A Dream Client. An Idyllic Location. Amazing Memories. Lasting Connections.
By Stephanie Kantzos Mages
Throughout its history, Great Performances has been present at countless milestone celebrations, from weddings to baby showers (and then back to weddings); from bar and bat mitzvahs to retirement celebrations; and so many more. We treasure each of these events and pride ourselves into turning them into memorable experiences for the couples, families, and loved ones involved.
Along the way, we’ve also developed close relationships with the clients and delight when our paths can cross again, whether socially or by working with them to plan another event.
We recently heard from Stephanie Kantzos Mages, a Great Performances’ alumna, who re-connected with one of her past clients and current friends. They reminisced about a wedding Stephanie had worked on for them, and she shares her story with us here.
In the summer of 2000, a storybook wedding took place that was the highlight of my young career at Great Performances. Over 200 guests were invited to Iona Island, a magnificent natural landmark in the Hudson River known for its winter nesting of bald eagles. The remoteness of the site proved a logistical challenge, to say the least. But with the sharp focus and clear vision of my client Betty Rauch, combined with my own event production experience, we made a superb team. We conceptualized and executed a beautiful wedding for her daughter, while simultaneously forging an enduring bond between the two of us.
What made that event so remarkable? Betty and I gracefully contended with any obstacles, as we fulfilled the unique wedding vision of the bride and groom to be. The couple, Molly and Ben were and are environmental activists who wanted a wedding that was as natural as possible. We marched to Molly’s tune and created magic!
There was a wonderful feeling about each task we took on, women with force and creative power methodically working towards the same goal. This large and complex event included mapping the landscape to find the best location for tents, installing generators for power, finding portable restrooms that were actually attractive, transporting the guests and the necessary equipment to an island, choosing just the right decor to match and compliment the unique surroundings and of course, the gorgeous Great Performances menu!
Even back then we focused on local food products, selecting as many regional ingredients as possible. These included butter, cream and cheese from the Egg Farm Dairy in Peekskill, NY and organic vegetables, herbs and berries from local farms in the Hudson Valley. The New England Lamb Porterhouse and a late-night snack of Bear Mountain Barely Blue Tear of the Clouds Wild Ripened Cheddar were stars of the evening.
This wedding was an extraordinary event and perhaps even inspired my own inner sense of romance. Just 6 weeks later I met the man who was to become my husband, a marriage which took me overseas to my new home in Munich, Germany. I recently visited NYC and reached out to my lovely client Betty. She was delighted at the prospect of reuniting after 22 years, and together with her husband, affectionately welcomed me into their home.
We sat three-in-a-row, like kids in a candy store, reminiscing over Molly’s and Ben’s wedding album, astounding at the marvelous details, and feeling once again the connection that had bonded us all those years ago. It was this Wiedersehen* that reminded me to treasure memories as sweet reunions, celebrate the human spirit and cherish pieces of shared time as one of life’s precious gifts.
*Wiedersehen = meeting
About Stephanie Kantzos Mages
As a 30-year veteran in the special events industry, Stephanie Mages began her events industry journey at Great Performances in the late 1990s. She is currently an independent event planner in the Bavaria region of Germany, working with such clients as Michelin Star Chef Anton Schmaus, AMS OSRAM, and Adobe Inc.