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When You Know, You Know | Great Performances


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When You Know, You Know
CPS Events at The Plaza
by Ashley Furman and Emily Reifel

There are certainly times when I feel like I am repeating myself daily in this job, “Congratulations on your upcoming Wedding Celebration” are words that I speak quite frequently with great enthusiasm. Then there are days when I feel like I have a certain connection to people right off the bat, even over the phone and sometimes I forget to congratulate them because we are off to plot our ideas right away.  This was definitely the case when Ashley Furman called me in February in 2012 we connected immediately, and I knew that she was meant to host her Wedding at The Plaza.  And we hadn’t even met!

Once Ashley and I met in person she knew she definitely had to be at The Plaza and that in her heart she made the right decision.  Ashley absolutely loves romance and all things French, a theme which we incorporated throughout her whole wedding weekend. A planning session was in order and for inspiration I took Ashley to my new favorite French Wine Bar, Chateau Cherbuliez (  The ideas that came from that meeting over moules frites and oysters came to life over her wedding weekend.  In her own words Ashley describes how her own fairy tale became reality.

“Since my brother Sean had his engagement party at the Plaza during its makeover in 2007, I fell in love with its history, warmth and charm. But I hadn’t yet found my prince! Luckily, my childhood friend, big sister by choice and eventual maid-of-honor, Michele, had my back. Little did I know my future husband was waiting for me in the New Jersey town I grew up in!

Fast-forward to the summer of 2010, I was living and working in Manhattan. Michele called me one day and insisted she HAD to introduce me to a guy that she was positive I would end up with. Jaded and unimpressed by the dating scene in New York, I had zero expectations. Still, I kept an open mind and agreed to hear her out!
By October, Michele was hosting a charity event and lured Jerry in with the prospect of business networking. Michele pulled him by the arm at cocktail hour, dropped him off in front of me, and there he was! The chemistry was instantaneous, so much so that others picked up on it. At the after-party, a woman we had just met asked us “so how long have you been married?”

A year and a half later, Jerry proposed in the study at my childhood home where my late father spent all of his time. Immediately after I called The Plaza and spoke to Emily. Just as my chemistry was instantaneous with Jerry, I was instantly connected with her.

There were certain things that were incredibly important to me, especially the food, as I imagined the experience for my guests. I trusted that CPS Events at The Plaza would offer me the best of the best in catering and service.

When I envisioned the ambiance I wanted to create in the ballroom, I called on my memory of the rose gardens of Bagatelle in Paris where my mom had taken me as a little girl. I wanted the flower décor to bring the room to life without detracting from its natural beauty and elegance. One of my more difficult decisions was color. I imagined the drama, romance and sexy edge of RED, but was apprehensive to choose such a bold color. Of course, Emily was by my side shouting with confidence to go for it!  Along with a lot of help of Jessy from Fleurs NYC, we created the gorgeous romantic atmosphere I had imagined!

While sitting in the garden at Chateau, Emily encouraged me to try my first oyster! I knew how much my family and friends loved them, and I was instantly hooked!  We wound up hosting our rehearsal dinner at Chateau and oysters ended up playing an interesting role at our Wedding.

Soon the big day arrived and after the nerves settled I was able to relax and enjoy the affair!

Guests were transported to the gothic Grace Church from The Plaza in Double Decker Buses stocked with miniature bottles of Moet & Chandon to keep them bubbly & happy on the ride downtown. 

Arriving at Grace Church, I was overwhelmed (in a good way!) as throngs of people surrounded my car. Emily was once again wearing another hat (one of many!) as she played paparazzi and managed to get some beautiful shots of me exiting the car. The ceremony was surreal and everything I dreamt of; including my mother’s close friend Lucia singing Bach-Gounoud’s Ave Maria.  I felt so lucky to be married in such a beautiful, grand church. And seeing Jerry at the end of the (very long!) aisle made everything complete.

Guests were welcomed to the Plaza in The Palm Court for the cocktail reception where waiters passed my father’s signature drink, Extra Dry Stoli Martini’s with Green Olives as a special nod to him that Emily thought of to keep him there in spirit.

The best part of cocktail hour was definitely the oyster shuckers. Emily introduced me to the idea of working with Oysters XO ( after we discovered my new found love for oysters at Chateau. Girls dressed in black-tie roamed around offering hand shucked oysters complete with a variety of condiments to guests. It was BRILLIANT!

Guests were then drawn into The Grand Ballroom for dinner and dancing. Three long rectangular tables were adorned with candelabras surrounded by lush red blooms of roses, dahlias, gloriosa lilies and other seasonal reds. Jessy, my mother and I collaborated on an idea for large rose tree arrangements in gold urns on the rounds complete with green branches, red roses, jamesstorey orchids and lots of curly willow.

Guests were offered a Roasted Beet Salad to start followed by a choice of filet mignon with truffle risotto or roasted black bass with lobster polenta.

And to be sure everyone was dancing the night away after their delicious dinner, Jerry and I insisted on passed desserts on the dance floor. Emily and Chef Jack Kiggins made my wildest dessert imaginations come true with every bite sized dessert I could think of that included French macaroons, mini chocolate daquoise, churros with spiked chocolate shots, and key lime tartlets, a favorite of Jerry’s!

Before long it was time for the cake cutting.  After Jerry & I toasted to our guests, they were surprised by the waiters with 25 Mini Wedding Cakes that were brought out like a parade into the room.  Each one was carefully crafted by the magnificent Sylvia Weinstock and the guests enjoyed devouring each one!

The night ended and we all decided to wind down in The Rose Club in the lobby of the hotel where we had time to reflect on what a spectacular night we had.  I’m ready to do it all again, and so are my guests! I am still hearing daily of what a wonderful wedding we had.  Thank you to the entire CPS Events Team for making my wedding day so special!”

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