Friendor Friday with Lainey Dunn, Catering Sales Manager for the Straz Center

We are so honored to have Lainey Dunn, catering sales manager for the Straz Center for Performing Arts in downtown Tampa, take over the ADP blog for our weekly “Friendor Friday!”



Tell us about holding a ceremony and/or reception at the Straz:

Here at the Straz Center we can accommodate both wedding ceremony and receptions. We have a beautiful new tent that sits on the Tampa River Walk that we love to use for ceremonies, after that your guest will be escorted to The Fountains which is our premier cocktail hour space that is also on the River Walk but has views of the University of Tampa Marionettes. Maestros is the perfect location for your reception, with a built in bar and floor to ceiling windows that overlook part of the downtown skyline you cannot really get much better than that.


When did the Straz first open? Tell us about it!

The Straz Center opened in 1987! We are the 10th largest preforming arts center in the world and the 3rd largest preforming arts center in the country! We hold over 2,500 events and shows each year!


How many guests can you accommodate?

We have so many different spaces here at the Straz that we can use so we can accommodate all types of weddings from small intimate gathering to large Indian weddings of 400- 500 guest not to mention our corporate groups of up to 1,000 people. We really do have the ability to make every group work here!


The best feature of the Straz?

One of my favorite things about weddings here at the Straz is that you do have the ability to get on the world famous Morsani Stage and take photos. Even if we have a show in town we do guarantee that within 30 days we will have you back to get that photo. Also being one of the classic Tampa icons is a great feature for us!


Any required vendors that a couple must use if they book your venue?

We have a preferred vendors list that we give to all of our clients when they book with us and we stress to them that the people on our list are professionals and are trusted here at our venue. The only required vendor for our venue is the catering in which we do all in house.


What is included when a couple books your venue for a wedding?

We include the space, food and beverage, all table, chairs and china needed, white or black floor length linens, vendors list and Broadway dressing rooms if we have them available.


How far in advance should a couple book the Straz for their venue?

We recommend 10-12 months out, we typically will not take anything further than 1 year out. Plus your venue is one of if not the first thing you should book!


Do you offer wedding planning services? What makes your services different than the rest?

We do! We are with our clients from the moment they book with us so we help them through everything as far as linen, floral, tasting etc.
How do you help couples customize their big day? When we meet with our client we try to really find out about them as people. We don’t want them to ever feel like they are just a number to us so finding out the little details can really help us not only get to know them but also go above and beyond for them by doing something that they maybe wouldn’t have thought of!


Do you target any particular niche?

Weddings! We love all weddings however we love to have the clients that want something different and don’t want the cookie cutter ballroom wedding. That is what we really look for and enjoy in our clients.


Fun fact about the Straz?

Fun fact: Did you know that you can depart by boat from our venue??? We would be happy to set it up for you where you can have your grand exit be by boat off of our river walk area!


Have you had any strange requests for a wedding? (décor/themes?) 

We get all kinds of different weddings here! We had a Star Wars theme and we are getting ready to have a Beauty and the Beast wedding in which the bride actually has a Disney certified princess wedding dress! We love all of the weddings we do here because each couple has a unique touch that they bring to the space!


Most unique event that has taken place at your venue? Or most memorable?

We have had two very memorable events here and one is the munaluchi bridal magazine event which took place on our Ferguson Stage and it was just absolutely fabulous! The other very memorable event is Martinis for Moffitt which we have hosted many times and it is coming back to us at the end of this month. This event amazingly fun and also raises money for an incredible cause which we love as well.


How is the Straz different from other wedding venues?

The Straz is different because we are not a factory and we were not built with the intention of doing weddings we are a theater first so our weddings tend to be more exclusive which is always a perk for our couples.


How/When did you start working for the Straz?

I just recently transferred to the Straz Center after being at the Hilton Clearwater Beach. I saw it as a growing opportunity for me and when I came out here I fell in love with the space and that’s what happens with most of our clients as well, once they see the space they fall in love and its easy after that!


What interests do you have outside of work? Tell us about yourself!

Hmm, I love to go to local breweries with friends and explore this amazing growing city we live in or you can find me doing karaoke during the week with friends. I also have a blonde lab (Sadie) who I love dearly so seeing and playing with her is always a favorite! My friends and family are a huge part of my life and I like to spend as much time as I can with them!



Check our Heather and Jonah’s beautiful Straz Center wedding!




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