Kimpton Schofield provides unique offerings for ancillary events, accommodations for major celebrations

With plenty of event space, the Kimpton Schofield Hotel in downtown Cleveland will plan a major life event’s ancillary events, accommodating both small and large parties. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Schofield.

By Abigail Preiszig

Planning large life events requires careful preparation. And with so much time and energy going into the big day, the smaller celebrations associated with it – like rehearsal dinners and morning-after party brunches – can be challenging for families to prioritize. 

However, supplementary celebrations can add a desired touch to the main event, which is why Kimpton Schofield Hotel in downtown Cleveland offers an “everything but the wedding” package.

“We handle the welcome party, the rehearsal dinner, the farewell brunch and the hotel block,” says Nicole Sowders, director of sales for the Kimpton Schofield and creator of the hotel’s “everything but the wedding” approach. “That way, out-of-town guests are only leaving the hotel one time, potentially, to go to the wedding and everything else we can handle here for them.” 

The idea came to Sowders during the COVID-19 pandemic, when smaller, more intimate gatherings became the norm, she says. And as gatherings began returning to larger crowds, she saw more event venues opening in Cleveland that lacked conveniences like hotel accommodations, bars or ballrooms. She realized they had found a needed niche in providing all of the secondary events to complement the main event.

Nicole Sowders, director of sales for the Kimpton Schofield Hotel in downtown Cleveland and creator of the “everything but the wedding” approach. Photo / Hal Stata

“We (Kimpton Schofield) very quickly learned that amount of guests was more our demographic,” she says.

While the “everything but” approach is marketed toward weddings, the philosophy can be applied to other life events like a b’nai mitzvah, Sowders says. 

“It’s more of an ‘everything but the big event,’” she says. 

Working with Kimpton Schofield to plan all the side events can eliminate the stress of having various contacts for multiple parties and “streamline” the process through one person who will ensure all bases are covered, Sowders says. 

“When there’s a big wedding, you obviously have tons of vendors and tons of people you’re communicating with, and this just eliminates a lot of that because we handle it all here in house,” she says. “It’s just streamlining it to make sure that nothing is missed when guests are here with us.”

As such, the celebrant and guests have one contact to call for breakfast, parking, transportation, hotel accommodations or any other needs that arise. All the families have to worry about is the major event, she says. 

Additionally, the professionals will walk the celebrant through the day of and days leading up to their big event to ensure no detail is overlooked, Sowders says. The hotel also hosts ceremonies and receptions with up to 125 guests, meaning the staff is experienced with the whole process. 

A Kimpton Schofield space set up for a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Schofield.

“Most people only plan one wedding in their life, and it’s something we do all day, every day here,” she says. “So, it’s easy for us to sit there and say, ‘OK now, what are you doing for your guests when they come in or (are) you bringing gift bags for your guests? Where are you going for dinner the night of check-in …  what are your guests doing after that?’ And just walking them through the entire weekend to make sure that they haven’t missed anything (and) to help out where we can.”

The “everything but the wedding” package is customizable to the event and needs of the individual, but it typically includes a welcome party, a cocktail hour and casual snacks to welcome guests as they arrive for the weekend; the rehearsal dinner the night before the main event; and a farewell brunch, a chance for guests to gather one last time to celebrate and debrief about the main event and enjoy a meal together. 

With plenty of event space, Kimpton Schofield can plan the side events in appropriately sized spaces, accommodating both small and large parties, Sowders says.

The most overlooked aspect of the lead-up to a big event is having easily accessible food service for guests, such as when they are getting ready or need a late-night snack after the party, she adds. 

“When the whole bridal party is all getting ready in the bridal suite and you have 20 girls in there getting ready, people always overlook the coffee service that’s going to happen or bringing up some breakfast items,” Sowders says. 

With room service and an in-house restaurant, Betts, guests can remain satisfied when hunger hits. Additionally, Kimpton Schofield can outsource kosher meals for all events and meet any dietary restrictions, Sowders says. 

Overall, letting someone else handle planning the smaller events to complement the main event adds to the guest experience. And, it allows the celebrants to focus on and enjoy the big celebration without the stress of doing it alone, she suggests.

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