September 30, 2019 • Sarah Schwartz
An Event to Remember
When the mother is in stationery, the daughter’s milestone will be most memorable!
Confession time: I began planning my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah before I even met my husband. Starting in 1998, every time I’d walk National Stationery Show (NSS), I quietly envisioned the event as I perused albums, imagining which suite would be the one to announce my imaginary child’s imaginary Bat Mitzvah.
Eventually I began planning the actual Bat Mitzvah of my real daughter, Veronica. And while the invitation was important, this was just one element among many! “Focus on the ceremony, not the party,” parents were urged at our temple’s B’nai Mitzvah Planning workshop, and by the time the party ended, I completely agreed.
Veronica’s Bat Mitzvah culminated not just years of religious school, but six months of private tutoring — and lots of practice! In order to assume adult Jewish duties, the Bat Mitzvah leads the service by reciting and chanting Hebrew from the Torah (where it’s written without vowels!) and Haftorah, aided by a rabbi and cantor. And because Veronica’s Bat Mitzvah was on her 13th birthday, she could (and did) accurately say on June 29, 2019, “Today, I’m an American teenager and a Jewish adult.”
B’nai Mitzvah themes like basketball or dance are common, but I liked the idea of “branding” the event much like our bridal counterparts. So my first major design task was getting Leslie Chalfont at giddy paperie to create a watercolor logo.
We integrated Veronica’s favorite things — pastels, figure skating, roller coasters and our much-adored dog Scout. Our temple requires every Bat Mitzvah to do a Mitzvah project, volunteering or fundraising for an organization that speaks to them. This ties the larger concept Tikkun Olam, or fixing the world — and simultaneously allows us to share our happiness with others. Veronica selected Canine Lifeline, which rescues and provides medical care to dogs, so Scout’s presence echoed her efforts.
We used the logo everywhere. Our guests first saw it letterpressed in black and white by Piggyback Press, but it was artfully placed throughout the invitation suite in full color. While the technical aspects of the invitation were beguiling — classic Crane styling and papers, edge painting, rose gold foil, lined envelopes, and lots and lots of letterpress in mulberry ink — it was the artful design of Elizabeth Grace’s Laura Manteuffel that made it such a showstopper!
Once those were mailed, I focused on all the many, many other moving parts. There were custom yalmulkes (skullcaps) to order, a program and a speech to Veronica to write, family members to recruit and prep for the ceremony — as well as endless party details. I’m so glad I took my time interviewing party planners, caterers, DJs and photographers to get the right, reliable fit. Especially since the Saturday festivities were just a part of it all; our celebration actually began with a Shabbat dinner Friday night, thrown by my Mom and in-laws, and ended with an informal, Open House-style Sunday brunch at our house.
In the end, it was an amazing weekend my family will never, ever forget. Veronica led the service beautifully, and our 100+ guests are still raving about various elements! I also gained valuable insights into throwing an event, so I’ll close by reminding every event professional reading this: You are an incredibly important partner in the party process. So the next time a stressed-out mom saunters in, take as much off her plate as you can, and she’ll forever appreciate you! You may even want to remind her — as Laura did as I was panicking over some detail now long forgotten — that this should be a happy time. Let the professionals do their jobs, and try to enjoy the process!
I am still in awe of the industry talent who helped set the scene at our simcha (joyous occasion) — and I will be forever grateful. Thank you!
Leslie Chalfont, giddy paperie: Logo
Tal Shpantzer, Talfoto: Bat Mitvah Portraits
Emily LaHue: Save the Date and invitation calligraphy
Bonnie Marcus, Bonnie Marcus Collection: Custom signboard
Laura Manteuffel, Elizabeth Grace: Invitation design, assembly, stamping and mailing, photography, unlimited hand-holding
Crane: Letterpressed, edge-painted, rose gold foiled invitation suite with lined envelope
Underwood Letterpress: vintage stamps for invitations
My Mind’s Eye: Fans for photo shoot and party décor; light-up straws
Carlson Craft: Custom Napkins and coasters
COSCO: custom stamp for chocolate fountain take-out boxes
PaperSource: DIY Paper flowers
Echo Park Paper: DIY Paper flowers
Piggyback Press: Letterpressed Save the Dates
Rifle Paper Co: Napkins, place cards (Sunday Brunch)
Mud Pie: Platters, glass beverage dispenser, silverware dispenser (Sunday Brunch)
Hester & Cook: Table runner (Sunday Brunch)
Sandy’s Party Bags: custom goodie bags for out-of-towners
Valley Cruise Press: “Greetings from Cleveland” custom enamel pins for goodie bags