Felici Events Presents: Event & Wedding Planning 101:
Weather: Plan A, B and C
Today we are relishing a bit of (very welcome) rain at Felici Headquarters. A wet and rainy day like today reminds me of a Felici Event we produced, exactly nine months ago (plus one day), where an uninvited guest showed up - DOWNPOUR!
Last March, I had the honor of working with a Felici Client on her 50th birthday celebration. The guest of honor wanted to host thirty close friends to a special (not your traditional Saturday night potluck) dinner party at her home. The lovely clients' home is amidst Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara. The first time I drove up to her home, I found myself in a gorgeous cul-de-sac type driveway that led to her front door. There is lush landscaping and a working fountain encompassing it. "What a magical spot!" I thought to myself.
The client's vision of design was a blend of romance and Mediterranean. Hanging candle votives, fruits, herbs and vegetables inclusive in the centerpieces, candlelight and an elegantly neutral palate of linens, chairs and table top set up.
During our meeting, and walk thru of the potential spaces for dinner, I shared with the client that the house was not conducive to accommodate all guests seated together for a plated dinner. I reminded the client that she hired me to make this night special, and it needed to set other (informal) dinner parties apart. I suggested the use of the driveway as the dinner space. Once I proposed to her the vision and schematics of a 'reveal' to the tented dinner area, the client fell in love with the idea!
The planning of the dinner event took place the months of January and February. Santa Barbara provided beautiful weather and sunny skies every day leading up to the March 1st weekend. Regardless of our gorgeous weather (common along the American Riviera) my experience as a seasoned event and wedding planner is to produce three plans. This time it had to do with rain:
Plan A - a tented event, in case of rain (the first week of March usually produces precipitation)
Plan B - great weather with no tent (al fresco)
Plan C - an indoor and less formal dinner in case of a torrential downpour.
Instantly I brought on the talents of Coco Rose Design and The Tent Merchant as the team to help me create Ann's dream into a reality. The Tent Merchant's octagonal tent would fit perfectly in the driveway and easily accommodate 30 guests. We brainstormed a couple of different layout options, and settled on having votives hanging from the center of the tent and the tables parallel to the tent walls, in an octagonal shape (single sided facing in) so all could see each other. PERFECT!
The caterer, Chef Robin Goldstein, was a gem to work with! She created an out of this world menu consisting of farm-to-table fresh foods, with authentic mediterranean preparation. All the key vendors were in place and so the party begins!
You guessed it. The week-end of the birthday party, there is a torrential downpour! We experienced heavy rains all morning (there is even a YouTube video of the Santa Barbara Harbor being overcome by large waves) throughout the Southern California area. I had not seen flash floods since my days in Dallas, Texas
The morning of the party, I drove to the house and found the tent (which was set up the day before) to have rivers running thru it! The client, understandably stressed, expressed disappointment with the turn of events.* I reassured her that the dinner would be perfect, and I would do everything in my power to ensure vision of the event. I urged her to go her hair and make up appointments, and enjoy a day of pampering. It took some time to console and comfort her, but reluctantly on her way she went escorted with a gal pal.
Mid afternoon, when the florist arrived, we looked at the weather radar which showed patterns of the rain dissipating around 4 p.m. Guests would not be invited into the dinner tent until 6:30 p.m. Could we pull it off? The florist and caterer both confirmed that if by 5:45 p.m. there was no chance of holding the dinner outside, we would be able to move to plan C - placing design items and set a buffet in the living and dining areas for an indoor affair.
I was in the pouring rain for hours, successfully producing make-shift gutters (my alter ego is MacGyver) to deter rain around rain and not thru the tent. Once complete I swept, mopped and dry vacuumed the inside of the tent. The threatening red marks on the weather radar, eventually turned to light green specs. The rain turned to sprinkles, and by 5:15 p.m. all was dry inside the canopy. With all hands on deck and teamwork, we were ready to go by 6:00 p.m. The heaters in the tent warmed up the space, and combined with the candle light, gorgeous table decor and background music created the most romantic and cozy dinner setting I have produced outdoors after a downpour.
My favorite part is this unique and personalized touch of a play of MadLibs. We called it "AnnLib" and it substituted a guest book. The Felici Events graphics team created a cartoon of the client using her picture and added it to a customized MadLib for guests to fill out.
The birthday gal came to take a sneak peek before we invited guests to the 'grand reveal' of dinner, and tears of joy came to her eyes. She was beyond ecstatic! This party was not only #anotherfelicievent but one of the most rewarding moments in my career. We really do turn dreams into a reality (thank you mother nature for keeping me on my toes). Needles to say hostess and guests had a wonderful time and we created memories for all. #anotherfelicievent
*Felici Fact: tenting will keep rain from falling on your head, but not water from coming up below.