Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My 5 favorite New York venue views

If you are looking for a magnificent view in New York there are countless options.  But, if you want to throw a party where there's a great view the options are much more limited.  I have had the privilege to plan and design parties in venues with some of the most spectacular views you can imagine.  I thought it would be good to share what I consider to be among the best venues with a view in this great city.  Maybe one of these will be the perfect setting for your next party.

I have had the pleasure of planning several events at SoHi on the 46th Floor of the Trump Soho Hotel.  With floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides of the room the views are breathtaking.  I really enjoy starting an event just before sunset so you can see how the city evolves with the sun setting and the lights coming on.  It is really a great experience.

With the change in New York real estate there are so many raw spaces that just no longer exist.  That is why I was excited when The Glass Houses opened on the west side.  Not only are the views amazing, both of the spaces in the venue are really blank canvasses.  I have so much fun designing an event this type of space because I can totally use my imagination to make my client's dreams come true.

If you are planning a larger event with a view of Central Park you should definitely head over to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Columbus Circle.  Proceed to the 36th floor and you will be greeted by a beautiful view overlooking the park from this ballroom.  There is certainly a "wow" factor when your guests enter this amazing space with the shades down only to have them opened after guests are in the room, revealing the stunning view.  I have been fortunate to plan and design a number of events here, all of which were flawless. 

Just a few blocks from Trump Soho is Tribeca Rooftop, a large space with a lot of character and great views.  One of my favorite features in the space is the impressive staircase to the rooftop deck which was taken from the Palladium nightclub.  One of my favorite weddings here used the roof deck for the ceremony so guests could enjoy the view of the city while watching a very touching ceremony.  It was really a perfect New York setting.  You also should not miss their lower level space' Three-Sixty a full floor space also with great views.

Recently I had an opportunity to design a smaller gathering in the rooftop space of the new NoMad Hotel.  My client had been looking at a number of venues and as soon as she saw the room her mind was set.  This was THE place for the party.  It really is a wonderful setting for an intimate event.

If you are looking for the perfect spot for your next party I encourage you to check out these great options that are sure to please.

Until next time...


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Mayflower Inn & Spa

This past weekend Michael and I had an opportunity to experience the wonderful Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut and I want to share this great spa and destination wedding venue with you.

While I had heard of the Mayflower, until this weekend I had never had the opportunity to experience this wonderful property along with their great restaurants and, of course, the magnificent spa.  I am lucky to have wonderful clients and this weekend retreat was a gift for a recent event and what a perfect gift it was!

We arrived on a cold, cloudy Friday so it was a pleasure to enter the cozy lobby where we were promptly greeted and escorted to a beautiful suite with a fireplace that was perfect for what turned out to be another snowy weekend.  While touring the grounds I could not help but think, "What a perfect setting for a wedding or even a girls spa weekend before the wedding!"  The gardens are spectacular and the dining room and outdoor areas would be perfect for a small wedding.

While the setting is beautiful, the great service, wonderful food, and the exceptional spa facilities that really make staying at the Mayflower Inn an exceptional experience.  I had an amazing massage and really enjoyed the facilities.  Overall it was a weekend that I will not soon forget and that I look forward to repeating soon.

I encourage you to check it out and plan your own spa weekend.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Are Bad Parties the Status Quo?

I don't know about you but when an invitation to a party lands in my box I get excited.  Or at least, I used to... Lately I've had to lower my expectations as to what a good party should be.  Let me be clear - my friends all throw great and amazing parties - ones that people die to get invited to.  But corporate networking parties have become something totally different.

Those parties used to be filled with food, drink and good company.  Now they are filled with anyone who can fill the space, there is little food and long lines at the bar.  All of which are big Rabidon'ts in my book.

Take, for example, a very dis-TASTE-ful event I attended the other night.  It was the series finale to a cooking competition show and the host was none other than a television network who's boss just happens to be a popular mouse.  Receiving the invite two days before the event should have been the first clue that this party was going to be a bust.

That's one of my Rabidon'ts - Don't invite guests at the last minute.  I mean, you had to have known you were going to throw a party.  But I digress....

Upon arriving to the venue (a very popular, trendy mid-town hotel) we were left to fend for ourselves to find where the party was located.  There was no signage and not a person in sight to direct us where to go.  Luckily we figured it out quickly and filed into line like cows to the slaughter.  And, when we did encounter the first person we saw who looked like they knew what they were doing, there wasn't a smile in sight.  These twenty something girls looked like they would rather be watching the Bachelor finale than doing their job.

Rabidon't - Don't be rude.  Smile - while you may not like your job - you're the first impression to the party.  If you are miserable, what kind of message are you sending to the guests who are waiting in line.

That was another thing - the line... I can't stand attending an event where you have to wait in line and be grilled like you want to get into Marquee to party with Lindsay Lohan (not that I ever would mind you)  They had one girl (yes, she was miserable) checking off names for about 200+ attendees.  When I went to give her my name she snapped "first only".

Rabido - When throwing a party where a guest list is needed be sure to have at least two to four friendly people quickly checking off names.  Keeping guests waiting and being a bitch will only sour their welcome.

By this point my partner Michael and I desperately needed a drink and I was happy to see a large bar that was well manned.  "Finally something positive" I thought to my self only until I realized I had to pay $40 to get cocktails at a party where the invite stated to come and enjoy a party filled with drink, food and an opportunity to mix and mingle with the cast.  Never in all my years have I been invited to an industry event where I had to pay for my own drinks.  And, as if that wasn't enough, I noticed we had to pay for our own food.  There were no passed appetizers, no passed signature beverages...You had to pay for everything.  And that my friends isn't even the best part!  There was a VIP area for cast members (remember there was the opportunity to mix and mingle with them) where they stayed huddled being served food and drink while the rest of us had to fend for ourselves.

So, to sum it up. we were invited to a party that was hosted by a major television network, run by inexperienced, unhappy staff, where the invite over promised and under delivered.

And, unfortunately, this event doesn't stand alone.  Over the course of the past several years I've attended many wedding or event planning related parties where the food is scarce and the bar almost doesn't exist.  I fully get these events cost money... But when did it become okay to over promise and under deliver?  If that was the way I ran my business I would be out of business... If you can't fully deliver to an industry where this is what we do for a living then just don't throw a party.  It's unfortunate that we as event planners and event attendees have allowed this to become the status quo.

So the question is this: will industry parties keep this status quo or will they change?

I know one thing is for sure, I'll never watch that dis-TASTE-ful show again!

Until next time...


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The importance of a detailed guest and address list

Every great wedding starts with a list of who (and maybe who not) to invite.  And this is one area I often find overwhelms many a newly engaged couple and their families.  Gathering addresses, how you properly spell someone's name and more can seem tedious and a chore.

However, a detailed and organized guest list will become the center of your wedding planning universe and, by the time you're done, you will have memorized every name, address and zip code from around the world!

I thought I'd give you a few of my Rabido's and Rabidon'ts when it comes to pulling your guest list together.

Rabido - Create a spreadsheet that one person or couple will manage throughout the entire planning process.  (Rabidon't have multiple spreadsheets!)  The spreadsheet should include columns for salutations, first name, last name, guests first name, guests last name, street, state and zip. (Country code if needed) Also, create columns for Welcome Dinner / Brunch / Bachelor or Bachelorette party and for the Bridal Shower.  By putting everything into different fields in a spreadsheet it allows you the opportunity to later organize who and how many are coming to what party.  You can also use this list to note who you've sent thank you notes to and for what.

Rabido - Take your time pulling the list together.  Often couples and their families rush to put the information into a document only to find out the information is wrong or incomplete.  Or worse yet, they forgot to invite their favorite uncle.  By taking your time in gathering the information you will find you will have less work to do when the planning really gets crazy.

Rabido - Alphabetize your list.  There is nothing worse than looking all over for someone's name when it is not in alphabetic order.

Rabidon't - Don't abbreviate or use nicknames on your address list.  You want your wedding to be a class act and the addresses on your invitation should be too.  Remember, this is the first thing your guests will see when it comes to your wedding.  Take the time to fully spell out names and everything related to addresses.  

Rabidon't - You may want to save on postage but it's not okay to hand deliver invitations.  If you're unsure of someone's address, ask and be sure they receive their invitation like everyone else - in the mail.

Rabidon't - You may want to save time and money but clear labels, or sloppy hand writing, doesn't leave a good impression on an invitation.  Spend a few extra dollars to have your envelopes printed in a coordinating font which is often less expensive than if hand calligraphed.  Again, think of first impressions.

Many of my clients have taken my advice and have thanked me for it in the end.  I know these tips will help you and, until next time,


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Mad Mad Birthday

I realized it has been a while since I told you about one of our special events so I thought I would get back into the swing of things by telling you about a really fun first birthday party I recently planned and designed for one of my favorite long time clients.

Last Summer my client contacted me to start the process of planning her daughter's first birthday party.  Having worked with this client several times, I had a good idea of what she wanted and immediately went to work to plan the perfect party for her little girl.

We started with the venue.  After checking out several potential locations we decided that the perfect place for the party would be Maritime Parc on the waterfront in Jersey City.  While the party was in Winter, the venue has great views of the city and provided the perfect backdrop for the party.
Now that we had the venue, it was time to decide on a theme for the Birthday.  My client wanted something fun but not over the top.  The first thing that came to my mind was "Alice in Wonderland".  My client loved the idea so I now set off to pull together all of the other elements needed for the party.

To start setting the theme I knew I would need the perfect invitation.  To create the invitation I enlisted the help of Ceci New York.  Ceci created a custom invitation that was perfect to set the stage for our Alice in Wonderland theme.  Using a Mad Hatter shape as the base, and pink and purple as the primary colors, the invitation had the whimsical look that I was looking for.

In thinking about the Alice in Wonderland decor I thought it would be great to make the birthday cakes become part of the decor.  To do this I initiated the help of Anne Heap of Pink Cake Box to create a themed cake that would serve as the focal point of each tables decor.  I cannot tell you what a great choice this was as Pink Cake Box creating some of the most incredible cakes I have seen.  Just look at the photos of some of the cakes they created for this Birthday.

Now we had the invitation and cakes, next on my agenda was the entertainment.  I knew my client would really like to have a lot of activities to keep the kids busy so I contacted Darren of On the Move Entertainment to put together the various elements to create a fun party for all of the kids that would be attending.  Keeping with the theme we naturally had to have Alice and the Mad Hatter in attendance.  

To help Alice and the Mad Hatter we enlisted the help of a great face painter, an amazing balloon artist, and Wacky Wendy who truly lives up to her name.  Also, to help the parents relax for the afternoon, Tish from Elegant Event Sitters provided staff to take care of the kids and make sure everyone was having fun.

I cannot tell you how much fun I had putting this party together with all of the details that went into the decor to carry the theme through the party.  While we had these amazing cakes for the centerpiece, I added a lot of small touches that were simple but really finished off the party.  

This includes the bright pink embroidered taffeta linens and special touches like the teapots filled with bright pink and purple flowers, butterflies that were used to accent the napkins.  Everything came together for a terrific birthday.

When all is said and done it was a wonderful party for a terrific client.  I really want to thank all of the vendors who helped bring all of the elements together and a special thanks to Jen at Fifth Avenue Digital for the terrific photography that is features here.

Until the next great party.