ACE Finalist: Blue Elephant Events & Catering, Part 1

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September 08, 2017

Mid-March, winners of the ACE awards took the stage at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. To enter, each contender was asked to identify the two events the company completed that it felt best represented the company, as well as challenges and favorite aspects.

Throughout the year, Catersource.com will profile the winners and nominees of the 2017 ACE awards. In the next installation of our series, we are placing a keen eye on Blue Elephant Events and Catering, a runner up in the category of catering in the east region under $2 million.

Jordan/Falkenstein Wedding Weekend

“This two-day event is representative of what we feel Blue Elephant Events and Catering can do when given the freedom to collaborate and explore ideas and then given a budget to execute them,” enthused Reuben Bell, president of the company. “We worked in conjunction with this client to offer two completely different experiences on two consecutive nights to the same group of people. Working closely with a trusted team of our colleagues, we designed and executed completely different formal rehearsal dinner and black tie wedding reception events that flowed seamlessly from one evening to the next, giving a sense of continuity to the entire weekend.”

Photo Nadra Photography

The events were both held in different unfinished, crumbling warehouse spaces—one waterfront, one in an industrial complex and as such, the venues both presented significant design and logistical challenges. “We spent months coming up with design and décor ideas that would not only work well within the spaces, but would be dramatic, eye-catching and offer the level of luxury demanded by the client,” said Bell.

The menus that designed for both events had to not only meet the client’s high expectations for a luxury experience, but be able to easily prepare and create in temporary kitchen spaces with minimal equipment and prep space. The rehearsal dinner offered an upscale spin on a classic Maine lobster bake, while the reception cocktail hour dinner and dessert menus offered elegant flavors and presentations with an eye on local seafood and products.

Photos Nadra Photography

Challenges

Blue Elephant recommended several venues in its area for the reception and a new event space in the area was selected. “We met our clients at the venue and conducted a complete walk through.” Yet, six months later (eight weeks prior to the reception) Blue Elephant was notified that construction work had not commenced, and that nothing was going to be finished. “At this point, we had to switch gears and not only keep our plans in place for décor and logistics, but now come up with suitable options for appropriate kitchen facilities, bathrooms for nearly 200 guests, heating for a 200-year-old warehouse located on the ocean, and supplemental electricity to make it all run. All of this in addition to calming down an understandably anxious and frustrated client and maintain a good working relationship with the venue, with whom we hoped to do more business in the future!” said Bell.

The next challenge was to reassure the client that the plan could proceed, in spite of what seemed to be an insurmountable problem. “We immediately began working with the venue, and created a plan to move forward,” said Bell. This included weekly updates to the client on progress made, the addition of temporary kitchen and restroom facilities, and arrangements for necessary heating and electricity for the venue.

Photo Nadra Photography

“We were able to redirect the client and reassure them through daily communication that things would indeed turn out as planned. We accomplished this in spite of significant apathy from the venue, and a frustrated client who was used to calling the shots in Atlanta who now had to place complete trust in a group of strangers from Maine.”

Photo Nadra Photography

Favorite touches

The standout take-away from this event was the ease of collaboration that Blue Elephant had with their colleagues during the preparation and execution of these complicated events. “We selected a team of our favorite professionals: floral design, lighting, bar service, rentals, and venues to work with on these events that we knew would be totally collaborative on every aspect of the planning and coordination. We have been fortunate over the years to work with some truly talented professionals who ‘get’ Blue Elephant’s vision, and we can call on these folks and hit the ground running with ideas and know that they’ll immediately pick up on our it,” said Bell.

Grand finale

Midnight signaled the end of the reception, and it was here that Blue Elephant pulled out the final stops of the evening. The ever-popular Donut Wall was unveiled, featuring a variety of donuts from a favorite local shop, and a food truck was dramatically pulled into the event space through a side entrance to serve chicken and waffles, poutine, and Frito pie, among other hearty late-night treats. “Our goal here was the wow factor,” said Bell, “and the reaction of the guests didn’t disappoint. The look of surprise on guests’ faces as a huge rusty overhead door opened and the truck slowly pulled in was exactly what we were going for.”

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Next week, we will look at Blue Elephant Events and Catering’s Boyadjieva/Smith Wedding.

Enter your best catering and events into the ACE awards opening on September 11! Click here for more details.

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