We have had many new members join Weddings of Distinction over the summer, and we’re going to highlight each and every one, but to kick off our “New Member Spotlight,” we spoke with Debbie Lowery-Cunning*, CMP, Senior Manager for Group Sales and Special Events at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (the Fleet)!
> What is your background, and how did you end up at the Fleet Center?
I have a degree in Public Relations and Communications from Cal State University, Fullerton. I worked at the Disneyland Resort from 1992-2000. While there, I handled many of their community and special events, including the re-branding of “Tomorrow-Land” in 1998. So when I came to the Fleet, I wanted to use my experience and take the Fleet to new heights.
> Until recently, the Fleet had not been widely known for hosting weddings, so how did it get its start?
The Fleet has always been hosting special events, since its opening in 1973. Weddings, on the other hand, are new for us. The first wedding we hosted was just in April of 2012! It was great because we had been wanting to focus on weddings and establish the Fleet as an ideal wedding venue, so when our first couple came to us, it was the perfect opportunity. The style of the couple really matched our location.
We want to continue to build off of that success and establish our venue as a leader in the wedding industry. The Fleet can also host engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, receptions, and more. The space is ready to celebrate!
> Being that the Fleet is a museum, how is that advantageous to a couple?
First and foremost, yes, we are a science and technology museum, but many couples do not realize that we are also capable of hosting an amazing wedding or special event. You do not need to be a science or technology enthusiast to enjoy this venue!
I think there is a trend to host weddings in non-traditional spaces. Museums, as a whole, are very interesting, unique places to get married, and I think the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is just that! Our venue is fun and different. There is nothing standard about museums as wedding venues.
For example, we have a kids area called, “Kid City,” where children 5 and under can enjoy interactive displays and forms of entertainment.
We also offer alternative forms of entertainment for those wedding guests that prefer not to dance. Not everyone dances at weddings, so for those that do not, displays and exhibits can keep them entertained.
> So, the museum area of your building is not off-limits to an event’s guests?
Absolutely not; all our event guests can access the museum. There is nothing that can be broken in our space, so everyone can touch and feel everything! People are also allowed to eat and/or drink in the space. Besides the numerous exhibits, there is a hurricane simulator and a tornado machine, so no matter which way a person likes to be entertained, we have a lot to choose from.
The Fleet also boasts that that it has San Diego’s only 314-seat, Eugene Heikoff and Marrilyn Jacobs Heikoff IMAX® Dome Theatre. Couples can choose to have a star-field, or other image, displayed in there. So, if unique, amazing wedding photos are a must, we have the perfect space for that! What better way to start a photography buzz!? Couples can also elect to have the ceremony in the IMAX® Dome Theatre, if they so choose.
> Where do the ceremonies typically take place now?
All of our ceremonies take place on our patio. We are situated in the heart of Balboa Park, near the famous Bea Evenson Fountain. Couples love taking pictures near the fountain, and the great thing about our venue is that there is a view of the fountain from the Fleet’s patio! This feature lends itself to some great ceremony photos!
> What sets the Fleet apart from other wedding venues, beside the facts we’ve already discussed? Why should couples choose your venue?
As a museum, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is a not only a non-profit organization, but a local attraction in San Diego. Our primary mission is “to promote lifelong learning and enjoyment of science and technology,” so our involvement with weddings and special events helps support our educational focus. When couples choose to host their wedding with us, they’ll be giving back in a way that directly benefits the education of children.
For the environmentally conscious, they will be happy to know that the Fleet has LEED Silver Certification, and we’re very proud of that!
Lastly, we offer couple choices. When a couple chooses us as their wedding venue, they’re not locked in to one event planner, one caterer, etc. We give them options for them to choose from. We have an exclusive caterer and preferred vendor list, so depending on the couple’s preferences, they can select from many in the same industry.
> What does being a member of Weddings of Distinction mean to you?
I love being part of the group! It is an opportunity to network with people in the industry that are committed to providing excellent service. Additionally, I want to build relationships and network with wedding industry leaders that are as committed as I am to the industry.
> If a couple is interested in getting information about having a wedding at your location, do they reach out to you?
No, actually they would want to reach out to our Special Events Coordinator, Aubrey Kwong. She is the point of contact that meets with clients, discusses their wedding or event, and works with them during the entire process. Our venue is ideal if you want elegance and fun in one location, so contact Aubrey today for information!
Aubrey Kwong | 619-685-5761 | firstname.lastname@example.org
*Debbie recently received her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation from Meeting Planners International. She is also the distinguished recipient of the Public Relations Society of America [PRSA] 2011 Edward L. Bernays Silver Award of Excellence [Public Service category], and the 2001 PRSA PROTOS Award [Special Events & Observances category].