Planning Makes Perfect
From elegant charity galas to edgy club parties, Alexandra Lind Rose’s Gala Productions has become the go-to event planner for Manhattan’s elites.
Now that the pandemic is (hopefully) largely in the rearview mirror, major life events—weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, galas, and milestone birthdays—are back on the calendar in a big way. Gala Productions, the brainchild of Alexandra Lind Rose, has been busier than ever, producing outsized events from the Upper East Side to Long Island City.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Lind Rose, a former fashion designer and active philanthropist, has sat on the Administrative Board of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center since 2000 and been a Board Member of Save Venice since 2008. Having regularly produced fashion shows for her eponymous dress collection, she was often frustrated when asked to plan charity events on a tight budget and work with a handful of approved vendors who weren’t mindful of expenses.
Many event companies didn’t think big picture about creating an overall partnership, Lind Rose learned. Instead they either brought a “one-size-fits-all approach” or tended to be overly myopic or tech focused.
“When you realize there are only a few other companies in a similar space, you think, ‘If I could do this in a less costly and more upscale way for clients, why not jump on that?’”
Together with business partner James Hallquist—who joined as president in 2017 with a background in film—Lind Rose saw a way to stand out in the events production space. As a woman in the A/V world, she was already a rarity, but her extensive fashion and charity gala experience meant that she knew how to put her clients’ needs first.
“We care about our guests’ experience,” says Lind Rose. “Some big event planners are so busy making the flowers look gorgeous or catering to the performer on stage, they overlook the people who are invited to socialize at the party.”
“Connecting the dots is very much the Gala way,” says Hallquist. “What Alex brought to the table from the get-go is her ability to think about how the technical side influences the functional.”
Today, Gala looks after marquee New York establishments, including, Guastavino’s, 583 Park Avenue, and Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel. They’re also the preferred vendor for Hudson Yards’ Peak, Sound River Studios, Ravel Hotel, Brooklyn’s Hotel Indigo, XXV, and the new Hall de Lumières. And while they’ve built a reputation for throwing big, elegant bashes, Gala can also change gears and do a club party with sharpie lighting and tons of haze.
Gala runs on a fixed-cost basis. They have the equipment to suit a range of events, from large-scale weddings and mitzvahs to more intimate dinners and corporate occasions—as well as film and T.V. productions. While their expertise is focused on sound, lighting, and staging, they can also bring in linens, draping, carpentry, video, and decor—and just about anything in between. Gala technicians wear a navy-blue uniform designed by Lind Rose.
Gala pricing, gear, and approach are specifically adapted to the venue. “We like to tailor our jobs to the guest experience, but also tailor our gear to the job,” says Hallquist. They often act as a “one stop,” supplying individual planners or clients with everything on a simple invoice that also combines labor and trucking costs. Gala Productions costs are highly competitive.
As a team, Lind Rose and Hallquist have a keen understanding of the interconnectedness of party elements, and how details that might seem innocuous to a florist or caterer can have a tremendous impact on the overall party vibe.
The location of a bar or buffet can create staffing hazards, for example. “So many times, I’ve seen a cable run behind a bar,” Hallquist explains. “The bartender is going to be tripping on it and won’t be pumping out drinks quick enough. That could rapidly throw off the natural flow of an event.”
Audio considerations are important, too. With more people hosting outdoor parties in recent years, noise levels have increasingly become an issue. “No one wants a party to get shut down,” says Hallquist. “Audio is basic physics. If you’re having a big party in the Hamptons, we’re going to make sure the directional sound is pointed down.”
Party hosts may also overlook equipment fine print when booking talent. Lind Rose and Hallquist have handled complex production for all kinds of situations, whether it’s a “club kid” engagement party at Guastavino’s with world-famous DJ Neo, or a 12-piece band on a penthouse rooftop with a tiny dance floor.
Lighting is an art form that can make all the difference. “Lighting is the subtle flavor of a well-orchestrated dish,” says Hallquist. “You can’t put your finger on it, but it makes it so savory or so perfect.” LED lighting has become increasingly popular over the last few years—primarily because it consumes less energy than regular incandescent. And strip lighting, in particular, has allowed for imagination to flourish. Rainbow-colored hues abound and can instantly transform even stark white spaces into magical fairylands.
Gala always stipulates a well-lit bar. “The bar must be found at all times. If the entire room is dark, the bar should glow.”
There’s also the basics of electrical power to consider. “Imagine The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is coming back to 583 Park Avenue and bringing 40 hair and makeup stations with them,” explains Hallquist. “Each station requires a dedicated 20-amp circuit for the blow dryer, curling irons, clip lights, straightening iron, and two phone chargers. That’s 800 amps of power—when the average household has 60.”
No one appreciates good lighting more than a bride on her wedding day, as pastry sous-chef Sarah Patterson discovered when she hired Gala for her 130-guest wedding at Long Island City’s Sound River Studios in April 2022.
“It was a pretty blank canvas, a white, open warehouse, so it really took a lot to turn it into anything,” Patterson explains. “We wanted big, draped fabrics, with string lights in between. I was pretty particular about how the drapery would look, how low it would hang, and getting the color just right. We traded sketches and worked together for two months. When I walked into the space on my wedding day, I started crying just because it was so perfect.”
More examples of the innovative projects and events that Gala Productions has done can be seen on Instagram.
Gala Productions; 212-888-8833 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hero photo of Gala Productions founder, Alexandra Lind Rose, and president, James Hallquist, courtesy of Gala Productions