The inquiry arrived via regular post. I was surprised the writer was asking about the possibility of my telling stories at a bridal shower/luncheon to be held six months hence. The shower would take place in a dedicated room in a restaurant for a dear friend, and she wanted to find something different in the way of entertainment. She said the bride-to-be enjoyed stories, so having a storyteller at the shower might be a nice surprise.  

My initial response: “A bridal shower? Stories during lunch?  Probably not.” 

Most storytellers do not actively seek venues where food will be served. Events in restaurants come with a list of problems for any performer, and the stand-up comedian seems to be the only performer I know of with the ability to make it through gigs like this unscathed. It had been many years since I tried to provide entertainment for an event in a restaurant, and I vaguely remembered thinking, “never again.” So, why was I even considering the idea? 

The fact is that my storytelling bookings have been down since the recession began two years ago. Although things have been picking up lately, my schedule is not nearly as busy as it was when the economy was better. Besides, the writer was so earnest and had taken the time to write a real letter to get my attention. It tickled me that she added a P.S. to the note to let me know she had found out about me through an Internet Google search. I decided to contact her to learn more about what she had in mind. 

We communicated via phone calls and emails, and in the end I accepted the booking. I knew I’d have to be extremely flexible in order to do this job well – my mind was full of concerns:

(1)  I would have to find and learn new stories to fit the occasion,

(2)  guests to these events don’t always arrive on time,

(3)  restaurant food service can be too quick or too slow,

(4)  finding a good spot to present stories could be a problem, and  

(5)  there’s always a possibility of excessive noise coming from other areas of the restaurant. 

The presenter and I agreed that we would both “play it by ear.” I would plan on about 20-30 minutes of stories to be either delivered as a set, or one at a time as the circumstance allowed.

Was I crazy to say yes? As the time drew near, I started to think I had, indeed, lost my mind.

When the day came, I had some great stories ready to go, and I hoped I could handle any surprise that might come my way. The biggest roadblock came when guests (as I thought they might), did not arrive on time. This kept me “in the wings” waiting to go on a bit longer than I would have liked. I was introduced after the lunch orders had been taken, and since the food was not delivered immediately, I was able to tell the complete set of stories with the final one ending just as the food was served.

I had a good time, and I now believe other storytellers might benefit by taking a look at this marketing niche. This venue seems to have good potential for folks interested in expanding their customer base. Certainly storytellers in large cities could do well by contacting event planners about the possibility of providing an option to silly games or (heaven forbid) male strippers.

Best of all, a good storyteller can expect to receive a much better fee for a bridal shower than (say) a birthday party or family gathering.  After all, a bridal shower is a very special, once-in-a-lifetime event for the bride-to-be! What could be better than a few good stories to make the event even more memorable?

To give you an idea about how my recent performance for the bridal shower was received, here are some excerpts from the email I received after the venue:

 “. . .each and every woman in attendance mentioned to me upon exit that they had a wonderful time and especially enjoyed your performance.  They said it was a great idea (modest me) to have a story teller rather than to play games.”

“Your stories and wedding trivia were perfectly chosen, sweet and poignant.  I liked how you emphasized the special talents/gifts of women without disparaging men.  Your first bridal shower performance was well done and I hope it will encourage you to add that type of storytelling to your offerings in the future.”

“I will not hesitate to recommend you to others should the opportunity arise.”