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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Spotlight on Erica Beckman

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles asked Erica Beckman of Clean Plate Pictures to tell us about her absolute favorite spots for engagement and wedding photos in and around New York City. 

  1. DUMBO/Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO are classic shooting locations, and for good reason. The bridge itself is iconic, and it’s absolutely stunning at sunrise. The DUMBO neighborhood has an amazing variety of environments in a a small, walkable area. With gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline, tons of cool graffiti, and lots of cobblestone streets and alleyways, it’s ideal for getting lots of different locations. Even after shooting there for years, I always find something new!

 

  1. Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill is right next to DUMBO, so I usually shoot in both locations together. Vinegar Hill is such a colorful neighborhood; it’s filled with brightly painted doors and store fronts and lots of industrial brick and wood textures. It also has tons of my two favorite things: graffiti and vines!

 

  1. Fort Tryon Park

Fort Tryon Park is another hidden gem. Most people immediately think of Central Park when they want a green location in the city, but Fort Tryon is just as gorgeous – and usually a lot less crowded! The gardens there are stunning, especially in the spring, and there are amazing stone structures and steps (plus, it’s got incredible views of Hudson)!

 

  1. Rockwood Hall – Tarrytown, NY

If you’re willing to venture out of the city limits, Tarrytown is just a short train ride away and home to Rockwood Hall Park. The grounds of the former Rockefeller Estate overlook the Hudson River. The ruins of the old mansion are a great spot, and the park is full of these weeping trees that are dreamy to photograph.

 

  1. A Special Location

I love when clients suggest a new location to me. Photographing a location that’s special and unique for them makes the photos that much better, and it’s always a pleasure to find new places! Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City was suggested to me by a couple and I was so pleased to see how cool it was – full of awesome structures and with a gorgeous view of the city. Another couple invited me to their country home upstate where we got to shoot in this dreamy, woodsy atmosphere– we even found this amazing covered bridge in the area. I encourage everyone out there to think about spots that are special to you!

Erica BeckmanErica Beckman makes the experience of being photographed easygoing and fun, so couples look and feel happy and relaxed. She started Clean Plate Pictures 8 years ago with the goal of capturing the heart and soul of a celebration, recording the big events as well as unexpected candid moments. Today Erica runs her busy wedding photography business from her studio in the Hudson Valley, photographing weddings all over the Tri-State area.

The U.S Postal Service honors Oscar de la Renta

Fashion meets mail with the beautiful new stamps honoring fashion icon Oscar de la Renta. The official Dedication Ceremony on February 16th, 2017 was a momentous occasion that brought together people from all different industries in honoring the late designer. We were thrilled to attend the event, which featured remarks by Oscar de La Renta CEO Alexander Bolen, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Artistic Director of Conde Nast and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour, and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

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Photo: U.S Postal Service

Janice D. Walker, Vice President of Corporate Communications for USPS, led the official stamp dedication and lauded de la Renta’s innovative designs and leadership in the fashion industry.

“Like Oscar de la Renta, handwritten letters never go out of style,” remarked Walker. The timelessness of handwritten letters rings true as we head into our 139th year as a proud New York company.

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(l-r) Alexander Bolen, Michael Bloomberg, Anna Wintour, Hillary Clinton, Janice Walker, Anderson Cooper (photo: Getty Images)

Following the ceremony, we had a chance to learn more about the stamp design process from Xavier C. Hernandez, a Communications Specialist and spokesperson for the USPS.

Can you tell us a bit more about who decides on the new stamps that are released?

 The stamp development team vets the ideas and does the design work, but the Postmaster General ultimately decides the next catalog of stamps for the year.

 During Anna Wintour’s speech, she exclaimed that de la Renta wasn’t a big letter writer, but how does the USPS see the connection between writing and fashion?

 The greater picture is that the Postal Service likes to honor American icons and their influence on American culture, especially for our commemorative stamp series.

 We’ve found that there is definitely a younger generation celebrating the art of letter writing in the age of emails and text messages. How does the USPS work to keep people interested in sending mail?

 There are so many great stamps out right now because we want to encourage people to write as many letters as possible. We have a JFK stamp coming out on President’s day and we just released new stamps for the Chinese New Year. We like to incorporate all different facets of American culture to be as inclusive as possible.

 It was incredible to see the turnout for this dedication event with people from all different industries!

 It’s wonderful to see a turnout like this for the official release of these commemorative stamp because our goal to bring everyone together. We are lucky that this wound up happening during Fashion Week so it has some relevance to timeliness.

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Thank you to the U.S Postal Service for the beautiful new stamps honoring Mr. de la Renta. We look forward to adding a fashionable touch to our envelopes!

Holiday Cards: A Brief History

Did you know that December 9th is known as “Christmas Card Day” to honor the anniversary of the first commercially sold holiday card? We found this article by John Hanc to be very helpful in its thorough account of the history of holiday cards.

During the 1800s in England, the British postal service introduced the “Penny Post” system which allowed people to send a letter anywhere in the country by affixing a penny stamp to the envelope. Sir Henry Cole, prominent patron of the arts and founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, found it difficult to keep up with the piles of mail that he would receive during the holiday season.

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Sir Cole’s first Christmas Card

Cole hit on an ingenious idea [in 1843]. He approached an artist friend, J.C. Horsley, and asked him to design an idea that Cole had sketched out in his mind. Cole then took Horsley’s illustration—a triptych showing a family at table celebrating the holiday flanked by images of people helping the poor—and had a thousand copies made by a London printer. The image was printed on a piece of stiff cardboard 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches in size. At the top of each was the salutation, “TO:_____” allowing Cole to personalize his responses, which included the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”

Many of Cole’s Victorian aristocratic contemporaries started to send out their own Christmas cards in the following years, and the trend reached The United States several decades later. The custom of sending holiday cards quickly became an integral part of the season, and people would line up at card shops in order to catch a glimpse of the newest designs for that year.

Dempsey & Carroll’s founding in 1878 coincided with the recent boom in popularity for Holiday Cards. In our 1880 book The Art of Correspondence, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll published the press release to announce their new holiday collections.

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We have imported the most elegant Christmas Cards ever brought to this city. We call your attention to the fact that WE SHALL OPEN ABOUT DECEMBER FIRST an assortment of fine Christmas Cards excelling anything ever offered. LAST SEASON A GREAT NUMBER OF OUR PATRONS were disappointed that they purchased elsewhere before seeing ours; stating that ours were the handsomest they had seen. Please call early to avoid the crush that delay occasions.

138 years later, we still take great pride in unveiling our new designs for the holiday season. In modern times, however, our new collections are usually done with production by the end of June and are on display for the press by mid-July. Many of our clients are already looking to order their Holiday cards by early fall so as not to feel rushed in December.

We’ve expanded upon our offerings in recent years by combining multiple printing techniques for many of our new holiday collections. Our commitment to providing the highest quality of craftsmanship to our clients remains strong as we continue to creative beautiful designs for 2017 and beyond.

Though technology has greatly changed since Sir Cole’s first Christmas card in 1843, the joy of sending holiday cards to family and friends is a feeling that transcends time.

Spotlight on Cristina Verger

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event planner Cristina Verger and spoke about her beginnings in Rome and her enormous success here in New York.

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AA: In just a few words, can you share with us the essence of Cristina Verger Event Planning & Production?

 

CV: The essence of Cristina Verger Event Planning & Production is to work with our clients in, not only meeting their expectations, but surpassing those expectations.

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AA: You are consistently busy. What are the top three reasons clients keep flocking your way?

 

CV: What I mostly hear from clients is that they find me to be: professional with incomparable industry knowledge; brutally honest (hopefully I am not shattering hearts); sense of style; they seem to enjoy the entire process while working with me. As one client recently told me “we know you are not going to let us have a bad wedding.” Most rewarding of all for me is to feel this mutual respect and to have my client’s confidence.

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AA: We recently worked with you on ceremony programs, menus, escort cards, and table numbers for a New York City wedding and a huge blizzard hit on the big day. Please tell us what ended up happening?

 

CV: This was definitely one for the books. On Saturday, Jan. 23rd, the actual snowstorm was much worse than predicted and turned into a “state of emergency” followed by the Mayor’s travel ban. With 50-80 mile per hour winds, almost two feet of snow fell within a few hours and I knew it was impossible to proceed with the wedding. Most of the guests had flown in from out of town and were housed between the Mandarin Oriental, the Essex house, and the Park Lane Hotels, while the wedding ceremony and reception were scheduled to take place at the Metropolitan Club. Even though all the venues were in close proximity, it was impossible to get anywhere with a travel ban in effect. In addition to which, all the professionals working on the wedding could not get to the venue. The wedding had to be cancelled.

As a wedding planner, I am not legally obliged to reschedule a wedding, only to produce and organize the wedding celebration for the day for which it is planned. Acts of God and major catastrophes, are exactly what they are. However, a wedding is a very special day in a “girl’s” life, a once in a life event, and I understand how terribly upsetting cancelling your wedding can be. It is a day to which everyone has looked forward to for almost a year, the buildup to this moment is incredible, and the letdown would be equally enormous. With this in mind, I offered to move the wedding to the next day, Sunday, January 24th. Once the bride and family agreed, I moved to make this happen. Not such an easy task. All had to be rearranged within a few hours and before the 2:30 pm start of the travel ban. (The decision to reschedule the wedding to the next day was made at 1 pm.) Of course, I had to reach every single person working on this wedding and ensure they would be available for the next day. My long standing working relationship with all the professionals involved was key in receiving full cooperation. Everyone worked very hard on rescheduling their lives and ensured that they were able to provide their services on Sunday. The Metropolitan Club was also excellent in reaching all their staff and rescheduling everyone for the next day. It was quite an experience to be out, driving in the snow storm. Every street had cars stuck and we had to go around vehicles, make sure we did not get stuck ourselves in the deep snow. My driver, Vito, was fantastic and committed. My assistant, Valentina, was a true trooper handling the bridal suite filled with bride and 15 bridesmaids, plus hair and makeup artists, the photographer, and more … I needed to make sure that she was able to get back home before the ban. In order to achieve all, I was the one that ended up driving around well into the travel ban. In fact, met by the police, and risking arrest, Vito was able to talk us into freedom.

The result was a fabulous wedding on Sunday the 24th and, in the bride’s words, “perfect!” Stressful? Definitely. But also exciting and the experience gave me another opportunity to “think out of the box,” which is what I do best.

 

An article about this wedding can be found here in The New York Times.

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AA: You’ve worked extensively all over the globe and are Italian born. What’s your favorite thing about working in Italy and what is your favorite thing about working in New York?

 

CV: Italy is where I was born and raised. It is an incredibly beautiful country with cities that are “open air” museums. When you walk through cities like Rome, Florence, Siena, and many others, you literally bump into major works of art casually placed throughout. Bernini sculptures and fountains adorn all of Rome, for instance. Working in Italy, anywhere in Italy, as the country is vastly varied in its offerings. From north to south it is completely different landscapes, food, wines, oil, cuisine. Even language changes since all the regions were actual countries not too long ago. To me, creating a wedding in Italy, for Americans, means bridging what we are used to experiencing at weddings here, but with the thrill of what Italy has to offer. Truly marrying the two cultures to bring out the best of both and, thereby, create a unique and memorable experience for all attending.

 

New York is a unique city, the energy of which is intoxicating! A NYC event is one that very few will not want to attend. I always tell my clients not to plan on a no-show when inviting guests to a NYC wedding as all, from anywhere in the world, will be eager to participate in a wedding celebration NYC Style!

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AA: If you’re planning a wedding for a client that wants to have a B-list, what is your advice to them?

 

CV: Just the other day, someone said to me that they found out they were a “B” list guest and were completely insulted. I am not a proponent of a “B” list for this exact reason.

 

AA: Is it a refreshing change to design a corporate event or do you prefer the flamboyance of private parties?

CV: Designing a corporate event can be very rewarding as often these are very lavish and have a very “business” approach to the entire process. But producing private parties and especially weddings, allows me to truly utilize all my skills and guide the bride through the minefield of options. Most brides have never planned such a large and important event as their wedding. They may have a vision but this vision is not quite clear. I can be a pivotal person in achieving and then surpassing their expectations.

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AA: If for some crazy reason you couldn’t be an event designer, what career could you see yourself totally immersed in?

 

CV: This is a tough question. I have always wanted to be in the hospitality industry, since I was a little girl. In Rome, my family owned and operated a hotel in the heart of the city. It was always my desire to, one day, operate the hotel myself. However, for many different reasons, at some point my family decided to sell the hotel and move to NYC. Though we no longer owned a hotel, when I was finished with my school, I went into the hotel business and from there began my career which ultimately led to starting my own business 15 years ago. I may still open my own hotel in the near future, but being an event producer and, particularly producing weddings, allows me to completely use my creative skills and realize wonderful settings for the brides who put their trust in me. It is fabulous to be part of such a momentous time in a couple’s life! To answer your question, there is nothing else I’d like to do. I am totally immersed in what I am doing now.

 

AA: Lastly, when you finally have time for yourself, what’s a favorite getaway?

 

CV: So many beautiful places to visit in the world! The end of this year I am planning on a trip, over Christmas and New Year’s, to Australia and the Fiji islands. Last summer, I spent the end of August (after my last wedding of the season) till mid-September, between the South of France and Milan. It was fabulous! Nice was great, and I love the Mediterranean. The difficulty is being able to plan much in advance as it always depends on the events I have in the works.

 

AA: Thanks so much, Cristina. You’ve been so much fun to work with!

 

Website: Cristina Verger Event Planning & Production

Spotlight on Hall Cannon and Miles Refo

Refo-and-Cannon-LowDempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with ex-pats Hall Cannon and Miles Refo to talk about life in New Zealand and their wonderful resort, Otahuna Lodge

 

AA: The lodge was built more than a century ago and not long after Christchurch was founded. Who was its first resident and what are the origins of the Otahuna name?

HM: Otahuna’s first residents were Sir Heaton and Jessie Rhodes.  Having just married his bride, Heaton set out to build New Zealand’s largest private residence for his young wife as a rather extravagant wedding present.  Heaton would go on to live at Otahuna (which means “little hill”) for more than 60 years during which time he would be knighted no fewer than four times and come to be recognized as the “grandfather” of modern New Zealand politics.  It was a pretty amazing life! 

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AA: Was Otahuna always a working farm?

HM: Essentially, yes.  During Heaton and Jessie’s time the property comprised more that 5000 acres and was utilized as a sheep and cattle station.  (A New Zealand station is the equivalent of a US ranch.)  However, after Heaton’s death in 1956 the property became a teaching seminary of the Christian Brothers and then in 1972 was converted into a commune.  Following the commune days, the house was used a private home for several families before we opened it as a Lodge in 2007.  Today, we utilize the grounds to grow some 120 different varieties of fruits, nuts and vegetables and raise our own sheep, chickens and pigs.  For us, the concept of farm-to-table isn’t new or faddish but is instead just a modern interpretation of how the property was originally conceived.

 

AA: The lodge is grand and has just a handful of exquisite suites. Do you ever get the urge to expand or do you enjoy the intimacy too much to even consider the idea?

HM: We love our size at Otahuna.  Part of what makes the property so special is the ability for guests to stay in a living, breathing piece of New Zealand history and experience a unique level of personal interaction with our fantastic team.  But, make no mistake, the house is no museum.  Rather, we just have the opportunity to be a part of some 120 years of stories.  And, while we may be small with only seven guest suites, there is a lot in the works for the Lodge including our launch later this year by Random House of our first book, For the Love of a Place: The Stories and Cuisine of Otahuna

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AA: There are endless wonderful experiences to be had in the area including fly-fishing, exploring the Southern Alps, horseback riding, and swimming among the world’s least common and smallest dolphins. What was the most unusual experience a guest has requested and what were some challenges in the process of fulfilling that wish?

HM: Almost every day we curate interesting, “out-of-the box” experiences for guests.  A particular recent stand-out was creating an “ice bar” for guests at 10,000 feet!  The bar, set high on a glacier, in the Southern Alps was carved from glacial ice and served as the perfect spot to chill a bottle or two of champagne for a special group.  Reachable only via helicopter, we had to keep a close watch on weather conditions, but we pulled it off for some very surprised guests and the experience was truly an ultimate, “only at Otahuna” day!

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AA: Are there certain experiences that you find guests requesting over and over?

 HM: Sure.  We’ll see nearly every day a request for a guided tour of our historic botanic and productive gardens with Head Gardener Steve Marcham including a prerequisite visit to “Oink-a-huna,”our pig pen featuring our rather adorable Devon Black piglets.  Also, there is no better way to understand the connection between our gardens and our acclaimed kitchens than to enjoy a cooking lesson with Executive Chef Jimmy McIntyre and, of course, a sneak peek of our Wine Cellar in what was originally the property’s Game House. 

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AA: Lastly, please tell us what you miss most about New York City?

HM: Honestly, what we miss most is Mexican food!  In fact, we now grow chilies and peppers here in our gardens so that we have access to the necessary ingredients to make a perfect enchilada or tamale “down under” and right here at Otahuna…  

A Spotlight on Inslee by Design

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Senior Event Curator, Remo, sat down with watercolor artist, Inslee, to discuss her artwork and inspirations. Inslee will be joining Dempsey & Carroll in their showroom for an event on December 2nd.

RN: It’s been such a pleasure working with you on your paper collection! Could you tell our readers about yourself and what your passions are?

IHF: My name is Inslee Haynes Fariss and I am the founder of Inslee By Design. I am passionate about fashion illustration, beautiful paper, and correspondence in the time-honored tradition of the handwritten note.

RN: When did you understand that illustrations were your professional life? Your job?

IHF: Fashion illustration has always been a part of who I am. My earliest memory is of drawing as a child. I realized I could create illustrations as a profession when I was a sophomore in college—that I could create the art I loved not just for myself, but for other people. I began accepting commissions and was delighted by the experience of creating something that could brighten someone else’s life and help them celebrate their accomplishments and happy memories.

RN: It seems that you have a strong relationship with your community in New York City and online. How did you develop this community andinslee how do you continue to nurture its growth?

IHF: I’ll admit it—I love New York City! My husband even jokes that I see this city as if perpetually wearing rose colored glasses. I think that a place reveals its most charming self to you when you embrace it. I’ve met some of the most inspiring people here. I found some of the most inspiring places I’ve ever known in this wonderful city.

I’m always looking for ways to connect. As a small, independent business, I know I am only as strong as the network I build. The same can be said for online networks. I adore the strong, supportive group I’ve fostered through my website and social media. I feel so connected to so many people around the world who share my love for art and beauty. We live in an exciting and important time for sharing and collaborative creativity.

RN: What is the dream?

IHF: As Elsie de Wolfe said, “I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.” Isn’t that the dream? To make everything beautiful. To help others see beauty, and celebrate beauty in every small nuance of life. Every day I strive to live up to that sentiment through my work.