Event management is more than just orchestrating logistics—it’s about curating moments that linger in memory. It’s the art of turning an occasion into an experience, where every detail is a brushstroke on the canvas of emotions.
Imagine walking into a meticulously designed venue, the air buzzing with anticipation. The ambiance, carefully crafted by seasoned hands, whispers the promise of a remarkable journey. It’s not just about tables and chairs—it’s about the subtle play of lighting, the choice of textures and the blend of colors that create an immersive atmosphere.
In the vibrant heart of Los Angeles, where the pulse of creativity meets culinary excellence, Pauline Parry stands as the visionary force behind Good Gracious! Events. With a mind at the cutting edge, a flair for fashion and a palate tuned to perfection, Pauline fabricates award-winning experiences.
Pauline ensures that each event becomes a unique narrative—a story told through the arrangement of elements. Whether it’s the soft glow of candles at an intimate gathering or the grandeur of a gala adorned with crystal chandeliers, the ambiance sets the stage for emotions to unfold.
Being the CEO and Founder, Pauline is turning gatherings into memories, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who participate. From the choice of menu that tantalizes taste buds to the curated entertainment that evokes laughter or nostalgia, every aspect is a note contributing to the melody of the event.
Let’s explore how Pauline creates experiences that commemorate with the gasp of awe as guests enter, the laughter that echoes through the night and the subtle tears of joy during heartfelt moments!
Charm, Challenges and Business Cards
Pauline’s journey in hospitality began unexpectedly in England, lured by the charm of a French bistro in Somerset. Reflecting on her initial uncertainty, she recalls asking, “What would I do?” With two young children in tow, she embarked on a career that defied her earlier notions of becoming a secretary.
Fast forward forty years, and Pauline’s trajectory led her to a Michelin Star Restaurant in Gloucestershire Castle. A pivotal decision brought her to America, where she envisioned continuing her hospitality career. She could not work immediately due to Permit delays, however, diverted her path into a vibrant home life, surrounded by new friends. In Pauline’s words, “I entertain quite often,” and it was within this social group that the seeds of entrepreneurship were sown.
Inspired by her American friends’ entrepreneurial spirit, Pauline took a leap of faith. “And just like that,” she reminisces, “I got a business card and created Good Gracious! Events.” Her journey is marked by chance encounters and unexpected turns underscoring the resilience and creativity that define her remarkable career in hospitality.
Beyond the Plate
Pauline proudly shares, “I have two books out.” The first, ‘Food Fun Love – Party Styles,’ unfolds as an entertainment book, while the second, ‘My Culinary Love Story,’ is a recent memoir cookbook.
Reflecting on her journey from Britain to California, Pauline intertwines personal anecdotes with ‘64 recipes and watercolor illustrations of the food.’ With a screen play in the works, she’s embarked on her third book, tentatively titled, ‘So that’s how you see it?‘ It promises insights into the 40-year legacy of Good Gracious! Events, blending the narrative of growing a business with the unique journey of her life.
Recipes, Reflections and Resilience
In the dynamic world of live events, meticulous planning is key, as Pauline attests, “We find ourselves having to be so detailed orientated prior to the event to make sure we have covered all our bases.” Yet, even with the best preparations, unforeseen challenges can arise. Pauline recounts a memorable four-day event in Vancouver where rain threatened to dampen the spirits.
The event, set in the VanDusen Botanical Gardens promised a magical night under the stars for 150 guests, featuring a four-course dinner and celebrity performers. However, the weather had different plans and the forecasted rain became a reality. Despite efforts to secure a tent, the client resisted. Pauline was resourceful and determined and she sought local insights, asking, “Do you think it is going to rain on Saturday?” In a bold move, they covered the expansive forty-by-thirty-foot stage to protect it from the impending downpour.
Undeterred, the team prepared for the worst, stocking up on wellingtons, umbrellas and rain ponchos from the local Walmart. Acrylic rectangular tables adorned with floral gardens were set up, each equipped with a pop-up tent for guests. The anticipation was palpable as the event drew near, with Pauline reflecting, “The energy and adrenaline were in high gear as we prepared for event time in the rain.”
Then, miraculously, just as guests arrived at the gardens, the rain ceased. The scene unfolded with guests walking up the hill, accompanied by fairies playing flutes and releasing butterflies. A frenzied effort ensued to lift and relocate the pop-up tents, creating an enchanting setting. Pauline’s heart raced but the evening turned out to be a success and the guests remained blissfully unaware of the behind-the-scenes drama.
In retrospect, Pauline muses, “I suppose the moral of the story is you all need a little luck and positive thinking that helps us along the way.” The event, despite its tumultuous start, ended beautifully, leaving the client smiling, a silent acknowledgment that, against all odds, the team at Good Gracious! Events had pulled off the extraordinary.
Cultivating a Vision
At Good Gracious! Events, the journey toward excellence begins with hiring individuals who are fifty-one percenters, possessing that special gene that propels them beyond their designated tasks. Pauline emphasizes, “We encourage and support industry conference attendance,” recognizing the value of inspiration in shaping their team.
Building a nationwide network of chefs and businesses, Good Gracious! Events thrives on ‘hands-on experiences‘ that broaden perspectives. This exposure fosters a mindset focused on endless possibilities, as Pauline believes, “This experience brings our staff back to the workplace with an open mind.”
Weekly conversations serve as a platform for innovation, where the team explores ways to elevate client experiences through ‘food, presentation and hospitality.’ It’s not just about the task at hand—it’s about envisioning and creating possibilities. Good Gracious! Events is more than an event planning company, it’s a culture of forward-thinking where each member contributes to a collective vision of exceeding expectations.
Dancing with Delight
“Having the privilege to be speakers for our industry brings our creative juices alive,” shares Pauline. This creative energy doesn’t just stay within the industry, it’s shared with clients. Pitching the idea of entertainment-infused presentations at a conference, the team later executed the concept at a ballet gala.
Immersing guests in an unexpected experience, Pauline describes how they elevated a guest table to create a small stage. Ballet dancers became servers, offering the first course with a tableside soup pour set to the delicate notes of the Butterfly dance. The result was truly a lovely unexpected experience for all attendees, blending creativity, entertainment and gastronomy seamlessly and showcasing the innovative spirit that defines Good Gracious! Events.
“At Good Gracious! Events, we’re not just in the business—we’re the leaders in presentation, innovation and logistical mastery,” Pauline declares, emphasizing the company’s reputation for excellence. With a nod to their seasoned expertise, she adds, “We’ve stood the test of time, setting trends rather than merely keeping up with them.”
The essence of Good Gracious! Events lies in their daring approach. “We do things that others don’t dare to do,” Pauline asserts confidently. Fueling their creativity is an inquisitive nature that brings forth basic organic questions challenging conventional norms. For this team, thinking outside the box is not a choice but a way of life, turning the seemingly impossible into reality through “basic common-sense questions.”
Reflecting on the evolving landscape of event planning and hospitality, Pauline reminisces about the early days when event planners did not really exist and catering for businesses was in its infancy.
Today, she envisions a future where the industry continues to shape businesses by leveraging culinary, design and hospitality as integral marketing tools. With a keen eye on societal shifts, Pauline predicts a heightened awareness of dietary restrictions and sustainability, anticipating these concerns to be seamlessly intertwined into each and every event in 2024 and beyond.
Courage, Tenacity, Impact
“The most important qualities, I believe, are passion, tenacity and stamina,” affirms Pauline. She emphasizes the need to be a ‘slight risk-taker,’ noting that the rewards bring ‘GREAT satisfaction.’ In this succinct advice, Pauline encapsulates the essence of a fulfilling professional journey—where courage, dedication and the thrill of taking risks lead to the profound satisfaction of making a positive impact on people’s lives through one’s work.
“We get involved with associations such as ICA, WIPA, NACE, ILEA to name a few,” says Pauline. Actively participating in industry conferences and subscribing to various magazines, the team stays committed to staying ahead of the curve. This proactive approach ensures they are always open to “incorporating and bringing new and exciting details to our events,” underscoring their dedication to innovation and staying at the forefront of the dynamic event planning landscape.
Crafting Trends, Not Following
“For us, the root of hospitality is traditional, a way of life,” declares Pauline. In the dynamic landscape of business, she notes, “When faced with new and modern approaches, we adjust or otherwise, we will be left in the dust!” The ethos at Good Gracious! is clear—they don’t just follow trends, they create the modern trends embodying a commitment to innovation that propels them forward in the world of hospitality.
“For us, it’s quite easy, really. We think of it as a way of life and how we like to live,” shares Pauline. Their commitment to sustainability extends from creating seasonal dishes to meticulous recycling practices. “We practice recycling of product through composting, oil, trash, and anything else that can be recycled,” she emphasizes. This eco-conscious approach isn’t just a choice—it’s a lifestyle. With growth comes an expanding commitment to sustainable management always offering clients solutions for hosting events that align with a greener, more responsible ethos.
Sweets and Success
“We are quite excited to announce that our President/Chef, Joanne Purnell, will take the helm with a carefully appointed board of directors,” declares Pauline. The anticipation is palpable for a new and exciting future. Adding to the excitement, the team envisions expanding their presence with an online platform featuring delectable offerings like ‘Hand Pies and shortbread‘ and even dreams of a flagship store where these culinary delights and more can be savored by enthusiasts.
Beyond the Clock
“This industry is not for the faint of heart,” affirms Pauline. Acknowledging the unconventional hours, she notes, “You work unsociable hours, nights and weekends.” Passion and commitment, coupled with family support become the foundation for success. For those who possess these qualities, Pauline encourages, “The only next steps are for you to blossom in this crazy world of events.” It’s a dynamic journey where dedication transforms challenges into opportunities defining a path to flourish in the vibrant realm of event management.