Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Day In The Life With An Upscale Party Coordinator

Centerpieces Closeup

I'm actually an incredibly lucky person, sometimes. My next-door neighbor, Sheila, is a party designer. So this means that her job includes the interior design of extravagant parties; think Platinum Weddings, since one of her parties was featured on it! She works for the floral company, Atlas, which is based in New York City. To make this a slightly easier day to follow, here it is, broken down in sections:
6 A.M.: Wake up, shower, 3 sips of shitty, homemade iced coffee. Throw on jeans and a teeshirt. First time wearing jeans in 3 months due to the weather.
7 A.M.: Meet Sheila outside my house in her BMW, and we make our way into the city over the 59th street bridge easily. Casual conversation including her recent trip to France on a wine tour with her darling celebrity friend who I shan't discuss here, fascination with foreign languages (Japanese, primarily), and warnings about the people we would soon encounter.
8:15 A.M.: Park the car in a garage near her office, get $5 worth of breakfast gas for the two of us. Rush to the Taj Pierre, incredibly ritzy hotel on the Upper East Side (i.e., not my stomping grounds...) where the wedding reception is taking place.
9 A.M.: After eating breakfast, Sheila introduces me to the rest of the crew: Joe, a spanish guy who has a cute, potato-shaped head; Buddy, a coca-cola addict who never shuts his russian guts up; Urico, this absolutely precious Japanese woman who has worked for Atlas 15 years; Amy, an angry Chinese woman, and Barry, the boss's son who got stuck being an Atlas manager after graduating college.
9:10 A.M: Meeting the bride's neurotic father, who had 12 separate coordinators meticulously every second of the entire wedding procession from up to three days before. I saw the master schedule; it was harmful to my health. Had to talk to the happy trillionaire.
9:20 A.M.: Shadowed Shiela, who basically walks around and makes sure everyone is doing as she designed. Centerpieces begin to assemble, and I get stuck with meeting random people, etc. Eventually fall into the rhythm of alternating between stalking Shiela around the space and building flower arrangements. I also realized that the family was Jewish and that they would be married under a giant canopy made of live birch trees that had been cut THIS MORNING.

Closeup view of the Huppah

12 P.M.: Lunch. Barry and I are sent to retrieve the Italian orders of salads and pastas (and his hero...) from downstairs. Not permitted to use the front entrance because we are "staff". After, we continue building. I find myself sprawling moss underneath clusters of hydrangea and roses in the center of tables. I learn to use a clipper without killing myself.
2 P.M.: During a stalking trip with Sheila to visit the room where the Huppah is located, we realize that the idiots who are putting it together cut some of the trees up. After a minor brain hemmorage, Shiela guides the laborers to safer shores.


3 P.M.: Recruit Barry to help me create small clusters of flowers to go around the base of the centerpieces. After he repeatedly insists that his 23-year-old self is not a florist in any way, I continue to talk to him as the only normal laborer in the room, and make him help me finish them anyway. We were one short. But we had a nice bonding session, talking about relationships, being young, going to college. Living?
4:30 P.M.: Flown in from Los Angeles, the set director for the soap opera The Young And The Restless is here at the wedding, another coordinator working among the busy bees. She has a runner monogrammed with the date and names of the bride and groom. She is blonde and middleaged.
5 P.M.: Deliver the bouquets to the bridal party suite. Each bridesmaid wears a different color (turquoise, navy, salmon, silver, pink, burgundy) with a respective bouquet that compliments their color. All the dresses are made of the same fabric and wear the same shoes. Sheila feeds me a very soft, yummy, chocolate chip cookie from the suite before we escape back to chaos. Dadzilla is back, asking me and Barry to show him what the centerpieces will look like when they're finished... because we had a product to show? No...

Wrought-iron gate for the bride's entrance

5:30 P.M.: The bridal table is too small to hold the bridal arrangement! Buddy must now muster his dignity and find a larger table- after much searching, he does. He makes the arrangement smaller. The turmoil is dealt with while Sheila and I visit the wedding cake, which was created by the famous baker Sylvia Weinstock, who is basically a huge cake bigshot who has a lot of awesome choices for her cakes available. All the flowers on the cake were handmade of gum paste, and are completely edible. It smelled so tasty walking by.

The wedding cake!

6:45 P.M.: Finishing touches, adding miscellaneous flowers around the room. Buddy and Joe want me to join them tomorrow for a wedding at the New York Botanical Gardens, but I politely decline. I stalk Sheila, who makes her rounds and lets us see the escort table, and throws more flowers on the gate.

Closeups of the flowers on the gate

7 P.M.: Final checks with the neurotic family before Sheila and I quietly slip out.

Final shot of the centerpieces

7:30 P.M.: We make our way to the Time Warner building, very close by. We decide to eat at the Landmarc, a very chic and non-touristy restaurant that neighbors the #1 most expensive restaurant in New York City, Per Se. However, Landmarc has a great menu (which I stole...) which includes cultured cuisine that everybody can find a meal from. They sell wine by the half-bottle. Sheila has a chicken burger while I have a hamburger; both were absolutely amazing, thick and rich in flavor.
8:40 P.M.: We order dessert after rapid speech about the Hamptons, lifetime philosophy and travel affects on mental health. The menu offers creme brulee, bluberry crumb cake, lemon tart, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and several yummy other treats, along with a smattering of ice creams and sorbets. We got a tasting tray of coconut, apple, and milk chocolate sorbet/ice cream, and a small slice of lemon tart, a cup of chocolate mousse, and a delicious creme brulee. To my surprise and delight, a "bread basket" of cotton candy came too! It was absolutely divine and it made my day.

Cotton Candy in a bread basket

9:30 P.M. Leave the city for our neighboring homes, smooch goodbyes, and rush inside to write about everything!

Now, be honest: Can you really imagine how much a wedding like that costs? They had a ton of money's worth of flowers, lighting, and sound systems instituted in one of the most expensive hotels in new york. They had girls dress up in kimonos and serve sushi during the cocktail hour. They had two separate teams of photographers; and a painter, all to capture the wedding in every way. It's ridiculous. It's awesome. Designing such parties is a dream job for anyone, no?


Anonymous said...

wunderful flower pics!

Annie Spandex said...

Wow, yeah, very lavish!

Shin said...

Sounds like a fabulous wedding! Can't imagine spending that much for my wedding but I won't complain anyways :-) xxooxxo


So beautiful flowers!
So expensive it must have been!!

Thanks so much for your sweet comment!
I love it so much!!