Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Capital Awards Flashback: A Red Hot Wedding!

As we lead up to the ISES Capital Awards, we're taking a little trip down memory lane to look back at past Engaging Affairs entries and winners. Today I'm remembering my entry for last year: the fabulous Lewis-Heinz wedding! The wedding of Sasha Lewis and Chris Heinz (renamed "A Red Hot Wedding" for the purpose of the Capital Awards) won the Capital Award for Best Wedding last year and was one of two international finalists for the Esprit Award for Wedding of the Year Budget Over $200,000. As you can probably guess, it was a freakin' amazing wedding!

I started working with Sasha and her mother early on and I just have to say that they were an absolute delight from beginning to end. Actually, everyone involved in the wedding was wonderful. The groom was charming and his staff was so easy to work with (and as we got closer there was plenty of coordinating between everyone's staffs).

We settled on the Mellon Auditorium pretty quickly, which was the perfect venue for a wedding for over 400 guests. The church was already set: St. John's across from the White House. The bride's family attended the church for years so it was a natural choice (and you can't beat the location). The bride's family had also worked with Occasions Caterers before and knew they wanted them to cater the wedding. Both Eric Michael and Joel Wolke from Occasions were so fabulous from beginning to end.

Other vendors fell into place easily. Celebrity wedding photographer Denis Reggie from Atlanta knew the Heinz family so was the clear choice for photography. Jenny Lehman was selected as the videographer for her cinematic and artistic style. The groom loved a band from California called "Tainted Love," but the bride's family also loved New York bandleader Bob Hardwick so we ended up having both bands, building a second stage and having two dance floors!

The floral designer from New York, Bronson Van Wyck, was a college friend of the groom and his sister, Mimi, and the whole team from Van Wyck and Van Wyck were amazing. They drove trucks down from New York days ahead of time and worked out of rented warehouses to pull it all together. The look was lots of red, funky banquette seating instead of all traditional tables and chairs; mirrored cubes and mirrored panels; and dramatic palms to create a supper club feel. It was sultry and sexy; not bridaly white!

It was an unbelievably gorgeous and unbelievably complex event (and also unbelievably cold on February 10th) with vendors flying in from all over the country to bring it together. In the end, I had five assistants to help me handle the nearly 450 guests (not to mention the incredibly complex seating arrangements). We didn't get the final table assignments until 9pm the night before the wedding so I was up until 3 am stuffing hundreds of escort cards, and Sara was putting the personalized menu cards in table groupings from 9 am until 3 pm the next day! I was on-site for four days (a day and a half for set-up, a day for the event and a day for break-down) and happened to be three months pregnant so by the end of the wedding, I was beyond exhausted. But it was all worth it as you can see from the pictures.

The event had so much drama and so much WOW factor that it is almost hard to remember all of the amazing things. My highlights were probably the moment after the bride and groom cut their ski mountain cake and the second band was revealed in a dramatic curtain drop behind the cake cutting; when the groom's stepfather, Senator John Kerry, jumping up on stage to play with the band; and when the frontman from the band Blink 182 sang a song for the bride a groom. All in all it was an amazing event for amazing clients!

What I loved most about the bride and groom was their sense of humor. They had a ski mountain cake instead of a traditional cake (both are world-class skiers) and even did their first dance (more of a jig then a romantic slow dance) to "Sleigh Bells." They were just plain fun and really had a great time at their wedding.

Here is the Dream Team from the award-winning bash:

Ceremony Site:St. John's Episcopal Church

Reception Site:The Mellon Auditorium

Event Designer and Florist:Van Wyck & Van Wyck

Photographer:Denis Reggie

Videographer:Jenny Lehman

Staging and Sound:All Stage and Sound

Band Backlines:Drums Unlimited

Fabric Draping and Kabuki Drop:A Vista Design

Piano Rental:Jordan Kitts

Dinner Band:Bob Hardwick Sound

Dancing Band:Tainted Love

Cake:Patty Cakes



Valet, Shuttles and Limos:Atlantic Valet

Bridesmaids' Hair and Makeup:Andre Chreky

Plant Rental:Plants Alive

Babysitters:Wee Sit

Museum Tour:National Gallery of Art

Welcome Cocktail Party Flowers:Helen Olivia

Welcome Party:Four Seasons Hotel

It was such a thrill to be part of such an amazing team! I was so impressed by how well the huge number of vendors worked together. Everyone was flexible and easy-going, even when they were exhausted. Each and every person involved deserves an award for pulling off an amazing event and making it look seamless.
I hope you all enjoyed my little trip down Capital Awards Memory Lane. We have more to come!