The Hurricane & The Planner

I never in my entire life thought that I would ever experience or be affected by such a devastating circumstance. I’m Laura, I’m a Wedding Planner & Blogger and I live in Long Beach, New York. I wanted to write this post not because I want to gain any sort of sympathy or have a poor me attitude ~ Honestly, I live on the 2nd Floor of this house & we didn’t lose anything. My car was under water, but then again that’s what insurance if for & I got a new car three weeks later after the storm.

But what I did want to write about was the emotions behind this terrible storm that hit my amazing seaside town & how it has brought SO MANY things into perspective for me. And I think there is something comforting/liberating when one can express themselves on a public forum.

So here is our story ~ My fiance & I decided that we were going to ride this puppy out ~ So we stayed. I for one have never in my entire life felt more terrified as every 15 minutes starting at 8pm we checked the water quickly creeping up our stairs outside. As the night fell our street became a rushing ocean before our eyes. The water from what we could tell had reached at least 5 feet & I knew that this was nothing like Irene 2011. This was a monster of a storm & as the power went out everything got real ~ QUICK!

Sitting by candlelight we looked at each other wondering when & at what point the water was going to stop rising. We discussed going up into our attic at some point. I personally comforted myself with a glass of wine & some Bob Marley tunes on Pandora…but the reality was that we should have evacuated & we knew we would never do that again. Occasionally we would signal with our flash light to our neighbors that too decided to weather the storm that we were OK. I remember thinking at one point “Maybe now would be a good time to learn Morse code…you know just in case”.

There was a very ominous moment when maybe we were in the eye of the storm or it had just passed, but the full moon shined so bright we didn’t need any flashlights to see what was happening outside. A rushing rapid was only but 2 steps away from the main platform of our deck ~ Large amounts of debris & huge pieces of who knows what just rushed right before our very eyes. It was really calm at that point. We couldn’t believe our eyes & for a moment I thought “This is a Beautiful Disaster”…I couldn’t stop looking. We were both mesmerized by what was happening on our block. Cars completely covered in water, we couldn’t see anything but water & people looking out in disbelief.

Around 10pm we realized that the water had stopped rising and we could actually try & sleep ~ This whole ordeal started around 7pm when our lights went out & lasted for 3 hours, but felt like 3 very long & high anxiety days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really sleep, I was up every hour just checking the water levels outside our window making sure we were still in the clear so to speak. 3am the water started coming down. 5am I could see sidewalk again.

At 7am I couldn’t sleep & decided to venture out onto our block ~ What I was met with brought tears to my eyes. I walked over to my car.

It wasn’t the fact that I lost my car ~ It was just the overall feeling of watching people slowly coming out of their homes, assessing the damage to their homes, property & their memories. I’ve never had such a devastating feeling in the pit of my stomach. We decided to take a walk to the end of our block ~ Our Indiana Beach entrance…

Our lovely beach & dunes were gone ~ I really couldn’t believe my eyes

As a Wedding Planner ~ THIS I didn’t plan for ~ The level of destruction was mind blowing & I know it wasn’t only for Long Beach, many many towns & places were devastated. I’m not taking away from ANY of that. I’m just telling my story.

Here are a few images from a wonderful LBNY Photographer {SuperClearyPhoto} that has always had a heart for LB!

We lost our Boardwalk

Streets were covered in feet of sand

Some lost almost everything they owned & had to put it all curbside ~ And still some streets are filled with memories ~ And what a sad reminder

Ok so now what? We almost couldn’t even wrap our heads around what we needed to do. Where do we go? Power was out, the sewer system collapsed, no heat, water…the town was a total war zone, devastated & broken. We had no choice, we needed to leave & go stay with my parents {and continue to this very day ~ 16 Days Later}.

In the wake of this all I receive a text message from my event planner at our venue Bridgeview Yacht Club ~ Who’s location is mind you ON the water & in the neighboring town of Island Park that was hit just as bad as LB.

Our venue had of course been hit ~ This brought tears to my eyes ~ I thought not about us, but the many brides that were planning on getting married at this venue within the next 2 months & knew they couldn’t. Sure they could maybe reschedule to another date, but I can tell you one thing ~ It’s not an easy fete to re-coordinate all your vendors to work on another date. What if they were already booked? What if they simply can’t do it? What if their contract doesn’t allow for a natural disaster? There were so many thought that ran through my head.

The lovely Pier that I’m sure every bride wants to use for a photo op had been destroyed

I was reassured that by our wedding in February, 2013 the venue would be put back to it’s original luster & even better ~ But my heart still broke for all those Brides that had to reschedule or cancel their weddings all together in the Tri-State & New Jersey area. As someone who knows every in & out to putting a wedding together, it’s heartbreaking to contemplate all that these lovely brides would have to go through to make their most special day work out. I personally had two friends who’s wedding had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy. It was just so terribly sad to hear.

As the days have gone by what has come to light is that Long Beach has an overwhelming sense of community. Every time I drive in to grab a few more things from the house, check on the progress, meet with FEMA, etc. I cry. I get this overwhelming knot in my throat. This town that I love so very much looks like an apocalyptic town. Desolate & depressing. BUT it makes me want to come back home more than ever. To help local business rebuild again.

One of our friends owns a local BBQ Restaurant in the West End called SwingBelly’s BBQ

{Swings}

They were hit but not defeated ~ And to show their incredible sense of community not only are they providing a Thanksgiving Meal for the people in the neighborhood, but they’ve also partnered with another local favorite called Cafe Laguna to provide some warm meals in the Laguna‘s parking lot ~ Setting up a smoker & teaming up with Laguna‘s Italian specialties to keep the business going.

THIS is what it means to be a community ~ THIS is what it means to bring back life into a town that has been brought to it’s knees ~ And I’ve never felt more proud to say I’m part of this wonderful place ~ This place I call HOME

{Click Here for More Information}

I went home today ~ The streets are still filled

The town is still broken

Now for the perspective!

I learned that I knew nothing about devastation until now ~ I knew nothing about what it meant like to feel displaced ~ I now know that there are some really great people out there who work hard to rebuilt towns & homes ~ I know that my heart breaks for our friends who’ve lost their entire homes ~ I know that it will take a while to rebuild this town, but it will be done ~ I know that in a time of need that I can turn to our friends & family for utter support ~ I know that what we went through was a fraction of what others have gone through & more importantly others have lost tremendously.

I am so utterly grateful for what I have ~ I am grateful for the people in my life ~ I am thankful for the sense of positivity I continue or try to have on a daily basis ~ Despite the sadness around me right now

If we are unlucky & have to reschedule our wedding because our venue won’t be ready it’s OK ~ Because at the end of the day there are so many bigger things that people have lost or had to reschedule

Memories ~ Lives

My fiance & I are truly blessed to have each other & we both knew that going through this whole ordeal has made us an even stronger couple {if we ever even thought that was possible}

But this storm taught us that despite all the sadness & seeing people crying in the streets as they cleaned their homes that we ALL should have HOPE…And we all should work towards creating a more POSITIVE life for ourselves & those around us. To GIVE BACK & to BE THERE for each other ~ I am overwhelmed with emotion as I finish this post because I have such a new found respect for just humanity in general ~ One I never thought I could gain in a real perspective.

My heart continues to go out to those that have lost ~ continue to count their loses ~ And realize that they have to start their lives all over

I am humbled beyond belief

Thank you for giving me the opportunity & freedom to be able to speak from my heart

A Bachelorette Weekend

Next weekend myself & a few of my besties are going away for my Bachelorette Party Weekend ~ Hot Spot ~ Newport, Rhode Island.

This lovely little town has a special place in my heart. I turned the BIG 30! there {a few years back} and I just fell in love with this quaint seaside town with shopping, great restaurants & a strip of bars down America’s Cup Avenue.

I’ve always said that Newport offers a quick getaway for a couple to enjoy a romantic weekend, couples to enjoy some great food & fun on scooters or even a group of girls for some bonding time. You can make this town whatever you really want it to be, which is why it was a no-brainer when picking the location for my Bachelorette Party. Plus who can say “ROAD TRIP”.

My favorite type of hotels are Boutique Hotels ~ So when doing the research on booking our hotel I came across this incredible lovely, chic & modern hotel called Forty 1 North, located in the heart of it all, on the water & with easy access to all of our Bachelorette Party needs {booze, great food, shopping & sights}.

Here are a few shots of the hotel

It also has a really awesome bar outdoors {and hopefully next weekend will be warm enough to enjoy}

When booking the rooms I needed to find something that was very conducive to our type of weekend ~ I was thrilled to hear that the two Suites that are above their main restaurant {and best for groups/couples} were available. So we were able to book them both & we have the entire floor of the building.

Easterly Suite

Westerly Suite

The beauty of these two suites is they join together & it feels like one big party room

Yes indeed I’ve done most of the planning, but I’ve given the job of picking our Special Saturday Night dinner up to my dear bridesmaid Kristina. I knew I could count on her to pick a wonderful place & make the reservations. Plus I told her not to tell me which place she picked ~ But not before I gave her a few recommendations based on places I’ve already eaten at or wanted to try.

The two places I recommended {but still don’t know which one we will be enjoying} were the following:

22 Bowen’s

Fluke Wine Bar

They all offer amazing cuisine, great location & a good vibe for our big dinner. True there will only be 6 of us attending but it will be spectacular nonetheless.

We also plan on doing a few sight seeing & possible mansion tours while we are there.

And nothing says Newport like the Cliff Walks

So needless to say I’m really excited to spend a great weekend with 5 of my bestest of friends. Laughing, taking it all in & celebrating my up & coming nuptials to the love of my life.

Life is Good

Insight Into The Planner

I visit numerous wedding blogs on a daily basis. And I sometimes wonder who’s behind all that inspiration & point of view. Some blogs just report on weddings, vendors & products within the industry. Some give you a small glimpse into who the writer is…on a recent blog I noticed a great post. A Monthly Recap via Instagram {another recent obsession}…so here is a full recap of my life in pictures via Instagram.

I celebrated a birthday…..enjoyed a wedding….planned & coordinated a wedding…basked in the sun…did a little shopping…played some poker with great friends & changed my hair color.

August was a full month & September is shaping out to be yet another fun filled set of weekends. This will become a monthly post so stay tuned…I think it’s fun to get to know a little more about the writer behind all the pictures & advice.

NEW ~ Client Review ~ WeddingWire

It’s always amazing to read client reviews once I’ve completed their wedding. Her words warmed my heart & they were both a delight to work with. Thank you Christine & Eddy for continuing to validate why I love this job!

Christine & Eddy: Highlight Video

It’s here! And I’m very excited. My client’s highlight video by Love & You Video. I’m not gonna lie ~ I got a little emotional & all choked up. It’s really amazing to see these videos & witness the joy in their faces after the fact. Working my client’s weddings you get wrapped up in everything & don’t have time to just watch the couple’s happiness & bliss throughout the day. You see it, but it’s not the same as sitting back & watching a beautifully crafted piece of art like this highlight video shows. And as I watch I think ~ WOW I was a part of this wonderful couple’s most amazing day ~ This is why I do this ~ And I had a direct hand in helping them achieve their perfect & most important day.

I love planning weddings ~ I love seeing my clients radiate with happiness & satisfaction ~ And I absolutely love being a part of such an amazing day for all my clients. Thank you Matthew from Love & You Video for creating such an incredible video. Amazing work!

 

I hope you enjoyed this video as much as I did. It was a pleasure working with Love & You Video & look forward to running into each other again in the wedding world.

VOW Wedding: Christine & Eddy

This past weekend I did a client wedding in Central Park at the Boathouse. I’ve been working with this client since last year & Christine & Eddy came to me as a referral from a prior client who’s wedding I did back in 2009 ~

Click on image to take you to post about their big day

Christine & Eddy were wonderful clients to work with. The Bride knew what she wanted & was extremely organized…but once in a while she came to me to ask for some advice, perspective or contract negotiations with vendors. She had a vision….she just needed some help in executing it flawlessly.

It was an absolutely gorgeous Saturday ~ May 19th, 2012…I’ve been truly blessed by what I call the “Wedding Gods” because there hasn’t been one client of mine that hasn’t had a truly incredible day {knocking on wood as we speak}….or any wedding that I’ve “touched” per say…I hope to maintain my good wedding juju for as long as I do this {and more importantly mine in 9 Months exactly to the day!!!!

{Boathouse ~ Central Park}

The bride chose to get ready at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan ~ They were extremely customer service oriented & provided my client everything she needed.

She wore a beautiful Vera Wang ~ Makeup by Bobbi Brown artist Mary from Saks Fifth Avenue

Flowers by OVANDO Floral Design

I have to say one of the BRAVEST Brides I’ve ever had ~ This girl did her own wedding hair ~ And it came out amazing

The Bride & Groom {Christine & Eddy} were planned to do a first look ~ The only issue was the location. Unfortunately the areas that would be nice enough were being occupied by another Bride who was holding her wedding at the Hotel ~ So I just had to work with the Photographer {Shira Weinberger} to find a place that had good lighting.  So we positioned the groom right under the awning in front of the hotel ~ The lighting was perfect

I’m a traditionalist ~ However…recently I’ve become a HUGE fan of First Looks between the Bride & Groom. I think not only does it give the couple a really amazing moment to take each other in & not have to wait till after the ceremony {which now I think can take away from the initial I want to tell you how amazing you look comments} ~ But you also have the flexibility & freedom to take your  B&G pictures ahead of time & spend more time enjoying your party after the ceremony.

We then went into Central Park to take some beautiful pictures

Christine & Eddy got married in a lovely church called All Souls on 80th & Lex in NYC

They said I Do ~ And now it was time for the celebration

Vendors for this special day were as follows:

Venue: Central Park Boathouse

Photography: Shira Weinberger

Videographer: Love and You Video

Flowers: OVANDO Floral Design

Band: Hank Lane: J. Lamont

Wedding Day Coordination: VOW Weddings

And below are some images from the event ~ All went off without a hitch!

It was a truly beautiful day ~ My assistant & I had a wonderful time working this event & they were by far added to my favorite client’s list. The vendors were amazing & I look forward to working with them again.

The DRESS!

Now of course I’m not going to disclose THE dress that I do decide to buy…but I wanted to write a post of just the overall process of shopping & where my mind is taking me right now as far as styles….what I wind up picking may be totally different from what I have in my head…but these are the styles I’m going for nonetheless.

{theknot}

Being that our wedding is going to be a Winter Evening Wedding…I think this Bride deserves a little pouf & a little sparkle…not too much…but just enough to give off a little glitter when I twirl.

I’ve never really been one for big ballroom type of dresses, but for someone reason I want to feel like the princess Jeff makes me feel like on a daily basis. I want my skirt to twirl during our first dance & I want my dress to make an entrance so to speak.

I have my first dress appointment with my mom on the 21st. We plan on going to Bridal Reflections in Massapequa & a small bridal boutique in Merrick called Moonlight Couture just cause it’s on the way & I always pass it when I’m at work.

My mom told me she has envisioned me in something special & different…but what that is I don’t know. What I DO know is that because my mom has worked in the fashion & celebrity industry for the majority of her life she’s seem some pretty amazing gowns and styles. I trust her taste implicitly & wouldn’t even dream of not hearing her out as to which dress I should pick. She’s absolutely my fashion guru & why would such an important decision be any different.

Devil is in the Details

There are so many elements that have to come together for any wedding. And ours is no exception. All I know is that I have this vision in my head & all I care about is bringing it to life. With all the bells & whistles I don’t want to skimp on anything. Now my fiance has been a real sport throughout this planning process & he’s been involved in many of the planning aspects. But when it comes to flowers, decor & the overall look of our wedding he’s basically said “It’s ALL you honey”. And I respect that…he looked at me like a dear in headlights when I told him about my floral design meeting & mentioned “monochromatic”, “floral trios”, “hanging votives” & “color palette”.

He had no clue what I was really talking about but listened intently nonetheless {this is the part of marriage I think he has down packed….look excited, smile & nod…when it comes to something girly} Hahah… I’m a big fan of having a dramatic reception room, so when I was speaking with my Event Manager, Kathy, at BYC she knew she had to send me a picture of a wedding they had there recently to show me what could be done with “lighting”. Thus leads me to my absolutely need to have up-lighting done in our reception room.

I love the glow of the room & I feel like it creates a really formal & elegant look.

The next step was hiring a Company that could give me great quality lights & provide an additional visual appeal that my florist wouldn’t necessarily be able to do for us.

We hired EJ the DJ for all of our music needs & knowing what they provided my clients in the past, I also knew they would be the people to do our lighting & room ambiance. So we looked to them for lighting options & they created a perfect package. Up-lighting is relatively inexpensive {a definite extra}, but can transform any room into something a little more romantic & dynamic than with traditional lighting.

We also looked to them to provide a little something extra for our Wedding that would accompany our DJ. What this is…I won’t tell yet….even though I’m documenting the whole process there are still quite a few surprises that I would like to keep under wraps. All will be revealed after our wedding….

Bringing the Vision to Life

Another vendor down…I booked my floral designer on Tuesday….This choice was easy because Santos Floral Designs is not only VOW Wedding‘s exclusive floral designer but I’ve used them for quite a few of my client weddings & referred them to my friends as well.

Christina Santos has worked with David Tutera on his show My Fair Wedding & did some freelance work with him after a tragic fire took down the whole block of stores in Long Beach, NY a few years ago. I was so happy to see her come back to the same spot.

Christina has been a huge part of my professional life & most recently personal because she was actually hired by my now fiance to set up an incredible proposal in our home while we were out.

The day Jeff proposed he had Christina come to our house & set up this beautiful display asking me to Marry Him….the moment I walked into our home my stomach dropped at the sight of this amazing set up.

When I turned around he was on one knee asking me to marry him. I cried & it took him several times of asking me to marry him before I said yes because I was just so overcome with emotion & joy.

I’ve known that Santos Floral Design was going to be my Wedding Day Florist for a very long time…I was just waiting for the moment to come where we could set up our brainstorming meeting & make my vision come to life. And this past Tuesday, we did just that.

We sat for almost 2 hours going over all the details I want {and boy are there plenty}….I want our guests to walk through the venue & be completely blown away by the flowers and decor. We finalized everything during our meeting. She’s an incredibly talented floral designer & I was jumping up & down as we were moving from page to page jotting down what she was going to create for us. I had it ALL in my head….and I needed someone to bring it to life….and she got it.

{images: santos floral designs}

I’m not going to spoil the surprise as to what I have planned. But all I can say is that it will be different. It will sparkle & I will bring the Winter Wonderland vibe indoors. {BUT there will be NO snowflake anything. Haha.Not my style}….The wedding is a formal/black tie optional adult only event. Classy but unpredictable. I’m really excited & can’t wait to do my walk-through with my Day of Coordinator {of course I have one} & see the spectacular vision brought to life right before our eyes.

Take our Picture!

Picture…Pictures…Pictures….I loooooove pictures. I’m usually the one at every party that has the camera out…and the one that posts them online that same night or latest the next day. I love taking pictures so much that for my client weddings I usually take tons of pictures during their wedding & post them online for the couple to view the following day. Gives them a little peak before they head off to their honeymoon.

Most professional photographers can take up to 3 months to filter through, edit and present pictures to their clients which is why my clients are so happy to receive my shots the next day. Here are a few shots I’ve taken of my clients through the years.

I’ve always loved being able to capture a moment in time. Life is always about making memories & being able to provide that extra little service for my Brides & Grooms makes me feel like I have a little edge against my competition.

I digress….I’ve worked with some of the best of the best in the industry. I’ve worked with Anthony Vasquez {who’s shot many celebrities, most recently one of the Jonas Brother’s Weddings}, Christian Oth Studio {Alison Mayfield & Michael Falco} & Modern Wedding Photography to name some of my most favorite Photographers & Studios. You can’t got wrong with any of those vendors.

One of my last client weddings I worked with a photographer Jason Kim. I have to say, out of ANY vendors I’ve worked with, I had a complete & utter blast with him. We worked extremely well together & I was blown away by the pictures he took for my clients. I later found out that he actually broke away from the Photo Studio he was working for & decided to venture out on his own.

This was wonderful news…his talent stands on it’s own & I am one of his biggest fans & supporters, because I knew he would be a force to be reckoned with once he went solo. And I knew that when our day came I wanted to scoop him up for our wedding, no second thought given to any other vendors I’ve worked with in the past.

Jase Kim Photography is our Wedding Photographer & we are both really excited to not only partake in the niche “Beloved” engagement shoot he does, but for him to absolutely capture the love Jeff & I feel for each other in a format that is so dear to me.

{photos: jasekim}

We met with him last week & although I had met him before our dynamic was a little different {and more casual} than while we were actually working together. With some sangria & tapas on the table Jason explained to both of us in-depth what a “Beloved” session would entail. We loved the uniqueness of how he would photograph us, capturing a raw true emotion, rather than a staged pose against a Meatpacking District wall in Manhattan.

He got to know us as a couple & not as clients. He asked great questions to evoke interest & our conversations stemmed from online dating to religion. Definitely a non-traditional vendor meeting, which is why we knew he would be able to make us both extremely comfortable during the shoots & even more so on our special day.

We couldn’t be more thrilled with our pick. So much that I wasn’t expecting Jeff to say to me that he’s really excited to do the engagement shoot only minutes after we left the meeting. To evoke such a comfortable & excited nature from a groom when it came to take pictures is a fête all brides try to accomplish. So I was pretty excited to see it in his eyes.

Jason Kim is a not only a talented Photographer but he’s able to really connect with his clients & make them feel incredibly comfortable & excited to show others the love they feel for each other.

We are excited & can’t wait to do our Beloved Engagement shoot with him come warm weather in either May or June!

P.S. Don’t worry….we will give you all a peak once we get the images…

VOW.Weddings.New.Face

We are constantly improving our look….and we’ve incorporated the new Comp Card design into our Company website to pull all the elements together…So please visit VOW Wedding Consulting to see our new look!

New VOW Promo Card!!!

Thanks to my incredibly talented friend Stacey at Event Logo House….we have a NEW Promotional Comp Card for VOW Wedding Consulting…We can’t wait to get these printed & start giving them out to vendors & clients!

{design: event logo house}

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