Now that we are in the midst of the end of year holidays we’ve been contemplating and being grateful for 2013. At the same time 2014 is like a distant season rapidly approaching, so we are taking the time now to overhaul our overgrown website and consider where we are going. Please take a few moments to give us some constructive feedback.
We are excited about the coming year and where it might take us. I hope you are having the same positive feelings about the coming year. As we clean house I found a blog from a few years back that I have decided to edit and repost as away of saying goodbye to the old. I hope you enjoy its reposting. I also hope the coming year brings you a wealth of prosperity, love and joy.
Whether you are planning your own get together with friends this holiday season, or planning on leaving the planning to someone else, here are some thoughts for both hosts and guests from PRO CREATION. I hope you enjoy its reposting.
1. The Invite List!-- Life is short, and time off to socialize is a very small percentage of that precious free time, so unless it’s a wedding or office politics are involved, I think home events during the holidays should be fun. Invite happy people to your get together and don't be afraid to police your own place for bad behavior. Grumpy, self-absorbed, contagious or uncomfortable guests can always be gently reprimanded, swept out the kitchen door or not invited in the first place. No apologies here. Celebrate with those, like you, who are grateful for what we they have, including special friends. The exception to this is of course family, and though we don’t always see the world through the same lens, good family no matter how untraditional, is still worthy of some slack.
2. The Music!-- This is complex topic. With a small group, some softer tunes in the background cannot only create a mood, it can make a group of strangers more comfortable talking, there is less awkwardness.... Long periods of silence can raise the level of social stress and therefore the ability for your guests to open up and converse. Changes in tempo and mood can also be used to liven up a dead party, signaling that there is a change of phase in your event – i.e. dinner vs. dancing or letting your company know its time to go home. Avoid dirges and depressing music. Think of your party music as the sound track to the party you want to have. Avoid music that is too loud to talk over unless you have places for your guests to escape the volume.
3. Eats and Where to Put Them!-- The average American gains 7-10 lbs during the holiday. Consider healthier choices of high protein and low carb treats and consider some creative displays of veggies and fruit. There are plenty of sources of recipes that are a delicious alternative to cheese balls and French onion dip. For social events I also suggest food stations throughout the home or venue. One buffet table works for sit down dinners but stations encourage movement and mingling. Make sure there are nonalcoholic drinks for your recovering friends, with the rise of the gluten intolerance diagnosis and vegetarians its nice to have some gluten free and veggie treats.
4. Planning!-- Any event planner will tell you that the two most forgotten items for any home are the ice and the wine opener. Either item can mean an embarrassing departure for you or a guest. We always suggest you plan ahead with each part of your get together...make lists... everything from what you are serving to what you are serving it in, to what you are serving it with. I like to set up my tables way ahead with empty plates marked with what goes in it and where it goes. You will be surprised how much an exercise like that help you remember. I also always make a DAY OF TIMELINE with every thing that needs to happen with approximate times attached to keep you on track. Even a pot luck can go bad with forty dishes and three spoons. Running out of bathroom tissue is another classic home party faux pas, make sure you are stocked in the bathroom too.
1. Bring Something! I was raised in the south where you never come empty handed to a private party. A bottle of wine (if appropriate), a small gift, ornament, cookies or at least a thankful holiday card are better then empty hands. Gratitude is rare these days and one of the hallmarks of social grace.
2. “We’re here!” Never arrive early unless you have talked to the host, days ahead of time about helping to set up. There are fewer things more annoying then the guests that arrive in the last few frantic minutes of preparing and getting dressed, throwing off your flow.
3. Behave! Know when its time to go: if your host is yawning, if the lights are being turned up or if the music has been subtlety turned off, you might be getting a hint that the host has had enough. Offering to help with dishes can be one of the best things a friend can do, otherwise get out. Be prepared to take your shoes off at the front door and PLEASE, know your own limits of drinking and eating, balance your own stories with listening to others and be the guest you would want in your own home.
Happy Holidays to ALL, no matter what you are celebrating this December, we wish you the best of the holiday season and a most glorious and prosperous new year.
David Butler (Designer) and Chris Mara (Event Planner)
I had a chuckle this weekend as we helped coordinate our third wedding at Freedom Run Winery. I had a sudden flashback to an Alumni Director’s Conference , one I attended in Nashville when I held that position at Medaille College. Near the beginning of the conference one of the speakers asked how many of us had wine bottle openers in our vehicles at all times, three quarters of us raised our hands and everyone laughed. We were all event planners and knew that was an often forgotten, yet vital item. In my more recent history, while attending another event as a guest, I happily provided a crisp sharpie from my pocket to the registration table where there were lots of names tags but nothing to write names with.
This weekend however, the need was more complex. The newlyweds had paid a soundman, to provide speakers and sound for the post wedding reception and they had also made a specific play list that would simply plug in and play. The whole evening was timed to music. As the guests arrived the sound was ready but the laptop had not appeared. We noticed the silence and the frustration of the bride’s maid --who was coordinating. I offered my ipod as an alternative to the silence and she smiled skeptically, and asked if I had any Frank Sinatra…. “of course I do,” I replied and within a few moments had produced at least something close to what was wanted, until the laptop finally appeared. I realized at that moment that along with a little bit of luck here, I had unwillingly, possibly subconsciously libraried a playlist on my little device for almost any occasion. I guess depending on our purposes and our experiences in life our minds work in different ways and have different contingencies for what “being prepared” means.
All in all the wedding and reception at Freedom Run was wonderful: the beautiful weather, the beautiful couple, a fun group of guests against a background of vineyards and blue sky that then transformed to a night of candles and starlight. For me, as the observer, this one was just about perfect.
With the recent ban on same sex marriage in the South and the president’s interview about Gay marriage, I have been taken back this week to Luna Island a few weeks before Kitty and Cheryle’s Wedding. I was doing a walk-through of the day and evening events with Kitty between the roar of the American and Canadian Falls. We walked discussing logistics of the potential crowd, timing the candlelight procession, as we dodged a summer throng of international tourists. We finally traversed the final steps to Luna Island where the final legal vows would be proclaimed. I remember a weird break in time, when the sound of the falls, the din of tourists, all the numbers, the committees, the park rules and planning suddenly was gone and the gravity of what was happening rushed in. For me this was new, for Kitty and Cheryle who had been directly part of the equality process maybe it was not. I looked at Kitty with tears in my eyes and we hugged, I didn’t have to explain why, she got it.
So now nearly ten months and three seasons later, I am proud to be part of the LGBT committee for Buffalo Niagara Tourism (Visit Buffalo Niagara). We are being made to feel vital in the discussions about the potential and growth of the economy in the region. Months ago their same sex marriage welcoming page had generated nearly 700,000 hits. My guess is that number has grown since our last meeting. I have also been invited to seminars on Canadian tourism and today an awards luncheon touting leaders in tourism for Western New York… the bottom line? There is an awakening in this "City of Good Neighbors" as more and more people become aware of what an awesome region this is (ie: I was just informed that we have the largest Garden Walk style event of city gardens in the country.) Its just a great manageable region to get married: hotels, marriage venues, arts and culture, shopping, food, music and its friendly and we are ready.
What is to be said today? I am saddened by the vote in North Carolina; I am pleased with the voicings of President Obama. If you can’t get married in your state... come on up here. We are ready to make your day special in a special town in a special state that believes love, romance and commitment is not exclusive.
So now...here we are, that first wedding is past -- and the huge wave of "let's do it now!" is over too. There seems to be time to breath for a minute. That second wave of same sex couples in love are sitting at a kitchen table or maybe on a front porch, trying to make decisions about what, where and when their special day is going to be. Since the vote in New York State, i have been pondering the big question: What is a gay wedding like? Do we copy the traditions of our parents? Do two woman have separate wedding showers? Do we have two same-sex cake toppers or does a same-sex wedding cake make a statement in a different way. Do both brides wear white? Is the stag party now visited by a reluctant Chippendale in a g string? How does the couple share the first bite of cake? Separate sides for the bride and bride? Do we keep the drunken "Alley Cat" and "Chicken Dance?" We have all seen it done poorly, sometimes with lasting repercussions. As a clan who has only been allowed, until recently, to be merely observers of weddings... maybe we can make the whole thing new and beautiful in a different way. What do you think?
This past week so much has happened: local theater in Buffalo, NY (the ALT at the Warehouse -- where I am on staff) had a benefit to raise money for our fall season. We had all the standard stuff; 3 hours of entertainment, Silent auction etc... We do a lot of new creative stuff there and my plan, was to read some love poems as part of the entertainment. Poems I have written to men over my twenty some years of being out. I was at home practicing these poems, when i suddenly burst into tears. The emotion came fast and unexpectedly. I had read these poems a zillion times to audiences in a variety of settings... but that night a week ago, something was very different. For the first time in all my years of dating men... i could get married to someone I loved. Wow.
So much has happened since that historic vote and there is more to come. Watch for some major website changes including photographs and a more user friendly event page, as well a blogs about what have cookin'.
AND THE BIG NEWS: we are extremely humbled, honored and excited to be the wedding planner for the union of Cheryle Rudd and Kitty Lambert -- New York State's first legal same sex marriage (Niagara Falls, NY, July 24.) Kitty and her partner were on the front lines and spent many hours talking to legislators, raising money and just being passionate about all of us having equal rights. In the process they were spit on, bible thumped, harrassed, threatened and screamed at-- so we want to make her wedding joyful. Watch for more details as we get closer BIG DAY!
David Butler is the owner of Pro Creation, a company based in Buffalo NY specializing in the