This might be the most important event HighLife has ever planned. The marriage of our owner and creative director Tyler Hollinger to Lauren Maffettone. This late summer, sun drenched, beachy-country club themed wedding (but not on the beach) featured many exciting reveals, delicacies, and intimate moments all weekend long. Although the wedding was on Saturday September 14th the experience began the day before and lasted well into the following week. The entire wedding spanned the entire weekend from Grooms Golf Tournament on Friday, welcome reception Friday night, Grooms 5K beach run the morning of the wedding, the wedding Saturday night, and the good-bye pancake brunch the following day. The rest of the week was capped of with a mini-moon on the beach for the newlyweds. The color scheme of the wedding featured lush late summer greens, polished gold and silver, with pops of blush and red. The bride and groom chose a classic filet and lobster main dish with ample raw bar and a wealth of bites and treats all night long. This perhaps was the most fun any of us have ever had planning a wedding and, of course, being guests! Cheers to the newlyweds
Venue: Stone Harbor Golf Club Florals: Brenton Wolf Design Photos: Forever Photo NY Calligraphy: Victoria Gotwols Invitations: Niamh Langton Co-Ordination: Shore Thing Event Services Band: Batchelor Boys Cake+Desserts: Maryanne’s Bake Shop Transportation: Vintage Trolleys Gown: Francesca Miranda Tux: Hugo Boss
Early October Highlife was tapped by Interview Magazine and the Mavenry Agency to bring to life the 50th anniversary of Interview Magazine and the one and only Michael Kors gracing the cover. The iconic magazine by Andy Warhol has been inextricably linked to Studio 54 since day one. Democracy on the Floor: Warhol at Studio 54. “Dictatorship at the Door, Democracy on the Floor”: That’s how Andy Warhol famously described Studio 54. So we set out with this mission statement to re-create those decadent times.
A frequent guest of Studio 54 Andy was scene as a beacon of the artistic movement in downtown NYC. Notice the wheatpasted Interview Magazine covers seen in the BG. Taking this identity we re-imagined this look and feel for a modern day step & repeat where the NYC style of advertisements juxtaposed with the Interview Magazine cover.
The Infamous White Horse
“It was a beautiful white horse that reminded me of mine,” she writes, “and I made the foolish decision to get on it for a few minutes … No doubt you will agree with me that it is one thing to, on the spur of the moment, to get on a horse in a nightclub, but it is quite another to ride in on one. As an environmentalist and an animal rights defender I find the insinuation that I would ride a horse into a nightclub offensive … I hope that you can understand the difference between ‘coming in’ on a horse and getting on one.”
Oh Bianca. You know what they say “if you see a white horse you have to get on it” it was the custom in Studio 54 for the guests to indulge in many things that are ‘white’ perhaps riding a horse in a club. not the best idea. But for this imagery, we re-imagined it as an instagrammable moment. This new approach allowed people to get up close and take a photo with the model decked in MKC and also the brilliant white steed!
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
The dancing in the club was probably what everyone came for. They sex, drugs, and debauchery was what everyone stayed for. To encourage this care-free act of inclusiveness the Studio 54 Dancers were decked in Silver with choreographed movements that would make Diana Ross Blush 🙂 Then Adding in the roller girls brought everything full circle.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a disco without the disco balls. Reimagined as a platform stage in the space, this provided not only a stage for the dancers put a branded moment for photos and more.
A preliminary rendering shown here and then the branded UV-Light logo added for a more dynamic moment. This providing more than just a stage to dance on, but an interactive instagrammable vision.
Finally, a good time would not happen without the people involved. Kudos to the team at Michael Kors, Interview Magazine, The Mavenry, and HighLife Productions.
This is especially the case when Interview Magazine taps HighLife to re-imagine the Fleur Room as the iconic Studio 54. In collaboration with The Mavenry Agency the HL team brought together various instagrammable moments as mini WOW factors. Like the custom wheat-pasted step & repeat, the branded mirrorball stage, 54 dancers, disco roller girls, and who could forget the iconic white horse.
Honestly I think grooms get a bad rap sometimes. Too often in today’s society the groom is not involved in the wedding planning or the preparation for the ‘Big Day’. How often do you hear “Oh she did all the work… I just showed up.” Why are weddings now considered only something a woman can come up with or a gay man can design. Maybe we underestimate straight men. Maybe we put boxes and delineations on people in general that simplify things so we don’t have to change our own perspective on how we view others. Labels. Titles. Confines. Everyone tells you, you can’t do something until you do it. Then everyone can’t believe it happened until you do it again. The only difference is those people sit around talking while we go out and do the things. Just do it. Couldn’t say it better myself.
I had the pleasure and the honor of putting together my fiancés bridal shower. We got engaged in Champagne France so I came up with the idea of a French Countryside shower with all the trappings (including a mischievous French Mime). Actually, it was the Mother-in-law who came up with the mime idea. But the mime is actually a friend of mine. The kids are a special part of all showers and we wanted to acknowledge this.
Early summer 2019 HighLife produced and designed an intimate yet whimsical French countryside bridal shower for beauty and make-up industry trendsetter Lauren Maffettone. This gilded affair was designed straight out of Champagne where the couple got engaged.
From the selection of fine French cheeses, French wines, Champagne, and tea cocktails served in quaint baroque provincial china to the ornate golden flatware and lush floral arrangements this classic country side fare was a feté for the ages.
Classic Coq Au Vin was on the menu as well as gruyere croque monsieurs, summer tartines, beetroot cured salmon, Chevé croquettes, seafood tower, pepper cress tossed salad, and an over the top dessert bar for Marie Antoinette herself.
This event hosted at the Foundry in LIC featured a custom Bossa Nova playlist, French Mime, handcrafted water color portraiture, and model staff dressed as Parisian hipsters!
Inspired by the couples engagement in champagne itself HighLife sought to bring France to NYC. Working within the budget parameters we quickly gravitated to a more rustic countryside menu and look. The ethereal decor and whimsical cocktails and setting provided the perfect back drop for a bright, fun, relaxed bridal shower fit for a queen.
Opulence was on the menu for the decked our desert bar by SO SIMPLY SWEET with many different and unique choices. Not to mention the equally lavish cheese and charcuterie table. Each element had its place and the ultimate gem was the venue itself. The Fouundry LIC is a turn of the century restored iron foundry now premiere wedding venue.
Looking back on such a lush event probably the best kept secret that I myself am the groom. The Groom and the wedding planner. LOL what a perfect combo. Can’t wait for the wedding!
Is it the venue? Eh, maybe. Is it the lighting? probably not. Although, I did recently attend an event at Cipriani’s for the company “Moment Factory” and let me tell you it was definitely ABOUT THE LIGHTING. Incredible video mapping installation they have put in Cipriani’s Downtown. Back on track here. Is it the Music? Yes, possibly if you are hosting an EDM Festival, Bluegrass Concert, karaoke night music might be the most important thing but for the great majority of events out there the most important element is of course the FOOD & DRINKS.
Think about the last event you attended. What was memorable about it? The conversation, the people, you met, the laughs you shared (hoho) or how incredible the mixology was and the delightfully cute bartender. In most cases the food and the drinks are what people talk about for months after your event. This is what people come for. This is what they expect when attending an event ESPECIALLY if they guests have paid to be there. How many times have you heard people say “I’m not going if I have to buy drinks…” The importance of having solid food and drinks is probably the best investment of your money you can make. With many of our clients who are planning events here in NYC on a budget they say to me that they are spending $8,000.00 on the venue and therefore don’t have the money to spend on the catering… Here is a quick hack. In NYC the wealth of condo buildings that now come with STUNNING common rooms is overwhelming. These common rooms largely are empty 95% of the time and are FREE to the people who live there. All you have to do is inquire amongst your friends to see who has one of these common rooms in their building. Boom I just saved you $7k you can now spend on the food and drinks.
Events are a special time for friends to get together and celebrate so the food and drinks should be special too. If you want a jack & coke just go to the Irish pub on the corner. A jack & coke is not a cocktail. A cocktail consists of at least 3 ingredients. 2 ingredients is an emergency.
Yes, I will have another sustainable seared red snapper with creme fraiche in a crispy wonton taco… they are delightful.
Groomzilla: Breaking the mystique that a straight male groom cannot plan a wedding in 2019″ one event producer’s story on breaking gender norms.
Did you ever notice that in the movies the wedding planner is always gay? Or Female? Who could forget Martin Short’s charismatic turn as the effervescent Franck Eggelhoffer. Or the seminal classic The Wedding Planner staring an Oscar worthy performance from JLO and McLo (that’s McConaughey when he plays opposite Jennifer Lopez). In fact I have been planning and producing events for almost 10yrs now and out of all the wedding planners I know. I cannot name a single straight male. Is it because straight men generally aren’t detailed orientated, they don’t know the finer points of floral design, they can’t comprehend intelligent lighting or various levels of invitation card stock?
In the current marital landscape it is widely agreed that it is “her day.” I rarely hear brides to be talking about their wedding being ‘their day’ or even a non-gender normative “day of love.” Perhaps it’s the social media pressure heaped on females in our society to live their BEST LIFE, or showcase only the GREATEST MOMENTS, when in reality the pressure to always look your best, be your best, and show the world that your wedding is better than all of your “friends” whom you don’t really like that much anyway, is far too much responsibility for one day. Remember getting out of bed to put make up on and then getting back in bed and take a photo of yourself — yea everyone knows that’s fake. Or maybe “her day” is an archaic vestige left from a pre-#meetoo era where the wedding constituted a sumptuous dowry that went along with the bride. Wouldn’t that be nice for all us grooms out there.
It is my opinion that the role of “wedding planner” has always been played by a gay man or a woman because the bride would not feel comfortable with a straight man planning “her day”. Would a straight male planner be able to adjust the bust of a wedding gown on the fly, gab & joke with the bridal party, or supply emergency tampons?
There is so much more that goes into planning what many consider to be the 2nd most important day of your life (I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the inevitable birth of a child…)? Not only is marriage permanent (right?), it’s a celebration of love with all your closest friends and family, and ultimately, in most cases, the most expensive party of your life. It is a culmination of your adulthood, a pronouncement to live your life for someone else, an invitation to defining what is important in your life and a chance for you to brag about how much money you have.
This brings me back to my movie metaphor. Did you see Crazy Rich Asians? For what reason is the entire wedding sitting in neck high field grass during the ceremony. To talk about over-the-top wedding celebrations for a moment; this pressure to show people how happy, successful, wealthy, you are has obscured the point of the whole affair. Marriage is a celebration of love and a chance for both families to converge and have a great time. Comparing your marriage, your life, your decisions to others is a death blow that only leads to unhappiness. After all comparison is the thief of joy; I think Kylie Jenner said that. Oh, and thank you Instagram for making it so easy for us to visually compare ourselves to each other before I’ve even had my morning coffee.
So why can’t I plan our wedding? Is it toxic masculinity for me to assume that a straight man could do this? Am I mansplaining to much what my design vision, detailed floor plans, and seating arrangements are? Are my color schemes to masculine on a date that in the history of the world has been regarded with adjectives like blush, whimsical, airy, delicate and gentle. Are men not capable of these adjectives or is it everyone around us who assumes this. You know what happens when you assume right? Good thing my fiancé don’t care what others think.
This much hyped day is fraught with so many unrealistic expectations that every Bride should have a talented planner and a best friend behind them. Good thing I am both. Talented planners not only come up with the overall vision, the design schematics, the vendor negotiations, but they also offer the gray hairs of experience that only time can provide (my greys are actually natural blond highlights). Smart planning does not require big budgets. It requires thoughtful moments that are budget optimized for exponential impact. Spending money on the best bang for your buck and on your priorities. If having a dope AF oyster bar with 9 different kinds of regional oysters, giant Alaskan crab legs, and cockles that would that would make your mother-in-law blush is a priority for you; then go for it. (And invite me!) If you are more discerning in your budget spends then finding artful ways to achieve your vision is how you maximize your dollar. Did you realize that white carnations are making a comeback and white roses are significantly over priced (and a cliché). Since I have a wealth of experience in the events industry I am able to call upon favors from my favorite vendors. That’s just an “inside perk”. Here’s another secret. Every vendor wants to do your wedding and if you give them a budget they will tell you what you can get as opposed to them telling you what it will cost. Managing expectations is often times the hardest of mountains to overcome. That and explaining to your bride to be that the venue only holds 150ppl and your mother’s cousins cousin might have to get left of the list!
Ah, compromise. The cornerstone of our relationship. It is this aspect of teamwork and compromise I wish on all newlywed couples. Having the self-awareness to realize who is better suited for what tasks, is an important lesson that allows us to divide and conquer. Planning a wedding is part of the journey to getting married, it is a test of your relationship and a solid foundation for a lifetime of marriage. Patience is another virtue. I am still working on this one.
My Mom loves to tell the story of the day she got married. She had planned for the perfect wedding but after rain, catering mishaps and even a very important person in her life telling her that they didn’t approve who she was marrying, because of religious differences, everything seemed to be falling apart; however, my mother told herself “nothing will ruin this day” and ignored it all.
When we host a party that does not go as we planned we ask ourselves, “Why me, why my party?” What we don’t realize at the time is that something is bound to go wrong. The more you plan for your party the greater your expectations are for how it will turn out; you expect your party to turn out exactly how you picture. With higher standards in mind, when something small goes awry, it has a larger impact on how we view our party than it should. We see the party running off track; however, all the guests are perfectly content.
An easy way to solve this issue is taking a quick survey or judging the conversations in the room. If you, as the host, ask a guest “how are you enjoying everything?” your guests will appreciate your taking time to speak with them and you will also gather key information. Look for tone in their answer rather than the answer itself because guests are inclined to give you a positive response; no one will tell you “this party is going terribly”.
The truth is that guests don’t have expectations of your party in mind until after they are there, at the very least their threshold for a good party is a lot lower than yours. While you may see your party as going terribly, they may see that it is running smoothly. The pasta didn’t come with your catering even though you made it explicitly clear what you had ordered? Your guests do not know that, just work around it! Honestly, the guests usually could care less about the things you see as problems. Further, these flaws may actually be enhancing the experience and may be a primetime to make memories. Be spontaneous! Oh, it is raining during your wedding? Why don’t you dance in the rain, I am sure that it will make for a great memory to put in your photo-book.
At this point you may be thinking that the title is misleading, but it’s not. The solution to stopping your party from going haywire is to expect things to go wrong. Once you start seeing flaws in the party, it will lead into a downward spiral where everything seems to be going poorly. However, if you are not satisfied, here are some tips to fix common mishaps:
I. Rain: It is very easy to plan and book around the weather if you are planning a party a week or two in advance. Parties that require long term planning cannot do this. In these scenarios be sure to notify your guests of the weather as soon as you can . An easy solution is to move your party inside if it is outdoors. You can also set up tents and umbrellas to avoid everyone from getting wet. With the accuracy of weather forecasts in modern times rain should be pretty easy to work around.
II. Important Guest is Late: If someone important to your party is late, your guests may be growing impatient. An easy solution is to distract them. Tell jokes or a funny story about the guest being late in the past. Survey the audience, ask them to tell jokes, play a game, there are so many options! The key is just to be prepared when the moment comes because being spontaneous may sound easy but can be very hard for some people . Therefore, planning ahead with some activities that could help pass time is a key.
III. Food Mishaps: these scenarios are why it is so important to have a backup plan and to be in contact with your catering constantly leading up to your event. It will be hard to find a backup for good quality food if something goes wrong. If the food was mis-delivered or destroyed in some fashion, the catering you use will usually provide a backup, but don’t count on it. If your food never shows up, or they are not able to provide a backup, you need a plan. Have somewhere in mind that will be able to provide food on the spot (although not very luxurious pizza is always a decent option). A way to avoid this entire scenario is to confirm with the food service repeatedly before your party, especially a week in advance and the morning of. If an un-replaceable item is destroyed, say a wedding cake, it may seem like a big deal but the faster you move on the less likely it is to ruin your day. Your guests won’t care if you serve them backup deserts and it is sure to make its place in the memory books.
IV. Silence: This is one of the scariest scenarios, if no one is mingling all eyes are on the host. This scenario is rare and usually only occurs when your guests have some hostility between them or a crowd of introverts. It becomes your job to spark conversation and introduce people. Meeting people is always the hardest part, talking with them after is the easy . If your guests are hostile toward one another try to do something to to draw their attention away from that hostility. Some of the techniques from part II should do the trick or introduce them to other guests at the party.
What do you think? Would you handle these situations in the same way? If you have any other inquiries about party mishaps please let me know below!
Author: Paul Erlanger, Intern for Highlife Productions
HighLife Model Staffing division was selected by Instagram to support their annual summer event. Over 150 top Instagram executives including the founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger gave keynote speeches to the invited audience in one of Brooklyn’s most sought after waterfront rooftops. Delectable bites prepared by celeb chef Ashton Keefe and HighLife bar support paired local brews and vineyards for any incredible evening under the moon. The Empire State Building even lit up purple and orange!