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I just got engaged!!! What should I do first?
CONGRATULATIONS! I would love nothing more than to tell you to soak up this special time, and enjoy being engaged for a bit. But, COVID has caused a lot of venues and vendors to book up very quickly (into 2022 and 2023). If you’re looking to get married in either of those years, I’d recommend starting on your guest list first, then build out your budget. Once that’s done, try to lock in the venue, as well as the vendors that typically book clients further out (band, photographer, designer). You can take a breath after that!
Do most venues let you bring in your own alcohol?
It depends on their liquor license, and the venue’s operating structure. It’s such a case-by-case basis, so it’s best to ask your venue manager directly.
Where do you find custom bachelorette party things?
Etsy is usually my go-to for bachelorette supplies. Sellers are really on top of trends and you can find such a wide variety of bachelorette essentials like customizable baseball caps, tattoos and tank tops. ForYourParty is another great source, especially for customizable tumblers and cocktail napkins.
Do you recommend any books that have checklists for wedding planning?
Honestly, I’ve always been the checklist for my clients (lol) so I haven’t actually tried one of these out for myself! Though, there’s a lot of free wedding planning checklists available online. I’d recommend searching on BRIDES or The Knot.
What mascara do you use?
My parents want to invite a lot more of their friends to our wedding than my fiancé and I anticipated. We don’t want to be rude, because they’re paying for a portion of it, but the venue is limited in space and we still have guests that we want to invite! What should we do?
I feel for you! This is a tough situation to be in. I completely understand wanting to respect your parents’ guest list additions, especially with their financial contribution to the wedding. That being said, it’s also ok to let them know how you’re feeling. Ask if there’s any wiggle room in their guest list. I’ve often seen this lead to a compromise! Even if they cut down their list by 5 people, that’s still a handful more of your friends that you can extend invitations to.
What are the most popular late night wedding snacks?
Mini chicken and waffles go quickly. So do all of the greasy late night staples that you’d order off of the dollar menu at McDonalds. Sliders, french fries in cones, and miniature grilled cheeses are fan favorites.
I’m planning a getaway for my boyfriend’s birthday and want to do something while we’re away to make it special. Any suggestions?
Last summer for my boyfriend’s birthday, we went away to Block Island for a long weekend. About two weeks before we arrived, I arranged for one of the only florists on the island to deliver light blue (his fave color) and white rose petals to the hotel room during our dinner reservation. I also arranged for the hotel to leave a bottle of champagne on ice and his favorite dessert in the room right before we made our way back to the hotel from dinner. It was a simple but sweet surprise, given that we were adventuring all over the island over the course of the weekend, and hadn’t taken a second to just chill out together. It was also relatively easy to do and he so appreciated it! That’s my recommendation, but go with your gut feeling on what your boyfriend would enjoy the most. HAVE SO MUCH FUN!
Do you see yourself planning events forever?
Yes queen, I do. It’s a passion that I’ve had for almost a decade now, and there’s so much more that I want to do with it!
What is your favorite venue in NYC?
This answer might seem like a cop-out, but I’ve toured and worked in so many different venues that are all uniquely special in their own ways. Some of them are iconic spaces best suited for weddings, while others are quaint rooftop terraces best suited for an intimate dinner. It all depends on the occasion, guest count, and the vibe that the client wants to convey! Email me if you want specific recommendations 🙂
How do you start designing an event?
Guest count first, budget second, venue third, design deck fourth. Then back to the budget again (and again). That design deck is pretty key to developing the overall look and feel of the event.
Do YOU think live events for 250 or more will occur this summer?
Oopmh… Don’t hate me for saying this, but no, sadly I do not. As I’m responding to this, it’s mid February, 2021 and NYS recently announced that weddings up to 150 people can occur starting March under the conditions that COVID testing is performed and the event is approved by the health department, among other factors. It’s my personal opinion, that clients will continue to reschedule and shift event dates to the Fall, to celebrate without restrictions. It feels a bit too risky to assume this news won’t change over the course of the next month (just look at the fluctuations that happened with the restaurant industry). Although, I know that when folks do gather again, they will be ready to party like they never have before!
What should I buy someone as a housewarming gift?
Go the non-traditional route! People like to curate their own environments, so unless you know their style really well, I’d suggest gifting gourmet food or a nice bottle of wine. I love to send rustic wooden crates from Olive & Cocoa, filled with appetizers or desserts that the recipient would enjoy.
How do you suggest budgeting for a wedding (when you have to pay for it yourself)?
Keep in mind that about 40% of your budget will be allocated to food and beverage. It’s going to be one of the most expensive line items in your spreadsheet. Allocate your budget to foundational categories like that, as well as the venue, entertainment, photo and video, and build the rest of your budget by backing into those categories based on guest count. Prioritize the things that you and your fiancé care about the most, and elements of the wedding that your guests will find most memorable. Those are the areas to splurge on, and everything else is something to save on.
What’s been an unexpected obstacle you had to overcome since starting the business?
Surprisingly, time management. I’m constantly checking myself to ensure that I’m investing the majority of my time into tasks that will produce the greatest ROI. It’s challenging, given how many hats I’m wearing in order to operate a small business, but it’s also been a massive growth opportunity.
How do you keep up with wedding and event trends?
I read BizBash, Vogue Weddings, Grace Ormonde Weddings, all of the publications really!
What are ways to save money on a party?
Research, research, research. Nine times out of ten, saving money is all about cost comparison to find the best deals. Also, the further in advance you plan, the more opportunities you’ll have to purchase items on sale, and avoid rush shipping fees. Lastly, think about what components of the party your guests will actually remember; allocate more of your budget to those categories, while cutting back on the less important stuff.
What personality traits do you think all event planners must have?
Detail oriented, a passion for hospitality and a service oriented mindset.
Why should I hire an event planner?
If you like saving time and money, want access to hidden gems, and see the value in having someone to rely on when planning gets stressful or crazy, an event planner is right for you. If you’re Type-A and want complete control over your event, and just someone to execute it, an event planner is right for you. If you want to avoid the scenario where you, your best friend, parent or sibling stresses out on the event day because no-one can find the (insert one hundred items here), an event planner is right for you. If you prefer to enjoy the planning process and have the final say in decisions, without reviewing revised proposals, handling contract negotiation, managing a budget and inventory, overseeing load in, set up and strike, an event planner is right for you. It’s an expert, confidant, and extra set of hands, all in one!
How do you stay motivated?
I always try to keep my goals on the horizon. It reminds me why I’m putting in work now.
Where did you get that pink dress?
Revolve! It’s the Nookie Divine Midi Dress.
How can I prepare for a career planning events?
Gain as much real-world experience as you can. Look for internships, volunteer work and shadowing opportunities with agencies or boutique planners. I have always found the most valuable learning opportunities from working on-site and behind the scenes.
What’s your favorite type of event to plan?
I once heard Colin Cowie say his favorite type of event to plan is always the next one, and I have to agree. There’s something in the air when I’m working on a new event. If you’ve ever stumbled upon a photo, phrase or item that sparks immediate interest and you suddenly start to brainstorm all of these different ideas for a new event, you’re probably in the same boat!
How often do you throw your own parties?
Not counting more casual hosting for occasions like Friendsgiving, I’ve gotten into a groove of planning one bigger party each year. It’s usually 6-8 months in the making, and I have a lot of fun with it!
Do you ever have downtime when traveling for work?
It really depends on the lead-time for the event, and the to-do list once I’ve reached the destination. I’m usually able to explore a bit, and I love to take that time to find unique mementos. When I visited Ravello, Italy for a wedding, I brought back a collection of pasta bowls and serving platters that I purchased from a local artisan. I wrapped them in my clothes and packed them super tightly in my carry-on to avoid any damage on the trip back home. It was the heaviest carry-on bag ever, but it was so worth it!
How do you decide where to splurge, and where to save with your events?
When I’m planning an event, my client’s goals are the priority. If a wedding client wants to prioritize food and beverage, and photography, for example, more funds would be allocated to those budget categories. Whereas, stationery might not be a high priority, and we’ll save in that category by choosing a lower ply paper and opt for economical printing methods. I also put myself in the guests’ shoes. I question, “If I were attending this event, would I view this as a high-impact moment, or memorable experience?” That typically dictates whether to splurge or save. It’s a balancing act, depending on which elements are most important to the host, and most memorable for their guests.
How would you describe your home style?
Minimalistic, modern, maybe a bit farmhouse inspired? I’m a big fan of experimenting with interior design, so it’s constantly evolving!
Where do you find recipes for the events you host?
A mix of mediums… I’m subscribed to The New York Times cooking newsletter, and receive their weekly emails on recipes to try. I also have quite the collection of cookbooks. Try Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard or Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines and Marah Stets. Pinterest is great for cooking inspiration, but I typically search for the best rated versions of those recipes on Google.
What is your earliest memory of a party you went to?
A birthday party at my childhood home. There was an inflatable jumpy castle, but I spent most of the party running around the house in circles with my friends. It’s the simple things, right?
If you could revisit any destination that you’ve traveled to, which would you choose?
Amangiri, an Aman property in Utah, because it was seriously amazing. I remember landing in Las Vegas and taking the 4+ hour drive through the desert to reach the resort. It was set so far back in the canyons, that my colleague and I had to backtrack several times to find the entrance. The sheer architecture and seclusion of the property is breathtaking. I would love to return at some point in my life, but this time as a guest!
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.
Do you have a favorite moment from a wedding?
An awesome speech by the best man; it was effortless, heartfelt and made the whole room laugh.
How do you make connections with other event professionals?
The hospitality industry boasts a lot of great networking groups. Organizations like the International Live Events Association (ILEA), Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA), and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) host monthly or quarterly meetings for members and non-members to connect. There’s typically an educational component with remarks from a keynote speaker, the host venue or meeting sponsors. 10/10 recommend joining a networking group!