Planning a party for another party pro should be easy, no? Not necessarily. When Joseph Mineo, president and creative director of Canfield, Ohio-based Something New Events, concocted a whimsical birthday party last October for longtime friend and colleague Ralph Bellisario, he faced a delicate balancing act. While Bellisario — of Bellisario Florist in Eastpointe, Mich. — gave Something New Events free rein over the 210-guest bash in Detroit, the celebration couldn't be too flashy since many of the florist's clients were invited. “The trick,” Mineo says, “was to introduce them to something unique and different but still elegant and over-the-top enough.” Mission accomplished: Not only was the party a hit, it's nominated for a 2007 Gala Award.
Mineo knew what to expect when he accepted production responsibilities. “Most of Ralph's clientele are large, wealthy Italian families,” he says, “and they all try to outdo each other with the largest centerpieces you can possibly have.” Since Something New offers a more modern, less flower-filled look, the event team combined its signature contemporary style with flower accents. For example, one custom-made centerpiece included a tall coil of copper pipe, lilies and spinning lampshades, and tables were topped with lime green satin stretched around custom-cut plywood for a distinctive edge.
Venue restrictions prompted the event team to get imaginative with decor. Since the venue, the Villa Penna Banquet Center in Detroit, wouldn't allow anything to hang from the ceiling, a 24-by-24-foot truss in the middle of the ballroom held essential lighting elements. Mineo made the ungainly prop a platform for one of the evening's performances. Four cirque-style performers, hidden under giant feathered headdresses, perched on the truss. It wasn't until the guests began to eat their salads that the performers started slowly moving down one by one to dance. “If I had this big truss, I had to use it for something,” Mineo says, “so I made it part of the decor.”
Guests encountered more cheeky characters as the night progressed. A “spandex diva,” a whirling performer dressed in white spandex, presented Bellisario with a birthday cake and then led the group into an all-white jazz club, where two more divas twirled in cages suspended 12 feet in the air. The final — and most outrageous — entertainer was a 400-pound jazz singer belting out tunes for guests. The singer stood on a 12-by-12-foot platform while guests picked dessert items off her stretched skirt. “I wanted to cause interest,” Mineo says. “I wanted people to think, ‘What's this all about?’”
Something New Events 4500 Boardman-Canfield Road, Canfield, OH 44406; 800/729-5952; www.somethingnewflorist.com