The Wedding Troubleshooter: A vicious venue

Is an event organizer really necessary for a wedding? Some people feel that it can be avoided by arranging everything alone.

January 8, 2014 14:21
Israeli wedding

Israeli wedding. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Is an event organizer really necessary to organize a wedding?  

Some people feel that it’s an expense that can be avoided by arranging everything themselves. Hotels are often attractive venues for people coming from overseas, as special packages are often offered, which include the services of a banqueting manager to oversee everything.

However, a five-star sales pitch doesn't necessarily translate into five-star service.

One of my clients from America had already chosen the hotel, when she booked my services. The five-star hotel, in the north of Israel, had a dedicated ballroom for events, and a beautiful garden where the Chuppah and reception would be held.

I was rather skeptical about this hotel, having heard rumors of bad management at past events. I therefore decided to arrange a meeting with the general manager of the hotel, to voice my concerns, and was assured that all the problems that had occurred in the past had now been dealt with.

As usual, I arrived many hours before the wedding was due to start, to inspect that everything was in place.

Challenge #1: A hole-y stage

I was therefore horrified to discover that the stage where the band would play had a massive hole in the middle. Trying to find the technical manager to deal with this took many frustrating moments, and his response - a shrug of the shoulders –hardly inspired confidence. Eventually however, after many “discussions,” he and his team did replace the broken stage.

Challenge #2: Dirty laundry

In the meantime, my assistant went to check the table settings, and reported back to me that many tablecloths were stained, and some even had cigarette burns. Obviously, we immediately contacted the banqueting manager who, on seeing these cloths, was quite unconcerned and retorted “it happens sometimes.” 

By now, my usual calm demeanor was swiftly being replaced by acute irritation!

I requested, or rather demanded,  that all the cloths be replaced and, although my request was met by something approaching disdain, new cloths were eventually found and the tables re-set.

Challenge #3: Mismatched mayhem

My next challenge was the bar, which had been set up in the garden, and consisted of an odd assortment of tables, placed together to form an irregular shaped rectangle.  I was so astonished that anyone would consider this acceptable, that I was unsure whether to laugh or cry. This time, I enlisted the help of the general manager who, I was relieved to note, realized the seriousness of these problems and ensured that the tables  would be speedily replaced by a proper structure.

The solution

By now, it was only half an hour before the guests were scheduled to arrive. On careful re-examination of  the hall and garden set-up, we were at last satisfied that all the problems had been rectified.

The bridal party were blissfully unaware of any of these issues and the reception and Chuppah were perfect.

The ballroom now looked beautiful, and the guests were enjoying a gourmet meal – when I noticed that one of the banqueting sales girls had entered the room with a group of prospective clients, all of whom were wearing t-shirts and carrying backpacks.

When I challenged her, the girl replied that she was just going to show them round the ballroom, and wouldn’t cause any disturbance. At that point, my assistants and  I blocked their path, and ensured they exited the room immediately.

Had my client not hired our services, her wedding would have been completely spoiled by the inefficiency and total lack of professionalism by the hotel staff.

Although the general manager, with whom I met after the wedding, agreed that the problems I had experienced were totally unacceptable, I will try to ensure that no clients would use that hotel – at least not in the foreseeable future.

Joan Summerfield is an experienced events planner.

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