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  • Eiteljorg Insider | Event Planning Pointers with Kelsey Donson

    by Rachel Foley, marketing and communications intern | May 29, 2018

    Kelsey Donson

    Kelsey Donson

    Beyond its role as an institution of art, history and cultures, the Eiteljorg Museum building is a popular venue that couples rent for weddings and receptions and groups rent for catered events, such as corporate meetings. Planning and organizing these occasions so they run smoothly and clients have a great experience at the Eiteljorg has been the job of Kelsey Donson, the manager of catering, rental and events.

    In charge of booking all outside and internal events, scheduling, arranging contracts and taking payments – as well as marketing the museum as a venue – Kelsey started at the Eiteljorg in February 2016. She has served as liaison between clients and the Eiteljorg’s exclusive caterer: Kahn’s Catering.  Before she moves away from Indianapolis to start a new chapter, Kelsey shared some of her experience and insights about planning a special event at the Eiteljorg.

    For young couples planning weddings, there are a few major pitfalls that can increase tension throughout the planning and slow down the process of preparing for the big day, according to Kelsey. One of the most prevalent sources of conflict and misunderstanding is having too many people involved in the decision-making process, she said. Although input from parents can be helpful and necessary, Kelsey emphasized that the wedding is for the couple. She recommends that as many decisions as possible be handled by a single voice.

    “There have been time when I’m only working with the bride, or only working with the (wedding) planner – and that’s great. When you get the additional people coming in, that’s when it gets tricky,” Kelsey said.

    Another common issue in planning a wedding at any venue involves unmet expectations. Oftentimes, couples make assumptions about what is and what isn’t included in a rental package, Kelsey added. She advises couples to ask questions about exactly what is included in a package, and make judgments early about what the value truly is when selecting options. Various options are offered at different cost levels:  The Eiteljorg’s first tier package, for example,  includes tables and chairs for indoors as well as parking at the White River State Park garage, but does not include outdoor tables and chairs or audio/visual equipment.

     Venues of all kinds have rules and regulations that vary greatly. Although beautiful and full of character, the Eiteljorg building is a working museum. Since food and beverages could damage valuable pieces of art, the Eiteljorg has rules about keeping them in certain areas of the building and not in the galleries. Events at the Eiteljorg cannot have open flames and require a certificate of insurance; and some floral arrangements are restricted in the building, she noted.

    Kelsey’s most important tip is for couples to create and stick to a detailed budget for their wedding. “It mainly comes down to expenses,” she said. Couples who know exactly what they want and can afford typically are more successful in the event-planning process.

    In addition to wedding ceremonies and receptions, the Eiteljorg hosts corporate meetings and events throughout the year.  The Clowes Court multipurpose ballroom can seat a maximum of 260 for a formal dinner, and an hors d’oeuvres and cocktail party can host as many as 1,000 guests throughout the museum, she said.

    Combined with the gorgeous atmosphere and prime location just steps from the JW Marriot, the Eiteljorg Museum is a popular location among visiting corporate groups who want a different feel from a standard hotel event space. Compared to weddings, Kelsey said managing the corporate events is “both easy and hard.” Oftentimes a corporate event such as a company meeting, seminar or awards luncheon has been held several years in a row, so the client organizing it has an idea of what they want. Each venue is different and has its own set of limitations particular to the facility, vendors and caterers, she said.

    Events at the Eiteljorg remain an important part of the organization. Revenues from all museum external events go toward the building expenses, as do admissions and Museum Store revenues, she said. In addition, weddings and corporate events alike draw in crowds from all over the nation and serve as an opportunity to highlight the Eiteljorg Museum as a vibrant, ever-changing cultural institution in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

    Kelsey has been a great addition to the Eiteljorg team. Asked about the most fulfilling part of the job, she cited the reaction of wedding couples to her completed wedding reception preparations in Clowes Court: “Seeing (two people’s) eyes light up as they see the finished ballroom is the best part.” She also endearingly cites several thank-you letters she has received from happy clients that she plans to keep forever.

    Kelsey Donson, right, and Lorna Speece, left

    Kelsey Donson, right, is succeeded by Lorna Speece, left, as manager of catering, rentals and events at the Eiteljorg. 

    With Kelsey moving on, the Eiteljorg announced that Lorna Speece will be the new manager of catering, rental and events. Lorna has been with the museum for three years, first in security and most recently as co-coordinator of Guest Services.

    We wish the best of luck to Kelsey Donson on all of her future endeavors. For more information on events at the Eiteljorg, please visit www.eiteljorg.org/rental





  • "Putting Martha Stewart to Shame" | Leah and Steve's Perfect Eiteljorg Wedding

    by Sarah Bean, Eiteljorg director of catering and events | Sep 24, 2014

    I first met Leah and Steve in January of this year. I had the honor of touring them through the event space during our Jingle Rail exhibit. I have to admit, it is rather hard to envision our ballroom with luscious floor length linens, pillars of luminous lighting and stunning chavari chairs when you have mountains of miniature buildings and an array of trains running throughout.

     




















    Leah liked the indoor space but her heart was set on the outdoor gardens. Even with the snow covered trees and ice laden walkways I could tell she could envision exchanging vows in the warm afternoon sun and watching her guests dance the night away under the stars. So we set out to make that happen.

    For eight months I worked with Leah, her mom, Steve and Jessica Dum to help create that vision she had always dreamed of. Leah needed zero guidance.  As she and her mom dove head first into personalizing the wedding she had one goal in mind. “I want to put Martha Stewart to shame” Leah said.  And that she did!


     
     
     
     


    Unfortunately, the day of, with threats of rain and high humidity it was decided to move the dinner indoors. Thanks to proper planning we were able to convert the lighting to create an effect that gave the guests the impression of dining under a canopy of trees. 



    I truly enjoyed working with Leah and Steve along with some of the industries finest – Kahn’s Catering, Jessica Dum Wedding Coordination, Alan Trisler/Audio Magic Entertainment, Empty Vase, Stacy Able Photography and Unique Heart Productions.

    Leah and Steve are a match made in heaven and I wish them both many years of true marital bliss.
     

    Have a question about hosting an event at the Eiteljorg?  Please contact our event planning team at:
    • 317.275.1340
    • 317.275.1329
    • spacerental@eiteljorg.com
      Or complete a rental inquiry form here.  
    • You may also visit the rentals section of our website.
    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg events team wins prestigious award

    by Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art | Apr 17, 2014


    In May 2013 Nick and Brittany's wedding and reception took place at the Eiteljorg. Recently the Eiteljorg events team was honored by the International Events Society for the work it did to produce this outstanding production.
     

    Congratulations to Eiteljorg catering and events director Sarah Bean, events coordinator Heather Elmore and our friends at Kahn’s Catering for bringing home a prestigious award for 2013 Professional Achievement in Creative Events (PACE), given by the International Special Events Society (ISES)!

    Our team won for Best Team Effort (under $75,000) category for a wedding hosted at the Eiteljorg last May. It was an elaborate affair that included, among other details, images of Mickey Mouse hidden in unexpected places, such as floral arrangements and projected on the ballroom floor, obscured in the couple’s new monogram. (The couple became engaged at Disneyland.)

    Our team was chosen from a field of local events and venues including The Children’s Museum, The Alexander Hotel and The Conrad. We had to submit an electronic portfolio with details of the event and our part in planning it, along with memories and challenges experienced. We included documentation of the planning process, timelines, photos, budget details, etc. We could not list our name or any other vendor name. The winners were chosen by an out-of-state judging team based on details.

    Have you considered the Eiteljorg for your special event? Click this link to find out more about our award-winning event services!


    2013 Professional Achievement in Creative Events (PACE), awarded to the Eiteljorg Museum by the International Special Events Society (ISES).

     Sarah Bean and Heather Elmore - The Eiteljorg's award-winning events team! Congratulations!

    Go comment!




  • Plan your wedding, reception, meeting or party here at the Eiteljorg

    by Ariel Durell, Special events intern | Jul 08, 2013


    Couple married in the Eiteljorg Kincannon Learning Circle.

    Everybody starts somewhere.  For some people, there’s a clear moment of clarity when they “just know”.  Others experience a more gradual shift, but there’s always a beginning. My beginning has been at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art as an intern in the Rentals department. We work with organizations, brides, grooms and individuals who need help producing and catering exceptional events - like weddings, receptions, meetings and parties.  As an undergraduate business student, I hadn’t put much thought into the event and hospitality industry until recently – but I’m so glad I decided to pursue it!

    Being at the Eiteljorg for a couple months has not only deepened my appreciation of Native American art and cultures, but has also opened my eyes to a whole new world – the creativity, details, and magic that goes into making an event special for a client. 


    Creative centerpieces for a construction-themed dinner reception.


    A whimsical fairytale wedding reception.


    Uplighting helps to transform the ballroom.

    Everyone has their own individual dream for their big event, and it’s been so fun to see the Museum space transform from a nightclub into a fairytale, then morph from a construction-themed dinner into an Indy 500 reception, and back again into the elegant circular ballroom that I’m used to seeing. It’s been especially interesting to see how clients utilize the outdoor gardens.  Even though they have till the day of the event to move indoors if need be, we all keep our fingers crossed for clear skies on the big day! Some people choose to host their event entirely outdoors, while others split their time between the gardens and the ballroom. The outdoor space has been used for ceremonies, receptions and cocktail hours. We even had a couple ride into their outdoor reception off the canal on a bike! 
     

     
    I have really enjoyed all the different types of events that I’ve been able to participate in this summer, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a bride’s face when she first sees the Museum all decked out on her wedding day. Being able to be a part of creating such a special day for a couple, and helping to bring someone’s dreams, ideas and vision to life in a tangible and unforgettable way is amazing! And to think – this is only the beginning!
     
    If you'd like to have your next event at the Eiteljorg Museum, please contact: 317-275-1340 (Sarah Bean). You may also email us at: spacerental@eiteljorg.com. And, you can all find us on Facebook under "Eiteljorg Weddings" and on the Eiteljorg's website.
     
     

    Ariel Durell
    Special Events Intern

     

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