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Serving Up in Style

Food is for more than just nourishment! It should taste good AND look good. Like the stunning detail of this gorgeous painted plate, for starters.

It’s spring party season, with celebrations and gatherings a-plenty.  Time to express your unique style with a colorful table.  Why not mix all of your favorites?

Don’t forget the china…pick handmade pieces and blend patterns!

 

Or step out with some serious whimsy…

 

 

Whatever inspires you, go above and beyond at your next soiree. Wow guests with plating and spectacular food displays!


Autumn on the Farm

Each year we’re lucky to work with ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC to create a fun themed welcome reception for guests attending their conference.  This year’s theme was inspired by fall.  We had a tight turnaround for setup, so we had to be mindful of the details that were pulled into the space. Hay bales and barrels created our bars. Pumpkins and corn stalks against worn wooden shutters and screen doors helped to set the mood.  The cocktail space featured strung bistro lights to give an outdoor effect, while the dining space had heavier textured linens and copper weathervanes to complete the look.  In the end, guests were transported to an upscale version of “Autumn on the Farm” at the Four Seasons.

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AE + ACK

Love is in the air!  AE had the chance to plan a very special 40th Wedding Anniversary for a favorite client (yes, you are our other favorite!) and this took the AE team over to Nantucket for a long weekend in July.  We cannot begin to express our love for the island – the sun, the sand, and the fabulous vendors we befriended.

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After disembarking from the ferry – we headed to our first stop – The Club Car where the client hosted a lovely private dinner.  We had a fun time transforming the dining room from its usual look –with the help of linens from Table Toppers.  We were also fortunate to make friends with some island vendors.  Rentals came from Placesetters (Thanks Jen!) and the floral and table accents were from Soiree Floral Design (Thanks Dawn and Julie!).   The room had a completely different feel and passersby were full of compliments at the change!

 

club car interior

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Since this party celebrated 40 years of the couple, we put on our thinking caps and went back to 1975… a daisy and sunshine theme emerged, which we were able to introduce through the subtle use of daisy accents on the menu cards and textured paper was used as a placemat.  This is a great way to bring added texture to your table with less cost.  Be sure to invest in something nicer than a plain cardstock or your look will fall flat!  Ours was pearl iridescent paper with embossed circle details.

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Drinks, merriment – an Irish tenor and a sing-a-long around the Club Car’s piano finished out the evening.

The following day we prepped for a cocktail party at the client’s home.  Nantucket tents came to the rescue with some gorgeous sailcloth tents.  To keep the evening feeling fresh and Nantucket (and still with the daisy and sunshine theme) we limited the palette to all white linens and chairs, but accented with warm yellows.  The result was clean, crisp and just what  a cocktail party should be!  The views from the client’s home didn’t hurt either.

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view from tent

Guests dined on delicious bites from Susan Warner Catering. To add height and visual interest to the food stations – rather than glass block risers, we opted for  glass cylinders with water and hydrangea.  This way, as guests arrived and before the meal was set, the table looked stunning as though it was one large centerpiece collection.

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Overall, AE [hearts] Nantucket and we look forward to celebrating many more events on the island!  Thanks again to our new island friends:  Club Car, Placesetters, Soiree Floral, Susan Warner Catering, Nantucket Tents, Last Minute Productions, Ron Lynch Photography and DJ Skooby who’s from the mainland – and provided us with a soundtrack for the weekend!


We heart BCHL!

Valentine’s Day is upon us and we are enveloped in red and pink… to honor it we were trying to think of something fun to write or show you.  What better than to share one of our past events?  Who says red and pink are only for Valentine’s Day?  They can be used as a beautiful accent for your decor, without being over the top or seemingly girly and childish.

But, as usual, we are getting ahead of ourselves… let’s go back to November, 2014 – the Boston Children’s Hospital League Gala. This one was hosted at the Fairmont Copley and the theme was “Under the Big Top.”

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Yes, this event is to support kids and programs for them while they are at the hospital, but it’s also a night for adults!  So to walk that fine-circus-tightrope-line between childish and chic, we designed the cocktail hour to be a fun and festive filled room with oversized balloons, bright pink and orange accents – complete with an elephant over the bar!

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As guests finished cocktails, they moved across the hall to the Grand Ballroom, where they entered a space that was a bit more grownup – portraying a vintage circus vibe – with golds, blacks and pops of a whimsical red (see – I knew we’d circle back to red and Valentine’s Day). Winston Flowers helped us to create these fun centerpieces – the co-chairs couldn’t believe that red carnations could look so good.  (Sorry, carns, you guys have a bad rap, but things are looking up!)

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This client even had fun adjusting their logo to fit the theme.  Overall, it was a great event that you should consider looking in to for this year!  Planning is just in the works, but it’s sure to be a fun-filled event for everyone!

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Many thanks to all of the vendors who helped to make this event possible (plus Allegro Photography for these great shots).  Added thanks to the Big Apple Circus Clowns and stiltwalker Big League Brian, who are part of the BCHL programming and were added entertainment for our guests!

 


Autumnal Air

New England fall weather is unpredictable. We’ve had a string of hot days, cold days, rainy days… but the one predictable thing is that the leaves in the area are going to change. I’ve noticed quite a few trees that have stood out as though they were on fire.  I could go into a long post about The Hunger Games and the “Girl on Fire”  – there’s a new trailer out for Mockingjay – but I should probably chat about something more event-related.  Look at this tree!  It’s aglow with orange and yellow loveliness! And against that beautiful blue sky?!

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How can you bring some fun Autumnal elements to your event?

We recently did an event for our friends at Arclight Capital Partners, LLC.  They wanted guests to feel as though they were walking down a long driveway lined with old oaks – and after creating some big trees for a fabulous entrance, we added in some lighting that looked like a cobblestone path.  Later on we also scattered some leaves on the floor for that final touch.

arclight trees

In lieu of tree structures (they were quite large and quite heavy… not for everyone) you could also consider putting some stems of real leaves into your floral arrangements and perhaps add a dash of some wheat or other fall grasses (millet, fountain grass, turkey foot).  Sadly, like the season, these things are fleeting, but your florist should be able to find something lovely to accent your table.  Some well placed pumpkins, artichokes, pomegranates, apples, different berries, can bring you a pop of color, while also adding some texture to the table.

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Side note: We often encourage our clients to add “texture” to their tables. This can be achieved in many ways – by using textured tablecloths like the tweeds above, by adding in something that has some plaid (maybe a napkin?), so that you’re table isn’t just a flat color.  Sometimes texture is achieved by having containers of different heights for your centerpieces, adding a well designed menu card, or as referenced earlier, adding some unexpected elements like artichokes to the tabletop or trees to the entryway!

And of course there are all the colors! The fall brings to mind all shades of reds, oranges, and deep yellows.  Sometimes I am jealous of the person who picks the names for paint colors and fabrics, as fantastic titles like “Flame,”  “Pumpkin Spice,” “Tuscan Yellow” and “Rioja Red” make their way onto our tables.  Don’t overlook your brown tones – a lovely textured wheat-toned tweed or a soft plaid with brown accents can really add some needed interest to what could be another boring table.

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Don’t forget the plum tones too!  Ornamental kale, small eggplants, mums… all of these can also bring a bit of autumn air to your event. They are the precursor to the lush and deep reds of winter.  Ooh bright red berries and amaryllis with some frosted green touches… I’m getting ahead of myself. Fall is with us for such a short time, that I’m going to take as much of it in as possible!

Thanks as always to our friends at Winston Flowers for their great trees, High Output for their fabulous lighting, as well as Table Toppers and Peterson Party Center for some inspiring fall linens.


#8 – Simple and Affordable Ways To Make Your Wedding Stand Out

As you know, we’ve been following the adventures of our in-house bride, Elizabeth as she plans her wedding next Spring.  This week she shares with us some of her struggles with DIY projects and what she’s learned thus far.

In a bride’s world of Pinterest and endless DIY projects floating around out there, it’s easy to get carried away with ideas you’d like to incorporate into your big day. But it can be a potential nightmare: you find yourself a few days away from the wedding, running errands and staying up till all hours of the night with your (reluctant) bridesmaids, making hundreds of paper flowers or gluing lace onto dozens of mason jars instead of getting your nails done at the spa and relaxing!  So where do those of us, determined to make our own wedding stand out with personal touches, draw the line?

Fear not!  Here are 10 simple and affordable ways to make your day memorable and give your wedding that extra personal touch… And my guests may just see some of these ideas on our big day next year!

1) Outdoor Amenities – Having been a guest at many weddings, I can say from experience that it really stands out when a couple shows that they have thought about their guests experience.  One small way to do that if you’re having an outdoor wedding or reception is to create a small basket of amenities to ward off sunburn and bug bites.  Similar to an amenities basket typically provided in the restroom, you don’t need to spend a lot and you can even stick to travel sizes from your local drugstore.  Just throw a few SPF 30’s and OFF bug spray’s into a cute basket that matches your theme and you’re all set. If you want to take things to the next level, give your guests a break from the sun with a few parasol’s lining the ceremony aisle (you can find them online for as low as $8 each) or go with a basket of pashmina’s for when the sun goes down (which can also be found at low cost when purchased in bulk online).

2) Something To Stand On – …for those standing up for you. Bridesmaids’ lives were made easier with the invention of the “heel protector” which stops the stiletto from slipping into the grass all day. Highly recommended for the bride and your bridesmaids will love you for getting them a pair too.  I personally like the SoulMates brand – they’re affordable and have different heel sizing options.  If your ceremony is outside on the grass (like mine) you can also purchase small cement stepping stones for your girls to stand on during the ceremony.  These can be found at Home Depot for as little as $2 each.

50e5c1cd2e079c3449b6b2d243e42afb3) Wish Toss Bar – I stumbled upon this awesome idea from wedding extraordinaire Mindy Weiss. Instead of having guests shower the happy couple with the same thing (like rice), let guests chose from different options such as rose petals, confetti, feathers and other toss-able items. Take it one step further and re-create Mindy’s vision with vintage drawers to store the different items — perfect for a rustic, outdoor wedding.

4) Personalized Bathroom Signs – If you’re at a unique venue such as an estate or farmhouse, you may find the bathroom situation to be a bit drab.  In addition to the usual bathroom amenities basket that most people create you can also spruce up the bathroom door, by hanging cute “MEN” and “WOMEN” signs, complete with a picture of each of you as a child in the background (because who doesn’t love baby pictures?).  Even better, find that super embarrassing (but super cute) photo of you wearing a diaper or tangled up in a toilet paper mess.

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5) Advice for the married couple – I love all the different ideas I’ve seen people come up with for their “Advice for the Bride and Groom” element… my favorite though was at a friends wedding where they offered “Mad Libs” cards at the bar, customized with a story that included the bride and groom. You’re bound to get some fun answers once the champagne starts flowing and I’m sure the couple had some great laughs when reading through them over the next few days.

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6) A New Spin On Old Photos – I absolutely love when couples display pictures of their parents and grandparents weddings, or honor a loved one who is no longer with us.  For a new spin on it, however, consider inserting black and white versions of the pictures into different sized glass hurricane vases.  Simply print the pictures onto vellum paper and then mod podge to the inside of the vase.  Once dry, add one or two tea lights at the bottom and place on a mantle, piano top, bar or anywhere else that needs some décor.

 

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7) Spice Up Your Ice  – This one works particularly well if you plan on having chilled champagne or wine displayed by the bars or any of the tables. Flower buds and petals can be purchased from a flower market or online distributer and then frozen into ice cubes. Boil water and let it cool to room temperate before filling the ice tray to allow for the most clear ice cubes.  And if you’d like to include the ice cubes in actual drinks, make sure to wash the petals thoroughly before adding them to the ice tray.

 

 

 

8) Engagement Photobook as a Guestbook – If you’re sick of the traditional and sometimes boring guestbook – which I honestly don’t think anyone even signs anymore – consider this alternative.  Create a high quality photo book of your engagement photos (or even your own photos of you both as a couple) to have guests sign instead.  Guests will want to look through it at the wedding, guaranteeing you more signatures and you also end up with something you can actually put on a coffee table at home to look through frequently!  Snapfish and Shutterfly are two great and affordable online resources but don’t forget that the photo department at your local drugstore can usually do them too now!

 

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9) Table Numbers – As a fellow dog lover – I had to include the cutest idea we saw from our bride and groom this weekend: Annie and Matt took pictures of their beloved dog Lucky, each one with a different number hanging around her neck, and then inserted the pictures into pretty white frames for their table numbers. It was easy, affordable, and gave a personal (and adorable) touch to each table! (Photo Credit: Stacey Hedman Photography)

 

 

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10) Traditional Wedding Cake With A Twist – Hate to break it to you ladies, but it’s just as much his day as it is yours! (See, I’m getting better honey!) So, surprise your groom with something he likes (sports mascot, band logo, Yoda, anything really) at the bottom of the cake and show him how special he is to you!

 

 

Join us next month when Elizabeth fills us in on her upcoming Engagement shoot and hopefully a sneak peak at the pictures!


The best thing I ever ate… this month.

Hello Friends, I hope you are all enjoying this mild summer. Did you take a vacation?  This summer, I was more than lucky to take a trip with my in-laws across the sea to Berlin.  This was MAJOR!  Most summer vacations involve trips to the beach or my parent’s house in NJ.

Berlin had so many sights to see, cool neighborhoods to check out, and some fantastic people, but one truly memorable event was the special dinner we had to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday.  I thought I would share with you many images of this deliciousness.  Just looking at them, the flavors all came rushing back.  Oh my goodness. Yum. Eating at a place like this, with a fixed menu is not for people that are afraid to try new things or get squirmy when people mention offal. You have to be open to what the chef has prepared.  Try it. You’ll like it.

We opted for the four course “summer menu” which started with this gorgeous array of little appetizers – spicy nuts, shrimp with a gorgeous gelee, pork belly carpaccio… from here I’ll list the courses as they were on our custom printed menus.  Look at this!

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First Course – PEA: green melon / lime
cream chiboust & shelled young peas, green melon pickled in lime juice, sirup from green thai chili, ginger jelly, mint meringue & fresh lime paring, galangal.  It’s like a painting.

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Second Course – CODFISH: lemon / lettuce
codfish, beurre blanc from lemon with cream, lemon grass & lemon leaf and green chili pickled in fish sauce as well as roasted basmati rice, lettuce in lemon dressing (two separate plates to mix bites as you like – and yes my own personal orchid plant on the corner)

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Third Course – VEAL: celery / jalapeno stewed cheek of veal in veal foot-jalapeno jus, rolls of apple, celery, celery cream and shiso, celery-apple juice, dim sum veal head (again, two small plates, the veal was spicy, the apple rolls helped to cool each bite)

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Fourth Course – Calpico: raspberry / rhubarb
cream, sorbet & fresh raspberry, rhubarb stock, mousse of calpico (Calpico or Calpis is a common flavor profile in Japan)

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And as if that wasn’t enough, they followed up with some little delicious dessert bites of chocolate, orange and raspberry done three ways; white chocolate infused with orange (everyone got their own set of mini tongs), orange fondant over ice cream with fresh raspberry on top, orange tuile with raspberry sorbet… I think!

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So if you ever find yourself in Berlin, with some pretty euro to spend, consider getting a reservation at restaurant Tim Raue.  The chef is a native of Berlin. This is only one of his venues, but restaurant Tim Raue has a focus on Asian flavors.  Though the portions were small, they each held bites of perfection and we were full at the end. Beyond the food flavors, the details of the china, the presentation, the attentive staff, even the way the tables were custom made to hold the perfectly starched table cloth (check out their website)… everything was impeccable.  If you find yourself in Berlin, you will not be disappointed!  – Mindy


DIY or Don’t!

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To craft or not to craft. That is the question. Here is the answer…

 

As event planners we are often asked for ways to save money on an event and in the same sentence the idea of a DIY project often follows.  DIY ideas always sound great – “Yeah, we’ll get all the bridesmaids together and we’ll make the truffles for the guest favors!” or “No problem, we’ll get the committee together and we’ll construct these ‘out of the box’ style centerpieces for our 45 gala tables.”  or “We have like a billion volunteers, so we’ll just round them up and they can learn this specialty sailor knot to make custom napkin rings.”

DIY (Do-it-yourself) is a great idea if you have a few things at your disposal:

  • Time to do it
  • Access to Supplies
  • Room and Storage
  • Some Creativity
  • Ability to Problem Solve (AKA Crisis Management)

 

Some of these items may seem obvious, but let me explain.

Time to do it – Things take time, this is certainly not news, but if you are not crafty on a regular basis, it will take you longer to figure out the pieces needed to put it together, plus how to put it together, plus purchasing the supplies, plus organizing your “team” to help you, plus the time to actually create “it.”  And if it’s something like decoupage or painted furniture, then you also have to add in some drying time!

Access to Supplies – The internet is chock full of places to get supplies, but some things end up costing you more than the item just for shipping and then you’ll have to start asking around for who might have access to it at a better price, which bring us back to #1 – time.  Sometimes making your own centerpieces sounds like a good idea, but as a non-vendor person, you probably don’t have access to the wholesale flower market and it’s pricing to flower vendors.  So instead, you have to purchase your supplies from a florist, a supermarket or some other random place – where you might not get exactly what you want.

Room and Storage – Depending on how ambitious your project is, you need to consider space.  If you’re stuffing small favor bags with jordan almonds – first, please don’t! – this is a bit out-dated for favors, but second – you won’t need a lot of space.  If you’re making centerpieces, then you need tables to create them on and somewhere to put them until the event.  And if they’re flowers, then you need somewhere cool for them to sit (plus lots of buckets with water). If you’re creating the centerpieces on site, then I’m not going to lie – as the event planner, I will probably give you the evil eye unless you have a really simple design that is not going to take a big chunk of time or floor space that I need in order to make the rest of your event a success.

Some Creativity – I’m not saying you’re not creative (I don’t even know you!).  What I’m saying is that at least one person on this DIY adventure needs to have some creative sensibilities to see when something looks good (or more importantly, when it looks bad!).  Should the box have a bow or a knot tied on it?  Should the flowers be 5 different colors?  Should the placecards hanging from ribbon off the trees be held with safety pins, little clips or something else?  Someone with a discerning eye should be able to lead you in the right direction on this.  That Crafty Captain of yours should also be able to troubleshoot when the project doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Which leads us to our final item – Ability to Problem Solve (AKA Crisis Management).  Even the most experienced builder/creator/sculptor/DIY-adventurer runs into some problems – the item you ordered online from China is stuck in customs, the kitchen is too hot and the chocolates are melting, the dog decided to take the pew markers you just made for a little jog around the backyard… First – stay calm. Second – figure out Plan B.  There is always another solution to the problem, don’t automatically throw in the towel!  Do not get discouraged. Third – call us, your event planner,  for some additional ideas!

So, dear reader, before considering a DIY project, consider everything above, including our advice as to whether it is a good idea for your particular event.  Sometimes using a respected vendor will save you time, money and heartache.  If you are a bride and considering some DIY projects, be very cautious.  As the bride, you will likely be pulled away for other projects and won’t have time on the morning of your wedding to build that driftwood archway for the ceremony…

 


This Very Moment

Today’s blog post comes from the desk of Jana Gimenez, Partner at AE Events –

My daughter Ella loves to set a fancy table.  She loves everything fancy, in fact…from tutu-inspired dresses to sparkly silver glitter nails to the absolute requirement of flowers in the special vase in our dining room.  At all times. You may think that her mom (as an event planner after all) is demanding this behavior, but let me tell you that this child came out this way.

And ah, how this event planner mom needs that.  Because when I come through my front door, head still fogged with creative puzzles and details and to-do lists from the day, I see the handmade placemats and candles and lovingly arranged daisies and STOP.  I stop, shake off the clouds, and remember what is important.  These little things, the attention we give to this very moment that we’re in right now, is so vital.

In the stopping and the breathing and taking things in, I am reminded that this is what we in the events business seek to do every day.  We seek to be a part of creating events that celebrate, that bring awareness, that teach and inform…events that focus on a moment that is so important to a couple, a cause, a company.  Moments that will live on in cherished photos, in lives changed, in relationships strengthened.

So I settle in and enjoy the table created today just for me.  And I plan to keep on remembering that these little touches really do matter.

Ella centerpieces


Snow white

As event planners in New England, we are faced with a certain precipitation that appears each winter. Whether shoveling, slogging, or snowshoeing through it, one can’t ignore the fact that simple, clean and crisp – classic white – can still be classy.

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So in honor of snow everywhere (and it really is EVERYWHERE right now), we’d like to give a shout out to our friends at Table Toppers.  Their selection of linens can really help to shape the look and feel of any event.

Here’s a small view of their sample wall – where the linen magic begins! tt wall

Table Toppers has a large inventory of in-stock linens or if you’re looking to create something from scratch, they have an amazing staff who can help customize something to suit your needs.

And to fit our snowy theme, I found a few samples of white on white (ok, and white with silver, white with black, white with texture…you get my [snow] drift… ah! couldn’t resist the pun).  This look is not for everyone, but it can truly create a unique vibe for your next event.

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Look at how this Silver Galaxy Circle linen starts to mimic the snow touched trees…

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Don’t think that white on white is only for the winter.  Soft white striped cotton for spring or a crisp white linen on a bright summer day have their own charms.  White is season-less and oh-so-chic.  So if you’re thinking of creating a thematic event – perhaps a [Snow] Ball with a [flurry] of dancing (ah! puns again!) or if you’re looking for that perfect touch to set your event apart – give us a call and we’ll introduce you to our friends at Table Toppers!

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