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Christmas in… March!

Traditionally the saying normally goes “Christmas in July” but for me, March has always been the favorite time of year, the month I most look forward to! Why you ask? Because of St. Patrick’s Day…my true Christmas.

I come from a heavily Irish family. If I were to take a DNA test I would be 70% potatoes, 10% Irish Bread, 10% Guinness, and 10% Jameson—that kind of heavily Irish. My grandmother grew up in Ireland with her brothers and sisters on the O’Malley Family Farm in County Mayo. She came to America in her early 20’s and kept the Irish culture alive and well in my family. A boiled dinner with corned beef and lots of veggies isn’t just for March—it was a Sunday night staple at my grandmother’s house.

So it should come as no surprise that I am also an avid Irish dancer. My mom enrolled me in classes at the Haley School of Irish Dance when I was 4 years old and I fell in love. All the spinning and shuffling and stomping – my 4 year old self was ENCOURAGED to be as loud as possible and jump around like, in the words of my dance teacher, “a Mexican jumping bean”! I was in heaven.

The more I danced, the more in love I fell with my Irish culture. St. Patrick’s day at school meant going all out—plaid skirt with a large pin fastening it (the 5 year old girl’s version of a kilt) paired with my favorite Irish sweater and a green headband. It became my uniform each year on that day for as long as it fit. I also loved showing off my dancing skills to my classmates and passing out Irish chocolate—aahhh Cadbury!

As I’ve grown up, my St. Paddy’s Day fashion has evolved into an extremely curly dance wig and an overly bedazzled costume. By the time I entered high school, I danced anywhere I could in March. “Dancing out” on St. Patrick’s Day is figure dancing in a big group with lots of clapping and smiling. You’re truly putting on a show! We dance everywhere: from a 30’-40’ wide stage in churches and schools, to a 4’ x 4’ piece of plywood in a restaurant or bar.

We dance in places big and small for a crowd of 3 or 300 because of how important of a day it is to the Irish Community. Not only as an ode to the religious figure of St. Patrick, but also as a day to come together and celebrate—it’s the ultimate party. And Irish dancing is the best way to celebrate!

After 19 years of dancing, I still go “dance out” every St. Patrick’s Day. And I get the best of both worlds. I am old enough to appreciate the deeply rooted traditions of St. Patrick’s Day. But I also get to celebrate with dancing and a drink!

So, when St. Patrick’s Day arrives, pour yourself a Guinness, grab your best green shirt, clap along to Galway Girl and No, Ney, Never and celebrate like you’re from the heart of Ireland, even if you aren’t, because it’s worth it– trust me!


Diamonds and lace and pearls…oh my!

From the desk of Creative Event Director, Mindy Home…

OMG. Did you watch the Golden Globes? Did you see the genius that is Marchesa, Valentino, Elie Saab, or Louis Vuitton (to name a few…). I mean, Hello Jessica Biel! Elie Saab knew what he was doing when he dressed you in this – complete with the 3D appliques… swoon.

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The big trends for the red carpet were either picking a bold color a la Reese Witherspoon in a fabulous yellow Versace or selecting something that had sheer elements and touches of glam. Did you see Sofia Vergara in Zuhair Murad Couture?!… I mean, how could you miss her?! Embroidery, sequins or some other kind of fabulous accent turned the dresses into masterpieces.

Thandie Newton in her understated white Monse dress with orange paillettes – yes!

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Lily Collins looking like something out of a beautiful fairy wonderland from Zuhair Murad Couture – yes!!

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Metallics were everywhere! Everywhere we turn these days people are mixing metals and it’s fabulous. Ruth Negga nailed it with a head-to-toe-metallic-modern take on the evening gown from Louis Vuitton.

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Emma Stone won (some best dressed list and a few golden globes) in soft blush accented with stars. STARS people!!!

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Walking the red carpet is a chance for someone to really shine and stand out in the crowd. It’s the same for a bride walking down the aisle on her wedding day. I can’t wait to see how these looks further influence the next round of wedding dresses from designers around the world… just look at this piece from Marchesa’s Spring 2017 Bridal collection.

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And while the very deep-v was also a trend…. Oh hi there, Mandy Moore looking fabulous in Naeem Khan… It may not be the most appropriate look your wedding day – just my opinion – but it’s your day. Do what you want, just own it and feel fabulous as you can tell these ladies on the red carpet did!

 

Photos courtesy of Getty Images, Marchesa dress courtesy of Marchesa


As Crisp and Golden as an Apple

From the desk of Event Manager, Elizabeth Boates… 

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

With another Labor Day weekend under our belts, it’s official – we say goodbye to the blissful long days of summer and hello to fall fashion, football and back to school! I personally have always loved fall and am consistently inspired to find new ways of incorporating autumn inspiration into our events. Some of my favorite events we’ve designed have been for schools. So we figured, what better way to kick off September than to highlight some of the fantastic events we’ve done that put a special spin on education…

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Artists for Humanity Epicenter

It seems so simple, but there is so much you can do with books as decor. For 826 Boston’s annual fundraiser, stories were literally cascading from the ceiling! With strands of book pages hanging from the rafters and a little mood lighting, we transformed the room.

We’ve also used books as table decor. For Excel Academy’s annual Celebration of Excellence, we brought the “tools of school” onto the dinner tables in a clever way, covering old books with a new cover to create the table number and wrapping beautiful sunflower centerpieces with a row of pencils for a unique, academic look. The books were then used in the classrooms and library, and the pencils were given to the students.

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Exchange Conference Center

The following year for Excel Academy, we added a fresh spin by creating table runners made to look like oversized rulers. Not only is this a great way to change up your typical table décor, but the runners also served as an excellent branding piece.

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Exchange Conference Center

A clever centerpiece I loved were the collegiate pennants we used for the Boston Collegiate Charter School. The pennants each represented a college and were added to the floral designs at each table.

IMG_3931[1]Boston Collegiate Charter School – Collegiate Trivia Cup Challenge
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Whether you use them for a table number or to a create a sculpture like the example below, books represent a timeless piece that can immediately add beauty to the table.

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Moakley Courthouse

So welcome back to all of the students in the Boston area – we can’t wait to see what new and academic event design you inspire this year!


Southie Superlatives

New to the Neighborhood – A Newbie’s Guide to South Boston

From the desk of Kayla Gentile, Events Assistant:

As a new resident of South Boston, it’s been my personal mission to visit as many places as possible before massive snowpiles crowd the sidewalks (still going strong, fingers crossed!). Although I’m still discovering hidden gems each week, I’m now ready to hand out Southie Superlatives to my favorite places to eat and sightsee.

The Paramount, 667 East Broadway
As a self-proclaimed brunch-addict, I’m lucky to have The Paramount right down the street from my office and home. With its diner-esque menu, relaxed atmosphere, and some of the best Cajun homefries I’ve ever eaten, it’s the perfect spot for a quick bite with friends.

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American Provisions, 613 East Broadway
Keeping true to my Italian heritage, I’ve always loved a good deli, and American Provisions was a place I’d been told I “just had to try.” It didn’t take much convincing for me…I walked in during a recent lunch break and became an instant fan. Products are all locally grown, so you know you’re eating the freshest of the fresh. My personal favorite? The “Italian,” of course!

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Lincoln Tavern, 425 West Broadway
I like to describe Lincoln Tavern as a “one-stop shop” in South Boston. It’s a modern restaurant by day and an upbeat pub filled with 20-somethings by night. Whether you’re going for Sunday football or a laidback dinner, you can always count on Lincoln for a great time.

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Castle Island, William J. Day Blvd.
What do I enjoy most about Boston so far? There’s always something new to explore, and it’s usually right around the corner. In my case, that was Castle Island – a spectacular scenic location to run, walk, then eat some amazingly greasy food at Sullivan’s, all while taking in the view of the harbor and city skyline.

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Next time you’re in South Boston, be sure to check out one some of these local treasures in the AE Events neighborhood!

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From the Desk of Christine…

Marriage…what a great year to win Boston magazine’s Best of Boston ® 2015 -Best Wedding Coordinator.  With the news of equality and marriage for all, this makes the honor of “Best of” even better!

I thought back on when I first began planning weddings…it was the 80’s!  Weddings were so different then, in fact most of the planning was with the mother.  However, it was in the 80’s that the wedding couple started to have a bigger part in the actual planning, since often they were paying for part of the wedding and wanted to break with some of the old traditions.  During this time, I had the opportunity to work at The Great Hall in Faneuil Hall Marketplace.  As I was spending so much time in this beautiful old building, I thought “what a great space for a wedding.”  My sales team thought I was crazy, but within two years, we were hosting over 30 weddings a year.  This was the start of designing weddings that were just a little different, and not always in a hotel.

I started to think about the trends then, and with the help of Google, decided to share the “wedding styles of the 1980’s.”  When I googled 1980 Wedding Style, the word “vintage” came up, and I nearly choked!  Really, I started doing weddings in a period that is now considered vintage!  I toyed with the idea of tossing my own wedding photo from 1988 in this blog (Laura Ashley dress, large draping floral bouquet and all), but after I dusted off the wedding album and stopped laughing, I determined it might be best to put that picture back in the album where it belonged!  I was a trendsetter in my day…my bridesmaids got their dresses off the racks at Neiman’s and each one was different.  But just so you can create your own visual, these are some of the dresses I had to choose from.

 

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Of course I was also attending many friends’ weddings at that time, and being a part of their wedding parties.  I did have the opportunity to wear lots of chiffon and satin…more then anyone should ever have to wear.  My favorite trend was the Rainbow Wedding Party (not to be confused with the first Same Sex wedding), in which each the bridesmaids wore a dress a different color of the rainbow.  Somehow I always ended up in orange.

(This is a Google photo, not the actual wedding shot!)

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Oh, and of course…we all wanted to be just like Diana!

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There are so many great memories that I have from weddings from the 80’s through today. Styles change, trends change…but the purpose behind each wedding does not.  It is about two people wanting to share their lives together, to build a foundation that they will recreate, grow and change for hopefully years to come.  I look forward to planning many more memories for many more couples, and feel privileged to have this honor.

 – Christine

 

 


A Good Read

With the fall event season over and a few holiday parties still to celebrate – we at AE events have finally had a chance to slow down and take some time for ourselves!  In doing so, we’ve started to read, are reading or have recently read, these books that we thought we would share.  Now cozy up to the fire, get some hot cocoa (marshmallows too) and take some time for yourself!

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
Recommended by Danielle  – Now a major motion picture, this is the story of a couple who seemed the perfect match, but as time passes, their relationship starts to decay, leaving the husband blaming his wife for most of their unhappiness.  On their 5 year wedding anniversary, the wife disappears and all signs point to the husband – a media frenzy ensues and the story builds from there.  The mystery and intrigue kept me on the edge of my seat with every page I turned.

 

“The Passage” – by Justin Cronin
Recommended by Aubry – In an attempt to cure the world of disease, a doctor possessed by the recent death of his ill wife brings a unique virus onto US soil for testing. He creates a task force called Operation Noah enlisting a team of talented but emotionally broken and detached officers to collect equally disturbed test subjects for his trials–all incarcerated miscreants the world is sure not to miss.

Testing produces the same curious outcome on his first 12 subjects, turning each into crazed, blood thirsty savages with superhuman strength. However, the doctor is convinced that his 13th test subject–en route to his facility with special operative Brad Walgast–will produce a successful outcome. However, when Walgast learns that subject 13, Amy, is an innocent six-year-old orphan he cannot allow himself to complete his mission.

They attempt escape, but are captured and returned to the facility where Amy is injected with the virus. As she is recovering–seemingly still human–the other subjects tear the facility apart creating a ripple effect of infected humans crawling across the state. Brad and Amy are able to escape, but the world is slowly falling to the infected that haunt the earth like vampires. Brad must keep Amy alive, as she is the key to ending the nightmare.

This is a super badass read! It’s thrilling and has an interesting sci-fi plot that the author, Justin Cronin, weaves throughout multiple character stories and time periods throughout the crisis, aside from Brad and Amy’s. There are two sequels that will keep you hooked as well. It’s like The Walking Dead with vampires…look out for a film or TV series in the future. I’m sure it’s coming…

 

“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed – This year at the Rosie’s Place luncheon – “Funny Women, Serious Business…” our keynote speaker was Cheryl Strayed.  Her book has recently been made into a movie featuring Reese Witherspoon, due for release this month.  It’s the story of Cheryl’s personal journey at the age of 26 to hike the 1100 mile Pacific Crest Trail as she leaves behind drugs, a divorce, the loss of loved ones and seeks self-discovery. With no prior backpacking experience to rely on, Cheryl describes her life before and after this life-changing trek.

 

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
Recommended by Mindy –  This was a truly engaging story narrated by the main character, Theo Decker.  It follows him from a life-changing experience at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother and then pulls the reader along an unexpected path through a life filled with art, drugs, mystery, survival, love and loss.  It was one of those truly great and gripping stories where you had NO idea where the author would take you next and has you reconsidering the idea of fate.

 

“What the Dickens” by Gregory Maguire – We were so fortunate to have Gregory Maguire speak at our recent 826 Boston “Books for Breakfast” event.  The story has the tagline “The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy” and given the slant of his other books, which take traditional fairy tales, but told from another character’s point of view, (“Wicked” being the most popular) we can’t wait to see how this story unfolds!

Happy Reading!


WAKE UP, IT’S SEPTEMBER!

“Wake me up when September ends.” Green Day

Ah, the joy of fall in New England!  The revival of traffic!  The rattle and roar of Ryder and UHaul!  And let us not forget the return of crowded inboxes as we all leave behind our beloved beaches and march full force into the autumn season.  As a friend said yesterday, we’re back in the world of the “OMG, it’s September!”.

Once my annual mourning of summer is over, I manage to find inspiration.  There is revved-up energy in our city everywhere you turn…especially seen in the young minds flooding into our hallowed halls of learning, and in the work of the dynamic thought leaders working in our midst.  A great example of this is right at my doorstep…our fall conference in partnership with the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Primary Care.

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The purpose of the annual Innovations Conference is, simply stated, transformation.  Speakers take the stage to tunes by Imagine Dragons and MGMT, and attendees know from the outset that this is no ordinary day.  Every general session, every breakout, and every shred of content is created to promote the forward-thinking approach and creative dialogue that is shaking the foundation of primary care.

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From the seven-minute lightning round TED-style talks that feature the Center’s Innovations Fellows …to interactive workshops engaging attendees in “serious gaming” for health reform…to the signature “Smoky Cape Cod” dry ice cocktail that always has guests talking and laughing at the closing celebration, this event is truly catalyzing real change.Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care - Innovations Conference

Now there’s something to “fall” for!
-Jana


Hairspray and High Heels

Today’s blog post comes from one of our Senior Event Managers – Danielle. Enjoy!

Blustering cold, wrapped in parkas, heels as high as skyscrapers, and the countless ozone layers that we will miss from hairspray helping those hairdos hold up even through a blizzard – are just a few of the reasons why this now Bostonian, misses February in New York City as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week takes over.

As a young girl, I always felt I was cursed being born in February as blizzard after blizzard canceled consecutive birthday parties. But as I was held up in my room while the “curse of the winter baby” fell from the sky, there was always one thing I could rely on to cheer me up – turning on my computer to catch amazing designers reveal their newest fall looks that would inspire me and let my mind be blown as couture items walked the runway.

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Rebecca Taylor, Spring 2014

Nowadays, as an event planner, it is my favorite place to draw inspiration from as we plan for the spring gala season. As I watch, Oscar de La Renta reminds me that romance is not just represented in soft hues but a black gown can float down the runway. Mara Hoffman’s ability to mix print and not be afraid of color as standing out, not only draws attention, but confidence. It is through these countless shows I tune into in February, that allow a 5- minute show lead to more design concepts then an hour of brainstorming ever could.

How the amazing prints shown on the runway let me bring new levels to a table design or mix texture into a floral arrangement, the possibilities of where your mind may go are endless.

What inspires you?  Some of the shows I am looking forward to the most include Rebecca Taylor, Zac Posen, Rag & Bone, Clover Canyon, Mara Hoffman and Peter Pilotto (also check out his line for Target in stores, February 9th).  He is another great one to pull print inspiration from.

Watch them live February 6-13 at www.mbfashionweek.com to get your inspiration! Ohh and don’t think I won’t be buying a few of my favorite pieces to keep me inspired all winter long 😉  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!

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Mara Hoffman, MBFW Swim 2012