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
In comparison to the wealth of event and festival experiences that occur in NYC over the course of the summer (i.e., GovBall, Pinknic, la Luna), and many many more it is very clear to me that Secret Summer is by far the best festival in New York City. Below are the reasons why…
#1 THE PRICE
The price of Secret Summer depending on when you buy your ticket is $60-$150 (At the Door) most of the 1000 people who attend Secret Summer purchase a $75–$100 ticket because there are the most of those qualities. In fact in 2019 when we release tickets in April the first 100 $60 tickets SOLD OUT in 2hrs. That’s a testament to the strength of our following. That right there is your ROI and how to judge whether or not what you are doing is working. At Secret Summer all of your drinks are free all day! No other festival can claim this. The first year we actually gave the food away in the ticket price too but that was a huge disaster as people hoarded plates and left half eaten plates all over the place.
For example Pinknic charges you a $90 ticket for the privilege to then sell you glasses of Rosé at $15 a pop. They on top of that sell you a $20 ferry ticket which is actually $2.75 at the ferry…Then on top of that they had to cancel their Saturday event because of the heat and the mayors office issuing refunds (but many people never received that refund and had to write in to request it) so how do you sustain an event with that kind of bad blood…? Other festivals like GovBall everything is for purchase and at a price of $120 plus everything you spend your budget goes up sharply. Then there are the raves in NYC where you pay a very cheap price to be crammed in a small warehouse etc with 7k other sweaty people gyrating. If that’s your thing. At $60 that’s a good value but again nothing is included.
#2 THE QUALITY OF THE DRINKS
To qualify as a cocktail it must have 3 ingredients. 2 is just an emergency and 1 is a problem. Its no secret that the cocktails at Secret Summer are of the highest quality. What Secret Summer does that is so unique is that we pair major liquor brands with ingredients from local farms to create pure magic in a glass. The freshness and quality are evident at first sip. I have attended too many other events and liquor expos where the quality of cocktail is basic and not about the complete experience. From House of Suntory to Aperol to Aldez Tequila, and newcomer Chinola, what the attendee gets is not only exposure to brands they have never heard of but a connection to local farms in their community. This wholesome experience adds to the total picture and rounds out their opinion of the brand itself. In many ways this is why the brands participate.
#3 THE BRANDS, SPONSORS, & PARTNERS
To participate in Secret Summer, a brand has to meet the festivals Aesthetic and match the level of quality. This high level of brands and the integrity of their activations are precisely why the overall experience is so great. Brands that invest in the overall quality of their experience reap the rewards of a depth of brand equity and brand value. How nice it is to effect someone so deeply that they become a fan for life all because of their experience at Secret Summer
#4 THE VENUE
The Foundry in LIC is by far and away the best event space in NYC and an Instagrammer’s dream. This coveted private venue is usually regarded for private events and weddings almost exclusively. This is a rare chance for 1000p to dance and celebrate under its turn of the century stone and ivy decked walls, its rustic cobblestone courtyard and myriad of nooks and crannies crammed with unique artists and eye catching interactions. Just 1 stop from Manhattan and a 20% Lyft discount ride away. The venue is hard to beat.
#5 THE PERFORMANCES
What is different about Secret Summer from other events is that there is no stage. The performances happen all around you all the time for the entire day. You may wander from the Albra room to the courtyard and back again thru the green house and see 4 different performances. This year we had High and Mighty Brass Band headline the festival by playing “MTV Unplugged” style in the round with everyone right there…Meanwhile Chinese dragons surprised guests while wandering thru the courtyard
Posing for pictures, delighting attendees, and interacting with everyone. The festival opened with 2 DJs spinning for a total of 4 hrs setting the mood before the band. In the other rooms guests found bespoke haiku typewriter poetry, the Secret Summer Clique of interactive dancers, hand crafted water color portraiture, psychics, face paint, magicians and more!
#6 THE FOOD
A Small hand selected group of food vendors supplied the eats for 1000p festival goers from BBQ to Tacos, Dumplings, Ice Cream, Mochi, Grazing Platters, afghan comfort food, and more…The wealth of local delights were everywhere and just a short walk away.
Secret Summer after 5yrs is still largely a secret to many people but something tells me this won’t last for long…
SECRET SUMMER RETURNS TO THE FOUNDRY FOR THE 5TH YEAR IN A ROW
ON AUGUST 4th
New York, NY (July 31, 2019) — Secret Summer, a one-of-kind farm-to-bar cocktail festival, featuring unique food and drinks and musical performances will take place at The Foundry in Long Island City (42–38 9th St) on Sunday, August 4th
The 5th annual fete and immersive summer garden party, produced by Tyler Hollinger of HighLife Productions, Andrew Maturana of RAPT Hospitality and Allison Du Val of The Foundry, will welcome 1,000 attendees and feature seasonal farm-to-bar cocktails, unique food vendors, and live musical performances throughout the sprawling venue that includes a 3,000 square foot Main Hall, Garden Courtyard, Greenhouse, Albra Room, and Terrace.
The festivalwill showcase and serve up drinks from the world’s most prominent spirits brands like Aldez Tequila, The House of Suntory, Westward Whiskey, Aperol Spritz, Gem & Bolt Mezcal, The Long Drink, Runa, Mr. Black and more…that will pair perfectly with The London Essence Co: Fine Mixers from distilled essences, and Blue Point Brewery.
“This year, we are excited to be partnering with local farms , Brooklyn Grange Farm (Brooklyn Navy Yard), Windfall Farm (Montgomery, NY), Gotham Greens (Greenpoint Brooklyn + Hollis Queens), Bowery Farming (Manhattan) Lucky Dog Farm (Hamden, NY) and Lani’s Farm (South New Jersey, Bordentown) for the first time to supply the Secret Summer festival cocktail program with some of the most beautiful, local ingredients the season has to offer.” said event producer Andrew Maturana.
KeVita Sparkling Probiotic and Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. will also be on hand, serving their light, delicious and refreshing beverages, while Polar Seltzer and Harmless Harvest Coconut Water will be there to help keep guests hydrated. Elmhurst Milked is offering a variety of delicious iced lattes and coffee with 100% plant-based milks. Guests will be able to drink sustainably with HAY! Straws made from natural wheat stems that are 100% biodegradable. Delicious food offerings include a sustainable raw bar by MF Events and the return of Crazy Taco Mex, Cash Only BBQ and newcomers including Nansense NYC and Mama Margarita’s.Secret Summer gets even sweeter this year with Tipsy Scoop serving liquor-infused ice cream treats up to 5% ABV to satisfy everyone’s appetites and compliment the flavorful libations.
This year’s performers include High & Mighty Brass Band, DJ Dastan, DJ David Hohme, and Mira Fahrenheit. Secret Summer has also teamed up with LYFT to offer festival goers a discounted ride to and from the fest.
Farm-to-bar uses the same ideology that the farm-to-table movement has brought to our food. These vibrant seasonal sippers are prepared with only raw, peak-season ingredients sourced from local farms and paired with the best quality spirit brands on the market. These locally sourced items are skillfully incorporated into the Secret Summer program in many different and exciting ways. Secret Summer’s farm-to-bar program is our way of sharing and celebrating a lifestyle of wholeness, happiness and a passion for quality ingredients and experiences.
About Secret Summer:
Secret Summer is the nation’s first and only “Farm-to-Bar” cocktail festival. It’s a celebration of sustainable mixology, fresh eats, music, art, dance, fashion and more. Vibrant seasonal sippers are prepared with only raw, peak-season ingredients sourced from local farms and paired with the best quality spirit brands on the market. The Foundry in Long Island City provides the perfect location for the party. The fully restored 19th century building boasts 3,000 square feet of raw space with a lush outdoor courtyard that will be open to ticket-holders offering up stunning views of the Manhattan skyline along with a gorgeous indoor Greenhouse. General admission tickets begin at $125, which includes unlimited cocktails and beverages and access to all rooms and performances. For more information, visit www.secretsummernyc.com
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.
A Bridal Shower is an important tradition filled with excitement and fun. An excuse to get together with all of your besties and throw down. Here our chef RAPT took things to a whole nother level with some innovative farm-to-bar cocktails and delicious eats. A tropical themed escape in NYC that featured a Fig & Honey infused coconut water rum cocktail served in a coconut, a watermelon and vodka collins with grilled rose petals and finally the “Bea-llini” with sparkling rose’, green market peach, and lavender. Delish.
But most importantly here are 5 tips and tricks from the pros on how you can have a killer bridal shower without breaking the bank
LADIES ONLY — this is a time to celebrate and tell debaucherous stories from the bachelorette party. This is a time to gather with a small group of friends during the day-preferably Sunday and relax. This is not a time to throw on the heavy EDM music, do tequila shots and take that last chance at flirting as your single life comes to a close. Fresh food and drinks are a requirement and if you are inviting 30 of your closest friends and family — don’t forget the mother of the groom! Then it’s important to keep it classy San Diego.
2. Decor and Design- The best events are those that you can call your own. This does not include renting out the back room of the local irish pub where the normal brunch crowd sips bellini’s and mimosa. FIND A PRIVATE SPACE. There are tons of great, effective, inexpensive ways to do this. Splacer.co is a great resource as well as peerspace.com and breather. All of these online space sharing/finding sites are like airbnb but for the hour. Hell! We have even done pop-up parties IN airbnb’s just go online and reserve the place for the day. Another fantastic resource would be a friends building with an event space. Like the one pictured here. If you have a wonderful space you won’t need need much in the way of decor. A few classy balloons. Some fun bridal toys and you are set!
3. FOOD & DRINK — As this is mainly a brunch type event the food should be light not filling. This is not considered a full sit down meal. But an opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy some company. The same goes for the drinks. they should be seasonal and light. NO LONG ISLAND ICE TEA’s. As much as you like them, now is not the time. Save that for the bachelor party. Pictured below one of our cocktails served in a coconut. FUN RIGHT!
4. THE FUN — Games and toasts and gifts. Bridal showers are perfect opportunities for gift giving and for games that involve the bride and the baby to come and all the fun of getting married. This is precisely the time to make it happen! The best stories come out between friends with cocktails!
5. THE BRIDE — At the end of the afternoon this whole shebang is all about the bride. This is where you need a dedicated team of bridesmaids to swing into action and take the burden of decorating, hiring the caterer, finding the venue, and deciding on the menus and games. Here is where the bridesmaids step up and take control.
Message us on Instagram or hit us up via email and we can give you more tips and tricks to help make sure this ever important event goes off just right 🙂
The primary goal of any host is to maximize the experience for their guests. All other objectives, including revenue, come second because if the party fails so does your reputation as a host and all future profit. However, “experience” is a very vague term and most people have a different idea of what a good experience looks like. A very easy way to maximize the appeal of your event for your guests is to put yourself in their shoes. To do this you must contextualize your party’s theme with all the ways your guests will perceive it.
Part I Sight:
This is where first impressions are made, the make or break moment. For this reason, focus on the entry point. How people view the party when entering will strongly influence how they view the rest of the experience. If you are throwing a party at night be sure to have quality lighting to set the tone of your event, the dimmer the lighting the more romantic the mood. If you are going for a club-vibe make sure the room isn’t pitch black, throw in some flashing lights or colored beams. If your party is in the day utilize natural lighting. Phillips makes a bulb called the HUE, which allows you to control the color and dimness of the bulb through an app, you can also let the lights change to your music!
Watch out! Be sure to decorate but do not overload the senses, if the space looks too crowded it will turn people off.
Part II Sound:
If anything takes the constellation prize for first impressions it is sound. The music you play can change the entire atmosphere of the party. DO NOT just throw your favorite songs into a playlist, be thoughtful and craft a playlist to the experience of your party. If you are looking for speakers, Sonos makes amazing home entertainment systems that will deliver a high quality booming sound for a good price. The speakers stream directly from the speakers to maximize sound quality (I promise this is an unsponsored endorsement). If you hire live musicians even better, but still keep genre in mind! If you are too lazy to make your own playlists we have you covered. Spotify and other music streaming services have pre-made playlists based on genre.
Don’t let the music overpower discourse, so be sure that you are able to understand others at a normal speaking volume with the music on. A good idea is to have rooms dedicated to louder music for dancing and other rooms with quieter music primarily used for talking. Silence is also an option but only in very specific situations because even faint background music can dispel any awkwardness from conversation.
Part III Smell:
This one is pretty obvious, make sure your party doesn’t have an intolerable stench. Keeping the doors open to the kitchen can be an easy way to spread delightful smells throughout your house -or- just buy some Febreze defusers to place throughout your event, make sure they are not overpowering though. If your party is centered around the smell, like a perfume advertising event, then smell becomes all more important. A pro tip is to put a bottle of cologne/perfume in the bathroom to keep everyone smelling nice.
Part IV Feel:
Just make sure everything is clean, plain and simple. Not just before but throughout the party also.
Part V Taste:
Everyone’s favorite food! If you are serving food at a party make sure it matches the theme of the party. Try to serve clean fresh ingredients, not only will they taste better but they look beautiful. If you are not a chef and cannot afford to hire one, catering is always a great option, it is quick and easy. Don’t leave the food in the catering containers, switching them over to a decorated plate is so easy and makes all the difference. Also, have options for everyone, don’t forget the vegan.
Author: Paul Erlanger, Intern for HighLife Productions
AQUARIUS is a celebration of new ideas in sustainable seafood farming, catching, and sourcing. Aquarius is the eleventh astrological sign in the Zodiac. The Aquarius constellation is a summer constellation in the northern hemisphere. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius typically between January 20 and February 18. The event featured many delicacies of the sea as well as a bevy of sustainable seafood purveyors and premium wines and spirits.
HIGHLIFE partnered with RAPT EVENTS and THE FOUNDRY LIC to create a one-of-a-kind 360 degree immersive experience like none other. Guests entered the Foundry gates from an arched stone passageway, followed a twinkling, dimly lit path to a hidden entrance into the first room of the Aquarius event. There, ticket-buyers were greeted by ice fairies and ushered into the arctic-chic white-out room to pose and play in front of a myriad of photo opportunities to capture that perfect Winter-chic insta-moment. As guests made their way through the space, they discovered a multitude of seafood purveyors, vendors and restaurants offering delicious canapé and amuse-bouche featuring only fish, crustacean and bivalves sourced (exclusively) from the ‘Aquarius’ seafood sponsors. Along with all the wonderful bites guests enjoyed live burlesque and aerialist performances, interactive art, custom design/lounge corners and a performance by NYC’s HIGH & MIGHTY BRASS BAND to cap off this winter wonderland extravaganza.
“‘This is an event for 21 to 40-year-old millennial hipster foodie fashion-forward people who love great cocktails and love great food,’ Tyler Hollinger says when I press him to identify who his forthcoming sustainable seafood and farm-to-bar cocktail event, Aquarius, is for.”
As you meander thru the space check out lush greenhouses, performers, innovative mixology, and immersive experiences. Plus feel good about eating and drinking, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to New York City’s Sustainable fisheries and shellfish farms. (now that’s cool)
In its 3rd year Secret Summer has grown to almost 1000 attendees, 15 brands, 8 performances and 5 different food vendors. The only “Farm-to-Bar Festival” in the world where all cocktail ingredients are locally sourced within 100 miles of the city. HighLife Productions curated all elements and produces this 360 degree experience as the marquee event on the company’s calendar. Immersive, interacting, and delicious; Secret Summer is an experience like none other. Read some of the press below…
Raptor Venture Capital hired HighLife Productions to produce their VR technology demo in the heart of their meatpacking office early in the summer. This intimate event for 60 people was highlighted by delicious treats and sumptuous eats. Tuna Poke Tacos, Basil Pesto and Brooklyn Ricotta Crositni were among some of the fresh canapes while guests sipped on Ginger Infused Buckwheat Honey Yuzu Margaritas with Fleur de Sel. Here’s to virtual reality and stunning rooftops.
A HighLife Wedding is a hand-crafted, bespoke event, realizing your every dream and imagination. We believe in local. We believe in delicious. We believe in creative solutions to make your wedding memorable. A beautiful wedding does not have to break the bank but instead reflect the aesthetic of the couple and the bringing together of friends and family. The HighLife/Rapt Team believes in using top quality, seasonal ingredients, local purveyors, and working with a knowledgeable, detail-oriented staff. Responsible sourcing and innovative thinking is our mission. Your wedding should be one of the most memorable days of your lives and the cuisine and cocktails should reflect that.
Farm-to-Table is more than a buzzword. It’s the backbone of our cuisine. All elements of our cuisine are seasonally organic and locally sourced to ensure the freshest ingredients possible for maximum flavor and unforgettable events. Farm-to-Bar is forward thinking mixology and cutting edge recipes that push the boundaries of cocktail culture All drink ingredients are again seasonally organic and locally sourced. We believe the drinks should be as memorable as the food. The look & feel of your special day should be immersive and transformative We are a full service event production agency and will realize your vision for every detail and nuance that make your event feel hand crafted and special.
Services provided: 360 Degree Full Scale Wedding Planning and Wedding Design, NYC Wedding Planning & Wedding Design Services, NYC Bridal Shower Catering, NYC Bridal Shower Design and Execution, NYC Model Event Staffing, Event Floral Services.