The soul of Southern hospitality — Atlanta — treats the international event community to four days of education, exhibits and outstanding events.
Tony is tops: Tony Conway, CMP, snags the Gala Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Don't blink or you'll miss something …
The Special Event is always a hot ticket — even though this year's event brought a short, surprising snowfall! But the 6,920 industry professionals on hand Jan. 15-18 at the Georgia World Congress Center and Omni Hotel generated plenty of heat all their own ….
“TSE Starts Here”
The Special Event 2008 makes a splash with its first showcasing event: “TSE Starts Here.” The party takes place at Atlanta's famed Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the world.
Opening General Session
The Opening General Session, spearheaded by Dynasty Productions, starts the show off with a mix of great acts, stirring speeches and I-can't-believe-I-just-saw-that magic.
All revved up: Special Events Magazine group publisher Melissa Fromento (on motorcycle, left) and group show director Sharon Morabito roar in to welcome show-goers.
Event professionals eager to sharpen their skills could pick from more than 100 sessions in eight tracks — from business development to design to wedding work — taught by experts in the industry. “The expertise and knowledge of this year's slate of speakers complemented the quality of the event industry's premier conference and trade show,“ says Tara Melingonis, The Special Event's conference manager.
No free seats: A sold-out session draws an appreciative audience.
The Show Floor
A sold-out show floor treats attendees to a dizzying array of products and services that make special events super-special.
Give her a hand: Andrea Liss (left) accepts the award for Best Display of Product from The Special Event's sales manager, Wanda McKnight.
The Wedding Luncheon
The Wedding Luncheon — one of the most popular events at The Special Event — shows that special Southern charm this year thanks to the Atlanta event community.
Tons of pretty tables: The ballroom features four vignettes — “Dahlin',” “Breeze,” “Sizzle” and “Cosmo” to show the many sides of wedding design.
The Welcome Party — sponsored by the National Association of Catering Executives — packs a tent in Centennial Olympic Park with food, entertainment and fun. And that's not all: The New World of Coca-Cola is open next door, with even more in store.
You move me: A saucy statue gets familiar with a party guest.
A highlight of the show floor, the annual Tabletop Gallery competition displays an astounding array of stunning designs. (Look for the May issue of Special Events Magazine, which will feature interviews with all the designers.)
"Violet Urban Landscape” by Mosaic, Pittsburgh
"Green with Envy” by Deco Productions, Miami
"By the Sea” by Designs by C.P. Ross, Fayetteville, N.C.
"Green Picnic” by Gary Jones Presents, San Antonio
"Geisha Visions” by All Over Miami, Miami
"Rainy Days” by Planning Factory International, Wilmington, Del.
“Broadway on Tour” by Markei Events and Productions, Coral Springs, Fla.
“What a Girl Wants” by Dressed Up Tables and Events, Palmdale, Calif.
“Origami” by Joanne Hulme's Creativity Inc., Philadelphia.
This year's winners were “Rainy Days” (Tabletops $1,000 and Above Each) and “By the Sea” (Tabletops Under $1,000 Each).
One of the newer traditions at The Special Event, the Leadership Brunch honors the profession's visionaries and pioneers who show us the way to our own future.
Where to find late-night fun, food and philanthropy? That's the annual SEARCH Cabaret, benefiting event professionals in need. A mix of acts, auctions and high spirits, the event is packed again this year.
The most prestigious honor in special events, the Gala Awards showcase the finest event work from throughout the world. And the Gala goes to …
The Gala Celebration is just too big for one venue; this year, it's split between cocktails at the Omni Hotel and dinner in a sleek tent.
Toasty tabletop: A band of white fur gives an elegant edge to frosty blue table linen from Wildflower Linens.
Photos by Catch the Moment/catchthemoment.com
Aggreko Event Services
Gary Meador, 281/985-8290
American Turf and Carpet
Walter Clyne, 562/944-9510
Classic Party Rentals
Michael Miner, 310/966-4900
Michael Platt, 800/500-0770
Cort Event Furnishings
Linda Perez, 702/531-2200
Event Flooring Professionals LLC
Walter Clyne, 888/697-9101
Grosh Scenic Rentals
Jane Copeland, 323/662-1134
Stephanie Dlugopolski, 920/457-4441
Laura Powell, 207/341-1557
National Association of Catering Executives (NACE)
Bonnie Fedchock, 410/290-5410
Awny Khashoggi, 407/852-5665
Debra Roth, 212/253-6666
Holly Phillips, 828/210-4754
Beco Byers, 305/757-7500
Unique Option Event Furniture & Decor
Joe DiBlasio, 407/852-5665