4 Steps For Budgeting Your Wedding

He’s popped the question. You’ve said YES!

Here’s what to do next:

1. Before you bring anyone else into the picture, talk to your future spouse about your expectations. You’ll want to make sure you’re on the same page. Do you want something big or a bit more intimate. Maybe you want to jet set for a destination wedding. Make sure you’re sharing the same (or at least similar) vision before you talk to family members and friends.

photo credit: lacurevillas.com

photo credit: lacurevillas.com

2. Once you set a budget, figure out who is going to contribute. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding but nowadays anything goes. Have an open and honest discussion with your and your future spouse’s families to figure out who will be contributing and exactly how much each is willing to spend.

photo credit: inkedwedding.com

photo credit: inkedwedding.com

3. Now that you’ve got your budget – prioritize. What are the three most important aspects of your wedding that you’re willing to splurge on? Do you want to get that designer gown, your dream venue or go over the top with catering that includes ice sculptures? It’s okay to have a few splurges, but realize that you’ll have to make up for it by spending less in other areas.

photo credit: businessinsider.com

photo credit: businessinsider.com

4. Last but not least, get organized! Make check lists, download apps and other tools to manage and create reminders to stay on track throughout your wedding planning process. Work with your wedding planner to make sure you’re getting the best venue and vendors for your budget. A good planner will know the ins and out of your event and areas in which you can save.

photo credit: myfotojournal.com

photo credit: myfotojournal.com

Get to Know a Dessert Expert: The Dessertist

For some, desserts can be an important part of their event – being a focal point of the party and something for guests to admire and enjoy. Not only should desserts be beautifully presented, they should also be delicious. Desserts can be completely formed to match a theme, and no one is better at this than THE DESSERTIST. From cake pops to unique desserts, she can make anything that you could possibly think of – and if you can’t think of ideas you can count on her to come up with some! Get to know her and see some photos of her artistic creations (and try not to drool too much!):

How and why did you decide to specialize in desserts?

Sam: I have always loved baking. It’s in my blood. Growing up in a large family in the Midwest we did a lot of cooking and baking together. Our talents were kind of divided amongst the family. Some were better bakers and some were better at cooking. I picked up the baking gene when I iced my first cake at 3 years old. I had always loved to bake, it was always just a hobby and something traditional for me. It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I discovered that desserts were my passion.

I have an art degree. I used to always have a creative outlet whether it was sculpting or painting; my two favorite mediums. When I moved here I just didn’t have the room to bring my art supplies. After month of withdrawal I decided to try something new. I woke up one day and said “I’m going to make a cake for Rebecca’s birthday, and it’s going to be a cat!” We were throwing her a surprise birthday and thought it would be awesome to have a cake that looked like her cat. I did a little research, started from scratch and used my sculpting skills to mold and shape this cake into a cat. After that the rest is history and here I am today.

What is the mission of your company?

Sam: My company has a few missions. 1) Dare to make the impossible – If you can dream it, I can bake it. Nothing is too out of the box for me. I encourage people to use their imaginations when it comes to both flavor and design. It becomes an interactive experience for my clients and allows them to step outside their comfort zone and create what they thought to be the non-existent. To me, the sweet element of any event is one of the most important factors. Desserts take people to a happy place, bring out their inner child, and create a feeling of warmth and happiness within them. Seeing my clients and their guest in that sugar induced euphoric state is the best part of my job. 2) Empowerment of Fulfilling your Dream – I like to think of myself as a voice for a lot of women out there who have always had this awesome idea or thing they wanted to do and then life happened. People get that mentality that once you get married or have kids then you have to let go of your dreams. In my opinion, no you don’t, you CAN have it all. It takes work and a great support system, but it can work. I want to make a difference in the world by helping in any way I can whether it’s inspiring others to do what they want to do, or raising money for incredible charities. My desserts come with a lot of love and desire to make a difference.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sam: I get inspiration from everywhere and everything! Foods, colors, pictures, movies, songs, smells, flavors – you name it I can make something out of it. It is so much fun to just be out in the world and see something and think “wow that would look so cool as a dessert.” I have begun to look at everything and see it for something it could be within a dessert. Edible or not, I find a way to make it work. For example: my daughter LOVES Disney Princesses and we play with her dolls a lot. While playing one day I started to stare at the dolls, their faces, their clothes and then it hit me! I then grabbed my journal and started coming up with recipes based on every Disney Princess! All the way down to the design of each. I now need to add Elsa and Anna from Frozen to the mix. It’s just so awesome having a brain that thinks so crazy sometimes.


What do you like to know about a client before you create a dessert menu and display?

Sam: My very first question to a client is “Tell me about your event” – this is a great opening question. It allows me to get the clients inside perception of what they expect their event to be like. Typically I can figure out an entire menu just based on this one question.  I must know what the client hopes for and dreams of having. I always ask about their favorite flavors and what the best dessert was that they’ve ever tasted. I always like to catch them off guard by asking “If you can have anything turned into a dessert – what would it be” and sometimes people come up with some awesome off the wall ideas. I’ve never had a meeting with a client where we didn’t laugh most of the time. Desserts make people excited and they excite me too! I always ask about dietary restrictions and allergies, not the most fun part of the conversation but a very important one. I always want to make sure they get everything made to fit their needs.

What is your favorite dessert to make?

Sam: Wow, this is a trick question for me. I love making everything. Some more than others for sure. I guess my favorite desserts to make are the experimental ones. Basically when I take some quiet time and just start trying flavor combinations into various medias of desserts. A few weeks ago when I made my “Barnyard S’more” cookie, I was making cookies for a party my daughter was going to and figured what the heck; let me see if this works. I made a butter cookie base but added toasted cornflakes to the mix. Threw in some marshmallows and chocolate chips and BAM – the Barnyard S’more was born. I didn’t even get to take a picture of it because they were gone in 5 minutes. But, ok, I will be real here if I HAD to pick a favorite dessert it would be my families Horseshoe Cookie. It’s a secret recipe and it’s hard to make, but it makes me feel peaceful and nostalgic. Always helps when I am really missing my family and need to make some trips down memory lane.

What is the most important thing to keep in mind while designing custom desserts for events?

Sam: The client’s vision is number one. If they have something specific in mind I do whatever I can to make sure their expectations are met. I also need to factor in venue space and time frame. Last thing you want to do is include ice cream in a menu for a party being held outside in the middle of July. It just doesn’t work, so I am always conscious of where I am going and what resources I have available.

What is your top tip for current and potential clients?

Sam: Don’t overthink the desserts. Just go with what you want and what you like. “There are too many desserts”, “Gosh, I wish there weren’t so many choices” – said no one EVER. The sweet treats of the party are something everyone looks forward to, my advice is just have fun with it, let yourself be creative, and don’t hold back.

How far in advance should someone place an order?

Sam: The sooner the better. THE DESSERTIST is a custom design business and everything is made specifically for each order. Nothing is pre-made or frozen. I really believe in desserts being fresh and made with the freshest ingredients. This is part of THE DESSERTIST experience where you are getting the VIP of custom designed desserts and all of them being done by me, like your personal Dessert Chef. Because of this I don’t mass produce like larger bakeries so my availability fills up quickly. But, there have been times I have been known to do a last minute order if you are the lucky one to snatch up that free time and catch me in a very good mood.

Would you mind sharing a photo of one of your favorite dessert displays and tell us why it’s your favorite?

Sam: Sure! I can’t just share one though. I love them all because each one is so different. No two displays are ever the same. They are each like a snowflake. I love collecting new display pieces wherever I go and all of that brings the display to life. So I can’t say I have a favorite – they are all my favorite. Here are a few of my tops:

What is the best way for potential clients to get in touch with you?

Sam: The best way to get in touch with me is email: Samantha@thedessertist.com, I’m not always able to talk on the phone but I am glued to my inbox. I always suggest to my clients to follow my social media outlets. It’s a fun way to keep in touch about my dessert adventures, what I’m baking, and events I will be attending. I’m kind of a butterfly chef and I am always bopping around the city. Aside from the baking I am also have a dessert column in Beauty News NYC Magazine where I try new recipes and review desserts all over Manhattan and hopefully soon I’m going to be teaching some classes on dessert making. So yeah, the social media is honestly just fun and entertaining for people. I give viewers a glimpse into my crazy, sugar filled life!  

You can also follow THE DESSERTIST on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

THE DESSERTIST has been featured in 914NC MagazineThe PatchDoughmesstic and will be a honored Festival Featured Chef for the Fourth Annual Greenwich 2014 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL presented by Serendipity. The Festival will take place September 25-27 at The Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT.

Happy New Year from KBNY!

In less than 12 hours we will be ringing in the new year whist toasting to champagne and contemplating resolutions for 2014. I always look forward to the beginning of a new year for many different reasons. I love reflecting on all the accomplishments from the previous year, setting new goals which challenge me to grow both individually and within my business, and looking ahead at all the possibilities for creating special memories with my clients and those around me.

As I ponder on the weddings and events that Karen Brown New York has been part of the past year, I can’t help but feel overjoyed. I am extremely fortunate to have worked with so many amazing clients and supportive vendors. You have all made my job so easy, even in moments of crisis. Memories were made, charities have benefited and we partied way past our bedtimes. 2013 was most definitely an unforgettable year!

Here is a video recap of our year in wedding and event planning and the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz was inspired by a client’s wedding where the bride sang this song to her husband in a flashmob performance. Enjoy!

5% Goes to Housing Works!

On November 9th I had the honor of being part of Michelle & Michael’s eclectic and swank wedding at the Housing Works Bookstore Café in Manhattan. For their 5% donation they have chosen to give to (of course) Housing Works! It’s another Event that Gives Back!”.

An excerpt from their website:

Since our founding in 1990, we have been at the forefront of advocacy efforts to ensure that New York City provides housing and related supportive services to low-income and homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. We closely track the city agency charged with overseeing subsidies for poor New Yorkers with AIDS, the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), and we push for improvements and expansion of HASA services. Every year, we doggedly lobby the mayor and city council to make the best funding decisions around HIV prevention and care, especially for those most at-risk: drug users, transgender people, people of color, the poor, the homeless, and those with mental illnesses. Sometimes our lobbying takes the form of rallies, protests, and creative civil disobedience actions.

Housing Works logo

5% Goes to AutismSpeaks!

After working with my clients Jeanne & Andre to plan their Brooklyn wedding at the New York Distilling Company on June 29, they chose AutismSpeaks for their 5% donation – another Event that Gives Back!

An excerpt from their website:

“Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and look forward to continued successes in the years ahead.”

Autism Speaks logo

Jeanne & Andre’s Brooklyn Wedding!

Sandwiched in-between rainy days, we could not have been more lucky with the weather on Saturday for my couple’s Brooklyn wedding at Greenpoint’s Transmitter Park with a reception following at the New York Distilling Company, also known as the Shanty.

It was an honor for me to be the wedding planner for Andre, a firefighter with the FDNY and his now wife, Jeanne. The vision for the wedding reflected the couple perfectly, both liking the idea of keeping it casual but ensuring it was a fun party for everyone, and it was!

The food was one of the highlights of the night. We had the Calexico food truck serving up tacos with chips and guacamole, and a chef cooking Indonesian style BBQ on site, both cuisines representing the heritage of the bride and groom. The Momofuku Milk Bar wedding cake was an absolute hit with everyone and for the last hour we had the MUD truck serving night caps.

Being that the wedding was at the New York Distilling Company, guests received a small bottle of gin with personalized labels as their parting gift. It was truly a night to remember!

To see more ‘behind the scenes’ pictures, please visit the Karen Brown New York Facebook page.

Click here to see professional photographs by Laila Bahman.

5% Goes to ASPCA!

After working with my clients Betty & David to plan their Brooklyn wedding at reBar on April 14 , they chose ASPCA for their 5% donation – another Event that Gives Back!

An excerpt from their website:

“Founded in 1866, the ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Our mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” While there are SPCAs and humane societies all over the country, the ASPCA is not directly affiliated with them. However, the ASPCA works nationally to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with many shelters across the country.”

ASPCA logo

Betty & David’s Brooklyn Wedding!

It was a gorgeous Spring day for my Boston couple who tied the knot at Brooklyn’s reBar yesterday. Although the wedding was indoors the weather could not have been more perfect for the rooftop photo ops! We were so lucky to have Lina Jang fill in as the photographer less than 8 hours before the wedding due to the original photographer being stuck in Puerto Rico. What a life saver she was!

To see more ‘behind the scenes’ pictures, please visit the Karen Brown New York Facebook page.

To see the professional photography by Lina Jang, please visit the Jang Photographers Facebook page.

Wedding Day Dance!

If you’re engaged and in the midst of planning your wedding, you most likely have started to think about your first dance as a married couple.

Which song would best suit you as a couple and being concerned about your fiance having two left feet!

If you’re plagued by this anxiety I would highly recommend that you sign up for dance lessons. Wedding Day Dance specializes in preparing couples for their first dance, helping them to feel confident and unreserved.

Classes are taught at their studio or in the privacy of your own home. As the owner Anne-Marie says, “you’ll be glad you took your first steps with us!”.

photo credit: www.weddingdaydance.com

photo credit: www.weddingdaydance.com

Association of Bridal Consultants at the Essex House!

ABC members had the pleasure of going on a private tour of the newly renovated JW Marriott Essex House last night, then we enjoyed exquisite cuisine prepared by Chef Achilles, a Marriott master chef.

photo credit: Google images

photo credit: Google images

Lindsay from Simply Sunshine Events & me

Lindsay from Simply Sunshine Events & me

The JW Marriott Essex House is a luxury hotel offering stunning views of Central Park and features an Art Deco salon, as well as a more classic Victorian ballroom which can cater to a gorgeous New York City wedding.

photo credit: Bizbash

photo credit: Bizbash

WeDo 1 Year Anniversary Party!

WeDo put on a fantastic event for their 1 year anniversary party at Three-Sixty in Tribeca, a venue space that offers “breathtaking 360 degree views of Manhattan”.

After check-in guests were directed to the elevator to head up to the top floor. As you entered there was a bar set up with a bartender serving champagne – talk about starting the party off right!

The night included a scavenger hunt (which was cleverly set up to help guests meet new people), delicious appetizers and open bar, a live dance band, photo booth, prices and a marching drum line. The energy of the room radiated!

It was indeed an entertaining night and as always, it’s great to reconnect and meet new vendors in the wedding industry!

Tasting at AYZA!

Last Thursday I had a private tasting at Ayza West Village with the Director of Public Relations & Marketing, Irem Eren.

I’ve been to the Midtown location several times for their famous chocolate martinis but have never eaten there. I was quite impressed with the variety of selections presented at the tasting!

To start, we had the assorted cheese platter with French Brie, Tete de Moine, Wild Boar Prosciutto, Di Parma, agave paste and hummus.

The second course was Angry Chicken Lollipops, Shrimp Dumplings, White Truffle Pizza, Hot Artichoke, Wild Mushroom Pita Tart and our wine selections were a Torrentes, Chardonnay, Garnacha and Tempranillo.

For dessert the chef presented us with assorted chocolate truffles from Jacques Torres.

There were so many things I enjoyed but I have to say my favorites were the white truffle pizza, Tete de Moine from the cheese platter (which was also shaved to look like petals from a flower) and Ayza’s very own wine, Garnacha.

The West Village location is ideal for a private event, whether it’s a birthday or anniversary, a bridal shower, engagement party or wedding brunch – it has a cozy and comfortable atmosphere and they have different party packages to meet your needs. It’s also a great place for a romantic date or a girl’s night out. They even have Live Jazz Monday’s from 7-10pm if you’re looking for a fun group outing!

Happy Holidays from KBNY!

2012 was such a wonderful year for Karen Brown New York! We had the pleasure of working with so many wonderful clients and creating unforgettable events for their special occasions.

Here is a video recap of our year in event planning and the charities that benefited from “An Event that Gives Back!”.

Visiting Chef Dinner at the Yale Club!

Each month the Yale Club hosts a “Visiting Chef Dinner” and last night I had the honor of attending the October dinner with photographer Lina Jang. We were guests of Kevin O’Brien, Director of Food & Beverage and the visiting chef was Carmen Quagliata, Executive Chef and Partner at Union Square Café, a Danny Meyer restaurant.

The menu consisted of four courses and included wine pairings and cooking demonstrations. Everything was absolutely scrumptious! For the appetizer we had sunchoke sformato with white truffles, first course was hand-rolled garganelli with speck, brussel sprouts and sage, second course was beef braised in barolo with polenta and root vegetables, and the third course was a honeycrisp apple cobbler with sour cream ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

If you’re not familiar with the Union Square Café, they have received The New York Times’ three-star rating twice, and also earned Zagat Survey’s #1 ranking as New York’s Most Popular Restaurant for the past nine years and have numerous James Beard Foundation Awards. They also have a mission to support the community, delivering meals to patients of the Jacob Perlow Hospice Center at Beth Israel Hospital, and buy most of their ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket.

In addition to the restaurant, they have a venue called located in the Hudson Yards neighborhood called Kitchen with spectacular views of the Hudson River. The space is available for seated dinners, cooking classes, film shoots, cocktail receptions, and more. If that wasn’t enough, they also operate Union Square Events’ which offers off-premise catering for special events.

The Yale Club is also a spectacular place for events; whether you’re looking for a wedding venue with outdoor space or private dinner with your closest friends, their facilities are open to the public but there is a screening process if you’re not a member.

Wish Upon A Wedding – NYC Launch!

Tonight is the launch of Wish Upon a Wedding in New York City at the Eventi Hotel. It’s wonderful to see so many industry friends coming together to support such a wonderful cause!

If you’re not familiar with Wish Upon a Wedding, it is a non-profit organization that “provides weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.” Thanks to industry partners, sponsors and individual donations, everything from the venue to the flowers, the cake, the wedding gown and more are provided to the couples free-of-charge. To find out more, please visit their website; Wish Upon a Wedding.

Catch-up over Cake Pops!

After being a repeat cake pop customer of Haute So Sweet, I finally got the chance to catch up with the owner Michelle this week at Birch Coffee.

After doing a lot of business with a vendor it’s always nice to be able connect on a personal level. As a relatively new business owner I’m always looking for ways to improve my processes and structure and Michelle had a lot of great advice to share! I was also able to see more of her cake designs and learn more about that side of her business. She even brought me red velvet and cookies & cream cake pops which was such a thoughtful gift, especially since I’m always ordering them for my clients and never get to indulge myself!

Wine & Cake Tasting Event!

Are you engaged? Do you want the chance to meet several great wedding vendors in one location? Then plan to stop by Artvesta Studio’s Wine and Cake Tasting Event tonight, September 20!

M1 Club: 450 West 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Avenues, 7:00-9:30pm

One of my favorite cake designers, Amy Landini Kathuria from Me Too Cakes, will be serving up cake samples and showcasing some of her designs! Here is a picture of her most recent cake she did for the Peninsula Hotel. The inspiration came from the e-vite they used for their event.

There will also be makeup touch-ups from Crissy Mc Weeney and The House of Makeup, great music from DJ Johnny Stuart, unique planning advice from Sheavonne Harris, and exquisite photography from Tatiana Valerie.

Couples will be eligible to enter their name into a drawing for three amazing prizes:

- One special occasion cake to feed 40 people from Me Too Cakes

- One 30-minute engagement photo session from Atvesta photography

- One candy bar setup (buffet) for your wedding from Sherborne Harris

Rouge et Blanc, Soho!

On Friday I met with an engaged couple at an adorable wine bar in Soho on MacDougal called Rouge et Blanc. The atmosphere feels very colonial French and the staff gave very personal attention when selecting wine. The Sommelier, Thomas Cregan, who was not present at the time we were there, has more than 20 years of wine-tasting experience from the regions of France and he placed eighth in the Best Sommelier in America 2011 Competition!

My wine of choice was a glass of Chateau Respide-Medeville Graves Blanc 2009, a lovely crisp white wine. The food, although we didn’t eat, looked delightful! Their cusine is an interesting combination of French-Vietnamese.

If you’re looking for a romantic date place in Soho, this is the ticket! Check it out if you’re in the area!


Last night I met a newly engaged couple to discuss wedding plans at an adorable West Village wine bar called Entwine, just south of the Standard Biergarten. The décor is shabby-chic with several antique furniture pieces that create a warm and cozy environment. They also have a small garden patio in the back and a basement bar where they play live music every Wednesday.

Being an event planner I’m always looking for new venues to add to my list and I feel Entwine would be an ideal place for a private cocktail party! Check it out if you’re ever in the area!