Archive for October 1st, 2007

When It’s Time To Start The Party, START THE PARTY!

Monday, October 1st, 2007

The traditional closing of a Jewish wedding ceremony occurs when the groom steps on a wine glass wrapped in a napkin to symbolize the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. (It can also symbolize the fragility of the trust relationship in a marriage.)

At one such event, a shard of the wine glass came right through the sole of the groom’s shoe and into his foot, requiring a trip to the Emergency Room for stitches. (And an hour-plus delay in his getting to the reception.)

The bride’s parents were faced with a tough call: wait until the ER trip was over, or start the party without the guests of honor. They did the right thing – they started the party.

Now, you might think that a wedding reception without the bride and groom seems a little odd. But with the clock running on the venue (and the guests’ attention span) – not to mention the food, band, and everything else – the smart thing to do was proceed. Which we did. By the time the limping groom escorted his bride to the dance floor for their first dance (fortunately – his foot was still numbed by Novocaine), the rest of us were in full swing.

This past week, I was at another event where the party planner faced a similar choice. A fundraiser for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center featured a live interview of Carol Burnett by Deborah Norville, both of whom were on very tight schedules. Unfortunately, about 40% of the guests refused to honor repeated announcements for them to come into the ballroom and take their seats. They each seemed to want to be the very last one at their particular tables. We waited 10 minutes past the official start time, and still they lingered in the foyer outside. Then, in a brilliant move, the party planner ordered the ballroom doors to be closed. All of a sudden, the “fashionably late” crowd realized that – yes – this party could and would go on without them. It was amazing how quickly they found their proper spots, once they were motivated.

No party is successful unless the comfort (and inner clocks) of the vast majority of the guests are respected. And since the goal of every party planner is a successful event, when it’s time to start – there really is no good reason to keep everyone else waiting.