Melane Larned shown at Water’s Edge in Westbrook, CT where the baby shower for her daughter Maryann was held March 10, 2019.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


With greater attention being paid to the value of women in American society and the world as a whole, let us pause to appreciate women we know who balance careers, household management and nurturing their families, yet still find time to share their talents to enhance the lives of those they love.


It has been a whirlwind two years for Melane Larned and Laurie Czarzasty. Yet, a blessed two years for the women whose lives intersected because Melane’s youngest daughter and Laurie’s son fell in love. Add to that the joy of Melane’s oldest daughter expecting her first child, as well as, Laurie’s daughter getting married then expecting her first child, and there have been showers to plan, weddings and a baptism. These ladies have been busy! Melane has applied her management skills to multiple event planning and Laurie discovered a new talent, chocolate making.


“Being a Manager, my brain is trained to plan, organize and control the outcome. I practice this at home, at my job, and any function that comes my way. This is my happy place and those who know me have no worries with the outcome,” said Melane, whose full-time position is as Project Manager at The Groton Naval Sub Base Hospital in Groton, Connecticut.


The whirlwind for Melane and Laurie began after Maryann accepted a marriage proposal from her, now husband, Tom. Three possible venues were scouted out. The young couple selected Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven,  a “destination” wedding site complete with palm trees in the sand. 


“Maryann planned her wedding. Laurie and I would ask her opinion before we purchased anything. We both wanted her to have her ‘Dream Wedding’, ” Melane recalled.


This fabulous cake was part of  Maryann’s nautical themed wedding shower.

Anchors away at Fox Hopyard

Melane and Laurie at Maryann’s wedding shower.

However, before the September wedding came a July wedding shower for Maryann. Melane picked an outdoor venue at Fox Hopyard in East Haddam.


“The planning was thought of randomly, as the weeks went by. I would focus on an idea, purchase everything to complete the look I envisioned. Pack it away in a box and on to the next idea. Websites ETSY and Zazzie became my best friends” noted Melane.


And she said, Laurie was ready and willing to pitch in. The theme for both Maryann’s wedding shower and wedding was nautical so Melane made certain every detail that could be ~ was nautical !


Beautiful Michelle opens gifts at her baby shower for Thomas III, planned by her mother Melane.

Soon enough the happiness surrounding the wedding plans was dovetailed with delight at the news that Maryann’s sister, Michelle (Melane’s oldest daughter), and her Tom, were expecting their first child. Held at Angelico’s Lakehouse Restaurant in East Hampton, Melane set out to give Michelle the perfect baby shower spotlighting her love of reading and books


Michelle’s baby shower focused on her love of reading and books. Melane put together an entire corner dedicated to Dr. Suess.

Books, books, books were everywhere!

Books, books, books were everywhere. Melane created an entire corner dedicated to Dr. Seuss complimented by goodies galore.


“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! ” from ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go!’


“I had so much fun with this theme,” Melane added.


She also enlisted help from Michelle’s friends and family to create table center pieces using their favorite children’s books: Erica ~ Good Night Moon; Haley ~ The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Kathleen and Maureen ~ Madeline; Liz and Brooke ~ Beatrix Potter; Toni ~ Alice in Wonderland; and Coleen ~ Winnie the Pooh.

A special moment ~ having worked together to help their children realize a dream wedding, Melane and Laurie held hands during the ceremony with their husbands by their sides, Mike and Karl.



Just a month later on September 30, 2017, it was wedding bells time for Maryann and Tom. After all the planning and collaboration, it was amazing! A bonding experience for the families.


The excitement, however, was far from over. Only three days after the wedding,  Michelle gave birth to Thomas III, the first grandchild for Melane and her husband Mike. Sheer joy! A lovely baptism ceremony and baptism reception took place a few months later.






Shown at Maryann’s baby shower, Laurie has discovered a new talent, making chocolates.


Laurie is President/CEO of LmCzar, Educational Compliance Services. 




It was around the time that so many events were happening with the families that Laurie discovered a hidden talent. Motivated, she recalled, by a desire to do something special. She is now a chocolate-maker ~ a chocolatier ~ for family and friends.


Remembering her initial foray into making the chocolate treats, Laurie said, “I knew there would be a lot of desserts there and I wanted to do something different. I really enjoy doing it.”

For Thomas III’s the baptism.

Courtesy photo ~ Lauren and Maryann


Since then, using molds, she has custom designed chocolates to fit various occasions, including for her daughter Lauren, a baptism for Thomas III, for a graduation at the request of a friend, and most recently for Maryann’s baby shower. 



After two years of event planning, the latest event, the shower Melane planned for Maryann was so eloquent and well-organized that staff at Water’s Edge were commenting about it. “The most eloquent, nicest shower I’ve seen here,” said one staff member. It all went off without a hitch. 


It has been an emotional roller-coaster … so life changing! The special relationships I have with Michelle and Maryann are unique. The only thing I wish for is, for everyday they wake up in the morning, that they are loved, happy and at peace,” said Melane.


Courtesy photo ~ Water’s Edge Westbrook, CT

Baby Bingo



The buffet

Building blocks

Leave a message; guess the number of kisses


AHOY! It’s a boy.



Continuing the nautical theme ~ cupcake table







Thomas III

(Writer’s note: The Bennett, Larned and Czarzasty families are related.)