A Spotlight on Cait & Jules

Dempsey & Carroll’s event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Julianne Austin of Cait & Jules to learn about their work as event planners.


AA: How did you and Cait meet and what is yourfavorite thing about your partnership?


JA: We met as project managers producing high end private events at David Monn.

Our favorite thing about our partnership is collaborative creative process as we conceptualize an event.  We have been doing it for so long together that we don’t even need to finish a sentence or thought and one of us will know what the other this thinking.  Oftentimes it’s hard to trace back who came up with an idea because it is such a team effort.



AA: We worked together on an incredible save the date and invitation suite for a wedding in Vermont. Are you doing many events right near home-base in Brooklyn?


JA: A lot of our events are outside Brooklyn.  We travel all over the world to create one-of-a-kind events for our clients.  However, we would love to spend more time in our own back yard!



AA: Since Brooklyn has entirely come into its own, are you seeing Manhattan-based clients specifically asking for a venue in Brooklyn?


JA: I don’t know if they are specifically asking for a venue in Brooklyn but the are definitely more open to it!  A few years ago most of our clients would not even entertain the idea of looking at venues in Brooklyn, now they are much more accessible.



AA: What is the most exciting new venue in Brooklyn?


JA: We love the Duggal Greenhouse.  It’s a special space with an environmentally conscious vision.  We are excited to see how the Brooklyn Navy Yard changes in the next couple of years!


A Spotlight on Alicia Caldecott

Dempsey & Carroll’s event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Alicia Caldecott to learn about her work as an event designer. 1543image001

AA: By now, you’ve done just about everything imaginable lakeside but what was one of the biggest technical challenges? 


AC:  This summer we designed and produced a destination wedding for over 300 guests and for the wedding reception, we built a dock over the water at the client’s cottage! We have been very fortunate to work at some truly remarkable and beautiful locations around Michigan’s Gold Coast however this was a chart topper! The lawn of the cottage was not deep enough to host the reception and the only solution was to select another venue or venture out into the water. After surveying we discovered that the lake bed was not solid enough (too much decaying matter and clay) to lay footings and have the flooring rest on the lake bed- we needed to jettison the supports of the flooring into the lake bed just like you’d do to the pylons of your dock. 330 guests plus a stage, dance floor, lounge area and ample gathering areas require an abundance of space and the resulting platform that was constructed from timber and hand painted was just shy of 16,000 square feet.


Building the dock wasn’t the hard part, but it was a challenge. The length of time required for the build meant strict schedules and when Mother Nature wasn’t playing nice either with thunderstorms or small craft wind advisories we had to push through. The biggest challenge was the painting of the dock in the bride’s signature colors, Lilly Pulitzer Pink and white stripe, on the bias of course! The weather pushed our painting schedule back and we had to install the main tent structure while priming and painting were taking place under the canvas. Being on the water meant working in a constant humid environment on top of the humid summers we have in Northern Michigan. Large thunderstorms the week before the wedding meant warping wood and veneer had to be replaced and restained.


When the sun finally came to stay on Wednesday before the wedding we were blessed with great weather, the kind you dream of on the lake, and our teams kicked into gear putting the final touches on our happy couple’s special venue!


AA:  What’s your secret weapon for a buggy August evening?Stegner (542)


AC:  We have a “layered” strategy for helping make our guests comfortable when insects can be a nuisance. First, start with the welcome bags or gifts. Include a few bug wipes for their convenience. Next make sure to have on hand additional towellettes in the restrooms. If it’s a particularly challenging case of bugs, keep some spray on hand behind the bars. Citronella works like a charm and a quick and easy remedy is to swap out your standard votive candles with citronella scents. Also, around the inland lakes “up north” we have mosquitos and they are not particularly fond of garlic. Now, I don’t recommend having an entire meal of garlic or over seasoning, however it’s amazing the difference even the slightest bit of garlic in one’s diet makes in the resistance to those pesky bites!


AA: Has there ever been wildlife making a surprise appearance at one of your events?


AC: Working around state and national parks there are abundant amounts of wildlife. Thankfully we have not had anything “large” crash a party but we did have a very interested and rather sizable, momma raccoon make her way into a tent the night before the wedding while we were running and lighting and rehearsal. She was hanging onto the tent pole behind the drape and when I turned to adjust the uplight I was greeted with a gnarly hiss and growl!


AA: What’s the hardest thing to make happen in a remote location?


AC: With enough time and resources there isn’t much that is that hard or too difficult to happen. I will say that one repeated challenge is lack of modern conveniences. You have to know your resources before you arrive on location and most importantly, their hours of operation! The mom and pop hardware store may have everything you need to McGuyver the problem you need to solve but if they close at 4:30pm and don’t open until 10am no amount of duct tape or zip strips will make them open for you! Knowing your resources can result in more work for our team but it’s not an unsolvable challenge. The biggest challenge and hardest thing to work with in many remote locations we work with is the lack of total or reliable cell phone services. Short of getting a satellite phone, which those have even been a challenge at one particular “remote” destination we have produced two events at, there isn’t much you can do. In today’s day and age, it’s amazing how dependent we are on our mobile devices and when you don’t have them, or a way to make them work, you best hope that the team you have assembled is sharp and on point!


AA: When you’re doing an event out west, what do you miss the most about working back home?


AC: Aside from working around Lake Michigan, we have been fortunate to travel to California, Colorado and Texas to name a few, to produce events for clients. Working at “home” is never really “home” for us. We are always traveling to our venues so operating in a mobile capacity is something we are very comfortable with. With that being said, I don’t know that I really “miss” working at home when we are in a new state or across country. New locations, challenges and venues are inspiring just like the families we serve and although we may not be able to bring our exact tool kits, team of vendors or families we sometimes have more fun learning the new and reinventing what we do on the road!

AA: What can you get in northern Michigan that you can’t find anywhere else?


AC:  For those that are fortunate enough to have spent time around Northern Michigan I think you would agree with me in saying that there is a certain sense of self and wholeness here that resonates in one’s soul. Our clients may not reside up north year round but it’s their favorite address and they want to share the magic of what we have here with the ones they love. The natural beauty found along our shores, crystal clear waters and intoxicating sunsets provide the back drop for the effortlessly perfect summer day. Now, if you are a four seasons lover like I am, you’ll have no problem swapping your swim fins for snowshoes and your fresh roadside fruit for campfire chili!



A Spotlight on Molly Middleton Events

Events Curator Austin Ackles sat down with Molly Middleton to discuss her wedding & events business. 

AA: You hail frommm3 the Atlanta, right? Sadly, I’ve never been to a big southern wedding. What’s so different about them and what makes them so incredible?

MM: BIG is right!  Everything is better when it’s bigger in the South!  Actually, I think that is more of a Texas thing.  Everyone is so hospitable and friendly in the south and they want to share their big day and celebrate with as many friends and family as possible.  I think the southern charm combined with the amount of people creates an amazing energy. Everyone is so happy and they just want to eat, drink and be merry together!  Also, I find that southern weddings are often a celebration of all things southern, like the strong food culture, southern drinks and the beautiful landscapes (think live oaks dripping in Spanish moss).

AA: Do you still work down south often?

MM: Yes, I have been so incredibly fortunate to be able to continue to work down south.  Most recently, I have done a few weddings in Sea Island, GA.  It is such a DREAM to work down there!  The level of sophistication and professionalism is incredible and they still manage to be calm, cool, collected and so much fun to work with!  Sea Island does a great job of balancing luxury and professionalism with that family feeling of the South.

AA: What’s the biggest difference between working with clients down there and those in the New York area?

MM: I would say that the southern weddings tend to be steeped in rich, family tradition.  I recently had a bride from Chattanooga, TN who wore a beautiful cathedral-length Duchess Lace wedding veil that her great-great grandparents had purchased on a trip to Brussels, Belgium. The veil had been passed down to all of the women in the family to wear on their wedding day.  Now, this is not to say that I don’t have traditional clients from New York, because I do.  I also have a lot of highly successful professional couples who come to me who might be getting married in their mid-late thirties or forties for the first time and they are paying for the wedding themselves.  When the parents are not footing the bill, they have free reign to express themselves however they want!  For example, last year I had a client in New York who processed down the aisle to Alicia Keys’ and JAY Z’s Empire State of Mind and then I had another couple who recessed down the aisle to the theme-song from Superman.  Being from the South, I so appreciate tradition, but I also LOVE it when clients want to mix things up.  It’s fun for me from a creative standpoint.

AA: For every wedding there’s a rain plan. Have you ever done a wedding that required a hurricane plan?

MM: Good timing on this question.  I’m planning a wedding in the Bahamas for next spring.  Technically, it isn’t hurricane season, but I’ve got to take that into consideration in the planning process.  Stay tuned!

AA: If your daughter was to get married in 2040, what will her wedding invitation look like?

MM: If I have anything to do with my daughter’s wedding invitation, it will be a beautiful custom letter-pressed invitation on a nice 6-ply card stock.  I happen to love charcoal as opposed to black ink, and I may add a little pop of color with a beveled edge. Laura Holder & Will Menkes


An Invitation that Speaks a Thousand Words

Sometimes the key to unlocking our own history is found in the unlikeliest of ways. For California resident Mark Harrison, a beautiful discovery led him to a deeper understanding of his heritage and how it contributes to the person he is today.

A few years ago, Harrison discovered an invitation created by Dempsey & Carroll in 1888 at his aunt’s home for a party hosted by Harrison’s great-great grandfather. The party was held at Russell’s barn for the sole purpose of entertaining his close friends in his social circle.

The original engraved invitation for Russell's  celebration at his barn.

The original engraved invitation for Russell’s celebration at his barn.

Harrison’s interest in his genealogy led him to read his great-great grandfather’s autobiography, The Romance and Tragedy of a Widely Known Business Man of New York at his grandmother’s home in New Jersey. With the turn of each page, Harrison dove deeper into the world of his great-great grandfather, William Ingraham Russell, a successful metals broker in the late 19th century.

Russell, a beloved member of his community and a self-made man, wrote of his hard work, his devotion to his wife, and his life in the Millburn and Short Hills community located in New Jersey. He owned a large property on Knollwood, where he built a lovely home and barn designed by the architectural firm Lamb & Rich. Harrison was always fascinated by his great-great grandfather’s barn, which housed Russell’s horses and carriages and was later transformed into an inn in the 1920s.

Drawing of William Ingraham Russell’s home and barn in Millburn

Drawing of William Ingraham Russell’s home and barn in Millburn


The invitation to Russell’s barn dance is referenced in The Romance and Tragedy of a Widely Known Business Man of New York:

Excerpt: “My combination carriage-house and stable was architecturally a very handsome building, and in its interior every detail, useful and ornamental, had received careful attention. The building cost me about seven thousand dollars, but judging from its appearance and size my neighbors thought that my investment was larger. As it approached completion I suggested to my wife the idea of giving a barn-dance, something unique in the annals of Knollwood. We immediately went into a committee of two on plans and scope and as a result evolved an evening of surprise and delight for our friends. The invitations, engraved in usual note-sheet form, had on the upper half of the page a fine engraving of the front of the stable, and beneath in old English, “Come and dance in the barn.” We received our guests in the hall and drawing-room, fragrant with blooming plants. From a rear piazza a carpeted and canvas-enclosed platform extended across the lawn to the carriage-house. The floor had been covered with canvas for the dancers. Brilliantly illuminated, in addition to the permanent decorations, a life-sized jockey in bronze bas-relief and numerous coaching pictures, was the work of the florist. The large orchestra was upstairs surrounding the open carriage trap, which was concealed from below by masses of smilax.”

Harrison, whose middle name is Russell, believes that his given middle name is symbolic of his great-great grandfather’s work ethic and his commitment to being a contributing member of society. Russell’s invitation is a reflection of the responsible, thoughtful, and sociable man he was and who Mark Harrison is today.


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The Art of Gracious (and Fabulous!) Hosting

Make their visit one that they’ll remember! When I host guests, I like to make them feel welcome—that my home has become their home away from home. As an avid traveler, I enjoy staying with friends; I can admit that one of the most gratifying feelings I experienced was feeling a warm sense of welcome in their homes.

entertaining invite1. Enjoy yourself! If you are having a good time, chances are that your guests are, too. Nothing is more disconcerting than when a hostess spends an entire evening in the kitchen either preparing food or cleaning up. Take the time a week in advance to set a schedule that works for you, or feel free to hire assistance in the kitchen and bartenders.

2. A clean home is a must. Guests will feel more comfortable in your home if it’s clean and free of clutter. Be sure to also stock up on important necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues. Make these items accessible to your guests so they don’t feel uncomfortable asking.

3. If you are hosting a party at your home, be sure to send out an invitation that sets the tone of the gathering. When my Aunt Sally, an avid hostess, entertains at her home, she always likes to include details that indicate the dress code in her invitations. Her method to communicating dress code: “If it’s casual and laidback, put on your jeans. If it’s a glitzy invitation, put on something fabulous.”

4. It’s a kind gesture to give your guests an extra set of keys so that they can come and go as they please. When I stayed with my friends Pierre and Sebastian in France, they gave me a set of keys so that I could explore the beauty of Paris while they were at work. They also gave me several recommendations of their favorite cafes and parks so I could savor the leisurely Parisian experience. Be sure to let your guests know favorite haunts so they can experience the flavor of your city or town!

5. Nothing says you’re a good host more than leaving a few creature comforts in your guests’ bedrooms. It is thoughtful to place magazines and books in your guests’ bedrooms so that they can read during their downtime. Lotions, candles, and an extra blanket to snuggle up in will perfect the guest room’s ambiance!

It’s always a generous act to present gifts to your guests. A simple gift tells your guests that you are thrilled that they are staying with you and that you appreciate their good company.

6. Who doesn’t love a clean bathroom? To make your guests feel comfortable, provide them a fresh stack of bath towels as well as a toothbrush and extra toothpaste (in case they forgot theirs by accident!). Comfort is key, so make sure you set up everything they will need during their stay in advance.

8. After your guests leave, it’s thoughtful to express how much you enjoyed spending time with them in your home. Send a handwritten note.

Madeleine Garone,

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