Two of the season’s most popular charity events involve protecting the history of some of the area’s most beloved places. The Heritage Ball in Franklin is the Heritage Foundation’s signature event that draws several hundred supporters each year for a formal affair in the heart of the historic district. The Hermitage Gala, held at the beautiful ballroom in the Omni Nashville benefits the preservation of Andrew Jackson’s estate as well as the foundation’s educational programming.
While both events are black tie and with a long-standing pride in tradition, that isn’t the only thing that they have in common. This year, one of the city’s most sought-after event planners is producing both events simultaneously, weaving his magic touch to make each event unique and special.
You’ve likely seen Amos Gott’s work around town as he’s a highly successful wedding event planner and has also received a great deal of praise for other community events including the city’s acclaimed Swan Ball benefiting Cheekwood.
Hailing from a small Kentucky town, he had the determination to develop a career out of event planning before it was a popular path. Obviously, it was the right choice. Here, he shares how the city’s growth has affected his business, what inspires him, and his top picks for where to wind down around town.
The Nashville Edit: You are currently involved in the design concepts behind a couple of major community charity events. How do you juggle the pressure of handling so many details while also serving private clients?
Amos Gott: Handling multiple events is just another day in the AmosEvents office! After so many years of planning, designing and producing events, the pressure really isn’t any different than any other office that works with deadlines and multiple clients. My approach and leadership style is to work hard to create the best possible while also engaging my arsenal of resources to create these unique experiences.
TNE: What are some of your favorite event components guests can expect to enjoy at The Heritage Ball?
AG: It’s truly going to be a fantastic evening! Using only the colors of the earth and incorporating natural elements, the evening’s guests will be in awe of the elegant transformation of the tents. Probably the biggest addition to the ball is the announcement that Kix Brooks is the evening’s headliner entertainment. And then the introduction of the new Tracy Frist Legacy Award—to honor an individual who has worked with preserving the heritage of Tennessee—is a fitting honor to bestow at this event.
TNE: And Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Gala?
AG: The gala is going to be a great evening. Lamar Alexander is being honored with the Jackson Award, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, Rick Atkinson, is the keynote speaker. It’s again taking place at the Omni. The hotel loves working with this event and gives it so much attention. The overall look for the evening is fresh, but with a nod to the elements and décor of The Hermitage itself. The murals of the home have been a huge inspiration for the theme of the event.
TNE: The names are also so similar—does that make it tough to keep up with the details?
AG: So far I’ve not made the mistake of saying one for the other. What’s actually more difficult is not confusing the terms “ball” and “gala!”
TNE: What is usually your first step when approaching an event plan?
AG: The first thing I want to do with any new event is ask several questions and listen to my client’s response. Everything from the purpose of the event and the desired look and feel to color preferences helps inspire me to lead them on the path to the event that fits them and meet their vision and goals.
TNE: Where do you find your inspiration for the details?
AG: I’m inspired by so many things. Everything from fashion and theater to architecture. I love going to explore the interiors of both new and historic hotel lobbies when traveling. Stage productions and even movies create new ideas can that bring exciting components into the events I produce. I’m also inspired by elements that can create a unique or interactive experience with food and beverage.
TNE: Are there any Event Planners or Designers that you admire and look to for ideas?
AG: Expected ones include Colin Cowie and Preston Bailey. I’m still a big fan of Martha Stewart. I follow several on Instagram. Because I prefer producing curated looks and not temporary, I also follow interior designers, as my approach is so similar. Locally, I admire Robin Rains, Tori Alexander and Jonathan Savage.
TNE: What elements from large-scale events can individuals use to incorporate into at-home entertaining?
AG: It’s all about scale. An event for 800 guests isn’t much different than a dinner party for 12 when getting down to the details. They all incorporate the same elements. Great food and drink in a perfect setting with enjoyable people. The atmosphere is key. And there should always be three things people will leave talking about—whether it’s how delicious the food was, or something they’ve never seen before. It will have them anxiously waiting for the next invitation.
TNE: What is your favorite way to entertain at home?
AG: I don’t entertain at home as much as I would like to. In one sense it’s like bringing your work home with you. However, I do like trying things out on my friends to see what they think. While I don’t do the catering at the events I produce, I’m heavily involved in menu creation, so I like to try out new recipes and flavor combinations to gauge reactions. I typically work with textures and layers on my table, with typically a low centerpiece and different dishes mixed with maybe something like a retro napkin ring.
TNE: What’s your morning routine?
AG: I’m not really a morning person, but make myself be one. My clients are up and going early, so I need to be, too. My routine is pretty simple: I get up and get ready, work for a little bit before watching Good Morning America for half an hour or so (a habit started in college), and then back to my desk to continue the day.
TNE: Where you would spend your ultimate day off?
AG: I’ve always thought it would be fun to do a road trip on the perimeter of Nashville and just randomly stop when something interests me like a tourist trap or unique store. Working with the Heritage Ball, I have driven into gorgeous country roads with tons of historical markers. I think it would be fun to just set out and drive and see what I run across.
TNE: Any favorite travel destination?
AG: Either sun and surf, like Hawaii. Or, something with bright lights and lots of energy, like New York City.
TNE: What you like most about the city’s growth?
AG: Having lived here for 17 years, what I like most about the city’s growth is the desire for new and exciting things. My clients want to do something different than the same thing that’s been done before. Generally, people want to be exposed to new flavors, concepts, and looks. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still honor traditions and our history, it just opens the door to elevating experiences.
One of the inventive concepts at the upcoming benefit for the Andrew Jackson home is a signature cocktail to kick off the festivities with traditional Tennessee Whiskey:
The Hermitage Gala’s signature cocktail: The General’s Sazerac
Like General Andrew Jackson, the Sazerac is an American classic with deep New Orleans roots. Legend has it that the Sazerac is the world’s first cocktail, crafted in New Orleans by apothecary owner Antoine Peychaud in 1838. The General’s Sazerac, a historic take on the original, celebrates Jackson’s love for whiskey while honoring the hallmark ingredients and smooth flavors that put this cocktail on the map.
2 oz Jack Daniel’s
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Amo’s Local List:
Go-To Happy Hour: Park Café
Fave Appetizer: M.‘s Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese
Low-key Meal: The Centennial
For more info on The Hermitage Gala, click here.
For more info on The Heritage Ball, click here.