In life, both personally and professionally, I realize more and more, that we intuitively just know
what we need next, that is if we listen. The knowing is reassuring, as it only asks that you quiet
yourself enough to hear your own voice. The acting on it is the true challenge be it creating the time, finding the energy, or making it a priority, for without this motivation, the idea or the knowing
never really has a chance to become more than a thought.
Last year, a seed of a conversation started between me and a colleague and friend, Monika founder of Boston of Boston & Burke Florals. We both knew it was time to shoot a unique wedding in an industrial space. Both of us typically gravitate toward more natural venues and our wedding couples seem to hire us for just that reason. Yet, the time had come to show another side of our talents, but how?
What I truly love about the next steps that led us to seeing this idea to fruition, is how during this time of challenge, we wanted so desperately to be physically together with others in our industry, to collaborate, to create with other talent. Last year left us flat without the ability to gather and work at what we love. Those of us that had clients willing to go “micro” and celebrate anyway, were few and far between. So suddenly the idea of creating a styled shoot in an industrial space became so much more poignant and significant. It gave cause and reason to seek out others that were willing to unite, who could share this vision and come together with their skills and a lot of pent-up energy and open schedules.
The timing and our mindsets led us to the perfect space for success—the Senate Garage in Kingston, New York. From this point on, all the parts, people and bits fell into natural order. I reached out and connected with those I knew who could bring a unique quality to what we were trying to achieve and through this initial vendor team, met new talent, made new friends and finally, at the very last moment, met our two gorgeous models who happened to be exactly spot-on for what we had always intended for our lead characters. The fact that they were a real life in-love couple solidified in that moment that this all fell into the exact order that it was intended to.
For me, collaboration is where the joy truly happens. Working alongside others and realizing that it takes more than myself to create a setting or event, is the energy that drives. True satisfaction comes from inspiring and supporting others. Gratitude comes from witnessing their talent and commitment and how their process evolves and then suddenly dovetails into mine. The fellowship of it all really feeds my soul. Nothing feels better about my event work than when I am standing shoulder to shoulder
to see the end result as well as the contented smiles that we share,
and in knowing that we all put our best feet forward together and it all worked out.
This styled shoot was indeed the perfect alignment of talent at the perfect space and time.
It felt like our coming out party and the fuel we needed to feel renewed and ready for the season ahead.
I'm honored to share thoughts on what this collaboration
meant to some of my colleagues, and now friends:
Monika Boston • Boston and Burke Florals
A styled shoot allows creatives to draw from the wide variety of their professional experiences, as well
as a bank of emerging ideas they would like to explore, to create a product that is more than the sum of its parts. Working among a team of creative professionals, we can share the support and encouragement of colleagues
in the industry. Using the common themes as a launching point, each professional contributes their specialized skills
with their interpretation of the theme. The collaborative environment allows for creative freedom,
while providing the trusted foundation necessary for exploration.
Cappy Hotchkiss • Cappy Hotchkiss Photography
Collaboration as a photographer is a must for me. Working with other people who I respect and admire
is so motivating and invigorating. It is often hard for a photographer to relinquish control and this forces us to do so. Bouncing ideas around and seeing a vision from other talented peoples’ viewpoint can inspire and excite.
Nothing gives me greater joy and inspiration than becoming a team for a day with the vendors at a wedding.
It makes the job go so smoothly and the results truly pay off for the couple.
Judy Tallerman • The Senate Garage
When Paula Smith from Your Event contacted me during the pandemic to do a photoshoot at our venue
it was a breath of fresh air; it was a coming to life again; it was a collaboration with others in an industry
that was virtually shut down by the pandemic.
Each professional that works in our space brings their own unique style.
The 10' Chesterfield couch became a centerpiece of a pop-up lounge in the middle of the space—never done before. Our fireplace mantle was covered in a gorgeous cascading flower arrangement that showed off the brick
and the beautiful steel casement windows—never done before.
The day brought everyone together that had never met before, to contribute their talents to make
Senate Garage come alive in ways that have never been done before.
The beauty of a photoshoot is that you can really have fun in ways that are not possible during a wedding.
You can have the bride sit on the bar or pose lying on the concrete floor.
The photographer can climb ladders to get the perfect shot from up high.
It really was a special time and a great way to break back to being NORMAL again.
Bea Rue • Upstate Jamboree
Something incredible happens when people work together towards a collective vision.
That is exactly what we experienced during this shoot, and that is the ultimate mission behind our games--
to bring people together in connection and celebration.
Paula, as always, went above and beyond with this event, curating a gorgeous shoot and catering to every vendor
and detail along the way. We left feeling uplifted after a difficult year of cancellations,
and inspired for a fruitful and creative year ahead!
Marjorie Politi • Marjorie’s Letters
As a graphic designer and calligrapher, it’s so important to have a clear vision before I start creating.
I was able to conceptualize a wedding suite that drew from the seeds that Paula planted.
She welcomed collaboration and contribution to her ideas, and came up with details that were one of a kind
(and even had them engineered and built!). She choreographed all the contributing vendors to create a beautiful, seamless and cohesive event that just blew me away! It’s so rewarding to see all of this come together.
Paula’s positive and creative energy is infectious…she is such a joy to work with!
I want to thank this team of talented artisans for a great out of the starting gate effort and for coming together
to create a beautiful setting. This shoot was a labor of love, a very proud moment and in the end, the inspiration
and the spark that seemed to snap us gleefully back to our reality as event makers and celebration masters.
Please take a moment to explore their websites and social media!
Support them, spread the word!
Make the time to celebrate, and please call on us when you do!
PHOTOGRAPHY: Cappy Hotchkiss Photography
EVENT PLANNING + CREATIVE: Your Event | Paula Smith Designs, Inc.
VENUE: Senate Garage
FLORAL DESIGN: Boston and Burke Floral Design
LIGHTING DESIGN: Stortz Lighting
RENTALS: Events Unlimited Tent & Party Rental Company, Inc.
BRIDE: Rasheeda Riddick
BRIDAL GOWNS: Blush Bridal Boutique
HAIR + MAKEUP: Artisan Beauty Bar
JEWELRY: Elizabeth's Jewelry and Fine Gifts
GAME RENTALS: Upstate Jamboree Game Rentals
WEDDING CAKE: Nine Cakes
CALLIGRAPHY + GRAPHICS: Marjorie’s Letters
METAL WORK: Jeffrey Green Metal Designs
MENU: The Farmer's Wife
VIDEOGRAPHY: Atma Cornelius
Over the past year, time has taken on a rhythm of its own. I still grapple as I measure it against prior years.
What we are forced "to-not-do", what we are trying "to-do", and when we are anticipating the freedom
"to-do-more", has slowed our personal and professional timelines and made us focus and measure
each day, no longer by the minute or hour yet by the stats of the pandemic.
As the wedding and event season begins to pull out of the stalemate,
we are trying to recalibrate and anticipate returning to some version
of celebrating—deliberate in each step we take and
taking the time to do it right and responsibly.
Spring has sprung and with our events on the calendar from Memorial Day through the end of the year and into 2022, we are in full swing building out timelines for weddings, birthday celebrations and bar mitzvahs. We are anticipating that these will go on and with cautious optimism, we know that we’ll need to build in time as we near the day-of. This year we will need guest arriving earlier for temp check or signing in with vaccination cards or proof of 72-hour testing. We will take additional time to clean surfaces and moderate guest flow. We will anticipate later than normal RSVP and perhaps last-minute changes in guest seating should there be positive tests before arrival. Building in time on our timelines for uncertainty and unexpected change of plans will be essential.
In the current climate, all of our operations are taking more time! Communication responses between vendors and supplies, shipments and deliveries, fabrication, printing and general day-to-day operations. I think it’s safe to say that with so much of the workforce operating from home base with a steady stream of interruption in their workflow as well as with companies forced to downsize, we are challenged by a whole new set of obstacles in building out our event and remaining on schedule.
My new time management mantra has become “plan FURTHER ahead”
even in this state of uncertainty and actually because of it.
This means building in more time as we work events not only in the planning and management stages but as we gear up during month-of, week-of and day-of. Being realistic as we step into this season will allow us to be prepared for the unexpected. We are logging so much more time than in a normal start-up season in order to stay prepared and to guide our clients. It is daunting at times and certainly unsettling as longer work hours permeate the much need personal time to rest and create balance. There simply does not seem to be enough time these days. And on some level, I feel that no amount of time would make the current situation feel normal or the event folders feel in complete order. I grasp for more time each day anticipating that with time, I can make it feel like all is good in the world.
The reality is that time will tell. And until it does, we can only show up daily, prepared to do the best we can in this environment, while remain flexible and open as we guide our clients through their events. Planning “further” ahead will aid in our preparedness, expanded timelines will allow us to run our events more realistically and working from our hearts will give us the drive and stamina to remain positive and see each event through to a happy and safe ending.
May I live with compassion, with grace, with insight, with integrity, with love.
May I live each moment at a time,
doing the next right thing, whatever that may be.
We love having the luxury and liberty of using print to accentuate our events, both graphically and aesthetically.
As we develop the visual details of each and every theme, be it a wedding or special celebration, we look to create ways of unifying typography, imagery and appropriate methods of production. We believe that these details add both value and integrity to a vision, as well as underscore the personalities of our clients while reflecting their styles.
Our in-house graphic ability runs the gamut in customizing printed components for our clients. For weddings and special events, we offer design and printing of: Invitation Suites, Save the Date Announcements, Menus, Reception Cards, Seating Charts, Guest Hang Tags for Welcome Totes and Favors, Weekend Welcome Cards, Couple Love Letters, Signage and Guest Register Books. Truly, any way you can envision a message needing to be delivered, we are charged in finding creative solutions so that it fits perfectly into a celebration.
We start with a blank page in each and every scenario as we explore the needs and budgets of our clients. There are several ways to approach design while moving toward the end product.
We pose these questions to our clients as we guide the process:
Each client arrives at this process either with a very personal
and specific vision or are open to all possibilities, therefore we offer a trove
of solutions relying on the many longstanding relationships
we have with a variety of printers and methods.
From the get-go, we work from a flexible design mind set so that each client feels comfortable with options be it creating in house custom designs or partnering with fine stationary houses that provide pre-designed suites which offer just enough customization for client to move swiftly to a solution without the investment in a full design assignment. We believe that there are many paths to arriving at a beautiful and unique suite and it need not come with compromise.
We love the opportunities that unfold in print as we develop
and plan our events. It’s a natural extension of who we are
as designers and as detail-minded planners.
We truly appreciate well developed graphics that add to décor and styling and not detract. It’s a step we feel worth taking when our clients are making so many investments in creating their perfect day. In taking design to the next level, there are many print processes that allow us to offer short run solutions and pricing options using digital technology as well as pushing the envelope (literally!) and crafting in the realm of letterpress, engraving, dicutting, embossing and varnishing applications. When you toss in the many paper possibilities from cotton, recycled, high gloss, wove, flecked and beyond and quite frankly, there is so much fun to be had in making it the end product so spot on.
We are grateful for our print vendors and artisans
and could not get to the end without their expertise, skills, commitment to service and doing whatever it takes to make the deadline.
For all the years of working together and turning the many pages,
I’d like to highlight these local Hudson Valley businesses
and thank them for being part of our team and always delivering:
Central Press, Millbrook, NY
Cordially Corinne, Millbrook, NY
Marjorie's Letters, Hudson Valley
Moore & More Printing, Millerton, NY
Mr. P's Placecards, Chatham, NY
Pro Printers, Hudson, NY
Two Sparrows Homestead Signage, Newburgh, NY
Quality Printing Company, Pittsfield, MA
In this month of February, when LOVE is celebrated
in all its glory, it’s a moment that brings “a lotta love”
to the mindset of a wedding planner.
It’s the peak of engagement season so we see a spike in wedding inquiries and consultations. It’s a time where new love stories present themselves. The promise and honor of welcoming newly engaged couples to the studio and getting to work to make their vision a reality, is what makes my heart go pitter patter. For me, it’s also a time of reflection. Thinking deeply about the couples that I worked with in the prior year. It’s the stories I have recently lived through and helped write. Proud to have a hand in these happy ending with the lead characters that now feel incredible close to my heart.
In a year that started out so simply in the planning of a wedding for 125 guests on a beautiful estate in Washington, Connecticut, I witnessed the unfolding of a real life novel. The many twists and turns, a cast of beloved and most interesting characters while all the while, a thread of intense love that kept this couple and family on course, even on days where we all felt intoxicated by the COVID haze.
Allegra and Aaron Okarmus married on August 29th, as planned! Their date never changed but the road to it had many switchbacks. Their day had none-less-love just because it ended up being a Micro Wedding, in fact exponentially more. In my mind, their story exemplified the immense strength of family and the reality that love conquers all.
Like so many 2020 to-be-wedded couples, Allegra and Aaron fought daily to hold onto what they had dreamed their day would look like, adapting to change and adversity as news and personal health concerns escalated. As their guest list diminished monthly due to restrictions, by August 29th, they were surrounded by only their immediate family and their lifetime friend and officiate. On this day, this family did not have to share their VIP couple with over 100 other guests. The space opened with togetherness less the distractions of wanting to enjoy each and every guest over the course of 6 hours. It was a gift owed this family after months of isolation and worry. To witness vows, toasts, laughter, love, sparklers, and even magic tricks through my very own closeup lens was an illuminated reminder of the many joys that my work gives back to me. How can you not fall in love with a family that feels exactly like family? After so many tough-love conversations, drying tears and praying that we would get to see this timeline through to lights-off, I feel immensely blessed for the love that guided and rewarded us on their day and to this day.
A love struck planner (aka The Fairy Godmother)
...and Atticus, the Charmer - January 2021
I fell hard for my "Triple-A-Couple" and for this reason and so many more,
I am highlighting Allegra + Aaron in this month of love.
She and her father, Joseph Siravo speak to the blessings
that unfolded in their year of 2020.
Read on for the love of it...
For so many, 2020 was a year fraught with uncertainty, distress, loss and isolation but for us, it was not so. Certainly, it had its challenges;
like so many others we faced the anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic
and its crippling effects on plans and relationships but more so,
we had a year of resilience, growth and unrelenting love.
Aaron and I were engaged on January 7th, 2020. It was a beautiful, snowy night atop the Empire State Building when Aaron proposed and we began our journey toward wedded bliss. Luckily, shortly thereafter we found Paula, the fairy godmother we didn't know we needed to navigate the road ahead. On March 11th (my dear father's birthday) we found out that I was pregnant and coincidentally, that my dress (which I LOVED) had arrived! Plot twist, I did not wear that dress. On March 23rd, CT and NY went into lockdown. And yet, on August 29th, Aaron, myself and our son, Atticus (in utero) formally became a family. It wasn't the wedding I planned and envisioned since I was a little girl but it was infinitely better. The twelve people we love more than anything in the world were all present and we got to spend time with each of them. Not only was it aesthetically beautiful (that part I had envisioned) but it was moving and intimate in a way that it couldn't have been if things had gone according to "plan". Through all the frustration, our love for each other and our family carried us through and solidified my belief that everything happens for a reason! —Allegra, 2.2021
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
T.S. ELIOT: The Four Quartets
Life is just a big ol’ Circle of Time. We are all on a journey to “get back to where we once belonged.”
Allegra, Aaron and Atticus are now at the beginning of their journey together.
Our hopes and dreams for their continued happiness lie in the road outstretched before them.
And our most fervent prayer is that every step they take may bring exciting new discoveries
as they “know the place for the first time.”
Joseph Siravo aka ‘Nonno Joe’
February 2021 NYC
CHEERS TO THE BEGINNING OF THIS A+A+A LOVE STORY!
Can't wait for the sequel in September 2021!
Photography: Luke Wayne Photography | @lukewaynephoto
Catering: Doro Catering & Events | @dorocateringandevents
Florals: Bantam Blooms | @bantamblooms
Hair & Makeup: Blush Bridal | @blush_bridalct
Rentals: Mahaiwe Tent Rentals | @maihawetent
Videography: Inspiration in Motion | @inspiration.in.motion
Lighting: Maryann Gillooly
Officiate: Belinda Sinclair | @belinda_sinclair
Cake: Blackberry River Baking Co | @blackberryriverco
We turned a numerical chapter and shifted a digit this week—we are entering into a new year that naturally provides hope for a safer and more sane way of life. Those of us who were able to hang on and remain in business feel a sense of triumph having reached the end of 2020 still standing. Although we all still face the challenges from the past year as we look toward reviving our event businesses in 2021, we share a renewed sense of optimism that naturally accompanies the start of a fresh calendar year. 2021 will be the year that we rely on each other even more as we kick the gears in motion and get our parties started again.
In the days after the new year begins, I usually enjoy looking back and reflecting—this year, not so much. I have a much deeper-rooted desire to look ahead. I find myself cringing as I recall the past months: how intense and uncertain each day was, how much harder we all had to work to stay well, stay sane, manage our businesses and care for each other. It was deep…it was so heavy.
But in reflecting on this year, for me there was one steady, positive thread that anchored me in my work every day. Although isolation was the new norm for
all of us, the daily interactions I had with fellow vendors made me feel,
on some level, that life had not completely unraveled. Whether it was an email,
a quick call, a Zoom meeting, or even an Instagram emoji that popped up
with a heart, I felt connected to good people each day. Good, hardworking people that I knew were trying their best to sort through their own chaos
while remaining empathetic and supportive of the rest of us.
In this first blog of 2021, I’d like to say thank you to all of the professionals, artisans and entrepreneurs that were there for me this year.
For taking a moment to adjust as each conversation began and as each ask unfolded. Humility reigned and generosity of heart and spirit flowed.
I am so grateful to each of you for what you gave to see our work through. I am also very proud of what we were able to accomplish together for the good of our clients. For some of us, we were fortunate to be on site together mask-to-mask, creating some version of the original plan. For others, we forged new roadmaps for 2021 events that we will certainly toast to together later this year, mask-to-mask or face-to-face…only time will tell.
For now, cheers to all of you!!! With my deepest sincerity, I hope that 2021 brings each of you restored hope, optimism, prosperity, and a true sense of internal peace. But most importantly, I hope that you all remain safe and healthy, taking care of yourself and those around you so that you can welcome back a more normal lifestyle in the months ahead.
I look forward to our reunions and bringing our celebrations back to life this year!
With gratitude and fellowship,
VENUES • LIGHTING • CATERERS • HAIR STYLISTS • MAKEUP ARTISTS • FLORISTS • MUSICIANS • RENTALS • DISK JOCKEYS • ENTERTAINERS • RENTALS • PHOTOGRAPHERS • VIDEOGRAPHERS • CAPTAINS •
WAITSTAFF • BARTENDERS • TRANSPORT • PRINTERS • ARTISTS • BAKERS • SEAMSTRESSES • PARKING
CHEERS TO ALL OF YOU IN 2021
Event Planner & Designer