Events Feed

Why We Do What We Do #events #eventplanning

ManhattanblogIn what proved to be, as many people have commented on in various memes on the Facebook and elsewhere, the longest year ever, January, is, at last, over.


I planned and managed four major events at work and helped a friend manage one that she couldn't be at. All went very well but, coming home every night, sometimes after 14 hour days, the Mister would get concerned when I'd (basically) dive face first into the couch out of exhaustion. Wasn't January supposed to be the 'dead' month? Yikes! lol 

Events are stressful and event planning is considered one of the most stressful jobs so it's natural that every so often one wonders - if it's that exhausting, why do it? 

Well, today I will tell the non-secret to why I do this job. I can't say if this is true for all event planners, or even any other event planners, but it IS why I do it.

Here goes: 

So one of the events I planned/managed was a four day training session for about 40 people from around the country. They are all contractors who work remotely and, as I found out, most of their trainings are done via webinar in the isolation of their homes. 

At the end of the first day, we held a reception at the hotel everyone was staying at and, during the course of it, I happened to sit down with some of the attendees. There was enthusiasm, not for the venue (which was beautiful) but for the chance to be out with other people who do what they do. The isolation, one fellow remarked, can be a bit much. 

Then, at the end of the week, while we were all on a bus at the airport, one woman said to another woman sitting in front of me that she'd be in touch once she got home. Once the first woman left to catch her plane, the woman in front of me turned to me, slightly crying, saying "there is still goodness in the world - I have been unemployed for the past three months, and once everyone in the training found out, they've all been helping me find job sites, and making introductions". 

These two moments are not usual moments that I have in my job - people usually shuffle in and shuffle out of meetings, conferences, and receptions, and while I as an intuitive person can tell if it's been a success or not, but rarely do you get this kind of direct feedback. 

And it reminded me why I do this - the human interaction that is literally life-changing. Oh, I don't mean to sound all grandiose about it, but it is nice to be reminded that there is a benefit to what I do; we cannot underestimate the effectiveness of simply getting people together in a room. 

I'm extremely happy to be a part of that and while yes, this is a stressful occupation, there are rewards there that keep us going. 



Giddy About Prometheus #rockefellercenter

Good morning! It's a gorgeous day here in Manhattan and I've been up since the crack o dawn. I've been to the gym, I have been grocery shopping, the exterminator just left, and, at this writing, it's just 11:00am. But, in my defense, it's been an intense couple of work weeks what with the end of the fiscal year and handling a bunch of events. Winding down on the weekends is a bit of a challenge but that comes with the event planner territory. 

PrometheusblogOne of the events I helped with was a big company party at Rockefeller Center. A bunch of us on the team offered to help the planner by being 'extra hands' for her. I was put in charge of hanging a company branded flag from the underside of a large umbrella. It sounds easier than it was. lol

Anyway, the planner had done such an excellent job of logistics that the 'extras' weren't really needed. So, we got to enjoy the party as guests. 

You know, I've lived in New York for a long time and I've worked as a consultant at 30 Rock so being there isn't really super new to me, and yet, I've never actually stood so close that I could touch the gold statue of Prometheus. I mean, if I tried to, a billion security guys would pop out of the woodwork and drag me away, but the idea that I COULD was kind of cool.

It's occurred to me a couple times in the past couple weeks that, at 55, I still get giddy about this kind of stuff. I know that I "shouldn't" be giddy anymore about doing events at this or that place, having lunch at this or that place, or walking on the floor of Rock Center. But I still am. I kind of think that the day I'm not will be a sad day for me. 

My fond wish for you is that you go out and enjoy the day today no matter where you are - and that no matter what you're doing or where you are, you continuously find things that make you giddy! 


Congrats #baskinrobbins #cake #icecream #midtownManhattan

CongratsOk so the other day at work, a colleague of mine got a bunch of us together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of one colleague and the promotion of another. Office jockeys know this is known as "a totes legit reason to have cake". My colleague who ordered the cake from a local Baskin-Robbins was kind of having what is known as "a day" so I offered to go and pick it up for her even though I was having "a day" as well. For me, the cure for "a day" is getting out of the office for a few minutes and going to get cake was as good a reason as any. 

Without going into the whole opera about it, the guys at the Baskin-Robbins weren't really having a great day either and they scrawled the wrong thing on the cake and had to re-do. For some reason, this took about a half hour. And then at one point, the guy came out and asked how to spell "congrats". I am not kidding. I gave him my best gay stare, the kind that Meryl Streep as fauxAnnaWintour can only hope to live up to, and yes, I had to write down "c o n g r a t s" on a piece of paper. 

A few minutes later we got the cake in the picture. 

It's technically correct, I suppose, but.... really? We all had a good laugh about it back at the office, started cutting when I realized I wanted to immortalize it, we ate it, and then went on with our day.

I have to admit, the longer I stare at it, the less weird it gets for me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps the artist in me appreciates the use of negative space.. and that "G" is actually pretty awesome. It kind of looks like it should have a word balloon around it and one of my comic strip characters beneath it, right? 

But anyway, it all taught me a few things:

First, even cake with a strange looking inscription is still cake and that's never a bad thing (and it was delicious). 

Second, those who were given the cake were thrilled and probably thought only of their achievement, not the look of the reward. (This is a handy talent to have in the world). 

Third, you can't take it for granted that people know how to do basic things. 

Fourth, patience is a virtue. 

Fifth, it's easy to look at the 'mistakes' rather than focus on the other things - for example, the decor around the edges is pretty nice but if I'm only looking at the 'mistake', I'm going to miss the rest of it. 

And I share this not to shame the Baskin-Robbins folks, but to point out that so often we have a picture in the world of things as we think they are supposed to be... but they rarely ever turn out as the picture in our head depicts them. So, I urge you to simply do your best to accept whatever it is that comes your way, even if it doesn't look exactly how you thought it would, or should. 

and honestly, if you can do that? well.... I have a cake for you. :)   >wink< 

The Saturday in April

Good morning and Happy Saturday!

Spring 2019bI know some of you have been sniffling and sneezing this week due catching a cold in the 'fake spring' of Wednesday when I, like many people, got caught up in the joy of a warmish day and wore a lighter jacket instead of bundling up like an adult. What can I say? I had taken the day off of to enjoy a kind of day of nothing and found myself in Riverside Park mid afternoon listening to music from "Game of Thrones" and "The Lego Movie 2" (no one can accuse me of not having range) while sitting on my favorite park bench overlooking empty baseball fields.

All around me spring was making itself known and I got in some good photos. I freely admit that I could have allergies rather than a cold, but the end result is the same - I'm a kind of slobbery mess. I did do the smart thing and avoided an event planner networking thing Thursday night. I'm pretty sure everyone appreciated not having to shake a germy hand and listen to me, the serial sniffler, all night long. I missed seeing my pals from NYC & Co and others from the biz, but, as we all know, there are always other events (that's kind of what an event planner DOES).  I ended up going to bed early and having a recurring, ongoing dream that I was a campaign event organizer for Presidential hopeful, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Up until this week I hadn't really paid that much attention to him, but the other day I watched a short video and was very impressed. He's definitely someone to watch out for (and I look forward to creating a lot of his events lol).  

As for the rest of the weekend, I'm going to hydrate, rest, and let my sinuses drain. Have a great weekend everyone! 




Election Day: Jumping for Joy for Marriage Equality: The Surprise Wedding of Rob and John #Marriage Equality #JumpingforJoy #IDo #RevAndrew

If I thought a burlesque wedding was a little out of the ordinary, then a surprise wedding was a piece of cake.

J4JRobJohnWedding2It was ostensibly a 50th birthday party for one of the grooms to be as the guests weren't told that they were about to attend a wedding. My friend Devin who is a wedding planner in Fort Lauderdale knew the guys and set this up. I was to pretend to be a party guest and reveal myself to be a licensed officiant at some point during the party.

It went something like this:

Crowd sings Happy Birthday to Rob

Rob: thank you all so much - I'm glad to be here with the love of my life, John, whom I've been with for 15 years...

Crowd: awwwww

Rob: and I'd like to take the opportunity while you're all here to ask him to marry me!

Crowd: (applause)

John: now if only we were able to get married here and now with everyone already here, that would be really great!

Crowd: (nervous chuckling)

Me: Excuse me! I'm a licensed officiant in New York state and I can marry you!

Crowd: (collective laughter and rolling eyes as they all realize they've been played)

Of course it was a year and a half ago and I'm paraphrasing, but you get the jist. The shot above is from photographer Steve Rosen whom I met at a wedding vendor fair sometime in 2014. He's openly gay and loves to take photos at same sex weddings - so if you need someone to shoot your wedding, I highly recommend Steve!

Election Day: Jumping for Joy for Marriage Equality: Bryce and Neil #Marriage Equality #JumpingforJoy

BryceAndNeilWed29My first wedding in 2013 was with a fabulous gay couple that planned an amazing wedding at a space in Prospect Park (Brooklyn, for those not in the know). With about 80 guests, it was the largest wedding that I had done to date and, I think, the largest that I've done overall.

After some consulting with the couple over coffee, I wrote a terrific ceremony (as I do with all my clients) and looked forward to their February 16th wedding. I wish I had a funny, kooky, story to go along with this wedding - one of the grooms performs all over the world performing horror/comic/sexual monologues as Dandy Darkly .. it's sort of as if Edgar Allen Poe, Jonathan Ames, and Tammy Faye all got together and had a baby, it might come out looking like Dandy Darkly, but only if Pee Wee Herman had been his babysitter. Fortunately/unfortunately, Dandy Darkly must be experienced, he's just not that easy to categorize! LOL

Anyway, this was the third set of friends that I'd married and that's a pretty cool feeling, all in all. :)

Election Day: Jumping for Joy for Marriage Equality: April and Michael #Marriage Equality #RevAndrew

J4JaprilmichaelThis was a fun one! The wedding took place at the Hotel Giraffe for a group of about 40 guests. The bride and groom were lovely and wonderful - but, the summer heat had gotten to me and I was sort of operating at about 90% (and you can kind of tell in the photos, unfortunately). I woke up feeling like a truck had run over me but there was no time for a replacement, so off I went. As we say in the theater, the show must go on.

It was also my first straight wedding - which is kind of funny, I suppose - for most officiants, the same sex wedding is the exception, but for me, the straight one was. I'm used to same pronouns, but different pronouns threw me a little. LOL It's kind of funny if you think about it!


Election Day: Jumping for Joy for Marriage Equality: The Comic Book Store Wedding #MidtownComics #RevAndrew #MarriageEquality

ComicsJ4JThe next wedding, on June 20, 2012, I was involved in, was one that I didn't officiate or really even plan - I consulted with Midtown Comics on a big celebration that they had to coincide with the one year anniversary of the passing of Marriage Equality in NY State as well as the wedding issue of two gay male super heros getting married in the pages of X Men. It was quite a fun morning. A couple from Ohio had won the free ceremony and had driven down the day before. I'd arranged to have a special cake from Empire Cakes airbrushed with scenes from Marvel comics. All in all, it was one of those "this is just totally random and somewhat bizarre" types of things that happen probably in very few places but happen in New York with some regularity.





J4JFusionAs it also happened, June 20 was a big day - I spent the morning managing the wedding and then spent the evening receiving an award from the Anti-Violence Project for the money I'd raised for them over years (somewhere in the neighborhood close to $20,000). It was pretty amazing and perfect - because of earlier physical abuse issues by a family member when I was growing up, the Anti Violence Project has always held a special place in my heart. The work that they do with hate crimes victims is literally life saving. If you have a few extra dollars, please consider donating to further their cause! (Seen here to the right with ED at the time, Sharon Stapel).

They Say "Nobody's Perfect" but at the Del Coronado, Perfection Rules!

Back in November, I managed an internal conference at the Del Coronado in San Diego. The extra added challenge of this was that I'd never been to TreesBLOGthe property before. Usually it's helpful to understand the layout and traffic flow by actually walking the space. It's not absolutely required, but it does help in the long run to alleviate confusion and for better planning.

Thankfully, the staff there was absolutely fantastic at sending mounds of information so that I could make good decisions. One of the things that came up, however, was that both of the lunches and dinners would be outside during the two day conference. Naturally, I asked "what's the rain plan?" and they sort of gave a chuckle and said with a laugh  "well, it's San Diego and hasn't rained for five years" but then quickly added that they had several indoor spaces to use should we need them. 

For those that have been to the Del, you know the kind of amazing, beautiful space it is. And when I arrived on Monday, November 2, I was instantly reminded how much I loved San Diego - I've never lived there but used to visit often when I lived in San Francisco (1988- 1991) and Los Angeles (1998--2003). Anyway, coming off an intense October (someone described it as "the most intense work month for the company and the events department in the ten years (they'd) worked there"), event just stepping on to the beach allowed a lot of the past stress to simply fall away.

A colleague from the business line hosting the conference joined me for the Pre Con and we got a lot of things sorted out and finalized; we were on track and all was good with the world. Later that evening, friends from around the country reminded me that the Del was the setting for "Some Like it Hot' (setting up the best closing line of any film "Nobody's perfect" when Jack Lemmon reveals that he is indeed a man and therefore cannot marry Joe E. Brown). It was all pretty awesome all in all. 

TheDelBLOGThe next morning, it rained. And rained. And the outdoor lunch looked like a not great idea. So I had it set up indoors. But, later in the morning, when the stakeholder asked why the lunch wasn't outside, I explained that it had been raining and so we'd moved it. The stakeholder didn't like the room that the lunch had been set up in and, since it had stopped raining, could we have it outdoors again. So, with 35 minutes before lunch was to be served, I talked with the staff - could they move an entire set up (food, drinks, tables, chairs, etc) outside in that time.

What happened next was remarkable - what seemed like 30 - 40 hotel employees streamed in from everywhere all over the property and, like the well oiled team they are, moved the entire lunch for 100 outside. Not one complaint or side eye (I wish I could say that about every venue I plan events at!) just a staff dedicated to the Solution of setting up the lunch outside.

This is the kind of thing that event nerds like me relish - a remarkably precise team working together to make something beautiful. Kudos!

When it came time to decide about the evening meal's location, the Del offered their Crown Room as an alternate to going outside in what could continue to be on and off rainy weather. These are our industry's tough decisions - if the weather is fine, people would wonder why we weren't outside and if we were outside and it rained, we'd be scrambling. Ultimately the decision to go indoors was predicated on what was going to be the most reliable situation - and the Crown Room was that. I sort of looked up and was like "ok, now you better rain!" to the sky.

LunchBLOGThankfully that decision was proven correct. The evening started off with a reception and, as each attendee arrived, they said the same thing "I'm so glad we're inside, it's so cold and windy out there!" but I wasn't home yet. After some time of cocktails, everyone took their seat and I stood off to the side against the two story tall windows (sure, to get an overview of the room but also to verify what was going on outside. It wasn't until someone gave a toast, that it began to rain. Hard. A smile of satisfaction crawled across my face and it was at that point that I could relax.

The rest of the conference was amazing - the staff continued to be on top of every request, every twist and turn making it an incredibly successful event for the business line. When the executive who runs the business line patted my back saying "great job as always" it of course felt good to get the praise - but it was also good to know that he was happy because, in the service industry, that's what we do - make people feel good.

I hope that at some point I can plan/manage another event at the Del as it will be an honor to work with their amazing  -and "perfect" - staff again.