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You Make It Taste Good…I Will Make It Pretty
Linda Sample, President, Gina Barber, Sr. Event Manager, and Rachael LaPorte, Executive Chef, A Thyme to Cook, North Stonington, CT

Marrying culinary perfection and design innovation, this talented team will show you how to excel in both areas while still prioritizing the client’s needs and desires. Learn how to design concepts that work with various budgets and how to design creative presentations of food and décor for every event that will put your best foot forward.

Avoid Event Day Surprises. The Most Complete Checklist for Event Site Inspection
Roy Porter, Owner, Engage Works, Los Alamitos, CA

Do you really know what to look for when walking through an event site? Attend this information-packed session and uncover the deal makers and breakers and the booby traps inherent in all events. Learn the correct and important questions to ask and matters to address long before the event starts in order that the planning and execution is smooth! Based on the acronym WAGES (Work area, Access, Guests, Energy, Service), we’ll review a 26-page checklist on how to get the event walk through right every time and “CYA.” We’ll also review a list of special tools to have when you conduct a venue walk through. Whether the event is a Bar-Bat Mitzvah, a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday, a company picnic, or a product launch, Roy will show you how to deal with potential issues including a Plan B for weather issues or things that you cannot control. Attend this session and you will learn how to create an event that is memorable for both you and your client.

Big Fat Indian Wedding. A Crash Course on Planning a South Asian Wedding
Therese Cole-Hubbs, President/Creative Director, Electric Karma International, Houston, TX


The hottest trend in special events is the growing multi-million dollar industry of South Asian weddings. Attendees will learn the in’s and out’s of these grand affairs. From terminology to cultural nuances and everything in between, learn from an expert in the field who has been working with this market for more than 30 years. Find out what you need to know to meet the demands of this specialized and discerning clientele.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the history of Indian weddings as experienced in South Asia; the regions, customs, languages and traditions of the varied culture.
  • Understand the terminology that goes into planning a traditional Hindu ceremony.
  • Get insight into the menu and catering requirements that will help you be an invaluable resource, and increase your food and beverage bottom line.

The Power of Music. How to Hit the Right Emotional Chord
Dan Nelson, Adjunct Professor, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV


Music. So important to an event’s success and yet, so often an afterthought. It is the key to making those so-important emotional connections with our audience and delivering meaningful messages. You know your audience best, so you need to take advantage of the power of music! Dan Nelson will give you what it takes to choose music that will help you achieve a strong connection with your audience.  From bands to streaming music services like Spotify, you’ll get practical tips on what to play, when to play it and how to get the volume right. Also covered: the mirky topic of obtaining music licenses for events.  This fun, interactive session will itself be an example of how you can bring your event to life with music.

Learning Objectives:

  • How to select music that helps you achieve your event objectives, when to play it and how to get the volume right.
  • Why music streaming services like Spotify are a fabulous edition to your event toolkit.
  • Who is responsible for obtaining a music license for an event, where to get them and how much they cost.

Structuring for Success in a Small Market
Tina Moran, Owner/Designer, Oh So Swank!, Fresno, CA

Success looks different for event professionals working in small markets. The key is to add on services that can benefit your clients, and which can become new revenue streams for you. This session will give you some proven strategy behind which services to bring on, how to maintain a working relationship with existing services in the same field at the same time and best practices for marketing those new services. Hear from a successful professional doing this in her market and how it can set your company up as a sustainable entity in all economies.

Learning Objectives:

  • Get the tools you need to determine what additional services and products are best for you to bring in-house and what is better left to outsourcing.
  • Learn how to market their benefits, and upsell them to your clients.
  • Find out how to develop a team to create additional revenue streams.


Award-winning Case Studies. An In-depth Look at the Value of Creativity and Collaboration – Part 1
Moderator: Jodi Collen, CSEP, Director of Event & Conference Planning, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN; Ingrid Nagy, CSEP, Owner, Catering by Design, Denver, CO; Kevin Molesworth, Owner, Brass Tracks Events, Austin, TX; Barry M. Morgan, Director of Entertainment, and Patty Coaley, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, MGM Resorts Event Production, Las Vegas, NV

ISES brings you this TED-style session showcasing three ISES Esprit Award-winning events as case study overviews. The session is divided into two parts; the first half presents overviews of each event while the second half of the session allows attendees to follow the event of their choice for a “deep dive” providing in-depth information and discussion. Presenters will focus on how creativity and collaboration helped overcome challenges and achieve success. This session focuses on Esprit Award winners in the following categories: Best Catered Event, Best Social Events $25K – $75K USD, and Best Entertainment Production over $75K USD.

Wedding Planning with LGBT Millennials
Bernadette Smith, President, 14 Stories Gay Wedding Institute, New York City, NY

As marriage equality sweeps the nation, the LGBT wedding market is booming, and only continuing to grow. In this seminar, you’ll learn about the hottest trends in same-sex weddings, and what to expect when working with LGBT millennials in planning their wedding.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the fluid nature of gender and sexuality and the preferred terminology among this generation.
  • Find out how to market your wedding business to LGBT millennials.
  • Get insight into the hottest trends among LGBT millennials.

Changing the Face of Events, One Byte at a Time 
J. Damany Daniel, Chief Imaginator, The Event Nerd, Dallas, TX and Dj Jason Esquire, Dj Jason Esquire, Fort Worth, TX

Every day, we are tasked with creating unique and amazing experiences for our clients while developing new and engaging moments for their guests, and technology is helping make more and more possible. In this session, you will get an “in action” look at event and non-event technology that is currently being used to create “wow” moments and immersive experiences.  From tools that use “the internet of things” to digital displays that respond to attendees’ personal preferences, technology is rapidly shaping the way we interface with the world and changing the way it interacts with us.  From immediate on site registration, to cash-less purchases, and instantaneous connection with like-minded (and previously unknown) people during an event, tech is transforming everything. Find out how you can incorporate that change into your events.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the different tools that are available to transform spaces and experiences for their guests.
  • Dissect successful (and less successful) event technologies and events and discuss what worked and didn’t work about those activations.
  • Be prepared to see in person some of these technologies and their transformative impact on an environment.

12 Ways to Identify and Manage Stress for a Happier and Healthier Business
Carlos Laguna, Speaker/Stress Management Coach/USMC Veteran, Carlos The Speaker, San Diego, CA

Let’s face it, being in the event industry can be very stressful. While you can’t always make that stress magically disappear, you can learn how to manage what comes up, how to maintain your calm in the middle of the chaos and make decisions that get the best job done without you losing it or being detrimental to your health and well-being. In this seminar, you’ll learn how to identify what triggers your stress and where your stress may be coming from, easy-to-implement ways to manage it if it does come up and habits and tips to implement into your life to keep you stress-free in the first place. A stress-free, healthier and happier you will lead to a stress-free, healthier and happier business, which will come full circle!


Lighting the Way for Weddings
Presented by Wedding Industry Professionals Association
Lonnie Thompson, Lighting Designer, Images by Lighting, Los Angeles, CA and Collette Lopez, Owner, La Fete Weddings, Santa Barbara, CA


ISES_ApprovedLogo_2603CLighting can make or break a venue. Remember: it’s not just what you see, but how you see it. From large estates to small backyards, rural barns to grand palaces, traditional churches to modern architectural masterpieces, each wedding is unique to its specific environment. No matter where your event takes place, a good lighting designer has the ability to draw the most out of your client’s venue and transform it into a magical experience for all who attend.

In this seminar, experts Lonnie Thompson of Images By Lighting and Colette Lopez from La Fete Weddings will show you how to improve your event by bringing the lighting designer in not as an afterthought, but early on as part of your design process. They will teach you how to integrate a lighting designer early on in the process. Whether you are a planner, caterer, wedding stylist, it’s good to know how to sell (and upsell) your client on the necessity of lighting design. From their first-hand experience, Lonnie & Colette will divulge personal stories, pictures, experiences, tips and tricks so that you too can create events that transition beautifully from day to night.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to get the best from your lighting design and designer by understanding the terms and what is possible today with new, innovative, and often inexpensive, lighting equipment.
  • Get the latest in wedding lighting trends- from simple yet elegant string lighting to trussing sleeve systems that create architectural décor and lighting in one.
  • Find out how you, as a wedding or event planner, you can approach and inform your client of the importance of lighting design so that your event and their wedding look as stunning as possible both in real life and in photos.

Finding the Fun in Fundraising. New Ideas for Nonprofit Events
Jen Poyer, CSEP, Senior Special Events Manager, Catalina Island Conservancy, Long Beach, CA


As a creative event professional, producing events for non-profits can be a delicate dance. Being tactful in all situations is critical, especially when working to balance the needs of the non-profit client with the wants of donors who are potential attendees and/or volunteering on an event committee. With insight from the inside, this session will highlight the tips you should keep front and center when planning for non-profits as well out out-of-the-box ideas that resulted in a big win. We’ll put that knowledge into action with a speed brainstorm and on-the-spot pitch for a potential fundraising event. Keeping the mission in mind, learning to carefully craft the right conversation, finding the fun in fundraising and successfully balancing the relationship between the donor, the non-profit and the planner will provide a win-win-win opportunity for all involved.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the goals of your non-profit client while keeping the organization’s mission in mind
  • Utilize tools your non-profit client might be able to offer and understanding the relationships at play
  • Takeaway tools for turning casual conversations with clients into prospective events

Creating a Culture of Innovation
Angus Clark, General Manager – Americas, SongDivision, New York City, NY

Innovation.  Leading businesses depend on it for their ongoing success.  But what is innovation really, and how do you get it? Since 2003, SongDivision has been called on by Fortune 100 companies in more than 20 countries to improve Communication, Creativity and Collaboration in the workplace.  These three ‘C’s are the vital ingredients in creating a culture of innovation. In this engaging and highly effective session, the songwriting process is used to demonstrate the qualities your people collectively need to innovate and succeed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Get a refresher on active listening (it’s much rarer than you think).
  • Experience a safe, fun environment in which to express ideas to solve your workplace challenges.
  • Make the impossible possible by collectively achieving something challenging — creating an original song!

Out-think and Outperform the Competition. 36 Ancient Chinese Strategies for Modern Business
Lan Bercu, President, Lead Across Cultures International, Marietta, GA

Unlock the power of the 36 ancient Chinese strategies for modern business at this exciting session that calls the power of the tiger into your business. In order to out-think and outperform your competition, you need to find out how to get unstuck from your own conventional paradigm and filters that keep you doing things “the way things have always been done.” If you are at that point where your business has exhausted all the workable tactics, call in the ancient Chinese military strategies. They have empowered many of the world’s most successful businesses and can do the same for you. This session promises to free your creative thinking and give you the tools you need to outsmart the competition.


Put Down the Mason Jar and Back Away Slowly! Wedding Catering in 2015
Michael Stavros, Director of Sales & Marketing, M Culinary Concepts, Phoenix, AZ

WIPA_Logo_smThese days, the “culture of food” seems to influence everyone with whom we do business. Our clients are bombarded by a non-stop parade of cooking shows, competitions, celebrity chefs, bloggers and social media mavens. Clients today share their dining experiences with their families, friends and just about anyone who is willing to listen, and they want their dining choices to reflect their personalities and individuality (because they are unique…just like everyone else). And what could be more personal and individual than their wedding? In this session, we will explore the current and upcoming trends in wedding catering. We will discuss globally-influenced cuisine, locally-flavored items, engaging presentations, and curated cocktails and mocktails. And let’s not forget about our clients’ and guests’ mind-boggling array of dietary requests, requirements and allergies – we will discuss interesting options that keep everyone happy and healthy. Let’s learn about and share what will work and what will sell in 2015 and beyond.


Goodness, Gracious, Great Ball of Flowers! How to Design and Produce Huge Centerpieces
Melissa Brannon, Owner/Designer, Uncommon Events, Philadelphia, PA


During this live demonstration, you will learn how to create stunning, large floral centerpieces that will impress guests and get your company and work noticed! Find out what flowers work best, what materials you need, what vase styles work, how to transport and get them on the table. You will leave with new knowledge you can take home and imediately begin using and selling in your own event design business.

Learning Objectives:

  • Find out what type of flowers, vases and products work on this scale of production.
  • Get the resources you need; a who’s who of the best in vases/containers and flowers.
  • Leave with at least three different design ideas and get the tools you need to sell these stunning pieces.

Repurposing Your Experience and Knowledge to Extend Your Brand
David Merrell, Owner, AOO Events, Los Angeles, CA; Lynn Fletcher, Owner, Calgary Bride, Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Meryl Snow, Owner, Feastivities Events, Philadelphia, PA

For seasoned event professionals looking for the rainbow at the middle, or end, of a long career, there is a way to repurpose your experience! If you have ever thought about writing a book, creating a specialty magazine or video channel or becoming a speaker or consultant, there are so many avenues that are available to you today. Find out how three events pros repurposed their experience in various manners, and how it might work for you. Get case studies that illustrate the path that two event professionals went to set up magazines – one off line, the other online, and how a high-profile caterer transitioned into starting a successful consulting practice. This is not an either/or transition … all these speakers are still owners of their event and catering firms and use these avenues to bring attention to their work while at the same time laying the groundwork for the next phase of their careers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the right vehicle for your message and experience, be in consulting, writing, or video channels
  • Start anytime…Get tips on how to begin to formulate a plan, then begin to act on it step by step to get where you want to be.
  • Discover how to leverage your knowledge and find the audience for it.


The Evolution of Weddings and Wedding Cakes
Linkie Marais, Lifestyle Expert/Celebrity Chef, Linkie Marais, Boston, MA

Staying current on wedding trends is essential, but let’s face it – it is hard to do it alone! By diving back into the history, origins and traditions of weddings and wedding cakes, we can see how it has revolutionized into a huge production of colors, themes, textures and food art. In this session, you will learn what is the driving force behind the ongoing evolution of wedding receptions and what is in store for future weddings, what are the current wedding and wedding cake trends, what are the best sources for information and inspiration and how do you merge the old trends with the new in order to incorporate fresh ideas and dazzle your brides.

Forget the Box. How to Go Outside the CIRCLE for a New Design Perspective
Evan Carbotti, Partner/Designer; Jordan Carbotti, Partner/Designer; and Dwayne Ridgaway, Lead Designer, Perfect Surroundings, Int’l, Newport, RI

In today’s world of circular design,  thinking outside the box is not enough, and yet being different just for the sake of it may ultimately set you back. Learn more about this fine line as you get get insight into how this design firm has transformed and breathed life into countless spaces— from beaches to ballrooms, and backyards to airplane hangars. Discover how you can not only create, develop and invent new ideas, but change and reinvent old ones with your personal twist. In going outside the circle, you will find a new perspective on design. Come along on this visual journey where you will get to experience many of the places, people and things that are constantly changing our design aesthetic and sensibilities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain valuable insight into numerous concrete resources that spark imagination, creativity and aid in formation of a personalized aesthetic.
  • Discover numerous ways to morph old designs into new and exciting concepts through a mixture of photos, videos, and, of course, amusing real-life anecdotes.
  • Learn how to efficiently “pace the budget” — how to creatively price, up-sell and “make the numbers work.’’

The Business of Incentive Travel and Events. The Mystery Revealed
Sarah Sheehan, Purchasing Manager, MotivAction, Minneapolis, MN


Develop an understanding of a full-service incentive company, what they do and how to work with them. Some of the questions that will be answered will be: What exactly is an incentive house? What do they do and how do they do it? What are the trends within the incentive market, how have they changed and evolved since the recession and what does the future look like? Come prepared for answers to these questions and an in-depth conversation about how incentive companies do what we do and what a day in the life looks like at MotivAction.

The Reality of Doing Reality TV
Kristin Banta, Owner, Kristin Banta Events, Los Angeles, CA

Everyday we hear someone say, “This should be a reality show!” But at the end of the day, reality shows are essentially staged moments; a manipulated moment in a particular life or scenario. They are not documentaries. If you had cameras documenting every moment of your life, one could edit down the best moments and anyone could be interesting, charismatic, compelling, dramatic or humorous. The question for anyone contemplating reality TV is — Does the medium offer an true opportunity for you and your brand to shine in spite of TV’s necessary manipulations that build audience? Presented by someone who has faced that question herself, this session will hep you answer that question.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discover your true goals in going after TV. Is it for fame, sales or brand expansion? Your unique answer should be what drives you towards one opportunity versus another.
  • Learn how to break through the sea of reality TV sizzle reels that are being pitched. Find ways to really bring out your unique spin and to analyze what is currently already in the televised event and wedding space versus what you can uniquely bring to the table that is not already there.
  • It is not all about hair and makeup. Find out how to look good in an arena where your looking good is not always the best thing for the production. A discussion about what to expect once you’ve gotten the show.

Partying with Purpose. Tie Your Event to a Charity
Courtney Hammons, Wedding and Event Planner, A Magical Affair, Franklin, TN

“Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know.” Millennials take that proverb to heart like no other generation before us. What if the bottles of wine you served helped fund cancer research? What if the jewelry the bridal party wore helped a widow in East Africa provide for her family? When planning for a party why not plan to pay it forward. Join Courtney as she walks you through countless ways your events can not only be parties that people are talking about for months and years to come but also are parties with charitable or benevolent purpose that people will benefit from for years with a generational following.


Clients Say the Darndest Things
Meryl Snow, Principal, Feastivities Events and Sr. Consultant, Catersource Consulting Unit, Philadelphia, PA

“What do you charge to cater a dinner for 150 guests?” “Really, you have a service charge?” “My budget is $20.00 per guest, but I have always dreamed of having a three-course seated dinner for my wedding.” Catering sales people have to respond daily to these typical questions and requests. Join this fun, but informative gameshow-style session that will pit two teams of seasoned salespeople in a competition to provide the best answers to these and more common questions.

Silver Bullet Selling. Do It All in One Shot
Deborah Gee, Recruitment Consultant, Profile Hospitality Group, Toronto, ON, CAN

Drawing on her experience in sales and management of on-premise venues, Deborah’s insight into how to grow and develop new and profitable business is the focus of this class. Learn business development tips and systems including how to recruit and manage a successful sales team, how to grow your business organically with the suppliers you use most, how to bring services in house to keep the revenue in YOUR bank account, and how to get your clients to do the selling for you by providing exceptional experiences.

The Diverse Designer. Standing Out in Today’s Wedding Design World
Sasha Souza, MBC, Event Designer, Sasha Souza Events, Napa/Beverly Hills, CA

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken”, and those prophetic words are very true in today’s wedding industry. It’s easy to get caught up in the “sameness” of weddings showcased on blogs and inspiration sites. Wedding designer and author Sasha Souza is internationally recognized for her ability to always be ahead of the trends, as well as a trend predictor. How do you keep your business forward thinking and original so you stand out to potential clients as being a diverse designer? What defines a diverse event designer? A diverse designer can change their style to match their client’s taste. The diverse designer doesn’t follow predominant trends but is on the leading edge, creating new design ideas. Learn how to convince clients to go outside the commonplace trends, be a standout designer, and access information to help predict what’s up and coming.

The Nonprofit Niche
Shelly Tolo, President, Tolo Events, Seattle, WA

Would you like charitable events to be a larger portion of your business revenue? Are the nonprofit events you are working on stuck in a rut? Working with nonprofits is rewarding and the events they hold make lasting impacts on our communities. This interactive session will  provide concrete ideas and resources for you to grow your business in this area and also help you to take your existing nonprofit events to the next level.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn what you, your business or your employer needs to do win more nonprofit business (Hint: It’s not discounting your product or service).
  • Get tips to forming the best pitch: Pricing strategies for nonprofit proposals and what NOT to say when pitching nonprofit business.
  • How to get out of the rut: Attendees will have the opportunity to share the problems and get instant ideas to help their clients raise more money.

Cultivating and Nurturing Your Media Relationships
Meghan Ely, President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

In the PR world, relationships are everything. This fast-paced session will walk you through the ins and outs of media relationships, and everything you need to know to cultivate, maintain, and capitalize on yours!

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to develop a custom media list that allows you to target your press efforts for maximum impact.
  • Get tips on finding and connecting with editors.
  • Find out how you can become an indispensable resource to ensure that you contacted again and again to assist with more stories.

From Runway to Tabletop. Fashion Forward Events – Part 1
Kate Patay, CPCE, Executive Director of Sales & Marketing, Creative Coverings, Sparks NV


Simply stated, the fashion world dictates the trends that will follow in home décor and ultimately, event and wedding décor. In Part One of this two-part series, you will learn how to set yourself apart as an industry leader and master the skill of translating the latest fashions into chic events and table tops.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discover the secrets behind identifying key influencers and to pinpoint which prints, fabrics and textures are currently trending.
  • Find out how to incorporate these looks into your events.
  • Where to turn to identify the key color trends from season to season.




*Speakers and schedule subject to change.