So remember how we were planning on throwing a big celebration for Aerin’s dol?
And how we had even booked a fancy schmancy banquet room for the party?
Well, that went out the window…just ONE WEEK before the event.
Allow me to explain.
I had contacted numerous restaurants, caterers, and such in order to find a suitable space for Aerin’s first birthday (which, in case you weren’t aware, is one of the most celebrated birthdays in Korean culture, second only to the 60th birthday).
And in the end, my mother — who was helping me plan the dol because she is more familiar with what needs to happen — and J and I decided that holding the celebration at a Korean banquet hall would be the best option because they would be familiar with holding dols.
Claire’s dol was held at my parents’ because I was so uncomfortably pregnant at the time.
We decided to go with a well-known Korean banquet hall in northern NJ that overlooks the New York skyline. I will not give away the name in the body of this post; all I will say is that if you’re a Korean residing in the NY/NJ area, you have most likely attended a wedding or another large party there. (And if you really want to know, leave a comment and I’ll tell you.)
Since they have several event rooms available, we went for their smallest ballroom, and planned on a feast complete with western hors d’oeuvres, a Korean buffet, and an open wine/beer/soda bar.
The best part? They could set up the dol table (click here to see what they usually look like) for an additional fee. This meant that we wouldn’t have to go looking for another caterer or event planner who could set the table for us, or DIY the entire thing ourselves.
The problem arose when we tried to officially — and legally — book the room.
Admittedly, we were cutting it a little close as there were only 3 weeks left to go until the event. However, I was assured that this wouldn’t matter.
I called every single day for a week and a half, only to be told each time that the banquet manager was not available and that she would call me back.
Every time I called, I reminded them that the date was drawing nearer and that just a verbal agreement was not enough for me. And each and every time, I was assured that the small ballroom was still available and that we could sign the contract as late as the week before the event.
They were finally able to get a contract to me ONE WEEK before the planned party. I immediately noticed that they had written down the wrong time. And when I called to rectify the mistake, they informed me that holding the party at our originally planned time would cost $25 more per person as it would be a dinner party and not a lunch party.
Ok, fine. We could deal with a time change. Some of our guests wouldn’t be able to make it, but we would still be able to have the party, right?
But when I went to finally sign the contract and hand over the deposit…
…They told me that the room was no longer available.
ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME??!!!
They gave us the choice of having the party at a nearby restaurant that is owned and operated by the same people; however, I saw from the pictures they sent over that it was nothing special, and I could not imagine spending that much money for a party held there.
So I bitched at them over the phone, sent them a strongly-worded email, and told them to eff off.
Here we were, just one week before the party, and we had no venue, no food, and no decorations.
There was only one choice left. We would hold the party at our place. My mother would work her magic with local Korean caterers and order the food and the cake. And while we may not be able to decorate the entire condo, I could still try my hand at a dol table.
I have spent the past few days researching dol tables, speaking with vendors and begging them to help us out on such short notice, and making runs to stores for craft and party supplies.
I have also taken it upon myself to make Aerin’s dol towers, using the tutorial I found here.
(I am so grateful to my SIL who made the dol towers for Claire’s birthday — only now, with a sore back and neck and numerous burned fingers can I appreciate how much work went into making them!)
I will be spending the rest of the week continuing to plan and prepare for this last-minute party. I hope that it will turn out okay. I really wish both my daughters’ dols could have been the large, festive celebrations they deserve, but life seems to have had other plans for us.
Please wish us luck!