What Event Themes Are Off-Limits?

From burlesque baby showers to fake weddings, event planners share the most jaw-dropping theme requests they've ever received.

November 6, 2013, 7:15 AM EST

Alexis Robbins (left), Richard O'Malley, and Meghan Norton

Photos: Courtesy of readers

“My favorite bad client idea was for naked models to be body painted as the step-and-repeat. I reminded the client that their product was family-friendly, and that many media outlets wouldn’t run the photos with painted boobs in the background.”
Richard O’Malley, president, the O’Malley Project, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey

“Burlesque theme for a baby girl shower. The mom-to-be was a huge fan but did not appreciate it at eight months pregnant, and the older women weren’t into it, either.”
Emily Ryan, executive coordinator, Stylez4Women, New York

“I have been asked to do a brothel theme with ‘professionals’ working the event. These two clients had an elaborate vision down to the smallest details. I convinced my clients [to change the theme] with a printout about the legal and financial consequences of breaking that law.”
Walter Sasiadek, president, Walter Hot Profits, Las Vegas

“We were volunteering our services for a local religious charity. They wanted to theme their event ‘Jersey Shore.’ This was during the height of the popularity of the MTV show by the same name. We knew there would be some confusion, and we also knew that the decision makers for the charity had no knowledge of the show or its contents. We explained the possible negativity that the theme may unintentionally cause and suggested they change the name to ‘Down the Shore.’”
Lorraine Barletta Mariella, president, Celebrations Event & Meeting Management, Totowa, New Jersey

“I once was requested to do a graveyard-theme booth. Not necessarily the most inviting theme for a legal conference.”
Alexis Robbins, senior marketing manager, Nuix, Santa Clarita, California

“A couple wanted a fake priest for their wedding. They decided just to be friends, and they weren’t going to tell anyone that the wedding was going to be a complete fake. They would keep the presents and then get ‘divorced’ a year later. We said no.”
Amy Gottesman, C.E.O., Smash Entertainment, New York

“Early in my event career, we were pressured into using an existing topless burlesque show for a worldwide sales kickoff held in the Bahamas at a casino resort for a well-known Japanese company. There is nothing more dramatic than introducing a C.E.O. right after a dance troupe has finished with a topless dancer revealed in a choreographed number set to ‘Takin’ It to the Streets.’”
Tracey Miner, owner and chief operating officer, Miner Productions, Genoa, Nevada

“Playboy bunny–theme dance for high schoolers ages 14 to 18. An award-winning awful theme.”
Meghan Norton, co-founder, MD Media, New York

Editor's note: Some of these comments were shared by readers on our social media networks. Join our discussions on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Editor's note: Some of these comments were shared by readers on our social media networks. Join our discussions on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. - See more at: https://www.bizbash.com/what-was-your-big-break/new-york/story/27052#sthash.u8K0Qem8.dpuf
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