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Event Planning: “Brides should be guests at their wedding and they shouldn’t have to worry that day.”

> Written by Yanni Tzoumas;
Event Design: Ed Libby & Co.

When Harriette Rose Katz quit her job as an interior designer, the transition to becoming an event planner was a natural progression towards what became and remains her life’s passion. Thirty-three years later, her event planning company, Gourmet Advisory Services, although based in New York City, spans its activities all over the United States and abroad as Katz and her well-seasoned team put their personal touch on corporate parties, weddings and all kinds of social events.

“When I started Gourmet Advisory Services,” remarks Katz, “I was doing primarily corporate parties.” Then, one of her clients asked her to plan his daughter’s wedding. At first she was hesitant. “I felt a bit intimidated at the idea of planning a wedding,” she remembers, realizing how distinct the dynamics of a wedding are, infused with so much emotion and intensity. But she loved exactly that aspect and now admits, “I adore weddings and all the planning possibilities they present.”

Orchestrating any event, but a wedding in particular, is serious business. “These girls have dreamed about their wedding day all their life,” says Katz, “and it is our responsibility to make that dream a reality.” “Our brides come to us for our expertise,” says Katz, “but ultimately they trust us. They trust that we have understood and will execute their vision.” That’s why she places emphasis on the chemistry that evolves with each bride she meets at the initial consultation. “If the chemistry isn’t right, we will turn down an event,” she says. “We pour our heart and soul into each event that we do because it has to be perfect and the only way it can work is when there is good chemistry.” That’s why she advises brides to interview at least three planners before they choose who to work with.

“Being an event planner,” explains Katz, “is not a 9-to-5 job; it’s a 24-7 commitment.” She points out that most brides are too busy with their careers and don’t have time to oversee all that is entailed. A planner will foresee things that otherwise may not be realized and in some cases avert disaster. “Besides,” she notes, “brides should be guests at their wedding and they shouldn’t have to worry that day.”

Katz places food and entertainment at the top of the hierarchy. “These are two elements that can make or break an event,” she notes. Gourmet Advisory Services is renowned for the menus they create in collaboration with some of the best chefs in the country. Once everything has been clearly defined and established in the planning stages, she attributes the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary event to three key things: timing, sequencing and staying on top of things. “I call a lot of meetings leading up to the wedding,” she explains, “making sure that every vendor understands step-by-step how each aspect of the event unfolds and how and when their part fits in the overall picture.” She holds her collaborators to very high standards leaving nothing to chance. “Everyone knows how disappointed I get when somebody doesn’t live up to my expectations—not too many people disap-point me,” she adds with a smile. “My greatest pleasure is to make a client happy and deliver not only what they expect, but to surpass their expectations.”

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