November 2012 archive

Vendor Spotlight: Jessica of Plan Your Memories

Event Planner, Jessica of Plan Your Memories, who has an excellent track record of over 800+ planned social and celebratory events, chatted with us on how she is different from other event planners, her Top Tips on how clients can watch their budgets and more!

Where did the idea of your business come from? 

Party planning was a big part of growing up. My mom would carefully plan each detail from the wrapping paper to the outfit I wore. After having my son and planning his birthday parties my love for party planning grew.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is meeting new people, helping them create a memorable event and the lasting relationships I continue with them.

When you walk a venue, what are the Top Three things you look for? 

The top 3 things I always look for is a clean bathroom, parking (where applicable) and customer service. I believe these are the top 3 things that can be deal breakers when selecting a venue.

Name 3 favorite NY/NJ Outdoor Venues and Indoor Venues.

Indoor: McLoone’s in Long Branch, NJ, Basking Ridge Country Club in Basking Ridge, NJ , Highlawn Pavillion in West Orange, NJ

Outdoor: My Moon  Brooklyn NY, The Brownstone Paterson NJ, Stage 6 at Steiner Studios Brooklyn, NY

What inspires you?

My client’s personality inspires me. I like to get to know who they are what they love, where they’ve traveled, where they go for dinner, drinks even the type of music they listen to. These elements help me create a vision that I can transition into a reality.

What are your Top Tips to clients watching their budgets closely?

First is the guest list. The guest list is the main driver of budget. I tell my clients to be realistic about who they should and invite and who they want to invite. Most brides, grooms and party goers don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving them out. I always suggest they make a guest list and then write down a list of 10 things they want their event to have labeling each from the most important to the least. This helps create a visual of how to allocate their budget.

What advice can you give people who are on the fence about hiring an event/wedding planner? 

My business is about educating my clients to be smarter about how they spend their budget while still having a classy fun event. Interview your planner, test their knowledge, ask questions and never pay for a consultation.

What’s your current obsession right now?

Unique weddings. Outside the box weddings held in homes, restaurants, back yards, etc..Working with clients who aren’t afraid to take risks and be different.

What’s your motto?

Always Plan Your Memories each and every time!

When you aren’t doing this, what are you doing?

I am a marathon runner, aspiring personal trainer and sports performance specialist, mom and wife. My other passion is health and fitness and I love finding ways to cater my parties in healthy ways.

Tell us something we don’t know about you or your business.

I can make fondant designs on homemade cakes, I create diaper cakes for baby shower gifts, offer custom favors catered to each event and create affordable floral arrangements.


Plan Your Memories is based out of  New Jersey and established in 2004. We plan memories throughout New York & New Jersey’s Metro Area. We specialize in serving people who need guidance planning parties, weddings, dinner dates, weekend getaways, travel ideas at an affordable price.

This company was built on Jessica’s passion to help brides, grooms, mom, dads, sisters, brothers and friends create affordable fabulous events that result in smiles and joy.  She became a Co-Director for Central New Jersey with the Association of Bridal Consultants and helped with the Event Planner Professionals board.  She has spoken at Randolph High School in New Jersey about wedding planning and has planned over 800 & counting social and celebratory events, weekend getaways, dinner parties, business meetings and more. Her services include wedding and event planning guidance, full service planning upon request, event design and consultation and event day management.  She offers hourly, package rates and flat rates to meet everyone’s needs. In addition she is also an ordained minister and provides affordable wedding ceremonies throughout New York and New Jersey.

Plan Your Memories differs from other event companies because we take on any challenge, plan full weddings in under 3 months, plan dinner parties and social gatherings within a week notice, offer planning guidance, design consultations without taking over the planning process from our clients. Prices are affordable and the service is reliable…nothing is left unplanned. Jessica believes everyone should have the opportunity to have a classy event, regardless of their budget. Her clients remain her friends and see their families grow. In addition, because of their passion for helping people smile, they donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity or cause of your choice annually. Lastly, we are a 3 time recipient of the Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award for 2009, 2010, 2011 and awarded the 2012 Best of Jersey City Award. LIKE us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

Top 5 NYC Locations for Engagement Shoots

Are you looking for the PERFECT spots to take your Engagement Pictures? Well look no further! Today’s article is courtesy of Flor Branham from Branham Perceptions Photography. She wrote this article so you know exactly where to go for those picture perfect shots! Take it away Flor!

New York City has lovely architecture and hundreds of amazing locations for beautiful images. In such a big city, picking a location for your engagement shoot can be overwhelming. Here is our list of the top 5 NYC locations to make your decision easy and carefree.

1. Prospect Park, Brooklyn – Prospect Park is Branham Perceptions’ go-to park for engagement shoots. It never gets really crowded and the views are fantastic. It features an amazing bridge over a huge pond which we use constantly for shoots. The Boathouse building in the park makes for a classic backdrop to any photograph. The park also has a huge dog park if you want to let your furry friends in on the fun!

2. Queens Botanical Garden – We love shooting in the Queens Botanical Garden because it has such great variations of flora. The garden is very peaceful and relaxing area to spend the day in. The Queens Botanical Garden boasts a Japanese Zen garden, Cherry Blossom trees, and even a Koi fish pond.

3. Brooklyn Bridge Park – Brooklyn Bridge Park has two amazing features. 1. You can have both bridges, as well as the beautiful skyline of Manhattan in the background. 2. There’s a carousel!!! Which makes for totally amazing images!  There is such diversity in the amount of images you can take by walking just a few short steps.

4. Fort Tyron Park & Cloisters Museum – Fort Tyron Park is a charming park at the Fort George area of Manhattan. We love this park because of its many features. Fort Tyron is a park, a flower garden, and a museum all in one. The park sits on a hill and once you get to the top, the views are breathtaking. If you walk past the flower garden, you will find the Cloister Museum which has stunning architecture.

5. Glen Island Park – Glen Island Park is amazing for shooting an engagement shoot. It is a bit harder to get to so the park is rarely crowded. It has beautiful views of the water, large open spaces, a nice little beach, and even a castle. What girl doesn’t want to feel like a princess for the day?!


About Flor Branham

Owner and Photographer at Branham Perceptions Photography. I’m a published photographer based out of NYC who specializes in engagement shoots and weddings in the Tri-State area. Visit our Website to learn more, Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and Pinterest.

10 Tips for Great Kids Parties

Today’s article is courtesy of “Miss Dylan” Glanzer of Parties by Dylan & Company.

I have been doing kids’ birthday parties in NJ for over 19 years. Do you want your children totally engaged, energized, playful, curious, surprised, successful, and happy for a whole hour at your party?  Would you like to have Peace of Mind knowing that your party is in good hands with a reputable and reliable company? Would you like to have wonderful memories that last a lifetime as you celebrate each milestone in your child’s life?  We know how to hold childrens’ attention and encourage positive behavior while bringing fun and energy to the party!  The key is the variety of music and the short, age-appropriate activities we offer.  Each party is unique because every group is unique, so though we work from a basic party format, we can gear the party especially for your child and their friends.   That is why “Our Biggest Fans Are Under Five!”

Here are my 10 Secrets to Successful Kids’ Birthday Parties in NJ (plus an extra bonus!):

1.  When a child’s party is planned around a meal time, the party should be called an hour before the entertainment start time.  This will give guests half an hour to arrive and half an hour for the children to finish eating.  Children will need to have some kind of guided entertainment right after they eat.  Young children are also known to eat very quickly, if at all.  Another reason to feed them first is that hungry children do not have as much fun during entertainment.  If the party is not at a meal time, then I recommend hosts give people half an hour to get there before any scheduled entertainment.

2.  Entertainment should typically last about  an hour for children in this age group.  Too much time will overwhelm or tire them and they will not be able to maintain focus.

3.  I recommend limiting your party activities to one at a time.  Younger children do not handle too many choices well.  For example, if a host has an entertainer, it should be suggested that they not have a bouncy house or face painter at the same time.

4.  Parties for young children do not need to involve prizes, in my opinion.   When I do games like limbo and freeze dance, everyone plays for the fun of it!  No one needs to get “out” or feel sad because they are unsuccessful.  Prizes are not a great idea, even if everyone gets one, because it becomes about the color, the size, or the type of prize, rather than how much fun the game is.  It is better to just make the game creative.  For example, play “Animal Limbo” and have the children act like a tall animal when the stick is high and a small animal as it gets lower.  Then, you can jump over the stick when it is too low and then raise it slightly for bigger jumps.  For freeze dance, have the children do different dances and freeze, make silly faces when they freeze, or jump into a hoop and freeze.  Another way to play with hoops is to eliminate a hoop in each pause, and then the children have to jump in together!

5.  If a party is in a playroom, push the toys to the wall, into a closet, or onto toy shelves before entertainment begins.  Toys are obviously very distracting for young children.  Again, the choices need to be limited so the children know what they should be focusing on.

6.  Use nametags.  We always bring them to the party.  Children feel less shy of a new person when that person can use their name to encourage participation in the activities.

7.  Hands on props are so much fun because young children like to be as active and hands-on as possible at a party.  You can use things like puppets, rhythm instruments, and scarves along with a variety of familiar music.  Bubbles are also fantastic at parties.

8.  Doing a sing-a-long is great, but don’t expect children to sit too long!  10 minutes at most is my recommendation.  After that, it is good to get them up and moving with music or on to an activity that involves props.  Use familiar music so children can sing along right away.  Also include familiar songs that involve lots of movement like “Shake Your Sillies Out” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

9.  Do activities that children can do at the same time.  Waiting for turns or taking turns is a very difficult concept for children at this age.  Save games like “Pin the tail on the donkey” for children over five.  Play the Hokey Pokey instead or even Simon Says (without getting them “out.”)  Face Painting is great, but only during arrival and meal times so there is something for the children to do while they wait for their turn.

10.  Keep all activities SHORT!!!  Pay attention to their attention, and change to the next activity as soon as you notice children getting distracted.  Misbehavior is a sure sign of boredom!  Also, do activities in a group and avoid ones that require children to wait their turn.

At Parties by Dylan & Company, we are more than entertainers. We are teachers, musicians, and parents. We understand how to motivate young children to feel like they can sing, dance, play, and just have fun being who they are. We create a positive atmosphere that enables children to feel safe to play together enjoying games where everyone can be the best they can be. We bring the energy and the inspiration – the children do the rest!  Our company is here because we want to bring joy to the party celebration and facilitate activities which engender success for children. We don’t need prizes. Everybody wins because they all get to have FUN!  And that is why our biggest fans are under 5!


Miss Dylan’s new CD “Roller Coaster Ride” is coming this December!  Finally, music for children we can ALL enjoy!  Sign up for her mailing list to get your free song coming soon at http://www.Partiesbydylan.comIf you have any questions about kids’ birthday parties in NJ, feel free to call me at (732) 536-0404 or email me at   Good luck with your party planning!  We are here to help you!


Allysiah’s Sweet 16 Recap: Paris Theme

Sweet sixteens may be extremely formal, casual, or semi-formal; they can range from modest parties at home with close family and friends to large affairs. We are seeing the latter with Sweet 16 Birthday celebrations.

Some popular traditions  are the Candle Lighting Ceremony where each of the 16 candles holds a special meaning or important person that has influenced and shaped the life of the celebrant. Another popular ceremony is the Show Ceremony where the birthday girl sits down on a chair while her father approaches her with high heels on a pillow. The celebrant would be wearing flat shoes, like slippers, and the father ceremoniously helps her into her new high heels. This is symbolic of the girl transitioning into a woman.

We were SO excited to be doing Allysiah’s Sweet 16 Party! Why you ask? Because it was a PARIS theme! Her Sweet 16 was held at Charisma Ballroom in Flushing, Queens. Charisma Ballroom is a family owned business established in 1975 and is known for their spacious ballroom, night-club atmosphere, and attentive, courteous service. They also offer a professional DJ, “Special Effects” lighting, current, up-to date music, and wide screen videos at this venue as well.

Her party was filled with Eiffel Tower chocolates, berets, lovely feathers,  lantern table centerpieces, and even family who flew from Puerto Rico to surprise her. It was definitely a fairy tale Sweet 16. We are glad we were able to capture these special memories Allysiah and her guests can look back on and cherish! Check out some of our favorite photos from the evening!

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy — How we can help!

Dealing with the after math of Hurricane Sandy has made us stronger and more united. As we watch the news of others collecting donations, bringing food to those in need, and people from all walks of life coming together to help one another, it made us realize we have to do our part to help our community at the times they need us most.

We decided to go out and volunteer at our local Soup Kitchen and help prepare and serve food to the hungry at Manhattan’s Church of St. Francis Welcome Table. It was rewarding to be able to see people smile after all the craziness that has been going on around here. But we know we can always do more!

If you haven’t already, please donate or volunteer to help those in need. You can donate to the Red Cross or to the Habitat for Humanity,  there will be a lot of homes that will need to be rebuilt. We also know that credit card companies are allowing people to donate their ‘rewards’ points and other organizations are matching donations. Our friends at Merci New York are donating 20% of all sales of their handbag line to Hurricane Sandy relief for the next week. Take a few minutes, find a way to help.

If you are outside the New York / New Jersey / Connecticut region, you can also ship donations. Non-perishable food, water, warm clothes (we have a big winter storm bearing down on us this week), diapers, baby wipes, and cleaning supplies are in high demand. We will continue updating this post as we get more information.

For Staten Island, the address is:

New York Container Terminal
ATTN: Sandy Relief Warehouse
300 Western Ave
Staten Island, NY 10303

Occupy Sandy has also set up a ‘wedding registry’ on where you can purchase items to help with the recovery effort – click here for the link. Or visit the Occupy Sandy website.

The address shows up as private but if you would rather send something directly or enter the address yourself, here it is:

The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew
520 Clinton Ave
Brooklyn, New York 11238

For New Jersey, please visit the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

Our sister FemCity Hoboken Chapter is also taking in donations this week for the City of Hoboken and beyond. If you or someone you know is looking for a way to donate or help, please reach out to to find out the nearest location to you and for more information

The Knot has put together a Facebook event bringing together couples and vendors to try to help out those in need – you can view that page here.

Shout out to those who have already donated and volunteered their time. A special shout out to AART Event Planning for collecting over 200+ bags of donations over the weekend, which are now being distributed throughout the area to those that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as Mimi’s Fusion of Flavors Latin Caterer who helped spearhead the Uptown Relief Effort for Victims of Sandy this past weekend as well.

In an effort to rebuild and work together we are confident we will get through this. United we stand, divided we fall.

Two last things…we want to remind everyone to VOTE tomorrow. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just go out and vote! We have also provided a link below where you can find gas in your area.

Here’s How To Vote

NJ Residents Now Allowed To Vote Via Email

The Board of Elections Changes Voting Sites For Over 140,000 New Yorkers. Check your site here.

Click HERE to Find Gas in Your Area

*Information was provided by Casey Fatchett Photography in NYC.

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