Nearly two decades ago, Brown-Forman’s Chief Entertaining Officer, Tim Laird, was “placed” with his wife Lori – at least, that’s the joke they often tell.
In 1993 the two met in Chicago, where Tim lived at the time, after Lori traveled nearly 280 miles from Detroit upon Tim’s sister’s suggestion.
“I have an executive search firm, Davidson Laird & Associates, and I was working with Tim’s mom and sister for about eight years before I met Tim,” Lori explained. “His sister basically set me up with him. I had been dating people for a while, and Tim had been dating other people, and she had one shot at a sister-in-law, so that was me.”
“I guess I owe my sister since she was a recruiter,” Tim joked. “I keep thinking I owe her a placement fee of some sort.”
“That’s the big joke is that I was officially placed with him,” Lori said.
The couple dated for three years, before Tim proposed to Lori at one of his favorite places in Chicago: Febo’s Restaurant – Famous for Nothing. But, it wasn’t inside the diner where Tim popped the question.
“It was in the car in the rain, technically,” Lori said. “We were in the parking lot (inside) the Hoop-D.”
Three years later, on May 22, 1999, Tim and Lori were married at Korbel Vineyard in Sonoma, Calif. Their wedding was only the second to take place at the site; the first being the marriage ceremony of the owner of the vineyard.
Outside on the deck of the champagne-shaped pool overlooking the winery, Tim and Lori said their “I do’s” in front of 22 guests. “(We) didn’t have to do the big wedding cake, we just had these little petit fours for everybody,” Tim said. “Our close family and friends loved it because a lot of them hadn’t been to wine country and they had a tour of the winery. They had as much fun as we did, if not more.”
Once married, Lori moved to Louisville, where Tim had transferred for business. The two immediately fell in love with the city and its people, but they only enjoy home a short period of time throughout the year.
“He travels all the time (for Brown-Forman) and I still work in Detroit,” Lori explained. “And, so the funny thing is, we’ve been together for 19 years, and the most nights we’ve ever spent in a row consecutively is like 21.”
“So, after 40 years of marriage it’s only like 10 if you add up the days together,” Tim said as he and Lori share a laugh.
The long-distance relationship would be difficult for some couples, but Lori and Tim make it work for them. The two often take the same flight out of Louisville together, or Lori will come along with Tim to help him on set during guest TV appearances in New York City. As Chief Entertaining Officer of Brown-Forman, Tim constantly circles the country, speaking at conferences or on the radio and performing cooking demonstrations on such shows as “Fox and Friends” and “ABC World News Now.”
Lori’s also crucial in helping Tim concoct the perfect cocktail. “We probably develop 120 cocktails a year, just brand new cocktails for organizations, events, programs,” said Tim, who recently penned the cookbook, “That’s Entertaining!” “So, Lori is instrumental as the taste tester. It’s funny, a lot of times (she doesn’t) like the heavy whiskey drinks, but if I make this whiskey or bourbon drink and if (she likes) it, I’ll go, ‘Oh, this will be a hit.’”
When they’re not traversing the U.S., Lori and Tim enjoy spending time inside their beautiful Lake Forest home, known to host some of the best parties on the block.
“One of our favorite things is just to stay at home,” Tim said. “And then, usually, even though we want to relax, people just always drop in, which is fun too. They know there’s always beverages and food here.”
The couple doesn’t regularly entertain as much as they used to, but they’re always prepared in case a visitor arrives. Inside a scrapbook, Tim and Lori keep track of every past get-together they’ve held – recording such details as the guest list, the menu, beverages, start and end time, and even the weather that day – to ensure they’re not serving the same food or throwing the same type of party for whichever group of guests they’re hosting.
Life isn’t just about the party, however. Tim and Lori are also heavily involved in charity work. “Tim’s always developing drinks for various charitable organizations,” Lori said. “He emcees. We’re involved in the BIAK (Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky) Guardia Care, Guilda’s Club, APRON, Denim and Diamonds, FEAT (among others).”
For Tim and Lori, making a positive impact in others’ lives is as important as, if not more than, entertaining them. They may not see each other as often as some couples, but when they’re together they undoubtedly have a fun time and certainly bring out the best in one another.
“You know if one person can you make you even better and vice versa,” Tim said. “It all elevates up to a higher level. I think that’s the key.”
“We got married a little later in life, and we were always very independent people,” Lori said. “So, I think it works for us because we’re still doing our own thing even though we do a ton together. We just really enjoy the entertaining side of things. Tim loves what he does, I love being able to help him. We’re great on our own and we’re even better together.”
“Our motto is have fun” Tim said.
“We’re pretty easy going.” Lori added.
“Don’t let the little things bother you,” Lori said.
“Don’t try to change your partner; embrace (him or her).” Tim advised. “Let each other be yourself.”
Category: In Tandem
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).