“These days nobody wants to appear flashy. They want to appear creative…I wish they wanted to appear flashy,” says Marcy Blum from her Fifth Avenue office, rummaging through her Chanel tote.
Weeks of newspapers and designer shoes are piled high on the velvet couch beside her desk; a cabinet of curiosities towers nearby with archives of invitations, awards and even a bottle of Dom Perignon. In her line of work, one never knows when you’ll need to pop the bubbly.
Blum is celebrating her 30th year in the event-planning industry. An influential eye in all things events, her long career has been marked by dreaming up soirees — especially high-profile weddings — for clientele like former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, the Rockefeller family, LeBron James, former Oscar de la Renta PR girl Erika Bearman and Billy Joel. It’s one thing to get a celebrity retweet or share a dinner hotspot, but it’s another to work with them for 12 months to plan the biggest day of their lives.
After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America, Blum launched Marcy Blum Associates in 1986. Her first notable client was New York’s own Rockefeller family, for whom she planned weddings for both granddaughters. Soon after she was answering calls from Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, a couple she affectionately refers to as her “poster children for a happily married couple.”
It’s safe to assume Bacon and Sedgwick were satisfied customers; inside her office, a handwritten note reads, “Thanks for making our perfect day perfect. Could you possibly move in with us and plan the rest of our lives? All our love, Kyra and Kevin Bacon.”
One way or another, Blum works to make every dollar count; after all, she did write the textbook on accessible wedding planning (that would be two editions of “Wedding Planning for Dummies”). “I think everybody has a budget,” she says. “People, no matter who they are, are consistently shocked by how much a big wedding costs.”
No matter the price tag, Blum works to ensure her clients have (almost) as much fun planning the big day as they do celebrating it. “It’s not the end justifies the means,” she says. “I want the process to be fun too. I want people to look back on the year they planned their wedding and go, ‘That was a really good time. We learned something about hosting and also that was a fun experience.’ It wasn’t like, ‘That was hell but the party was great.’ That’s not what I want.”
Such an approach has earned her many friendships born out of client relationships. Blum even accompanies her brides dress shopping, equipped with subject knowledge garnered from attending international bridal week.
“Sometimes I’ll look at someone and go, ‘Oh my god, I just saw the dress on the runway.’ I know exactly what’s good for you, and I’ll suggest it,” she says. “But usually that’s one of the fun parts for the bride, so they want to take their time shopping.” Her current favorite bridal brands to scout for clients include Oscar de la Renta and Reem Acra. “There are a lot of really wonderful designers paying attention to bridal now, which didn’t used to be the case,” she says.
Blum has separated herself from the pack by never overlooking a detail. For LeBron James’ 2013 wedding to Savannah Brinson, she managed to keep the affair off Instagram by coat-checking guests’ cell phones upon arrival. It’s that mix of the personal and professional that allows her to successfully earn the trust of her clients. “I think those of us who are ‘artists’ certainly have had to become more businesslike, and the people who are completely businesslike have had to become more artistic,” she says. “We all meet somewhere in the middle.”
When one asks a woman who makes plans for a living what the future holds, there are expectations what the answer might be. But instead Blum gives a laugh, glances at her endless inbox and says, “Trying to stay alive long enough.”
In reality, there are far too many celebrations ahead for her to hang up her party hat now.