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
In a normal year by May, we event planners are fully geared up, eager to embrace the wedding, graduation and summer celebration seasons. In this “new normal” year, we have spent the past two months witnessing and reacting to the many shifts that have caused clients and vendors to rethink their calendar years (both 2020 & into 2021). Where are we now? Living in the moment and taking care of our clients with daily focus and intense communication to try to hold onto plans that remain realistic and completely reworking those that do not.
As we work feverishly to redirect already postponed events or those in jeopardy and steady those that remain on track, we have also kept our eyes up to witness positive change. Over the last two months, as the world was asked to isolate in order to control this pandemic, we have witnessed how community support surged and lifted the human spirit. We have also witnessed a shift from self-absorption to selflessness. It is remarkable to observe the inherent and deep longing for connectivity and unity even when forced to remain distanced. Even more so, creativity and determination have been the anchor points in working together remotely, dealing with daily obstacles and supporting those in need. For us, this mindset puts new light on what a team and squad truly represents.
I am so honored and blessed to have a squad that even in normal circumstances gives so wholeheartedly to the process and service of our clients. Under normal circumstances, I can count on them to operate from a place of dedication, an exceptional work ethic, professionalism and passion and always giving "even more" for the benefit of a "happier" client and a "more" successful event. As their team leader, I know with all certainty that they will embrace this year with their compassionate hearts and provide service with extra care and sensitivity. It’s just who they are. It’s just what we do as a unit.
Have a peek at Your Event's planning squad at work (pre-pandemic distancing, of course!)...
As we look ahead in hope that our work as event planners will give us even more reason to celebrate with intention and purpose this year, I posed these questions:
1 | What are your thoughts about our team’s mission and mindset this year?
2 | How we will support our clients in the months ahead?
3 | How does this differ from what we normally bring to an event as a united force?
Reflections from Your Event’s core team…
— Laurie Wilson
“As the motivational poster produced by the British government in 1839 states: “Keep calm and carry on”. We are here for you and continue to meet and surpass all your celebratory expectations. Today, tomorrow or next year we can and will adjust through these uncertain times to make your dream come true.”
— Mickaela Grimaldi
“Everything is just on pause right now, that doesn’t mean it changes our mission, but it does shift the mindset. Right now, we have to juggle the unknown and hope that the dates planned can come to fruition within the year. But, we might have to realize the world is changing, which will force us to pivot and pivot again until we can find the solution. That’s why we are here—to help and support our clients with necessary changes and to get the job done in a new way.
Luckily, through this major global change, we have realized how connected everyone can be, even though we have to stay distanced. As event planners, we are thinking about our guests experience both live and virtually, finding new ways to incorporate guests who cannot make the event yet able to feel as though they are celebrating in the same space. We have begun conversations with videographers as well as our clients regarding ways to live stream so absentee guests can have a peek into their day (or night) and not feel like they have missed this long awaited milestone. Being virtually present at an event is not ideal, but it seems this may be one quick fix to welcome as many people as possible during these times when celebrating in a traditional way could be a health risk. Finding creative solutions to create wonderful and memorable events is what we do, but now more than ever we need to utilize technology and think beyond the obvious."
— Amelia Smith
“As the team’s social media correspondent, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of how we connect virtually throughout this pandemic. Whether you are taking a break from social media platforms or engaging with them more than ever, it’s important to recognize how we choose to and want to view content during these strange times. When it comes to couples, Your Event strives to make every moment and interaction as personal and unique as possible. Paula has done an incredible job keeping contact with couples over Zoom meetings and even in person, at a 6-foot distance, on venue properties. As a result, we are capturing more and more moments in which we are simply human and trying to manage how much life has changed within these past few months, particularly regarding our couples’ plans for arguably the biggest day of their lives. We want to share the bright parts of our days and those of our couples, including puppy kisses, sunny days, and freshly-cut flowers, and more importantly, the ways in which we are shifting in order to make it possible to still make their wedding days as wonderful as possible. Although the social media content has shifted into a homier setting, it seems to be just what we need in these times: to feel comforted and to find gratitude in any victory we can achieve, no matter how small. Under Paula’s leadership, the strength of the Your Event team has not wavered, and we will continue to unite amidst the chaos, whether over Zoom or social media, until we can be together once again.”
— Maggie Frankenbach
"As event planners, we are very organized and plan oriented. This pandemic has shifted that mindset drastically because plans can no longer be promised. We are all taking precautions one day at a time, while remaining focused on each client to ensure their comfort with the stage of their planning. No one can predict when things will return to "normal", but that should not discourage your plans because we will all be celebrating again in the future. We are all living in a world of uncertainty right now, and our goal as event planners is to keep communication with clients so we can remain on the same page about future events, while keeping our clients positive and excited."
— Paula Smith
“Working from a place of intention and heart has always been my mission and mindset. My team knows this about me. It's how we interact together and how they witness my interactions with others on any given day. The work is the work, and it certainly is more taxing these days, but the real work is in the caring of those looking to us for guidance or working along side us to figure out the next steps.
In these times, I am focusing on simplicity as well. The challenges have mounted quickly and steeply. I believe looking toward more simplistic solutions and focusing on the deeper priorities of each celebration will allow us to recreate events that hold even more meaning and purpose for clients and their guests.
We have all been through a lot these last months as our home, families and professional lives have been turned on edge. I think now more than ever is the time to listen intently and to be more patient as we interact with each other , be it clients, our core team or fellow vendors. We cannot assume that we truly understand anyone’s challenges, sacrifices or reality but we can adjust our mindset to one of acceptance and offer an even more gentle and caring approach as we work each day and try to move forward in a positive and productive direction."
Optimism, Hope, Leaning in + an Incredible Squad…
Well, that to me is the fuel that allows us to march forward even without truly knowing what’s around the next corner.
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR SQUAD...
Photography & Videography Credits: Elmtree Weddings
As a planner with a purpose, the conception and release of my first blog was planned for April 1st, 2020: the beginning of 2nd quarter with a promising year ahead and 2019 year end cleanup behind me.
What a great time to begin, right? There are so many uplifting event topics to consider after completing the new year organizational tasks in the studio, such as tax preparation, website updates, sorting promotional trade show material, resourcing our 2020 swag bags' contents, and framing up 2020 timelines and calendars.
With all of this in the rear view mirror, I embraced spring's to-do with vigor. For me, spring is the true starting line for my year and has always been a time of promise and energy—Easter (my fav tradition and the most mindful holiday), getting out and about to visit venues before the intensity of wedding season kicks off, meeting clients and caterers for tastings, and getting together with other event vendors to sure up planning and finalize decisions before everyone hits the green grass running through wedding and event season.
So much for that plan...April Fool's Day has the joke on me!
So onto Plan B and perhaps even Plan C!! Planners always have backups, yet this one has truly caused me to pause and pivot hard.
We live and thrive on creating social opportunities for our clients and ourselves. Our livelihood and spirit rely on it. And here we are being forced to create distance in our event schedules and in our relationships. Our calendars are our most precious allies AND our crystal balls. And today, our crystal balls are anything but clear—more filled with a dense and dreary fog.
So my Plan B is to look ahead even if it is an imaginary globe filled with what could be and what I hope it to be. It's essential that I remain optimistic and reminded that the work and joy that was planned is simply postponed, not cancelled.
In my pivot, I see it as yet another opportunity to re-plan and to grab hold of the work at hand, to comfort and reassure my clients, to join with other vendors in support and camaraderie, realizing how resilient and strong we are as a community of professionals and human beings, and most of all, to not let some really thick fog blanket our spirit of celebrating.
In Week 3, we have all created our new lockdown routines and coping rituals as we navigate these unsteady times and take responsibility for our safety and that of others. Using technology and embracing our clients needs in more personal and supportive ways than ever has propelled these relationships into a deeper space. When the going gets tough, you experience personalities in a more intimate way, and you get a more personal view inside. I suddenly find that my heart is able to do the work that it's meant to without the veil of not crossing a professional line. I feel a bit freer to just be my caring self, say what needs to be said, and not worry about any more than dealing with each moment and taking care of those who count on me.
As physically distanced as we are right now, there is a closeness that comes from diving into the deep end, unencumbered, and just being there for each other. It's empathy at its best when we can feel the needs and fears of those who have hired us to make memories and show up to find a new way to stay on course. Knowing what to say and what to do to ease their minds and remind them that their greatest celebrations will be that much greater having endured this pause together unveiling a superpower that comes from operating with heart and leaning in with optimism.
So for me, social distancing has in many ways created a closer bond to my clients and to my fellow vendors; perhaps not shoulder to shoulder or hand to hand, but heart to heart.
Remember to take good care of each other and trust that love conquers all. Stay well!
For couples and vendors beyond my own that are looking for ways to refocus and remain positive, Wedding Pro & Wedding Wire have done an excellent job these past two weeks in supporting the wedding industry and couples with tools to get through these challenges and face hard decisions and shifts in their wedding planning.
For fellow event vendors finding a new stride:
While taking care of our clients is our first priority, we need to take care of our businesses and avoid pitfalls that can set us further back. We also need to support each other in the process. We get the true meaning of "having a squad" and now more than ever, squads need to unite. We truly are in this together, and we are figuring out day-by-day how to get to the other side. These links offer sound and wise advice:
For couples caught in the cross hairs of postponement:
All couples are braced for the challenges that go along with planning a wedding and seeing it through to success. Through the process, we discuss contingency plans for rain and snow and traffic, but never a pandemic. And here we are, living it. Once couples come to grips with the fact that their day may very well be another day, they are on the road to a new success and a wedding that will equally be their own and that much more precious by the sheer fact that they leaned into the challenge and became stronger as partners. These are some helpful links from Wedding Wire for redirecting plans and supporting the transition from your Plan A to your Plan B with optimism and success: