• October 2010

Event planner Roxanne Rukowicz inspires us with a few postmortem tales

By Roxanne Rukowicz
Behind the Scenes Events

I’ve enjoyed many a late night following an event with my hospitality colleagues, relaxing over a glass of wine and regaling each other with stories of events we have hosted. Sometimes hilarious, often horrific, they never cease to inspire — and teach me how to do my job better.

Following are some of my favorites:

The drama of the melting pears

One friend worked a catering shift for a wedding at a very old country estate. The historic state of the property had apparently led its owners to eschew installing air conditioning, so on this incredibly stifling day, there was no relief to be found.

Though the wedding cake had held up surprisingly well, the two candied pears that topped the cake did not. As the hours went by, the two lime-green candies slowly slid down the cake, leaving a glowing green line of goo in their wake. They ended up in a messy pool at the base of the cake. Thankfully, the meltdown didn’t mar the event; artfully placed cut flowers covered up the goo nicely.

Transforming Vera Wang

Another planner friend worked with a high-maintenance bride at a fabulous local art museum. Her parents had spent an enormous amount of money on flowers, decor, and a most spectacular meal.

They had also purchased a $25K Vera Wang gown for the bride.

On the wedding day, the excited bride indulged a bit too excessively in the pre-function champagne and ended up getting sick – down the entire front of her designer dress. Thankfully, the enormous train on what was once a stunner of a dress now acted as a cover up as the dress underwent an impromptu alteration. The train was swathed around the bride’s torso and safety-pinned madly in place.

The sleepy bridesmaid

A bride’s mother once took me aside just moments before the beginning of a wedding ceremony to mention that she’d given the bridal party a little “nip” to help them relax.

Just what the “nip” was, I will never know, but it resulted in at least one sister-in-law swaying precariously throughout the entire ceremony. She ended up making it through the vows, but she slept through the entire reception.

Why it’s best to call a bakery

My-all time favorite wedding mishap involved a lovely bride whose friend offered to bake her wedding cake. Economics being what they are and the kindly gesture being what it was, the bride agreed and the two friends worked together to decide on a look and color – blue – to match her bridesmaids’ dresses.

The cake baker, clearly new to the art, did not have much experience in cake decorating and must have used an enormous amount of food coloring to get the shade of icing just right. Following the cake cutting, everyone’s teeth and lips were blue for the rest of the evening. The pictures must have been quite memorable.

The moral of the story

Although wonderfully entertaining (after the fact, that is), each “Oh, no!” moment enables those of us in the event-planning industry to work together to troubleshoot problems so we can keep them from happening again. After all, being prepared is always a planner’s best defense.

About Roxanne Rukowicz

Ranked one of the top meeting and event planners in Washington, DC, for 2009 and 2010 by the Washington Business Journal, Roxanne Rukowicz’s Behind the Scenes Events, opened its doors in July 2008 with a single concept: to offer organizations access to an affordable, full-service meeting- and event-planning solution.

Roxanne has worked in the Washington, DC, meeting and event industry for more than a decade, starting her career at the Greater Washington Board of Trade in 1999. Her experience with this influential regional network of business leaders began as a temporary work assignment, and progressed into a position as general manager.

Her extensive association and nonprofit planning skills are accented by experience working in the social and entertainment markets. Positions with the Walt Disney Companies and as a freelance wedding and special-event coordinator have provided opportunities with A-list celebrity clients and top-ranking government officials.

For more information, visit Behind the Scenes Events.