There are a few rules of thumb that I try to incorporate into every event I plan, and some things I flat-out refuse to do unless it’s a worst-case scenario.
I had an honoree that was a big Broadway investor, and the latest show in his arsenal was a revival of Don Quixote. We decided to brand the entire event with a Broadway theme from the place-settings to the printed materials. It was going to be a fabulous look, especially in the art deco/retro Cipriani 42nd Street venue in New York City. We had Broadway stars lined-up to perform, big names on the guest list, and Cipriani’s signature bellinis were going to be flowing.
This honoree was a huge donor to the organization, and an all-around nice guy, so it was difficult to tell him “no” when he requested something. He had a big idea for his entrance, and I met with the CEO, with the honoree on speaker phone, and they asked me something I never could have imagined: where can we get a donkey?
I thought I was being punk’d, but they were seriously considering having the honoree come into the venue, dressed as Don Quixote, riding a donkey. Considering that this was a black-tie event, and one of the fanciest venues in NYC, I was appalled at the idea, but after I got over my initial shock, I told them I would do some research and get back to them.
I’ve said this many times, but I have the strangest job in the world. When you have a “donkey lady” in your rolodex, you know that to be the truth. After lots of discussion, we decided against the idea (mostly because of sanitary issues around the donkey), but we ended up adopting a real one and bringing it to a camp the organization sponsored instead. For the honoree’s 50th birthday, we surprised him with his donkey at the camp, and it was the best moment ever.
That’s one for the record books kids…
Lisa Wein, Consultant
I have loved event planning for as long as I can remember. Whether it's a fundraising gala, wedding, or a corporate meeting, I get a thrill when the event is perfectly planned and the client is happy.
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