be a captain and Maitre d’ at Stage Left Restaurant, where he soon after opened Catherine Lombardi as their Maître d’. His experience in fine dining also includes The Pluckermin Inn. For the past four years he has worked for Kona Grill (based out of Scottsdale, Arizona) opening restaurants, training and setting up systems throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Ed’s experience, penchant for impeccable service and his love of food and fine dining make him an outstanding choice for role as Restaurant Manager. His favorite part about his work is that he loves expanding his knowledge base constantly, he is a strong advocate of training and development of his staff and it gives his a strong sense of accomplishment to see those he has trained go on to be successful in the industry. On a more personal note, Ed is elated to be back to his roots, a native NJ boy he grew up just five miles from The Ryland Inn.
Danielle Gomez - Event Stylist -- memorymaker
With over 20 years of experience in events and sales management, and armed with degrees from Johnson & Wales University, Danielle is a wonderful addition to The Ryland Inn team. Her experience includes working in high end, five star boutique hotels, such as the Cincinnatian, as well as the Marriot and Merry Makers Catering. In each position she has held she has organized and executed high end events for guests from twenty attendees to four hundred attendees. Her attention to detail, concern for her clients and sheer intelligence are her greatest attributes and are sure to make any occasion you work on with her, a memorable one.
Shari Swansboro - Office Manager
Twenty five years of banking and financial services experience helped hone Shari’s organizational skills but left her soul unsatisfied. Some say it was a mid-life crisis but Shari chose to leave her cushy corporate finance job to pursue her dream of working in the restaurant business. She went back to college to earn a certificate in restaurant management then off to an internship at the happiest place on earth. It was there that the seeds of her yet unpublished (and yet unwritten) memoir “How I went from Six Figures to $6 an Hour in Search of Happiness” took root. Upon returning to New Jersey Shari was fortunate enough to join the team at Stage Left (and later also Catherine Lombardi) where she wore many hats including Office Manager and Events Coordinator. Shari is thrilled to bring her corporate experience and passion for fine dining to The Ryland Inn.
Landmark Hospitality is known for its memorymakers, highly skilled and friendly professionals who will create an unforgettable custom event. For your event at the Ryland Inn, our team will help you celebrate in style and be available to help you plan every step.
A different approach: Trade Bridal Bootcamp for Mindful Maintenance
by Dominique DiCristo
Mental health is just as important as physical health during this time (and in life). So if your first thought was a crash course, regimented workout (slim down, tone up, see results), perhaps you might consider recasting your expectations and goals. Physical fitness is only one component of well-being. Physical health is not independent of mental health but rather the two work in tandem to create positive well-being.
A good place to start is Martha Stewart’s Get Wedding-Ready Guide: Fashion & Beauty. There you will find helpful information on beauty, nutrition, fitness, and stress management; tips on how to keep up with a fitness routine, (if you’re someone who likes routine), and simple guidelines for eating and drinking more healthily.
If you’re someone who exercises regularly but still wants to shake things up, consider what other elements of cross-training you can integrate into your routine. If you’re someone who does not exercise regularly but wants to start, then this is a great opportunity. Check in with yourself. What is your goal? Is it an acute episode of ‘good health’ that ends on your wedding day? Or is it sustained health, lasting results, and a general feeling of well-being? Don’t be extreme. Your efforts would be better spent working on small adjustments that, if implemented over the course of the engagement (and beyond!), will yield lasting results.
Fitness routines often steal the spotlight in times such as these, so it is important to remember that equal time should be invested in improving both physical AND mental health. Working towards balanced health will make your efforts more effective and efficient. It is important to achieve the look you want for yourself for your special day but (a) don’t be unrealistic with your goals; (b) remember, the goal is not to be a different person; (c) there’s enough stress as it is… so there is no need to put added pressure on yourself!
An effective goal is put yourself in a position in which you are perfectly poised to handle stress. This means avoiding hunger, and boosting energy and brain function. It’s about feeling good and feeling healthy and, remember, there are no hard and fast rules on what that feeling should look like. Be mindful of your stress levels and take care of yourself emotionally as well as physically.
One Day (not the one by David Nicholls)
by Dominique DiCristo
The average length of an engagement is 1-2 years. According to, “Real Simple: Wedding Planning and Budget Basics,” the venue is typically booked 16-9 months in advance and the entertainment, photographer, and caterer, 8 months in advance. Then there is the dress, 8-7 months in advance, the florist and bridesmaids dresses, 7-6 months, transportation, make-up artists, cake, invitations, rehearsal dinner, favors, readings, etc.
In short, your wedding is a momentous occasion that requires months of planning. That being said, the average wedding is 5 to 7 hours, then it is a memory. You will have many decisions to make in those months of planning, so if the decision whether or not to hire a videographer is one that you are struggling with, perhaps it is worthwhile to take a step back from the details of the wedding day and consider the memory that will remain.
There are moments of the day that you will not be a part of, for example, watching your guests arrive and the cocktail hour, because you will be either in transit or posing for formal pictures. It is important to somehow capture the fleeting moments, document those details, and watch how all those months of planning have paid off as your loved-ones enjoy and admire the preparation you have put into the day.
While nearly all weddings have professional photographers, approximately only 50% have videographers as well. Peter Ferriero of PF Films says, “pictures are great but with video, those moments come back to life. The bride can later watch what it was like for the groom to get ready and vice versa.” At PF Films (offices in New Jersey and Manhattan) wedding videography is cinematography because it is about synthesizing all the details of a single day and telling a cohesive story.
When choosing a videographer it is important to consider how you want your story to be told. Do you want the day to simply be documented à la traditional videography? Or do you want a more stylized type of storytelling in the fashion of current cinematography? The good news is that with the advancement of technology, having a videographer is not as big of a production as it once was. Cameras are smaller and it is easier to light a room, which means that filming is less disruptive and can be kept, if you want, “low-profile.”
Choosing a specific videographer will be like any other decision you will make regarding your wedding whether it’s selecting a photographer, DJ, florist, etc. Consider references, a portfolio of their past work, and, above all, personality. Meet with the videographer. Is this someone that understands and shares the vision you have for your day? Is he or she someone capable of capturing the memory you are crafting? There are package options to accommodate different budgets; it comes down to how you choose to invest in the re-telling of your special day.
The Perfect Marriage: Bride and Photographer
by Dominique DiCristo
Right now the market for wedding photography is huge and diverse but like any other market it is consumer driven. Jeffrey Vock, a wedding photographer based in Jersey City, Hoboken, and the Hudson County area, compares it to contemporary women’s fashion, “It is a mix of everything but in the end, there is something out there for everybody.”
You will hear individual photographers describe their style as illustrative, traditional, artistic, contemporary, photojournalistic, etc. and you will face a slew of package options, some basic and others extravagant but ultimately it comes down to, what do you want? How do you want your wedding day to be remembered?
Wedding photographer, Michael Dempsey, outlines several things to consider when meeting with a photographer: experience, references, samples of their work, and, if possible, samples of their previous work at your venue. If you are hiring by way of a larger studio that employs several photographers, be sure that you are meeting with the photographer who will actually be shooting your wedding and make certain your contract clearly states that that photographer is the one who will be present on your wedding day. (Dempsey has locations in Jersey City and Middletown, NJ).
When choosing a photographer, consider the complete album of a single wedding. Bear in mind the more formal portrait shots as well as the unique candid moments. How versatile do you want your album to be? Can a single photographer deliver the variety of shots you desire? Some can. Others have second or assistant photographers to help with that.
PERSONALITY. So you’ve seen the product and you are pleased but is the photographer someone you can work well with on your special day? Do you feel comfortable with the photographer? Do you trust his or her judgement? How will he or she interact with your family and friends? A positive working relationship will make for a more seamless and enjoyable wedding day for you and your guests.
Test the waters. See if you can arrange the engagement shoot as a way to see how you interact with each other and the kind of shots the photographer is capable of. Often times the engagement shoot is thrown into the package as a “freebie” (but rest assured, you are probably paying for it). Ask if the photographer is willing to hold the engagement shoot separate from the wedding package as a sort of non-binding way to feel things out.
There are competent photographers at each level of the price scale so first think about what is most important to you. Is it the particular product/style? Is it the personality of the photographer? Is it a bit of both? Ask around and trust your instincts!
DJ versus Live Band
So you’ve picked the venue. Next decision, the music. Live band? DJ? Both? How do you decide?
“First, decide your budget,” says Scott Horniak of Craig Scott Entertainment, a full-service entertainment agency with offices in New Jersey, Manhattan, and Westchester. A wedding appropriate DJ costs $2,000-$5,000 and a live band costs $5,000-$10,000. If you’re not fixed to shopping on one end or the other of this price range, then you might consider mixing and matching various elements to create a unique listening backdrop for your wedding celebration.
Next, advises Horniak, it is important to consider the energy level you wish to achieve and the environment you are trying to create, as well as the age range of your guests and what will be most unanimously entertaining.
In choosing a DJ, your musical options are basically limitless. That being said, it is extremely important to choose a “wedding appropriate DJ” or rather a DJ appropriate for your wedding.
Doing the necessary research is key, says Eric Bischoff, President of Sound Explosion, a disc jockey and production company headquartered in Staten Island. You should look for companies that have commercial style office space and location and consider their references and affiliates. This will help to distinguish high-quality DJ companies from hobbyist DJs. Secondly, meet with someone at the agency. Ask for pictures of their setup and discuss your preferred style of entertainment. How interactive do you want the DJ/MC to be with guests? What is your etiquette expectation?
Effective communication is essential to make sure that you and the DJ are on the same page about what is expected and what is delivered. It is important to trust your instinct when meeting and interviewing at the agency, says Bischoff. Remember that in choosing a DJ you have a great deal of flexibility and variability which allows for a highly customized experience. So be specific! And keep in mind all the fast, slow, active, and inactive moments of the evening.
A live band is inherently entertaining. The energy and elegance that comes from live vocalists and musicians is unmatched. Unfortunately, quality does come at a price and that price can be up to double what it costs for the the most expensive DJ.
Today, there are many “best of both worlds” solutions, such as band/DJ combos or an after-cake “after party.” Live aspects, such as vocalists and/or keyboards, percussion, etc. are being incorporated into DJ productions. For every issue of personal preference, budget, and mass appeal there is a compromise that can be reached. When it comes down to it, you are free to pull together whatever elements you see fit to create that ideal atmosphere you envision for your wedding celebration.
Make your BIG day stand out!
o Make a video to welcome your guests. You can also include these in your hotel bags for you’re out of town guests and include sights to see in the area, places to eat, etc.
o Create an indoor garden by lining your ceremony and/or venue space with topiaries, potted palm trees or vases filled with flowering branches so you don’t need to stress over the ever changing weather when having an outdoor event.
o Use a mix of couches and chairs for your ceremony or use a myriad of different vintage chairs for a more eclectic look.
o Make your day a reflection of who you are as a couple, add your favorite desserts to the menu or give them out as favors, name your tables after places you have traveled to together, or have the local jazz band you both love come play at your cocktail hour.
o Make your guests feel like they have traveled to another country. Create at Tuscan Garden feel, using farmhouse tables and glass vases filled with herbs and sunflowers or create a nautical feel using seersucker striped tablecloths and elegant wooden chairs.
o Instead of a Photo booth for your guestbook, do a video booth! Guests can sing a song dedicating it to you or say just a few sweet words!
o Hanging candles in glass orbs (LED candles of course), lanterns, multicolored tulle, and hanging flowers, all add interest to your event.
o Down time for your guests in between your ceremony and reception? Hire a tour bus to take them around your town or city, or if you’re having a countryside wedding, set up lawn games and refreshments to entertain your guests.
o Make your centerpieces your own. Are you or your future spouse into art? Put a box of leggos, wooden blocks or Lincoln logs to have your guest create their own centerpiece “sculpture”.
o Create your own signature cocktail that represents you both as the guests of honor. Come up with a fun name for it. Or create two cocktails, one to represent each of you.
o Everyone always looks at the Bride on the wedding day, but what about the Groom! Add some interest to his tux by incorporating funky colored socks, a patterned bow tie, converse sneakers or a fun hat. Make it go with your theme, downtown chic, vintage or sophisticated with flair.
o Display vintage photographs of your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles on their wedding day at your reception.
o Place a box with vintage postcards asking everyone to write some “marital advice”.
o Hire a dance troupe, flash mob or salsa dancers to get the party started and provide interesting and unexpected entertainment for your guests.
o Fireworks! If your venue allows, this is a great way to end your most memorable night!
Coming up with a sophisticated theme
o 25% of couples have themed weddings, courtesy of The Knot.
o Themes sometimes get a bad rap, but if you choose wisely, your theme will be a real hit and make your wedding stand out from the rest.
One of our Stone House brides, who works in publishing, had her bouquets and centerpieces made out of origami. The paper used was from the famous novel “Jane Eyre”, a story about a young woman who finally finds her love.