By Carrie Berk, MitzvahMarket.com Teen Blogger
After writing so many articles for MitzvahMarket.com about attending my friends’ Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, it was finally my turn to have one. We selected the date, 1-16-16, not just because it had a nice ring to it, but because it’s the actual time they read about Miriam, Moses’ sister, in synagogues. “Miriam” is my Hebrew name, and I’m named for my great grandma Miriam Horwitz, who was very special to my mom.
Pictured (L): Bat Mitzvah girl Carrie. All photos by Heidi Green Photography.
I knew I wanted the evening to feel like a red carpet movie premiere, and I came up with “Lights, Camera…Carriewood!” for my theme. The first step was creating a logo and a save-the-date card that had “star quality.” We mailed guests a movie ticket printed with all the info on it, and tucked it into a gold padded envelope with microwave popcorn and movie theater candy.
For the logo, we created several options: my fave was a Carriewood logo with an Oscar in the center of the A with film reels for the Os. But I also loved a black movie camera with my Bat Mitzvah date as well as my name surrounded by gold, sparkly stars. We decided to use them all, varying them between the hoodies, tees, sweatpants, hats, bags, socks, and sunglasses that we were creating as favors.
My dream was to have photos on display at my Bat Mitzvah celebration that looked authentically Hollywood. So for my 12th birthday gift, my parents arranged for a trip to California so I could shoot with renowned dance photographer, David “Sharkcookie” Hoffman. He snapped pics of me on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater, even with the real Hollywood sign in the hills behind me.
My theme was carried through in every detail, from the giant Oscar statuettes that flanked the dancefloor to the movie posters atop lucite film reels that served as centerpieces at each table. The montage video was “The E True Hollywood Story of Carrie Berk,” and I gathered videos of celebrities saying “Mazel Tov, Carrie” everywhere I went. I went to book signings, meet and greets, stagedoors…I even chased Jimmy Fallon into a store when I saw him in the Hamptons!
The ceremony was a tribute to all the people I love, including my grandpa “Gee,” Great-Grandma Miriam, Great-Grandma Chickie Binder, and my ballet teacher Elizabeth Maria Walsh who passed away only a year earlier. Their photos were copied onto fabric and sewn into my tallit, and my Mitzvah Project for Dancers with Cancer was in Elizabeth’s honor. The highlight for me was singing “Aitz Hayim,” with my mom (she had sung it at her Bat Mitzvah as well) and my dad blowing the shofar to signal me becoming a woman in the eyes of the congregation.
When it was over, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and headed for the party upstairs. We entered on a red carpet with velvet ropes and paparazzi snapping pics into the huge room lit entirely in gold and red. The napkins at each place setting were folded to look like Oscar envelopes with gold seals, and there were oversized filmstrips with my photos scattered throughout the space. Over the arch that marked the kids’ lounge, was a giant Carriewood sign in lights, and my sign-in board was a mirrored movie poster that read: “The Bat Mitzvah.”
My parents wanted everything guests saw and tasted to reflect my favorite things, so we created a “restaurant row” that included Burger-Fi, Gina La Fornarina, even a “Starberks” bar that served frappuccinos. I had a Dubsmash booth (since I love to sing) and Chic Sketch artists drawing fashion sketches of everyone in their red carpet attire. I also insisted on a virtual “Carrie Coaster” so everyone could go on a wild ride (rollercoasters are kind of my thing!).
Since I’m the author of a cupcake book series, there had to be amazing sweets throughout the evening. We started by passing out 700 bite-sized Baked by Melissa cupcakes on silver platters before the ceremony. There were old-time Hollywood “cigarette girls” handing out boxes of movie candy during the cocktail hour, and for take home treats, guests got Schmackery cookies (my fave in all of NYC) and a custom Georgetown Cupcake with the Carriewood logo on top. The dessert bar spotlighted Marilyn Monroe cupcakes with fluffy white frosting forming her skirt, and my cake was a showstopper, too: giant film reels stacked nearly three feet tall with my star on top and a giant box of popcorn spilling out at the base—all 100 percent edible.
My Bat Mitzvah party flew by and before I knew it, the evening was drawing to a close. I lay down on the dancefloor, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. I was heartbroken that it would never happen again. But the best part now is looking at all of the photos and watching the video. I saved every single card my friends and family gave me, and even kept some of the lounge pillows from the party for my bed.
My advice to teens on their Bar or Bat Mitzvah day—now having experienced it firsthand—is to enjoy every second. Don’t let anything stress you out. Remember that everyone there loves you and supports you, and this is truly your moment to shine!
The following vendors helped to make Carrie’s celebration special. If you get in touch with anyone below, please let them know you read about their products or services on MitzvahMarket.com:
Custom Tallit: Tallit By Ina Bearak Helfand, 914-656-2816
Decor/Florist: Phyllis Skolnick, Extraordinary Productions, 973-467-1637
Montage: Shari Sollender, Images4ever, 973-945-0573
Security: Bar Mitzvah Bouncer, 973-758-9800
Venue: Guastavino’s, 212-980-2711
Event Producer: Patrick Menton, Plan P Productions
Music/Entertainment: Total Entertainment, 201-894-0055
Photographer/Videographer: Heidi Green Photography, 212-545-5304
Invitations: Venture, 212-288-7235
Logos: Amy Wohl, Fabudesigns,com, 312-513-1698
Carrie’s Dresses: Sherri Hill
Clutch: Custom crystal bag, ourwickedaddiction.com/products
Mom’s Dress: Custom beaded suit from Vivaldi, 212-734-2805
Officiant: Joel Cohen/Becky Keren, Door to Door Tutoring, 888-224-DOOR
Oscar statuettes: www.trophypartner.com
Cupcakes: Baked By Melissa, 212-842-0220; Georgetown Cupcakes, Soho (cupcake favors): 212-431-4504; Marilyn Monroe and tuxedo cupcakes for reception: Cakes Jagla, 718-425-0974
Cookies: Schmackary’s, www.schmackarys.com
Cake: Vinny Buzzetta-Staten Island Cakes, 347-751-3648
This story is from our 2016 Mitzvah Market Magazine. If you would like to request a free copy, click here.