Today I’m chatting with you about magic. It occurs to me that those of us who work in events make J.K. Rowling look like an amateur. Parties, just like restaurants, can either soar or sink. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic to doom a party; the bride doesn’t have to fall down the stairs during the ceremony, the band leader doesn’t have to be slurring, it’s something transcendental and, if you are a pro, or even an inveterate party goer, you know it when it happens.
Recently, I was fascinated by an article in the New York Times about Graydon Carter and how he works on the seating of his two very HOT restaurants, Waverly Inn and The Monkey Bar. While the reporter was intrigued with the psychological issues prompting Mr. Carter to act as “puppet master”, I knew that he was on the wrong track. I thought, no, that isn’t what juices this very powerful editor of Vanity Fair, it was clear to me that he was just one of us and what he got his kicks from, each and every evening, was painstakingly and methodically making magic.
We often talk of the “WOW” moment, and so many of my clients over the years have emphasized the importance of their guests walking into their wedding or soiree and just being blown away by the beauty of it. They want their jaws to drop, and this is certainly not to be dismissed as a precious part of the whole equation. Truthfully though, if there aren’t talented wizards at work with a template of all the enchanted moments that can and will be conjured up, a drop dead gorgeous room or a gigunda centerpiece can get old pretty fast…
This is where the most talented among us really shine, this is the nitty gritty of our business; the sorcery that helps us decide who this particular crowd is and what sort of music is playing for them as guests arrive, where do they get their first drink, who is making a toast or a speech and for how long (and who should be banned from approaching the mic), what is the emergency procedure for a lull on the dance floor (I’m infamous for sending gorgeous bouncy Lea, my second-in-command, and her crew out on the dance floor as shills), what works as a surprise and what might be too jarring, how are the guests leaving and what is their last memory of the evening? This list is just a smidgen of the ingredients in the potion, and, as we all know too well- there are no recipes because the variables change each time.
Here’s the bottom line though, and I honestly believe this, those of us who are worth our salt, and there are certainly plenty, got into this whacko world for that very reason- we had delusions of being Merlin or Glinda. The pay off is that sometimes, when the moon is in the right place and mercury is not retrograding, we can get pretty damn close!