24 Hours in Rome with Cristina Verger

Cristina VergerNew York-based destination event planner Cristina Verger is an expert at creating the most memorable events all over Italy and beyond. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked Cristina to let us in on the very best places to hang our hats in her beloved birthplace, Rome!

 

 

Where to Stay

Hassler Roma 2

  • Hassler Roma: Located at the top of the Spanish Steps with phenomenal views, Hotel Hassler Roma positions you a short distance from the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Vatican, and countless other treasures.

 

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Coffee breaks: Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe has the best coffee in Rome! Located between Piazza Navona and The Pantheon, this café opened in 1938 and the beans are roasted right on the premises.

 

  • For a quick bite to eat: Refreshing, pure and modern, Yugo Fusion, is a delight to the palette as much as it is to the eye.

 

  • Fine Dining: Tucked away down a side street near the Pantheon and intimately designed, La Rosetta has earned its irrefutable reputation by perfectly preparing the freshest fish and seafood caught daily.
  • Drinks: As seen in Fellini’s classic 1960 film, La Dolce Vita, Harry’s Bar is a must for a reviving cocktail with a little celebrity spotting on the side.

What to See

  •  Borghese Gallery: This is an extremely tough one to choose because all of Rome is an open air museum. Originally built by Architect Flaminio Ponzio as a Villa Suburbana for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, you can get your fill of masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, and more.

Borghese Gallery 2

Thank you for sharing your Rome favorites, Cristina!

Where are your favorite destinations to visit in Rome or other cities around the world? Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels. 

24 Hours in Paris with Loli Events

Both French born, Lauren Fremont and Coralie Prats of Loli Events make gracious living their business. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked them to share their favorite haunts in our beloved Paris for you to keep in mind for your next trip to the City of Lights!

Where to Stay

Pavillon de la Reine

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Les petits cafés: My love for coffee shops is endless, and thankfully Paris is full of them! My favorite is the Saint Regis Café on Ile Saint Louis because of its authentic style and location–the servers are super fun and the coffee is really good too!
  • Fine Dining: Le Meurice Alain Ducasse is located inside the Palace Hotel Le Meurice and it is truly stunning. Walking into this restaurant is already an experience in itself!
Le Meurice Alain Ducasse

The grand dining room at Le Meurice Alain Ducasse

  • Cocktails: Le Moonshiner is a speakeasy on Rue Sedaine and it is the best place in Paris to drink a good whiskey cocktail! The hidden entrance and retro decor make for a memorable night out.

Le Moonshiner

What to See

  • La Seine Banks: It is always interesting to wander along The River Seine, especially around the two islands, Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis, and along Saint Germain. You will find all kinds of people; joggers, old people with their dogs, lovers, artists, and workers on their way to the office.  During sunsets, the buildings turn into gold and the sky softens with gorgeous shades of pink–I will never get enough of it!

Sylvie-Gil-La Seine

  • The Square Georges-Cain: This is my favorite place in my beloved neighborhood, Le Marais. It is a lovely park in front of a beautiful building and it’s very well maintained–It’s my little heaven on Earth! The location on a quiet street makes it the ideal place to relax outside in the nice weather. The Square George Cain

 

  • Paris doors: How can we not talk about these huge and colorful street doors? I have so many blue doors photos on my phone–they are all different and all majestic!
  • Old little streets & Passages: Paris used to be so differentPassage des Princes back in the day! I’m always very nostalgic when I find a little street and picture the whole city before Haussmann’s renovation in the 19th century. Thankfully, we still have the beautiful Passages like two favorites: Galerie Vivienne and Passage des Princes!
  • Museums: Musée Jacquemart-André is a beautiful hotel particulier in Paris that offers a large collection of private paintings and antique furniture. The grand townhouse is divided into five major parts and it is a wonderful place to explore.

Musée Jacquemart-André

Merci to Lauren and Coralie for letting us in on a few of their Paris favorites!

Where are your favorite destinations to visit in Paris or other cities around the world? Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels. 

Real Weddings: Lauren & Sam

Real Wedding

Lauren & Samuel

Brooklyn Museum

December 17th, 2016

 

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Wild winter weather provided a spectacular backdrop to Lauren and Samuel’s ceremony. Sided by charming brickwork from the original Beaux-Arts structure that was designed by the legendary firm of McKim, Mead & White, ensconced guests could gaze past the chuppah, over a joyous gospel choir, and through a modern glass addition with evolving weather cascading safely beyond.

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Lauren first visited with Dempsey and Carroll’s Austin Ackles last June with her sister Carolyn and their mother, Wendy, in tow. The three (all sharp, design savvy and decisive) arrived with a very clear vision and with a great appreciation for the tried-and-true engraving process. Our Pewter ink and  Dempsey White paper thrilled them, while the hand calligraphed names of the bride and groom contrasted perfectly with the modern font for the text. After the calligraphy is handwritten, it is then etched into a copper plate that’s inked and pushed to paper, one by one, on an antique press. Finally, edges of the invitation were carefully beveled and hand painted with silver ink and envelopes were finished with a subtle, shimmering silver lining.

With cocktails in hand, guests mingled amongst masterpieces by Corot, Cassatt, and Degas in the colonnade before moving in under the impressive skylight space. The overall feeling was of a classic ice palace, but one given warmth and an edgy modernity, with magically-hued lighting effects in pinks and greens and lavenders.

A winter wonderland and subtle pine scent surrounded Dempsey & Carroll escort cards. Columns of birch echoed those of marble and massive scale that bordered the space.

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Additional lighting effects gave the impression of late in the day sun weaving its way through a cluster of swaying aspens.

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A smartly conceived floor plan ensured that the guests were wowed by the immense history of place while still close enough to one another for an intimate vibe. Lauren and Samuel’s marriage celebration carried on as everyone let go to classic Motown, R&B favorites and early hip-hop.

Dempsey & Carroll is pleased to have had a role in such a brilliant affair. Congratulations to a most lovely couple!

Credits:

Photography: Ira Lippke Studios

Wedding Planner: Vanda High Events

Spotlight on Valley & Co.

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with Aleah and Nick of Valley & Co. to talk about some of their favorite wedding destinations on the West Coast. 

 

AA: Squeezed into just a few dozen words, can you give us the essence of Valley & Co.?
A&N: In short, we throw pretty incredible celebrations for our clients and have a ball doing so! We focus on the beauty and fun in life and incorporate realistic elements into our events. We truly love creating joy for others and Valley & Company is a reflection of our passion!

AA: Which came first, the business relationship or the life partnership?
A&N: Our relationship came before our business. We met during Aleah’s senior year in high school and Nick’s freshman year at university. Aleah followed Nick to college where we planned events with several student government organizations and some pretty impressive non-university related parties as well! You can say the rest is part of our history! We’ve been planning events together since we got together and formed our company in 2003, right after we graduated from college.

AA: You’re the masters of the best coast! What’s your single favorite thing about the mighty Pacific Northwest and the very best thing about the glorious south coast?

A&N: Oh, what a kind compliment, thank you! The Pacific Northwest is absolutely incredible. Both born and raised, there is just so much to appreciate. We love the sea and islands, the culture, the incredible food (especially Dungeness crab), and the majestic mountains. But the best thing about the mighty Pacific Northwest is the fact that you can drive out of the city to any number of spectacular places in just an hour or two. There are countless hidden gems for destination weddings that we love! California is also pretty amazing and we love events along the coast in San Diego and in the desert of Palm Springs. The year-round nature of events in California (except for the one unexpected November day mentioned below!) is special and you can’t beat the sunsets and cuisine. Our West Coast clients up and down the coast tend to share an underlying vision of wanting to create a true experience for their guests, so we put great emphasis on the setting, the local bounty and seafood and land food, great wines,, and showcasing the very best that our region and the coast has to offer.

AA: Can you tell us about an impossible to foresee (or just plain weird) logistical challenge and how you overcame it?
A&N: One November in San Diego we had a beautiful wedding planned on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel perched above the busy boardwalk in Pacific Beach. An unexpected and unprecedented storm came rolling in rather quickly, dumping torrential rain and gale force winds on our just-installed tent. As we were setting up the chairs, the tent (properly weighted!) started to take flight up and over the balcony, with weights and all. Nick and some of the crew quickly pulled down the tent and slashed the ceiling to let air through. They held it down until it could be taken away. We all worked extremely fast to move the ceremony into the beautiful restaurant below and dinner on the terrace protected by glass doors. Luckily as the ceremony was underway the skies parted and the sun came out, but that was the most unexpected weather incident we’ve ever encountered! Our team was swift on our feet and was so professional and cool under the pressure! It reminded us that there can never be enough back-up plans (this summer in Washington we rolled out a Plan J!). Foreseeing any potential issue before it can arise and already having a solution in place is a large part of our job.

AA: Please think back a few years: Are the any materials or themes that you were employing regularly that have completely dropped from your current repertoire? 

A&N: We love a good classically beautiful wedding with fresh and modern touches that reflect our couples. With that said, we are seeing a departure from too rustic, overly glam, and anything that can possibly look dated even a few years down the road. Our clients tend to want an extremely personal celebration that has roots in pure beauty, so we start from scratch working in details that truly mean something to them, like a special patterned china, an altar built with logs from the bride’s family home, traditions through toasts and activities, and a menu and drink experience that is expressive of them and their backgrounds. It’s refreshing and exciting that so many of today’s couples want to create their wedding vision with a totally blank canvas!

 

AA: And now for some fun: You’re stranded on a desert island with 100 other people. Thankfully, a couple of your fellow castaways have fallen in love and are getting married. You have no supplies. What five items do you wish you had and, if it’s not obvious, why?

A&N: What a great thought!

We would wish for:

  • a stereo to provide music for the celebration
  • a pallet of champagne
  • a fishing pole to catch fish to feed all of the guests a lighter to make a roaring fire (Nick’s answer)
  • a sewing kit to fashion décor from palm fronds (Aleah’s answer)

Spotlight on Charley King

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event planner Charley King of Bluebell Events and spoke about the endless beauty of Southern California and beyond.

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AA: Bluebell is such a lovely name for your business. Can you please tell us about its significance?

CK: Bluebell is the special name my father called me ever since I was a little girl. Ten years ago, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and when considering what to name my company, I wanted a name that would remind me of my father and honor him. Five years ago, my father passed away from the disease. Now, anytime anyone says Bluebell Events, it makes me smile as I think of him and how proud my father would have been.

 

AA: With a background in theatre and film, how have those talents carried over to your work as an event designer?

CK: It was the next, perfect, seamless transition as both professions are very similar. I approach every event as I would a piece of theatre.or film It has many important facets to consider: lighting, costumes, set, makeup, hair, the cast of characters, the arc of the storyline, and everything in between. The event must flow like a beautifully written play or musical and take the guests on a magical journey. When I was a performer on Broadway and London’s West End, I focused on my piece of the puzzle, the performance. Now, as an event planner, I act as the producer, the director and most importantly, the stage manager.

AA: You’re based in Southern California. What exciting new venues have come on-line and could you name a favorite hideaway that we might not know about?

CK: I am so lucky to live and work in a place where you can have an ocean backdrop, a mountain view, an elegant hotel, or in a rustic vineyard. There are so many incredible wedding venues and estates here and we are completely spoiled. My newest discoveries that I have fallen in love with for events are Big Daddy’s Antiques and Epona Estate. Big Daddy’s takes the vintage trend to a whole new level. Big Daddy’s is a retailer of one-of-a-kind antiques and reproductions from Europe, Asia, and North American markets. It is incredibly eclectic and a designer’s dream blank canvas to work with. Epona Estates on the other end of the scale is a privately owned 40 acre working horse ranch and world class vineyard. It is located in the heart of the Santa Monica mountains adjacent to the Malibu valley. Both these locations allow clients to let me design every single aspect of their wedding.

AA: This has been a crazy year with El Nino, not only for California, but for much of North America. Has it affected any of your wedding days and what last minute changes had to be made to insure a brilliant outcome?

CK: Fortunately, El Nino never really hit us as hard as they expected it to. We always have a Plan B in place for inclement weather anyway. I am fortunate to work with an incredible team of vendors who are able to create solutions at the last minute.

AA: Would you tell us about a client relationship that started out on the cool side but ended up warm and wonderful?

CK: Client relationships are extremely important to me. My couples become like family to me and I become like Mother Bear for them. From start to finish of the planning and beyond, I nurture an open, connected, comfortable relationship with my clients and their families. I can’t imagine planning an event for a client that starts out cool.

 

AA: What is a favorite destination you’ve designed for and where is a dream locale you’d love to create for but just haven’t had the opportunity to quite yet?

CK: I adored designing a wedding at Emmanuel College, a constituent college of Cambridge University in England. The architecture of the chapel and the University was absolutely striking. I also loved working in Hawaii. My dream locale is a snowy, winter wedding in Aspen. My earmuffs are waiting!

AA: Let’s begin with the end in mind: When the ball drops this next New Year’s Eve, what would you like to say about the year 2016?

CK: Every year, an unexpected destination or fabulous opportunity comes into my life. I would love to be able to hold up my glass of champagne and say, “Wow! That was a phenomenal experience that I will never forget.”

Spotlight on Jacin Fitzgerald

Dempsey & Carroll’s Kara Alexander sat down with event planner, Jacin Fitzgerald, to learn about her work, her love for fresh flowers, and her impressive social media presence. 

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KA: You once said, “I stopped searching the world for my purpose… Realized my true passion lies within the details of life and that I want to help others achieve their dream event.” Where were you when you had this epiphany and what were you doing that helped you come to this realization?

JF: There’s a long and short version to this question but I’ll try to keep it brief…I got my start in weddings just out of college, working for an oceanside venue in Newport, Rhode Island. From there I went on to work for Sailing World magazine, assisting and traveling for their national regatta series across the country, and then went on to move to Australia to work in Sydney as long as my visa would allow. Following Australia I traveled and visits New Zealand and Fiji, then came home and felt like I was starting all over again. I thought in order to be successful I had to work in a corporate job, so I got a job for an agency representing a pharmaceutical company and managed accounts for strategic marketing events across the country. While working here I felt like I still hadn’t met my purpose in life, and though I loved my colleagues and clients in the corporate gig, what I really missed was the creativity that came with weddings, the work I started with from the very beginning. Honestly I think my epiphany came when I suggested to a corporate client that we use blue napkins for their event to bring in their branding colors, and I was pretty much told “no one cares about the napkins, just get the right audience in the seats.” I realized I wanted that creative outlet back and started my company as a “side project” towards the end of 2009, and ended up resigning from my corporate job at the end of 2011. I haven’t looked back since.

KA: The average person might plan one wedding their entire life; at Jacin Fitzgerald Events you plan four per year, plus find the time to travel and co-edit for @travelinsiders! How do you choose which clients to take on? Is it a first come, first serve basis or do you spread them out to one per season?

JF: I don’t choose my clients – we choose each other. My consultation process is very much a two-way interview, we are getting to know each other and see if we might be a fit. I would hate for anyone to ever think I’m “choosing” anyone – once my four weddings are booked, I close up bookings for the year. It’s pretty simple actually.

As for Travel Insiders, I co-edit this project with a friend of mine, Abby Capalbo, and we literally manage this as an outlet to share our love of travel and places we’ve visited, or places we want to visit!

KA: As a planner who services weddings nationwide, what would you say is the biggest difference you see in weddings from each region?

JF: That’s so so hard to answer – I think every region has their differences for sure, but it’s so fun to bring those quintessential qualities to life in the design. New England weddings tend to have more of a nautical, coastal vibe and the season may end sooner than down South where the weather may be more temperate later into the year. California is amazing weather-wise and my East Coast clients getting married out West are always surprised at the lack of rain plans needed (though we obviously always have a plan B in place).

KA: I imagine your office and home are always flooded with the smell of fresh flowers, what are some tips and tricks you can share about floral arrangement and keeping flowers lasting longer?

JF: Best tip for keeping flowers fresh longest is so simple – trim the ends at a diagonal when you bring them home from the store (if they’re flat they may cut off water supply) and continually change out the water, re-trimming ends if needed.

KA: Aside from your website, you have such a huge social media presence! How have you gotten 42 thousand+ Instagram followers, 6300+ Twitter followers and 9700+ Facebook likes?

JF: Honestly I have been on social media since the beginning, and my online growth has been organic. I try really, really hard to be authentic both online and in person – when you meet me you’ll meet the same person you “see” online. That’s really important to me. I keep my personal life and work life very separate, too, and I think that’s key for me to maintain a professional “gallery” to showcase my work, with an occasional photo of our dog, Rhody, thrown in for good measure – he’s the best dog ever but we are a little biased :)

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.