Staff Blogger: Allyson Lane, Development Assistant

Leading up to #GivingTuesday (on Nov. 29), we’re taking you behind-the-scenes at Lakeside to show you what it takes to deliver exceptional programming and events, maintain our historic buildings and care for our beautiful grounds year after year. This week, we’re featuring the work of our Conference & Event Planning Office.

amber-emily-1From weddings and retreats to family reunions and more, Amber Schlering and Emily Messino of Lakeside’s Conference & Event Planning Office are responsible for more than 150 group events each year, with nearly 100 taking place during the summer. Although you might see glimpses of these groups around Lakeside, there’s a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes to make each event successful.

Planning a single event takes weeks of preparation and sometimes begins years in advance. Once Schlering, Director of Conference & Event Planning, and Messino, Conference & Event Planning Manager, receive the initial inquiry, groups are given a tour of Lakeside’s facilities to make a decision.

“After all the paperwork has been completed, we start working with the group on the details of their event,” said Messino. “We plan any catered meals, decide whether linens are needed, determine how the rooms should be set up and coordinate if any outside rentals are required, among other details.”

To manage the volume of events during the summer, Schlering and Messino have the assistance of two Conference & Event Planning interns, as well as three Event Team members.

Although the summer season is a busy time, Schlering and Messino are just as busy in the off-season planning and collaborating with multiple departments for next year’s groups, as well as providing hospitality to those groups who have scheduled their events during the peaceful months of the off-season.

They also attend local bridal shows, partner with Lake Erie Shores & Islands and travel to regional and national tradeshows to attract new guests. However, most groups hear about Lakeside by word of mouth and referrals.

“Lakeside is a special place,” says Schlering. “Groups come to Lakeside because of all we have to offer for all ages. If a family wants to host a reunion here, they’re not only able to have a catered meal and a common meeting space, but there are also activities every day during the summer.”

So much time and work go into making each event successful, but Schlering and Messino say it all pays off when they see the excitement on someone’s face as they watch their event come to life.

This year, Lakeside hosted Trilogy Health Retreat for its first overnight visit in September. While planning, Schlering and Messino received a call from Trilogy explaining how excited they were to bring their residents to Lakeside even though they had not yet visited before.

“The process of combining different ideas for this 80-person event was a lot of fun,” said Messino. “When the group left, the Trilogy staff planned a send-off party for the residents, which took place outside the Fountain Inn while the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” played.”

In addition to watching their events come to life, Schlering and Messino enjoy working with the diversity that comes with working with different types of groups and varying ages.

Lakeside Chautauqua hosts hundreds of groups year-round, including youth groups, weddings, family reunions, birthday parties, anniversaries, church groups and business retreats. To book your next group event at Lakeside, contact or (419) 798-4461, ext. 279. You’re also invited to visit for more information.

To help celebrate #GivingTuesday, become a VIP Supporter by giving to an area of Lakeside that you are passionate about. Gifts of all sizes are deeply valued. Make an online donation today or on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Call (419) 798-5396 to give a gift over the phone or make a check payable to the ‘Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation,’ Attn: #GivingTuesday, 236 Walnut Ave., Lakeside, Ohio 43440 with ‘#GivingTuesday’ in the memo line.