IN this issue, we bring you our annual wrap-up of The Special Event. Part educational conference, part exhibit floor, and wholly fabulous events, calling The Special Event a “trade show” is sort of like calling New Year's Eve in Times Square a little get-together.
The Special Event 2006, which rode into Dallas Jan. 9-12, brought many memorable moments, and we've chronicled plenty on these pages. (Turn to page 30 to start.)
I have my own wonderful memories of the show, from (finally!) learning the Electric Slide at Gilley's to applauding the winners at the Gala Awards. I dined on my favorites — cardamom-scented compote at the Leadership Brunch at the Women's Museum, and nachos and margaritas at the Theme Lunch at Texas Stadium. Seeing those trim Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders made me think for a minute about bypassing a second helping — but that minute passed.
Without question, though, the moment that packed the biggest punch came at the Wedding Luncheon, held at Lee Park's Arlington Hall. I admired the exquisite tabletops, floral and cakes, the elegant tent, the fabulous meal. But what knocked me off my feet was the display of wedding gowns worn by the mothers of many of the event's leadership team. Draped on simple mannequins, the gowns stood next to photos of the brides on their wedding day, along with a few paragraphs about the bride. No music, no intelligent lighting, no special effects.
I was amazed at the range of emotions this display conjured up in me. Some were simple; an Irish linen gown from the 1960s looks thoroughly modern today. Others were complex. A gown from the era of my late mother's wedding tugged at my heart. And my own little girl, about to turn five — will I be lucky enough to see her beautiful and happy on her wedding day?
Presenting these gowns wasn't even the event team's original plan. Instead, they had wanted to display the latest bridal fashions. But when that plan fell through, they came up with a far more original, far more stirring display.
Special events have this unique power to touch us not only on an intellectual level, but an emotional one. That's why special events are so moving, and so effective in communicating a brand or an idea or one of life's milestones.
And what the wedding gown display proves is that it doesn't take a huge budget or the latest high-tech effects to do all this. Instead, it takes a great idea, executed in a straightforward way.
The result is unforgettable.