Jewish Party Maven trains and coaches sites and vendors to understand and honor Jewish Party traditions.
TPat Blackwell’s name brings to mind one thing in Metro Detroit’s Jewish party-planning community: Indispensable.
Founder and face of the Red Coat Ladies (named after their iconic, eponymous outfit), Blackwell has been running the bar and bat mitzvah and wedding show for nearly 25 years under the Party Assurance name. Whether it’s arguing with unruly guests, sewing brides into their dresses at the last minute to make sure the party deadlines go off without a hitch – so parents throwing the party can enjoy of the event instead of worrying about the details – Blackwell and his team saw it and did it all.
“I love that we allow people to enjoy their special moments,” she says. “In a typical four hour party, how many memories can you create? Do you want your memories to be screaming in the kitchen because you run out of fries? We allow people to enjoy every second of their events.
Building on years of experience and impeccable reputation, Blackwell has started a new business (and donned a new blue blazer): Jewish Party Maven trains and coaches sites and vendors to understand and honor Jewish Party traditions. .
Blackwell comes by recognizing this need intrinsically, because she too had to learn everything. Raised a Catholic on a Minnesota farm with 10 siblings and prize pigs, she knew nothing about bar mitzvahs. After graduating with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, she, her husband, and their three children landed in Metro Detroit, where she responded to an ad for a building manager in charge of events at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.
“They called me and told me about the job,” says Blackwell. “I said, ‘Don’t you want someone Jewish?’ and they said, ‘no, we want someone who can work on Yom Kippur.’ ” His answer ? “What is that?”
Eleven years later, “after seeing people throw amazing parties they didn’t enjoy”, she started Party Assurance, and now she’s ready to share what she’s learned with others.
With a holiday break at work during the pandemic (and after breaking his back last June), Blackwell has started to think about ways to help customers in less physically demanding ways.
“I’ve always dreamed of a job that I could do from anywhere,” says Blackwell, stressing that Red Coat Ladies isn’t going away. But Jewish Party Maven is an extra layer to his business. In fact, every Red Coat Lady must be certified in the Jewish Party Maven course. “I organized an Orthodox mock wedding for my employees,” says Blackwell. “It was fun.”
“Week after week at Party Assurance we train salespeople to work with Jewish customs. After signing the ketubah, for example, we know the rabbi is coming back to do the bedekken, but the photographer has left because they think they are done, so I run after the photographer to come back ”, Blackwell explains. “The chuppah might be made from a talis that the grandfather smuggled out of Europe during the Holocaust – the photographer might think it’s just a piece of cloth. A band leader can accept a job without knowing what the hora is. How is he going to learn it? On Google? Our salespeople would do a better job of taking care of our Jewish customers if they really understood the traditions.
“A Christian marriage is very different from a Jewish marriage, even in terms of chronology. When a Jewish wedding takes place at a traditionally non-Jewish venue, like the Oakland Hills Country Club, it’s important for vendors to create a Jewish-style timeline. And there are so many mixed marriages now that I work with many vendors on behalf of Jewish families to teach these Jewish traditions.
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While Blackwell learned a lot on the job, she’s also read a lot about it. “I am a researcher at heart and I love to learn. I love all of this Jewish world and what it represents, its history, and I want to promote understanding of it in every way possible.
Blackwell and his Jewish Party Maven team can benefit vendors, caterers, photographers, videographers, venues, DJs, bands, decorators and planners, florists and more – anyone involved in the traditions of weddings or b’nai mitzvahs.
A recent party Blackwell worked on celebrated a student who attends Hillel Day School, which encourages families to host kosher-style events. “The parents asked the caterer for dairy products, but the chef translated this as meatless and made a soup with chicken broth,” she explains. “He had no idea he had made that mistake.”
Blackwell launched the Jewish Party Maven on January 1, 2021 and built it during COVID, starting with a weekly podcast, Book More Jewish Weddings with Pat Blackwell. (Her data indicates that 22% of listeners are from France and Bavaria – “I don’t know how they heard about it!” She says.) Each podcast focuses on a specific topic or word, like tallit or Mazel. Tov. It will also offer courses, which will launch in August, and workshops, which anyone can register for, and also plans to have digital offerings, in which participants can become certified.
She was approached by her own clients, who wanted their own suppliers to take training with her company. And she got hired by the brand new Daxton Hotel in Birmingham because they haven’t worked with many Jewish weddings yet.
She also recently hosted a workshop at the Knollwood Country Club.
“Some of their chef team came, along with their servers and management team,” says Blackwell. “They know a lot, but they don’t necessarily understand the customs. And there is a lot of staff turnover.
“They take it seriously because they want their staff to take good care of their customers.”
To learn more about Jewish Party Maven, visit jewishpartymaven.com.