Happy New Year! I can’t think of a better way to start off 2020 than with this delightful conversation with the extraordinary 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.
I was completely fascinated by the passionate feelings of love and kinship she finds with both her colleagues and clients. She very poignantly says “My colleagues become friends, and my clients become family.”
From the physical flow of the party to the paradox of Instagram, the power of the seated buffet and the importance of color and so much more, Norma’s fast-moving episode is a revelation, just as she is. Listen and enjoy.
As promised in the podcast, I’ve included the December 2019 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR in which she is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading event planning masters.
Episode 51 brings us into the stunning Midwood section of Brooklyn, New York, and the home of Norma Cohen of Norma Cohen Productions. Norma’s reputation as one of New York’s preeminent wedding designers is well established. What I didn’t know was that the vast majority of the spectacular, one-of-a-kind celebrations she designs are firmly tied to the Sephardic Orthodox Jewish community she is so proud to be a part of.
In a delightfully candid conversation she talks about her deeply rooted ties to her heritage, living in a magnificent home literally across the street from the one she grew up in.
I found myself totally captivated by the passion with which she approaches her career, dazzled by her astonishing generosity, and deeply moved by her dedication to her roots. She is truly a delightfully captivating woman, and I genuinely hope you enjoy this conversation as much we did having it.
Thanks for listening.
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 “tablescapes.”
Along the way, we talk about the logistical challenges of weddings at private residences, the sense of true community she builds with every project she takes on, the dynamics of the “First Look,” the importance of clients letting go on the “day of” a wedding and so much more. This is an episode packed with details, inside intelligence and the unique point of view of an exceptional and incredibly highly sought-after talent, the one-and-only Laura Boulton. Join us to learn so much from a true legendary wedding and event pro and enjoy every moment!
Thanks for listening. Let us know what you think.
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.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Andrea where she shared her deeply insightful thoughts about how to bring people together in a meaningful way, driven by her belief that there is a growing risk of losing real connection in our increasingly virtual world. Her episode is optimistic, unexpectedly fresh and full of important moments; I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
I had the most delightful afternoon the other day, when I sat down with the lovely and remarkable Jules Miller, founder and creative mastermind behind “The Revelry Cooperative.” As she will explain, her concept for the “Revelry” has been to cultivate and create a group of extraordinary “raw spaces” that function as a thoroughly new and creative alternative to traditional hotel venues. These delicious and gorgeous blank canvasses (just awaiting transformation) are mostly located in ever-trending Brooklyn and Queens, and north of Manhattan in the idyllic, leafy Hudson Valley, whose popularity is as Jules put it, “on fire.”
Jules’s passion for her work was immediately evident, inviting and refreshing as she details what it takes to transform raw spaces into viable, magical and unforgettable venues for weddings and corporate parties. This lively, inspiring episode should be mandatory listening for all creative couples with a desire to “think outside the hotel” and explore every option before deciding on where to celebrate their love and marriage.
Stay till the very end (the last minute!) to hear Jules’s fascinating (and justifiable!) defense of the joy and meaning of weddings specifically as discussed in the feminist blog Jezebel.com.
What a joy to spend this time with Jules Miller. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did.
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! Enjoy.
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 world-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 (whose expertise in the kitchen extends far beyond Indian food), was as delicious as his exquisite food and over way too soon. But, even if we don’t sit down again very soon for another podcast, 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 this episode, 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 the extraordinary world of lighting with tech wizard and lighting guru, 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.”
Thanks for everything, Ira.
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. Enjoy.
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.
Join our spirited and warm conversation. Enjoy!
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.
And his cake? Sheer heaven on fine china. What a joy!
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 this episode of the Wedding Wisdom Podcast, 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 on well over a hundred parties together, 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.
Thanks so much, Carolyn. Enjoy!
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 on the Podcast 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.
Thanks for listening,
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.
Sit back and enjoy.
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 most 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 Millien.
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.” Enjoy! -Doug
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.
His is truly the story of a life well-lived.
My guests are Los Angeles Podcasters Clint Hufft & JP Reynolds, co-hosts of “Wedding Ceremony Podcast.”
We discuss the most important part of your wedding…the wedding ceremony. As “Nondenominational, Interfaith, Cross Cultural Officiants,” they are genuine experts in this portion of your perfect wedding day.
Enjoy Episode 6.
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 Musical Production 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.
I get to sit down with wedding coordinator who explains how it’s the job of a good wedding coordinator to work with each bridal couple to help them make their wildest dreams a reality.
She starts by listening to each couple to discover their plans for producing what will eventually become their version of “the perfect wedding.”
It’s a fascinating conversation beginning with how she first gets an inkling of the path each couple wants to follow to make their celebration “a genuine expression of their unique selves.”
Please check out Vanda’s website at vandahighevents.com
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:
00:19 Moving from San Diego to Manhattan to study dance with the Alvin Ailey Theatre.
Making money 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 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.