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- Lauren Grech is the CEO and cofounder of international event management and design firm LLG Events and global event communications company LLG Agency, and an adjunct professor at New York University.
- Grech plans a lot of luxury destination weddings, and although the sites may be beautiful, the job comes with plenty of challenges.
- She documents one wedding she put on in Newport Beach, California, which she had to arrange last minute.
- Whenever something goes wrong, Grech has to think fast and find an alternate option.
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Going into event-execution week for a multiday, multicelebration destination wedding is extremely chaotic, exciting, overwhelming, and most definitely interesting. As an event planner, I experience a lot of different challenges and setbacks, and oversee all of the vendor meetings, load-in, and setup for destination weddings.
This is what a typical work week leading up to the event day looks like for me and my team.
One of our biggest wedding productions of 2019 literally came together in 5 days.
I don't think anyone would believe me if I told them that two weeks prior to the event day, there was little to no production finalized.
We were waiting on the final guest count to determine the number of rental items, such as chairs, tables, dishware, flatware, and stemware that we needed to order. We also needed to send the menus to print and the escort board needed to be proofread. (An escort board is a wall, mirror, picture frame, etc. where you can put the names of your guests and their table assignments, in lieu of the traditional escort cards.) However, there were no table assignments associated with the names of the guests yet.
Coordinating with vendors before the event got a little hectic.
Every day leading up to the event, I received at least two calls from each of the 10 vendors, with each one wanting to spend at least 10 minutes on the phone. That's over 200 minutes of calls in one day, catering to one event.
The vendors needed to plan their production schedules, hire and direct their delivery members, coordinate final rental counts ... and we had no information for them.
We did not have an update from our client, and we knew we could not keep pressuring them for their final count, as it would have only added to their stress. While we waited, we worked on every detail of the day that did not include guest count, namely the production schedule for staging and lighting. This included when the dance floor was getting dropped, when the lighting was going up, reconfirming the sizes of the chandeliers, checking sizing of the mirrored aisle such as how wide and how long it would be, etc.
When we received the final guest count on the Monday prior to the wedding, which was on a Friday, all of the vendor invoices finally came through.
This means we had to manage deliveries for every single rental item coming in and manage final payments to all vendors with wire transfers, added fees, and overtime rates since we now had to set up the space at 1:00 a.m., due to the addition of a twinkly lighting installation the client wanted above the dance floor.
The second the guest count comes in, it's like a cannon goes off, or better yet, it's like when the chef has to fire the grill to get ready to cook the main meal at his restaurant … for at least a couple hundred guests.
The countdown to the event day truly began.
Crossing our fingers that this was the client's final guest count, we began proofing 185 names alongside their table assignments to make sure the final seating chart and the escort board would be correct and printed on time. This was going to take forever, and we had just boarded our flight to the venue! We had the duration of the flight to purchase WiFi on the plane, hope that it worked, and hope that we could make the final revisions — and send them off in time for production.
So yes, my event week started with a flight to Los Angeles for business meetings, an all-hands meeting at the airport, driving to our event space at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, and reorganizing the production schedule, while also finalizing my lecture for New York University because I would have to teach class virtually from the event on Friday. While the day-of event production was going on, I carried a laptop around the site and shared exclusive behind-the-scenes access with my students so they could see an example of an event day setup and apply the knowledge I had been teaching them.
And then unexpected circumstances arose.
Oh and we had to deal with our bride's lost custom veil that never arrived, which we learned about during the rehearsal dinner. So the night before the wedding, we called every bridal salon and atelier in the surrounding area to beg one to stay open for us so we could come and purchase another veil. Of course, we were also stuck in Los Angeles traffic trying to navigate to the store.
Ultimately, we were able to find the most beautiful veil that complimented the bride's dress perfectly. She looked absolutely stunning and ethereal on the wedding day.
We built the venue in 24 hours.
As you can tell, prior to the event there were so many decisions that needed to be finalized. This was only enhanced by the fact that we were creating their reception venue from scratch.
Yes, that's right. On the morning of the event day, we had an outdoor space in which we were constructing the structure for overhead lighting since the reception was at night. We were bringing in the electrical supply needs, building the band stage and a platform for the dance floor, creating an eight-foot wide mirrored aisle for our couple to walk down, loading in and arranging all the tables and chairs, and simultaneously doing all the normal things that need to get done for an event day execution, such as setting the tables, adding bread and butter, and filling the water glasses.
Every single element for this event was brought in and created onsite by a team of production professionals … all within 24 hours.
To pull it off, our load-in began at 1:00 a.m.
It was completely dark outside and eerily quiet. The only noise was from us and the truck unloading. All the rigging gear was being set up and the lights were just starting to unravel.
Fast forward to 10:00 a.m.: The flower wall arrived, the table and chair rentals were dropped off, the lighting was being weaved atop the dancefloor, the mirrored aisle was being placed overtop of the grass, the florals were being placed all over the reception tables and ceremony space ...
It was our job to ensure all these parts moved cohesively.
As you can see, receiving the client's guest count was just the beginning. All the other parts of the event still needed to be managed, scheduled, accounted for, and assembled perfectly.
In the end, the wedding was absolutely perfect. The bride was even quoted in Harper's Bazaar saying, "I just felt so grateful and thankful to everything and everyone who helped make this day so special." The decor was even more magnificent than we anticipated; the setting was incredibly regal and timeless, and felt like a real life fairytale — just as our couple wanted. Everyone was beyond happy!
It's my job to execute perfection, be aware of the little details, and ensure that not one element is missed.
Being an event planner is not about what you get right or how much you get done, it's about what you get wrong. An event is the biggest deadline because there are no do-overs. Every single detail is observed, not only by your clients, but also by their guests and attendees.