I was at a very, very, oh sooo very, hip new restaurant last night for the second time and social buzz addict that I am combined with the fact that there’s a fameuse chef and all I couldn’t quite figure out why I wasn’t just completely seduced by the place. It hit me when the very handsome Latin runner said “Bon Appetit” while he delivered the sliders.
Remember when you were first taught the definition of incongruous? No? Well, I do. It was with a cartoon of a big fat lady walking her teeny tiny dog- and that’s the image I was stuck on last night.
It might not be immediately obvious to you that I’m raving about this topic for a reason, but hang in here for a bit, there’s a point here. How many events don’t work because they have not been produced to be compatible with the guests’ expectations, because there are too many elements that are incongruous. Some examples?
I had a bride several years ago who fancied herself in line to the throne and insisted on not only having fox sleeves sewn to her gown, but that her guests wear extremely formal attire. What’s the problem you ask? Well, the entire sun-stroked ceremony took place on an excruciatingly hot beach in Spain.
I have seen clever (and messy) interactive food stations positioned at events where the women are in spike heels and evening gowns.
I’ve made pleas to clients about a stand-around cocktail party not being sensible for four hours, and that a wedding where most of the guests don’t know each other requires a well thought out seating plan not the “oh, let everyone sit where they want” approach.
An ornate fourteen pound card stock invitation doesn’t make sense for a hayride- get it?
I recently saw a beautiful old world hotel ballroom half-heartedly turned into a tawdry 70s disco for a party- I swore that the space itself was mortified.
Congruency is something that makes us humans comfortable. This is not to say that juxtaposing seemingly wildly incompatible concepts can’t work fabulously and be just the thing that makes the event transcend the ordinary. Humor is all about these kinds of contrasts (I just saw a Twitpic of Anna Wintour and Lady Gaga engrossed in conversation at The Met ball tonight that had me howling).
But it takes a skilled pro to think about what’s going into the mix, what works together and what doesn’t… Someone with enough knowledge and clarity and energy to work on these details and to make sure that if an American/Italian menu is being served in a downtown hipster environment, maybe the staff should be trained to say something other than Bon Appetit.