Show Notes


  1. How do you manage all of these emerging food sensitivities?  I organize a lot of donated, potluck, and catered meals, and get overwhelmed with the requests and concerns of my guests in regards to their eating habits and needs.  It’s way past just gluten-free and vegetarian.

Be careful of serving food that is not from a health approved kitchen. We’ve only done a few events where we have served food from donated food. Chef’s need to be there to answer questions

We are in an age of responsibility concerning foods – you’ve got to  know what’s in your foods

Food sensitivities – ask for that information up front. Even if it’s overwhelming, Much easier to manage up front that as the food is being served.

We need to understand the place of the guest and their fears and what it takes to make them feel comfortable – even if it means limiting the menu to beef and chicken instead of shellfish. Maybe it’s moving an ingredient to the side like dressings or bread.

One event we had had 27 different kinds of food allergies and prefenences for 60 guests out of 400.

  1. I got some feedback once that my event generated too much trash, and we used too many resources.  They asked me where my custom display elements would end up after the event.  How do you think growing concerns about fossil fuels, trash, recycling, and reusing will affect the event planning world?

Need to be sensitive to and thoughtful towards. Especially if the client shares those same concerns.

We advocate for rental items like washable linens, plates, silverware. If we use disposables, we try to use environmentally friendly options. This elevates the event.

We do need to think through custom design pieces – can they be donated or used again? We have some sturdy 4×8 tube steel frame panels that can be used over and over and we’ve found some pretty creative uses for them.

If economical we encourage clients to recycle waste from our event. Most larger venues have a recycling program in place. Ask your host what process they use to handle recyclables and see if you can dovetail with that process.

If you haven’t used a venue before, that’s a good question to ask them before your event.

  1. Follow up question – what do you do with food waste from an event?

Plan ahead to donate leftovers to a food bank or a non-profit

After large grand opening, we donated 4000 cookies to a local non-profit

Convention Center works with a local non-profit that feeds the homeless to donate leftover hot food to them before it goes bad.

  1. How do you get your guests to RSVP?  (the million dollar question)

People are RSVP’ing less and less.

Create a reasonable RSVP deadline. 2 weeks before the event is reasonable. 6 weeks out is too far.

Create the urgency, educate your guests. Teach them that you are

Phone calls to people to see what they are thinking. Nothing replaces the personal phone call. Email and paper mail just doesn’t do it.

If you are calling for the host, use their name in the conversation to encourage a more accurate response. Ie. Kathy really wants you to be there. Or even say you are preparing a report to the host to let them know if you are coming or not – sometimes that encourages a response.

  1. How do you graciously handle a guest who has overindulged at an open bar?  

First of all work with your bartenders to learn early when a guest is starting to overindulge. Bartenders should be trained to spot a inebriated guest. They have ways of handling them such as pouring weaker and weaker drinks, slow service etc.

Entice the guest to leave the room and engage them in conversation. Be non-confrontational. Your goal is to minimize risk and maximize safety. Keep law suits from happening. Consider involving the host if necessary (not the bride of course).

Alert event security


Story: We asked the bride and groom ahead of time if there is anyone we need to watch that may like to drink too much. We got the person’s photograph and name so we could keep an eye on him. We also gave that information to security and the bartenders so they could help.

  1. How do you plan an event to appeal to people that find very different environments enjoyable?  I have hosted events at which I could tell some of the guests were uncomfortable in such a posh environment.  Some flat out told me they wouldn’t come because they don’t know ‘which fork to use’.  It might be a generational thing- younger people aren’t learning how to conduct themselves in a seated dinner cloth napkin sort of environment if their home didn’t have a dining room and they only eat on barstools at a kitchen island.  Do you think events are becoming more and more casual because of this trend?

Etiquette is there to make people feel comfortable. Recently etiquette has been used to intimidate people and make them feel uncomfortable.

We don’t need to make events more casual – we don’t see that trend.

Actually, the larger the place setting the easier it is to figure out which fork to use.

Story: We’ve begun teaching classes at local summer camp to help kids learn etiquette. We have also done a few social media posts to help teach people. We have also offered etiquette classes in advance of a sophisticated event as a fun way to get people involved and invested in an event.

One idea is to put together a menu card that helps guests know which fork to use.

  1. At auctions and fundraisers- how do you encourage your wealthier guests to bid higher or spend more without alienating the guests unable to do so?  My children’s public magnet school has a very diverse population.  I struggle to plan adults-only fundraising events that are accessible to all members of our parent community, but are still wildly successful in fundraising.

Have multiple levels of entry. Silent Auction, Live Auction and Premiere Live Auction items all at different price points. Other low entry activities are things like wine pulls or gift card pulls.

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