Tag Archives: NYC cocktails delivered

The 5 Things I learned from planning my own wedding…

The Big Day

I wrote an article not too long ago about the the fact that there are no straight male wedding planners? How come? I believe that ultimately no bride wants to trust her “biggest” day with someone who isn’t gay or female. There are a bunch of thing wrong with what I just said. So let’s break it down a bit. “Her Day” — why in this post #metoo era is the wedding for the bride? It seems after all of the gender tropes we have overcome, the wedding is largely for the bride and the groom is expected to just sort fo show up… not really have a point of view on the floral palette, the cut or design of the gown, the flavors associated with the meal… Ultimately this is a partnership right. Then again what groom wants his wife spending those crucial planning hours with a straight male? In many respects a bride and groom can certainly plan their own wedding without a wedding planner. Sure. It’s a lot of work but it can be done. I have to say though that going thru this process with my bride was a whole lot of fun and I would encourage it for anyone getting married. So below I am going to break down 5 things I learned from doing this myself. Granted. I am an event producer. Making events happen is what I do for a living so I already had the list of vendors (my friends) to help make this all as easy and magical as possible.

The Design
  1. Choose the venue first. The Date second.
Stone Harbor Golf Club

The first thing you want to do is pick a date and a venue. That will largely inform most of your other decisions. What Lauren and I decided was that we wanted more than just a 1 day wedding. A year ago we went to a beautiful wedding in the Catskills. We arrived on a Friday, there was a great welcome dinner, checked into the hotel, woke up the next morning explored the Catskills, came back got ready for the wedding and then the next day a good bye brunch. There is something great about the 3-day wedding weekend where your guests can get away for a little while, relax, and immerse themselves in something very very special. So for us it was Stone Harbor NJ. We could have done a 1 day wedding in NYC but for a 3-day getaway the south jersey shore is perfect. Sept 14th was the date we set with our venue Stone Harbor Golf Club. I grew up in this town so all of this had a lot of meaning and was very special. Plus the weather in September down the shore is just incredible. 

2. Place you money where your priorities are.

It’s no secret the best part of weddings is often the food and drinks. For us this was true and we wanted to really make that the best part. From the elaborate cocktail hour (High End Tequila Bar) to the sumptuous lobster and filet main course to the spread of local dessert treats and who could forget the custom ice cream truck at the end of the night. The catering is where our priorities were. One of the many benefits of having a wedding at a venue with full food

Custom HighEnd Tequila Bar

and beverage capabilities is that there is a full, real kitchen and bar on site. I am no knocking venues without full kitchens but sometimes that cost can then become exorbitant. Catering companies that cater at venues without their own kitchens have to rent the cooking equipment from rental companies. This cost alone can double or triple what a normal food and beverage cost would be. So this was another consideration when it came to exactly what the location of the wedding would be. Your venue or your caterer can help you choose how to serve and what to serve. From day one we wanted a lush raw bar (good thing the local cape may salt oysters) are to die for!

Our Menu Design

As a mixologoist myself, I created a couple of signature cocktails a “His or Hers” versions in addition to the full scale HighEnd Tequila Bar. Then a great variety of stations and passed canapes for the cocktail hour. The main course was a classic pairing of lobster and filet. Simple. Crowd pleaser. Finally the desserts were a spread of delicious, local, delicacies from the candy shops, fudge stores, and donut stands in town. Not to mentions the custom ice cream.

Cake from a Local Bakery

3. It’s all about the flowers…

Much of the design for weddings is primarily based around the flowers and having a great florist is key to having an easy yet beautiful wedding. Brenton Wolf is a friend. He does the flowers for all of our events and it was an easy call working with him to design the look and feel of the wedding floral scape and table scapes

For the most party a collaboration between your floral company and your rental company will save you time, money, and head aches. Our rental company was Broadway Party Rentals, so all of the gold ceremony chairs you see here came from the company. We wanted to introduce touches of gold into the wedding which the venue had none of, so to accomplish this we brought it in.

4. People will cancel

It’s often very hard to know how many people will actually show up at the wedding. Despite the save-the-dates, formal RSVPs, messages and more. In fact people will confirm, then cancel, then re-confirm. I was honestly shocked with how much fall out we had. The best way around this was the fact that we had some singles (no plus 1s) on hand that didn’t mind filling the gaps.

5. Ultimately its your wedding and YOUR decisions…

Too often there are too many people who have opinions about what you should be doing. I feel like this is a life lesson as well as well. While you should listen to these people you don’t have to act on what they say. You will have mothers, fathers, planners, friends all tell you what you are doing wrong… when I feel we need a little more in life people telling us what we are doing right.

Your Friendly Straight Male Wedding Planner.

Tyler Hollinger

Owner

HighLife Productions 

SShef: Spring 44

In the Spring of 2019, HighLife Productions collaborated with Spring44 + Chef Andrew Maturana to reinvent the “dinner party”. Local, Sustainable, delicious eats  were on the menu as well as our signature “farm-to-bar” cocktail program, which is a highlight of our summer events calendar at our marquee event Secret Summer. Venue: The Foundry LIC, Florals by Brenton Wolf, Rentals by Broadway Party Rental, Catering by Rapt NY, DJ Eric Visa, Photos by @julesslutsky

SShef is an unparalleled private dining experience, that was held at The Foundry  on Thursday, May 9th  This exclusive event  served as a kickoff to Secret Summer, the nation’s first and only farm to bar cocktail festival.  SShef is brought to you by RAPT, an NYC-based catering and events company and HighLife Productions an NYC based Event Production Company. This special supper club was a three course experience from chef and RAPT owner Andrew Maturana,  complemented by unlimited farm to bar cocktails from Spring 44. The dinner menu featured Crisp Edamame with Perigord Truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano, Wild-Caught, Pan-Roasted Black Sea Bass with Fennel Rosti & Buttermilk and Grilled Spring Eggplant Terrine with Fromage Blanc & Pinot Reduction. The night’s entree is a “Woolley Sheep Farm” Spring Lamb with a Jerusalem Artichoke and Miso Purée, Additionally, House Pappardelle Pasta will be served with Chanterelle and  Spring Garlic Cream. Dessert will be “Berried Treasure Farm” Tristar Berry Crumble with a 5 Spice Crust, whipped Mascarpone and baby basil. 

Creative production, experiential marketing and design by HighLife.

What is Secret Summer?

Secret Summer

HighLife Productions February 11, 2017

Farm-to-table tailored cocktails, professional dancers and invigorating music all in the concrete jungle? Once a year Secret Summer provides this unparalleled experience; if you are in the city you need to go!

I’ve had a lot of cocktails what is so special about the cocktails at secret summer?
I promise you have never had cocktails like these (if you have not attended Secret Summer the past). The cocktails are carefully crafted from freshly collected ingredients, harvested from New York City’s own Farm One. These unique cocktails are crafted by expert mixologists from RAPT who have spent most of their lives in the kitchen as chefs. They are bringing their talent to craft you your perfect drink. Trust me when I say the more you drink the better the drinks begin to taste.

But I don’t like bespoke cocktails should I still attend?

Not a concern. If you are not into cocktails but are still looking to get your booze on the event hosts a Giant Beer Pong game played with full-size kick balls. This crazy spin off to a classic party game will be sure to test your skills but also entertain for hours.

Where is the event hosted?

The event is hosted at the Foundry in Long Island City. The Foundry has a stunning courtyard where a lot of the events take place, it is rare to see such a vibrant setting in a major City. Photos of the foundry can be found below.

What about food?

Secret Summer has you covered. Delicately crafted snacks crafted by RAPT are constantly in circulation. However, if you are looking for a more filling meal, Secret Summer hosts the best food trucks in New York City. In the past the event has hosted everything from the Morris Food Truck, serving organic grass fed grilled items, to the Van Leeuwen Truck, serving Artisan Ice Cream.

And Entertainment?

Here is where we are going to blow your mind. The event hosts face painters, tattoos artists, photo booths, professional musicians, dazzling dancers, beautiful women and handsome men. At the 2015 event, which had a Midsummer Night’s Dream theme, actors from the Shrunken Shakespeare Company could be found all around the venue, assuring a constant stream of entertainment. Trust me when I say, leave the entertainment to us, you will not be let down.

Be sure to follow HighLife Productions on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates on Secret Summer 2017 and other future parties and events!

Secret Summer 2018

 

Secret Summer on Guest of a Guest

Secret Summer on Spirited

Secret Summer in the NY Post

Secret Summer in the NY Daily News

Secret Summer on BizBash

Tyler Hollinger in Native Society

Secret Summer in Time Out NY

Secret Summer on NYC Plugged

Secret Summer in the Manhattan Digets

Secret Summer on Drink Me