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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!


This is Our Place

From the desks of Jana & Christine…

“Rosie’s Place will always be my family, no matter what.  If it wasn’t for them, I would not be the person I am today.” – Norma O., Rosie’s Place Guest

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Our partnership at AE Events began nearly 10 years ago, and one of our first shared clients was Rosie’s Place. Ever since then, we have both been continually inspired, motivated, moved and humbled by their work. Rosie’s Place is in the trenches changing the lives of poor and homeless women.  As two women businesses owners, who are mothers and sisters and daughters, who believe that every person matters…this work resonates with us.

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Our early experience with Rosie’s Place is a great example of how we took our mission statement and worked it into our daily practice in producing events. We are committed to doing meaningful work in a meaningful way…all focused on our clients.  Rosie’s Place is laser focused on their guests.  They meet them where they are in their journeys.  They see them as a sum of their assets, not their deficits.  They help them find their voices.

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This year’s theme for the annual FWSB luncheon was “This is Our Place…This is Rosie’s Place.” Guest stories like Norma’s were shared by media women and by the guests themselves in video clips. The audience of 1700 heard why Rosie’s Place is their place, giving women the community and acceptance they need.

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At the end of the luncheon every year, we shop at the Women’s Craft Cooperative jewelry booth to support the wonderful opportunity that this creative microenterprise offers Rosie’s Place guests as employment. As we approached the table, who should greet us but…Norma herself! Of course we recognized her from her video, and she went on to tell us about her job and her gratitude for her friends at Rosie’s Place.

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We would not be the company we are today without Rosie’s Place. It is our hope that we help our clients tell their own important stories in every event we produce.

This is our place. This is Rosie’s Place.


MINDY HOME – WHAT’S IN A NAME

Our new Creative Event Director

CREATIVE: DEFINED
cre·a·tive \krē-ˈā-tiv, ˈkrē-

adjective
-having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas
-using the ability to make or think of new things : involving the
process by which new ideas, stories, etc., are created

noun
-one who is creative

So when we started thinking about Mindy and her role at AE Events…the word “creative” definitely came to mind. Six years ago, and in one of our best moves as a company, we hired Mindy (Melinda) Home. She came to us after meeting a friend at a baby shower, and the rest is history. With little to no event experience, but a RISD degree, a desire to learn and a keen eye for style…she took off!

Planning weddings in the DR, working on fundraisers in DC, and taking the time to design events that speak to our clients, Mindy understood our mission from the very beginning, and continues to make it her own.

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We pride ourselves as a company that we do whatever it takes to get the work done. Nothing is ever too much for Mindy, a team player…packing up 3000 toys…no problem!

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Pouring the LARGE bottle of wine for guests, no problem…

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We look forward to what this new adventure holds for Mindy, and supporting her every inch of the way. We hope she will always stop to smell the flowers, and keep her sense of humor and lightness that helps all of us smile!

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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

 

 


Blizzards! (or when things get messy)

On this blustery and cold blizzardy day we thought we’d take some time to reflect on some past events. Part of hiring an event planner is to give yourself peace of mind.  At AE Events, we pride ourselves on our ability to think the event through – forwards and backwards – so there are no surprises, but let’s be honest… there’s always something that can sneak up on you.  Our goal is to keep everything running smoothly, so that you as the client can continue to enjoy your event.  Some things, however are beyond our control…

Wedding in New Hampshire:
The bride and groom are enjoying cocktail hour, meanwhile AE is out back throwing extension cords over a stone wall and climbing into a basement that doesn’t have full ceilings (in a dress and heels, mind you!)- so that the band could connect to power – the original power plan ran into it’s own set of issues and there was always a chance that we would blow every fuse in the place, but we didn’t. But there was a brief moment where we thought the band might be acoustic for the night!

Conference in Local Boston hotel:
There are some things that we all know to be true, but try not to believe.  One example of this: mice in hotels.  We can say (with certainty) that mice do exist in hotels – even the nicest and fanciest of them – and one decided to join our educational conference (talk about things that can sneak up on you).  Luckily, the conference goers didn’t see it, but with some quick work on our end, a hotel “mousehunter” was immediately on the scene and the situation was handled quietly and humanely.

Wedding in Cape Cod:
At the end of the night, we’re packing things up and who appears drunk?  The videographer.  Long story short, the local police gave him the option of sleeping it off in a cell or in the parking lot.  He chose parking lot and they came back with his keys at 6am.  I still don’t know if the couple received their wedding videos.
*Please note – this particular vendor wasn’t hired or vetted by AE, the couple hired many of the vendors on their own. We do our best to guide clients, but certainly don’t force them to hire all of our recommended vendors.  Needless to say, this particular vendor will never be on our list! 

Fundraising Gala:
A headlining singer was the entertainment for the night, but unfortunately was wheel-chair bound due to an unforeseen injury.  With no wheelchair access to the event’s stage in sight – we had to send someone to a venue nearby to beg for their wheelchair ramps – and then get the cab driver to wait while we loaded them in! Luckily, guests got to see the show and not the madness backstage.

There are so many more stories we could share on this snowy day, but we leave you with this – like a snowflake, every event is unique and we at AE Events treat them that way.  We love our clients and do everything we can to ‘shovel them out of the blizzard!’

 


#11 – 6 Months To Go!

It’s #WeddingWednesday and time to check in with our bride to be, Elizabeth! Holy cow, only 6 months to go?!

We’re Halfway There!

Yes, as of December 20th, it will officially be six months until our big day.  Where does the time go?!  This year just flew by… and I feel like we all say that every year, but seriously, this year went by even faster than normal…

I cannot believe that just about this time last year, in about 5 days to be exact, Thomas was getting down on one knee and asking for my hand in marriage…a whole year ago!

I’m constantly fielding the “How’s the wedding planning going?” question and I think that while it’s assumed that all brides are stressed out – people don’t always know (unless they’ve planned a wedding) exactly WHY it’s so stressful.  So, since I’m about halfway through the planning process I thought I’d give everyone a little window into what’s been done and what is still yet to come…

A few of the things we can cross off our list…

– Set a date
– Chose a venue
– Set a budget
– Develop a Timeline/To Do List and finances tracker/budget keeper
– Chose an officiant (One of my dearest friends – thank you Kate Baker!)
– Chose a caterer, had a tasting, and set a menu
– Purchase my dress
– Begin our rental order
– Finalize the guest list
– Chose a photographer/videographer and have our engagement shoot
– Reserve hotel room blocks and our Bridal Suite
– Reserve a tent
– Select bridesmaid dresses
– Create and send out Save the Dates (design courtesy of my amazing Groomy)
– Create our registry
– Set up our wedding website (again, thank you Groomy!)

 And here’s a peek at what still needs to get done over the next 6 months:

– Secure day-of transportation
– Finalize Honeymoon plans
– Purchase wedding rings
– Select, order and send out formal invitations
– Book rehearsal dinner location
– Finalize floral order / table decor
– Finalize cake order
– Purchase wedding favors
– Order groom/groomsmen attire
– Schedule dress fittings
– Order additional print materials (menus, escort cards, etc)
– The dreaded seating chart
– Find makeup and hair stylists
– Final walk through at the venue
– Obtain marriage license

 …and that’s a little glimpse into my world right now.  It’s also not even half of my list, so I better get going, I have a lot of work to do!  Until next time….Happy Holidays to everyone!

 


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!


Reflections…what a story they could tell

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

As we start the season full of events, I was thinking about how many organizations and companies are celebrating 30, 50, 75 and 150 years… and I realized I have my own big anniversary, 30 years in the world of event planning, oh the stories I could tell.  Don’t worry they are all good stories (as far as you know!)

I started reflecting on my first big event, it was a dinner for Nancy Reagan at the opening of the Annenberg Library at Pine Manor College…months of work with the secret service, both of us standing in the kitchen as the food was prepared for her special dietary menu – and then she never ate a bite! It gave me the first taste of what was in store for my life as an event planner – always be ready for anything!

30 Years is a long time! … so many events… meeting so many people…  I think the best part of meeting those faces, is that so many of those faces are now my good friends.  In fact,  my BFF in life was made early in my career.  My friend Cathy, at the World Trade Center – she and I had more laughs, never worked harder, and used this time as our launching pad as we continued to grow.  She went on to be one of the executive producers for the Olympics, and I went on and had two amazing children (who by the way put linen on tables better then most staff)!   I have worked all facets of this industry, including catering, where I met my dear friend Charlie.  He and I did the Boston to NY AIDS ride together in 1998.  He passed away several years ago, and there is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of Charlie and his smile. The list goes on and on… I feel so lucky to have these friends in my life.

I also reflect on how many people I have met through the years, everyday and from all walks of life!  It’s so interesting how many different lives they lead.  A chief of surgery, so bright, but looked to me for insight on how to plan his daughter’s wedding – he told me he was “such a dummy!”  I laughed.  I find this to be one of the greatest assets of this job, the ability to meet and see so many people, learn about so many great organizations and companies, and have a chance to be a part of them and even make a difference.  No two days are ever the same, you are always on your toes, and always ready for the next hurdle, or challenge which may come your way.

My reflections could go on and on.  I joke about a book I have been writing for years filled with all of these wonderful stories and people… maybe someday.  I plan to make more memories over the next… however many years I can continue to do this job!  I will continue to practice my mindfulness and yoga, which keeps me balanced.  The stress that comes from events can run high, and taking some deep breaths and remembering what is important is what I reflect on every day.

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