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VOL. 41 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 15, 2017

Better get busy booking your holiday bash

A look at the area’s top venues, how to narrow seemingly endless choices

By Hollie Deese

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The Nashville area offers any kind of party venue to match any kind of budget, from rustic barns in nearby counties to open-air patios right in the heart of downtown on Broadway.

Businesses, nonprofits, organizations and traditional groups of friends and families need to be booking for the holiday season now. It’s a highly competitive market whether you want to give your guests and clients a merry tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame – along with dinner and drinks – or treat them to Christmas cocktails at a renovated church, art gallery or in a special room at an intimate restaurant.

Many of these places check multiple boxes, like historic buildings renovated with modern amenities or venues that are performing after-hours duties separate from their full-time gig.

And while hotels and retreats are always a popular option, this year many businesses are opting for something a little different when planning for a special event that lets those invited know your appreciate them.

Finding those special places isn’t always easy, especially with the sheer number of options currently available.

It’s one reason why Megan Proby founded the full-service, design-focused event rental company 12th Table after looking to plan her own wedding a few years ago.

BMI Hall is one of many options at the Country Music Hall of Fame. It offers 1,400 square feet of space and can accommodate 70 to 100 guests.

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The Nashville native was planning a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, wedding and couldn’t find any rentals or design retailers that really spoke to her. It inspired her to launch 12th Table.

Today her team works with boutique rental spaces that offer something filled with a little more personality. After all, it’s what people want.

“Especially in Nashville, it’s much more modern,” says Jennie Lorenz, design and production associate with 12th Table. “Not all of it’s Southern, country and traditional.”

Most of the venues 12th Table works with don’t have any furnishings in house, so 12th Table also provides everything, from the tables and chairs to more specialty furniture. It all depends on what works with the venue.

“There’s certainly some of the older, more traditional venues in town that do have some of those pieces in house, which is great and super convenient for clients,” Lorenz adds. “But we were finding there weren’t many unique options to cater to a little different aesthetic.

“We love a blank space with some good architectural details in them.”

Lorenz says the company works with a wide range of clients, and many venues she works with will sometimes rent on an hourly basis, especially for something like a small cocktail party for the holidays. Plus, choosing a non-traditional venue can help businesses reinforce their own brand.

“We always love thinking about how you can showcase your brand or your personal aesthetic through the rentals at these different spaces, and we love tying the company’s brand into the design,” Lorenz says. “So we love how they’ve been so thoughtful in the designs of the Peter Nappi and Kidd Epps space, and in the other venues we work with around town.”

Dan Cook knows all about the appeal of an untraditional space.

The owner of Ruby, once home to the Blakemore Primitive Baptist Church, Cook is currently converting his second historic church into boutique venue space in Nashville. Clementine Hall, projected to open May 2018, is on Charlotte Pike right across the street from Richland Park in an 1889 brick building that was, until recently, a Methodist church. Renovations and restoration are underway with all of it being documented on Instagram.

“Churches usually have a large, open room, which is conducive to parties and events and those kind of things,” Cook says of his affinity for holy houses. And it seems to be working.

Despite being months away from opening, Clementine already has 52 dates booked for the next two years – thanks to a congregation that will be using the space for its original purpose. It’s the perfect base of business to lock in while looking to book other events.

“We just started showing the building to clients at the end of last week, so we are about to start booking events,” he explains.

The design element is intriguing to Cook, who thinks what he does appeals to a certain client looking for something extra and very, very individualized.

“Every event is discreet,” he says. “It’s unique. It’s one off and it’s gone. So it’s almost like every event is a separate business, in our world. And they all look totally different.

“I guess if we were in a hotel ballroom where there were the same tables and chairs and glassware and all that kind of stuff, everything would look kind of same, but that’s not the world we operate in.

“Everything we do for our clients do is totally different.”