Saturday, June 25, 2011

All in a Day's Work

I had been watching the forecast all week...eyeing the 10-day weather tracker for Brentwood, Tennessee like a hawk and praying that the Isolated Thunderstorms icon would magically disappear. Having been an event planner for 16 years, I know my track record: If I plan it outside, it will rain. Period. So when the Wascom family hired me to plan an after rehearsal dinner for their son's wedding in an outdoor setting, the prayers for no rain began to fly.

June 24 arrived and I kicked it into gear. The day started with a few last minute errands and plans to be at the house by 11:30 to get set-up. Walking out of Kroger with The World's Officially Most Ginormous Fruit Tray Ever I felt confident and excited about the day ahead. I placed the tray on the front seat and cranked my car. Or, TRIED to crank my car but it was dead. D-E-A-D. No sign of life. 10 minutes later the hood is up and I am surrounded by four employees of that store assisting in the jumping off of my battery. Engine now purring, I thank them wholeheartedly and race to the venue to get things rolling.

And so the fun began.

Tables that were delivered the day before were rolled into the back yard. A call is placed to the rental company to tell them the chairs are not the ones I ordered. They dispatch another set to be delivered. I hold off on tablecloths in case the passing afternoon thunderstorm comes our way. Centerpieces I had made the night before were unloaded and supplies were brought in from the host's car. Plates and utensils were unwrapped, a candy/dessert bar was assembled, furniture rearranged, punch made, lighting set and placecards for the food and beverage were written and... my phone rings.

"Ms. Bodiford. We are here to deliver the chairs but no one is home."

No one is home because they have delivered the chairs to the billing address (MY house) instead of the delivery address (the venue). SIGH. Chairs are on the way, I leave instructions for chair placement with the homeowner and I race home to change and pick up a few more items I'll need for that evening.

As I pull in my driveway, the phone rings. "Katie, um, the new chairs they delivered are the same dark brown as the ones we have." Seriously rental company? A call is placed telling them we will use the darker brown but asking that they credit us for the cost of the chairs for the trouble. A quick 10 minute change and I am back on the road.

Arriving at the venue, I decide that we are past the threat of a rain shower so tablecloths are added, centerpieces and candles set, the caterer drops off food, food is arranged, candles are lit, beverages are iced, desserts are plated, guitarist arrives, music begins...

...and the guests arrive.

This is the moment I dread the most as an event planner. How will it flow? Do we have enough food? Will the guests have what they need? Will there be a comfortable vibe? Will it all go off smoothly?

Fast forward 30 minutes and it sinks in why I love what I do. The weather is gorgeous, the music being played by friends Dillon and Elise provides the perfect backdrop, candles are flickering, food has been devoured and there is plenty remaining, hugs are being shared, photos are being taken and there is laughter all around. Laughter and smiles and kudos are delivered to the host for the perfect evening. A smile stretches across my face as I take it all in.

You see, all the little behind the scenes glitches are invisible at this moment. The darker chairs do not matter because everyone sitting in them is laughing and sharing stories. The pecan pie that didn't plate perfectly is being declared by all as the best pecan pie they've ever eaten. The tight flow inside I worried about is a non-issue because everyone is hanging by the pool outside where I was certain it would rain...

What matters the most is a young couple and their families got to meet and mingle, laugh and create memories on this the eve of a very special day in their lives. Grandmothers meeting for the first time, babies cooing and nervous inlaws getting to know more about each other all made for an unforgettable evening. And as the sun went down and the guests slowly departed a barefoot and utterly relaxed hostess came up and gave me a big hug.

That's when I realized why I love my job so much. I may not spend my days saving lives, but I help people live them. And you know what? That is good enough for me.

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