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No Bridezillas Here. January is Busy Season for Local Wedding Planner.

In Norwalk, Rosinne Chlala and her team at "Festivities" are ready when the holidays ring in 25-30 engagements.

Jen Myles, Rosinne Chlala and Noreen Palumbo in Festivities' office at 2 Wilton Ave. in Norwalk. Credit: Leslie Yager
Jen Myles, Rosinne Chlala and Noreen Palumbo in Festivities' office at 2 Wilton Ave. in Norwalk. Credit: Leslie Yager
By Leslie Yager

Tis the season of popped questions.

According to an article in The Atlantic, January is like Christmas for wedding planners since a third of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

At Festivities in Norwalk, Rosinne Chlala, who has planned events for over 30 years, says the phone rings predictably in January. 

"There is a seasonality to this business and we're really busy now with phone calls from people who got engaged during the holidays and on New Year's."

But while proposals are timed like clockwork, Chlala says much else has changed.

"These days there are companies that specialize in creating proposal moments because grooms want it to be special. They work to create a 'proposal experience,'" Chlala said.
 
And while Chlala can recall a time when the bride's mother did all the planning and the groom just showed up, that too has changed.

"Gone are the days the mother of the groom would wear beige to the wedding and not say anything," Chlala explained, adding that these days she works with the bride and groom as a team. 

"Your engagement is your first experience working together as a couple," Chala said. "Negotiating and planning something together is the first step in the partnership."

Chala, who founded Festivities back in 1984 with her brother, executive chef Bill Kaliff, noted another recent trend. "Now, because of the costs and weddings becoming so visual because of TV shows, social media, Pinterest and so on, couples are getting more creative," said Chlala whose website features wedding photos ranging from nautical to vintage.

"Once they've made their decision to get married, couples want momentum," said Chlala, as she buzzes through the 4,000 sq. ft. space that houses Festivities' offices, warehouse and kitchen. "Once the planning process starts, we create a monthly checklist."

Chlala describes her philosophy of keeping couples happy as, 'Leave the angst out and stay on track.'

"There are no bridezillas here," Chlala said, adding, "They don't hear the word 'no' from me. I honor what they like. I never tell a couple they can't have it. We talk things through and maybe they come to a conclusion themselves as they process."

Chlala said she most enjoys building relationships with her clients and a big chunk of planning involves finding ways to include extended families.

"We sit down and go through all the expectations of families. These days there are blended families and you help them to get to a place where they can all live happily," Chlala said. "You find a way for everyone in the new extended or blended family to feel honored right in the beginning of the wedding. Maybe with a song or something symbolic."

Chlala said Fairfield County is an ideal spot for destination weddings and October is as popular as June. "A lot of couples pick Connecticut as a venue because it's close to New York City, but logistically it's easy to get around," she said, adding that couples often make an entire weekend of it. 

Festivities' wedding operation, roughly half of the company's business, comes from a combination of referrals and web searches. Charity benefits, birthdays, anniversaries and corporate special events also keep Chlala busy. 

Festivities has won Best Wedding Planner on Best of the Gold Coast in 2012 and 2013, as well as Wedding Wire honors including Bride's Pick 2012 and Couple's Choice 2013.

Along the way, Chlala, created Festivities Foundation and a project called Pass on the Love, which was featured last fall on Patch. The non-profit takes donated party items and resells them, with proceeds going to agencies that help survivors of domestic violence and their families. Toward that end Chlala rents a seasonal booth at SoNo Marketplace, which is closed for the winter but will reopen in the spring. 

Festivities is located at 2 Wilton Ave. in Norwalk. Tel. (203) 847-7774. Email: info@festivitiesevents.com Or find Festivities on Facebook.

Related Story:
Festivities Foundation in Norwalk: "Passing on the Love" 

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