Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Glasser Images
Setting the stage at The White House Co.’s warehouse near Downtown Fargo, the perfect collaboration was born. This stylized shoot was dreamed up by three groups of creatives, with their hearts set on pushing the boundaries of beautiful. Together, Megan Lewis of Milk Made and Amanda Rydell, Samantha Klinkhammer and Katie Schiltz of The White House Co., worked closely with Glasser Images to document and create vintage inspiration, with an edge.
The White House Co. and Milk Made were already in the midst of planning their stylized shoot when Glasser Images contacted them about staging and styling their own photography project. Since the two were planned for the same day, they decided to combine their creativity and collaborate. Inside The White House Co. warehouse, they had their pick of hundreds of vintage furniture pieces, arches, table settings and everything in between.
With The White House Co.’s setting, two gorgeous couples to model, and Glasser Images to document – Megan Lewis of Milk Made had the perfect opportunity to showcase her passion for high-design charcuterie and cheese creations. Lewis started Milk Made Catering in May of 2017 and works out of Square One Kitchens in Downtown Fargo. Utilizing her extensive education in cheese, she has become well-known for her artfully catered designs; combining exotic fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats and cheeses in an eye-catching and edible display.
“The idea behind this shoot was to take the inspirations behind what we view as a typical ‘North Dakota Wedding’ and put a fresh, modern twist on the rustic feel so many couples in our area look for. We really wanted to use the opportunity to team up with some of our favorite local vendors in the Fargo area to create something wonderful.”
Liz Tomek, Glasser Images
Using the warehouse’s brick walls as the backdrop, The White House Co. set the tone with rich velvet textures, a tablescape mixing modern and minimal, a pampas grass-adorned arch and rustic fireplace setting. Rather than designing a more traditional head table, Rydell, Klinkhammer and Schiltz created a vintage bar setup with a stylized sweetheart table.
“We knew we wanted the shoot to be fall-inspired, so we took a play on those colors and added some unexpected brighter tones; playing with them in a unique way,” said Schiltz. “We can work with brides to bring in furniture and help stage the venue; we deliver, setup and tear down. We don’t do full-on wedding planning, but we can help collaborate their decor with ours and provide things like soft seating, cake plates, vintage dishware, tables and arches. We collaborate a lot with Love Always Floral and have people we can contact for custom things like signage and calligraphy.”
Aside from their retail store at 14 Roberts Street in Downtown Fargo, their Main Avenue warehouse holds the inventory that The White House Co. rents out for staging weddings and events. They have recently added on more storage space, allowing them to extend their offerings and create their own vintage venue to host more intimate events or classes.
To document their stylized shoot, Glasser Images brought in two real-life couples to model attire, jewelry, hair and makeup. “Our models, Steff and Travis, and Beth and Noah could not have been more perfect for the vibe and aesthetic,” said Liz Tomek of Glasser Images. “While I coordinated the team, our creative team, Jenna, Connor and Nick, each brought their personalities and energy to the shoot. Their talent and creativity are what made the imagery unique and spectacular.”
Collaborating with local talent, the team relied on Love Always Floral for the couples’ bridal bouquets, cake topper, pampas grasses for the ceremony arch and custom dog collars. A modern menu card and invite were designed by Kailey Louise Designs, while Lettering by Samantha created the custom calligraphy detailing. Serenading the models was a local musician, Wyatt Dronan.
At the center of their scene, a three-tiered cheese wheel cake nearly stole the show. This rustic, fall-inspired masterpiece was created by Milk Made. For an unlikely, but perfect pairing for the (cheese) cake, Lewis incorporated a mushroom cake topper she handpicked at Prairie Roots Co-op, hailing from Doubting Thomas Farms. Combined with stunning flowers from Love Always Floral, this was a centerpiece worth savoring.
Lewis special orders her cheese wheels primarily from local and American-made cheese and charcuterie makers, allowing roughly 30% to be imported. She uses the cheese wheel’s wooden box lids as a sustainable base for her designs. Clients can choose from a menu of savory or sweet options including antipasto, fruit and crudites or cheese and charcuterie. In her cheese creations, Lewis often includes Fargo-made finds like honey butter from Butter Creations by Ann and Three Bears Honey.
Lewis’ cake is designed with three tiers of cheese wheels; the top tier is a French Regal de Bourgogne Moutarde or soft cow’s milk cheese, wrapped in whole-grain mustard seeds. The middle tier is Coppinger, a washed rind cheese, and the bottom is an aged Vella Dry Jack with a cocoa rub.
“When I’m doing a cheese wheel cake or platter, I really love the process. I have a storyboard of the colors that the client wants, so I’ll spend well over an hour in the store, just thinking about what types of unique cheeses and vegetables I want to use,” said Lewis. “I usually have around 20 different fruits and vegetables and I consider the surroundings and colors before I piece it together. Everything that I do is ‘cheesemongers choice’, and I do that purposefully, so it really allows me to pair and curate things. It helps to broaden people’s horizons.”
“With every image, you can feel the dedication and the energy each person put into their creations. You can tell that every aspect of this shoot was done with a great amount of passion,” said Tomek. “The end result truly was an incredibly beautiful, collaborative experience.”
Seasonal Serving & Staging Tips
[with The White House Co. & Milk Made]
1. Embrace seasonal produce and offerings. When building your own cheese tray, Lewis suggests choosing one or two more approachable cheese options, then keep your eye out for the seasonal cheeses that come out right before Thanksgiving and Christmas.
2. Get creative with your tablescape. As Schiltz noted, swapping out your glassware, flatware and dishes is as simple as a trip to the thrift store. Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns, textures and metals for a fun, vintage appeal.
3. Don’t forget to focus on floral. According to Klinkhammer, a floral centerpiece can allow you to play with the color palette and give your tablescape a simple pop of color or instant elegance.
4. If floral is your foe…Lewis suggests trying an edible design by laying down a clear saran wrap or butcher paper runner and creating a grazing centerpiece of cheeses, nuts, fruits or meats. If you use butcher paper, grab a permanent marker and draw arrows labeling each cheese. If it seems like more than you can tackle, let Milk Made create a curated, edible centerpiece for your holiday gathering. If you love to create your own cheese boards, check out Luna in Fargo for their cut-to-order cheese counter where you can try before you buy. You can also check out the selection at Pinch & Pour and Prairie Food Co-op in Downtown Fargo.
5. Go green. Try foraging for seasonal greenery, wheat or grasses in your own backyard. If you’re interested in boxwood or spreading out seeded eucalyptus or ruscus, contact your florist about two to three days in advance, just in case it needs to be ordered in. Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you have; smaller houseplants, moss and succulents can also do the trick.
6. Get the glow. Once you’ve created your tablescape with dishware and floral or greens, give it a glow with dramatic candelabras or simplistic tea candles.
7. Layer it on. Make sure your tablescape has dimension by layering floral, wood, vintage books or tiered candles in the center. Also, try using more than one layer of placemats in contrasting sizes underneath your dishware or layer your napkin atop your place setting with a mini pop of greenery.
8. When in doubt, add pink. According to Rydell, a pop of pink with unexpected hues like oranges and yellows can make for a striking combo that suits any occasion. If you don’t like the idea of pastels, Klinkhammer suggests opting for richer, jewel-toned palettes.
Setting & styling – The White House Co. Warehouse
Staged vintage decor – The White House Co.
Cheese wheel cake – Megan Lewis, Milk Made
Mushroom cake topper – Doubting Thomas Farms/Prairie Roots Co-op, styled by Milk Made
Floral – Love Always Floral
Calligraphy – Lettering by Samantha
Hair – ADAE Salon
Makeup – Chloe Danielle
Jewelry – Schumacher Diamond
Attire – a&bé Bridal
Custom menu card & invite design – Kailey Louise Designs
Photography – Glasser Images
Musician – Wyatt Dronan
Videographer – Nick Biewer
Couple #1: Beth Vetter, Noah Kilsdonk
Couple #2: Steff Johnston, Travis Mack
Meet Glasser Images
Founded in Bismarck N.D., their business follows creatives and clients all around the country. They currently have a team of photographers and videographers in Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, Rapid City, S.D., Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., as well as Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, Colo.
For more information, contact:
The White House Co. & Vintage Rentals
14 Roberts Street North, Fargo
Milk Made Catering