Wednesday, March 31, 2010

From the Vault: Ines and Augusto

Since I did weddings long before the days of the blog, I thought I'd pull a few "from the vault" to share with you some of my favorites... and I'll start with one with a good story!

Ines and Augusto were married in September of 2005 at a relatively unknown venue on Long Island - The Nassau County Museum of Art. This is a gorgeous site with a wonderful collection of paintings and sculpture, so for those of you who are New Yorkers, it is definitely a great place for a Saturday drive! In any case, the museum is set on oodles of beautifully manicured acres with spectacular gardens and lawns perfect for a wedding reception. The site is relatively complicated in terms of catering and logistics, so definitely the reason to select this venue is for the gorgeous setting, particularly the facade of the museum building itself. So, lo and behold, when we went for a quick, unscheduled pop-in just 2 days before the wedding, you can imagine the bride's face when we pulled up to the front of the museum covered from top to bottom with scaffolding! Not an inch of the spectacular brick building was visible behind the scaffolding and mesh for a "routine building cleaning." I was told that it had just gone up one day before and was planned to be up for 3 - 4 months! Hmmmm... wouldn't a phone call have been nice?? Well, phone call or no phone call, consoling hysterical Ines was one of the most heart wrenching, challenging moments of my career. Would her wedding have been "ruined" by the scaffolding? Certainly not. But, it would have been far from what she imagined, and that is tough to swallow just 48 hours before her wedding.

For those of you who know me, you know that I am a pretty laid-back, calm gal. But, on this fine day in September, I let that venue manager have it. I mean all-out, don't-mess-with-the-wedding-planner-I-will-kick-your-ass-if-you-make-my-bride-cry-for-one-more-minute HAVE IT. So, the end of my very long story is that first thing the next morning (Friday before the Saturday wedding), workmen ascended upon that scaffolding and took every last piece down. Yup, every last ugly, unseemly piece and all the orange mesh that went with it. I even had my mother-in-law, who lives nearby the museum, sit there and watch them to make sure they didn't cut any corners since I couldn't be there myself.

Anyway.... after all the yelling was done and the scaffolding was gone and the tears were dried, it was a spectacular wedding. It was a sunny, gorgeous day that lead to a warm, late summer night and this Peruvian couple had a sizzling, Latin-flavored celebration that reflected their heritage and their love.

As a side note, once the wedding was underway, I had made my peace with the venue and we even said that we could work together again. I haven't had the opportunity to do another wedding at the museum, but, armed with a slightly tougher contract, I would go back, since, despite the need for the yelling, what needed to get done, got done... and with one or two whole hours to spare!

How gorgeous is the front of the museum??

The escort table was set in the formal gardens where cocktail hour took place

The dining tent in daylight

The tent after sunset

Photos by Sharon Schuster

Hope you enjoy this and my other vault extractions to come!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sara and Scott - A Sneak Peek

We created such a beautiful, romantic wedding for New York couple Sara and Scott a few weeks ago at Cipriani 42nd Street. Despite some of the worst rain ever (well, not as bad as the rain at Ali and Gene's wedding, but slightly worse than the rain at both Hillary and Miles' and Rushmi and Vikram's wedding) it was a spectacular event in one of the City's most glamorous venues. Though I don't have all of the photos back yet, I thought I'd "wet" your appetite with a little sneak peek of the room decor... see... that's my attempt at rain humor. Ha, ha?

More photos soon!

photo by Douglas Benedict

Monday, March 22, 2010

Full disclosure

In case you haven't noticed, I've had only a temporary splash page posted as my website for quite some time now. That's probably how many of you have stumbled upon this blog. And, like the site says, I have been working on the redevelopment of the full site. The real deal, however, is that I have made very slow progress on the new site primarily because I am really struggling with exactly how I want it to look and feel. I spent a lot of time working on something that I didn't think accurately represented the work that we do, so I recently scrapped it and started over (sad, but true!). So, now I have a pile of notes and what my son would call "scribble scrabble" and I have psyched myself out on diving in to a new design. Since I figured that those of you who read this blog have a relative amount of vested interest in the content I put out into the world, I thought I might ask YOU for a little input. When you have a small business like I do, one of the things that you lack is a team of people to weigh in on decisions... so, wanna be my team?

Here's what you need to know:
1. I will not have any type of music on my site
2. I am not generally a fan of flash animation
3. I'm on a budget :-)

Ok... go for it... gimme what you've got! Any and all feedback and ideas are welcome. What sites do you love and why? And what sites do you hate and why? What moves you? And what do you wish you saw when you clicked on my site? Don't be shy about mentioning others in my business - believe me, I have seen all of their sites too!

Thanks in advance. I can't wait to see what "my team" and I can come up with!

Have a great week,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Inspired by... My Peers

I had the great pleasure of spending three days in San Francisco at the Wedding 360 Academy for Planners and Designers. To be amongst such talented people who are as committed to their work as I am was inspiring beyond words. We heard from event industry greats such as David Beahm, Todd Fiscus, Tara Guerard, Grace Ormonde and many others and learned from each other about design as well as the business of design. I could go on and on, but I know what you'll really love are the design showcases that were on display as well as the party decor.... please excuse my horrid photography skills. :-)

The first event was an "Emerald Underworld" cocktail party designed by Gloria Wong. Kudos go to a long list of contributors for this event, but Gloria was the mastermind behind it all.

The next night, Gloria was at it again with the "Museum of Petals" dinner. The ballroom foyer at the St. Regis San Francisco had some floating petals on the wall and in the art, so I can only imagine that was the inspiration for this theme.

This tree had thousands of hand-strung petals and was probably about 10 feet wide!

This was a fabric runner stitched with silk petals which is much cleaner than just strewn petals.

The design showcases by Bay Area designers Nancy Liu Chin and Asiel Design were both so spectacular that it is hard to say which I liked best. I had been admiring the work of Lanae and Jonathan from Asiel for quite some time, but I fell in love with Nancy at this event, so my affection is split!

Asiel Designs:

Nancy Liu Chin:

Events such as this give me so much creative energy that when I get back to work, I can hardly reign it in! Many of my friends and family asked why "competitors" would want to spend so much time networking with each other, but the truth is that none of us are competitors, we are all colleagues. We each have our own design style and value propositions for our clients, so being together allows us to learn and to grow from each others' successes and failures. If you re-adjust your thinking, I think you might find a whole lot of inspiration exactly where you aren't looking.

Are you up for the challenge?


Ps. I just found a link to PHENOMENAL photos from Wedding 360 that put mine to shame. Check out Thanks, Luna Photo!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rushmi and Vikram's Post-Wedding Party

After more than a year of celebratory events related to their wedding, Rushmi and Vikram finally enjoyed their last wedding celebration right here in the Big Apple. I think I may have been just as sad as they were when the party was over... after working on their engagement party in Pennsylvania, multi-day wedding in Bangalore and now this last party in New York, I barely know what to do with myself when not working on what Rushmi would call a "" event! But, like every one of their other celebrations, this was a great party and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Since the couple was still recovering from a week of elaborate wedding events in India (I am still working on getting those pictures, by the way!), they wanted to keep this event for friends and family who couldn't travel to India for the wedding relatively simple. So, we decided to create a fun, sexy lounge atmosphere at The Midtown Loft and focus on two great accent pieces - the bar and the dessert table. Because I knew how much this crowd likes to party, I created a large square bar in the middle of the space so that guests could be served from all sides. We re-used the hanging candle holders from the entryway at their engagement party to create a ceiling treatment above the bar to further customize the space.

Then, about half way through the party, we revealed a dessert bar with mini-yummies from the best places in New York including Three Tarts, Baked by Melissa, Wanna Hava Cookie and Economy Candy. Cupcakes, whoopie pies and cookies, oh my!

All photos by Sofia Negron

I'm back on the blogging train, so look out!
:-) L

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inspired by... James Cameron

I know, I know. Totally unlike me and totally off course from my normal pretty-party banter. But, a wise man once told me (that's you, Sean Low) that when I hear/see/experience something that inspires me, no matter what it is, I must write about it so that you, my lovely readers, can know what goes on in my mind. So, here it goes... James Cameron.

As I am sitting in bed watching Oprah's Oscar Special (also random for me since I am not an Oprah watcher) Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron are taking a behind the scenes look at the Avatar design office. He is walking her through a museum of sorts with all of the drawings, paintings and figurines of the various Avatar characters and scenes. He points out a few different paintings and explains how when he was just 14 years old, he had a dream in which the ground was luminescent. He was so profoundly moved by his dream that he kept that image with him throughout his life, and as the rest of the film developed he then channeled that dream as a major visual and conceptual inspiration for the movie. I was so taken by the power of that image and the drive that it fueled. I, too, have a strong visual memory and I sometimes think that I have a database of images in my mind that may never have a platform to become anything, but today I am inspired to remember that if I hang onto them, there may be just the right time and place to bring my visions to life.

He also talked about the moment he knew he HAD to become a filmmaker. He was driving a truck for a living in 1977 when the original Star Wars was released. After seeing the movie - what was possible as well as the amazing response of audiences - he quit his job to begin a film career.
The pure passion that inspired him that day continues to ignite his creativity. On the days when, as a designer, you can't find a creative solution with two hands and a flashlight, it is good to be reminded that creativity comes from within.

I get you, James Cameron, I get you. Not too long ago, I was sitting at lunch with my husband Mark while we were on a ski vacation in Vermont. Of course, my Blackberry was by my side and I got that little buzz that signified an email. I made a quick, casual check followed by an engrossed and mildly obsessed look at that little magic screen. Mark asked what it was and I told him that I just got an email from a prospective bride and, from what she asked and described, I want this wedding SO much! Sometimes, I just get a certain feeling about a project and I know it is one that I have to have. Anyway, for the rest of the lunch I was itching to write her back right away, but knew I needed to wait to get back to my computer to write a nice, well thought out, professional email.

While watching me fidget in my seat, Mark said what he's said many times before: "I wish I could be half as excited about my work as you are about yours." I, too, wish that for him, and I wish that for you. It is a gift.

My work is certainly no Avatar or Titanic, but I feel every day how James Cameron felt that day after he saw Star Wars - THAT'S what I want to do. Lucky me and lucky James Cameron - we've got what we always wanted. And like my boy Jim, I never want it to end.

Bring. It. On.


Ps. I promise to return to my regularly scheduled "pretty-party banter" on the next post!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why My Neighbors Think I'm Nuts

Many years ago, when I had my first full time employee who came to work every day in my little NYC apartment (Dana, if you are reading this, I still think you are a superhero), my business was just starting to boom and we were quickly outgrowing both the amount of space we needed to produce the events on the calendar as well as the number of hours it took to actually get all of the work done. For one Bat Mitzvah, with painter's tarps on my new couches, we hand-cut nine Caribbean Islands from foam core, spray painted them showing correct topography and mounted them on wooden beams covered with fishing nets. Then, since we were running late to the event setup, we blew up about 75 inflatable guitars and microphones in my tiny little Ford. At the time (before blogs), we joked that my first book would be entitled "100 Things You Never Knew You Could Do In A Moving Car." I still might write that book...

Now, about six years later, I have a bigger office and a bigger car, but some things never change. With only hours to go before hitting the road for a destination wedding in Vermont, I had to find a way to transform zinc tags into chalkboard placecards. When I ordered them to start with I thought I'd like the zinc, but when they arrived I had to make a game-time decision to change up the plan (with the bride's blessing, of course). Anyway, now that I have kids and a dog, spray painting in my living room is no longer an option, so I had to move my craft project outside to my driveway. On a cold fall morning, as my neighbors walked their dogs and picked up their morning papers, I suited up in surgical gloves to get my craft on! With no shortage of strange looks, I danced around my driveway avoiding the excess paint blowing towards me with the gusts of wind and made it happen.

This is how the zinc tags came.

And after the initial coat of paint began...

Done, but wet!

Loaded up to dry on the way out of town!

The finished product.

I figure that the work in the driveway is like free advertising - everyone on my block knows what I do for a living, that's for sure!

Til next time,