Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tammy and Val's Central Park Wedding

As 2011 comes to a close I was reviewing my blog posts and noticed that there are so many great weddings and events with wonderful clients that have not yet been shared on the blog.  It is time to fix this and I want to start with an amazing couple whose wedding took place last September.

I love planning weddings where the Bride and Groom come from very different backgrounds.  The challenge of combining cultures is one I happily accept because the result is always a beautiful and unique experience for the couple and their guests.  The wedding of Tammy and Val, that took place at the Boathouse in Central Park, was such a challenge with Tammy being from South Africa and Val being from Bulgaria.  I had so much fun planning the wedding with Tammy and her mother Patsy.

The wedding day got off to a great start with Tammy, her mother, sister and bridesmaids getting ready in their Suite at the Plaza Hotel.  As always, Stacey Lyn and her staff at Once Upon a Bride did an amazing job on Tammy's hair and make-up.

Of course, Central Park is the setting for many a fairytale New York Wedding and it certainly did not disappoint for Tammy and Val.  The beautiful weather and lush greenery created the perfect backdrop for their wedding.

Tammy was absolutely stunning in her Vera Wang gown.  The simple black sash and a bouquet of white ranunculus and anenomes with black centers added the perfect touch, maintaining the beautiful, classic look Tammy wanted.  A simple white orchid was used for Val's boutonniere to coordinate with the Bride's bouquet.

Simplicity and elegance were the key words in designing the ceremony and reception for Tammy and Val.  The ceremony took place in the main room of the Central Park Boathouse.  Glass vases filled with white Cymbidium Orchids and topped by a floating candle lined the aisle.  The Chuppa was also simple and elegant.  White satin fabric was tied in the corners with a black ribbon to coordinate with the Brides's dress.  The corners were then accented with simple white Phalaenopsis Orchids

Following the Ceremony guests were escorted to the outdoor patio for a lovely cocktail reception while my staff quickly worked to turn the main Ballroom into a fantasy setting for Tammy and Val's reception.  The room looked spectacular with each table having a glass cylinder bursting with Bamboo.  The centerpieces were then accented with white orchids, anenomes, antherium, roses and calla lilies.  We were fortunate to have everything captured on film by Lindsay Flanagan Photography and also to have the video services of Steve Young Productions.

Continuing with the simple elegance theme, Elizabeth Hodes designed a classic wedding cake with a black band around each layer and anenomes with black centers on the corners, all tying into the Bride's dress and bouquet.

Of course, no wedding is complete without great entertainment.  For their wedding, Tammy and Val chose to use "Synergy" from On the Move Entertainment.  By combining a DJ with live performers, Synergy really gets the crowd going and this wedding was no exception.   The happy couple and their guests danced the night away and everyone had an amazing time.  

Of course, the true measure of any events' success is the happiness of the couple and their guests.  Judging by the happiness on the face of Tammy's proud Father, I would say this was a job well done.

Best to Tammy and Val and to all of you for a great New Year!



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Repurposing Holiday Decor for New Year's Entertaining

I had the honor of appearing on FOX News Live online today and it was so much fun interacting with Jonathan…he really gets into the segments and makes them so much fun!

Today's segment was all about repurposing your holiday décor for New Years entertaining.  With everyone's crazy schedules and tighter wallets who wants to spend the time or money decorating twice during the holiday season?

Therefore I have a few tips to help you change and spruce up your décor for your New Years Eve party!

First - start with the invite: has some amazing invites and if you haven't sent out those holiday greeting cards yet take a look at their site.  They have hundreds of amazingly affordable cards, invites, gifts and more!

Here we have a bright and festive invite that counts you down to New Years and the placemat that can be monogrammed with your initials all from  These simple touches can go a long way when decorating for the holidays and the best part is the placemat can be reused for other holidays!

I don't know about you, but when I decorate for the holiday I want my décor to reflect both holidays and a great way to do this is to take a wreath (I purchased it from and transition it from Christmas to New Years.  I removed the Tartan ribbon, gold drums and berries and added my own silver and white ornaments I had left over from last year.  I then took baby's breath in clusters and added that to the wreath for a wintery feel.  With left over ribbon from gifts I received, I added an accent for hanging and voila I quickly, easily and with little money repurposed the wreath for New Years!  It's that easy!

I always have people asking for new and inventive ways to decorate…I took a variety of mismatched glasses from my cabinets and created candle holders.  And to add a little texture and "bling" I used my left over Christmas cookie decorating beads and sugar in the bottom of each glass.  Again, it's simple and easy and super budget friendly!
And finally instead of the typical red cosmo I used a white cosmo with silver sanding sugar.  It's different and fun and your guests will appreciate it!

Remember when entertaining this holiday is doesn't have to be stressful or complicated.  Keep it simple…create a list and a budget and you should do just fine.

Merry and Happy Everything!


PS:  To see the full clip on Fox News click on the following link.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The wines of Spain

First, my apologies for being MIA on the blog.  The past month has been a whirlwind with planning some great events, spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Madison, GA and taking our first site visit to El Ciego, Spain as we plan a destination wedding for a great couple next May.

With the Holidays approaching I know many of you will be buying and sharing great wines with family and friends.  Following our trip to the Marques de Riscal Winery in the Rioja region of Spain I have to share how impressed I was with the tremendous wines that we sampled on our trip.

First, I must say, if you ever have a chance to visit the Rioja wine region and to stay at the Hotel Marques de Riscal, jump at it.  This Frank Gehry designed hotel is absolutely stunning and the region itself is beautiful.

When in the region I also highly recommend a visit to the nearby Ysios Winery that was designed by renown Architect Santiago Calatrava.

I had the good fortune to visit the wine country of Spain in the Fall when all of the leaves on the vines were in their spectacular Autumn colors.  Between the character of the area's Medieval towns such as the walled cities of Laguardia and Briones, the beautiful scenery and the amazing wines, this is a great area to visit and will make a gorgeous setting for the wedding.

Going back to the reason for this post, the wines of Spain are definitely stellar.  We had the chance to sample many great wines, one of my personal favorites is the Reserva from the Marques de Riscal Winery.  It is a robust red with a very nice finish.  For lovers of white wine, the Limousin, also from Marques de Riscal will definitely appeal to palates favoring Chardonnay.

This is not to discount the numerous other great wines and wineries in Spain.  My recommendation is to experiment and find the wines that are most pleasing to you.  Everyone's palate is different so find your own favorite wine and have a great holiday!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Get my tips for great Holiday snacks and side dishes tomorrow on TVLand

It is that time of year when everyone is getting ready to entertain for the Holidays.  While we all have our favorite traditional snacks and side dishes, I think it is always fun to try something new to surprise my guests.

Tomorrow night, Saturday, November 12th, I am sharing some of my favorite recipes with viewers during "Best Night In" on TV Land.  So tune in to see your favorite episodes of "Everyone Loves Raymond" beginning at 9PM and you can get some great recipes and helpful tips for your Holiday entertaining.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Check out my new Halloween tips on Fox News

In case you missed me on Fox News talking about tips for a great Halloween, check out the link below!



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Making the "Farm to Table" Concept work for your wedding. From Guest Blogger Eric Hildebrand

 Eric Hildebrand

I am excited to have Eric Hildebrand as our guest blogger today.  Eric has a great perspective on the events industry and is always spot on in his advice.   Read his thoughts on Farm to Table weddings let us know your take on the whole "Farm to Table" Movement.  


From Farm To Wedding!

Local and sustainable are two words that you’ve been hearing more and more in the food media.  Even though this is an old way of consuming food, this idea of eating “local” and “ sustainable” is a very new idea to American culture.  This new idea or way of eating has created increased interest and is changing the way we eat and think about food. 

Last fall, I attended a wedding held at the Locust Grove Estate in New York’s Hudson Valley.  The couple chose to have a family style reception.  Guests were seated along long farm tables surrounded by the estate’s Victorian style gardens.  A bordering kitchen garden set the tone for the evening, as guests would indulge in a menu that was locally sourced, with fresh and sustainable ingredients. 

Guests sat down to a table filled with large bowls of locally grown apples, freshly baked breads and a selection of condiments. Not only were the apples from a near by orchard, but the bread flour came from a local mill.  As the meal progressed, large white bowls and platters kept making their way to the table.  Each platter filled with simply prepared foods that celebrated their locality and freshness.  The best part was that every dish served made an impression on each and every guest. 


As the evening unfolded, I soon found myself sitting amongst a crowd of foodies.  Everyone was carefully reading their menus to see where the pork was raised, to learn in which vineyard the wine was produced and to check if they were right in guessing the cheese they just tasted was goat’s milk.  Not only were guests enjoying their meal, but also, they loved the value of knowing what they were eating.  The neat part is that guests were sitting in the valley, which produced all the food they were eating. 

 It was clear that this new idea of local and sustainable became the single language that every guest knew and understood.  Many new friends were made that night by all.  Who knew that two words “local” and “sustainable” could create not only a bond between the couple but also a bond amongst all guests.

Here are a few points to consider when preparing a local and sustainable wedding menu:

-Find a chef or caterer that is willing and comfortable producing a locally sourced and sustainable menu.

-Many caterers offer seasonal menus, but seasonal doesn’t mean the ingredients are locally sourced or sustainable.

-Utilizing locally sourced ingredients can help you save money as all ingredients are in season and at their peak. 

-Research and source local farms, vineyards, orchards and mills, etc, and see if your caterer can work in some of your favorite ingredients into your wedding menu.

-Be sure to list on your menu where your locally sourced ingredients originated.  List estate names and include a vintage or year for items like wine.  

-Make sure your menu reflects your personality and tone of the party.  Create dishes that you like and that your guests can enjoy and relate to as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vote for me on Biz Bash as Social Planner of the Year!

Last week I found out I was nominated by BizBash the leading trade publication in the event industry for Social Planner of the Year.  Needless to say I was shocked and delighted.  The best part is you all get to vote!  Voting ends October 16 so place your vote for me today!  And remember you can vote every twenty four hours.  So spread the word to your family and friends to get their vote on!

Click here to vote: Biz Bash Readers Choice Voting

Readers' Choice Finalist Badge

Thanks in advance for the love and support!

Until next time -

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shawn at the Learning Annex!

October 12 is the date!  Shawn will be live at the Learning Annex in Midtown Manhattan from 7:00PM to 9:00PM teaching participants "How to plan one of a kind events".

Wedding / Event Planning / Design expert and BravoTV reality star Shawn Rabideau of BravoTV’s Bethenny Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After will explain the basics of putting together a cocktail style wedding reception from budget, to venue, to entertainment, to design and much more.

Shawn will:
- Show you how to create your very own classic bridal bouquet and boutonniere
- He will explain what items are necessary for any cocktail reception wedding or otherwise
- Give you his Rabido’s and Rabidon’ts when it comes to planning your wedding
- Shawn will finish with a Q and A period so have your questions ready!

 To order tickets go online to  The Learning Annex

Friday, September 9, 2011

Is Chivalry Dead?

I might be a bit of a traditionalist or perhaps it's the way I was raised by my parents, but I was always taught to open doors for the ladies, let them go first and respect woman without objectifying them.  So it absolutely pains me to watch grooms, groomsmen and the like forget their chivalric manners especially at a wedding.

Gentlemen, if you are in the bridal party, remember all eyes are on you, especially the groom!  Now I know most men (other than myself) don’t know what to do with the train of a dress or a cathedral length veil.  They act like it's going to come to life and strangle them like python.  Gentlemen, it's fabric and quite harmless.  As the man and the husband it's your duty to help your bride walk around and it is really quite simple.  Lift the train of the dress so it doesn't drag in the dirt and always let her go first so she can set the pace.  Remember she can't see her feet and the last thing she wants to do is perform a swan dive in the ballroom.  Also, remember to open the door for her whether it be at the church, the limo or the ballroom…you’re the groom, her husband so be a gentleman even if it's for one day.

Planners are like flies on a wall, we see and hear everything.  So you might want to think twice about high fiving your best man while telling him your bride looks hot and you can't wait to score tonight.  I swear on the man upstairs I heard that in the men's room at one wedding I was planning a few years back.  This is your wife you're talking about so you might want to keep those comments to yourself.

It also irritates me to watch the groom hang by the bar or with his "buddies" all night.  Guy's remember, this is your Big Day too and as the groom you're the host of the party.  Always stick close to your bride.  The last thing you want to do is miss an important speech dedicated to you because you were outside having a cigar.

And Best Men, remember, when giving toasts try to keep it clean…the last thing you want to do is speak of the grooms sexual escapades in college and tell all 200 guests he was a womanizer until he met his now wife.  Remember, Mom and Grandma are there.  Although it might be funny to you it could be offensive to some of the ladies (including the bride).  It's best to keep it short and sweet and tell those "tales out of church" at the bachelor party.

I know it seems like I'm bashing the men, but I think it's due time the gentlemen make a bit of a resurgence.  It's take little energy and in the end you'll feel good about yourself while making your wife look and feel good too.

Until next time,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weathering the Storm!

Do you live along the East Coast?  And are you getting married this weekend?  Chances are you are sitting on pins and needles wondering how Hurricane Irene is going to affect your dream wedding.  And who can blame you!  You, your finance and your families have invested a lot of money, time and emotion into your big day.  Regardless if it's Irene or the Blizzard of 2012 (I know I should bite my tongue) you need to think about the worst case scenario.  My job as a planner isn't to drop a bomb on your big day, but to provide you with the advice and direction to make the best out of a bad situation.

If you're one of those unlucky brides this weekend, and you don't have a wedding planner, now is the time to employ that over organized aunt, cousin or friend.  Given that you are already under a lot of stress, you're going to want someone other than yourself, your mom or your bridesmaid who will have a more objective point of view to be the point of contact from this point forward.  As crazy as this sounds this will allow you to relax, take deep breaths and let the stress fall on someone else.  However, make sure this person is good in stressful situations.  You don't want your POC (point of contact) to make you more stressed than you already are so don't choose someone who get's emotional easily.  You want someone who can take control and handle things without your involvement.  Just remember, if they make a decision without you and you don't like it…don't turn into Bridezilla. They are doing their best in the hot seat - just go with it as their intentions are in the right place.  Once you've "employed" POC be sure to contact your vendors and let them know this is the point of contact for the day (or days) leading up to your wedding.

I know you've obsessed over your wedding for months, but don't obsess over the weather.  Keep in mind there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, you can do about the weather.  What I do recommend is to have your POC check the weather…let them obsess.  Also let them touch base with your venue and vendors as the weather reports file in.  If your wedding is taking place outside or in a tent this will your POC and the vendors to make the call to move the wedding inside to a different location.  If it's any relief, there's an old wives tale that says if it rains on your wedding day it’s good luck…

If you're in a weather emergency situation pull out your contracts and double check your vendor's Force Majeure.  Many contracts have a Force Majeure clause which will allow a vendor out of their contract in the event that any acts of God such as a hurricane, tornado, riots, strikes, etc…(situations that are out of their control) take place.  Some vendors are not willing to negotiate their Force Majeure.  Rather than omit this clause see if they are willing to reschedule your wedding within six months with no penalty or see if they are willing to refund some or part of your money.  It never hurts to ask and get it in writing.  I can tell you from experience however, 99.99% of all vendors will go to the ends of the earth to deliver on their contract no matter what the situation.  I've seen bands load into a venue in almost flood like conditions…bottom line we are all wedding professionals who want your big day to be a success regardless of the situation!

However, if you must cancel your wedding due to a major weather catastrophe talk with your vendors about rescheduling your wedding for another date.  No it's not ideal, but do you want to put your loved ones in the path of danger for the sake of your selfishness?  Unless you're Bridezilla chances are no. So talk to your vendors and ask them if they are willing to reschedule for a later date with no financial penalty.  The only vendors that may have to charge you something at a later date may be your florist and caterer as they are providing you with perishable items.

A few years ago I was supposed to attend my cousins wedding in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the morning of the wedding there was a major storm that caused flooding, washing out roads making driving impossible.  I hated to do it, but I had to drop out…As a planner I have seen Best Men, grandparents and even sisters not make a wedding because their flights or travel plans were affected by bad weather.  If the weather where you are isn't catastrophic to the point of canceling, the show must go on without them.  With today's technology I recommend getting the Skype cams out allowing those that couldn't make your wedding be a part of your wedding regardless of the situation. They might not be there physically but they can be there through technology…it's an amazing thing isn't it?

Remember you can't control the weather, but you can be prepared so check your local Emergency Management Offices for additional information.

For anyone getting married this weekend along the East Coast I wish you all the best and most of all please be safe.

Until next time - Cheers!