For most of us, this time of year brings with it excitement, time with loved ones, so much eating and just plain old flurry! Attending holiday parties, finding presents for family & friends, firming up plans for Christmas and New Year’s Eve…Now, throw in two MDE team birthdays, a wedding and planning for several events looming on the horizon, and I don’t know about you but for me, after a while it can really blur together. However, some how, there is always a moment in the blur of moments in which I always find myself looking back and taking stock of the year that has passed. Finally, this evening, after a delightful day spent celebrating Rachel’s birthday, on the night before our last wedding of 2011 and two nights out from ringing in the New Year, I had a few blissful hours to myself. I made dinner, watched a movie, and, afterward, I found myself a bit restless to be honest. So, as I learned from my grandmother long ago (she believed a good cup of hot tea could remedy most anything), I set a kettle on the stove, brewed some tea, curled up on the couch with a mug full of piping hot chamomile, and let my mind wander over the last year.
I have often found myself at industry events, and when one planner runs into another, after a few cordial hellos and “how are yous” the conversation inevitably turns to how “insanely busy” each one of them is and how nobody has time to breath, etc, etc. This is honestly not something I can do in an economy in which every person has felt the effects of the world around us. And, when I think back on last year at this time, I distinctly remember feeling quite the opposite, to be very honest. I actually remember having a very not fun conversation with trusted business advisors on the very real possibility that the company could, possibly, not survive 2011. We had undergone so many changes – with staff leaving, some under less than joyful terms, and we were in the land of wedding planning more than event planning – and the phones were not ringing nearly enough to calm fears and put concerns to rest. However, given that quitting is not in my DNA – 2011 was going to be THE year - Quite simply, because it had to be.
In November, we set our sights on an expo, and with the help of the amazing team at Luxury Bridal Expo, we attended the show, got our brochures in the hands of hundreds of brides and felt like we were doing something to swing momentum in the right direction. The holidays came and went, and when January arrived, we sat, waiting by the phone, hoping that more couples would call and that the phones would start ringing off the hook and we would get gloriously busy and perhaps even lose sight that at one time we lamented being slow.
With a pace that felt slower slower than that of molasses in January, exactly that began to happen. The phones began to ring, couples came in for consultations, weddings were booked, and even some non-wedding event work started to come back our way. And, for a second, we were grateful – but we knew we had to keep pushing that crucial momentum in that cucial direction (which at times felt VERY uphill) if we were going to get where we needed to be. And, as the last stark, cold days of winter gave way to the return of warmth, blooms and spring – we were moving at full speed, and it was delightful!
Our first wedding of 2011 was in May, and was a couple I will never forget. They, like so many of our couples, have become part of our MDE family and I love that! May gave way to June, and so on and so forth, and we had the pleasure and privilege of becoming a part of so many couple's stories as they planned and celebrated their marriages.
Our season went a little something like this: charge the radios, grab the timelines…AND: outdoor garden receptions including the best dog, ballrooms, lofts, zoos, gardens, architectural gems, university campuses and 95 floors above earth… Jewish ceremonies, Catholic ceremonies, Orthodox ceremonies, Persian knife dances, Irish blessings, Scottish bagpipers, unity candles, unity sand, wedding cake, wedding pie, cupcakes! Best man speeches, maid of honor speeches, father of the bride speeches, amazing dj’s, fabulous bands, gorgeous florals, tossing bouquets, pinning boutonnières on groomsmen, helping bridesmaids with wayward dress straps…bustling, bustling, bustling and more bustling of one gorgeous gown after another – some ball gown, others slender in silhouette, some opulent, others simply elegant, adjusting veils, adjusting slips, providing the invaluable extra bobby pin; cuing processionals, willing the ring bearer or flower girl down the aisle without tears, joyfully greeting recessionals, stopping a floating candle from falling over and spilling all over the aisle runner – and most important – looking at my brides that moment before they float down the aisle to their groom, reminding them to breathe, and getting that overwhelming sensation that I LOVE my job and that what we do is SPECIAL.
We are a part of this most important day for our couples, and regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, orientation or creed – they chose us to bring their day to life and create a memorable day of celebration for loved ones. How many people get greeted with THAT every day as they walk through the door of their office?!
And, it didn’t stop there. We were able to assist several incredibly worthy non profit organizations in the planning, development and execution of their fundraising events, enable them to raise the funds that are the lifeblood of their organizations, granting them the opportunity to continue to carry out their messages and missions. These events are no less touching than weddings, because in addition to helping others, we give ourselves a gift – we get to use our skills to help those that change lives. It is humbling and awesome and it makes my feel really good inside when I can participate in and BE the change I want to see in the world.
Of course, there was a very important birthday in my family this year. Gene & Georgetti turned 70. Gene was my grandfather and is such an integral part of what drives me, guides me and inspires me every day. Planning that three day celebration to mark this enormous milestone granted me the rare opportunity to use my professional skills to celebrate my family, my heritage and our wonderful restaurant and THAT was as much a gift for myself as it was for each dedicated employee, loyal customer and my utterly fantastic parents.
All of our weddings are personal. We celebrate every couple, as they become husband and wife. But this year brought with it two very special weddings that I was able to lend a hand in planning, and be in! I was even a maid of honor myself for the very first time. Two of my childhood friends married the men of their dreams and being a part of their beautiful days – one in Lake Tahoe and the other right here in Chicago – was both a highlight and very poignant milestone in our friendships and my life. Paige & Brannon are both friends from childhood, and have grown into beautiful, accomplished, FANTASTIC women. I am SO proud to have them as friends and am so grateful for the honor of sharing in their most beautiful weddings!!
Congratulations to Paige & Cory and to Brannon & Michael – I love you all!
But, events aren't only about the client, or the couple - nor are they only about the planning, development and precision that we apply to them. They are also about the people that we work with in symphony to bring each and every event to life – just as a story comes off the page of a book and burst into life., our trusted and fabulous vendors (and friends!) are very much a part of our story and our client’s stories coming to life this year. We thank each and every one of them for working with us, allowing us to learn from them, laughing with us, supporting us and granting us the privilege of doing our jobs surrounded by a commitment to excellence. We so look forward to working with you in 2012! (Many of you on the luxury Brides, Bubbles & Bliss event this coming March!) Of course, most very VERY special, heartfelt love, gratitude, affection, respect and SO much more to Scott & Cara Nava - the AMAZING talent behind Carasco Photography - who has so graciously provided much of the images featured in the blog and throughout our blogs.
Of course, I have to take a minute and be personal...A HUGE part of my life is my horses, as I am sure you know...and to each and every fellow rider and friend who has become like family to me at Canterbury Farm - you have been AMAZING this year. Unfortunately for my horses, this has been a year with a few more injuries and unexpected bumps in the road than we would have preferred - BUT - always being able to count on Allie & Greg's professionalism, guidance and friendship as well as the support of everyone (Marcia, Kathy Jo, Jessica, Hollis, Courtney, Liz, Jen and EVERYONE I may have accidentally left out) who rides there has made it a year full of laughter, learning and smiles - even through the occasional tears...
It is hard to imagine that there are SO very many things I left out! New team members arriving, saying goodbye to others as they left for international adventures (Courtney! I know you are probably reading this and yes I am talking about you!), competing with my beloved horses (in my spare time, of course) boating, cubs games, and then, ever so subtlety, the long, hot days of summer eased quietly into the crisp, chic days of fall – and the holidays were looming ahead. And now, finally, here we are – in between the tradition of Christmas and the sparkly celebrating of New Year’s Eve; about to say goodbye to 2011…about to say hello to 2012 (and yet another birthday!) with the phones ringing, clients booking, calendars filling, films premiering! and, most importantly – with gratitude, happiness and love abounding. To our 2011 couples and clients – THANK YOU. We love you and will always remember you for choosing us. And to everyone – we raise our glass (or in this case, mug of tea!) and wish you good health, much wealth and endless joy in this New Year! We cannot wait for this year’s story to unfold!!!!