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
15th Annual Best of Weddings Awards Honor Top Wedding Vendors
I am so pleased and proud to announce that we have been selected as a 2021 —winner of The Knot Best of Weddings, an accolade representing the highest- and most-rated wedding professionals as reviewed by real couples, their families and wedding guests on The Knot, a leading wedding planning and registry brand and app.
Despite COVID-19 interrupting many 2020 weddings and social events, wedding professionals around the nation continued to support to-be-weds throughout their wedding planning journeys. From adjusting future schedules to make way for postponed weddings, to helping couples host socially distanced weddings following state and local guidelines and restrictions with an increased focus on health and safety, wedding pros—and the industry as a whole—rallied together in 2020, ultimately helping couples continue to celebrate life and love. The Knot 2021 Best of Weddings recognition honors the vendors who went above and beyond to help to-be-weds navigate the global pandemic.
In 2021, five percent of hundreds of thousands of local wedding professionals listed on The Knot received this distinguished award.
In its fifteenth annual year, The Knot continues its long-standing tradition of supporting local wedding vendors with The Knot Best of Weddings 2021, an annual by-couples, for-couples guide to the top wedding professionals across the country.
This year, we certainly ran our hardest to the end of the marathon (one in which we never signed up for, none the less, trained for). What a tremendous honor and delight to have been recognized by this outstanding industry leader, The Knot, and by all the folks that we took extra care of and that, in turn, took time to write raving 5-star reviews for us. Thank you so much for this recognition!
We all know what this year entailed so I need not go back in time to relive how to navigate event planning in a pandemic. Yet I do want to thank and highlight our clients that trusted us to work through the challenges by guiding and supporting them in the midst of this compromised and unpredictable year. Some went ahead and wed on their day (anyway and in unexpected ways!) and others opted to push out to 2021 with the same plan or perhaps a "new & improved" one. Each scenario was unique and personal. Each situation allowed us to work exponentially closer with our clients and to get to know them on a deeper level. In some cases, even "virtually" meeting parents that we normally shake hands with at the rehearsal. The anxiety-ridden conversations and decisions through peak pandemic stretches, forged relationships that we never expected. In reflection, I see now that this year presented opportunities to see each other in a truer sense, hear each other more closely and witness weakness and strengths that all lead to a much deeper appreciation and knowing. I often think of my couples as my flock, but this year, they all feel like my family.
We all found ways to stay afloat mentally as we plodded through the uncertainties.
Many catch phrases sprung forth this year, one in particular for me, “silver linings”.
They were there in the midst of all the clammer but I had to stop, quiet myself and seek them out. When I did, I found seeds of optimism which I needed in order to remain positive and focused on any given day. As a wedding and event planner, the silver linings that allowed me rise above the distractions were the client relationships that solidified and gave me a sense of purpose each day when I walked across my path to the studio. Working alongside my couples and our vendors via Zoom, phone calls, emails or the occasional masked-6 foot-distanced meeting, figuring out how to get through, plan and replan and most importantly, how to support each other—made the work unfiltered, and sometime raw, yet equally as rich and fulfilling.
So, a deep and heartfelt thank you goes out “my flock”. I feel blessed to know that I will look back to 2020 in the years ahead with memories of you as my bright spots, my motivation, my silver linings. We never let up, never caved and kept our eyes on the trophy that you all so deservingly earned…your day, your way! For some of you, cheers to celebrating anyway this year and for celebrating “again” next year. For others, cheers to knowing that all good things are worth the wait! Regardless, I am so thrilled to know my time with you is extended into 2021! Thank you again for making this year a win in ways we never expect!
Hugs and best wishes for our next adventures together!
Thank you for joining us for Part 2 of this event! We hope you enjoyed last month's blog post featuring many behind the scenes captures and our design lead up. What a joy it was to CREATE FUN and MAKE SMILES!
In a year where fun was certainly not a commodity,
there was plenty of it once this party got underway!
In the days leading up to the event, the set up and execution of Eleanor’s Bat Mitzvah at the Mayflower Inn and Spa fell perfectly into place. Like clockwork, we made sure that the endless details organized in tidy folders from 11 months of planning were now finally being put into place under the new Sperry tent. We were absolutely giddy to be working together inside this luxurious blank canvas that had every convenience and amenity a planner would want in an outdoor space. If it wasn’t such an open-air situation, I’m sure we could have smelled the new sailcloth.
Despite an atypically frigid start to October and ongoing pandemic concerns, our team showed up and gave their ALL to turn this space into
a comfortable, gorgeous, and safe platform for the guests’ enjoyment.
Multiple massive heaters were carted in to blow excessive amounts of heat into the tent and to compensate for the open sides required for ventilation. Giant white paper lanterns hung low to visually bring down the cavernous ceiling and provide a more intimate setting for this smaller gathering. Games galore were staged on the perimeter of the floor plan. Some games were gorgeously handcrafted works of art and others were the good ‘ole throwbacks that you may recall growing up with when times were simpler. Lawn games illuminated by colored orb lights were strategically placed on the crest of the lawn. A full candy “bar” anchored one corner of the space. Eleanor’s top 12 favorites (individually-wrapped, of course, and served with wooden tongs) were set on plexi-glass pedestals with colorful illuminated bases. Sugar was clearly abundant, and the sweetness of the night was exactly what these girls needed after months of isolation.
“Girls just want to have fun” was truly the vibe,
and this gaggle of 20 did so in more ways than one.
We welcomed the girls with a kick-off spa hour complete with hair braiding stations, a tattoo bar, Shirley Temples, and gilded snacks. A s’mores bar floated between two elm tree trunks and, thank goodness, a roaring hot fire warded off that Jack Frost. A white leather lounge sandwiched between Foosball and Pac-man served as a resting spot to kick off the way-too-high-heels and to slip into fuzzy rainbow flip-flops. The digital photo booth was the rage and made for instant gratification as images were swiftly posted to Instagram and Snapchat. For the table setting décor, we worked with two Fair Trade companies that we love because of what they create and who they are able to help in the process: Aid Through Trade and Thumbprint Artifacts. Custom beaded bracelets were used to adorn the rolled table napkins. Striped square candles glowed around the floral arrangements, adding that appropriate element of graphic whimsy for Eleanor and friends. In my early trade show resourcing I met both of these companies and knew immediately that it was an opportunity to embed their global causes in the minds of these young girls, and we did. Appropriate sleepy-time swag awaited the girls in their downy beds back at the inn. They deliriously nestled into a final late-night photo op with their embroidered flannel PJ bottoms and custom-designed sleepyhead tees.
The sophisticated yet toned-down décor was all in keeping with the setting and the client’s aesthetic. The must-have “blossom of the season”, dahlias, were abundant in the warmest and most wonderful hues. They seemed to naturally grow out of the toasty cream palette of double-clothed tables that glamorously pooled onto the honed cement floor. We managed to add some pops of fun color for our bat mitzvah who loved “blue” by using tinted vintage water goblets. Amber beeswax votive candles not only aligned with the neutral palette, but also added to the sensory experience. I don’t know about you, but for me, walking into a space and taking in the sweet mellow scent of beeswax is simply divine. Eleanor’s mother archived the most adorable collection of growing-up photos that warranted a timeline staged between the lacquered wood tent posts. The collection of prints was artfully strung on anodized colored wire with peach-ombre silk ribbon. Touches of natural wood-sculpted floral buds added strategically to the lineup softened the geometry of the collage. Eleanor’s beautiful, happy face was sprinkled throughout the sweetest presentation of a well-lived and well-loved life with her family.
The guests enjoyed a wonderful array of appetizers during cocktail hour and a fabulous plated dinner from the new chef and culinary team at The Mayflower Inn & Spa. When I took a moment to look out at the tables to witness people actually joined together for a meal, smiling, laughing, interacting and forgetting about all their troubles, I thought how wonderful it was do the work that made this all possible.
A thread of elegance tied many more details together for this event, from personalized calligraphy moments at each place setting to gorgeously designed and printed invitations. When you have the leeway and the luxury to make design decisions that take an event to the next level, it is so very refreshing. The joy of creating this evening really outshined the challenges presented in this year. The outcome was all I had hoped for Eleanor, her family, her girlfriends and her guests.
As I reflected in this contented state throughout the following week, I received the most endearing note from Eleanor. In a charming, sincere and insightful way, she thanked me for all the hard work and acknowledging the additional “corona” issues that added to our management duties.
I especially loved reading these sentiments,
“There is nothing at all that I could have ever wanted differently;
it was the most perfect thing and I loved it so much!!
That was the most fun I ever had in my life.”
From the mouths of babes, as they say, an unexpected gift for me and one I will always cherish in this year that tested our strength in ways that we had never imagined it would. Cheers to celebrating anyway and for making memories that will outshine the struggles of 2020!
I'm proud to acknowledge and thank our team of professional vendors and artisans
who patiently and diligently worked throughout the year
to make this celebration a truly proud moment for Your Event and our client!
It's certainly was one for the record book and one we could not have pulled off without them.
Hat's off for a job very well done and cheers to this lineup...you are all so appreciated!
Photography: YMvisuals - Yannis Malevitas Photos & Videography | @yannismalevitisweddings
Venue & Catering: The Mayflower Inn & Spa, Washington, CT | @mayflowerinnandspa
Lighting • Photo Booth • DJ: Handy Boys Event & Technology Services | @handyboysent
Florists: Ruth Chase Flowers | @ruthchasefloweres
Rentals: Mahaiwe Tent Rentals | @maihawetent
Furniture Rentals: AFR Rental Furniture | @afrfurniturerental
Elegant Game Rentals: Upstate Jamboree | @upstatejamboree
Electronic, Ping Pong & Shuffleboard Game Rentals: Arcade Specialties | @arcadespecialties
Entertainment: Seeing is Disbelieving
Hair Braiding: Beauty Entourage | @beautyentourage
Calligraphy: Marjorie’s Letters | @marjoriesletters
Linen Face Masks & Fabric: TL at Home | @tlathome
...and of course my amazing assistant, Maggie, who marched bravely alongside me all summer and fall with her bright smile and can-do attitude!
....and Laurie who showed up on the scene day-of, rolled up her sleeves and helped in set-up, herding the teens and so much more!
I T H A N K Y O U !
Having arrived as an event planner through a design career, “the process” is a comfortable and familiar roadmap to my finding solutions. The navigation, be it toward a tangible goal or exploring the journey whose endpoint has not yet been revealed, requires both a vision and an intuition of what is worth gathering along the way.
I love “The Process” !
And what do I love about it?
For me, it’s a bit like finding the puzzle pieces (in the most efficient order) and the exhilaration of popping them down to reveal the image on the box lid.
Yet, even after many years of working in this manner, there are moments in the process that still give me mild anxiety. One of my college art professors once told me that he found it interesting to observe that my process was driven equally by the left and right side of my brain and not nearly so one-sided as most artists and designers from the right.
So in “my” process, there is a point when the big picture ideas and the analytical ones have their stand off. What this looks like for me…
It’s the moment when my desktop is loaded with inspirational screen shots, there are numerous website tabs opened, the surfaces and floor of my studio are covered with opened books, lots of sticky notes littered about, large sketch pads with sharpie drawings and arrows and scribbles of color, torn out magazine pages layered on any remaining unused surface, bits and baubles of materials that inspire me from color swatches torn from a PMS swatch books to fabric and ribbon and objects plucked from here and there. It’s the “gathering along the way” stuff that is staring back at me in this moment (in a big way), looking for order and a place, waiting to be applied and woven into the plan. The left side of my brain is a bit freaked out at this point and desperately wants to start making folders on the desktop to categorize screen shots as my hands are compelled to gather and sort objects and place them in baskets with name tags, and of course, longing to get the vacuum out and make straight lines in the carpet!
So I sit with discomfort and work, work, work & get totally lost in the process.
Sometimes it’s a very, very long day where time, sleep and nourishment just no longer matter and sometimes it’s
a couple of days. I have watched my husband’s expression change when he walks into the studio, scans the unkempt environment and witnesses this unfolding. As a pilot (and you know how that brain functions) he is most at ease with order and when my brain is being motored by the left engine. To him, I must look like a woman gone mad in the mayhem of it all, intently hunched over my keyboard and swirling about what appears to be a huge mess.
He has seen this woman before and he knows in that moment to ask very few and selectively smart questions
and to know that there probably will not be a dinner plan today or maybe not tomorrow either.
At the other side of these intense sorting, thinking and developing stretches
there lies the result of a storyboard, the plan and the proposal.
It’s a deep-breath-moment that is so gratifying both mentally and visually.
My right and left sides have arrived at the space to work together with equity.
From here, it’s not quite clear sailing but I now have "The Plan" and can march forward knowing,
with quite a bit of certainty, what I need to do get to the job done.
The mechanics. The logic. The practical steps. The lists.
When I contracted Eleanor's Bat Mitzvah celebration last November, life was as normally as we once knew it.
YAY…fabulous and interesting event project, terrific clients and an amazing 13 year old girl who was very clear
in communicating that she hated pink sparkles and she loved warm natural and comfortable settings.
Dream come true! Let’s build fun and a great aesthetic for her party at the magnificent Mayflower Inn and Spa
for her, her parents, family and friends. Let's get going!!!
Although this process began very much like I have just described, the journey from March through this past weekend, took so many turns and switchbacks. In hindsight, I know that our success lied in the fact that I am so deeply rooted
in the process from years of creative work. The unpredictable and free flowing nature of it all is one that I have
learned to not brace against but flow with (to the degree I need to) as I steer toward the objectives.
In the end, I watched it all fall into the order it was intended to, in the moment we were in.
Accepting that control and flexibility can exist in harmony,
really has been the “AHA” moment this year.
I’d like to thank my assistant, Maggie Frankenbach, for her steadfast attention to details (that mattered!),
hard work, her bright and sunny attitude, patience, candid photo captures and image cataloging,
anticipating my every need, flexing with me, jogging along side me
and for being the best candy and tattoo bar concierge I could ever ask for.
You rock Maggie!
I hope you enjoy these casual out takes from our getting-ready stages.
Can you tell we had a lot fun?
And can you see that we like to get the pack involved in our process?
We believe that everyone needs a job, especially these days!
Diesel, our obedient and adorable Norwich Terrier, is the best tail-end model we could have wished for.
Conan, our rescue (seen above hoarding swag) simply cannot believe how important stuff is.
He is obsessed with piles and piles of coziness which makes sense coming from the streets of Thailand
with nothing on his back but a crazy curly tail and a will to get the hell out of there.
Grace, our Border Terrier (not seen since the candy bar assembly) spends her time in the garage
sniffing boxes of wrappers and wondering if eating the paper could be as satisfying
as the candy she wishes her nose and mouth could find.
Please come back and revisit our blog in November
for the big reveal of Eleanor's Bat Mitzvah Celebration at
The Mayflower Inn and Spa
and witness all the great work from the many vendors
that we were fortunate to have alongside us.
Eleanor's sunrise on the morning of October 3rd
The long awaited day, that none of us were certain would come to be as we had imagined it to be.
I'd like to think I had something to do with this warm welcome but really, getting up VERY early has it's advantages.
I do believe and trust in a higher order. After we've done everything in our power and from our hearts,
to make the day the greatest we can imagine for our clients, there are still wonderful surprises and gifts unfolding.
Stay well + Keep Believing