Ways to Take Your Wedding, Mitzvah, or More from Typical to Personal

We have all seen the big, beautiful floral centerpieces dozens and dozens of times. They always look amazing and take people’s breath away; however, they do not necessarily convey a personal message about the couple. Adding that personal touch, or what we at SAVE The DATE call the “Eye Candy” of the event can really take it from average to unique; this typically begins with making a logo.

The idea of creating a personalized logo and incorporating it into various elements of the event is a growing trend in weddings and other social events. Traditionally, couples kept it simple with just a monogram; however, couples are now including photographs, full names, and images of things that are significant to them. The logo typically contains your colors and/or theme and says something about you; a traditional cursive monogram says something different than a modern, sleek font, so choose something that speaks to you as a couple. Once a custom logo has been created, it can be used for items like: personalized cocktail napkins or guest towels, favors, dance floor stickers, and more.

1000 Word Description for The Gala Awards – “Home Wasn’t Built in a Day”

This past fall we entered “The Gala Awards” for Special Events Magazine. We entered for the category of “Best Event Produced for a Private Individual: Budget $1,000 and Above Per Guest”; while we were ultimately not selected as a finalist, we are extremely proud of both this event and our entry, so we wanted to share it with you. We hope you enjoy!

On Saturday November Second of Thousand and Thirteen, the two hundred guests of Brian and April were invited to spend the evening touring their recently rebuilt home; celebrating with a lavish party that included a vast array of menu items, and an expansive list of entertainment. The event, “Home Wasn’t Built in a Day” was intended to premiere their three year process of rebuilding their home, increasing the size from approximately seven thousand square feet to seventeen thousand square feet. The night consisted of two elements; a two-hour cocktail party where guests visited different rooms of the home while being treated to themed foods and entertainment, and then a dinner and dancing reception within a grand tent that consisted of musical acts. Prior to the event itself, a great deal of work went into the process of selecting the invitations, entertainment, catering, and the additional vendors.

Brian and April, five-time-repeat clients, contacted us in late August saying they wanted to host a party to celebrate their new house. They already had a caterer that they use regularly, but needed creative ideas for showcasing their home and making it a fun evening. We began by visiting the house and creating a list of entertainment ideas that would guarantee guests enjoyed visiting every room and that the event was memorable. After coming up with ideas, the next step was creating the Save the Date and selecting their invitation.

As a nod to the modern era, the Save the Date was a video message sent via evite to all the guests telling them the hosts were formally ready to share their new home and to reserve the evening. For the official invitations, the family selected a gorgeous custom designed invitation by Arlene Segal that featured door like flaps that opened to reveal content written in black with gold glitter thermography ink. We assisted with the designing of the invitation as well as writing the language which consisted of a poem explaining what the party was in honor of, that the first two hours would be for a tour of the home, and that following the tour guests would be invited to a lovely dinner and dancing reception featuring several types of wine and many performers. Once the invitations were sent and the rsvp cards received (which included having guests say sell to the next bidder if they could not attend), we assisted in ordering matching escort cards and place cards, with the place cards in different colors to indicate meal choice. In the midst of all these pieces being ordered, talent had to be booked which was a process as well.

This client was more than willing to bring performers from all over the country as long as they were the best. While this made the evening more magical, some of the performers had specific needs that made the process of finding housing for them an enjoyable challenge. Once all of the entertainers were booked, we were able to focus on the day-of the party and how these various performers would be utilized within the two components of the event.

For the two-hour cocktail party, the hosts wanted to have each room featured on the tour highlighted in unique ways. The tour began with guests being transported from their cars to the house in golf carts. Upon arrival, attendees were welcomed into the home by “tour guides” in hard hats, given a blueprint of the home with tour details, and then directed into the Dining Room to formally begin. The dining room featured a champagne and caviar bar as a welcome before they really started their tour. After that, guests were invited to the Library, where a Harpist (Gail Shanta) treated them to some lovely classical music. Guests then sampled wine in the Mona Lisa of the home, a Custom Designed Wine Cellar made from imported Italian Marble featuring their private collection with well over five hundred bottles. From there, guests were directed into the basement of the home by one of the dozen tour guides stationed throughout the house. Once in the basement, attendees entered the bar/game room where Billiards Entertainer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman was demonstrating trick shots. After that guests were wowed by a full Raw Bar featuring Oysters and Crab Claws along with band “Two for the Road” singing stunning renditions of popular music. From there, guests visited the Movie Theatre, where there was a Hollywood Starlet along with sodas and popcorn while a film played, and then went onto the indoor basketball court to see Globetrotters legend Spinny Johnson show some moves while guests were treated to beer shots and nachos. After that, guests went up the back staircase and viewed the couple’s lovely master hot tub, master bedroom, and expansive walk-in closet. As a final stop on their way to getting their escort cards, guests were directed into the family room to enjoy the Jazz singing of “Simply Classic.” After these first two hours, guests were directed outside with their escort card for a brief walk to the tent to start the reception.

The entertainment continued from there; while guests were walking the short walk past the swimming pool into the tent, they were treated to DC Synchro, a local Synchronized Swimming group that performs with high heels on. From there, guests were in the tent where seven different types of wine were severed as part of the meal. Guests were also entertained by The Maccabeats, an all-male, Jewish a cappella group which was a surprise to April since they are one of her favorites; as well as a band out of Los Angeles, Haute Chile, and a DJ.

Overall, the evening was a magical affair that left guests mesmerized; and while it had its fair share of challenges, ultimately went off without a hitch and left guests none the wiser that there had been any mishaps.

*Hosts names were changed for privacy.

Article for University of Maryland Alumni Magazine

This is an article I wrote several months ago, and unfortunately Maryland wasn’t able to publish it, but I wanted to share it here because it highlights SAVE The DATE and my career. Hope you enjoy reading and look for new posts to come soon!

Weddings and Mitzvahs and Parties Oh My!

November 2013

CARA (WEISBERG) WEISS ’91 has made quite a name for herself in the party world with her business SAVE THE DATE – with events that included stars such as: N’SYNC and Dave Matthews Band.  Cara has consistently been voted Best of Bethesda Party Planner for several consecutive years, and has many repeat clients including a UMD alum – class of 2013 – who Cara worked with on her Bat Mitzvah, and her recent Wedding.

Cara followed up her degree from the College of Human Ecology at the University of Maryland, College Park by becoming a Certified Event Planner from The George Washington University School of Business and Public Management. Twenty years later, SAVE THE DATE is a booming business with a staff that includes three graduates from the University of Maryland – Weiss, Joel Weiss ’91, and Christine Ash ‘13.

SAVE THE DATE, LLC events and promotions your way, is a full service event planning firm with a slightly different twist. Weiss believes in educating her clients, teaching them how to plan their party, and sending them out her door with homework; this business model keeps the clients involved, and their pocketbooks happy. Cara originally built this business model as she felt somewhat excluded from the planning of her own wedding.

Cara and SAVE THE DATE recently moved into an office space – the business was previously located in her home – just off of Rockville Pike. The decision was inspired by a new addition to the business model, décor rental and consignment. The consignment business is intended to provide clients with the opportunity resell and/or purchase previously used décor to make decorating your event more affordable.

In addition to the events side of the business, Joel Weiss, Cara’s husband and business partner, offers Ad Specialty items such as shirts, pens, mugs, and more to assist businesses in spreading their name. This is a great addition to the event business as favors, or giveaways are an ever popular component in social events.  Cara and Joel have worked together to create both a successful business and a successful marriage, so they know how to assist clients in staying calm and organized despite all the stress with planning your own event. While planning is a great help, it is really the “day-of” side of the business that tips SAVE The DATE over the edge.

When it comes to your event, no amount of planning guarantees that you will have a successful event. Small fires occur at the last minute, guests need help during the party, a kid is dropped off at the wrong party venue (this is a true story that happened to Cara); as the host you want to feel that you were able to enjoy the party rather than taking care of the little things. That is why a SAVE The DATE day-of coordinator is so beneficial because they are there to make sure that problems do not overshadow the momentous occasion. Cara explains that her career has been to help ensure that people are able to relax and enjoy the special moments in their lives. Sometimes that means she acts as a therapist, but despite all the stress it is rewarding to know that you are helping your client enjoy a special time in their life because these celebrations are fleeting. Cara’s passion to helping people and being creative extends beyond just professional aspirations.

Over the twenty years of owning her own event planning company, Cara has used her skills and resources to support several causes near to her heart. She has been actively involved in her children’s schools, assisting with planning and decorating school dances, proms, and various fundraisers. In the past five years, Cara has become a Montgomery County Rep for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation; a cause near to her heart after her mother suddenly passed away from one.  More recently, Cara has accelerated her activism. She has created an annual event called Rockin’ 4a Cause, a fundraiser featuring the B Street Band (a Springsteen cover band), food, and silent auction items. Rockin’ 4a Cause is organized by Cara and Joel along with two additional couples and friends and it raises money for: The Brain Aneurysm Foundation, The Alzheimer’s Association, and The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.  It is an event that continues to grow, demonstrating Cara’s tenacity and her desire for personal advancement.

While Cara certainly has plenty to keep her busy between her business, her family, and her charity work, she is a creative dreamer, and as a result is in the process of developing a board game titled Mahj Jr., a game intended to teach children (and some adults) the basics of Mahj Jong. She was inspired to do this because she loved playing with her mother and she wanted to teach her children.

Cara is the living embodiment of the University of Maryland because she continues to grow, improve, and dream proving that there is still room for learning and creativity beyond the classroom and post-collegiate days.