Monday, January 14, 2013

another charles dickens dinner

12.14.12 -- Dickens has come and gone, again.  And thankfully with a little more ease this time.  This year's Dickens wasn't accompanied by as much stress and craziness as past years, and I'm hoping that's a sign of experience. It also helped that the structure and flow of the evening remained pretty much the same from last year, a definite blessing considering I had more events that normal in the two months leading up to the event.

Over these past three years I have been able to develop some great relationships with the staff at the Biltmore, and it is these relationships that make the long days more bearable. I'm so thankful for their hospitality and how helpful they have been from year to year -- there's definitely a sense of comfort I feel knowing who I'll be working with and knowing I can trust them.  I'm sure many event planners who work with the same venues and vendors over and over feel the same way.

This year we honored James Newton Howard and Wells Fargo.  The night was narrated by opera star baritone Rod Gilfry and highlighted by performances by our talented USC Thornton students.  I chose to go back to a traditional red and green color scheme, with copper accents in my centerpieces (I was thankful that the Biltmore also decided to decorate with copper--what a blessing!) which resulted in a very rich and Christmas-y room. So thankful for the wonderful success of this event year after year!

Here are some pictures from the beautiful evening.

Venue, Catering, & Valet: Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Valerie Lehman & Olivia Manzo
Linens: Elegant Design Specialty Linens
Florals: Dellarobbia Design Studio & Flower Market, Jolene Reynolds
Lighting, Production, Sound: Thinkwell Design & Production, Jamie Hamlin
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Sound: PRG Audio
Photography: Steve Cohn Photography

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

symphonic hall dedication

10.28.12 -- My most challenging event of the year, but also one of my most involved events as well. The reason for this dedication was to celebrate the generous donor, Alice Schoenfeld, who gave $3 million to help renovate and name the Lloyd Sound Stage into a new symphonic rehearsal hall for the USC Thornton Symphony and other music ensembles at USC Thornton. For about two months, I worked closely with the client, with almost daily meetings and phone calls to go over guests lists, confirm the performances, discuss the program, etc.  During these meetings I developed a wonderful relationship with this woman, hearing stories about her sister, her time in Germany, and I am glad I got the opportunity to meet and work with.  Those are the connections that make my job so enjoyable.

It's always such a blessing to see everything come together on the day-of and to hear that the event was everything they envisioned. so much of my job is not about what I personally like, or would want, but taking my client's vision and making it a reality.  I had the help of Thornton's amazing production team (Jeff, Tori, Heather, and Michelle -- you guys rock!), whose company and jokes throughout the evening made the 18-hour day, yes, I said it, fun!

Complete with a red carpet, I transformed our loading dock into an elegant reception space for the reveal of the new name of the symphonic hall.  After the unveiling, guests were ushered inside to enjoy a concert featuring world-renown artists and then served a delicious three-course meal by Barbara West Catering.

One of the biggest blessings of being the only event planner at the music school is the opportunity to learn about different components of events in more detail because they're all under my responsibility. For example, we wanted to create a memorabilia piece for the donor in order for future students who entered the hall to know the legacy of Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld.  In the process of trying to figure out how to frame these pictures, I learned a lot about foam core and different mounting materials, something I wouldn't have thought to research otherwise.  Additionally, I personally designed the invitation, menu, and program cards for the event, a task that allows me to exercise me creative side.

As always, no post is complete without pictures.  Thanks to Vanessa Preziose for these beautiful pictures! For more information on this transformative gift, read this article here
Also, my apologies for the blogging hiatus -- I hope to be posting more frequently in the new year!

Catering: Barbara West Catering
Valet: USC Transportation, Pablo Sahugun
Linens & Napkins: Elegant Design Specialty Linens
Florals: Dellarobbia Design Studio & Flower Market
Rentals and Lighting: ELM Concierge, Mark Vanis
Photography: Vanessa Preziose