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.
- Choose the venue first. The Date second.
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
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!
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.
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.
HighLife Productions November 6, 2017
Ahhhhhhhhh….the age old question “How to make a cocktail fit for a Queen?” a drag queen that is! HighLife Productions was selected by Kettle Agency (WeareKettle) to put together a hand crafted mixology program for their recent #digitalindrag featuring MILK (@bigandmilky) SASHA VELOUR (@sashavelour) and BIBLEGIRL (@biblegirl666) . Each queen was perfectly fitted for their own cocktail creation based on their own distinct fieeeeeerceness! boom.
A drag queen is a person, usually male, who dresses in clothing of the opposite sex and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles for the purpose of entertainment or fashion. … While drag is very much associated with gay men and gay culture, there are drag artists of all sexualities and the culture spans labels and qualifications. Each queen is truly unique to their own heritage and 100% authentic which is why the marketplace and their followings are entirely over the moon about them!
A relative new-cumer to the drag scene… Branding and image are very important to Bible Girl. Using the hashtag #BibleGirlSucks, she has built an impressive following of her own, on Instagram in particular. “I had just finished a performance and was talking to a friend when I got pulled away from my conversation by this person who tells me ‘Look, you’re beautiful, you’re funny, you’re great, but don’t perform. You suck,’ and I just took it and ran with it.” In addition one of her favorite beverages is the classic La Croix. These elements matched up perfectly for what we called the “Bless You Child”
HOW TO BLESS THIS CHILD
- (1) La Croix Berry Seltzer. (pour out 1/3 of the can to leave room for the most important part! The Booze.
- (2) The Booze — We used a dry london gin but substitute your favorite alcohol as you please. We created a blackberry and mint infused gin syrup. Take fresh blackberries and reduce over heat adding water and sugar to sweeten into syrup. Once reduced and mashed place in food processor and strain all the little bits out. Combine with gin for your syrup. You are ready to pour.
- (3) The Garnish. We had a lot of fun here as you can see we choose three different types of berries, metallic straws, and of course the miniature rosary so you can repent after all the sinning you will be doing from drinking this refreshing concoction.
- **** As a final twist at the very end we added a spec of dry ice to the can so it smokes and bubbles delighting the senses and perfect for the photography
Sasha Velour is best known as the winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9. She is the creative director of Velour: The Drag Magazine, and produces the critically-acclaimed monthly drag show Nightgowns. Sasha’s visual art has been featured in Posture, QU33R, Cicada, The Nib, InkBRICK, Comics Workbook Magazine, as well as in several solo gallery shows. Often decked in pink, more delicate tones we created a floral inspired tequila based cocktail that still had a lot of muscle.
HOW TO SASH-AAAAAAAAY
(1) step one we infused a simple reposado tequila (Herradura) with rose watermelon juice and fresh agave.
(2) Fresh watermelon juice best as is with out alot of fuss. In a shake mix you reposado tequila, watermelon juice, hint of lime juice, and a whisper of agave. Shake vigorously until nice and frothy.
(3) Pout out over a cut crystal 2inch clear ice cube and garnish with edible pansy (hey who you calling a pansy) and gold glitter for that added touch of sparkle to say “Hey handsome. Over here 😉
Milk is the stage name of Daniel Donigan, an American figure skater and drag performer. He is best known for being a contestant on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.He was a competitive figure skater, for like, ever.
Dan joined the Marc Jacobs International family in 2009. He loves clothes, like any teenage girl. Duh. He was the Merchandising Manager at Marc Jacobs in NYC. MILK can be seen tackling models at every “Marc” runway show.
Dan breast-formed a drag group called “The Dairy Queens” which is cream-based on the East Coast. The members are: MILK, Skim Burley (MILK’s Drag Daughter), Yoohoo, Linda Lakes, & Juggz.
Obviously no one likes a MILKY COCKTAIL EVER — — except maybe a pina colada or maybe coconut milk….. annnnnnnyyyyyyywayyyyyy!!!! We were able to do a nice little work around.
MILK & HONEY
(1) This lychee inspired vodka based cocktail is infused with fresh lemon juice, lychee pure-hey! and topped with a creamy white espuma (Vegan)
(2) a bit more complicated than the rest because of the espuma but here is your at home hack to make it happen. Dry shake 3 ounces of egg-white, Pour 4 ounces of citron vodka into your shaker with 2 ouces of lychee puree and 1 dash of lemon. Add lemon bitters and shake like a polaroid picture. Upon pouring into your glass you will have a supple viscous foam gently sitting on top! (non-vega)
Always drink like a queen…!
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The 5 Senses
HighLife Productions March 26, 2017
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
5 Tips to throwing a great private party
HighLife Productions February 27, 2017
Whether your event is for 10 or 10,000. Making it unique, entertaining, and impactful is key. Below is a selection of recent private events. So that is why we have provided you with some easy and affordable tips for throwing a first class private party either in your home, apartment, office, or showroom.
- The Guests.
Make sure your guestlist is worked out ahead of time so you have a proper rough estimate of who is coming and why they are coming. If it’s a media event you want to maximize your exposure and impressions. So invite the right people. This doesn’t always mean the people with the most amount of followers or XYZ media publication what it means are people who care. Depth not width. Building a cultivated following of “fans” who actually really care and won’t break your stuff! You know your friends will show up but what about those “a little harder to reach” — see if you can give them a reason to attend, add some sort of value to their experience hence #2.
2. Food and Drinks.
Besides the sexy guests and the sweet beats this is probably right up there with the top reasons why people attend parties. Yeah the socializing is fun but what about the treats? Great food and beverage is imperative and hiring professionals to take care of this for you leaves you without the headache and also makes your event special. If you are balling on a budget then serve 1 specialty cocktail that everyone likes ala MOSCOW MULE or MARGARITA and then simple beer/wine/prosecco. Done.
3. The Staff.
Make sure you always have event staff whenever you put together your events. Having a helpful hand and a professional bartender or waiter or both! Will allow you to be a guest at your own party! Too many times we hear “oh my best friend Zach is a bartender so he is gonna do it.” cut to: later that evening when 100 people are in your apt and Zach is stone cold drunk in the back. If you splurge on any one thing in my opinion this is the best because then you don’t need to clean up afterwards.
4. The Playlist
Ideally you should have a DJ and if you want to add that little something extra live music is always a treat whether it be an accoustic performance, jazz solo, mariachi band, or a guy that plays the spoons. These little touches go a long way. If you don’t have any of the above I highly recommend the pre-loaded mixes on Sound cloud and itunes.
5. The Neighbors
Always, Always, always, invite the neighbors. Be up front about your party and never try to sneak it in there. Most of the time the neighbors politely decline but at least they have fair warning that the music will be thumpin till at least 1:00 a.m. I mean, let’s be realistic 1:00 a.m. end time. 2:00 a.m.- 4:00 a.m. in the club. 4:00 a.m.- 5am Hotel lobby. That’s the order, right?
6. Stay sober…?
Or relatively so. You are the host and you want to be the host with the most right? This does not mean falling apart at 11:00 p.m. because you had 3 Cosmos just nervously waiting for people to arrive and realizing that no one in NYC arrives when the party starts. Always plan for people to start arrive 1 hour after the start time. Myself, on the other hand, loves to come to parties early and leave early. You get the first dibs on all the great food and beverages. You ACTUALLY get to talk to the host and lastly you don’t want to stick around till the bitter end when things tend to get messy Like we stated above 1:00 a.m. -Hit a good club. As the host you want to last the whole night so pace yourself, drink some water. Remember, you are the star of the evening!
The Sold-Out Thousand-Person Farm-to-Bar Cocktail Festival, SECRET SUMMER, Returned to The Foundry on August 12
New York, NY (August 13, 2018) – The country’s first and only farm-to-bar cocktail fest, Secret Summer, returned to The Foundry in Long Island City for the fourth year on Sunday, August 12th. The sold-out summer garden party, produced by HIGHLIFE PRODUCTIONS, served up seasonal drinks from the world’s most prominent spirits brands. The day-to-night event of the summer also featured a variety of savory and sweet food vendors, musical and theatrical performances. Man v. Food host Casey Webb awarded Suntory Whisky Toki™ the best cocktail medal for their Toki Twilight, made with the Japanese blended whisky, sparkling sake, sustainably grown citrus, green tea and Pepquino syrup.
Hangar 1 Vodka kept guests cool with Rose Spritzers, Lavender Lemonades and a choice of herbs from a Hanging Herb Wall to complete their cocktails. Brugal 1888 had an immersive rum tasting experience and served up Spicy Mai Tais and Charred Cherry Highballs perfectly complemented with dessert. Brockmans Gin created the Perfect Serve and Earl of Wight and Blue Point Brewery served a Plum Gose-arita in addition to their summer beers from an oversized yacht. Tanteo Tequila created Spicy Jalapeño Margaritas and Bellinis at the main bar. Fentimans botanical drinks were also on hand along with Harmless Harvest, Urban Leaf, Polar Seltzer, Kevita, Rebbl, Patent Coffee and TÖST to keep guests hydrated.
Areppas, The Choripan, Sophie’s Cuban, San Matteo, Wisefish Poke, Mama’s Margarita Salsa, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and Van Leeuwen were on hand to satisfy everyone’s appetites. Secret Summer musical performers included Sitar & Tabla, Hungry March Band, DJ Kieren Taylor, Kaoro Wantanabe Taiko Drums and Moon Hooch. And the Uprooted Flower Truck was parked at the event, selling hand-crafted flower crowns to guests in attendance.
Farm-to-bar uses the same ideology that the farm-to-table movement has brought to food. Vibrant seasonal sippers were prepared using only raw, peak-season ingredients sourced from local farms and paired with the best quality spirit brands on the market. Secret Summer’s farm-to-bar program is a truly unique way to share and celebrate a lifestyle of wholeness, happiness and a passion for quality ingredients and experiences.
About Secret Summer:
Secret Summer NYC 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 provided 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 was fully open to ticket-holders offering up stunning views of the Manhattan skyline along with a gorgeous indoor greenhouse.
For more information, visit www.secretsummernyc.com
Services provided: Overall Creative Direction, NYC Culture Creation, 360 Degree NYC Event Production, Strategic Conception & Planning, Innovative Experience Design, Immersive Experiential Marketing, Venue Sourcing and Logistics, Brand Activation & Partnership Farm-to-Bar Mixology, Farm-to-Table Cuisine, Vendor Sourcing & Contract Management, Event Marketing, Event Ticketing, Branding Program Analysis, Metric Measurement, Compliance and Regulation, Talent & Influencer Booking and Management, NYC Model Staffing
Early in April as the showers subsided and the flowers began to bloom, HighLife collaborated with MEDIUM (An online community for readers and writers) and POSTLIGHT AGENCY (NYC’s premiere app design company) in this spring tech launch. HighLife florist Brenton Woods created unique spring floral installations from antique typewriters from PATINA VINTAGE with the menus of the afternoon freshly typed on the spool. Please note the gorgeous Pink Royal with accompanying cocktail. HighLife’s kitchen, Rapt Affairs created deluxe farm-to-bar treats like the “So My Type” with charred jalepeño and market carrot juice and the “Bless Your Heart” with Bourbon, market fennel, and fresh peach. More farm-to-table eats were passed on custom magazine sculpted trays (a Pinterest dream). Finally the evening was capped off with stellar service in this intimate affair for 100 in the heart of NYC’s Flatiron District.
Services provided: NYC Event Catering, Cocktail Design & Mixology, NYC Model Event Staffing, NYC Event Design, NYC Event Production.
What ever became of the garden party?
Lush greenery. White livery. A Bat-Signal to all attendees that “it is summer and these champagne coupes ain’t gonna empty themselves.”
Well it’s back, oh intrepid wearers of seersucker, at the first ever Secret Summer, a Gatsbian cocktail bacchanalia at the historic Foundry in Long Island City.
Read more at InsideHook.com