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 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 settings.
Dream come true! Let’s build fun and a great aesthetic for this party
at the magnificent Mayflower Inn and Spa for Eleanor, 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 ( 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 street 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
Despite the changes that this year delivered to all of us,
we have adjusted, amended and conformed in one way or another.
As couples ventured forward with the attitude that "love could conquer all" AND "was worth fighting for",
they scaled down their wedding vision to meet the protocols instead of postponing, and thus "Micro Wedding"
became the new nuptial buzz word. Some couples took it one step further and decided to split what was intended
to be the "big" day into a "smaller" day and add in a kicking 2021 party to honor their vow renewals
and celebrate with their original guest list. It's been a scramble and rollercoaster ride in all ways
but really, we never stopped, we just changed the navigational route to a new end point.
The wedding industry has rallied by remaining flexible
and serving couples in innovative and more intimate ways.
As we all know, making celebrating happen is what we do,
it's what makes us tick and certainly, what brings us joy.
Somewhere in midst of it all, it occurred to me that my fav local caterer (The Farmer's Wife) and a charming venue (Taconic Ridge Farm) nestled not too far up the road were reinventing, just as I was,
to meet these new norms and protocols. So we came together and got to work!
For couples looking to make up for lost time and to streamline and simplify the lead up to their ceremony and celebration, we believe it takes 3 key components: a VENUE (with a scale appropriate for smaller gathering),
a CATERER (that can provide deliciously prepared local food with great service) and
a PLANNER (that can swiftly guide the process and resource additional details as needed).
Together we have created packages that par down and frame up the best
of what we do (normally) so that the decision making is much more manageable for our couples
and allows them to get to that long awaited finish line within the shortest possible lead up time.
Please have a look at what's happening for us and for couples this fall and winter.
V E N U E • C A T E R E R • P L A N N E R
A shift in your wedding priorities need not come with all the compromise.
IMAGINE THAT THERE IS A PERFECT SOLUTION
nestled in the Hudson Valley with barns and open air, paired with tables elegantly set for 10-40 guests,
catered service with delicious farm-to-table faire and a personal planner with heart,
ready to guide and direct your wedding to a successful and safe finale.
IT’S POSSIBLE! We’re here.
Our team has worked together during these months delivering professional and mindful weddings
for couples and families that have their sights set on celebrating (anyway!).
Our clients rely on us to provide an exceptional experience for their VIP guest list
while meeting current safety guidelines.
We have packages and a plan to personally create your day.
We can also efficiently source options for florals, photography, rentals and officiants.
MEET THE MICRO TEAM
V E N U E
TACONIC RIDGE FARM
Beautifully situated where the Taconic Range meets the Berkshire Mountains, TACONIC RIDGE FARM
is a uniquely scenic venue featuring a large historic barn, a sprawling farmhouse,
and multiple facilities on the property, making it the ideal location for your wedding.
Farm tables, chairs, and a curated collection of vintage furniture are all available for use.
We also provide lodging for up to 16 guests.
C A T E R E R
THE FARMER'S WIFE
For nearly 20 years, THE FARMER’S WIFE has been catering weddings and events of all sizes in the Hudson Valley.
And since taking over the family business in 2010, husband and wife team, Job Yacubian and Emilie Sommerhoff
(the farmer’s son-in-law and daughter, respectively), have continued to offer flavorful and thoughtful
new American cuisine that speaks to the bounty of local growers, while recognizing their clients’ individual tastes.
YOUR EVENT expertly takes care of all the details—before, during and after your occasion—so you can actually
enjoy your own wedding. Owner and lead planner, Paula Smith’s limitless imagination, epic multitasking abilities
and upbeat disposition all contribute to a stress-free and cohesive process when it comes to planning affairs.
We are also a full-service graphic design studio with decades of expertise in invitations and signage.
BOOKING FOR FALL & WINTER MICRO WEDDINGS
518.398.9500 | PS@YOUREVENT.US
FOLLOW US: @yourevent @taconicridgefarm @farmerswifeancramdale
I find that when I surrender to what life presents, there is certainly an opportunity for new awareness
and a shift of perspectives. My email footer ends with a quote that I always loved from Jane Austen that reads
“One cannot have too large a party”. The thought of creating a big bash is simply so invigorating and exciting to me
…lots and lots of people and pomp… this planner’s delight. The irony is that this past weekend, I experienced
a celebration with my couple that was simplified and yet deeply powerful and as delightful as one could imagine.
I’d love to share my perspective and a few highlights of Kiersten and Andrew’s wedding day:
a day and night in the midst of these times when 23 people lived in the present moment
and left the spinning world behind to embrace each other in love and hope.
In terms of prepping for a wedding day, this intimate gathering required far fewer line items.
Therefore, Friday and Saturday to-do’s afforded time to process and plan for a safe celebration and to create a quieter order for the day. As the pieces came together, from rental deliveries to packing up our supplies, printing timelines and dressing the tables, it was all a much slower motion than the typical setups and there were no blurred lines.
With each step and process, there was a luxury of mindfulness that is challenging to hold when there are
many more moving parts and participants. I even took time on Friday night to put my feet up, sit on our porch,
and answer emails for Monday’s business day. Crazy, right?!
Kiersten and Andrew’s wedding hit some real personal high notes for me even before they decided to scale back their day to include just their immediate families and grandmothers, Kiersten's Maid of Honor, Jordyn, and a few friends that played and sang in their ceremony and a cousin that videotape the day. And of course this included, Tucker,
best friend of Bobby (Andrew’s brother and Best Man), who aided and assisted in all preparations from after party firewood deliveries to tractor repairs and so much more. A very special guest of honor, Bishop Barres from the Diocese of Rockville Center, New York (long time college friend of Andrew’s father, Robert) officiated the ceremony at our parish church, Immaculate Conception in Amenia and enjoyed a reunion with a family he had known since it's conception.
Last, but certainly not least, Clover (Andrew and Kiersten's sweet and almost-no-longer-puppy) joined for
her cameo appearance during cocktails to congratulate her mom and dad with exuberant licks and wags.
For me, being hired as a wedding planner by a couple whose family happened to be our neighbors, whose children
I watched grow up and whose lives were documented in very well written Christmas letters that we received each December, who were fellow parishioners, who lived by similar values and standards as ours, who were getting married in the same church as their parents had and where our daughter received her sacraments, celebrating
at a family farm where we once purchased many a tree for our property AND who had a bishop at the helm,
created for me a set of circumstances that felt like home and comfort in every sense of the words.
I have to add that this family was totally hands-on and they stepped up in true Doar–Barr–Schroeder fashion and embraced the getting-ready phase with gusto, grit and good humor. You could tell by their assembly of troops that this was no new drill. Regardless of the scale of this wedding, they would have gotten the work done and on-point,
but now having a smaller scope, the process felt a bit more eased and therefore allowing for a less intense march.
When their big wedding day turned into a smaller wedding day, Kiersten, Andrew and I were able to extract
the details that were most important to them from Plan A and sprinkle in a few more details that felt poignant and purposeful for this Plan B. The picturesque setting of a long row of farm tables under a canopy of bistro lights and
a giant elm tree, flanked by the perfect little pond and a well-pruned pine grove, was the perfect backdrop for adding
just the right touches: many more votives, a few more floral arrangements to fill the more opened seating plan,
a beautiful set of linen napkins that they can now use for many years to come in their home, and lovely place setting cards adorned with custom calligraphy and sprigs of delicate dried lavender to welcome each guest at their seat.
As my optimistic and sweet bride Kiersten said at our meeting day when they announced the change of plans,
“What bride gets to wear her wedding dress twice?”
In every sense, less was certainly not less, and positivity prevailed in each and every step forward.
From the ceremony throughout the celebration, I was in awe of the depth and gravity of their day.
The current lens of our lives truly placed so much more significance on every moment.
I cried more (for one thing), I took time to breath more (for another thing),
and I felt an overwhelming joy for this darling couple, their parents and families
who had set their sights on a wedding that was-to-be on July 25, 2020 (regardless)
and who came together so cohesively and beautifully to see that vision through their way!
Congratulations Kiersten + Andrew
Many, many, many wishes and blessings for an exceptional life together in love, in good health and in fun!
Cheers to Part 2 | July 23, 2021
A special thank you to our creative and dedicated team of professionals & artisans!
Photography: Undressed Moments | @undressedmoments
Catering: The Farmer’s Wife, Ancramdale, NY | @farmerswifeny
Florists: Lara Schroeder of Silamar Farm + Alexandra Hunters of Crooked Oak Farm | @laraschroeder769 @Silamarfarm @CrookedOakfarm
Rentals: Columbia Tent Rentals | @columbiatentrentals
Calligraphy: Marjorie’s Letters | @marjoriesletters
Linens: TL at Home | @tlathome
Printing: Moore & More Printers, Millerton, NY
...and of course my amazing assistants, Maggie & Amelia!
For me, the start of this summer was less about the work at hand and more about thinking of alternative, safe, and responsible ways to create opportunities for clients who longed to regain their social lives.
Having finally sorted through this year’s wedding and event postponements, it’s been refreshing to come up for air and gain some new perspectives. Throughout this pandemic fiasco, the uptick has been in working alongside fellow vendors who have done an incredible job at upholding their standards and professionalism despite the immense challenges. As it relates to the safety of clients and staff, their priorities have been on point and have contributed to a sense of reassurance for myself, my team and our clients.
I do sincerely hope that we have a window of time to reunite together, roll up our sleeves and get to the work involved in executing scaled down yet noteworthy gatherings that matter most in people’s lives right now. Making happy and safe memories for this summer's record book would be a total win-win!
Thanks to Main Street Magazine, a monthly lifestyle publication that does a phenomenal job at supporting our local community and getting the positive word out (be it the people, places, things, businesses, history, or curiosities), I had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on this topic. I have to say, it was quite uplifting and inspiring to think about all the possibilities, even with our restrictions and the uncertainties. Hope you agree!
AS SEEN: July 2020 | Food & Drink Issue
ENTERTAINING WHILE REMAINING SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE
B Y P A U L A S M I T H
These last four months have truly changed the rhythm of the event and hospitality industries. While so much of the world seemingly stopped, event and wedding planners and the multitude of vendors that drive these industries frantically reworked client postponements and cancellations and came together to create new ways of supporting smaller gatherings and celebrating love. Some weddings hung onto their original dates by a thread and happened
in very different ways and in much more intimate settings. As restaurants begin to reopen with care and restrictions, people are also thinking about how to reopen their homes as they do every summer in this season of entertaining.
Yet this step will also need to happen in very different ways if we are to remain responsible, protect each other’s
health and wellbeing and contribute to the greater cause of getting to the end of this battle.
HOME IS THE PLACE TO BE
We all can agree that home is the place to be these days and summer is the time to plan fun, right?
And seriously, at this point how much fun do we all need? LOTS!
How fortunate we are to live in this rural setting surrounded by glorious wide-open spaces.
With all of this land right in our own backyards (literally) and settings that lend themselves
to appropriate “socializing” while distancing, how can you resist thinking about ways
to get creative during this very offbeat season?
Intimate gatherings can come in many forms
even in these unprecedented times.
As an event planner, my mind races at the thought!
And here are a few ideas for you:
• Elegant dinner party for friends you’ve commiserated with on Zoom meetings for the last four months.
Imagine unplugging and replugging into a gorgeous sunset and some fabulous food and wine
served by someone other than yourself for a change (farm tables are long and make for great open seating).
• Ladies lunch by the pool (floats and buoyant sippy cups anchored 6 feet apart, of course).
• Happy hour lawn games (rent long shuffle boards and spread out those corn holes).
• Blankets-under-the-sky movie night (“Got Field?” We’ve got hi-fi sound and large screen video capabilities).
• S’mores night with satellite fire pits and personalized fixing bars (one per family… what a ring of fire!).
• Glamping night – how much fun would it be to host your very own “Camp Glamp” where families
could enjoy their own private and luxurious tent and sit around a “very wide” campfire
telling stories and listening to the cricket song?
• I could go on and on….
This summer, socializing with distancing doesn’t mean
you have to trade off the safety for the fun.
Aside from the obvious measures that we now have branded
into our daily routines, planning an intimate gathering of any type
requires focusing just as much on safety
as you would normally focus on the details and décor.
A few tips...
For the DIY entertainers, using disposables, readily accessible and an abundance of hand sanitizer pumps,
complementary and customized face masks and being comfortable and straight forward enough
with your guests to ask that they come ready to play by your safety rules,
is a key responsibility for each and every host.
For those of you who have had “enough already” with all the shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning
and who simply want the joy of the gathering without lifting another finger,
we are ready… with PPE and safety protocols in place.
We truly enjoy working closely and personally with our clients to create warm and welcoming gatherings
that reflect you—be it a cocktail party, intimate dinner or luncheon. A lot has changed for the events industry
due to the pandemic, as well as for folks who simply want to throw a small dinner party at their house.
As a result, we’ve made all the necessary changes and we ask our clients to let us know how they would like
to utilize their space, their favorite dinner service, and describe their vision for accent décor.
We work with our florist to fill your patio or porch with blooms that add just the right pop of color and texture.
We have rental resources galore to offset using personal items you’d prefer to keep unexposed
or to simply bring in some fun and games. We have relationships with private chefs and caterers
who respectfully understand the difference between working in a client’s kitchen verses their own
and know how to step in as an extension of your staff and offer food service suggestions that conform to current protocols. On every level, we are equipped to build out a safe and successful plan for small gatherings
that can feel personally yours and as creative as you are willing to imagine.
However you envision entertaining at home,
whether it be a simple dinner with a few friends
or having an event planner like Your Event come in and help,
imagine the idea of being a guest in your own home
and feeling as though you enjoyed
a little slice of summer and a little company, too?
Paula Smith is the owner of event planning and design business, Your Event,
and they service the Hudson Valley, Litchfield County, the Berkshires, the Catskills, and Saratoga County.
Learn more at www.yourevent.us, @yourevent.us, or you can call them directly at (518) 398-9500.
Photography: Tara Nugent | Calligraphy: Marjorie's Letters
With my event calendar swapped out to my COVID-19 calendar, focusing on what week we were in and estimating how many more we had to endure, I’d finally hit rock bottom. Now in month #3, it feels as though my fuel tank is below “E”. With the reworking of postponements still in play, a few events remaining on the 2020 calendar (but not confidently),
I’ve noticed that my spirit has finally plummeted. I recently looked back to see at what point I had derailed. In March, I faced this pandemic challenge with such stamina and drive to get ahead of it, outrun it, and outsmart it while remaining strong and positive. Daily yoga and meditation practices were my fuel. Being married to a pilot and flight safety manager for so many years certainly influenced my preparedness and ease in managing worst-case scenarios. Yet in an instant,
I suddenly came to a screeching halt and was consumed with exhaustion.
In the brief stillness of a couple of stagnant and emotionally draining days, not being able to focus or to dig down any deeper for a late Zoom meeting, I turned my attention to my clients and all that they had endured these last three months as they watched their wedding day vision transform into compromised versions of the dream they had held close for so long. Together, we had worked so intently through last year and started this year with such promise, energy, and solidity. I felt guilty about the thought of complaining about my feelings even before the words left my mouth. Under our roof, we remained healthy, employed and plunked down in a sprawling rural countryside where social distancing is not hard to abide by. This reality check spawned an idea that took me away from my own pity party into a project that involved personal notes and packages for my brides and clients. Being practical-minded on one hand and also loving
a little glam, I decided to purchase vintage velvet facemasks. They were being handmade by a designer and manufacturer
of home furnishing linens and bedding and one of my all-time favorite local vendors, TL at Home. With an array of gorgeous colors to choose from, I was able to coordinate each velvet mask with their wedding and event color story. In embracing the dreaded PPE with some lux and thinking about lifting my client’s spirit, my spirit began to lift as well.
No sooner had I packaged up these velvet gems and began to get address labels organized for my big outing to the post office, did I receive one package from one couple, another package from another, an email note from another, a call from another, AND even an email from my 12 year old Bat Mitzvah client. “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Paula” was the overriding theme. Each in their own unique way, they touched my heart deeply by letting me know that my heavy lifting these the past three months did not go unnoticed, and standing alongside them, clearing a path for calm and decisive navigation, mattered and made a difference in their lives. These messages of gratitude were the chicken soup that my soul so desperately needed this week.
Our mutual outreach of gratitude in this particular week was so timely and poignant. In my life, witnessing how gratitude can shift a mindset and how active mindfulness practices can even change the course of one’s actions and life, it should not have surprised me. Yet in this moment, it was still so humbling and heartening to feel the spiritual impact of this gratitude exchange. Most importantly, the awareness that I was surrounded by a collective group of kind, intuitive and appreciative clients allowed me to focus beyond the losses of the year and toward the many personal gains — relationships that have deepened while working through these gloomy days together.
Cheers to grace, silver linings and most of all, my 2020-2021 clients!
T H A N K F U L L Y Y O U R S
W O R T H N O T I N G . . .
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough,
and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into
perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into
a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ― Melody Beattie