Nearly two decades ago, Brown-Formanâ€™s Chief Entertaining Officer, Tim Laird, was â€œplacedâ€ with his wife Lori â€“ at least, thatâ€™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 Timâ€™s sisterâ€™s suggestion.
â€œI have an executive search firm, Davidson Laird & Associates, and I was working with Timâ€™s mom and sister for about eight years before I met Tim,â€ Lori explained. â€œHis 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.â€
â€œI guess I owe my sister since she was a recruiter,â€ Tim joked. â€œI keep thinking I owe her a placement fee of some sort.â€
â€œThatâ€™s the big joke is that I was officially placed with him,â€ Lori said.
The couple dated for three years, before Tim proposed to Lori at one of his favorite places in Chicago: Feboâ€™s Restaurant â€“ Famous for Nothing. But, it wasnâ€™t inside the diner where Tim popped the question.
â€œIt was in the car in the rain, technically,â€ Lori said. â€œWe were in the parking lot (inside) the Hoop-D.â€
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 â€œI doâ€™sâ€ in front of 22 guests.Â â€œ(We) didnâ€™t have to do the big wedding cake, we just had these little petit fours for everybody,â€ Tim said. â€œOur close family and friends loved it because a lot of them hadnâ€™t been to wine country and they had a tour of the winery. They had as much fun as we did, if not more.â€
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.
â€œHe travels all the time (for Brown-Forman) and I still work in Detroit,â€ Lori explained. â€œAnd, so the funny thing is, weâ€™ve been together for 19 years, and the most nights weâ€™ve ever spent in a row consecutively is like 21.â€
â€œSo, after 40 years of marriage itâ€™s only like 10 if you add up the days together,â€ 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 â€œFox and Friendsâ€ and â€œABC World News Now.â€
Loriâ€™s also crucial in helping Tim concoct the perfect cocktail. â€œWe probably develop 120 cocktails a year, just brand new cocktails for organizations, events, programs,â€ said Tim, who recently penned the cookbook, â€œThatâ€™s Entertaining!â€ â€œSo, Lori is instrumental as the taste tester. Itâ€™s funny, a lot of times (she doesnâ€™t) like the heavy whiskey drinks, but if I make this whiskey or bourbon drink and if (she likes) it, Iâ€™ll go, â€˜Oh, this will be a hit.â€™â€
When theyâ€™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.
â€œOne of our favorite things is just to stay at home,â€ Tim said. â€œAnd then, usually, even though we want to relax, people just always drop in, which is fun too. They know thereâ€™s always beverages and food here.â€
The couple doesnâ€™t regularly entertain as much as they used to, but theyâ€™re always prepared in case a visitor arrives. Inside a scrapbook, Tim and Lori keep track of every past get-together theyâ€™ve held â€“ recording such details as the guest list, the menu, beverages, start and end time, and even the weather that day â€“ to ensure theyâ€™re not serving the same food or throwing the same type of party for whichever group of guests theyâ€™re hosting.
Life isnâ€™t just about the party, however. Tim and Lori are also heavily involved in charity work. â€œTimâ€™s always developing drinks for various charitable organizations,â€ Lori said. â€œHe emcees. Weâ€™re involved in the BIAK (Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky) Guardia Care, Guildaâ€™s Club, APRON, Denim and Diamonds, FEAT (among others).â€
For Tim and Lori, making a positive impact in othersâ€™ lives is as important as, if not more than, entertaining them. They may not see each other as often as some couples, but when theyâ€™re together they undoubtedly have a fun time and certainly bring out the best in one another.
â€œYou know if one person can you make you even better and vice versa,â€ Tim said. â€œIt all elevates up to a higher level. I think thatâ€™s the key.â€
â€œWe got married a little later in life, and we were always very independent people,â€ Lori said. â€œSo, I think it works for us because weâ€™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. Weâ€™re great on our own and weâ€™re even better together.â€
â€œOur motto is have funâ€ Tim said.
â€œWeâ€™re pretty easy going.â€ Lori added.
â€œDonâ€™t let the little things bother you,â€ Lori said.
â€œDonâ€™t try to change your partner; embrace (him or her).â€ Tim advised. â€œLet each other be yourself.â€