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celebrations A special section of The Rivertowns Enterprise , February 24, 2012

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hen you look at your wedding photos years from now, will you see a bride with a glowing face, flawless shoulders and perfect hair and makeup? If you’re spending big bucks for a wedding dress and headpiece, it makes sense to also invest in skin, hair and makeup to make sure everything about your look is picture-perfect. Experts at top Westchester salons provided input on the best beauty treatments for anyone preparing for a big event. Experts agree — don’t do anything extreme directly before the wedding. That includes aggressive facial treatments such as dermabrasion or chemical peels. If you’re contemplating any facial service, ask the salon what the “downtime” is after the treatment. That said, spas offer a host of treatments. Some are gentle enough to be done directly before the event, while others should be done well in advance. At Julius Michael Salon in Scarsdale, stylist/colorist Jennifer O’Neill recommends a gentle rejuvenating facial. “It just makes the skin feel fresh and takes away the top layer,” O’Neill said. This type of facial doesn’t involve any pore extractions or peels, so there’s no “downtime” for potential irritation. “It’s moisturizing so makeup sticks nicely,” she said. O’Neill also recommends that brides come in for a hair and makeup trial a few weeks before the wedding. “They should have their headpiece with them,” she advised. “Sometimes, they have something in their head, and realize after we try it that it’s Continued on page 10A

It’s their party: terrific teen events By JACKIE LUPO


t’s my party!” Parents of bar/bat mitzvah kids and soon-to-be sweet 16s, take note of these three words. If you’re planning a big event and you’re thinking about an elegant dinner where everyone sits on gilded chairs for a three-course meal, start thinking more like a child, and get the child of honor involved from the beginning. It’s a family event, but it’s your child’s party. Personalize it Your child will probably have lots of

ideas for a theme, and big events such as bar/bat mitzvahs and sweet 16s are more exciting when they do have a motif. It can be anything you like, but it should be something the child is interested in. A shy boy who likes to read and to play adventure games on his computer might be horrified at the very idea of a karaoke party. Obviously, any party planning starts with a budget. Once you start to look around at venues and talk to a few party planners, you’ll get an idea of the costs involved. Renting a space because the space itself is spectacular — the Metropolitan Museum, say, or the New York Public Library — is going to cost a bundle, and doesn’t lend it-

self to themes or personalization. But a big, empty loft or airplane hangar can become anything at all in the hands of a skillful event planner, and probably for a lot less money. A sweet 16 girl who was an avid celebrity-watcher had an awards show theme for her party, complete with an actual red carpet outside the venue, a photographer to snap guests as they entered and a Joan Rivers impersonator to interview the “celebrities” on the red carpet. Inside, guests had their pictures taken with “virtual” celebrities, with the kids put into the picture with real movie stars via computer. Room Continued on page 12A

Great gift ideas for every occasion By EVE MARX


h oh. The invitation has arrived in the mail and while you’re excited, even delighted to have been asked to attend the wedding/anniversary party/bridal shower/graduation/guest of honor/job promotion, you’re already breaking a sweat about what to give. Nailing down that perfect gift (even harder if you don’t know the recipient all that well) can be a problem, unless you’ve got professional hints and tips. Marie Labropoulos, owner of Kalliste Soap Shop in Scarsdale, and purveyor of a unique, artisanally made line of all-natural skincare, said a popular item from her shop is the gift basket, which she will customize. The shop stocks an insanely delicious sound-

ing and smelling collection of handmade all-natural soaps, including coffee, oatmeal vanilla, fennel poppy, lavender, almond and rose. Certainly a great gift for a guy would be the beer soap, accompanied by the Whisky Whiskers shaving kit. The store also makes soaps that look just like cupcakes. Pretty sweet!

“The basket may include the cupcake soap or the cake soap slices,” Labropoulos said. When customers suggest her soaps look and smell good enough to eat, Labropoulos said, “Well, many of the ingredients we use are edible. Many are made with olive oil. We try to keep it as pure and clean as possible, and of course we use no products made from animals.” Labropoulos, who is American, but spent summers making soap with her grandmother in Greece — “I learned at an early age” — said all her soap is made to her specifications right in nearby Hartsdale and sold in shops across the United States. “My grandmother was a soap maker and I learned it all from her,” she said. “I like to call it boot camp when my parents sent me to Greece every summer.” Kalliste Soap Shop also specializes in custom party favors. “Soap can be molded into any shape,” Continued on page 2A



Great Gift ideas Continued from page 1A

Labropoulos said. “We do soap party favors for bridal showers, birthday parties, we can match or create anything.” She talked about little soap lambs she created for a bridal shower that were a huge success. When asked if the shop ever creates any soap that is erotic, she said, “Of course. We’re also thinking of bringing back a soy-based massage candle we used to have. When you light the candle, it melts into massage oil.” “I think people really appreciate soap as a gift,” Labropoulos said. “Soap can be very personal, but at the same time, it’s also a gift you can give to someone you don’t know well at all. I also get people coming in the shop who say they need something for someone who already has everything. But everyone can appreciate a beautiful handmade soap.” All the soaps in the shop are made with essential oils, not commercial fragrance. No nut oils are used. The soaps are all certified by PETA. The shop carries various soaps that work well with various skin types. “We have soaps that are gentle enough even for people with very sensitive skin or allergies,” the soap mistress said. What’s the hands-down most popular soap she sells? “The tea tree and black clay,” Labropoulos declared. “I think that’s because the soap is black. You always associate clean with white, so a black soap is a bit funny.” Darci DeMatteo, proprietor of Say Cheese And Thank You, an exciting shop in Dobbs Ferry, sells stationery, books, candles, wrapping paper, cheese spreaders, coffee cups, picture frames and much more. DeMatteo is a also a professional photographer specializing in family portraits and children’s pictures. Her shop is bursting at the seams with perfect gifts.

Gifts aplenty at Say Cheese and Thank You.

“Candles are always a hit,” DeMatteo said. “We carry three different companies that we re-order from over and over: Archipelago, Lafco and Jonathan Adler. Jonathan Adler is very current, popular and very much in style. He has such class and puts a fashionable twist on everything. We carry fabulous wine corks in the shape of a hand making a peace sign and a handlebar moustache — great gifts for men and women. And anything for the kitchen works great as a hostess gift.” Since DeMatteo’s background is photography, she loves the idea of photography as a special occasion and celebration gift. The best gifts, as many professional gift consultants have noted, is the gift of an experience. What could be more of an enduring experience than creating a beautiful picture? “I like to shoot outside using natural light

and natural surroundings,” DeMatteo said. “A photograph is very personal and thoughtful.” She suggests having the photo printed on canvas, which can then be turned into a pillow or be framed. “We offer that service in the store,” she said. Stationery, she maintains, is an excellent gift. “I love stationery as a special gift,” she said, with an emphasis on the word “love.” “Personalized stationery is special and meaningful as the recipient will feel especially honored you took the time to have their name printed on note cards.” She reminded that, “Email is not an acceptable form of saying thank you to anyone! A handwritten personal note thanking someone for a gift, a dinner, for an interview, that’s prudent and essential.” DeMatteo advised the best gifts for people you don’t know should be more generic.

February 24, 2012 “Nothing with too specific a pattern, style or design,” she said. “Candles, lotions and potions, a scarf, possibly a cosmetic bag or a coffee table book — these are all useful items that can cover any gender or any age.” Mary Mayland of Baxter & Co. in Katonah has been a gift expert for years. “My big thing is don’t think inside the box,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be ‘the thing’ that everyone is giving that year. Go for something unusual. Don’t fall back on the same old ideas.” Mayland, whose merchandise is now displayed on the prestigious shopping site 1stdibs.com, advises giving a couple something for their home. “Make it something they can enjoy that’s not like anything else they’ve got,” she said. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Baxter & Co. has outstanding gifts priced under $30. Right now Mayland is stocking German-colored glass bowls, dog head hooks and a small multitude of painted cast iron horses, pigs and dogs to be used as table-top toys or doorstops. She has antique chests, multiple hand painted side tables, lamps, chandeliers, dog portraits in oils, Low County Luxe sea grass candles and lots of horsey stuff. Mayland shared a personal gift-giving story: “A friend of mine’s daughter was getting married. I don’t know the daughter at all. The couple are registered at Tiffany’s and Williams-Sonoma, but I didn’t want to go that route. So I looked around my own store and selected for them an antique sterling silver Gorham ruler. It’s so beautiful. I brought it home and polished it and put it in a box and then I realized I was in love with it, so I decided to keep it for myself. I ended up giving them an antique wine bucket. Nobody else will give that, and they’ll love it. Everybody can use a wine bucket.”


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Feel the beat with best party music choices By MARY LEGRAND


ne of the biggest decisions in party planning involves choosing the type of musical accompaniment and who will perform it on the big day. After all, as President Ronald Reagan said, “Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.” Deciding to have music accompaniment is the easy part. But should it be live or provided by a disc jockey or emcee, or perhaps even some combination of both? Nicholas Wells, a singer/songwriter from Katonah, has entertained at a wide variety of celebratory events for a number of years and says there are a number of factors to consider. “Making that decision of deejay versus live band depends on what type of music is going to be played and what kind of audience is going to be listening,” Wells said. “A deejay comes in very handy if it’s a party where you’re looking for some top 40 dance music, if you’re looking for harddriving beat-based sounds that you can’t get from any acoustic instrument. You can’t hire a band to emulate that.” Live music, he continued, “is perfect for outdoor events like big parties in the summer. Weddings are great with a live band because, especially for the more intimate songs, such as ones for the couple’s first dance, there’s a different energy than listening to songs you’ve already heard on

recordings. What’s great about having a band is that you’re really able to hear the various parts of a song.” Another party option especially popular during weddings or corporate events is to have quieter acoustic music played during the cocktail hour. Wells, a vocalist who also plays the guitar and piano, is available for these kinds of events. Robert Moschetta, who owns Entertainment & Sounds Unlimited in Mamaroneck, said that a large part of his business is advising clients about the kind of music and additional entertainment that

are right for their particular situations. He said about 95 percent of his clients come to him through word of mouth, or they have quite literally heard his firm’s work at an event to which they’ve been invited. Potential clients are first asked to come into Entertainment & Sounds’ office. “I want them to meet me and meet my team and get comfortable,” Moschetta said. “Particularly with a wedding, the situation is stressful, sometimes overwhelming for a lot of folks. We like to bring them in and help make them at ease as far as the entertainment goes.”

Moschetta said the in-office meeting provides his staff the opportunity to ask general questions about what the partygiver is trying to achieve through music. “We never try to hammer a square peg into a round hole,” he said. “With a wedding, for example, if they’re the type of couple who are maybe a little more laid back, we need to deliver a product that mirror images them.” Clients are much more sophisticated than they were even a few years ago, Moschetta said, with many asking for complicated lighting and multimedia presentations along with musical accompaniment. One popular musical option, particularly for bar and bat mitzvahs, is “fusion” entertainment. “If mom and dad want the band and the kids want the deejay, fusion is perfect,” Moschetta said. “It’s when the deejay and band or live musicians come together. There was a lot of segregation before — a deejay might play only at one time during an event, then the band at another — but now we often have live percussion, saxophone or electric violin playing with recorded music.” The concept of fusion entertainment works well when there is acoustic or lightly amplified musical accompaniment at the beginning of an event, but louder, more beat-based music planned for dancing later in the evening. “We like jazz ensemble cocktail hours, and then those musicians can play during the down time inside the wedding reception and add live entertainment to the Continued on page 5A

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Dance the night away By TRACI DUTTON LUDWIG


hen the party rhythms surge, where are you? Sashaying onto the dance floor with the mambo queens and kings? Or cultivating a garden of poor excuses to stay planted at your table, engrossed in deep conversation… about the weather? Dancing is about confidence and joy, movement and music. Teasing your feet around a sequence of steps is great, but being able to kick up your toes with a big smile and a flash of attitude is even better. As calendars fill with celebrations — weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, milestone birthdays, spring flings and black tie soirees — now is the time to polish your skills for a lifetime of fun. Break out those shoes. The good news is that anyone can learn to dance. With a few lessons and a bit of practice, beginners soon find measurable progress in mastering grace on the dance floor, merging body with music, connecting with a partner and having a good time. To make yourself into the best dancer you want to be, experts from some of

Westchester’s best studios turned up the volume and chimed in. Here’s what they had to say on favorite topics like special wedding dances, smooth social dancing and ballroom instruction for kids. Brides and grooms A bride and groom’s first dance is as important as their first kiss. It is an unforgettable moment that can be relived whenever the couple dances together during their married life. The best wedding dances “should reflect the bride and groom — as individuals and what they are like as a couple. It should be about their connection, and it should make them feel good,” said Juliet Sitaram-Milo, coordinator of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, in Hartsdale. Couples interested in learning a dance for their wedding have the options of an individually choreographed routine or generalized dance instruction, which includes basic steps and musical timing for one or more social dances. Hartsdale FADS averages about five or six wedding couples per month, with each pair following a program that has been customized to their needs. “The more time a couple has for this, the more sophisticated their dance can be,” Sitaram-Milo said. “We have had people come in anywhere from one year to one week before their wedding, and they have


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always experienced a benefit. However, the average time needed for achieving really satisfying results is a minimum of three to six months of instruction.” A good place to start planning a wedding dance is with a selection of music. Many songs are adaptable to different dance styles, so teachers encourage couples to bring in several favorite songs or albums. “Most music is danceable,” Sitaram-Milo said. “The choice depends on personal taste.” Some couples prefer a traditional love song to match a traditional wedding. Others are looking for contemporary music that holds special meaning in their relationship. Regardless, it is the personalization of the choice that helps personalize the dance, and it can be the fire that ignites its vibrant energy. What is popular now? According to Sitaram-Milo, “The waltz remains a top choice for weddings; however other romantic and fun dances are gaining popularity. There is lot of interest in foxtrot and swing now — and in the Latin dances, such as rumba.” While learning particular sequences and techniques enhance the performance aspect of a successful first wedding dance, it is equally important that a couple learns to feel ease and enjoyment while dancing. “The experience of learning to dance is

February 24, 2012 not just about memorizing steps. It’s a whole process that is physical, mental and emotional. It’s powerful and transformative … When you dance with another person, it’s about creativity and give and take. It’s a very special interaction,” Sitaram-Milo said. Through the experience of learning to dance together, the couple grows together. When the lessons are over, they will walk away with so much more than just a dance. They will have created positive memories of dancing together, of finding a synergy in the dynamics of lead and follow, and of creatively actualizing their connection as a couple. Individually, they will have also gained confidence in themselves. “We love to watch the development,” Sitaram-Milo said. “In the beginning, the couple might be shy and want to take their lesson in our smaller, private studio room with a door. But after a few lessons, they feel more comfortable and move out into the large, open studio space with windows and where other people can see them … They are blossoming by creating a dance together. They will remember it forever, and they are sharing an experience of a lifetime.” All in all, a very good metaphor for a successful marriage. Social dancing Who is having more fun at a party — the couple catching smiles on the dance floor or the shy souls hiding out in the restroom all night? The answer is clear, but with a surprising reality. What separates these characters is nothing more than the knowledge of a few dance steps, the practice of a few skills and the confidence to rock it. “When it comes to dancing, one of the biggest obstacles is a person’s own fear of failure. The mind can amplify this fear into a nightmare in which the person imagines himself dancing, with everyone else pointing and laughing,” said Jesse Benedetti, a multiple U.S. and world champion in cabaret dance and a nationally recognized ballroom dance teacher at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Mamaroneck. “First of all, the nightmare never happens, but the fear in the psyche is very real. So, as teachers, our job is to offset this fear by convincing students that they can and will learn to dance. It’s not a question; it’s a guarantee. “If you really look at people dancing at most parties and events, at least 90 percent of them are just swaying back and forth like they did in high school. Therefore, if you learn a few basics of any dance, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd.” Lessons enable a more sophisticated look. Even beginners with a limited dance repertoire can impress. Moving together on the floor, creating a connection and keeping time to the music — rather than just dancContinued on page 6A

February 24, 2012



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deejay portion,” Moschetta said. One of the many advantages of talking at length with clients is that Moschetta’s team at Entertainment & Sounds often learns about special requests. “There’s always room for them in any kind of event,” he said. “For example, there might be a Sinatra tribute for the young at heart, or even the repeating of a special song from the bride or groom’s parents’ wedding.” Moschetta emphasized that no matter the type of music a client chooses, firms must be prepared to provide more than just a simple element of entertainment. “We’ve morphed into roles where we’re providing multiple services — the singers, the musicians, the special effects,” he said. “We’ve evolved into the ultimate party planner. An event has to be great from the beginning stage when someone first walks in to the very end, and in between we’ve woven in all of these unique and different elements. That way we know we’ve done our job, especially in the New York market.” Paul Scatt, owner of Stolen Moments Entertainment in Dobbs Ferry, describes his firm as a “full-line entertainment company. We have deejays, Caribbean steel bands, classical musicians, trios and harpists, jazz trios and, of course, full-size bands as well.” Stolen Moments’ clients initially fill out a basic questionnaire before they come in for their first appointment. “We have a lot of discussions with clients,” Scatt said. Examples of what comes into play when a


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Ardsley Mall 871 Saw Mill River Road client is picking musical accompaniment for an event can range from ethnic background to the type of event and where it’s taking place. “If you’re doing an event in some of the upscale locations, 90 percent of the time the client will book some sort of live band and will book live classical music for the ceremony or cocktail hour,” Scatt said. Weddings or corporate events, he said, often involve a “deejay wraparound” in which the live band is succeeded by a deejay in the final hour of the party. “The room then turns into a night club, with the younger group staying on after most of the older guests have left for the evening,” he said. All of the entertainers agreed that the client’s needs come first, whether the event is a wedding, sweet 16 party, 50th anniversary celebration or corporate gathering. “We truly care about these special events,” Scatt said. “They can be nervewracking for the hosts, and we try as hard as possible to ensure that every party’s entertainment is specialized. That way, the clients get exactly what they want.”

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Dance Away

Dance party playlist

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ing around it — adds polish to any dance. The first step is to just get started. Studios offer a wealth of options from group classes to private instruction, during the day and at night, to satisfy individual needs and budgets. “Regardless of your age, level, ability or disability, dancing can be for you,” Benedetti said. “There is nothing negative about it. It can be different things for different people, but it’s all totally positive. It’s good for your health. It’s inherently joyful, and it’s infectiously energetic. I’ve never heard anyone complain about or regret dancing, except to wish they had started it sooner.” For the most accomplished and efficient learning, a professional teacher is key. Benedetti compared it to any other profession: “Just like you wouldn’t want a part-time doctor, you don’t want a nonserious dance instructor. A professional teacher ensures quality of instruction by formatting material to each student’s goals and rate of learning. Plus, professionals teach success through their own years of training.” What can a new student expect? Typically, the first few lessons act as a positive introduction to social dancing, with tangible results. While students are learning basic steps and sampling a variety of popular dances, these lessons are primarily designed to build confidence. “It’s important to keep fear out of the way,” Benedetti emphasized. “You’ve got to keep putting yourself out there. Be an actor if necessary. Present yourself as the dancer you want to be, and you will get there. Remember to look confident, stand tall and smile … Fake it till you make it.” With dance, learning is clearly progressive. Each day a student dances, he or she

Salsa: “Salsa y Sabor” by Tito Puente; “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira Cha-cha: “Backseat” by New Boyz; “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz Rumba: “Ring my Bell” by Enrique Iglesias; “Sway” by Dean Martin Swing: “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5; “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf Waltz: “Open Arms” by Journey; “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones Foxtrot: “Fever” by Elvis; “I’m Your Man” by Michael Buble Samba: “Drop it on Me” by Ricky Martin; “Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti

will become better than the previous lesson. “Patience will get you to your goals. If you are dancing at least once a week, you will continue to learn more than you continue to review. If you can dance more frequently, it’s even better,” Benedetti said. In addition to lessons, many studios host regular parties for increased development. As supervised social events, these parties enable students to safely exercise their burgeoning self-confidence and practice new steps and skills. Opportunities to dance with new

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and different people — not just the familiar teacher or partner — strengthen lead and follow skills and help students evolve into more proficient dancers. To prepare for a specific social event, lessons are recommended for at least eight to 10 weeks in advance of the event. However, good results can also be achieved through crash courses. According to Benedetti, “If you’re working on your dancing in a very intensive manner — several days a week, for two to three weeks — the results will be very

February 24, 2012 successful. That kind of repetition really solidifies the learning.” A well-rounded social dancer commands at least basic proficiency in a variety of dances. The following selection is a popular course of study because it can carry even a beginner through most party songs: swing, cha-cha and salsa for up-tempo music; rumba for slow songs; and waltz and foxtrot in case those distinct rhythms are played. As students begin to naturally hear and feel dance styles in music, they must sometimes confront lingering misconceptions about the art. A common misperception associates ballroom dancing with old-fashioned things, like waltzes played on record players and antiquated courting rituals. However, quite the opposite is true. Ballroom dancing lives and breathes. It has a dynamic pulse, as it is a creative expression that responds to the tastes, personalities and music of the day. Alongside traditional selections, “students are often surprised that we work so much with contemporary popular music and that we play songs from our own iPods. There’s so much out there to dance to. Even Michael Jackson has a waltz,” Benedetti said. For students interested in club-style dancing, ballroom dancing offers a solution. Ballroom rhythm dances, or Latin dances, can be easily broken down, adapted to tight spaces and used to support freestyle moves. Learning how to ballroom dance teaches rhythm, timing and self-assuredness, qualities that easily translate to the spontaneity of club-style dancing. Benedetti summarized the differences: “Think of club dancing as a street style of ballroom, characterized by a loose, calm, comfortable attitude. In this way ballroom dancing can very much lead into club dancing, but not so much the Continued on the next page

February 24, 2012 Continued from the previous page

other way around.” Once you start dancing, there are countless places it can take you. For many, it becomes a lifelong passion. “Because dancing is ingrained in your body, you never really lose the skill. Your brain might forget the steps, but you will still have muscle memory,” Benedetti explained. “Even Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will remember how to dance, because the knowledge is in their bodies.” At the beginning, the focus is on learning a sequence of steps and patterns for the fun of dancing. For students who progress through the various levels, the focus shifts to fine-tuning the quality of dance and the dancer’s technique. “Even as professional dancers, technique is something we continue to work on throughout our lifetimes,” Benedetti said. “A dancer can learn thousands of patterns, but it never has to be over. There is always something new to learn because dance is constantly evolving.” No matter when, where or why you start dancing — or what you achieve — the story ends with the same message. At its core, dancing is about community and connection, and the dance floor is a place where everyone can be the same. It’s a place where dancers are not defined by age, profession or background. Instead, they’re all just people, happy to dance with each other, and sharing it with a smile. Ballroom for kids Although it is never too late to teach old dogs new dance tricks, there is certainly an advantage in teaching young pups to tango. The Walter Schalk School of Dance, with locations in Connecticut and Bedford, has been transforming kids into dancers for

Celebrations 55 years. As one of the region’s largest and most established schools for youth ballroom classes, the Walter Schalk method has proven its success. Charles Micha began teaching at the school with his cousin, Walter Schalk, shortly after the school opened in 1957. Although there have been ebbs and flows in the class sizes, interest in ballroom instruction for fourth- through seventh-graders remains strong. In its first year, the school began with a class of 13 students. Today, it teaches more than 1,800 students annually. “This year, we have as many as 70 couples in some of our [junior ballroom] classes, depending on location and interest in the various schools,” Micha said. Through semester-long instructional courses, young men and women learn various ballroom and contemporary dances, such as the waltz, fox trot, cha-cha, salsa, rumba, hip-hop, disco, jitterbug, swing, Western and contemporary line dancing, and the Mexican hat dance. Fad dancing — Schalk’s name for freestyle dancing on a one-two beat — is also popular among the school’s ballroom students. “We teach popular dances, too, because these are what the kids want to learn,” Micha said. Fad dances and line dances are based directly on our students’ interests at a time when they are starting to attend school socials, family weddings, boy/girl parties and bar and bat mitzvahs.” In addition to dance skills, lessons at Walter Schalk support the overall social education of young people. “We don’t teach manners, such as tea party etiquette or dining skills, but we do teach social graces related to dancing,” Micha said. Students learn to meet and greet in a receiving line, to introduce themselves and others, to shake hands and make eye contact, to ask a lady to dance


or accept a gentleman’s invitation, to graciously thank the dance partner and the host for a nice evening and to treat fellow students with consideration and respect. To showcase the progress and achievement of current students, Walter Schalk dance schools host annual cotillions — with young men in neckties and girls in white gloves. They also feature special ballroom performances during schoolwide winter and spring revues. In addition to these events, themed dance evenings give children an opportunity to practice dancing in social scenarios. A ’50s-themed rock ‘n’ roll party and a special Western night are enjoyable highlights of the year. They also allow young dancers to enjoy aspects of showmanship by dressing in costume. “During the years when our program has been especially popular, I think it’s because we have had a really dedicated group of mothers who support what we do and want this education for their kids,” Micha said. Many students stay with the program for two years and leave with a solid footing in social dancing. According to Micha, learning ballroom dancing as a child “is a golden opportunity because kids easily absorb information, with a high rate of retention. Kids’ minds are not filled up by all the things that we, as adults, have to worry about. So, youth is the ideal time to learn … It’s not uncommon for parents to watch the kids and wish to dance like they do.” As Schalk’s students learn to ballroom dance, they are building skills and interest for a lifetime. “When you give kids a start, you never know where it’s going to take them,” Micha said. “Some of our previous students have gone on to become Radio

City Music Hall Rockettes or professional dance teachers. Others have grown up, had families and brought their own children back to us to continue the tradition.” Dancing can also be a springboard for other roles in students’ lives. “If a guy leaves here knowing how to dance, he might go to college and find himself getting a lot of attention for it… Soon, he’ll be in the popular position of teaching his fraternity brothers or teammates how to dance. Or, he’ll have the confidence to approach a girl, ask her to dance and then ask her out on a date.” Micha estimates that the confidence created by dancing has “opened the door for many people to find their significant others,” and sometimes that same door opens to dancing again. He shared a favorite story: “One time, a woman who learned to dance here many years ago came back, all grown up, with her fiancé. They wanted some private lessons to prepare for their wedding dance. This woman loved her former experiences at the school so much that she wanted to share them with her soon-to-be husband by taking lessons again.” Considering the leisure activities available to today’s generation of children, ballroom dancing is a healthy alternative. In a world dominated by electronics, Facebook friends and screen communication, there is increasing concern that children are becoming detached from interpersonal interaction. Ballroom dancing is a positive counter to this environment. Grounded in physical activity and human connection, dance can be an essential element in kids’ development. “There is so much more to it than just learning the steps,” Micha said. “It can change your life.”



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February 24, 2012

drama dresses

Wedding gowns get gorgeous, glamorous By TRACI DUTTON LUDWIG


trong and sexy or sophisticated and sweet, this year’s wedding dresses are for the statement-making bride. Glamour is definitely in — but so is creativity and individualism. Enraptured by the recent fairytale nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, bridal designers are indulging every fantasy with couture details, bold silhouettes and luxuriously sensual fabrics. Before these styles sashay down the aisle in a new season of love, here’s a peek into designers’ most blissful dozen. Garter ready Leggy brides, get ready to stride. Thigh-high slits are the perfect flirts. When legs are standing in pose, these skirts are conventionally modest. But, as soon as the knee bends in motion, the flash of leg is absolutely electric. For ultimate movement, look for this style in simple or embellished sheaths made from fluid fabrics. “The higher, the better” is de rigueur, but simple alterations along the seam can easily alter a slit to each bride’s height and comfort. Take the plunge Today’s brides are taking the plunge in more ways than one. Deeply cut Vs and dipping cowls are energizing both bodices and backs with daring looks that enchant the eye. Sophistication comes from keeping the reveal in balance with ample coverage in other areas. Skin is sexy, but true seduction comes from unexpected contrast. A low décolleté gets ultimate impact when paired with long sleeves or a conservative back. Likewise, a bare spine purrs loudest against the whisper of a demure neckline. Barely there The perfect compromise between strapless and sleeves, illusion necklines use sheer overlays to secure bare sweetheart cuts to the body. As elegant halters or sleeves, illusion necklines are more than just functional. Their gauzy textiles, rich embellishments and couture trims offer designers a wealth of creativity and give gowns a luxurious kiss. For fairytale splendor, look for illusion textiles adorned with beads or crystals. Their sparkle seems to emanate from the skin. Arm candy On her Royal wedding day last April, Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, wore a couture gown that enchanted the world. Its long lace sleeves reinvigorated an interest in arms, and designers have answered the call in a distinctly feminine way. Disregarding the puffs and puddles of the past, today’s sleeves focus on the sinuous lines of the arms or enhance the delicate roundness of the shoulders. Look for body definition in long fitted sleeves or in compact cap sleeves that embrace the shoulders. Breathable textiles such as lace, organza and chiffon are not only elegant, but also comfortable in any season. Disappearing act Borrowing from high street trends, capes and short capelets are today’s most popular coverlet for fashion-forward brides. Practical over bare Continued on page 11A

Main image courtesy of Ines DiSanto, designer of ready-to-wear and custom bridal gowns, from the Spring/Summer 2012 Couture Bridal Collection. Top row from left: Image courtesy of Rita Vinieris’s Rivini, which ushers in a refreshing new era of simple luxury. Image courtesy of Hayley Paige, a new, fresh, bridal line at the JLM Couture company. The latest wedding fashions courtesy of Legends by Romona Keveza, a diffusion bridal line that is young in spirit and inspired by glamorous fashion icons.

February 24, 2012





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Beauty tips for Looking Picture Perfect Continued from page 1A

not the best look.” The salon will also assess whether the client needs any hair color or treatment before the event. Grooms should also pay a visit before the wedding. “Grooms get a haircut, a sideburn cleanup and a nice hot shave,” O’Neill said. “Some older guys are doing gray ‘blending’ that takes away just some of the gray.” At Oasis Day Spa in Dobbs Ferry, spa services for wedding parties can turn into parties themselves. The spa has an event room with a rooftop garden that hosts many catered bachelorette parties, according to owner Bruce Schoenberg. The spa also specializes in getting everybody beautified directly before big events. “One of our guests came up before her wedding with the entire wedding party of 24 people, and all of them had massages,” Schoenberg said. “We did all their nails, blew out their hair and at 11 a.m. the dresses were delivered and the limos picked them all up at the spa and took them to the church.” Oasis also offers the option of having a makeup and hair stylist come to the bride’s home. Schoenberg doesn’t recommend giving facials to everybody in a big party of prewedding guests at the spa, because the guests might not know how their skin will react to particular treatments. Oasis and other local spas also offer gentle facials to grooms to help get rid of shaving irritation. Devra Bader’s Scarsdale salon offers a brow “boot camp” to help women get their brows in shape before a big event. She says many women come in with pictures of their favorite “celebrity eyebrows” and request brows just like Natalie Portman’s or Jennifer Aniston’s. While it’s possible to approximate

somebody else’s brow shape, there are limitations to what can be done, depending on the client’s face shape, natural brow arch and bone structure. Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement, even for do-it-yourselfers who have made a mess of their brows and show up at the salon asking for help. Regrowing eyebrows does take time, though. “We get them on a program of readjusting the brow shape,” Bader said. “We start reshaping a few months before.” Bader sees many clients with brows that are in bad shape from over-tweezing: “Some women think if they’ve been doing it forever, it’s never going to grow.” But, she said, eventually much of that hair will come in again. Clients are taught to fill in the spaces as little as possible to get a natural look, using a felt tip brow pen and other brow products. One of the worst things women do is to pluck out gray brow hairs that are long and wiry. “That just leaves a hole,” Bader said. She recommends trimming the gray hairs if necessary, and tinting them to blend in. She adds that men often neglect their eyebrows until the big event: “Lots of brides bring in the groom and say, ‘I tried to do it at home, but he’s a baby.’” The salon can deal with unibrow issues and stray, straggly brow hairs, but they don’t recommend aggressive plucking or reshaping. The goal for men is to make the eyebrows look “clean and like nobody touched them.” With so many women wearing strapless dresses, back skin is suddenly visible to everybody. And it’s not always pretty. “Lots of brides do get some breakouts,” Bader said. “We can help with treating any issues, because everybody is wearing these open dresses.” If you book a salon treatment

for a back “facial” (or any facial, for that matter), make sure you tell the salon if you are under the care of a dermatologist and taking any prescription medications. These can make the skin much more sensitive and the skin can react badly when an aggressive salon procedure is added. Skin treatments can also be performed on the décolleté area to help with age spots and sun damage. “We do a lot of body scrubs and body wraps so the skin is in top shape for the wedding dress,” said Erica Breining, owner of Bellava MedAesthetics in Bedford Hills. Some treatments can be done on both the face and the body. “One of our treatments can be done on the day of the wedding,” Breining noted. The treatment, called Hydrafacial, is a gentle exfoliation with a mini-chemical peel that results in “a beautiful, smooth, healthy glow right afterwards.”

Breining said the Hydrafacial can even be combined with a makeup application. Hydrafacials are also popular with teens prior to prom, and it’s a treatment that can be done on the back and shoulders as well as the face. Spray tanning is another way to fill in tan lines from last year’s leftover strap marks, and to blend in areas of the back that have acne scarring or other irregularities such as stretch marks. Spray tanning should be done a couple of days before the event to allow any residue to wash off in the shower. After that, the results last until the top layer of skin that has been treated just flakes off naturally over a period of a week or so. “Everybody’s spray tanning these days,” Breining said. “It’s a great way to prep yourself for a bikini.” Bader recommended doing a spray tanning trial run a week or two before the event to be sure the color is right and to make adjustments if necessary. Waxing isn’t just for women. Top salons offer the services to both sexes. Oasis Day Spa’s Schoenberg said, “We offer a choice of two different types of wax for the face and body. Both types of wax are formulated for sensitive skin types.” Extremely gentle soft wax is recommended for large areas of the body such as arms, legs, back and chest. Hard wax is a cooler temperature and is recommended for smaller areas with coarse hair, and especially for Brazilian waxing. (Note: people using prescription drugs for their skin, such as Accutane or Retin-A, have sensitive skin and should not have body waxing treatments.) And now you’re ready for your priceless photos.

Perfect timing: Setting a wedding date that works By JACQUELINE VAZQUEZ


ollowing proposal and engagement comes the setting of the date. Your engagement period signals the beginning of a wonderful and exciting time in your lives. Where to start? As you consider various dates, times and places for your wedding, here are some points to think about. • Think about your budget. It is true that some months are more expensive than others. (Think about the Law of Supply and Demand you learned in Econ 101). In

popular months (usually May through September) some reception locations, photographers, florists and bands may charge more for their services. If you can wait for a less crowded month, you may be able to stage the same wedding for less money. • Think about the season. If you have been dreaming of a Christmas wedding your whole life, then go for it. But think about the time needed for preparations and plan accordingly. If you want a certain church, a certain reception site and a certain gown and flowers, you may have to adjust time frames. Your answer is to book early and be prepared to be flexible on dates and/

or times. • If you are on a fast track at work or have a job that requires huge blocks of your time, be sure to engage the services of a professional wedding consultant. He/she will end up saving you both time and sanity (and maybe even money). • Consider scheduling your wedding around a holiday. That can give you both a theme for the wedding and time for your out-of-town guests to attend. • If your plans include a destination wedding, you will need to be more flexible in your dates and times. Decide which is more important — the date of the wedding or the

place of the wedding. Once that decision is made, you can proceed. Wedding planners are used to working with schedules and helping busy couples create a schedule for your event and follow through with all the details necessary to create a day of wonderful memories for you and your guests to last a lifetime. Jacqueline Vazquez of Lifetime Events by Jacqueline is a certified and accredited wedding planner and event coordinator. If you are planning an event and need assistance, we can provide as little to as much assistance as is needed. Visit www.lebjv. com or call 713-3126.

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February 24, 2012



Drama Dresses Continued from page 8A

shoulders during religious ceremonies, capes and capelets are also fun. Swingy movement, jewel buttons and richly textured fabrics make capes and capelets playful and versatile. Fur is a refined choice for cold-weather ceremonies. Crochet work is fresh in a garden scene. Lace and illusion fabrics are striking during any nuptial. And vintage pieces, such as from the 1960s, would be a chic “something old” accessory for the unique bride. Double happiness A pairing of tiered skirts — one long and one knee length — defines some of the most innovative, newest nuptial fashions. Ranging from tulle layers with graduated hems to distinct sculptural bubbles over floor-length columns of silk, double tiered skirts are all about shape and volume. Subtle silhouettes maintain tradition with a nod to current fashion. Cuts that push the geometric envelope are modern and edgy. It’s the perfect look for a bride that wants to be on trend. Delicate, but all grown up Everyone is in love with lace. But, decidedly, this trend is not an embrace of the past. Far from tea party demure, today’s lace fantasies have both sugar and bite. Look for large, loose patterns, unlined constructions that show bare skin, cutouts, pieced-together applications, and sensual texture. For contemporary elegance, consider the highest quality you can afford. The handmade look of needlepoint lace, embroidered lace and ribbon lace all have a gorgeous hand. While a fully adorned gown would be absolutely luxurious, even a little lace can have a big impact. Sun kissed White wedding? Not always. For brides dreaming of a different shade of pale, gor-

From the left: Ines DiSanto’s Spring/Summer 2012 Couture Bridal Collection; and Marchesa, whose beautifully crafted designs fuse high fashion with an eclectic aesthetic.

geous options abound. This season’s favorite colors are inspired by a range of skin tones — blushing pink, sun-kissed bronze, warm tan and fleshy taupe. It’s the perfect palette for both color and neutrality. To avoid a washed-out appearance and enhance your skin tone, select a gown with a shade in contrast to your own skin color. Not ready to abandon the white or ivory altogether? Consider adding tone to broad sashes, corset laces or underskirts. These details can add unexpected winks of color and tie in beautifully to the groom’s suit or bridesmaids’ dresses. Northern lights Party girls rejoice! Bling is not only for the engagement ring. Sparkle and shine are now defining the dress. Think dance floor diva, Art Deco siren and red carpet darling

— decked out in a profusion of crystals, reflective beads, sequins, fringe and feathers. Long white gloves complete the look. Not surprisingly, bejeweled gowns can carry high price tags. To temper the cost without sacrificing the look, focus on defining details, rather than all-over bling. Even one statement piece — a glitzy headpiece, dazzling shoes or super sparkly jewelry — can carry the mood. With its amplified glamour and confidence, this look is all about star quality. Hourglass Corsets have long been an essential underpinning, but contemporary interest in lingerie details has brought them front and center. Laced-up, structured bodices have the magical power of molding any body

into shape, while being supremely forgiving. Corsets work with almost any style of skirt, and their laced-up backs create a lovely view down the aisle. Nevertheless, the corset’s greatest appeal comes from its architecture. Corsets emphasize the curve of the bust and hips, as well as the smallness of the waist — or they can, at least, conjure such an illusion… even with that extra piece of cake at the reception. Horsehair The name is deceiving. Today’s horsehair — a textile used for adding definition and sophisticated flair to gowns — has little to do with stallions in the stable. Years ago, the term did refer to couture fabrics stiffened by equine hairs from tails and manes, but contemporary versions mostly come from woven polyester. Braids of synthetic horsehair have long been used for shaped hemlines and delineated garment edges. Now, designers are exploiting horsehair’s fine, delicate mesh for flexible structure — without excess bulk or weight. Look for ideal treatments in ethereal underskirts, illusion necklines and surface overlays that seem to float, like billowy froth, on top of skirts and bodices. Fairytale poufs Cinderella might be known for her glass slipper; but, really, she was all about the ball gown. If there’s one time for a girl to wear a really big dress, her wedding is it. A perennial favorite of youthful brides and big, banner weddings, ball gowns will never lose their devotees. Voluminous skirts, lightweight fabrics, beaded waistlines, scattered floral details, unique bodices and deconstructed silhouettes distinguish the season’s freshest styles. Go all out for fantasy. The best ball gowns embody the fairytale dreams of princess brides on their wedding day.

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teen parties Continued from page 1A

décor was Hollywood all the way; even the centerpieces on the tables looked like award statuettes. A bar mitzvah boy who was a NASCAR fanatic brought his fantasy to life for his party guests, with lots of racing themed activities in an arcade setting created for the occasion. Another boy, whose family had systematically visited the biggest roller coasters at theme parks all over the country, had miniatures of each coaster as centerpieces. Whatever the theme, it should be carried out consistently throughout the event. According to Jacqueline Vasquez, whose event planning company, Lifetime Events by Jacqueline, is located in Scarsdale, once the theme is decided, all the printed materials and décor follow. “Themes have been from sports to movie themes to fairy tales,” she said. “No matter what the event, the invitation is the beginning of the story for the celebration. So, depending on the budget, the invite could either be color-coordinated, a photo or themed. After the invite has been selected, everything else follows, with the same tone to bring it all together.” A good party planner can take any interest, no matter how obscure, and run with it. “I assisted a family from North Carolina, and their son wanted to have his bar mitzvah in New York,” Vasquez said. “Specifically, he wanted to have the ceremony and a mini-lunch reception in the model boat area of Central Park. He loved model boats and Central Park, so what better place? The designated area was directly across the Model Boat Pond and next to the Krebs Boathouse where they store the model boats.”


Keep the action going Kids don’t like to sit around at banquet tables. Certainly, you can host a sophisticated catered affair with beautifully decorated tables. But that’s really for the adults. Kids like to keep moving, playing and eating. Even if you were hosting a sit-down dinner for the grown-ups, most 13-year-olds would greatly prefer to graze in an international food court set up for the occasion. The idea is to keep the kids active and entertained — and food is definitely part of the entertainment. There are instant doughnut-making machines (neater than cotton candy!), candy trucks where all the merchandise is free and unlimited, chocolate fountains… in fact, some parties actually have a candy theme, with cake and centerpieces covered with penny candy dots. Older kids (the sweet 16 group), spend a large portion of their lives interacting with their electronic devices. Instead of fighting it, party planners are going with the trend. “You see a continuation of interactive activities, photography and music stations, especially those that can be sent through the social media waves such as Facebook and Twitter,” said Vasquez. Once you have your theme, you can choose the activities to go with it. Here are a few more ideas, some tame, some overthe-top, some just plain fun: Virtual world For a price, it’s possible for your guests to experience all sorts of virtual excitement without leaving the party room. Virtual reality simulators can be rented that give guests the experience of a real rollercoaster, including the dips and speed of the real thing. Today’s VR simulators are more than just goggles and vibration; the latest models involve the whole body. Virtual racing (complete with authentic-looking

February 24, 2012

racing vehicles) lets kids put the pedal to the metal and even compete head to head. Virtual gaming pods put kids right “into” the middle of the games for an ultra-realistic gaming experience. There’s virtual hang gliding, kayaking, baseball … the list goes on and on. Belly up At a Moroccan-themed party, a birthday girl made a grand entrance in a gilded sedan chair hoisted by four muscular litter-bearers. Belly dancers on platforms provided atmosphere and gave lessons to the guests — both kids and adults. Beauty bash Girls love spa parties, but most spas are too small to host a lot of guests. An exception is the Oasis Day Spa in Dobbs Ferry. This beauty spa is actually geared to largescale catered entertainment, with a rooftop garden and entertaining area. It’s a great setting for a sweet 16, with guests being treated to beauty services such as manicures and massages. Dancing feats Sure, you’ll dance the hora at the bar mitzvah. But why not take the idea to the extreme and have your own authentic Chasidic bottle dancers? Hire a troupe of bottle dancers to perform just the way they did it in “Fiddler on the Roof.” The dancers make a grand entrance to the strains of Klezmer music, while carrying in the bar/ bat mitzvah child on a throne. Then they get down to business, performing gravitydefying feats of dance while balancing open bottles on their hats. It’s not long before the guests want to give it a try — and don’t be surprised if your great-uncle Herman can hold his own. Old-country dancing like this used to be a staple at Jewish weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs.

And they’re off! Bored with the same old party games? Try the latest craze: goldfish racing. Guests choose their fish and place them in waterfilled racing lanes, then blow through straws to propel their goldfish through the water. Is goldfish racing too tame? Some party entertainment companies offer hermit crab racing instead. Put yourself in the picture Let your guests have their picture taken with a celebrity … on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the cover of a magazine or on a Wheaties box. Anything is possible with a green screen. Guests choose the background, then stand in front of a green screen just like the ones weathermen use on TV. Voila — your guest is in the picture they chose, and get a print of it to take home. Give ’em a hand This one goes in the category of unusual party favors: a mold of your hand in colorful wax. Guests dip a hand in the warm wax, form the hand gesture of their choice, and remove their hand from the wax. In a few minutes, they’ve got a perfect wax cast of their hand to take home. Grotesque or groovy? You decide. Attention all taggers Finally, here’s an opportunity to spray paint graffiti on a wall without getting arrested. For your party, hire a “virtual graffiti” wall that guests can “paint” on with light guns that look like paint spray cans. The images they create are transformed via computer into a printout of their graffiti art. Mix it up Some disc jockeys will bring a deejay “scratcher” that all the kids can learn to use. Better still, let your guests turn into deejays Continued on the next page


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February 24, 2012


Continued from the previous page

by making their own music mixes, then taking them home on a CD. There are also companies that offer an instant rock band setup with disco dance lighting, guitars and drums that guests can virtually “play,” giant screens and fog machines. Another big trend is the “club lounge” for older teens: the kids’ area is set up with cushy sofas, mood lighting and exotic (non-alcoholic) cocktails. Dress codes What your guests wear can be the central theme of a party. Trends for bat mitzvah dresses include lots of ultra-girly party dresses with layers and layers of tulle skirts and beaded tops, either with short (not tutu-length short, but above the knee) skirts or ball gown length. Sweet 16 fashions are infinitely more sophisticated: what a difference three years make. Here, you’ll see lots of strapless dresses, and lots of prom looks. But why not bypass the whole party-dress idea and make costume the centerpiece of your theme? For example, there’s the “topsy turvy season” party, held in summer, where the room is decorated with icicle-laden trees, the guests wear winter clothes such as woolly hats or Ugg boots, and everyone goes “virtual bobsledding.” In winter, the theme gets reversed, as the party room becomes a tropical paradise, with palm trees and guests in beach clothes or Hawaiian shirts. Sophisticated older teens are taking a cue from celebrities who hold “white parties.” Everyone wears all white, and the décor follows suit. Whether you do it yourself or hire an event planner to coordinate everything for you, start making the arrangements early. Elements such as custom printing, decorations and entertainment can take many months to pull together. Have fun, kids!


News Notes

Bridal trunk shows at Fontana Bridals

The seed of knowledge for beautiful events

Fontana Bridals, which prides itself on being family owned and operated for more than 65 years, will be hosting a variety of trunk shows in the upcoming months. For the month of March, Fontana will be having trunk shows featuring Steven Yearick, Anne Barge, Matthew Christopher Bridal Collections, Paloma Blanca, Mikaella Bridal and finally LaRichi Bridal. Call 472-1441 for times of each Trunk Show, as well as to make any appointments. The store at 678 White Plains Road in Scarsdale, known for its wide range of designer gowns, also offers options for mother of the brides, bridesmaids and grooms, along with special occasion dresses with consultants, fitters, Europeans seamstresses, beaders and pressers with you every step of the way. According to Cory Fontana, the third generation owner who works alongside his father, Frank, the store is forever keeping up to date with the latest styles, and the family loves to make shopping a fun experience. All trunk shows include champagne and informal modeling. Fontana’s grandmother, Anita, founded the business and at 96 years young is still at the Westchester store on occasions. “After all these years, we still love getting the bride and her group ready,” Fontana said. Visit www.fontanabridalsalon.com or www.fontanacouture.com.

Flower ME Events, a Rivertownsbased events-only florist in Dobbs Ferry, has further expanded its already present knowledge-sharing characteristic. Although known primarily for its young and chic floral designs, specifically wedding creations, Flower ME Events is the first to bring floral consulting, a unique concept that offers clients the convenience of house calls, text message/email updates and limitless consultations at competitive prices, to Westchester County. Staffed with not only a florist but a design artist as well, Flower ME Events has not only been customizing all its floral pieces for the past two years, but also sharing expertise with beginners at Flower ME parties, which cater to those with no flower arranging experience. They are one-time classes which take one or two hours. These sessions are offered at the Flower ME Events’ teaching facility in Dobbs Ferry, as well as at events or homes, which adds a special touch to any party. Flower ME Events is continuing its teaching trend, this time reaching a global audience, as the company is currently in production for a floral-how-to series for eHow. com, which should hit the site in early March. Call 231-9655 or visit www. flowerMEevents.com.

Celebrate! party showcase, March 25th Get tons of great ideas for planning your next bar/bat mitzvah, sweet 16 party, wedding or other special occasion at Celebrate! Party Showcase’s 20th annual show, from 2-5 p.m. on March 25 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Old Greenwich, Conn. In one afternoon meet many party professionals, including deejays, photographers, caterers and party favor and invitation suppliers. What an efficient way to plan your special occasion. Admission and parking are free. Children are welcome. For more information or to register, call (646) 652-7512 or visit celebrateshowcase.com. Sign up in advance to win a free iPod.



February 24, 2012

Where to party: locations, locations, locations By MARY LEGRAND

Both properties have “outdoor opportunities,â€? Allemann said, with a pergola made out of bittersweet vines at The Garrison and a patio used for cocktails and outdoor ceremonies at the country club. Jennifer Gould of Diana Gould Ltd. in Elmsford said her firm’s clients generally have picked out their venues before coming for comprehensive help in party planning. For bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs these days, venues of choice more often than not have a “clubby loungeâ€? atmosphere, Gould said, spots “with a New York City kind of vibe.â€? Within the venue, Gould’s firm can make different sides of the same party look completely different. “Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah clients often prefer the children have their own side and the parents, grandparents and adult guests have their own side, with the dance floor in between,â€? she said. “But honestly, even if everyone’s sitting all together in one big room, the tables typically are set up so that the younger people are in a different section from the older people.â€? She added, “We provide the dĂŠcor, the decorations, linens, centerpieces, lighting, furniture — everything you need in any venue. It all works to create your vision.â€? The firm, Gould said, handles arrangements for approximately 500 parties a year — “weddings and social events on the weekends and corporate events dur-


n the immortal words of Ted from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure�: “Party on, dudes!� But where’s the best spot to do all that partying? The New York metropolitan area has a plethora of options for party-givers and party-goers, no matter the type of function. From the simplest to the most elaborate of weddings, from bar and bat mitzvahs, birthday and anniversary gatherings or sweet 16s, the type of venue can help determine the event’s success. Chip Allemann, general manager of The Garrison and Highlands Country Club in Garrison-on-Hudson in Putnam County, said that clients often come to his venues looking for a setting that provides landscape overlooking the Hudson River and evokes an earlier time. The choice of specific venue or room within a venue can be influenced by the time of the year a party is taking place, or even the day of the week, Allemann said: “Our two properties have different styles. The country club has a late 19th century ballroom with a big chandelier. The room is flanked by large, arching French doors and has fireplaces at either end of the room. There’s a very formal feeling in the room, while at The Garrison there’s generally more of an emphasis on the outdoors and the setting.�


Continued on the next page

Top, the spacious Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry; Bottom, the view from The Garrison. the elegant Highlands Country Club.

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February 24, 2012


Continued from the previous page

ing the week.” Angelo Liberatore of Harvest on Hudson in Hastings-on-Hudson said the first aspect of planning a party involves determining just how large the event will be. “There’s definitely a correlation between the number of people and the size of the room,” he said. “A party of 30 people just doesn’t look good in a room that’s too large and subsequently too empty.” Harvest on Hudson and its sister restaurant, Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry, have rooms to accommodate large and small events. “We meet with our clients and show them our properties before determining which one is right for them,” Liberatore said. “We do not have a formal questionnaire, but do a physical walk-through of the properties. We find that works best because they know exactly what each room looks like.” Different room layouts also lend themselves to different kinds of parties, Liberatore said, agreeing that in the case of bar and bat mitzvahs the “adults can be on one side, the children on the other side, with the dance floor in the middle. That way the kids can have a great time and the adults don’t feel as if the kids are right next to them. The kids have their own little ‘cocktail party’ while the adults have their own cocktail party.” The reverse situation often occurs with weddings. “When you have an older crowd it’s possible they might not want to hear a loud band,” Liberatore said. “We can situate some of the wedding guests in a separate room farther away from the music.”

The elegant Highlands Country Club; In the case of Liberatore’s venues, some clients prefer a “total buyout” of a restaurant. In other words, the clients and their guests are the only people in the building for the whole time of their party. “Since we have so many different rooms we’re able to offer many options,” he said. “What would be a private dining room for one party can be the bride’s dressing room at another party, for example. It de-


pends entirely on what the client wants and needs, and of course we determine that together in consultation with the client. It’s always a pleasure to learn exactly what each person is looking for and make sure the event meets every expectation.” A relatively new venue in northern Westchester is The Willows, which overlooks the lake at Oak Ridge Commons in Vista. General manager Marietta Solleveld said The Willows is used frequently for bar and bat mitzvahs, as well as birthday, anniversary and sweet 16 parties. “We have one main room with partitions that allow us to make that into whatever size the party would work for,” Solleveld said. “Determining what a client needs begins with a telephone conversation, then a sit-down meeting here. We want to make sure that The Willows is the right place for that particular party, then we do all the planning and everything that goes into making sure the event is successful.” As with any venue, there must be plenty of room for cocktails and conversation before the meal, as well as dancing afterward, if that’s part of the plan. Birthday parties and corporate events such as Christmas parties would also be perfect at The Willows, Solleveld said, calling it appropriate for “slightly less formal” gatherings. She laughingly summed up what could be the golden rule of party planning, at least for those looking for a wedding venue: “My feeling is that a less formal place might not be right when you want to have your first wedding. But when it’s time for your second wedding, you can relax, be less formal and have a great time!”


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February 24, 2012

Profile for The Rivertowns Enterprise

Rivertowns Enterprise Celebrations 2012  

Celebrations is our annual special section on parties, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Explore how to look picture perfect on your we...

Rivertowns Enterprise Celebrations 2012  

Celebrations is our annual special section on parties, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Explore how to look picture perfect on your we...