Nancy knows everything there is to know about making every last detail terrific. Her rapport with vendors and venues, her endless creativity, and her “anything it takes” attitude has earned her the undisputed reputation as the Party Queen. After 15 years of sales and marketing in the food industry and volunteering for the American Cancer Society, Nancy shifted her focus to turn her knack for planning great events into real expertise for both private individuals and corporations. As a full-service event manager, Nancy attracts clients that want more than a decorator; her clients call the Party Queen when they want to be treated like royalty.
Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts and an MS in Marketing from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Nancy has been the creative mind behind memorable events for more than 20 years, from unforgettable weddings to successful fundraisers. She combines her years of experience with her clients’ visions. And the result is always the same – a seamless, stress-free event.
Throughout the years, Michael has played an important role in the growth of Amazing Celebrations & Events by assisting in event coordination, logistics, and business management. He has over 30 years of business-to-business sales experience in the areas of packaging and package design. Michael holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts and an MS in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As a staff member of the Honolulu Marathon for ten years, he handled all facets of supply management and operations.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?
We have had many challenges over our 20 years, but one that stands out was when we had to deal with a power outage at a venue as we were getting ready to set up for a huge Sweet 16 party. This extensive event included over 35 vendors arriving on-site that morning, including a rap artist who was being flown in from California. The event space was in a very old building that had once been a well-known department store in its time. The power company informed us that it was a grid outage, just one block, but it would most likely be out all day. The generator was able to power minimal lighting but wouldn’t be able to handle the multitude of power needs for the event, let alone the kitchen facilities. The chef informed me that we had until 3:00 in the afternoon before the food would start to spoil so I immediately went into crisis mode.
After calling all of the vendors to inform them to sit tight before unloading, I started compiling a list of the area venues that could potentially hold an event of this magnitude. Although it was a Saturday, I was hoping that I could find a space that hadn’t already been booked. Not having much luck, I called someone who had been the event manager at a nearby venue that had just closed down (the owner was in arrears on the building’s rent), to see if she could think of any venues. When I explained the situation, she said that she still had the keys to the building and after getting permission from the landlord, would be willing to open up for us if we brought literally everything with us. I immediately rounded up the troops and like the Pied Piper, marched everyone 3 blocks away to our new potential party space for a pre-con meeting. We needed to figure out the logistics of moving the food and catering supplies in hopes of being ready for the event. My plan was to get everything in place and then call the client with the plan. Fortunately, all of the guests were being bussed in from Massachusetts so we didn’t need to call everyone individually.
Feeling confident that we had a good solution in place and with 4 hours until go-time, we headed back to the blacked-out space to start the transition process. It was 2:50 in the afternoon and we had to get the food moved out quickly. I walked into the darkened building, closed my eyes and took a moment to take a deep breath….as I opened my eyes, I kid you not, the lights suddenly turned on. When I realized that we were going to be good to go where we were, I immediately reversed the back-up plan and put things in motion. Not sure how it got done, but we were ready with some time to spare as the busses started unloading the first guests.
Only after the event was over and the client was clearly happy with the party, did I tell her about the experience of the day.
If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?
I’ve already had my dream client and event…
Below is the link to a blog post that I wrote after planning a Bat Mitzvah celebration for the most amazing family. This was truly an honor to create an AMAZING CELEBRATION for a very special young lady.
How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?
Relationships with vendors are beyond critical to the success of any event. Successful partnerships mean successful events and successful events mean a successful business. We have a very long history with our vendors and they know that we will advocate for them as much as we do for our clients. We always make sure to understand their event needs and convey that to the venues.
Our vendors are fed very well at events – one thing that seems to get overlooked but is a big deal to people who are working long hours. We continually share ideas and find ways to connect vendors with each other. We are always happy to offer referrals for our vendors and to give everyone credit for a job well done.
What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?
Party planning as a career wasn’t even a thought when I was studying Nutritional Science in college. My focus had always been to work in the food industry and that’s what I did for almost 15 years. Getting a Master’s degree in Marketing was another step in my quest to continue on my career path. While working, I decided to volunteer with the American Cancer Society, to help out with their annual fundraising gala. After a very short time, I was asked to be on the Auxiliary Board and then eventually moved on as Chair of the gala. It was then that I realized how much I enjoyed event planning.
At that time, with 3 young children, the travel requirements of my job became excessive and it was time for a change. I connected with a woman who owned an event planning business and she offered me a job. Her business was primarily corporate events so when social event inquiries came in, she often passed them on to me to handle. After a few years, I felt that I had enough experience to try things on my own.
I started my business in 2001 and soon became known in the area as the Party Queen of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. That was the main focus of Amazing Celebrations for over 10 years until my husband Michael joined me in 2013. We refocused our business to include corporate events, which now is about 50% of our clientele. In addition, we now maintain an office in Boston as well as our main office and decor warehouse in Glastonbury, CT.
What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?
A client from California contacted us 3 1/2 weeks before she was to host 200 guests at a celebration in honor of her son’s graduation from Yale. We already had a very large event that same day but it was an opportunity to be the first event at a new hotel venue in New Haven, Connecticut, so we took it on. We only had a few days to put together a proposal that included entertainment, extensive decor, activities, floral, living statues, ice sculptures, furniture, rentals and more. As soon as we had the green light, we pulled together all of the necessary vendors, approved contracts and set out to detail the extensive menu with the venue.
On the Thursday before the event (taking place on a Saturday), I received a text from the client’s assistant that she wanted leis to hand out to the other graduates attending the party. With less than 48 hours to go, I couldn’t imagine that she meant REAL leis, so I asked if she had a specific color in mind…must be Yale blue. With the reply of ‘pink and white’, I soon discovered that REAL was of course what she meant!! We kicked into high gear and started calling every lei company in Hawaii, asking if they could overnight 7 dozen leis to Connecticut.
The stars must have been aligned because we connected with flowerleis.com who promised to ship them early the next day for a Saturday arrival. Apparently they use UPS and the packages can go direct to the recipient, unlike FedEx who ships to a transfer facility in Nashville before continuing on to the final delivery point. With blind faith, we gave her our credit card and crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t be out a very hefty sum if the leis didn’t arrive on time. When we didn’t receive a tracking confirmation, we spent most of Friday calling flowerleis.com who assured us that the leis were on their way. At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, I reluctantly walked into the venue, bracing myself for news that the leis were lost in transit. The first thing that I heard as I crossed the lobby was, “the leis are here, the leis are here.” The most beautiful thing that I’ve ever heard. In less than 21 hours, 7 dozen leis made their way from Hawaii to Connecticut. Of course, I thought that I was a miracle maker and couldn’t wait to hear the accolades from my client.
Shortly before the start of the event, our client came into our workroom to check on things. She looked over to the boxes of exquisite leis, and matter of factly said, “oh look the leis”, and walked back out of the room. It was then and there that I realized that our clients just expect us to get things done. No matter how many hoops we have to jump through, we just have to make things happen. We are in this business to give our clients AMAZING CELEBRATIONS and if it means going above and beyond, then so be it – having a happy client is all that we need.