Making Traditions Modern: Summer Entertaining

Summer is a time to enjoy the weather and move the party outside, whether for a backyard barbeque, seaside soirée, or rooftop cocktail hour. Earlier in August, we worked with five of our partners to showcase how they would style their ideal summer dinner party.

First, they set the scene by sharing their handwritten invitation on one of our Destination: Seaside note cards– Capri, Côte d’Azur, or the Hamptons. The following week, they styled their corresponding place cards (Lemon, Compass Rose, or Lobster) in the context of how they would use them for a party. We loved seeing how everyone put their own twist on entertaining!

With that, we hope you’re inspired to close out your summer in a noteworthy way! Share your entertaining favorites on Instagram by tagging @dempseycarroll and #makingtraditionsmodern.

Dempsey Carroll x Jackie Greaney - Summer Entertaining Post 1Dreaming up the perfect backyard lobster party with Dempsey & Carroll’s adorable lobster & lighthouse Destination note cards– checkered tablecloths, buoy centerpieces, lots of sunflowers, and a build-your-own-lobster roll station! Anything I’m missing? Let me know if you’ll be in Maine on August 14th!

Jackie Greaney for Dempsey Carroll Entertaining Post 2Crack em! Fill em! Roll em! Every backyard soirée needs a Build-Your-Own Lobster Roll station, don’t you think? Dempsey & Carroll place cards make it easy to mark out the station’s steps, and I love the little engraved lobsters on these! 

— Jackie, @jackiegreaney

 

harlowejames post 1These Capri inspired note cards from Dempsey & Carroll make the perfect invite for a summertime soiree. The engraved lemon detail on the card paired with the print on the inside of the envelope will get guests excited about the theme before they even get to the party! 

harlowejames post 2Instead of using standard place setting cards, switch it up by writing little notes to your guests. These lemon place cards from the Dempsey & Carroll Destination: Capri collection are the perfect addition to the table and tie the whole theme together!

— Chrissy, @_harlowejames

 

meaghanmurray 1“I couldn’t be shellfish and not share this with you” -said my Dempsey & Carroll party invitation 

meaghanmurray 2What the shell! Let’s eat some oysters. Thanks to my Dempsey & Carroll place cards for hooking up my oyster situation. Long Reach or Shore Island, anyone?

–Meaghan, @meaghanmurray

 

Traditions are everything and whenever I travel abroad I love collecting unique stamps to send notes, postcards and in this case invitations back home to my friends and family. A few weeks ago my family and I traveled up the Coast of Italy and on the way, I purchased stamps at Pompeii, Rome, or to sum it up, basically each stop. Once we arrived at our final destination, Florence, I had accumulated enough stamps to send out my annual Lobster Boil invitations to my friends far and wide. I figured this was a fun way for my guests to receive a little piece of Italy straight to their mailbox, along with a piece of New England thanks to these Dempsey & Carroll Seaside Correspondence Cards. I mean, you couldn’t find a more fitting invitation card for a lobster broil even if you tried. Now I want to hear from you all, does anyone else love writing letters back home when they travel 

A New England Summer isn’t complete until you’ve eaten your weight in dock & dine lobster rolls. Each summer I’m in charge of creating a unique lobster-themed table setting, for when my family and I head down the river, to our favorite dockable lobster joint. This year’s setting was designed around these Dempsey & Carroll Lobster place cards! Originally, I took inspiration from the bright red lobster featured on the place cards by incorporating similarly shaded napkins for a pop of color, amongst the natural tones of cream and brown. Creating these tablescapes is an annual tradition I adore, and while I do love seeing how excited our guests get when they dock up and find their names written on a place card, I’m really just going the extra mile in hopes of winning the annual table setting contest. Fingers crossed, this could be my year! 

— Aubrey, @thecoastalconfidence

 

post 1aWe don’t know about you, but one thing that we look forward to at dinner parties is the appetizers. Our dream dinner party would consist of a happy hour with different charcuterie boards and a variety of apps. What’s your dream dinner party? 

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Can’t resist oysters, especially while at a dinner party. What’s your favorite thing to eat during cocktail hour? 

— R’el and Marcus, @theplaceiwastellingyouabout

Spotlight on Double G Events

Designer Maggie Brucker of Double G Events knows how to throw a perfect party! Recently, Maggie graciously indulged Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles with a delightful dose of her wit and wisdom.

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We adore your work! How were you first drawn into this beautiful business?

Thank you so much for your kind words! I actually got into this industry “by accident,” though I always knew I wanted to do something creative for my career. As I was growing up, I took theater and dance classes, voice lessons, performed in plays, painted, and more. I went to college for Interior Design thinking I would open up my own design firm some day, but I realized that it wasn’t for me after working in the industry for two years.  I then did what every other 24-year- old college graduate did when they didn’t have a job and started bartending at my friend’s restaurant. The restaurant soon started to offer off-site event catering and my friend asked me to help, thus my love for events and weddings was born!

After a few years with my friend’s catering company, I was offered a position as the Event Planner for Barteca Restaurant Group (Bartaco, Barcelona Wine Bar), where I took on the role of planning and designing all in-house and off-site events. Six years later, I decided to open my own Event Planning and Design boutique and Double G Events was launched in 2010!

 

Your events are so fresh and spirited, yet so timeless. What’s the secret to striking this perfect balance?

You hit the nail on the head! There are so many talented planners and designers out there, and I am so lucky to be friends with most of the ones based in Connecticut–they really are my soul and support group. Being a solo entrepreneur, it’s wonderful to have these gals just a phone call or text away for some “water cooler talk” or comedic relief. Sometimes you just need someone to lean on who gets your industry!

With that said, we all offer similar services and need to be able to differentiate ourselves from each other. It took me a while to figure out my unique style through lots of soul searching, paying attention to the clothes I wore, how I decorated my home, and more. I came to realize that my style is timeless with a bit of unexpected edge. I try to stay away from trends because I want my clients to be able to look at their wedding 30 years later and still love it.

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When I work with brides, the word I say over and over again is “AUTHENTIC.” I ask them questions about how they spend their weekends, what shows they like, how they decorate their home, and more. Though Pinterest is helpful for aesthetic reasons, it tells me nothing about my couples and who they are personally. My goal when designing a wedding is for their guests to walk into the space and say, “I get it! This is totally Jane and John!” and understand why certain elements were chosen.

As you can see from all of these photos, every wedding is unique because every one of my clients has their own unique style, and our job is to bring that to their event.

 

Within an event design, what element can you never get enough of? And what aspect do you think is most impactful when used with restraint?

Lighting, lighting, LIGHTING! Lighting will change a room’s ambiance in a heartbeat and I always ask my clients to put aside splurge money for this purpose. I describe lighting as the “jewelry” of the event. We work with Shindig Lighting a ton, and they are always evolving with innovative chandeliers, bistro canopies– you name it! In one of our most recent weddings together at Truelove Farms, we used hand-made hanging Moroccan Chandeliers that they personally picked out during their trip to Morocco to ship back to the USA!

 

Are you noticing any trends that were prevalent just a few years ago that your more recent clients are not requesting?

I won’t lie, but I am SO happy the burlap and Mason jar trend is OVER! As a designer, there is only so much you can do with burlap, and it made every wedding look exactly the same.

 

Are they asking for anything that’s new and surprising you?

We’ve definitely noticed a trend towards having a less formal affair. Instead of plated 4-course meals, clients are interested in having interactive food stations or passing appetizers throughout the reception so that guests can easily mingle and dance as they please. We’ve also been seeing a trend towards brunch weddings (my favorite meal of the week) instead of traditional dinner weddings.

Our clients are always looking for venues that have that “wow” factor, i.e, industrial factories or airplane hangars. Those are super fun to design!

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You do a lot of work at the Connecticut shore. Is there a dream venue you’ve been longing to design for but just haven’t had the opportunity yet?

Our dream venues are always backyard tented weddings—they are so personal to us and our clients. It’s a blank slate to bring in anything that the clients want without worrying about whether the décor we bring in will clash with the surroundings.

 

You receive heaps of praise from delighted clients. When they write you the thank you note, what are the two or three things that you keep hearing for which you are most proud?

I am most proud when clients praise my amazing team. I am personally not one to be in the spotlight – it actually makes me a bit uncomfortable – which is why I think I like this job so much. The bride is the show and I can stay behind the curtain.

When a client praises my team, I smile from ear to ear because they are an extension of me and my work. It makes me feel like I’m doing a great job in teaching them what our brand stands for, and watching them grow makes me feel like a proud Momma!

Here are a few of the best compliments I’ve heard lately:

“We spoke with other planners and you were the friendliest!”

 “I’m not that worried about which venue we choose because I’ve seen your work and know you’re going to make it amazing!”

 “We did not pay you enough for what you did!”

 

When it’s time for you to relax and recharge, what’s your idea of a perfectly relaxing evening?

I travel to Colorado a ton; we are currently opening up a studio in Denver and there’s nothing like the mountain views. When I’m in Connecticut, I love going to farmers’ markets and estate sales, hosting dinners for friends, trying out new restaurants (food in the way to my heart), and taking my dog hiking in the woods.

And your ideal weekend escape?

There are so many options, but there’s nothing better than retreating to a cabin in the woods without cell service or email so that I can completely unplug at the end of a busy season!

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Photo Credits:
Trulove Farms Wedding
Location: Trulove Farms, Morris, CT
Planning + Design: Double G Events, Planning + Design
Photography: Athena Bludè Photography
Florals: Fleurescent
Tent: Abbey Tent + Party Rentals
Rentals/Linen: Peak Event Services
Vintage Rentals: Gather + Lounge
Lighting: Shindig Lighting
J House Greenwich Wedding
Location: J House Greenwich, Greenwich, CT
Planning + Design: Double G Events, Planning + Design
Photography: Sarma + Co.
Florals: Fleurescent
Rentals/Linen: Peak Event Services
Lighting: Shindig Lighting
Candlewood Lake Wedding
Location: Candlewood Lake Club, New Fairfield, CT
Planning + Design: Double G Events, Planning + Design
Photography: Andrew Henderson Photography
Florals: Fleurescent
Rentals/Linen: Peak Event Services
Lounsbury House Wedding
Location: Lounsbury House, Ridgefield, CT
Planning + Design: Double G Events, Planning + Design
Photography: Monika Photography
Florals: Truffles + James
Rentals/Linen: Party Rental Ltd. // Gather + Lounge

 

Spotlight on Tessler Events

Eyal Tessler of New York City-based Tessler Events knows exactly what makes an important day a most memorable one. Recently, Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked him to reveal some of the secrets of his successes.

 

AA: What should fill our heads when we think of Tessler Events?

ET: When thinking of “Tessler Events” I would like people to think of us as more than just event or party planners. I want you to think about us as your partners in creating memories for life and making dreams come true. We don’t just look at the end result because we like to think of ourselves as your event architects; we take you through the journey of the planning so you can enjoy and learn every step of the way.

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AA: Is there a venue in New York that you long to design for but have not yet had the chance?

ET: One of my dreams is to do a midsummer night alfresco dinner in Central Park.

 

AA: You’re capable of beautifully expressing a variety of aesthetics and I’ve seen you do very clean and modern spaces that are still very lush and opulent in mood. Your work seems so new, but where in your journeys do you find inspiration?

ET: I love just walking around the city and getting ideas and inspiration from theater, movies, fashion, architecture, art and more.  It’s not always about the big things — the right small element that can sometimes deliver the biggest impact.

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AA: To you, what makes or breaks a dinner party?

ET: I think a dinner party should be a reflection on the hosts, together with the art of entertaining. It’s all about putting together the right group with the right menu in the right atmosphere and with the right seating scheme. If you don’t have all of these elements, you can unwittingly create a recipe for disaster.

 

AA: How large can a dinner party be until place cards are necessary?

ET: I think any size dinner party can have place cards. Part of the art of entertaining is making sure the right people sit next to each other to fuel conversation and, sometimes, new relationships.

 

AA: And how large can a dinner be before escort cards are needed?

ET: I think any dinner party with more than two tables should have escort cards so it’s easy for your guests to find their seat.

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AA: Do you care to share any pet peeves about tablescapes? What are you fussy about and most relaxed about?

ET: I don’t like tabletops that are too crowded and fussy because a table setting should be comfortable and welcoming. I don’t think you need five different glasses for each place setting at all times; you can always reset silverware and glassware. A big no-no for me is to have a centerpiece that prevents conversation between people across the table. I think for small dinner parties, sometimes less is more.

 

AA: When the day is done, how do you like to wind down?

ET: I like to exercise, listen to music and just separate the work day from the private life. Disconnecting is a very hard task as a business owner, but I try my best!

 

AA: And when you’re traveling for pure pleasure, what kind of adventure are you hoping to find?

ET: My happy place is the ocean, so the best adventures for me include a beautiful beach with lots of time to relax and recharge.

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Reply Cards Made Easy

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles discusses the many forms that reply cards have taken on as modern wedding etiquette has evolved. We invite you to explore our wedding site to view our inspiration gallery and learn more about our offerings. 

Response cards are a relatively new addition to wedding suites. In the past, those invited would know to respond and would do so on their own engraved stationery.

 

Generally, reply cards come in two varieties.The simplest and most classic reply card might only have “The favor of a reply is requested” engraved along the bottom though most of our clients add a date, resulting in something like “Kindly reply by June 8th.”

 

Next, there are those reply cards that are more form-like with check-offs. Disliked by some, preferred by others who consider them more fail-safe, these cards typically have a minimum of four lines of text: The “M” serves as a prompt for the would-be guest to write her name, a line each to select “Happily accepts” or “Regretfully declines.”The last line usually includes the “reply by” date. reply-card-1

Depending on the arrangement with the caterer, a host may need to have check-offs for meal choices. If there are other events, separate lines may be needed for indicating attendance to those as well. At Dempsey & Carroll, we’ve done reply cards with over a dozen possible selections.

Keep in mind when hosting, the simplest reply card will get you the most novel responses back and they will make wonderful keepsakes. If you have creative friends, all the better!

Now It’s Your Turn To Reply?

Always remember that you’re addressing the host, not the guest of honor.

bermuda-reply-1For example: “Dear Mrs. Wilcox, I deeply regret that we will not be able to attend your daughter’s wedding but will most certainly be toasting from afar. Warmly, Helen Schlegel”

When replying, there are just two essential things you’ll be communicating: who you are and whether you’re coming or not. Consider using a tone that is consistent with the invitation design and wording. While you are obligated to reply, you do not have to give a reason if you cannot attend.

The Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Southside

Summer is not quite over yet! We’re inspired by our new collaboration with Hendrick’s Gin to toast Labor Day Weekend with a refreshing Southside. Follow the recipe below and enjoy!

Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Southside

Ingredients:Southside picture

1 ½ parts Hendrick’s Gin

¾ parts Fresh lemon juice

¾ parts simple syrup

4 mint leaves

3 English cucumber wheels

 

Method:

Add ice to shaker.  Crush ice and muddle repeatedly.  Add all ingredients, shake well, and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish 1 English cucumber wheel and 1 mint sprig.

 

 

The History of the Calling Card

To honor our Annual Calling Card Event,  we wanted to share the history of the calling card and how its purposes have evolved over time. We hope that this piece inspires you to put your best card forward! 

History

Before the age of the telephone, the calling card (or carte de visite in French) had a significant role as a social tool. In the days when ladies might receive visitors during hours they were known to be “at home,” the calling card served to announce a visitor to the house. Thought to have originated in China in the 16th century, the calling card flourished in France and England before coming to America, reaching its heyday during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.

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Function

A visitor would present his card to the butler, who would place it on a silver tray and, leaving the visitor to wait, take it to the lady of the house. Different corners of the card would be turned down to indicate the visitor came in person, or that the call was intended to express congratulations or condolence.

On an initial visit, a gentleman would give a card to the butler and leave; if the recipient wished to start a friendship, a card would be returned in the same manner; but no response or a card returned inside an envelope indicated the recipient did not wish the acquaintance to continue.

Although business cards existed, they were never used in social situations. Just as today it is usually considered rude even to ask a new acquaintance what he or she does to earn a living, the idea that a person might produce a card with business information in a social setting was inconceivable until the early twentieth century. So the calling card would have served that social function, and any information missing, or perhaps a short note, would often be written directly on the card.

Format

The most formal calling card format features only a person’s full name, complete with title: Mr., Mrs. or Miss. “Doctor” is spelled out, as is “junior.” A home address, as brief as possible, is sometimes added to the lower right corner of the card; men’s cards sometimes include the name of a club.CallingCardEvent-OrangeClutch-03-Edited

Traditional calling cards are always engraved, using only black ink, the finest paper stock, and one of a small selection of conservative typefaces. Interestingly, the ornate social codes of American Society developed standard sizes to denote sex and marital status. These “proper” sizes were in use well into the twentieth century, though today it is acceptable to throw these rules out the window and choose a size – or create a different size – that suits your taste.

 

Single Men:                                        1-9/16” x 3-1/4”

Married Men:                                     2” x 3-1/2”

Single women:                                   2” x 2-7/8”

Married women and widows:          2-3/8” x 3-1/4”

Married couples:                               2-1/2” x 3-1/2”

 

The Calling Card Today

 Calling cards, sometimes referred to as personal cards, are experiencing a renaissance, particularly among younger people, who change jobs more frequently and may want to present themselves socially with a less work-related face. Though a standard business card size is still popular for calling cards, a more unusual size may be a surprise to the recipient. Ink color and typeface are other ways to make the card have more personality. And today, there is sometimes more contact information put on the card; a cell phone number and personal email address are very common, as they don’t change when a person changes jobs or home addresses. Still, many clients prefer the simple elegance of engraving only their names on the center of the card.

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How to Use Your Calling Cards

Calling cards are the perfect “blank slate” for today’s social and business interactions. It is perfectly acceptable to jot a little note or a bit of information directly on to your calling card. For example, after a business meeting you might add your work email and hand it to a new acquaintance. After running into an old friend you might write “call me” and include your mobile telephone number. How you use your cards is entirely up to you. You should be comfortable and confident that your cards are a sophisticated reflection of your personality and are completely adaptable to any situation. Calling cards also make fabulous gift enclosures – simply write “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” on the card and enclose it with a gift.

We’re sure you’ll find hundreds of ways to use your cards. Be sure to visit our website or call us at 212.570.4800 to learn more!

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New Schumacher: Lansdale vs. Zanzibar

July has been an exciting month at Dempsey & Carroll as we debuted the latest lines from our collaboration with F.Schumacher & Co. We are thrilled to introduce the Lansdale and Zanzibar collections of boxed correspondence cards, drink coasters, and journals. The Lansdale collection features vibrant hues of pink, green, and orange, while the Zanzibar Collection features chic gray tones of florals.

Now we pose a question: are you Team Lansdale or Team Zanzibar? Head over to our website to see for yourself! Here are thoughts from some of the Dempsey & Carroll team on their preferences so far:

LansdaleBouquet-JournalAriel:  “I prefer Lansdale because I love the splash of color. The print tells a summer story and definitely has a fun personality. The colors remind me of a lakeside sunset in the summer.”

Megan:  “I’m Team Lansdale and the journal is my favorite.”

DSC04707_web Alyssa: “I love how colorful and fun the Lansdale journals are while still remaining timeless”

 

Austin:  “This is tough because I love color, and I love the color in the Lansdale pieces, but I get totally lost in the Zanzibar collection. My very dry gimlet would sit perfectly on one of those Zanzibar coasters (though not for too long)!”zanz coasters blog

Emma: “I am Team Zanzibar because of how the pattern makes an impression while being subtle at the same time. The coasters are a must-have for my bar cart!”

Carolyn:  “I’m Team Zanzibar. I love the journal! It’s perfect for meetings, notes on the go, or a quick sketch. I love the neutral palette – it’s great for people who shy away from color, but still has a playful tone through the pattern.”

Leo: “Zanzibar for me. I’m thinking 5 or 6 of the notebooks will find their way to my gift shelf– easy chic for any lady.”

Evon: “Although both are great, the color tones throughout the Zanzibar lends to more versatility and potential outside pairings, if desired.”MMI-072516_Schumacher-web

Spotlight on Leo Mascotte, Part II

Austin Ackles sat down with Creative Director, Leo Mascotte, to discuss more of his favorite Dempsey & Carroll wedding suites. 

AA: This wedding took place on a family property in Old Chatham and we drew a marvelous tree the couple was to be married beneath. (The resulting steel engraving die was a sculpture in and of itself!) What makes this wedding suite one of your favorites? 

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LM: Old Chatham’s charms, to no surprise, are notably old school.  This Columbia County hamlet oozes classic Yankee Town & Country charm, and is home to one of America’s most storied fox hunts, The Old Chatham Hunt Club.  The blind engraved tree motif could not be more inspired.  So too the navy blue and white color palette, classic and crisp, yet decidedly modern for a wedding.  These colors perfectly set the stage for this type of “Down East” event.  As does the Chevalier font, as naturally handsome as the chocolate labs I imagine sleeping under the couple’s table.

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I Would happily take odds that the weekend felt like a trip back to a cherished campus. The Groom and groomsmen in navy blazers, with Hermes ties chosen to recall shared sport. Radiant and crisp in Oscar de la Renta organza, the bride, seemed to be the source of the reception tent’s glow.  Her mother, effortlessly triumphant spending an evening at home amongst abundant flowers, planned to appear picked from the property’s gardens.

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AA: This wonderful couple was married in the bride’s grandmother’s garden just outside Melbourne, Australia. They loved the watercolors from our Mark Ingram collection (which we used for their save the dates) and they wanted to incorporate them into their wedding suite. I think the colors are delicious! 

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LM: Tasty indeed, the palette reminds me of tea at Laduree, in Paris.  The pale pistachio walled salons filled with a dazzling array of pastel tinted macaroons.  The wedding stationery is kept from getting too sweet by the underlying hint of rich ochre in the custom sand colored ink.

Laduree jpeg

Attention to detail here is remarkable.  Each piece of the extensive suite was engraved, such a wonderful and increasingly rare touch.  Rarer still, each item received edge treatment using a custom pale french pink.  The invitation is set apart by it’s exquisite beveled edge.  My favorite touch is named Henry B. the couple’s beloved Labradoodle.  He sits atop the reply card, bestowing a welcoming glance encouraging all to join.

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AA: How we love a perfectly-sized New England church wedding and then a celebration afterwards at a yacht club! This wedding suite is one in a series that is a variation on a very classic theme. How do you see it reinvented this time?

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LM: I love the look of this suite almost as much as I revere the venerated yacht club where it was held.  This group sets up a carefully balanced interplay of established forms set off against modern elements.  A generation ago this piece would have been printed on a folded sheet.  Today so rarely used, the foldover’s scarcity may as well predict it’s return to favor.  Here, a stiff Embassy card reflects the current currency of chic.   This nod to today is set in contrast to timeless Italian script.  For me this font remains, the unassailable definition of impeccable old school elegance.   The suite’s painted edges are left un-beveled, at once old school handcraft, and not expected.  The rich pewter ink color manages a similar duality, with Commodore worthy aplomb.

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AA: Dempsey & Carroll has this long running creative partnership with the legendary firm, Schumacher, and this is a beautiful example of our collaboration. The font here feels old and new to me at the same time. What is it that makes this invitation suite at once breezy and stately?

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LM: This celebrated print “Birds & Butterflies” was based on a hand printed 1960’s wall covering found in Schumacher’s archive.  Available as both a fabric and wallpaper it has a lovely density that never overpowers.  Set amongst charmingly drawn foliage, rendered in spare black on white, a flock of colorful creatures takes flight.

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The Open Antique Roman font almost seems to have been picked from amongst the fabric’s vines.  The letter forms have a polished yet unfussy 1930’s feel.  Designer Thomas O’Brien coined the phrase “Vintage Modern” which seems to describes this Schumacher print, the  and this this suite perfectly.  I can think of no better way to mark a marriage in Millbrook, NY.  Very top drawer.

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Town & Country, May 2016

Our menu cards are usually used to show food and drink offerings for weddings, special events, or a dinner party. Alex Kuczynski’s “Me, Me, Me” piece in Town & Country’s May 2016 Youth & Beauty Issue puts a fun twist on them and features our luxurious scripted menu cards as a means of showing what is not on the menu. Kuczynski’s focus on “food allergy dieting” offers a look at how the diet of the future will be tailored to each specific person’s allergies and sensitivities in an elegant and polished way. Thank you to Town & Country for featuring us in an interesting dialogue on how we eat.

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Spotlight on Danielle Couick

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles met with event planner Danielle Couick of Magnolia Bluebird for drinks at charming Orsay on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

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AA: Magnolia Bluebird is such a pretty name. How did you come to choose it?

DC: Thank you! Magnolia Bluebird was supposed to be a bed and breakfast somewhere in my far off future. When the opportunity came for me to start my own planning firm, it seemed like such a natural fit. I am from the South and entertaining is just a way of life. My grandmother hosted often and had a magnificent way of making you feel as though you were the only person in the room, even if you were amongst 200. She taught me how to make centerpieces using the leaves of her magnolia tree which to me has become a symbol of gracious hospitality and reminder to be present in all that you do. She also taught me that entertaining should be comfortable and a reflection of you. Anytime I entertain you can count on a bowl of French onion dip and Ruffles somewhere in the spread. It is such a simple and basic thing, but such a great reminder of the lessons I learned growing up. And don’t let anyone tell you they don’t love chips and dip.

Bluebird is from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and is a song I sang often as a child. It is about following your dreams and owning what is beyond the known. The longer I’ve been in this business the more I learn that my needs and dreams are constantly changing, growing and adapting. There is something really powerful in knowing that I will never reach the top, that there is always an opportunity to learn more, create more and that I am trusted to take incredibly calculated risks.

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AA: You’re based in the Washington D.C. area. How far flung have you worked?

DC: We currently do a fair amount of planning and design work on the East Coast but have also designed weddings as far South as the US Virgin Islands. I have also been a speaker all over the country which is always fun! We are always open for a new adventure.

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AA: And were there any special challenges you had to overcome?

DC: Working in the USVI I quickly learned that accessibility was one of my biggest obstacles. What may be a basic staple and available at the ready stateside (candles… for example) are not so easily obtained (at least not without huge markup or lead time). Floral also has a high rate of spoilage due to shipping and travel timing. We were going for a more classic look for this particular wedding and did not want to use tropical botanicals. For example, a bouquet that costs $300 stateside could easily see a price tag of $500-600 there. We ended up flying a lot of our needs, linens, candles, centerpiece elements, details, etc. to ensure they arrived safely and on time and due to limited resources on the islands.

AA: Can you name a dream location you’d love to design for but have not yet had the opportunity?

DC: If we are talking dream world, then I would have to say The Palace of Versailles. The Hall of Mirrors is completely breathtaking. The views, the gardens, the detail, the inspiration… all of it. The intention with which the palace was designed and built, the artisans that crafted every detail, the sheer expanse and the meticulous effort to which it is maintained. There are so many elements about The Palace that resonate with elements that we value so strongly.

 

AA: We were at a recent Engage! conference together and a planner we both know and admire screamed about too many requests for clusters of chandeliers in trees. Would you mind sharing a pet peeve of yours?

DC: Ha! Yes, chandeliers in trees… this is a trend I don’t mind so much if it makes sense. I have more peeves when it comes to etiquette but trend wise, I have to admit that if I never see another mason jar again I would be alright and I am not sure how many more ways we can reinvent a S’more. I also think “naked cakes” are lacking. Icing is just so delicious and a beautifully finished and detailed cake can be a work of art. I would also love to see less blush and gold this year. I am craving color and curated detail.

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AA: And then what do you see trending that you can’t get enough of?

DC: Expecting the unexpected. I love creating experiences for our clients and guests. This can be done in so many different ways. Entertainment, food and beverage, lighting and mood, delightful details. Our guests and clients are smart. They attend weddings, galas and a variety of other events so creating surprise and delight is really important and often a very fun challenge to stretch our creative ideas.

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AA: You are expert at making a neutral color palette exciting but also excel at incorporating rich, vibrant color. What color do you plan on using more of?

DC: Thank you! You won’t see a lot of “blush and bashful” in our portfolio. I have always loved color and there is such a brilliant psychology behind the choices. In addition to weddings we also design a fair amount of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs so I think that is one reason we look for fresh palettes across the board. This year I am hearing a lot of requests for aubergine & shades of purple, strawberry & burgundy and pops of color infused into shades of neutrals. I am very excited about a wedding we have coming up this spring where we have designed a gradient color palette that flows from pastel for the ceremony to a bolder version for the reception into neon for the after party.

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AA: When you’re choosing your own personal destination for some down time, what is your ideal?

DC: My husband and I are constantly on the move and our vacations are no exception. We typically select a locale that will allow for 24-48 hours of R&R just to recharge a bit and then we are ready to explore. We look for culture, great food and I typically look for historical and architectural significance. Some of our favorite destinations have been US road trips, the rainforest and forts of Puerto Rico, London and France.