Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dickens Dinner Round 2

December 9, 2011 -- Another year has come and gone, and so has another Charles Dickens Dinner, or as Dean Cutietta accidentally called it, The 25th Annual Charles "Chickens" Dinner.  And in about six months the cycle will begin all over again.  Another six months of planning, two hour long production meetings, last minute changes, and yet another chance to grow as an event planner, gaining new experiences and skills with each challenge. 

This year we honored Richard Carpenter of the GRAMMY®-award winning duo, The Carpenters, with the USC Thornton Legacy Award and the GRAMMY Foundation® with the John C. Argue Dickens Medal of Honor.  Randy and Gretchen Newman served as our dinner chairs and their playful interaction on stage (completely off-script) had everyone laughing, myself included, creating a warm and comfortable environment.

The evening was highlighted by featured performances from our choral, opera, popular music, classical guitar, and early music departments, giving guests a broad sampling of the talent that exists at the Thornton School of Music.  Rod Gilfry, baritone opera star and USC Faculty member narrated the evening with snippets of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

It's interesting to look back and reflect on where I was last year when this event happened.  It was a huge milestone in my career and the success of the event was such an encouragement and affirmation that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.  This year was a huge test of my patience as I waited for all the loose ends to come together, many of which I had no control over.  There are always last minute seating changes, personnel changes, conflict in scheduling and the production flow, and it's in those moments where the ability to make decisions and act quickly are key factors when managing an event.  I know the only reason I felt so calm the entire week leading up to the event was because my peace was not from myself, but from God.  I feel truly blessed to get to spread that peace and in doing so create an atmosphere where others around me -- people on the production team, the hotel staff, the guests -- are able to experience that same sense of ease.  What I was reminded of at Dickens is how much my attitude and demeanor affect everyone involved in the process.  If I am stressed out, my team feels that anxiety and so do the guests (that last people I want feeling stressed out). 

Some of my favorite moments were the times I stepped aside from the event itself and invested in the people around me: an encouraging phone call with a friend, a short chat with the security guard while waiting for the linens to be placed, conversations with the crew from Classic Party Rentals, escorting lost guests to the VIP reception, greeting donors and guests at their tables, laughing at the awkward moments from the stage, joking around with my co-workers -- together they all made this Dickens Dinner so enjoyable despite working 18 hours, my day beginning at 5:45am and ending at about midnight the same day.  It's what allows me to smile at the end of the day.

I couldn't be happier at how Dickens came together, awkward moments and all.  I'm thankful that the autograph auction turned out better than I expected.  I'm thankful that all the decor came together to create my winter wonderland theme.  I'm thankful that I got the chance to eat lunch AND dinner.  I'm thankful for my amazing team of vendors and production crew.  I'm thankful for all the encouraging texts from my friends.  I'm thankful that my family came to support me.  And lastly, I'm thankful for the opportunity to plan and oversee an event of this magnitude at this point in my life.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and Merry Christmas!

Venue, Catering, & Valet: Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Valerie Lehman
Linens: Elegant Design Specialty Linens
Florals: Dellarobbia Design Studio & Flower Market
Lighting, Production, Sound: Thinkwell Design & Production
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Sound: PRG Audio

Saturday, November 19, 2011

brie + robert

I had the privilege of coordinating Brie and Robert's wedding in the beginning of October at the beautiful Majestic Halls downtown.  A newer venue to the Los Angeles area, this historic bank created the perfect backdrop for Brie and Robert's special day.  Close friends and freelance set designers Seth Bauer (I help coordinate his and Ziza's, the matron of honor, wedding last November -- see the post here!) and Christian Snell did an amazing job transforming the space with tall trees lining the room and black duvetyne draping from the balconies.  The tables were adorned with bountiful amounts of fruits on vintage platters couple with chandeliers to create a classic and vintage look.

See the beautiful photos below by Joseph and Jenny Llanes -- it was great working with you two again!

Brie and Robert, thanks for letting me be part of your special day!

Venue: Majestic Halls, Ashley Cole
Catering: Dean Kahn Catering
Photography: Llanes Weddings
Video: Paperback Weddings -- check out their beautiful video here!
Florals: Claudia Johnston
Hair & Makeup: Lorena
Decor: Seth Bauer and Christian Snell
Officiant: Tim Chaddick
Dress: Vera Wang

Friday, November 4, 2011

'tis the season for Dickens

Yes, it's that time of year again -- The Charles Dickens Dinner is in full swing becuase we only have about one more month until the big day!  This year I decided to choose a winter wonderland theme for the decor, and to spark the creative process, I created an inspiration board.  I recommend creating one anytime you have to visually design an event because it not only helped me visualize different color combinations, centerpiece ideas, and invitation designs, but it also allowed me to better inform and communicate with my vendors (graphic designer, linens, florists) exactly what I was looking for. It makes the process so much more enjoyable for everyone, and through it I expanded my knowledge of color themes I could try (other than your Christmas green and red), as well as current trends in the event industry.  I'm so excited to see how the room will look with all the pieces together! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

larry livingston reception

It was a perfect evening for an outdoor reception to celebrate Larry Livingston's 25 years at the USC Thornton School of Music. I'll admit, rain is my worst enemy as an event planner, and the downpour the previous weekend had me praying for clear skies.  Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about as the ninety-degree day cooled off to a comfortable temperature for everyone.

The beautiful cafe lights strung from the Moreton Fig tree created a classy ambiance for the reception.  Simple floating rose centerpieces and votives added an elegant touch.  Moreton Fig restaurant served a delicious assortment of tray-passed appetizers -- my personal favorite was the wild mushroom arrancini with a roasted tomato fondue. The staff were so helpful in setting up, so they made my job easier! Part of putting on a successful event is having an awesome team (it's far from a one-woman show).

The event concluded with a few remarks from Larry Livingston and of course the evening wouldn't be complete without cake (a massive strawberry shortcake cake from Porto's Bakery).  Special thanks to my boyfriend for graciously helping me carry that (extremely heavy and large) cake safely from my car to the highest shelf in Moreton Fig's refrigerator.

I'm going to be honest -- I wish the event lasted a little longer (despite working a 13.5 hour day -- yes, I'm serious). It seemed like the event ended just as quickly as it began, guests only enjoying a reception I started planning a month and a half ago, and setting up on the day-of at 1 p.m.  It'd be easy for me to feel like all my efforts were wasted, or not fully appreciated, but I have to remind myself that my job is not just about the results or what I've accomplished, but also about the journey, and the things I learned in the process. It's easy to become so focused on the outcome and the goal that I miss the little blessings along the way. I love the opportunity to work with new vendors and develop new relationships, as well as the chance to serve a different group of people.

Yes, it's a little insane that the length of the event was just a fraction of time it took to actually make the event happen, but it was just a reminder that although to the guests the outcome is all that matters, to me there's so much more to my job that I can find joy and purpose in.

Below are some detail shots of the event! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

jacqueline + jake

Hello, readers. I apologize for my extremely long absence from this blog, but I'm back and will be posting more weddings and events in the coming months!  First up is a beautiful wedding photographed by my friend, Lauren Hom of Hom Photography.  Jacqueline is a fellow Trojan alum so I'm excited to share this with you! 

Lauren and her brother began doing photography together less than a year ago -- since last spring. However, it is a passion that has run through the family. They have one of their grandfather's old cameras and pictures he took during WWII. He was intrigued by it his whole life, even in his last days! Her dad actually pursued photography in his college studies, and so they both grew up learning the basics because of it. Thankfully, their dad kept a lot of his stuff, which they are able to use even today -- so cool!

It's amazing how much emotion you can capture in each picture, and Lauren and Bryan definitely showcased how great they are at what they do with each and every picture from this wedding.  My favorite is the joy that you feel as Jacqueline and Jake and recessing down the aisle.  Such a great picture! Be sure to check out their website here!