Thursday, January 27, 2011

Women's World Magazine

Check out this week's edition of Woman's World Magazine on stands today. I share my favorite bite sized treats perfect for Super Bowl Entertaining!


Super Bowl Entertaining Ideas

Thinking about throwing a Super Bowl Party this year? Even if you aren't the biggest football fan, Super Bowl Sunday is a good excuse to get family and friends together and have a good time! Here are some tips for your next Super Bowl Party that will surely be a touchdown! (sorry I had to!)

Most important is the bar!

As hosts of the best Super Bowl party in town, make it easy for yourself. Do beer, a few specialty cocktails and maybe some wine. You know your guests best…but no need to stock a full bar! This saves both time and money.


Why not provide beer that has a special meaning? In honor of Green Bay Packers provide Miller Beer, Point Beer and in honor of Pittsburgh Steelers provide Iron City Beer and countless micro brews.
Also, mix things up a bit and ask your guests to bring different beers from around the country! This keeps things interesting, provides a variety, and is a source of conversation for those who may not be glued to the big screen. Also, this takes a little pressure off of you as the host to buy all of the refreshments. 

Specialty cocktails
If you know me, you know I can never have a party without a specialty cocktail. In honor of the Green Bay Packers do a Key Lime Pie Martini that is rimmed in yellow sanding sugar.

3 parts vanilla Vodka
1.5 parts Key Lime Juice
1.5 parts simple syrup

Pour liquid ingredients into a shaker filled with ice.  Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rimmed with yellow sanding sugar. To make the drink "Green Bay Green" add a touch of Midori!

Photo Courtesy of Bulldog Photography

In honor of the Pittsburgh Steelers do a Blavod and Tonic.  It's black vodka (any will do) and mix it with tonic…for fun rim the glass with yellow sanding sugar and garnish with a football shaped lemon.
Take other cocktails your guests like and give them new names such as "Rush", "Touchdown", "Quick Pass", "Long Pass", "Hail Mary" or "Fumble" if you've had too much to drink.


This is an area where you can have some fun!  Both teams come from areas that are steeped in Eastern European traditions so get your inspiration from that! Also, think of items that are easy and self served.  This way you can enjoy the party yourself!

Wisconsin produces sausages in many forms - summer sausage, brats, franks, wurst and kielbasa. And let's not forget cheese based dishes, spreads, melts, and fondues.  Why not make cheddar beer bread? It is super easy and it goes great with a crock pot of chili! (trust me, I just made it last weekend) Also, "kick" things up a notch serve beer based fondues guests can dip sausage or bread in.  Both are filling and again easy to make and walk away from.
Perogies - Can be homemade but time consuming although not hard (I've made them myself) or you can find them in your freezer section! Serve with sautéed onions, sour cream, applesauce or any garnish.  They are filling and always a hit!
Primanti Brothers Restaurant serves a steak sandwich where the slaw and the fries come ON the sandwich, not on the side. So why not take this tradition and serve at home at your party? Sounds simple enough right?! And absolutely delicious!
For dessert, why not serve Klondike bars - they originated in Pittsburg! You never know what your guests will do for a Klondike bar!

Some other ideas for food and munchies, check out! They have fun and festive NFL tins for all of your favorite teams! Also, Cheryl's Cookies has fabulous tasting cookies in the shapes of footballs! They are to die for! And lastly, 1800 Baskets has plenty of fun game day inspired baskets to round out your menu and make entertaining easy!


For this type of party, you don't need to stress too much about decor. After all, as long as you have a comfy couch and a big screen I am sure your guests will be your biggest fans! But, if you want to get creative, cover your dining table in green turf purchased from your hardware store.  Paint white lines like a football field and then download the playing teams logos and place them on the turf. This is your table covering and décor! It's as easy as hut-hut-hike! Place the food and now you have something that can be used year after year!


Buy a few fun gifts and create a trivia game with football, regional, and team questions.  Time your guests and the one with the highest score wins the game!  This could be played at half time before your guests start to "fumble". Not the biggest football expert? Go to to find plenty of trivia questions!

General Entertaining Tips

1. If guests ask to bring something, assign them a specific dish or beverage.  Nothing worse than getting four pots of chili, and 10 bags of chips that don't get eaten.  Your guests will love you for this…they don’t have think what to bring!

2. Place any valuables that you fear may get broken in a safe place so then you can relax. 

3. Worried about your rugs and floors in the snow? Place out mats for the shoes and boots and provide your guests with inexpensive slippers (manly at that) they can slip on…they can take them and will love you for it!

4. Have pets?  Put them away in a quiet safe place for the day.  You don’t have to worry about someone feeding Fido chili or someone stepping on your kitty's tail.

5. Have kids? Create an area that is safe and fun for them.  Put out football inspired crafts they can make.  If they get too wound up - send them outside for a game of touch football.

And most of all, have fun! 


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wedding of Elizabeth & Benjamin - Preview

I am so excited to share with you a preview of our first 2011 wedding! Elizabeth & Benjamin are such an amazing couple and I had such a blast working with them! Take a look at Lindsay Flanagan's blog to check out a preview of some of the photos of the wedding! We will be posting a complete blog post soon, so stay tuned!

Also, check out Elizabeth and Benjamin's wedding announcement in the New York Times!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wedding of Joey & Joe

On this rainy, slushy Tuesday I thought it would be nice to share with you a wedding we did in November with an absolutely fabulous couple.  Joey and Joe (I know how cute is that?) came to me back in December 2009.  Joey is always the bubbly bride and Joe is always the smiling groom. What I loved about them is that they trusted me in that they allowed me to take their hand and guide them through what I thought would work best with their vision and personality.  And what we created for them was absolutely fantastic!

First, Joey and Joe saw each other for the first time at the W New York, and from there they made their way to the famous High Line and New York's Meat Packing District where some fabulous shots were captured by Craig Paulson Photography. Take a look for yourself! The shots are absolutely stunning! Especially with the sunset over the Hudson River!

 The bride wore a gorgeous gown from the Wedding Atelier - funny enough it was the last dress she tried on.  I saw it on a mannequin and she said she didn't think it would look good on her.  I told her to give it a try, you never know…So, she put it on and everyone's eyes lit up! It was the perfect dress; unique and stunningly perfect for her personality.   

 So naturally when designing her bouquet I had to come up with something that was equally as unique. So I designed this double pomander "bouquet" of all white flowers that included, mums, spray roses and orchids, and to this day it still takes my breath away! 

 For the maid of honor we pulled colors from the wedding along with seasonal elements such as purple artichokes and purple calla lilies (my favorite!) to create something that was not only seasonal but fresh.

The couple's wedding took place at the famed New York City landmark The Puck Building's Skylight Room.  Joey and Joe wanted the ceremony simple, clean and elegant which is exactly what we created for them.  

 Being that their initials were "J" and "J" I just had to create something that would be their calling card.  Taking a cue from their invitation that was designed by Alpine Creative Group, we had The Original Runner Company make their unique aisle runner with their initials in the colors of their wedding.  After the ceremony we cut the logo in the runner out and guests were able to sign it which will eventually hang in the couple's home. What a fun twist on a guest book!

If you know me you know that I LOVE cocktail hour; so I thought it would be fun to create cocktail arrangements in martini glasses…if you ask me it gives a whole new meaning to cheers!

Once the room was turned over from the ceremony to dinner and dancing, we revealed it to the bride and groom, and are happy to report that they were beyond thrilled!  Using aubergine linens, gold accents, and flowers in the colors of green and purple, we created one of a kind centerpieces that reportedly guests are still talking about!

Guests dined on absolutely delicious food including Vegetable Croustade, Porcini & Peppercorn Crusted Filet of Beef and Herb Crusted Seas Bass provided by Thomas Preti Catering.

I love how Ana Dolan created unique square escort cards and rectangular menus all of which coordinate with the overall color scheme of the wedding.

Elizabeth Hodes took a cue from the overall look and feel of the wedding and created a square three tiered cake with coordinating flowers that cascaded down the cake onto the table, simply stunning!

And special thanks to On the Move Events who kept guests partying into the wee hours of the night!

All in all l it was magical and fabulous evening and I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed Joey and Joe's wedding!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Nutty Hot Choc-tail Recipe

Looking to warm up from the cold? Try my Nutty Hot Choc-tail. Follow the recipe to your favorite hot chocolate mix (I use Godiva, 8 oz). Add 1 1/2 oz Vanilla Stoli vodka, 1 1/2 oz Frangelico, dash Cayenne Pepper. Pour into mugs & top with whip cream. Enjoy by a crackling fire. 

Until next time, cheers!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Wedding of Katerina & William

I am so excited to share with you the wedding of Katerina and William! In November 2009, Katerina contacted me to plan and design her wedding, but there was a catch...she was living in Singapore! So, we conducted an interview via Skype and quickly got the ball rolling to plan her September 2010 wedding. She was going to be in New York City for 5 days over the Thanksgiving holiday, so we had lots we had to do in such a short amount of time! Whoever said planning Bethenny's wedding in 4 weeks was tough? Try pulling everything together for Katerina in only 5 days! On her quick trip to NYC we saw venues, met with bands and DJ's, created her save the date, interviewed photographers, met caterers, tried on dresses (well I didn't, she did!) and then she left the rest up to me! From there on out we had meetings via Skype, emailed back and forth, and then I didn't see her again until two weeks before the wedding! She trusted me and my team to pull together the wedding of her dreams. As a result, we planned and designed a fabulous wedding at The Glass Houses in the Chelsea Arts Tower for an intimate group of 75 of her closest family members and friends, some even flew in from Russia!

Katerina wore this gorgeous dress from Bridal Reflections, which happened to be the first dress I found while we were out shopping and the first dress she tried on!

The fabulous team from Gloss and Glam did a beautiful job on the brides hair and makeup. Her stunning bouquet was designed with all white flowers including calla lilies, roses, and of course phalaenopsis orchids, the brides favorite! On the handle of the bouquet I placed three bands of crystals to coordinate with the beaded belt she wore with her dress.

For the groom, we kept the boutonniere simple, sophisticated, and classic with two miniature white calla lilies and one stephanotis with a crystal center.

The ceremony, which took place right at sunset overlooking the Hudson River on the 14th floor of the Chelsea Arts Tower at The Glass Houses, was a stunning display of all white flowers, which lined the aisle and surrounded the chuppa.



After the ceremony, guests made their way to the 21st floor for cocktail hour. When stepping off the elevator, guests immediately were greeted with this escort card table and stunning arrangement. Ana Dolan, from Invitations by Ana, created the criss cross pocket escort cards, which we also used on her save the dates and the invitation! I absolutely love Ana's creativity and designs! She even created Katerina and William's logo, which we also used throughout the entire evening. 


Here is the KW logo that Ana Dolan created. We had Paratore Audio-Visual make a gobo so we could project the logo onto the wall in both the cocktail  hour and the reception space. I love the way this turned out! These extra little touches of detail really made the evening special!

After cocktail hour, guests made their way back down to the 14th floor which was now transformed into dinner and dancing! We even kept the chuppa and placed DJ Shiran from Total Entertainment underneath!

At each place setting, guests could find their seats by locating their name on the criss pocket of the menu, created by Ana Dolan.

Guests enjoyed a fabulous meal prepared by Creative Edge Parties. As a hobby, the groom William is a chef, so food and beverage was a very important aspect of the wedding. Both Katerina and William fell in love with Creative Edge at the very first meeting and I have to say I knew they would not be disappointed! As I mentioned before, some of the brides friends and family flew in from Russia, so as a tribute to her home country I collaborated with Creative Edge to do a chive crepe with caviar and a shot of vodka for the amuse bouche! Delish!

Guests also enjoyed this fun hors d'oeuvres of a shot of tomato soup with a miniature grilled cheese sandwich! Look closely, we even branded the grilled cheese with the KW logo!

For the cake, Jill from The Cake Studio created this fantastic three tiered cake with phalaenopsis orchids made from sugar cascading down. Not only is it beautiful but was so yummy!

Gotta have some champagne with the cake!

And lastly, as guests departed they each received KW lollipop cookies, also created by Jill from The Cake Studio

And here I am with my Event Coordinator Meagan! We hope you enjoyed looking at the photos of this great wedding! A special thanks to 4eyes Photography for capturing all of these moments!

Until next time, Cheers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue - Part Two

Hope everyone had a great weekend and was able to read Part One of my Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue! Part Two is here we go!

Some venues include this as a complimentary service and others out source.  Find out either way and what the cost per person is.  Providing a valet service for your guests is a nice gesture, but not always necessary. You might be able to add this a week or two before your wedding date after all the money dust has settled and you know where your budget is.  Find out if that’s the case a head of time and if there are any extra fees for booking the valet at the last minute.

Special meals
Let's face it we all have friends that are picky eaters so find out what their veggie choice is, can the venue do kosher meals and what the cost is.  Also find out the cost of kids meals and what they serve.  Another question you should ask is if they allow outside food. Some won't even allow you to bring in outside cookies as a favor. Or if your aunt is making the cake they may say no.  So find out before so there are no surprises!

Vendor Meals
So many of my clients forget this, but the truth is you should feed your on site vendors such as the band, photographer and planner.  Find out the cost for a warm meal (preferred by most vendors - trust me) and a cold meal.  Remember well fed vendors create happy vendors which creates a fabulous wedding!

This is one area I have a professional issue with - some venues do and some venues don’t offer tastings.  Some venues say they don't because their food is spectacular and they have never had an issue.  I say that's great but what if you and your family don't like spicy food and the salad dressing is too garlicky the night of?  You will have a lot of unhappy guests that will forever talk about how bad the food was.  So I always opt for a tasting.  It's the perfect time to collaborate with the chef and make sure you are getting exactly what you want and are paying for.  Now don't be surprised if they won't do a tasting until you have signed the contract and paid a deposit I can't blame them for not handing out free meals.  If you are weary of doing that find out what the cost would be to do a tasting before signing the contract.  You never know they might let you do it.  I know many venues will give me a lot of flack here, but in the end your guests talk about the food especially if it's not what you want.  It's your right to try the food!

Some venues include the cake and some do not - so get some clarity.  If they do provide the cake it may be an outside baker where the venue pays them for certain style cake.  In most cases it will cost you more to have the cake decorated a specific way. Ask to speak to the bakery to see if they can accommodate your design and if so are there extra costs.  Most likely this is one area where the venue may not negotiate.

Vendor Lists
Almost all venues have a vendor list they want you to work from.  This is a great thing and a bad thing.  Great because it helps you narrow down who to go to and in most cases the vendors have a stellar record.  But it is also bad because you may want to fly in a band from Miami and the venue won't let you.  Find out before how strict their policy is to allowing you to bring in outside vendors.  If they say you can bring outside vendors other than those recommended then get it in writing in your contract.

This is one area that can get tricky so ask your venue if you need to take out an additional insurance policy naming them as an additionally insured.  In most cases you don’t have to, but you don’t want to get surprised after signing the contract that you have to take out a special rider on your homeowners policy just so you can throw your wedding.  As a vendor myself I must carry insurance and very often have to name the venue as an additionally insured.  In fact you should check with all your prospective vendors and make sure they have event insurance.  Your cousin may be a great DJ, but if he doesn't have insurance he won't be allowed to play at your wedding.  So find out what the parameters are.

Electric costs
Some venues require that you pay for electric or pay for additional electric.  Ask up front and then ask your vendors (band / DJ / photographer / videographer) if they will require excessive amounts of power.  Relay that to your venue. Changes are okay with most venue, but you never know.  Also ask your venue if the power is new or old and if they have multiple circuits.  So often the venue says it's not an issue we clear it with them, but then a circuit trips right in the middle of the first dance and the band goes dead. It's a nightmare but it happens because people forget to ask.

Doing a site visit - time - canceling - bathrooms - handicap -
Most of the questions above are really for when you do a site visit one on one with the venue representative.  A few things to remember: always try to be on time, if late let them know.  They keep super busy schedules and it's nice to be courteous to them just like you expect them to be with you.  If you must reschedule or if you don't want to look at the space anymore, just let them know. When looking at the venue look and see if there is a bridal room.  Is the venue handicap accessible for grandma?  What do the bathrooms look like?

Contact the day of
Very often the person who books your event is not the person who is on site the day of your wedding.  Therefore, ask who will be on site to trouble shoot any issues you have.  If you want a specific person just ask, but remember they can make no guarantees.

Hotel Venues
Some, but not all hotel venues may offer a complimentary bridal suite the night of the event.  If they do that’s fabulous news!  However, be sure to ask when you can check into the suite.  In some cases you can't get in until 3pm.  That may be too late for you.  So you may want to opt and book your suite the night before.  It's nice waking up in your suite knowing you don't have to rush to get ready!  Also when booking with your hotel venue ask if there are any conventions in town or are they expecting large bookings.  There may be nothing worse than finding out it's the national kazoo convention at your hotel.  Finally ask if they can do a room block for your wedding guests.  Very often they will do this at a lesser cost as a compliment to bringing them a large amount of business.

These questions may all seem a bit overcautious, but then again as a planner that's my job!  Just remember not everything is negotiable, be courteous, and be thorough. 

Until next time - Cheers!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue - Part One

Finding the perfect wedding venue can be as daunting as finding the perfect wedding gown. Very often I have couples that walk through my door with their venue already signed, sealed and delivered.  This is great except when I begin asking them questions about their contract or the venue that they can't answer.  By not asking the right questions this can actually cost you more money and cost your vendors more time.

So I thought I would put together a list of questions we typically ask over the phone when looking for venues for our clients. I had so many thoughts to share that I have broken it down into two parts. So here it goes… part one!

Date Availability
First and foremost ask if they have your date available.  If looking for an evening wedding be sure to stress "evening".  Some venues do two weddings a day and they might be booked for the evening but have the morning or afternoon available.  Getting straight to the point as this will save you and them time.

Friday vs. Saturday vs. Sunday
Ask the venue if there are any differences in cost or packages provided between Friday evening, Saturday "day", Saturday evening and Sunday "day or Sunday evening.  Typically most couples want an evening wedding, but if you can save say $2,000 by doing a Friday or Sunday "day" wedding - heck that's $2,000 toward something else!

Minimum Requirements
Most venues have minimums - that means the minimum revenue or number of guests they will book an event for.  Find out what their minimums are for the date you are looking for.  Also find out if the minimums vary from the date, time of day and time of the year.  If they have a minimum of 100 people and you think you might have 125 go the 100.  You can always add more later, but you can't take away after the contract is signed. If you end up having less than 100 guests and have already signed the contract, you will still be charged for those people. Again, these minimum requirements could save you money…

Holding the date until you visit the venue
Some venues will and some venues won't hold your date until you see the actual venue.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  However, if you ask them to hold the venue and they do be courteous to them and keep your appointment.  If you aren't interested don't string them along.  Be honest and let them know they can release the date.  You don’t want them to lose business and another bride may want your date.

Gratuity and Tax
Ask your venue if gratuity is included and what the tax percentages are and what they are applied to.  It doesn't hurt to ask to get a sample breakdown for an event your size.  Also "Service Charge" is NOT the same thing as gratuity!  In most cases the "Service Charge" is the minimum pay for the wait staff, bartenders and captains.  Therefore, ask the venue what their staff typically gets tipped.  Remember, the people waiting on you don't just live on pay alone.  Factor their tips into the overall budget and cost - this isn't an area you want to skimp!

Negotiating Cost
It never hurts to negotiate, I do it on a daily basis.  The key here is to be reasonable…You can always ask if they will lower the minimum guest count, the cost per person or if they will waive the chefs captain fee.  But don't start asking them for the price per person amount they charge in December for a wedding in June. (June is the busy season for weddings, so prices will typically be more expensive). You might be able to negotiate the deposit amounts due or ask if they can divide them into more payments. Just remember negotiating is a give and take so be reasonable about it.

Find out how the venue expects payment.  Some will take a credit card (I know you want those miles for your honeymoon) for the deposit but only a certified bank check for the remaining payments.  Find out and see what they say.  In most cases this is non-negotiable.

When booking your date find out what will happen if you have to change the date.  Unforeseen things can happen so you want to have a bit of flexibility.  If you have to rebook will you lose money, is there an additional cost involved to change the date? Find out what the details are and get them in writing in your contract. 

Hidden Cost
This is one area most clients don’t think of.  For example here in NYC there may be security and fire marshal costs that are in addition to what you are paying per person.  Some loading docks are union and cost more to open early for your florist to load in and stay open later for your band to load out.  Find out what those costs are and get those in your contract as well. You don't want to find out later on that your vendors don't have enough time to set up and to break down, and then be charged with pesky overtime fees.

Some venues have union staff, so find out if your venue is one of these.  If so, what happens in the event the union goes on strike the day of your wedding.  Will the venue rebook at no additional cost?  Will they cover the cost to rebook your favorite band?  All this should be spelled out in the venues contract, but it's always a good thing to ask!

Coat Check
Find out if Coat Check is included in the price per person and if not what is the cost per person. In some cases I've been able to negotiate the coat check out of the contract especially if the wedding is in one of the warmer months. But remember, if there is a cold snap and guests bring jackets this may be added to your final bill.  The coat checkers have to get paid too!

So that is it for sure to check back for 11 more tips in Part Two on Monday!

Have a fabulous weekend and if you are in NYC, enjoy the snow!