Marcy Blum Associates
While Marcy Blum’s career switch may have been the theater world’s loss, it was, without a doubt, the wedding world’s gain. “I wasn’t going to be in acting any more because I couldn’t bear waiting tables,” the world-renowned planner, and principal of New York City’s Marcy Blum Associates, explains of her decision to apply to the Culinary Institute of America in the early 1970s. Fatefully, she was among the very first class of female CIA grads—an accomplishment that set her on a path of banquet-management jobs. It wasn’t long before denizens of New York’s social scene noticed her talent and starting tapping Blum to plan their private parties.
But Blum always had a special place in her heart for the emotion and grandeur of weddings, and it’s in weddings where the celebrated planner has made her most impressive mark. A consummate expert in wedding etiquette and tradition, Blum is known for creating opulent weddings that are, at the same time, whimsical and utterly unique. She describes her planning vision as a “constant struggle between how to make a wedding hospitable and gracious, and still have it be fun and different.”
It’s a struggle in which Blum, the mind behind countless celebrity events, a frequent collaborator with famed designer-to-the-stars Preston Bailey, and the force behind the popular blog, “The Adventures of Wedhead and Eventista (www.adventuresofwedhead.com),” is consistently victorious. Take, for example, a recent wedding ceremony in New York’s Frank Gehry-designed IAC Building, where Blum staged the vow exchange at the center of the room, having the bride and groom enter from opposite sides and meet in the middle—a “symbolic” gesture that moved not just wedding guests, but the veteran planner herself. “I was actually crying, which was very, very cool,” she recounts.
And while she’s an advocate of such proprieties as formal place cards (which “don’t have to match the invitation, but they do have to match the décor,” she instructs), and regal sit-down dinners that aren’t broken up by between-course dancing—a “much more gracious way of entertaining”—Blum also is all for cool, new twists like late-night “breakfast-to-go bars,” where guests can pick up custom-imprinted insulated bags filled with their choice of fresh-made morning nibbles.
However her clients choose to embrace tradition—or turn it on its head—Blum says she’s seeing a move toward smaller, more intimate weddings, where “a bride can focus on a lot more detail.” She cites niceties like “individual salt and pepper shakers,” fine wines that might be prohibitively expensive to serve to large groups, and “attention to tabletop detail that would seem gauche or be unaffordable for 300 people, but for 150 people is sweet.”
If you happen to be one of those modern brides who’s opted to trim her guest count, and finds herself with a little budget to spare, Blum recommends splurging on multiple spaces within one venue, rather than creating “a lot of commotion” by turning a ceremony space into a dinner reception while guests are off sipping cocktails.
And one more thing: “If you want to do something DIY, pick something like baking cookies for party favors, instead of doing your own centerpieces,” Blum advises. “At the very least, hire a planner. You want someone who’s completely on your side, and has no other agenda, but to be able to say, ‘That’s so fabulous—let’s figure out how we can fit that into your budget.’”