My guest for Ep. 95 of The Wedding Wisdom Podcast is the extraordinary Chef Jill Freiberg, the owner of Jillicious Foods & Events. Our fascinating conversation from her home in Park Slope, provides an extraordinarily vivid portrait of what it’s like to be both Head Chef and owner of one of New York’s most sought-after “Off-Premise” catering companies.
With a true artist’s sensibility, she talks about finishing the construction of her “post-COVID” dream kitchen with the same charm that she speaks of offering her beloved “Spiced, Smoked, Roasted Popcorn,” “S’mores Kit” and “Grazing Boxes” to purchase online.
I truly hope you enjoy this unique look into a fascinating life as much as I did. Thanks for everything Jill!
Episode 94 brings us the charming, sophisticated and talented Boston-based Event Planner, Sara Kovel, of Sara Kovel Events.
In our fast-moving thirty minute conversation, we discuss precisely what the actual experience of a wedding planner entails. Creative, intuitive and inventive, Sara draws a remarkably apt comparison between that of an interior designer and an expert industry planner. Our inspirational chat draws on her invaluable experience at the elegant Four Seasons in Boston and the legendary Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. I know that you’ll enjoy our delightful conversation.
As always, stay safe…and get out there and enjoy the beginning of Spring.
In a truly refreshing conversation with Kleinfeld Bridal’s Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Jennette Kruszka, you’ll meet an extraordinary woman. One with an uncompromising pride and loyalty to her company and its owners, Mara Urshel and Ronnie Rothstein, who she considers her “second parents” as well as devoted mentors.
What I found amazing about Jennette is that working at Kleinfeld has been her sole employer. Starting as a 17-year old high school student Customer Service Rep, straight through college as a marketing major, she worked at the original Brooklyn location three days a week. Her final college paper was the reason why she deserved a full-time position at her beloved Kleinfeld. She got it, and since then, has never looked back. Jennette says: “It’s been twenty wonderful years and I’m looking forward to the two decades.”
I think this is a wonderful introduction to fans of TLC’s “Say Yes To The Dress” and brides who’ve never had the true Kleinfeld Bridal Experience.
My erudite guest for Episode 92 is Seth Stern, the owner of Something Different Party Rental. Extraordinarily well-spoken, he explains the intricacies of the often-overlooked “Party Rental” side of our $1.3 trillion event industry. One of the most unusual parts of what this side of the industry does is found in its “invisible” nature — providing tabletop to full kitchens and everything in between. Our conversation traveled from his enormous warehouse and fleet of trucks in Paterson, New Jersey to his home on the North Shore of Long Island, his long-time love of The Grateful Dead and so much more. Please join us for a completely entertaining and compelling glimpse into something completely different with the remarkable Seth Stern.
Meet Allan Kurtz, Managing Director of both Gotham Hall & Ziegfeld Ballroom, after three years at The Water’s Edge and 13 years at Tavern on The Green. To say he is a wealth of information would be a vast understatement. He is heavily involved with petitioning the government for aid to our $1.3 Trillion Event Industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s actually an “event historian” working with Hollywood impresario Warner LeRoy at Tavern On The Green, and studying Broadway impresario Flo Ziegfeld when helping to create Ziegfeld Ballroom.
In the course of our wide-ranging conversation we talk about meeting Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama as well as a moving story about being in a position to put his grandfather on the phone with Willie Mays.
This specific episode is a “must-listen” for anyone in, or interested in the Events Industry.
My guest for Ep. 91 is the Event Planner Nancy Hoehler of ShimmerNYC. Our truly delightful, insightful conversation ranges from her early days working at a large Wall St. brokerage firm, to establishing ShimmerNYC as a top-tier full-service event planning office. In the mix are stories of her hilarious experience with “Bar Mitzvah crashers” at her very first event to helping another Bar Mitzvah family deal with a blizzard that started right in the middle of their child’s service.
Nancy very humbly refers to herself as “providing the calm” in any situation that might arise before, during or after an event, and very clearly elucidates the very nature of being an innovative Event Planner in Manhattan. I hope you enjoy meeting this extraordinary woman as much as I did.
My guest for episode 89 is Rachelle Doreen Koser of Rachelle Doreen Events & Exploration. With an office in Manhattan as well as Newport Beach, California, she is a total breath of fresh air. Her ebullient personality shines throughout our entire conversation, which takes her from the West Coast to New York, where she became the Director of Events at The Norwood Club, a private arts club in a landmark building on 14th St. At the same time, she is truly delighted to open her eponymous event planning company here.
In 2018 she officially launched her company which continues to thrive, even though many of her events are now “virtual” during COVID, hosting, planning and executing events for what she calls her “sweet spot” of one hundred or less guests.
Join us in her journey through studying and mastering “Aerial Arts,” which she started as a way to relieve stress.
I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did. As always, stay safe…we’re all in this together.
My guest for Episode 88 is the compassionate, charming, consummate wedding professional, Randy Janis. He’s been both Maitre ‘d and Director of Sales at two of the most prestigious venues in all of Manhattan, if not the world, and is uniquely qualified to speak about virtually every moment before, during and after a wedding,
Randy and I covered everything from the importance of details on a timeline that must be accounted for and executed as close to perfectly as humanly possible…including the signing of the contracts, the load-in of the florist, band and design elements, until the last car has been delivered by the valet.
I hope you learn as much from this episode as I did.
Here’s to all of our health, prosperity and success entering the Biden-Harris Administration.
As always, stay safe!
My guest for Episode 87 is the absolutely delightful Amanda O’Callaghan. Her career as a top-tier wedding planner began at Housing Works, a NYC-based non-profit fighting AIDS and homelessness. At that point in time, Amanda simultaneously began developing byAmanda Event Studio, which officially grew into The Union Studio in 2020.
We take a deep-dive into the development of The Hudson Valley as the new epicenter of the NY tri-state area weddings, the relationship between producing weddings and conceiving a theatrical play, her artistic pursuit of singing and dancing on Broadway, and so much more.
I truly hope you enjoy meeting Amanda as much as I did. She’s truly amazing.
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, acclaimed photographer Phillip Van Nostrand has already led an extraordinary life. His background as an Evangelical Christian speaks to his passion for mentoring young people and a long-held belief that there is nothing more important than inspiring others to “live out their dreams.”
He credits the program “Semester At Sea,” as a college student at UCSB for igniting his lifelong passion for travel and “Engage Summits” for introducing him to the world of luxury weddings and events. Much of our delightful conversation focuses on these glamorous and exciting twin passions. He has great expectations for 2021, but, thoughtfully, takes time to talk about “the gifts” he received during this past troubling year.
With all my best wishes to you, Phil, and to my audience, here’s to a spectacular New Year!
Stay safe, healthy and hopeful as we look ahead to the future.
For Episode 85 I got the unique opportunity to sit down with Steve Frost, President & Managing Partner of Stamford Tent & Event Services, to take s seriously deep dive into the world of tents, outdoor weddings and/or corporate events.
We discuss the concept behind the idea of enjoying an elegant wedding outdoors under the stars, in a tent, as an alternative to more traditional venues, like a hotel, or synagogue. I learned what a “sub-floor” is, and why it’s the most expensive part of constructing a tent. I learned the difference between a “sailcloth” and a “frame tent” is and most importantly, how incredibly labor intensive constructing a tent actually is. And more than I ever thought possible in one forty minute conversation.
I submit that this episode be “required listening” for anyone considering a tent wedding.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, one and all. Please stay safe and stay warm.
All my best, -Doug
Today I have the privilege of sitting down with the brilliant and talented owner of Neuman’s Kitchen, Paul Neuman. Paul takes us from his college years and lifelong journey as an artist to being the one of the most respected and influential “Off-Premise” caterers in New York. In 2017, Neuman’s Kitchen opened an office in Philadelphia and takes great pride in his new partnership with the city’s National Museum of American Jewish History.
This episode is a must for anyone who has ever considered hosting their wedding or gala event in a tent, museum, library or any other non-traditional venue. This is truly a masterclass on the role of food and food service in the event industry.
Stay safe, stay strong, and keep listening to the scientists. We’re gonna get through this together! -Doug
My guest for Episode 83 is the irrepressibly charming Wedding Planner Pejy Kash. In a delightfully candid conversation, we talk about his passion for his work, his marriage, his “check-list” of locations and venues to display his work in, and his astonishing group of friends who collectively make up New York’s elite “next generation” of Wedding/Event Industry Icons.
Pejy’s devotion to exceeding his wedding clients’ wildest artistic expectations is only matched by the love of the fashion world shared with his husband of four years.
Sit back and hear this uniquely American story of emigrating to the suburbs of Long Island at seventeen, learning to speak English by watching cartoons, utilizing his native “Farsi” to comfortably bond with the “extraordinarily loyal tight-knit community” of Persian Jews and so much more.
After spending time with Tara Fay, I have only one question. Why wouldn’t any couple want to get married in Ireland?
Hearing her speak so lovingly about the warmth of its people, and the breathtaking beauty of Ireland’s countryside greenery alongside state-of-the-art modern hotels and resorts, as well as an exciting burgeoning food industry, I was instantly transported to the “Emerald Isle.”
Enjoy my conversation with the delightful Tara Fay. And stay excited about the joys ahead, and grateful for what lies beyond 2020.
With all my very best wishes for the holidays all over the world,
My guest for Wedding Wisdom Podcast Episode 81 is one of the most sought-after “hair-and-makeup” artists in Manhattan, Sharon Becker of SB Beauty. Her encyclopedic knowledge of how to make a bride “look like her on her best day” is only matched by her fierce desire to grow as an artist; relentlessly pursuing new ways of refining and re-inventing who she is and what she does.
Through a series of delightful anecdotes about her work as a makeup artist, from a “snow-globe” in Vail, Colorado to Richard Bramson’s private island in the British Virgin Islands, she provides us with not only priceless “wedding wisdom,” but a unique glimpse into her passion for our industry.
Sharon Becker is a genuine force-of-nature and as you’ll hear in the episode, “the first guest to leave me speechless.”
And allow me the honor and privilege of congratulating President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris on their uniquely historic victory.
It was a sheer delight having Amanda Novena, owner of Details by Mandii, as my guest for Episode 80. Her infectious laugh and deep commitment to helping wedding couples curate their dream day, made her the dream guest to represent the next generation of amazing wedding professionals.
She shares his journey from suburban Ohio to Manhattan, working on events at BCBG Max Azria and Victoria’s Secret, before moving to Cipriani as well as at the bridal-wear house BHLDN, In 2017, she successfully launched Details By Mandii immediately establishing herself as one of Manhattan’s future innovators of the wedding industry.
Not letting the 2020 pandemic of ruin her plans, she actually got married this March in Central Park with the only guests being her photographer and an officiant. Hearing her lovingly describe her wedding day is incredibly beautiful and deeply moving.
As always, stay safe, stay strong and I trusted you all voted so I can something to truly cheer about in 2020!
Happy Election Day!
Chatting with the incomparable Canadian born, British-based, internationally renowned Wedding Planner, Bruce Russell, was undoubtedly one of the most delightful experiences I’ve had since starting this podcast. His distinctly urbane voice and charming demeanor felt like having cocktails with a cross between Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Justin Trudeau, rather than conducting a ZOOM interview.
I was lucky enough to catch Bruce whilst quarantining for fourteen days in his hometown in Nova Scotia, en route to a client meeting in San Francisco.
He talks about his delightful InstaStory series cohosted by his close friend and fellow Wedding Planner, Ireland’s Tara Fay, “Bruce & Tara Live.”
We hit it off instantly, which was perfect for the “unscripted” concept of “The Wedding Wisdom Podcast,” conceived to create an “Audio Library” of invaluable knowledge and real-world advice from the very best in the Wedding & Events Industry.
As always, please stay safe, stay strong and most definitely VOTE. Enjoy -Doug
Welcome to my remarkable conversation with an extraordinarily unique voice in the Weddings/Events industry, Robert Severini. As the Director of Events at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he has the unique perspective of someone who supervises countless spectacular events at five incredible landmark New York City locations, including The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.
His journey starts with a quick stint as a busboy/server and continues through several of the most prestigious “Off-Premise” catering companies stretching from The Hamptons to The Meatpacking District on Manhattan’s West Side.
Sit back and enjoy my delightful chat with one of the terrific young “movers-and-shakers” in the events industry.
As always, stay safe, stay strong and don’t forget to VOTE.
Sarah Merians is truly one of the original “legends” of our industry. Starting out at just 23 years old, this veteran photographer is all about “love not being cancelled.” With so many years of experience, she understands the importance and meaning of both the technical aspects of collaboration and vendors/partners, always encouraging “storytelling.” She also concentrates on the “before, during, and after” of the wedding experience.
“It’s all about capturing the moment,” she says, acknowledging that, today, everything is online. The secret to her success during Coronavirus is compassion and the ability to project energy and love — and that’s contagious in the best possible way.
“Capturing life at its best, and deep roots and professionalism” is beautiful. These days, doing baby shoots (and Sarah is very busy), she’s wearing three masks to stay healthy during COVID.
Find out the details during my compelling conversation with the one and only Sarah Merians.
As always, stay safe, stay strong & listen to the scientists. We’ll get through this together.
Meet Bryan Rafanelli, legendary internationally respected event planner, author, raconteur, an all-around amazing guy. Passionate about politics, and spectacular events, he brings incredible energy to the podcast, discussing everything from “glass tents” to a four-day destination wedding in Istanbul to State Dinners and Christmases at the White House.
During over conversation, Bryan shares his deep admiration for both the Clintons and Obamas, and especially for their remarkable ability to raise children under incredible scrutiny. And, among so many other topics, he speaks about how he always asks his clients “what’s your favorite party scene in a movie?” We both agreed with his answer, which led to a delightful story about planning his own 50th birthday to look like a scene in “The Great Gatsby.”
I hope you enjoy our extremely noteworthy 76th episode as much as I did. Thanks, Bryan!
As always, stay safe, stay strong, wear masks, socially distance….and we’ll all get through this together.
Meet Leslie Price of In Any Event, a world-renowned event producer, highlighted in Harper’s Bazaar’s list of the “Top Wedding Planners in the World.”
In the course of our first conversation, we discovered that we were both raised in neighboring suburbs on Long Island’s South Shore, and spent a bit of time reminiscing about our favorite mutual bakery, Wall’s Bake Shop in Hewlett, as well as mourning the recent loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which happened suddenly and tragically, mere days before our Zoom Podcast.
Join us for a delightfully in-depth conversation about her life-long mantra, “Cherish The Journey.” She goes into great detail about everything from the challenges of Astor Hall at The New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum to being “a logistics girl,” the opportunities for lighting, what invokes memory, the importance of getting involved with her clients, classical music and what sets the tone for an event. There’s so much we discuss in this episode, as well as an enlightened exploration of everything it takes to produce some of the most incredible events in many of New York’s most iconic locations.
Enjoy our conversation. And as always, stay safe, stay strong, listen to the scientists, and let’s greet the New Normal together.
From top-tier NYC event producer to Tech Founder, Jennifer Brisman has long proven herself to be a force of nature.
While producing some of the most extraordinary events, she has also been creating software technology that she has turned into VOW, the phenomenal organizational tool for optimizing communication and collaboration between vendors, producers, suppliers and, especially clients.
Making all event professionals “better and stronger,” this industry icon is dedicated to nothing less than saving live events, understanding the personal — as well as professional — challenges during COVID and looking ahead and beyond.
For Episode 73, my very special guest is Anthony Gerardi, Founder and President of the NY/NJ Live Events Coalition. I wanted to get this out as quickly as possible because Anthony speaks so passionately about the importance of a large turn-out at this Tuesday’s (September 22nd) rally at the Trenton State House, in Trenton, N.J., beginning at 12:30 pm.
Enjoy this brief but important conversation. Thanks to our mutual friend Perry Brocco, of Glasshouses, for introducing us earlier this evening.
As always, stay strong and safe. All my best, -Doug
Episode 72 brings us to the spectacular ski resort town and wedding destination of Telluride, where you’ll meet the charming, funny, inventive and self-taught event producer, mountain girl and mom, Wendy Jacobs. The young woman who attended Miss Hall’s School for Girls and grew up as a Yankee fan and ski bum in New York in “a big party family,” Wendy shares the pleasures, mysteries and joys of Telluride where she is known for orchestrating beautiful events, most notably the Lauren and David Bush wedding, which Wendy credits with, among many other things, “changing the trajectory of her career.” A master of logistics, Wendy is quite well-known for bringing in the best creative teams. What’s more, she shares wonderful insights about Ralph Lauren, his working ranch and family, explains why a wedding is “all collaboration” and what really makes Telluride, Colorado so special…think: the mountains and the views. And, that’s just the beginning. Enjoy my incredible conversation with Wendy. You’ll love every moment!
For Episode 71, it was my great pleasure to meet the delightful and incredible Christina Matteucci, Executive Director (Destinations) and proud Number Two, of David Beahm Experiences. Christina shares so much…from flipping through bridal magazines as a young woman to her passions for musical theater and the pageantry, orchestration and set design of weddings. She discusses everything from the inherent challenges and complexities of doing a TED Talk to the power of glamour, why 2001 was such a pivotal, life-changing year to her dogged pursuit of David Beahm and the deeply meaningful relationship she and David have long shared. Find out more about how Christina empowers others, the epic partnership between an event planner and an event designer, the importance of holding clients’ hands, the “mysteries of the tent,” as well as “the trumpet and the vases,” and why she is, indeed, “the Number Two you wish you had.”
Listen, too, for her brilliant insights about the ephemeral nature of what we do in this industry and the brilliant future she believes is possible for all of us when COVID is over.
Meet Kaitlin Donaldson, an amazing, fiercely determined young woman, who, at the tender age of 25, has been learning and studying the art of event planning from the very best in the business.
During our podcast, Kaitlin shares so much. Just to get you excited about our conversation: there’s the debut of her exciting new blog, All The Best Moments.com, her time spent learning from Jennifer Zabinski, the passion and brilliance of Bryan Rafanelli and his fund-raising efforts around the world. From the impact of COVID on our industry to the importance of empathy, and so much more, you don’t want to miss my incredible episode with Kaitlin.
Meet wise, sophisticated, and razor-sharp smart industry icon Ryan Hill, whose experiences on and off Broadway have all the makings of an extraordinary musical.
His appearance on the podcast was full of revelation and magic as he shares his unique path to Apotheosis: how he began as an actor, studied as a director, became a producer and was able to integrate all of these into becoming a uniquely talented event producer. Most of all, Ryan believes every celebration should be like the opening night of a Broadway show. And, that’s just for starters…from the man who has thought of everything.
Get to know the extraordinary wizard who is the exciting, passionate and highly empathic founder of Apotheosis Events, Ryan Hill.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the beloved Brooklyn-based, brilliantly inventive José Rolon as my guest on this week’s Wedding Wisdom Podcast.
Not only is José an incredibly sought-after event planner, he’s also a genuine social media phenomenon, whose playful alter-ego, @nycgaydad, has attracted over one hundred thousand followers between TikTok and Instagram.
Get to know José Rolon, the exceptionally talented, wildly charismatic event/wedding innovator and beloved single father of three.
Listen and enjoy. And as always, please stay safe and stay healthy.
Meet Gina Esposito and Sheena Meekins, affectionately referred to as the “eenas.” Warm, sophisticated, funny and incredibly insightful, these extraordinarily accomplished photographers are “best friends first, roommates second and finally, business partners.” Together they are Anée Atelier.
My compelling conversation with this dynamic duo, who literally finish each other’s sentences, covers everything from shooting for seventeen hours straight at a wedding in Dubai, discovering what they refer to as “the found image,” and the critical importance of creating a meaningful connection with each client.
I hope you enjoy this sparkling episode as much as I did. And as always, stay safe and stay healthy.
My latest “Zoomland” podcast features the delightful and charming Marina Luri, the eponymous destination event planner of Marina Luri Events.
Our inspirational and informative conversation was actually “Take Two” with Marina — as I feel I must confess and (once again) thank her for agreeing to re-record the podcast; I actually forgot to press “record” when we began our first conversation! But, Marina was just as upbeat and filled with incredible insights on our second take as she was on our first…beginning with her being born in New York and continuing with her account of dual citizenship with Italy and a brief and idyllic time spent in Switzerland, all of which made her fluent in four languages by the time she was in her early teens.
After her early European adventures, Marina returned to New York and burst onto the PR and Fashion scenes with invaluable stints at Donna Karan and Hermès, recounting extraordinary experiences with both.
Fun-loving and full of laughter, the versatile, adventurous and imaginative Destination Weddings Producer Fallon Carter was my latest phenomenal podcast guest. Our conversation went everywhere, which is totally fitting for the joyfully travel-addicted Fallon, who discusses starting her own life’s journey from Mississippi to Memphis to Maryland and finding herself on her own in Paris at just thirteen, as a foreign exchange student. Then, years later, she found herself back in France to attend a friend’s sister’s wedding which forever changed her life.
Until now, each of the brilliant event industry innovators and icons who has graciously appeared on The Wedding Wisdom Podcast has been headquartered in, or around, either New York or Los Angeles. Meet the irresistibly charming Jennifer Thye, owner of Imoni Events in spectacular Scottsdale, Arizona. As our mutual friend Allyson Joseph (of Bob Gail Events) so accurately observed, Jennifer is a force of nature.
When I think of the guest on my latest Zoom podcast, the first things that come to mind are events featuring the bold excitement of a Corvette transported into a bank, the magic of live butterflies set free and the soft, effervescent sound of crickets. For the charming and extraordinarily creative Erica Taylor, along with her co-founders Liz Castelli and Adette Contreras and their dynamic company, Tinsel Experiential Design, these exceptional “outside-the-box ideas” are all in a day’s work.
My latest podcast was a vibrant and enthusiastic Zoom conversation with Marc Weber, Chef, Founder and Owner of ONTHEMARC Events, headquartered in Stamford, CT. Our episode was a highly spirited one that covered everything from being a Fellow at the Culinary Institute of America to the impact of coronavirus on the hospitality industry to everything it took to grow a business out of his parents’ garage, the importance of teamwork to his new staffing app, and so much more.
But, most of all, there’s the one overriding feeling that prevailed throughout our animated and captivating chat: Marc’s total passion for cooking and all things culinary…and all the new directions he’s taken his ever-growing business.
What a delightful time I had recording my latest podcast…a wonderfully expansive conversation with the extraordinarily expert, warm and brilliant Bill Coyne, Director of Business Development for Cloud Catering, which you’ll immediately recognize as a great labor of love, along with his many other passions, most notably that of actor and activist.
My two key takeaways from our incredible time over Zoom? That the genius is in the details — from the Sous-Chef to the “cater waiter, ” table settings to lighting, seating charts to wine stewards and so much more. And the importance of the mindset Bill brings to every event as a “people whisperer” with his truly joyful attitude.
For episode 60, I was joined by one of the most gregarious, open-hearted and passionate industry influencers I’ve ever met. As the Business Development Mgr at Party Rental Ltd., Jim McManus is often considered the face of the company, which was actually founded by Michael and Sunny Halperin back in 1972.
Jim is the ultimate podcast guest — a totally engaging, knowledgeable and colorful raconteur who knows absolutely everyone in the hospitality industry.
The recording of Episode 59 was a wonderfully uplifting Zoom adventure with the lovely, dynamic and deeply spiritual Andrea Freeman who came back to the podcast to explore a very timely subject and reveal an exciting and deeply meaningful part of herself. So, if you only know Andrea Freeman as a talented and successful event planner get ready for a treat…and meet Andrea Freeman, Mindful Business Coach.
Andrea reveals her lifelong “obsession” with mindfulness, which began when she “borrowed” her mother’s book by Andrew Weil at the tender age of thirteen. As she explains, she was always looking for ways we can all get more connected to ourselves.
My compelling conversation with the delightful and endlessly upbeat Amy Marella, founder and owner of The Hidden Garden, a hugely successful floral studio in Los Angeles, California, is fresh cut and at peak bloom, as it was recorded over Zoom just a few days ago. And honestly, it was a true joy. Amy is a spirited, imaginative, highly talented and passionate innovator who shares so much about her business and her life. From the importance of balancing motherhood and her career to the importance of “her team,” the critical meaning of hydration, timing, temperature, geography to “the process” and so much more,
Meet Joy Locke, the charming, expert and dynamic Marketing & Business Development Manager at ONTHEMARC Events, based in Stamford, CT. Our focus was to explore the intricate workings of off-premise catering, a subject we have not yet thoroughly covered on the podcast.
Clearly, Joy loves her work. Our conversation was as fast-moving and passionate as Joy herself, as we covered a great deal of ground…from Joy’s roots in performance and culinary arts to our detail-packed deep dive into how her company is evolving during this unimaginable (but very real) collective pause in our lives.
For Episode 56, I wanted to take a deep-dive into some of the many aspects of what actually goes into the planning of a wedding — from the engagement to honeymoon — from a highly reliable source. And so, it was a true pleasure to revisit one of my all-time most favorite bridal couples, Kevin and Jackie Nelson Donovan, pictured here at their June 2019 wedding. Although Kevin only introduces Jackie during our conversation, it’s a very sweet moment, so much like this beautiful couple themselves. And then the lovely, articulate and very Zen bride, Jackie Nelson Donovan, takes over…sharing so much of her personal experiences as a bride, from her childhood dreams of being married at the American Yacht Club, which was so important to her family to the most positive and productive mindset you can have while wedding planning.
For Episode 55, I “virtually” sat down with the lovely Melisa Imberman, the founder and owner of “The Event of a Lifetime” in Chappaqua, New York.
And as the podcast quickly reveals, the work of this energetic, innovative planner of bar mitzvahs and weddings truly lives up to her company’s promise — with highly personalized, custom-designed celebrations that are groundbreaking, original and filled with joy.
Our conversation covers so much ground — from setting priorities to brainstorming with clients to develop themes and from there…logos, signage and taglines, the transformative power of lighting to the subtle secret of the private Pinterest board, the highly inventive “dress swap” to the moving candlelighting ceremony and deeply meaningful Mitzvah Project, which captures the spirit of the milestone and reflects the importance of giving back to the community.
Find out what Melisa means when she describes a bar mitzvah as “a wedding on steroids.” I know you’ll love this episode with the vivacious and highly talented Melisa Imberman.
Meet Michael and Anna Costa. Together, they run “Michael + Anna Costa Photography” in elegant and picturesque Santa Barbara, California.
I took some time off from podcasts, but I’m thrilled to be back with a whole crew of fun, informative and delightful episodes. Today, we start with Anna’s second appearance on The Wedding Wisdom Podcast.
“I believe cake is food,” says Sylvia and her cakes live up to her claim, as she uses the best butter, freshest fruit and her own butter cream. “Absolutely everything is fresh” – Sylvia Weinstock
Episode 53 features an extraordinary interview with the Grande Dame of the wedding industry, the fabulously upbeat, endlessly creative Sylvia Weinstock. Sit back and allow yourself to be treated to a delectable journey that follows her from her college days with her beloved Ben and her almost seventy year marriage and her start as a schoolteacher on Long Island who became the brilliant cake guru who found the ability and creativity to replicate a true-to-life Fabergé egg into gold and silver-leaf edible works of art.
“My colleagues become friends, and my clients become family” – Norma Cohen
Happy New Year! I can’t think of a better way to start off 2020 than with this delightful conversation with the delightful Norma Cohen, of Norma Cohen Productions. Incredibly passionate about what she does, Norma creates some of the most uniquely spectacular family celebrations everywhere from The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Puglia, Italy.
“I always need a seed from each client,” says Norma and from that comes the most spectacular events. Every one of her parties bears a remarkable Norma Cohen trademark but each is also a reflection of her total commitment to making each party a uniquely personalized production, always keeping her client’s “vision” foremost in the execution of each event.
Episode 50 brings us to the beautiful suburbs of Connecticut and the lovely Fairfield home of extraordinary event planner Laura Boulton. An insightful, dynamic, funny, creative and charming innovator with a delicious laugh, Laura explores everything from the very close relationships she forges with wedding couples and their families, the trust she engenders in her clients and the highly personal commitment and dedication she shows them all the way to…a Master Class in “tablescape.”
Episode 49 brings us to the lovely home of the delightful, effusive and charming wedding officiant Lisa Traina. Perhaps more than anyone I’ve ever interviewed, Lisa really loves what she does…which is performing wedding ceremonies that are beautiful, joyous, sensitive, personal and deeply reflect the people she is joining in matrimony. I was truly touched by her passion and respect for her role as the officiant of a marriage and her thoughts on “getting to be with people at the happiest moment of their lives.”
Episode 48 took me up to the gorgeous Hudson Valley to sit down with the charming and erudite Andrea Freeman, Founder and Principal designer for the New York City based event planning and production company Andrea Freeman Events.
Andrea has created countless extraordinary celebrations around the globe for a diverse set of clients that have included private individuals, socialites, and red-carpet celebrities.
Episode 46 takes us to the elegant Westchester home of Alejandra Sacasa de Posse and my delightful conversation with the beautiful, lively and incredibly bright and passionate Vice President of Business Development at Preston Bailey. From Miami to Nicaragua to South Bend, Indiana (where she graduated from Notre Dame) to Italy to Cartagena, to name just a very few, Alejandra is a sophisticated world traveler — and her life’s work and scope ranges from her love of education –which was nourished directly by Mr. Bailey, the event and design superstar aka “the Legend” — which she fosters through Preston Bailey Protégé and PB Live…to her own innovative laser cutting/engraving enterprise, fittingly called “Mark With A Spark.” And that’s just the beginning.
An eternal teacher, communicator and student, Alejandra was herself a PB Protégé and like her mentor, she is devoted to sharing the seemingly endless knowledge of Preston Bailey and everything from “how to transform a space” to the elements of design, ceiling treatments, destination weddings and so much more. Together with Preston, they are committed to “leave nothing out” when it comes to teaching enthusiastic students.
Filled with Alejandra’s sparkling personality, her inspiration, information and expert skills, our episode was full of laughter and learning and, just like my guest herself, it was truly pure joy.
Episode 45 features the intensely dynamic and utterly charming Ali Barone, Owner and Creative Director of Ali Barone Events, a full service event planning company.
Our delightful conversation is as versatile and creative as Ali herself — from her roots in Brooklyn to her role as an educator…as we follow her work in television that began behind the camera and ultimately moved on-air on cable TV (TLC)…to her extraordinary career as a gifted and highly sought-after event planner.
Ali’s incredible energy and remarkably wide-ranging skill set, resourcefulness and many, many creative talents are a fascinating mix — and so is our episode!
Allyson Joseph is the co-owner of the family-owned Los Angeles based wedding-industry giant, Bob Gail Events.
Warm, funny, incredibly smart and gracious, she’s a remarkably accomplished young woman. Who sends hand-written thank you notes to vendors post-events? The same person who wrote her Masters thesis about the theoretical perspectives of the wedding and event industry, crowdsurfed at her own wedding and launched her career with an internship at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe before heading back to run the company business in L.A. Only the extraordinary Allyson Joseph.
From tales of Clinton’s Inaugural Ball to installing a scaffold dance floor over a pool to spontaneous/”surprise” event planning, our conversation is bright, fast-paced, engaging and lively, filled with informative and entertaining stories of weddings she has produced from Southern California to Tuscany and points all over the globe…Her thoughtful, meaningful words ask and speak volumes when Allyson muses about the “motivation behind the spend,” or explains that, of course, “lighting is everything.”
Allyson has a great deal of terrific advice for brides and grooms which you’ll hear in the episode ahead, but one of the best I’ve yet to hear is to “decide to enjoy yourself” at your own wedding. And, in that spirit, I invite you to simply enjoy the extraordinarily inventive, creative and inspiring Allyson Joseph on this episode 44 of the podcast.
Episode 43 take us to the Upper East Side headquarters of internationally acclaimed event producer, Jennifer Zabinski. Jennifer is at the very top of the list of the world’s most elite wedding planners in both VOGUE and Harper’s BAZAAR Magazines, among many other noteworthy publications. Having produced the celebrity wedding of Serena Williams to Reddit founder, Alexis Ohanian, is only one of Jennifer’s dynamic list of extraordinary accomplishments.
Starting her career at the prestigious school of Hotel Management at Cornell, and then learning the luxury market with stints at both the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton Hotels, the incredibly well-spoken, knowledgeable and quite humble Jennifer sat for over an hour with me, doling out brilliant pearls of “wedding wisdom,” as well as exploring the little-understood challenges — and unforgettable rewards of destination weddings, whether the celebration is held on a remote ranch in Wyoming or in Capri, along the glorious Amalfi Coast or some desert…anywhere.
Jennifer demystified the destination wedding, explaining that…at that aforementioned ranch wedding in Wyoming, it was very important to the bride and groom to give their guests experiences they’d never forget– from riding horses to archery, paintball to hiking, and much more. In fact, translating each couple’s very specific wishes and desires is what Jennifer does best, along with striking a balance at every wedding, including presenting the “high and the low,” and her desire to utilize local resources whenever possible, as a strategic producer’s moves as well as a way to keep budgets in check. Our fast-paced, far-ranging podcast covers hidden costs, taxes and currency fluctuations to the importance of always expecting the unexpected…and so much more. Listen and enjoy!
Episode 42 brings me to the corner of 28th St. and Lexington Ave, the home of superstar Chef Gaurav Anand’s Bhatti Indian Grill. After treating me to an incredible and authentic north Indian feast and introducing me to his good friend, producer & celebrity, DJ Shadow Dubai, we sat down to record the podcast. Thank you, Chef Gaurav, for taking the time (you’ll hear the sound of a packed lunch crowd in the background!) out of your day to introduce me to the beauty and nuances of Indian cuisine and so much more.
From the charm and excitement, magic, meaning and music of every Indian wedding to the “explosion of flavor” (think: many exotic spices) inherent in every Indian dish; the health benefits of ghee (aka clarified butter) to his realization as a law student that he loved food much more than contracts and the Indian equivalent of torts which led to a huge new career direction; the very welcome changed perception of Indian cuisine in America to the influence of Instagram and much more…my conversation with this extraordinary self-taught chef was as delicious as his exquisite food and over way too soon.
I’ll be back to Bhatti with my wife and sons — they all love Indian cuisine — to treat them to an unforgettable meal. Visit Bhatti Indian Grill yourself — you’re in for a treat…but first, enjoy our fascinating and fast-moving conversation.
For Episode 41, I headed to Brooklyn — and the incredible 7,000 square feet of raw space that is home to Lytehouse Studio and Levy NYC Design and Production — to explore how lighting can, and should, be an integral part of weddings and special events. with the exceptionally gifted and talented Ira Levy.
As a pre-med sophomore at Stony Brook University, Ira attended a student-run concert by the iconic 80s rock band, “The Pretenders.” Captivated by the entire spectacle, he joined the “concert committee” the next day, beginning a lifetime career as an iconic innovator in the fields of lighting, sound and video for weddings, corporate functions and any other conceivable live events.
We talked, in depth, about the magic of lighting and the mystery of how “the light starts on the ceiling and the beam ends up on the table and there’s nothing in between.”
The effervescent and stunning President and Founder of her namesake company, Rachel Dalton is my remarkably accomplished latest guest. As an attorney who practiced corporate and entertainment law in NYC before starting her own boutique entertainment company, Rachel specializes in securing and producing any type of celebrity talent for all kinds of events and customizes once in a lifetime unique experiences. So when her phone rings lately, it might very well be a client on the other end with the question: “Can you get me Ed Sheeran to sing “Perfect” at a wedding?” And her answer is always “of course.”
It all began when her boss asked “who can produce James Taylor in our client’s backyard?” and Rachel answered, “I can.” The rest is history, and from NeYo serenading the bride at a wedding at Cipriani Wall Street to backstage with Jim Gaffigan in the “green room,” you will love Rachel’s open, warm, intimate conversation with me about working with celebrities. As she explains, “it’s all in the contracts.” Don’t miss our fabulous talk with the brains and beauty behind this fascinating business.
Episode 39 features a fascinating conversation with Anna Costa, one half of the Santa Barbara-based husband-and-wife team of Michael and Anna Costa Photography.
Their extraordinary work is featured on the first page of “Carats & Cake,” as seen below. Anna speaks with great passion — and poetry — about the emotional and artistic gratification she feels after capturing exquisite moments that will become cherished memories on their wedding day. Anna was quite poetic about it, in fact: she speaks of “photos as a daydream” she and Michael are able to catch, and everything the bride and groom felt, in just the right light.
Our conversation covers so much: the difference between L.A. and N.Y. weddings, the intrinsic beauty of Santa Barbara, which is known as “the American Riviera,” the wedding as a seedling to grow a new family, Henri Cartier-Bresson and his “decisive moment,” the critical importance of lighting, film vs. digital, “elopement photos,” the challenge of being a professional photographer in the era of the iPhone, as well as the wicked sense of humor behind heat lamps, the beauty and simplicity of the “First Look,” when a bride and groom see each other for the first time. It is in that fleeting slice of time that Anna particularly loves recording the groom’s beautiful expression.
The delightful, charming, generous and brilliant cake guru Ron Ben-Israel told me he is in “the business of making people happy.” But, he is so much more than that. During our podcast earlier this week, he treated me to his cake and a peek into his life and work as we spoke of so many things: his belief that “cake is a celebration,” his early career as a ballet dancer and visual artist, how he became a U.S.citizen on an”Exceptional Artist Visa,” Martha Stewart’s role in his life and influence on his career — from helping him secure his visa for U.S. citizenship to putting him on television, his deep sense of patriotism, our shared gratitude for immigrants (my family came from Eastern Europe), the importance of bespoke cakes, the myriad variations of a carrot cake, color swatches and tastings, “the process” of working with clients, his dynamic television personality, especially on “Food Network,” how he feels about Instagram….listen to this episode and enjoy my conversation with one of the most universally beloved, elegant, talented, and extraordinary people I’ve ever met. Listen and discover for yourself.
Elegant. Innovative. Filled with imagination and creativity. Those are just a few of the ways I would describe the one-and-only Vicki Dubin, who runs her eponymous international event-planning and design firm, Victoria Dubin Events, with expert charm and lively sophistication.
And in Episode 37, Vicki covers absolutely everything from the initial interview until the last goodbye of the party, discussing some of the finest points and details of the many kinds of events she creates — from weddings to milestone birthdays to fundraising galas to mitzvahs, flowers to decor and lighting, photography to entertainment, venues to video imagery and much, much more.
Our fast-paced conversation underscores Vicki’s own quick-moving energy and remarkable experience, which come through every moment of our conversation, along with her incredible attention to detail. Most of all, Vicki is an extraordinary font of information and inspiration as well as a great storyteller, whose candid personal accounts of events she’s done reveal more than her deep knowledge and passion for her work; she expresses the feeling of exhilaration her work provides. Listen in to our conversation and you’ll realize her love for what she does is truly a gift…as it was just to hear her speak about it.
Thanks to the expertise and generosity of the gracious and altogether lovely mitzvah guru Michelle Farber, of M. Studio Events, this episode further demystifies the complex and beautiful world of bar and bat mitzvahs with a follow-up podcast that takes us on a “deep dive” guided tour behind the scenes of the extraordinary celebrations Michelle and her husband Scott produce.
During the course of our lively, in-depth conversation, Michelle covers almost everything — from the challenges of precision timing and being flexible to the critical importance of understanding every family’s unique dynamics and expressing each child’s individuality and personality; from what entertains guests of all ages to the pleasures of “Dirt and Worms” to the power of branding and signage and so much more.
Most of all, we get to see just how much Michelle loves what she does…and that alone, like Michelle herself and everything she shares with us, is incredibly inspiring. Jump in and join our terrific episode and enjoy.
Welcome to the incredibly stylish world of Lawrence Scott Events, or as he is lovingly known to all, “Larry.”
Having worked together on well over a hundred parties, Larry and I share a rich history as friends and colleagues, although I will always think of him as a mentor; I learned so much about the business of life’s celebrations from him, and the elements of design.
On today’s podcast, we cover everything from the landscape of Long Island to the travel that inspires him; how he interprets each client’s style to the importance of giving back. One of the most truly inventive event designers I’ve ever known, our conversation takes us from Studio 54 to Elaine’s, to how much he trusts himself, his commitment to his own vision and his own personal mandate to always take risks.
Listen to our fast-moving, casual and profoundly honest conversation — and enjoy.
Today’s podcast was a delight to record as I met with the dynamic and charming Michelle Farber, who (along with her husband Scott, whom I’ve yet had the pleasure to meet) runs a hugely successful event planning company, M.Studio Events. They’ve actually trademarked the words “Party Concierge” to more precisely describe what they do.
This podcast expands our scope beyond our regular focus on weddings into the world of “bar and bat mitzvah” celebrations.
Lively, insightful and filled with energy, Michelle and I covered so much ground about bar/bat mitzvahs, that we decided to sit down again next week
to continue exploring the meaning of this rite of passage for the child, the parents, and the guests at these upscale and often lavish affairs.
Enjoy our spirited conversation which is as inspirational as it is informative…and took me back to my Long Island roots.
Welcome to Episode 32 and the incredible world of makeup, which was a subject that was almost entirely mysterious to me before I had the pleasure of sitting down with the charming and beautiful skin and cosmetics guru, Kimara Ahnert.
As I tell my wife after every wedding I play, every bride is truly beautiful. But Kimara takes beauty to an entirely different–and quite spectacular–level. Our conversation covers everything from what inspires her to the importance of timing to the evolution of “a look”…as this gifted wedding innovator taps into her enormous set of skills and endless creativity, as well as her own eponymous line of skin care and make-up, and everything she’s learned at the sparkling Madison Ave. salon she has owned for the past twenty years.
I’m so thrilled she shared the details and challenges that take place behind the scenes…and so much of her vast knowledge with me…and now, you.
Sitting down with Leslie Mastin was a sheer delight. As one of Manhattan’s preeminent party planners, she comes to us via a somewhat different route from many of our other guests…by way of the hotel business and specifically, The Grand Hyatt, The New York Hilton, The Regent Wall Street, The Mark and The St. Regis. Until she opened own her own exciting company, she planned countless elegant and glamorous parties for New York’s elite. And with her trademark wit, warmth and wisdom, in this podcast, she shares her stories and incredible insights and inspiration with all of us.
This episode was a genuine treat for me. And I know you’ll feel exactly the same way.
Welcome to our first podcast of 2019. I cannot imagine a more delightful way to start the year than with the incomparable David Beahm. David’s wealth of wedding wisdom, botany, nature and so much more…is remarkably vast.
What’s more, he’s wonderful behind the microphone with his distinctively warm speaking voice, his terrific personality, curious-minded nature, and a unique way of story-telling that’s both engaging and greatly educational.
In our podcast, David deftly resolves the difference between the often-confused terms, “designer” and “planner,” names which are often, and incorrectly, thought of as synonymous when speaking about events.
He tells fabulous stories about his training in musical theatre and opera, and how that time of his life helped shape his vision of weddings as a truly “operatic” experience. One of my favorite moments is when David treats the audience — and me — to two bars of “Soliloquy” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “Carousel.” I truly hope you enjoy this lively conversation with David Beahm as much as I did.
Welcome to Episode 29 with the lovely and delightfully effervescent event planner Carolyn Bender, which we recorded in her beautiful home in Mt. Vernon, NY. The timing of our meeting was especially fortuitous because on the day we met, Carolyn was on the cusp of “dropping” the first installment of her brand new “lifestyle” blog, cmebealieveme, while simultaneously attending to the day-to-day details and challenges of running her well-established, highly-regarded company, Carolyn Bender Events.
I caught up with Carolyn, or perhaps it is more accurate to say…she was kind enough to squeeze in an hour for a meeting with me to explore what it’s like to balance her fully-evolved wedding/event business with her latest passion, the “lifestyle” blog.
As our conversation unfolds, she is virtually bubbling over with ideas to share about her four passions: food, fashion, decor & lifestyle. Born in Memphis, TN, her mission is to create one-of-a- kind special events that seamlessly merge Southern Hospitality & New York Style. Enjoy our fast-paced conversation, and feel free to get to know better the dozens of specialty stores — as well as wedding vendors — of whom Carolyn speaks so highly.
Yesterday’s podcast guest was Alex Knight, one of Manhattan’s finest young wedding photographers. We had first met on an impossibly warm June night at a trendy venue in Brooklyn last spring for a beautiful bride and groom’s wedding (one of my all-time favorite couples) when we each worked that event and it wasn’t until just now that our schedules allowed us the opportunity — in November’s sudden frost — to get to know each other better. But, it was well worth the wait; recording his episode was a terrific experience. What made it even more special was that our conversation gave us the opportunity to explore together…his originality, refreshing new ideas, and breakthrough new vision. His “Love Stories” are beautiful lifestyle moments captured in time — and just one part of his expansive signature style.
Most of all, it’s especially thrilling to share his bold, new perspective and spirit and this emerging new talent with my podcast audience. Listen and enjoy this unique episode and get to know this extraordinarily gifted artist as his momentum keeps building and Alex Knight becomes a major force in the industry.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to have best-selling author and internationally renowned event designer, Preston Bailey, as my guest on this week’s Wedding Wisdom Podcast. The endlessly charming and creative artist has truly transcended the wedding/corporate event industry, taking his vision to the wider world.
And, for the engines that helped propel him there, Preston is sincerely and endearingly grateful — especially for the awe-inspiring triumvirate of women who mentored him to “the next level,” notably…Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.
From memories of the rainforest in Panama where he grew up to the sheer bliss of discovering the lush beauty of Washington, D.C. in peak cherry-blossom time, Preston shares so much of himself in our warm and breezy conversation…what a delight! And, our conversation was full of delightful, unexpected turns.
As a matter of fact, halfway through, Preston “took over” our the podcast, and started interviewing me, which was a sweet surprise. Listen to him speak; his is the most endearingly open-hearted laugh I’ve ever heard.
Preston, thank you for stealing away to sit down with me and share an hour of true wedding wisdom.
Today’s guest is Bill Spinner, Director of Catering at The Pierre Hotel. Iconic and timeless — as both a place to stay and/or dine or host or attend an event — The Pierre is one of the most gracious, luxurious, stylish and truly beautiful places in the city; it’s a New York landmark. Quite fittingly, and with extraordinary commitment and passion,
Bill brings his own unique brand of elegance and talent as he oversees every aspect of the hotel’s expansive food and beverage operations. And as a bandleader who has had the pleasure of playing parties in almost every exciting and exquisite event space in the city, The Pierre has always been — hands down — my absolute favorite.
Quite simply, Bill is one of the most beloved people in the event business. He is a true gentleman, dedicated to serving the most elite clientele in Manhattan. And yet, he is also one of the most genuinely down-to-earth, smart, warm and funny people I’ve ever known.
Our conversation wanders over a myriad of subjects, ranging from his years spent working in his parents’ restaurant/hotel business to his experiences at two other venerable venues in Manhattan: Windows on the World and The Rainbow Room. I really hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
Despite this week’s lingering heat, I’m hanging onto summer and the last moments of the “lush season” after months of so many beautiful weddings and terrific events…even though September always brings that great “back-to-school” feeling of great new beginnings.
In that spirit, I’m thrilled to bring you a wonderful podcast with the lovely event pros, Susan Bell & Heather Prochorchik of Bell Events.
Our conversation covers myriad fascinating issues that apply to the success of every wedding. Specifically, we looked at the amorphous, hard-to-describe work of a full-service event company like Bell Events, and uncovered how incredibly valuable and important it is to making a wedding an extraordinary event.
Enjoy my chat these two amazing women and then, find out more about them on Pinterest and Instagram (belleventsnyc) and by visiting their gorgeous website at bellevents.com.
I’d also like to acknowledge to generosity of Bill Spinner and The Pierre Hotel for allowing us to use one of their conference rooms for this recording.
Every once in a great while, you rub shoulders with greatness. In fact, it happened again the other day. Spending an hour in the home of the spectacularly elegant, quintessentially New York luxury event coordinator, Harriette Rose Katz. (Now I know how Marc Maron felt having President Barack Obama on his podcast, WTF)
Impossibly talented with impeccable taste, the singularly talented HRK has established herself as a constant force in an ever-evolving industry, universally recognized — for decades — as a true culinary and event innovator, producer and designer.
Listen to her recollection of introducing Peking Duck and Dim Sum as appetizers at the most upscale parties, and you get a hint of her non-stop imagination, energy and sheer business brilliance. It was an honor and a delight to chat with HRK on a stormy, summer Sunday. Thank you, Harriette.
Episode 23 takes us to the busy Fort Greene offices of the extraordinarily charming and creative event designer Susan Holland.
Our conversation ranges from the delicious tidbit about Susan being credited for introducing sushi and Peking duck as hors d’oeuvres at weddings to experiential marketing.
For over thirty years, Susan’s aesthetic has shaped everything from the design of fashion shows, branding and concept development for a universe of clients to the way we first met, through her work on galas, non-profit and family events.
Her experience is uniquely diverse — from “ultra-orthodox” Jewish weddings to state dinners at the Obama White House.
I’ve always thought of Susan as the loveliest meteor — a trailblazer full of breakthrough ideas and energy and our conversation captures that feeling. Most of all I’m delighted to call her my friend.
For episode 22, we’re still celebrating the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle….especially because I’m sitting down with the equally spectacular Kate Edmonds. I just can’t imagine a better guest with whom to dish about the incredible May 19th event.
In addition to being one of the most sought-after party planners in Manhattan, Kate is an expert on all things wedding, and of course, all things British. Brilliant, funny and filled with insights, it was a delight talking with the lovely Kate. Enjoy!
Thanks for listening, and take a moment, if you would, to subscribe to the podcast. Please spread the word. I’m off to prepare for this weekend’s weddings.
All my best,
Ep. 21 takes us back up to charming Westport, CT and “The Plumed Serpent Boutique,” an elegant wedding salon owned and operated by Alison Luciano. From the first sentences we spoke, it was obvious that we got along terrifically well, allowing for the conversation to flow naturally and easily. I hope you have as good a time listening as I did chatting with this fabulous woman.
I truly hope you enjoy our fast-paced, charming conversation about everything you’d ever want to know about choosing the perfect dress…and where to find it.
Today, it’s my great pleasure to be on the Upper West Side with celebrated photographer Andy Marcus. We’re meeting at the headquarters of Fred Marcus Studio, in the very same building where his father launched this legendary empire seventy-five years ago.
Soft-spoken, fascinating and warm, it is easy to understand how Andy’s artistic skills and entrepreneurial spirit took the business in incredible new directions (think: the weddings of everyone from Eddie Murphy to Mary Tyler Moore.) Beginning where his father left off, Andy grew the studio to extraordinary prominence throughout the world over the course of four decades.
Today, Andy is still going strong and the legacy continues with his gifted photographer son, Brian, embodying a new generation carrying the family tradition forward. Our conversation is a sparkling, sprawling family album that chronicles their exceptional craft and creativity and remarkable accomplishment.
When I’m not doing this podcast or practicing tap dance (think Savion Glover) and running Doug Winters Music, one of the things I devote myself to are the couples whose weddings at which my band and I play. In the months (or more) leading up to their big day, I do everything I can to forge a genuine and very strong personal bond with each of my brides and grooms. Invariably, it’s one of the two members of the bridal couple who cares much more about the music and that person always translates the couple’s most important desires. Most often, it’s the brides with whom I work but occasionally I will run into a music-passionate groom.
A couple of weeks ago I was having one of my daily chats/text repartee with bride-to-be, Denina DePool. And during that conversation, we decided to do something special for this podcast. We decided that we would record an unrehearsed, unstructured “recap” of her wedding day, post-reception. And here it is.
Her beautiful wedding to Miguel Quezada took place on Sunday, March 18th at Sixty5 On Main in charming Nyack, NY. After almost two months of planning our perfect “itinerary” for the evening’s events, our plans went completely out the window when Denina, as she will explain, decided to leave the restaurant and spend a half an hour taking pictures with Miguel, in a park overlooking the Hudson River.
We do a very “deep-dive” into everything that made the wedding extraordinary. Not the least of which was our mutual desire to toss the aforementioned Itinerary and simply “play it by ear.” Sometimes, that works really well.
I had a wonderful time getting to know Denina during the weeks before her wedding and took great pride in seeing all of her friends and family having a fabulous dance party following their beautiful ceremony. What came out of our post-wedding discussion, or as she cleverly named it, “The Afterglow,” was really fun, and will hopefully give you an insight of how a bandleader and a remarkably cool bride can work seamlessly in producing the “Imperfectly Perfect” wedding.
The other day, I got a chance to sit down with the extraordinary bassist, Gary Foote. As one of my all-time favorite and most successful Doug Winters Music Alumni, Gary had been part an integral part of Best Kept Secret, full-time, during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In this conversation, we trace his personal musical history from the very beginning, when Gary was a fourteen-year-old bassist playing local clubs in his native Milwaukee. It was there that he was, unsurprisingly, discovered by jazz legend Billy Cobham. Later, we talk about his long stints traveling with the legendary 70s band, Blood Sweat & Tears, and most recently with the timeless icon, Smokey Robinson.
It’s not a coincidence that Gary spent over 20 years with Blood, Sweat & Tears and is now, spending more than a dozen (and counting) remarkable years on the road with Smokey. It’s the same reason I had always wanted to keep him with Best Kept Secret as long as possible. His astonishing musical virtuosity and unrelentingly positive work ethic, along with his trademark magnetic smile and sheer charisma, make him a highly sought-after and cherished addition to any pop, jazz, funk or rock group.
We also speak, at length, about his wife, Jenny, also a cherished Doug Winters Music Alumni, and her equally successful life as a revered backup vocalist for everyone from Mick Jagger to Chaka Khan. She’s spent the past dozen years touring the world’s most iconic arenas with the artist, Pink.
On a personal note: Gary’s deep-rooted and infectious passion for basketball even rubbed off on my seven year-old son, Ben, who (at 23) is still a lifelong Brooklyn Nets fan; their sweet, shared experience has bonded them for life.
I hope you enjoy this fun, lively conversation with one of my most favorite people, Gary Foote.
In this podcast, Episode 17, we travel up a bit to Bridgewater, CT and the home of the lovely and expert event planner Eileen Smith. Our insightful conversation focused on everything having to do with her true specialty….outdoor and tent weddings as opposed to using a more traditional venue. She talks about some of the best experiences one can have at an outdoor event. The best part? As we agreed, when you’re celebrating outside, quite literally, the sky’s the limit. Eileen even tells how she was able to design an elaborate “sub-floored” tent on a “literal ski-slope” to accommodate one of her clients.
Anyone thinking about a “tent” wedding, should savor every delicious nugget of advice Eileen offers after a decade of experience planning all kinds of “al fresco” parties in the great outdoors. And as Spring becomes official today, the timing couldn’t be any better. Join us for ideas, inspiration and lots of details.
Jersey City was the setting for today’s podcast with psychotherapist Beth Renov, in which we kick off a monthly “diary” leading up to her November wedding and run the conversational gamut from Tinder to the sweet surprise of finding true love. I was crazy about Beth from the beginning; we bonded over having the same taste in music. Personally, this was one of the loveliest conversations I’ve ever had about love, romance and marriage. Beth’s incredible honesty, sensitivity, and sense of humor are among the most delightful aspects of our very warm talk in which she shares the joy she feels about finding and marrying her best friend.
When it’s right, you know it. Here’s to love…and here’s to you, Beth and Lauren.
Episode 15 takes us to the charming village of Scarsdale and the offices of Sharon Snyder, the charismatic owner of Standing Room Only and SRO Fine Foods. During our lively conversation, we focus on the SRO Fine Foods division, known as one of the finest “off-premise” caterers in the wedding/event business. Sharon is a delight to talk with. She’s energetic and fun and extremely insightful about every aspect of catering a wedding, especially those held in a non-traditional setting such as a tent, a museum, or an art gallery.
I’m thrilled for you to listen to Sharon talk about off-premise catering, a subject we’ve yet to explore on the podcast.
Please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, GooglePlay, PlayerFM, or wherever you listen to podcasts. And, as always, feel free to leave comments, and let me know whom you’d like to hear on Wedding Wisdom Podcast w/ Doug Winters.
Episode 14 takes us up to South Salem, N.Y., and the beautiful home and private gardens of the lovely Priscilla Schaefer, florist & event designer. Priscilla spoke passionately about her love for the intrinsic romance and beauty of flowers. And our conversation reminded me that there’s one common element that I’ve discovered among all the true experts in the “event business:” a genuine love for what they do…whether it’s music, floral design, party planning or photography.
Priscilla is a virtual well-spring of creativity, vision and inspiring, important knowledge of all things that bloom. Her extraordinary expertise about “bridal botany” will dramatically enhance your understanding of how flowers and other living things can transform an event space into a uniquely personal expression.
I left our chat with a far greater appreciation for all things that blossom and the importance of the New York Flower Market on W. 28th St.
I hope you enjoy this delightful episode of the podcast.
This latest episode features a return to the the podcast by the wonderful and talented Vanda High.
This is Part 2 of a terrific conversation. If you heard it, you know that the first time Vanda was on, we spoke about all the “little things” couples do to make their weddings unique. This time we go on a deep-dive into the real “nuts & bolts” of the wedding process, from the engagement to kissing your guests goodbye after a fabulous party.
I actually learned a great deal myself. As a bandleader, I spend all my time concentrating solely on getting — and keeping — the dance floor packed. Vanda sheds a giant klieg light on virtually every part of the wedding process, from establishing a budget to details about table sizes and transportation. She speaks with great authority — and a great deal of vitality — about virtually every element involved in planning the perfect wedding. Like me, Vanda clearly loves what she does.
Thank you, Vanda; I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and learned more than I ever thought possible about this wedding business. While I have loved uncovering fascinating stories and so much fantastic data from all kinds of expert guests, and I hope you will listen to all of those podcasts, this episode exemplifies all the reasons I wanted to do Wedding Wisdom in the first place — to provide couples with a place to go to find “all things wedding.” And for anybody who thinks wedding pros get jaded, think again. And just scroll to the last two minutes of “the pod” and tell me you wouldn’t want Vanda High to “produce” your wedding.
One of my favorite people in the wedding industry, Weisser Millien is the extraordinary General Manager of the magnificent Cedar Hill Golf & Country Club in Livingston, New Jersey. Charming, warm, an inspired leader whose attention to detail is legendary, Weisser Millien is a true wedding professional. It’s been my great pleasure to work with him on dozens of spectacular weddings over the past two decades.
We recently sat down in his office for a delightful conversation about weddings, the result of which is this simply terrific episode. Sit back and enjoy my talk with my good friend and colleague, Weisser.
Meet Dan & Danielle Gombos. The delightful married couple invited me up to their spacious Bridgeport offices the other day. Dan owns “Shindig Lighting” and Danielle owns “Gather+Lounge,” a furniture/decor rental company.
We sat down to discuss how a subtle lighting scheme and carefully chosen rented furniture can be used to astonishing results in designing the perfect environment for your wedding.
I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and left far more knowledgeable about a growing trend in the event business. I’m sure you’ll feel the same.
When I was thinking about doing this pod with Los Angeles-based DJ Lee Dyson, I assumed that we’d be talking about the obvious differences between DJs and live bands. Very basic stuff. But from the very first moment, it became much more interesting and clear that our discussion was more about the similarities every entertainment company faces in trying to “pack a dance floor.”
Lee talks eloquently about an entire range of topics, from a bridal couple’s choice of the proper venue to the importance of using an “event coordinator” to the ever-present challenge of making every wedding the best party it can be from beginning to end.
His book, “How To Hire A Killer Wedding DJ”, which is available on Amazon, goes into great detail about everything we discussed and far more. I hope you enjoy our chat.
I recently sat down with the delightful, legendary party planner, Kate Edmonds. Although we had never met before, we immediately fell into a comfortable conversational rhythm. When the podcast ended, Kate gave me the best compliment possible. “It sounded like two professionals chatting about the industry we both love.”
I recently had the privilege of sitting down with a true pioneer in the event business, Ronnie Davis. From a conference room in the offices of Great Performances Catering, Ronnie takes us from his beginnings as a “third-generation-kosher-caterer” in Philadelphia to producing the legendary party celebrating the publication of Madonna and Steven Meisel’s book, “Sex”, and through twenty years of star-studded “after-parties” for The Grammys, and hundreds of spectacular events around the globe.
Today I get to sit down and speak with the amazing Elisabeth Withers. I first saw her magic as a performer when I asked her to “sit-in” with my band, Best Kept Secret, during a rousing dance set at a wedding on Long Island.
Lis had stopped by our wedding, after finishing her “gig” at a nearby Bar Mitzvah. It was around 1:00am and the dance floor was packed with guests, surrounding the bride and groom, when Lis came over and gave me a hug. I immediately handed her an extra microphone and invited her to join the other three singers entertaining the crowd. Thanks to Lis’s extraordinary personality, she immediately electrified the room, captivating the crowd with “call & response” chants. Suddenly, I heard her call out “When I say ‘Doug,’ you say ‘Winters.’ ” As if rehearsed, she shouted ‘Doug’ and sure enough, 200 people responded ‘Winters.’ After two or three repetitions, the wedding reception was now a “rock concert,” if not a full-blown “revival meeting.”
Soon after that party she auditioned for the coveted part of Shug Avery in the Broadway MusicalProduction of “The Color Purple.” She not only got the part, but was nominated for both a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress. and a Grammy Award for Best Original Soundtrack Recording.
Lis has also sung “back-up” vocals for iconic performers Ashford & Simpson, Luther Vandross and Erykah Badu. She is currently living in Orlando, Fla. working with her husband Damon Mendes on their education-based project, Orlando Eye On Talent.
Jim Hynes is one of the pre-eminent “session” trumpet players in New York Seen here with Carole King and Paul Simon.
If you visit his website, jimhynestrumpet.com you’ll hear his dynamic performance on the Theme Song for NBC Sunday Night Football. He also played the lead trumpet on the TV themes for CBS This Morning, NBC Golf, Golf Central, Masterpiece Theater, and the CBS Evening News. He is currently the lead trumpet player for “Beautiful, The Carole King Musical.”
I’m incredibly lucky to have Jim as the indispensable leader of our Best Kept Secret horn section for the last twenty years. Check him out on our most recent video at dougwintersmusic.com/video
Minute by minute w/ Melani Lust…
00:19 San Diego to Manhattan to study dance with the Alvin Ailey Theatre.
Working as a model…dressing as a sneaker for a “toy convention,”
05:53 A short discussion of “the casting couch” for young models, actors and dancers.
07:45 Working at Sotheby’s, authenticating artwork, and hand-delivering a $10,000,000 Mondrian to a penthouse on Park Ave.
11:30 Learning photography by shooting 2-dimensional paintings as well as 3-dimensional sculpture “in the basement of the ancient sculpture in Naples.”
12:45 Learning Latin, French, German and Dutch to transcribe art manuscripts.
13:58 Henri Cartier-Bresson and “The Decisive Moment.”
16:40 Becoming as a full-time wedding photographer.
19:50 Backing up her “flash cards” onto Hard Drives. Sending 20-50 “sneak-peak” pictures to family members before “less than flattering” photos appear on Facebook.
27:30 Process of developing “the perfect timeline” with each bride & groom, their families, and bridal party,
29:00 Arriving at 1:00pm for a 9:00pm reception
31:00 Why “Make-Up Artists” are always running late.
33:40 Shooting bridal couples during emotionally “unfortunate” toasts.
36:00 Learning how brides like to be photographed from their Facebook Wedding Page.
Tricks to get the bride and groom to laugh.
38:13 Tips for Brides: “It’s really important to know that something will go wrong on your wedding day, but the wedding is just about…love; and your connection.”
My first episode features a delightful discussion with my dear friend Maura Bohan, President of Maura Bohan Events.
Maura is a “Day-Of” Coordinator. The first thing we discuss is what exactly what “Day-Of” entails. She begins by explaining why the number of invited guests is the most important element in planning a wedding, and how different venues can comfortably hold a 300 person wedding, with others being more appropriate for a 70 person party.
The conversation is lively, and extremely informative, as I hope each episode will be. Most importantly, I want this be your home for all things regarding planning your own perfect wedding.