I had the opportunity to catch up with this lovely lady recently and hear all about her upcoming projects. In addition to working on her fabulous new book (don’t worry, I will remind RP readers about the pre order date) Samantha has started an amazing not for profit organization that everyone who is anyone is going to be talking about. The Dream Team is an organization that allows well deserving couples who have experienced recent hardship the opportunity to have a beautiful wedding. It is such a wonderful thing and Samantha and her long list of AMAZING vendors are pulling out all of the stops to give these couples the experience of a lifetime. Add these massive undertakings to the fact that she has just been named the national spokesperson for Party City, and you will find yourself wondering when the girl actually sleeps!
Samantha took a moment to answer RP Report’s favorite five questions for us during our chat. Her vivacious personality, incredibly creative nature and most importantly, her ability to keep me in stitches for an hour straight reminded me of why every bride around wants her on their team. Take a look!
RP Report: What is your favorite current trend in our industry?
Samantha Goldberg: As you know the exciting, invigorating world of events is constantly changing and evolving. As planners and designers are always looking to “one up” or surpass their last event, new trends are born quite frequently in our world. I would have to say that I really love the fact that color has become the focus. This year color is being used in a much bigger and bolder way. I have always been trained not to be afraid of color and texture, so obviously I have fallen in love with the trend of with mixing vibrant solids and various patterns in linens and even tableware! The simplest way to infuse style and dimension into your event is through the utilization of subtle accents. Adding a colored wine goblet to your table may only cost a client $2 a guest, but the effect is worth millions! It’s all about showing your originality. Don’t be afraid to let your events reflect your personal style. Throw the ‘cookie cutter’ out of the window. There is absolutely no reason for your wedding to look just like everyone elses. Create the trend… don’t follow it! The use of color is a great way to implement that advice. Sometimes adding a BIG splash of color is exactly my suggested prescription for a fabulous reception! It doesn’t hurt that it can also detract from something that may have less appeal.
RP Report: What trend do you wish would go away?
Samantha Goldberg: Honestly, I’ll hold my breath while saying it: GET RID OF THE TULLE! The trend (if you can call something that has been around since the dawn of a time a trend) of using this for pew bows and bouquet wrapping has to end, people! No matter how many options the antiquated companies that actually still push this style hazard have to offer. It looks cheap and common and unoriginal. Do yourself (and everybody else) a favor and go with high quality ribbon, draping or ivy instead. Another trend that needs to go away immediately is the chocolate fountain. First of all, they serve as the breeding ground for a plethora of bacteria once everyone “double dips”. Don’t deny it, we all have done it. And the worst thing about these little germ mines? It is not even real chocolate! It’s actually Dutch cocoa in many cases with vegetable oil added to give it that thick creamy consistency. If you are trying to recreate Willy Wonka, this is not the way to go. This is NOT the chocolate river people. It looks pretty, but there are so many other options. Chocolate dipped fruit can be given individually. If you want to spice things up and are absolutely obsessed with the dipping factor, try a fondue course at your wedding. Each guest has total control over their own little fondue pot and the chocolate which is in a smaller quantity and heated for a shorter amount of time, is actually real.
RP Report: What do you think will be the next ‘big thing’ in special events (does not need to be in your area of the event industry, but can be)?
Samantha Goldberg: I love that the changes in our industry seem to be inspiring event hosts to want to create an actual ‘experience’ for their guests. You’re definitely going to see more of the family culture infused into receptions. They may hire entertainment that is specific to their ethnic background and traditions to perform for their guests. It really is becoming about putting on a fabulous show for your nearest and dearest. Incorporating your heritage into the evening is a wonderful way of sharing it with your friends. What we are hearing from clients on a regular basis is that they want the event to be more interactive. They want to keep people mingling, laughing and of course, dancing! I strongly believe that this attitude has helped to lead to the sudden influx of cocktail and station receptions. I think that we are going to see a huge shift in attitude about this concept. We are really starting to get away from the typical plated meal and move towards action stations that remain open all night. Face it, prime rib/salmon looks gross half the time and to try and make it for 300 plus guests is going to be a waste. It’s a waste of food. You’re better off giving them Wendy’s. Not everyone appreciates a rare slab of beef. The cocktail reception on the other hand (provided that the action stations are done well) has been proven to keep people interactive. All of your guests can eat as little or as much as they want, when they want, and they can even customize the dish! You are going to find that several venues are now offering high quality versions of this idea. Let’s face it, what is the best part of the wedding? Cocktail hour! Imagine a cocktail hour on steroids that lasts until dessert!
RP Report: What is your favorite event that you have ever worked on, and why?
Samantha Goldberg: It’s hard to pick just one! I would have to say one that really stands out was a wedding that I had planned for a couple in who wanted to hold their event in a semi- completed greenhouse by the shore. We were able to incorporate flowers everywhere without even trying! Hence, the greenhouse is a great idea if you want to save on floral design! We separated tables with bushes, hung ivy plants on the metal structure of the greenhouse and it was truly amazing how everything came together! The couple was from Germany, and I couldn’t understand a word that they said. In fact, I don’t even know if they liked my design. But based on the head nods and smiles, I think I did a great job! This is just one that stands out, but I would have to say all of my favorite events are the ones where the client relinquishes some of their creative control and allows us to ‘do our thing’. They give us a concept and trust that we will create a one of a kind event for them. I know it takes a great deal of trust to turn over your wedding and then have faith that the designer will fulfill your vision. A word of advice to the brides: Do your homework. Really study the various styles of the planners that you are choosing from and pick one who moves you. Then take a deep breath and trust us. I promise that you will get much better results. A happy designer with creative freedom is one that will go out of his or her way to produce a wonderland for you… simply because you are allowing them to. Take my word for it!
RP Report: In the spirit of community, if you had to recommend one vendor or venue who you think does fabulous work, who would that vendor/venue be, and why?
Samantha Goldberg: After being in the event industry for almost 19 years, I cannot pick just one vendor! They are all so important for many different reasons. I really enjoy working with A Touch of Elegance. Lisa and Michael are both so much fun to work with. When I have a design in mind, Lisa is a master at picking up on the idea just by reading the chicken scratch I give her. She has recently told me that my ‘special ideas send her into a panic sometimes! I do try to push the limit with design. But the end result is always amazing. I think it’s important to work with vendors that want to grow with you creatively.
Another element that I cannot live without is lighting. Most of the event designs that I create are not going to work without effective lighting. I have worked with Visions Lighting in NJ and Blackbird in NYC on many occasions. They are great with accommodating my requests and working within the budgets of my clients, no matter how big or small. I love when I have great chemistry with a vendor. I don’t need to watch their every move because they just get me. I know that seems unimaginable! I know that they will deliver a masterpiece each time. And when I need something that just isn’t possible, they are always there to offer solutions and inspired alternatives so that I will be able to accomplish my goal.
I also need a great deal of variety and flexibility when dealing with rental item. Options are everything! Party Rentals Ltd. are the best. They have everything! I have worked with Debbie Barnes on many occasions and if I need something that they don’t carry, she will find a way to make it happen. I can always count on PRL to work with me at bridal shows, my classes on design or any project I am working on.
Let’s talk photographers and videographers now! I have so many I could list but will try to keep it short. Seriously Anj, I don’t want your readers to think I am accepting an Emmy here or something! Kenny Pang in NYC, Gulnara Studios, Wendy G and Milton Gil are some of the most talented photojournalists in the tri-state area. I never have to ask them to take detail shots. They always know how to make a centerpiece, room or client look amazing! I rely on these vendors to help me show off my work as well. It’s a reciprocated need. We both use the end result to show future clients exactly what we can do if given the chance! I have had limited means for design with certain clients and they still make the room look amazing. If you can make a simplistic vase with a floating candle and orchids look amazing, I would say that you are one heck of a photographer! They are masters at getting the shot!
Thanks to the lovely Samantha Goldberg for ‘wasting the afternoon away’ with me and sharing her story and insight!
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