Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Secrets of a New York City Event Planner

Thou shalt not serve asparagus at your wedding. 

Yes, those crisp green and white spears make refreshingly delicious salads. And I sure that shade of chilled soup would coordinate fabulously with your hydrangea centerpieces. But, trust me, asparagus is the wrong thing to serve to hundreds of people who will sharing the same facilities.  To put it as subtly as possible, by the time you cut the cake the restrooms will reek. Gross but true. 

I learned that little gem of event planning wisdom on the job. After five years managing about 1000 of New York's most dazzling events, I've acquired a few lesser known tricks of the trade. When I started planning my own wedding a few months ago I learned a few more. Orange to Apple proudly presents:

3 wedding planning tips you probably haven't heard before... 

1. Get married to him, not a specific flower. 

All brides prefers peonies. These lush, pouty blossoms are about as romantic as it gets. Unfortunately peonies aren't always so pretty on the budget. Their season is short, peaking at the end of May through mid-June so if you're getting married during the winter or fall your florist will likely charge double to import them. The same applies to several other lusted after flowers like like orchids and hydrangeas. 

When you chat with your florist, instead of fixating on specific stems, explain the characteristics, colors and overall "feel" you're hoping to achieve with your centerpieces or bouquets. Do you want  tight, structured, modern arrangements or loose "fresh from the garden" bunches? Do you want large wide blooms or long, sleek and minimal? Shades of green? Shades of pink? A good florist can use that direction to recommend seasonal and budget-friendly options.

Instead of peonies, try cabbage roses. If you love hydrangeas, consider dahlias. If you're obsessed with anemones (like me), take a look at lisianthus.  Your party guests will never count the number of peonies in their table's centerpiece or even realize your bridesmaids are clutching $10-a-pop callalily stems. Design is important but don't get caught up in "brand name" blooms.

2. When it's planned, stop planning. 

Wedding dress shopping is like falling in love. When you know, you just know. 

At least that's the tale old (and young) wives told me before my first dress shopping appointment at Kleinfeld's in Manhattan. As much as I was looking forward to mocking that marital mumbo jumbo after the fact, I gotta admit, it did sorta work out that way. 

Not that it was all white doves and heart-shaped confetti. In fact, I was pretty terrified when my mom and sisters left me alone in the fitting room, fidgeting in my too-short silk robe as I waited for the consultant to return with options. It felt like a lot was on the line. Not just because I had sifted and searched through dresses for months, but because finally selecting what I would wear on my wedding day made this whole getting married thing real.

Still, despite the nerves, I found my "when you know, you just know" moment.

It was the first dress I tried on. I loved it right away but I didn't know it was the dress until I put the next one on. Nothing compared. I missed it as soon as I was out of it. Standing on a pedestal in the center of the store like a circus seal, pinned and potato chip clipped into my dress, trying not to trip over borrowed heels, I just knew.

So what's my tip? (Besides strongly encouraging you to wear a good strapless bra unless you want to go to second base with the lady who works at the store.)

Once you have that magical moment when the stars and sweetheart necklines align, you must force yourself to stop searching! Throw away the tabbed bridal magazines. Ban "Say Yes to the Dress" marathons. Avert your eyes as you walk past that flawless Monique Lhullier window at Saks. 

The same applies to all your other big day decisions. When planning a wedding options are endless, so don't drive yourself nuts laboring over decisions that have already been made. If you keep browsing, chances are  you'll find another dress, tablecloth, party favor or lace-wrapped votive candle that you like better. Be decisive. Commit and get excited. Isn't that what  marriage is all about.

3. Consider the dance floor. 

The napkins are folded. The champagne is chilled. The roses are bedazzled. 

Every single detail has been obsessed over, except for one-- a really big one. A  20' x 24' detail sitting in the smack dab center of your reception. The dance floor often gets stared at more than any other piece of real estate in the room. It's where you dance your first dance. It's where the bride's dad gives his speech. It sneaks into most of the photos. The dance floor is a big opportunity for decor.

These days, the sky's the limit when it comes to floors. There's the monogram, the mosaic and the neon squares that light up like Dance Dance Revolution. I've seen plexy glass over pools and floors so sleek and shiny they look like a pool. I've seen floors up-lit with starry lights that rival the planetarium at the Natural History Museum.

You don't have to go that custom. Just make sure you pay attention to it. Which color compliments your decor or theme? If your venue provides a dance floor, will they polish off the scuffs? Are you allowed to remove it or cover it? Should you add a wash of light?

I included a few inspiring ideas below. But, before you fall in love, you should know these floors are expensive ($4,000+). So is outfitting each guest with a pair of monogramed flip flops or renting a fleet of Rolls Royce. If there's any room for splurge at your wedding, I think a memorable dance floor pays off.

Classic Black and White is always cool. Photo from Southern Weddings
Project roses, falling snow or graphics to add whimsy and pull a theme together. Photo from weddingomania.
Mirror floors are oh so elegant! Photo from platinumpro.

Go graphic. Photo from David Tutera's Itsabrideslife.com.


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  3. Awesome post! So true too... Being a floral designer in NYC I can certainly say that flexibility in flower choice will always get you a more unique, stunning bouquet then one you cut out of a magazine. Same goes for centerpieces too! Letting a good designer do what they do best - design - is key to getting an incredible result!

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