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Education, Excitement Take Center Stage at The Special Event 2010 in New Orleans

Education, Excitement Take Center Stage at The Special Event 2010 in New Orleans

Special event professionals from throughout the world gathered in New Orleans last week for The Special Event 2010, which ran Jan. 13-15.

On Monday, the fourth annual Academic Event Professional Conference kicked off activities. A highlight of the AEP conference was the keynote from Arizona State University director of university ceremonies Melissa Werner, who oversaw the elaborate logistics when newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the university's commencement address in May.

Werner's office had only eight weeks' notice to coordinate the event in Tempe, Ariz., which involved more than 60,000 guests, complex Secret Service arrangements, daytime temperatures of more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit and the question of how to deal with shock rocker Alice Cooper. Read more about the 2010 AEP by clicking here.


Wedding expert Darcy Miller, editorial director for Martha Stewart Weddings, gave attendees tips on wedding trends at The Special Event's Wedding Luncheon, held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside on Wednesday.

Keying on words such as "wow," "crafty" and "personalized," Miller showed examples of today's wedding styles, focusing on charming details and unique color combinations.

Dining tables at the luncheon, overseen by James Clawson of Urban Earth Design Studios and Sarah Hall of Joel Catering and Event Planning, conveyed a nature theme, featuring a woodlands area, a meadows area and a river-theme head table.

For images of the Wedding Luncheon, click here.


At the Opening General Session, Special Events editor Lisa Hurley announced the winners of the Tabletop Gallery competition:

Tabletops Below $1,000 Each: "Romantic Asian Floral" by Choura Venue Services, Long Beach, Calif.

Tabletops $1,000 and Above Each: "The Ball 2010" by Rentals Unlimited, Stoughton, Mass.

To view video of all Tabletop Gallery participants, click here.


New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO J. Stephen Perry was honored Thursday at the Master's Brunch. Perry received the Steve Kemble Leadership Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts to keep New Orleans' event and tourism business alive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Leading event professional Steve Kemble, based in Dallas, presented the award to Perry at the event, held at New Orleans' Intercontinental Hotel. The event included a panel discussion featuring John Besh, chef/owner of Besh Restaurants; Alan Freeman, general manager for the Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Arena; Ti Adelaide Martin, co-proprietor of the Commander's Palace restaurants; Steve Rehage, owner of Rehage Entertainment; and Kristin Shannon, executive director of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

New Orleans-based Signature Destination Management oversaw the event.

Read more about the Master's Brunch by clicking here.


On the final night, guests gathered at the Morial Convention Center to honor the Special Events Gala Award winners, the highest honor in special events. Veteran event designer/planner Lena Malouf from Sydney won the Gala Award for Lifetime Achievement, while excellent work in 34 categories—from best invitation to best corporate event with a budget above $500,000—received its due.

The awards ceremony was followed by a blow-out party created by the New Orleans office of DMC USA Hosts. Entertainment ranged from soulful remembrances of Hurricane Katrina to a pulse-pounding drumline to a "champagne chandelier" performer, who poured flutes of bubbly while hanging upside down.

For the complete list of Gala Award winners—along with video clips from some of the honorees—click here.

The Special Event 2011 runs Jan. 25-28 in Phoenix.

All photos and video except for Wedding Luncheon Photo Gallery by Special Events

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