Soiree Special Events

Friday, May 02, 2008

DC ISES Gala 2008

Every year, the International Special Events Society's local DC chapter hosts an awards ceremony that honors all types of events hosted in DC. This year's gala was held at the Omni Shoreham hotel for what I'd guess was about 350-400 guests.

We started off the party with a lovely indoor/outdoor cocktail hour in a part of the hotel extended by a tent:It was a little too chilly to go outside but here are some beautiful event spaces on the grounds of the hotel:Next we were ushered into a ballroom for the presentation of the awards! To see the big list of winners, check out the DC ISES website. I didn't take too many photos here but here's what the stage looked like:Then it was on to dinner! We were escorted down the steps to the lower ballroom. I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful string ensemble lining the steps:These beautiful cherry blossom arrangements lined the lower hallway leading into the ballroom:Down the hallway there were gorgeous displays of candles. I took a photo with my flash so you could see just how many vases there were:
Although the effect without my camera's flash is SO much better:The entire hallway:As the guests entered the ballroom I'm pretty sure everyone let out a collective "ooooh!"A few lounges in the same color scheme bordered the room:
Several tablescapes combined together created a beautiful effect for the room. Everything was themed mostly in black and white but there were little pops of green here and there. This 'bling lampshade' is one of my favorites! Do you recognize it from the Fairmont party? This versatile piece is rather like a chameleon....same piece but totally different look: I love these little bling globes:This one was my favorite! I'm partial because I sat at a table with one of these guys. It's a huge natural tree painted white with crystal chains hung from the branches. From each crystal strand they attached gorgeous cymbidium orchids:There was even an Asian paper cutter on hand! This guy cut out silhouettes and fun paper masks for guests to wear. He truly was an artist and was very entertaining to watch:For a list of all the amazing contributors to this very special event, check out the Gala page on the ISES website! There are simply too many wonderful people who pitched in to make this event happen. Special thanks to Washington Talent for the use of their room photo above -- if you'd like to see more professional photos of this event go to and enter "dcisesgala" as the password. Vicky also took some great shots and put them on her blog!

As a wedding planner I'm always a tad nitpicky when I attend an event as a guest. We were invited to start cocktail hour around 6pm and after the awards it was just after 8:30 or so. During cocktails there were a few passed hors d'oeuvres (which never completely made it around...I was never offered anything) and a long table set with cheese, crackers, crudite, and some dips. Hardly what I would call a substantial appetizer menu. Needless to say by 8:30, I was hungry! I was rather disappointed when we entered the ballroom and continued to enjoy another 90-minute cocktail hour. It wasn't until 10:00 when I received my first course and 10:30 when I got my entree! Of course the event was beautiful and I appreciate all the hard work the sponsors put into it. I don't meant to be ungrateful but for a $150 ticket I would have expected the meal service to be a bit faster. This could have easily been the hotel's fault, the planner's fault, the entertainment's fault, or something else that nobody would've expected. There are always also outside circumstances that guests never know about and I can only hope that something crazy happened which caused the dinner to come out extremely late (not that they planned a 5-hour waiting period)! All in all it was a lovely event but it goes to show the importance of the flow of the event and the impact it makes on guests. When putting together your wedding timeline, consider ways to make sure your guests are comfortable.



  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/5/08 10:40 AM  

  • Wow! I had no idea you didn't get to eat until so late! After the doors opened for dinner, I went home since I had been there the whole day doing set up. I had used my last ounce of energy! I never saw the food in the pre-awards ceremony reception. The hotel staff appeared to be ready so all this is very strange. Who knows what really happened.

    By Anonymous Vicky Choy, at 5/5/08 6:00 PM  

  • Do you have the name or contact information for the guy who does the paper cutting? I would love to have that for my Chinese themed wedding. Thanks!

    By Blogger Michele, at 6/5/08 12:34 AM  

  • Hi Michele! I don't have the contact info directly for the paper cutter but he can be booked through an agency called Cast of Thousands. Here is their website:

    By Blogger SoireeLaura, at 6/5/08 9:41 AM  

  • thank you so much!

    By Blogger Michele, at 6/5/08 9:32 PM  

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