Any simcha planned by Rivka Holzer Events is exquisite in every detail—even the ones you can’t see. Holzer calls herself a confidante, crisis manager and family dynamics expert. She does more than make the event look beautiful and run smoothly. She takes the stress out of weddings by making sure the bride and groom, and their families, are heard, supported and cared for. If you don’t know why those skills are so valuable, you haven’t made a wedding yet.
“When you get engaged, you’re on cloud nine,” said Holzer. “But a lot of the time the planning process can be very stressful and it’s not talked about a whole lot.” While the day is all about the couple under the chuppah, the planning involves both their families. Sometimes that’s where the stress is coming from. “I want to be the person my couples can go to when they’re having problems, and the person their parents can go to. I’m kind of the mediator, the person all parties involved in the planning process can go to. Because for a wedding, it’s not just the bride and groom.”
Holzer supports and cares for families from the time she begins planning the simcha until it is over. There are times when families disagree on some aspects of the event. Holzer gently validates and listens to each party so that everyone is happy with the final plans.
Clients come to Holzer at different stages in the planning process. Sarah Levine knew the event planner through mutual friends on the Upper West Side. She had recently gotten engaged when she learned that Holzer had started her own events business. She had already chosen most of her vendors for the wedding when she asked Holzer to step in. Holzer brought everything together. “My husband and I talk all the time about how we didn’t feel any pressure or anxiety because Rivka was there,” Levine said. “We were able to focus on ourselves and what we needed to do. She knew exactly how to orchestrate everything perfectly and seamlessly and make sure I and the groom and our families were taken care of.”
Holzer spent many hours with the vendors in advance to understand what needed to happen, and consulted with Levine through the process. “I had a vision for what I wanted, but sometimes it was skewed,” said the bride-to-be. “Rivka had my perspective the whole time and what I wanted for the day. She would integrate her creativity into the wedding itself to help me realize my vision. She came with me to the venue and asked questions I didn’t even think of, and made some changes in the layout. Although I picked the florist, I wasn’t sure he understood what I wanted. The florist sent photos of different arrangements. Rivka looked through every detail and made sure each flower was what I wanted, in the right color, and put it in the contract. I panicked about not having invitations. Rivka made a timeline for me that I didn’t know I needed, and made a schedule for me.”
With the couple working full-time and both sets of parents living out of town, Holzer got all tasks completed. And on the day of the wedding, she helped make the families comfortable. “I didn’t know how stressful wedding planning could be,” said Levine. “If I knew, I would have hired her from the beginning.”
Making the simcha beautiful and memorable is the goal of every event Holzer plans. But everyone has a different idea of what that means for their simcha. She listens, and helps clients realize the vision they have in mind. The essence of Holzer’s creativity is making a fabulous simcha by thinking out of the box and coming up with concepts that are stunning.
Susan Golkin had been thinking about her daughter’s bat mitzvah since she was a toddler. Leah was diagnosed at age 2 with leukemia and had several hospitalizations before becoming cancer-free. To stay strong through the hard times and be optimistic about the future, the Golkins would think about Leah’s bat mitzvah. So when the time arrived, the parents wanted it to be an incredible day for Leah. “Leah’s bat mitzvah meant so much to us,” said Golkin. “Some would say it’s ‘just a party’ but for us and Leah, it was so much more than just a party. It was a celebration of life. We wanted Leah to shine and we wanted to celebrate her achieving so many incredible accomplishments. Rivka understood our vision in one conversation. She turned Leah’s bat mitzvah into the most magical event that we will never forget.”
Golkin thought she knew what she wanted and began planning the logistics herself. But eight weeks before the event, she saw that it wasn’t coming together well. The dance motivator she had hired recommended Holzer to plan the simcha. “Any idea I had that wasn’t working, Rivka fixed,” said Golkin. Since her daughter loved movies, she wanted that as the theme. Holzer had the idea to build excitement by first having a magician entertain the crowd, then opening the doors to the dining room and letting everyone enter. With the anticipation at a fever pitch, Leah arrived, running down the red carpet, cheered on by a sea of friends with their hands up, led by the motivator. “Rivka was there navigating and monitoring,” said Golkin. “She organized the cadence of the event: the people who were going to speak, the caterer, the video montage, the games. She organized the entire flow.”
The décor matched the theme and energy of the simcha. Holzer designed the look of the room to be young and vibrant with pinks, hot pinks and gold. “The room was unbelievably gorgeous,” Golkin said. She had been stressed about table centerpieces until Holzer came up with the perfect idea. Each centerpiece had hot pink lit-up marquee letters in Leah’s initials on top of a mirror framed with movie tickets. “Rivka knew how to light up the room, get the energy going, and even incorporate the Mordechai Shapiro song I wanted,” Golkin said. “It was a magical day with memories that will last a lifetime. I was crying, it was so beautiful. I will be forever grateful.”
Holzer was always creative, even as a child. When she was in high school, she opened a custom cake and cookie business. She also liked working with people. As a college student at Barnard she joined the activities council and loved planning events for the student body. She secured internships in the corporate world and worked for Bloomingdales and Empire Entertainment Company.
To her surprise, she didn’t like the corporate world and went to work for a shul. She loved working with the community. She started working for a high-end catering company that had just been bought by new owners. It had a startup kind of environment where everyone was new and figuring out their part to play. “I like to say I got thrown into the deep end of the pool and learned how to swim—it was the best training,” said Holzer. “After three months in, I ran my first wedding by myself and soon became a very trusted person in the company; I was a top salesperson and a top event manager for high-end, luxury weddings. I was running the front of the house by myself at most jobs that I was selling.”
It all came to an end with COVID. The entire staff was furloughed. “I like to say it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Holzer said. “I was basically sitting at home with not a lot to do. When events started again, I started a Zoom wedding company. And after that I decided to finally go for it and open Rivka Holzer Events.”
Holzer emphasizes that she is there for each simcha. While she plans all kinds of smachot—weddings, b’nai mitzvot, brissim, sheva brachot—there is one special part of a wedding she loves. “I tell my brides beforehand that the bride and groom have special powers on their wedding day to give brachot, blessings. And I always like to get a blessing from the bride.”
After October 7, Holzer started getting questions about whether people should proceed with the simchas they are planning in these perilous times. One of her bat mitzvah clients sent a letter from her daughter’s school advising that no one should postpone a party and the best thing we can do in light of everything happening is to celebrate smachot. “As an event planner, I appreciate that but I also appreciate that on a spiritual level as well,” Holzer said. “I think post-COVID and post-October 7, people are trying to celebrate life as much as possible.”