How to Host Your Event at an Embassy
The truth is, embassies are a widely available—yet untapped—domain, which offer an elegant setting for special events. Some embassies even provide support staff, catering services, AV equipment, valet parking—basically an event planner’s dream set-up. House of Sweden features “all-green” facilities and services for those looking to host an environmentally friendly event…and you don’t have to be the nationality of the embassy to take advantage of these picturesque locales. Because embassy events host their own cultural events throughout the year, outside events must be booked far in advance.
Recently, MES staff attended the fourth annual Pearls of Purpose Gala to benefit FAIR Fund, a D.C.-based international nonprofit that works to prevent human trafficking and sexual violence in the lives of youth around the world. The gala took place at the Austrian Embassy in Northwest D.C. Guests nibbled on hors d’oeuvres from D.C.-area restaurants Citronelle and Marcel’s, as well as an array of Georgetown Cupcake and Cake Love cupcakes. Models in Betsey Johnson dresses ambled about offering guests the chance to win bottles of wine, and silent auction items lined the perimeter of the room.
According to Andrea Powell, executive director and co-founder of FAIR Fund, “We were very lucky to be in contact with one of the embassy staff via an advisory board member. The embassy was very accommodating.” Andrea noted that the embassy staff provided security to ensure the safety of her team and all attendees. The embassy also helped promote the event via their online marketing tools and their web site.
Planning a gala at a national embassy comes with its ups and downs. The biggest challenge for Andrea and her team was selling tickets during a tough economy and raising corporate sponsorship. “We address a very sensitive topic—the sex trafficking of children. Therefore, it takes time to familiarize sponsors and gain their support,” Andrea said. Once they learn more about the cause and decide to sign on, however, they realize the value of their contribution.
For events expecting 200 guests or more, Andrea recommends allowing at least six months to one year in advance for planning. She also advises to be creative in offering group rates and pre-event date purchase discounts.