A real-life story about how an event planner didn’t let high winds blow everything for her client
I have written a few articles stressing the importance of hiring a professional event planner (you can read many of the reasons why in my articles, here and here). As an event professional who is often on-site while an event is being both set up and broken down, I see “how the sausage is made,” so to speak—the behind-the-scenes moments that only the vendors see. And as a mom of three kids, I have also been on the client side of things, having planned three b’nai mitzvahs AND a wedding. So I have a unique perspective as both a client AND as an event professional. And I can tell you from personal experience that hiring a professional event planner is probably one of the best things you can do, even during a pandemic.
Speaking of the pandemic, many people are having smaller events to minimize exposure to Covid-19. However, though there may be fewer guests, there are not necessarily fewer details to manage. Perhaps the most important reason why you should hire an event planner is because you cannot anticipate everything that can (and will) happen on event day. And an event taking place during a pandemic is just as susceptible to “surprises” as any other time.
Take what happened last week at Maccabee’s bar mitzvah. I created all the logo items, signage, and day-of stationery, and was hired to help set up on the morning of the actual event. In Los Angeles where the bar mitzvah was taking place, things are essentially shutdown to indoor events. As a bar mitzvah is a religious event, it is permitted, but in order to comply with CDC guidelines, and to be able to allow the guests to socially distance, the event was small (less than 40 people), and it was scheduled to take place outdoors on the pool deck at a local hotel.
Well, when your event is outdoors, you are sometimes at the mercy of the elements. And on the morning of Maccabee’s bar mitzvah, it was windy. VERY windy. If you live in Los Angeles, you know about our Santa Ana winds. Gusts were probably 40 to 50 miles per hour or more, and were strong enough to knock down the temporary hedges that had been set up the night before as part of the stage (see the photo above of how we found the hedges when we arrived on site). We realized very quickly that we could NOT have the bar mitzvah out on the pool deck as originally planned.
Unfortunately, it was early (7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning) and no one from hotel management was on site yet. The event planner was not able to get ahold of her contact at the hotel either. Eventually, we did get ahold of someone from the hotel and got permission to use another area. The new area was essentially a covered patio in front of the hotel’s lobby. It had open sides so was still considered “outdoors,” but it was sufficiently protected from the wind.
Now that we had a new location, we now had to remove the furniture that was there, and then move the chairs, the mechitza (partition) and the tables over, recreate the stage, AND block off this new area to the public so that the family could have their private ceremony. We only had about 90 minutes to transform the patio into a beautiful space for the service.
Now I am strong, but I am not strong enough to move the four-foot-wide by eight-foot-tall hedges from the pool area to the patio. Nor am I strong enough to move couches and chairs. So the event planner called in reinforcements and within the hour, we had our new space set up, including all the chairs, the hedges, and the stage. We all moved quickly, and the family was able to start the service on time as scheduled.
The best part? None of the guests knew the absolute craziness that occurred less than two hours earlier. The planner didn’t panic. She didn’t get upset. She simply ascertained the situation, made a few phone calls, and then coordinated a great effort to make sure the event was able to start on time. No one was the wiser. That’s how it should be from the client’s perspective…as if everything that transpired was part of the plan to begin with.
This story reminds me of an old Jewish saying: Man plans and G-d laughs. Well, G-d may have been laughing that morning, but this event planner laughed right back. The event was a huge success, and the client was very happy.
There was no way we could have anticipated everything that happened that morning. But when you have a professional event planner, even during a pandemic, things just magically happen, whether they were planned that way or not.
Want an amazing event planner for your next event? Contact Marketa Harlan of Marketa Events, and let her know you read about Maccabee’s bar mitzvah at the Invitation Maven website.