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Thursday, March 19, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Joe St. Cyr, Director/Owner of Joseph Todd Events

Originally from New Hampshire’s bucolic western region, Joseph Todd St. Cyr (Joe to those who know him) has always had a hand in the hospitality industry. From summer jobs at lakeside restaurants to helping create imaginative theme parties in college, Joe was always concerned with pleasing the senses and keeping everything organized. So it seemed only natural to take his natural penchant for chaos control to the professional level when landing in New York City in 1989. He has worked in the restaurant industry, public relations, high-end catering, venue management, event planning, marketing, design and production.

In 2001 Joe left the Russian Tea Room as senior catering sales manager to strike out on his own with Joseph Todd Events. With offices in both New York City and New Hampshire, he specializes in the planning and orchestration of weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and life’s other milestone events. For Joe, it’s all about location when it comes to events. Give him a flat lawn in the Hamptons and he’ll turn it into a Tuscan-themed seaside soiree, inspired by the owners’ historically renovated Italianate home and their love of Barolo wines.

Working in both Manhattan and the New Hampshire area gives Joe the freedom to interact with clients who challenge him in different ways. After a fall and winter season of New York City hotel, museum, and loft events, Joe looks forward to heading north with his partner and their two yellow labs. Summer means weddings in white tents under the stars with green mountains as the backdrop. Add to this blank canvas colorful in-season flowers, fine linen, fresh local foods, a hot band and cold champagne and you have a Joseph Todd Events original. Whom You Know's Peachy Deegan recently chatted wtih Joe St. Cyr!

Peachy Deegan: What inspired you to create Joseph Todd Events?
Joe St. Cyr: When I left the Russian Tea Room I wanted to express myself and take control of my life. I wanted to make things happen instead of having them happen to me. I also wanted to be able wear jeans and a jacket every day instead of a full-on suit and tie!

What are some of your favorite events that you have created and what did you like about them?
A wedding last summer at The Powerhouse at the American Museum of Natural History comes to mind. The event was truly a challenge to design and implement because it had to strike a balance between the two sides of the clients' personalities; quirky kitsch and big-city sophistication. The couple had just gone to India as was inspired by colors like orange, pink, saffron, and acid green. At first, I worried that it would be too much but we agreed to include ivory and brown into the palette which softened it perfectly.
For fun, we used mini die-cast metal NYC yellow taxis as the escort "cards" which ended up on dinner tables as part of the decor and doubled as favors/souvenirs. This was great because nearly all the guests were out-of-towners. The rehearsal dinner was a private cruise on Bateaux New York so everyone got to do "the tourist thing" together as part of the wedding weekend.
At the end of the day, the clients and their guests were thrilled because the wedding was a true representation of the couple joining together.

This past fall/winter I did a bar mitzvah and then a bat mitzvah four months later for the same family. This was a huge undertaking for the mother who was responsible for all the planning over a period of almost two years. Each event was unique and both were big successes. But what I liked most was that I became close with my client and her family. I can't wait until we start planning her third child's bat mitzvah any day now!

What aspect of your job do you like the best?
Autonomy. Even though I work long hours, I decide which ones. I also like that I can work remotely from my home office in New Hampshire and spend several weeks a year there.

What kinds of clients are the best to work with and why?
A professional women who hasn't been planning her weddings since she was 12 years-old is my dream client.
She is a usually a good decision-maker and has other things to do with her time than obsess over her wedding. She just needs it done and done well.

What are the best event spaces in Manhattan?
I love a clean white loft space because it allows complete freedom of imagination. Throw in a roof deck with a view and you've got something that's sure to please.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
In my cozy apartment with my partner and our two yellow labs.

What is your favorite shop?
The Container Store. I can't help it, I just love all those boxes!

What is your favorite drink?
A Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Coca Cola on ice in a glass.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Bar Pitti

What is your favorite NYC book?
The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
Take a three-hour lunch in Central Park on a gorgeous Spring day.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Most overrated: Midtown Manhattan. Give me the West Village any day.
Most underrated: The relative social, economic, and racial harmony. New York shouldn't work but it does!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
Though for my work I have to be able to understand and incorporate various trends, my personal taste runs to the very simple and traditional. My New Hampshire roots are with me always.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Through my website:

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