Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning

5 Top Reasons Why Venues Should Encourage Couples to Hire a Wedding Planner

The International Special Events Society Pittsburgh Chapter held an Industry Forum for the first time at their April Meeting. This provided an opportunity for members and guests to submit questions in advance which became “Hot Topics” posed to the group for industry discussion.

As the Vice President of Programming and Education for the chapter and the organizer of this meeting, I saw one question submitted several times by event planners. “Why do venues tell couples not to hire a Wedding Planner?” This question sparked a lot of conversation.

Representing the venues in attendance, the general feeling from them was either that they, as the venue, felt like they could (or should) provide all of the services to the couple themselves AND it is better to have no Wedding Planner than to be working with a bad and inexperienced planner.

There may be some additional reasons that were not shared during the meeting, but as a Professional and Experienced Wedding and Event Planner, I would like to share my opinion on this.

To all venue coordinators, good planners can work together with you to improve your life! Really, it’s true!

Here are 5 Top Reasons Why Venues should encourage couples to hire a Wedding Planner.

1. If you want to avoid working with the bad and inexperienced planners, then you can control that by referring only planners that you know are good, experienced and have a great track record. If you discourage working with a planner and the couple decides they want to hire one anyway, you may be at more risk by not referring because they will go out on their own and potentially hire someone you have to work with whom is not a professional, you have never heard of, whom is new or inexperienced making your job a lot more difficult.

2. Planners really do want to work together as a team. We are not looking to make your life harder- really. We want to see the best possible outcome for the couple just like you do. We value your knowledge and experience about your property and will rely on you to know information about all things venue related such as proper load in requirements, power, measurements, policies, payment terms, insurance, food and beverage and more. We will properly convey this information to our couples and follow your direction. You are our very important liaison and that is valued and appreciated.

3. You can’t be everywhere all the time. We know you also have to represent your venue every day which means while preparing for a wedding, while the couple is getting dressed, while the set up is happening, you may need to be showing the venue to other interested couples and giving tours or may need to attend to other things. When a planner is onsite for a wedding, the planner is there dedicated to that particular event the entire time which means you can step away and attend to other things.

4. Having a planner will lighten your work load and save you time. Just think about how many phone calls and emails you field from each couple/wedding and how many questions you are asked. Just imagine if that was all being directed to the couple’s wedding planner the amount of time that would save for you. Not to mention the other responsibilities you sometimes pick up like unexpected set up and assembly of items that you now have to take care of that turns out to take a ton of your time.

5. We are working with couples outside and offsite of the venue. We know you provide wonderful advice and direction to couples. We also know that you can’t be with them for meetings and appointments when they are outside of your venue. A Wedding Planner will provide additional services such as accompanying them to vendor appointments to convey their vision, designing the branding of their event and working with a stationer and design team at their locations to style the wedding, ceremony direction at a church or off site location and much, much more.

If you represent a venue, I welcome your feedback and response and truly hope to work with you soon!

Rachel Cara and Lauren’s B’not Mitzvah

Rachel Cara and Lauren’s B’not Mitzvah

The three sisters, Rachel, Cara and Lauren celebrated their B’not Mitzvah on November 8, 2014. The set of twins, Rachel and Cara, along with their younger sister Lauren, made the decision to have their event all together on one date. For three very unique young ladies, they all merged their ideas and wishes remarkably well, which yielded a fabulous end result!

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Each of the girls selected one color- turquoise, lime green and fuscia (along with black and white). The three colors were used in representation of the three girls and were carried throughout the event as their palate. The colors were also used in printed materials, linens, lighting, balloons, centerpieces and more. The trio floral motif was carried from invitations to event logo, which was displayed at the party on large plasma screens which also showed their video montage at one point in the party.

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Their celebration was held at the Pittsburgh Field Club. Their large group of nearly 130 kids, plus adults, enjoyed a strolling magician, airbrush tattoos, photobooth with custom props and entertainment by Alex Foster of Soundtastic Enterprises.

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The ballroom was completely transformed by pipe and drape which was uplight in all three of their signature colors. A photo gallery of canvases of the girls was displayed on every wall. Clustered balloons dripped from the ceiling and completely covered the section above the white dance floor.

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Guests had three boards to sign for the girls to give them wishes of congratulations. Later in the evening, all guests enjoyed a make-your-own ice cream sundae station and cookie display. Both adults and kids enjoyed the candy buffet as a late night treat and take home favor.

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Many thanks to our wonderful vendors:
Pittsburgh Field Club, Rhaina Taylor Photography, Entertainment Unlimited, Gray Phoenix Designs, All Occasions Party Rental, Mosaic, Soundtastic Enterprises, Sherer Video, Festivities, Pittsburgh Candy Buffet, E.L.F. Entertainment, Nota Bene

Lauren’s Broadway Bash

Lauren’s Broadway Bash

Lauren celebrated her bat mitzvah with a “Broadway Bash” on November 1, 2014 at the Circuit Center Ballroom. The party was preceded by a havdalah service led by Rabbi Chuck Diamond. Lauren’s stage experience was evident in her poised, professional delivery and amazing singing voice during the service.

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The service was held in one section of the ballroom partitioned by a curtain which immediately opened following the service to reveal the amazing party that awaited. Lauren’s color palate of fuscia, black, white and silver was carried throughout the scene with linens, lighting, custom logo, centerpieces and more.

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Guests had a “red carpet” experience stepping up to the custom logged step and repeat backdrop to take instant photos. While waiting for their photo op, Sherer Video interviewed guests to send a personal message of congratulations to Lauren. They enjoyed dancing and games led by Steve Maffei Jr. and airbrush tattoos as well.

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While the kids had their seating in a large “U” shape table around the dance floor, the adults sat at Broadway show themed tables and found their way to their seats by viewing the “Cast List” on display in the lobby area where adults enjoyed a cocktail reception.

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Lauren had a very personalized and unique candle lighting ceremony. While standing beneath her custom event marquee, Lauren invited 13 groups of guests up one at a time. Because her full name is a total of 13 letters, each guest lit one letter as they were called up until her entire first and last name were completely illuminated.

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Toward the end of the night, guests enjoyed a Broadway themed candy station and a sweets table.

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Many thanks to our wonderful vendors who worked with us on this event: Festivities, Mosaic, Fluted Mushroom, Steve Maffei Jr., ELF Entertainment, Pittsburgh Candy Buffet, Bella Christies, Todd Michael Photography, Sherer Video, Gray Phoenix and more!

Jared’s Bar Mitzvah

Jared’s Bar Mitzvah

We were thrilled to work with Nord family for the second time to plan an amazing celebration for Jared’s Bar Mitzvah. We may have returned to the same venue, Heinz History Center (where his sister’s party was held just two years previously), but we certainly transformed the space for him!

Jared’s vision was a “Night Club with basketball accents. To make the space feel unique from his sisters, we arranged the ballroom completely differently. The black dance floor with personalized logo graphic was centered in the room horizontally with a VIP Lounge on each side to accommodate seating for Jared and his friends. 

When adult guests arrived via the red carpet entry at the party, they had to check in with at the entrance by the “club bouncer” to be verified on the guest list for their table assignments. Adults were assigned to tables that were named according to renowned night clubs in the U.S.

The adults sat at elongated tables that were a mix of a high and low heights arranged in a “U” shape around a large square bar. The bar was a main focal point covered in sequin linens, adorned with arrangements on each corner and a large grouping of custom lampshades hanging overhead.

Identical lampshades were also grouped over the center of the dance floor and over the two VIP lounges. Jared’s color palate of royal, silver, black and touches of orange were carried throughout the decor. All of the table centerpieces included illuminated cylinders with basketballs and LED glow cubes were placed all over the room which rotated colors throughout the night. The ambiance was very sophisticated.

Adults and kids alike rocked out on the dance floor led by Mc Criss Cross and his crew. They enjoyed airbrushed sweatshirts and an inflatable photo booth that took pictures which could be printed as well as uploaded and shared to social media.

Jared’s party was completely customized for him based on his requests such as a walking taco dinner station for the kids, donut cart and Bella Christies incredible desserts. They were all big hits. One of the best personalizations was the film that was created and shown as a tribute to what a wonderful young man Jared is. 

Many thanks to the wonderful vendors we worked with on this event:

Heinz History CenterCommon Plea CateringBea Nylias PhotographyAll Pro USAFestivitiesBenack, Glyde ProductionsEntertainment UnlimitedBella Christies and Lil Z’sMosaicAllison McgearyAll Occasions Party Rental

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Rachel’s Bat Mitzvah

Rachel’s Bat Mitzvah

We had a fabulous time working with Rachel and her family to create a one-of-a-kind Bat Mitzvah Celebration for this very sweet and talented young lady. On August 30th, 2014, family and friends gathered for a morning service led by Rabbi Stephanie Wolfe at Beth Samuel Jewish Center in Ambridge, which was followed by a delicious Kiddush luncheon catered by Tallulah’s. The room was decorated in her color palate of turquoise, lime green and purple. Her centerpieces were baskets tied with balloons which included non-perishable food items that would be donated to Rachel’s mitzvah project, Gleaners Food Bank in Cranberry Township.

The theme for the evening party reflected Rachel’s personality impeccably as it was centered around her passion for theatre and Broadway shows. The color palate was carried through here as well. As guests arrived at Edgeworth Club in Sewickley, adults proceeded into cocktail hour while the kids were entertained by a talented magician and caricature artist in the private bowling alley located just downstairs of the club.

Instead of table numbers, the escort cards were an assortment of Rachel’s favorite Broadway shows represented as small Playbills on boards which were to resemble Box Office Window pick up. Atop each table centerpiece was an eye-catching, Playbill inspired sign which easily guided guests to their seats. Friends of Rachel made their way through a customized marquee entry in flashing lights where they found their own personalized cubbies to store all their party favors throughout the night.

After guests watched a short montage video, the kids were invited onto the dance floor to participate in various games, provided by Glyde Productions, in which they competed for prizes. Afterwards the kids enjoyed buffet-style food in the Loggia just outside the grand ballroom, which allowed the adults dine in style in the ballroom.

When the dancing began, it didn’t stop all night! Everyone loved the white, seamless dance floor which was surrounded by comfortable leather lounge seating.  MC Criss Cross and his dancers kept the excitement going the entire night by teaching impressive dance moves, handing out fun giveaways, and snapping live photos to display on the big screen. A guest-favorite that night, the Photo Booth, captured hysterical memories and the faces of loved-ones, which was printed out into an album as a keepsake for Rachel to commemorate this religious milestone. Guests also had the option of getting personalized airbrush tattoos throughout the night.

Near the end of the celebration, the irresistible, homemade desserts provided by Bella Christie topped off this fabulous event. From Apple Pie-A-La-Mode, to Cake Pops, Chocolate-Covered Oreos, Toffee, to Marshmallow Pops, the guests devoured the delicious treats! Family and friends also had the option of filling personalized take-out containers with assortments from the Broadway themed candy station, provided by the Pittsburgh Candy Buffet. We loved being a part of this celebration, Mazel Tov Rachel!

A very special thank you to the vendors who we enjoyed working with on this event:
Edgeworth Club, Joan Stewart, Sherer Video, The Prop Shop, Festivities, All Occasions Party Rental, Pittsburgh Candy Buffet, Glyde Productions, Gray Phoenix, Mosaic, BellaChristie and Lil Z’s, ELF Entertainment, Entertainment Unlimited, Table Talk, Tallulahs

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Dylan’s Car Themed Bar Mitzvah

Dylan’s Car Themed Bar Mitzvah

Dylan celebrated his bar mitzvah on November 9th.  Being a luxury car enthusiast there was a no more fitting venue for him than the car museum located above the Auto Palace Porsche Dealership. Dylan’s favorite car is a Bugatti and we were fortunate to have one on display for him in the gallery in addition to more than 12 additional cars and motorcycles.

Keeping with the theme, Dylan’s logo was design based on the real Bugatti logo substituting his own name and initials. The theme was, of course, cars and racing with black and white racing check print, red, black, white and silver in his color palate. ‘

Guests enjoyed a cocktail style reception with food continuously flowing all night long. The menu included an antipasto station, hand rolled sushi action station and miniature passed items including Rueben sandwiches, grilled cheese and tomato soup, black bean quesadillas, scallops, smoked salmon tacos and more. The real culinary excitement came with dessert when the customized dessert station was set up complete with a liquid nitrogen station allowing guests to have freshly made milkshakes and chocolate and caramel dipped frozen marshmallows and fruit. Adults and kids danced the night away and also enjoyed the caricature artist, green screen photography area (where you can at least look like you own one of these luxury cars) and airbrush of drawstring bags. The evening’s favors included custom printed fleece stadium blankets for the kids and “Dylan’s Candy Bars” for everyone.

Many thanks to our fabulous vendor partners: Auto Palace Shadyside, Big Catering, A-Z Entertainment, Festivities, All Occasions Party Rental, Entertainment Unlimited, ELF Entertainment, Dreadnought, Nota Bene, Grey Phoenix Designs, Bella Christie Sweet Boutique, Lendable Linens, Jay Becker Valet, Rhaina Taylor Photography, Tree of Life, Rabbi Chuck Diamond

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Rachel and Kate’s B’nai Mitzvah

Rachel and Kate’s B’nai Mitzvah

Rachel and Kate celebrated their b’nai mitzvah on September 28, 2014 at the Pittsburgh Field Club. These two sisters are not twins, however close in age and chose to share their special day together. Of course with two different people, tastes and personalities coming together, we had to come up with an event that was a reflection of both of them. I am thrilled to say we succeeded in doing so.

There was no particular theme; however, at the beginning of the planning stages I was met with a few requests for incorporation- photos of the girls, shades of purple and silver. What developed over the course of planning was to turn the club’s ballroom into a photo gallery of the girls. This was created by draping the entire room in fabric and hanging more than 40 enlarged poster size photos of the girls around the room. The photos were up-lit with white light that had a mix of ambient purple light interspersed.

Perhaps the most impressive décor element was the ceiling of dripping balloons above the very large white dance floor.  There were reflections of Rachel and Kate in the details of the centerpieces and signs throughout the party.  Kids and adults alike enjoyed the DJ entertainment, airbrush tattoos, photobooth and elaborate sweets table.  Adults dined in the nearby sunroom and were able to get away from the kids activities during their own sit down dinner.  The kids enjoyed a buffet of all of their own favorites and when the time came everyone came together on the dance floor!

Many thanks to our numerous vendor partners: Pittsburgh Field Club, Festivities, Gray Phoenix Designs, Mosaic Linens, All Occasions Party Rental, Bella Christie Sweet Boutique, Entertainment Unlimited, A-Z Entertainment, Allison Mcgeary Florist, Jeff Swenson Photography, Soundwaves

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Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah Celebration at Fairmont Pittsburgh

Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah Celebration at Fairmont Pittsburgh

On June 29th, 2013, Aaron celebrated his bar mitzvah with friends and family at The Fairmont Pittsburgh with games, dancing, delicious food, and great entertainment. It was a wonderful night for both adults and children.  The party ambiance was reflective of early 1920’s elegance with a modern twist. The color palate was all neutrals which was in sharp contrast to the colorful luncheon enjoyed by guests earlier that day at the temple. The table centerpieces were created with fresh floral in white and ivory tones and lucite candleabras created by Allison Mcgeary Floral Design. The ballroom featured eight gorgeous crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling provided by All Occasions and installed by PSAV. The ceiling above the dance floor created by Festivities featured large clusters of tan, white, clear and ivory balloons creating a champagne bubble effect dripping overhead while dancing.

Upon entering the Fairmont lobby cocktail area, adults were directed to food stations with choices of mini tacos or chicken and crab sandwiches, while trays of sushi and other hors d’ oeuves were being passed. Kids immediately made their way into the grand ballroom where they participated in a game show provided by Wenning Entertainment competing for prizes. After adults had found their seats by table charts displayed on mirrors, hung, and illuminated in the lounge area and the game show had come to an end, the DJ kicked up the energy with some music and dancing. Kids danced, received balloon sculptures from ABC Ballon Twisting, and got creative with Interactive Entertainment’s Virtual Graffiti Wall. At dinnertime, kids’ sat at long rectangular tables covered with pecan linens located in close proximity to their buffet dinner station, while adults were seated at round tables behind the kids where they were served each of their courses. An Italian Soda Bar was set up inside the ballroom for soda refills all night long based on a customized menu. Their drinks were served in personalized light up cups for kids to keep as a souvenir from the event. After a trio of desserts were served to adults and cotton candy and mini milkshakes were passed to the kids, guests gathered around to watch dancers from Glyde Productions perform a break dancing set.

With the fun and excitement at an all time high, kids continued their night was more dancing and casino games provided by Entertainment Unlimited. For a sweet ending, a candy station was set up and guests filled personalized take out containers with assortments of sweet goodies. There was also a tcookie table, traditionally seen at most Pittsburgh weddings, with a delicious assortment baked by friends, family and Bella Christie Sweet Boutique. At the end of the night adults were seen packing cookie bags with treats while kids stuffed personalized drawl string bags with the prizes and gifts they had gathered all through the night. We loved being a part of your big night, Aaron! Mazel Tov!

Photo Credit: Deion Kim Photography

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Toby’s Bat Mitzvah

Toby’s Bat Mitzvah

On April 13, 2013, Toby, together with friends and family celebrated this milestone with a fun filled bash at J. Verno Studios on Pittsburgh’s Southside.  The night was filled with great food, dancing and even beautiful candy and dessert displays. The mood was as bright and lively as Toby’s color palate of fuchsia, purple, lime green and blue.

While entering J. Verno Studios, adult guests were welcomed into a lounge and bar area while the kids played trivia games in the ballroom, provided by Wenning Entertainment, winning prizes and kicking off the party.  Guests were also treated to a photo booth filled with a variety of costumes and hats to take pictures for the guest of honor. The photos from the photo booth were simulcast on large screens throughout the venue all night long. Kids (and even some adults) visited the airbrush tattoo artist throughout the evening to receive temporary airbrush tattoos.

The ballroom was divided into two areas, one area for the kids and the other side of the room for adult seating.

The kids’ tables were lined with pink and purple luminaria and provided open seating at long tables.  The kids had their own appetizer station of multi flavored popcorn and soft pretzel bites which later turned over to their own dinner station. The adult side of the room were seated at round tables and adults dined at a variety of dinner stations featuring a slider bar, Asian Station and more all provided by JPC Catering.  While the guests were all seated at their tables, they enjoyed a lovely slideshow of pictures of Toby through the years of growing up with her family and friends.

After dinner the fun really began with Soundtastic Enterprises getting everyone at the party up and dancing.  There was even a dance off between the boys and girls!  After dinner, guests were treated to a cookie table of homemade cookies donated by friends and relatives of Toby. This had special meaning to Toby as her mitzvah project was a bake sale held earlier in the year with all proceeds going to children’s cancer research.

As if that weren’t enough for any sweet tooth, mini milkshake shooters were passed and a candy buffet filled with goodies such as Reese’s cups, gummy worms, m & m’s  and so much more was available with personalized take out containers to fill and enjoy at the party and to take home.

This sweet night was a treat for both adults and kids. Mazel Tov Toby!


Amanda’s Bat Mitzvah

Amanda’s Bat Mitzvah

What an exciting bat mitzvah we had on October 13th!  Amanda, a tennis phenom, at her young age, wanted to share her love of the sport with all of her friends and family for her bat mitzvah.  We took her inspiration of tennis and her young energy to create a fun event for both the kids and adults!

While entering the venue, guests were able to find their designated table on paper tennis balls that were attached to real tennis nets.  The tables did not have numbers.  Instead, the tables were all names of cities in which Amanda has participated in tennis tournaments.  When adults arrived at their tables there were “statistic cards” which explained more details about each of the tournaments. The adult’s table centerpieces included 3-D pictures of Amanda at her designated city tournaments, and a giant tennis racquet with ball were raised high above the photo bases.

The kids were free to choose whatever seat they would like in “The Players’ Lounge”.  “The Players’ Lounge” featured fun balloon centerpieces with tennis ball bases.

Hanging from the ceiling were giant posters of Amanda playing tennis and “posing” with her favorite tennis pros for a dramatic effect.

Food was plentiful during the cocktail reception and it did not stop the rest of the night. Both kids and adults dined at stations set up by Common Plea Catering for dinner.   While a full bar was provided for the adults, kids were able to treat their taste buds to an Italian soda bar, where they could create their own flavored sodas!   Bella Christie Sweet Boutique created a beautiful tennis-themed spread of treats which also included fresh donuts made onsite from their donut cart.  Common Plea Catering passed mini milkshakes to enjoy while dancing.

MC Chris Cross really got the party going for both the kids and adults!  Though, the dancing was just one fun aspect of this party,  the digital graffiti wall seemed to be a popular place for the kids to hang out and adults and kids alike enjoyed getting decorated by airbrushed tattoos. All kids went home with a persoanlized drawstring back pack filled with lots of goodies including ­­­a custom designed beach towel and personalized candy and chapstick .  It was a fabulous event for a lovely young lady – best wishes Amanda!