Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The White Hot Event

I own a networking group here in Phoenix for wedding professionals called the Wedding and Event Network (WEN). We get together once a month to shake hands and trade business cards. We are hosted by hotels, golf clubs, bridal boutiques and other reception halls all over the Phoenix metropolitan area each month. I'm the third owner in the 12 year history of WEN. It was started by a wedding officiant and his wife. Then it was owned by a brilliant event planner for a few years and now me. Once a year, our meeting is a bit less networking and a bit more of a party as a thank you to our members and industry friends. Everyone is invited to wear white and bring their spouse or a date. It's the White Hot Event!

Here I am with an imaginary rope, pulling a few dancers out on to the floor. The Hamptons have played at the White Hot Event for several years. They are the best wedding band in Phoenix and have always volunteered for this event- even before WEN was the respected organization it has become. Thanks guys!

This is Chandra Keel on the left, the event planner that I had for this event. I gave her some basic parameters for the event and turned her loose on it. She nailed it. That's Lisa from Arizona Weddings magazine on the right.

Here's a group shot. The event was at Tre Bella in downtown Mesa. It's an old warehouse, transformed into a reception space. The adjacent space has been converted into a charming wedding chapel. The photographer, Keri Doolittle is shooting from about the center of the room so there is a similar sized crowd behind her. Click on her link for more pics from the event. Chandra Keel is about center shot in this one too.

Each year we select a local cause or charity and ask attendees to donate to the cause if they have the means to do so. We collected almost 400 lbs of food and $150 in cash. WEN matched those donations dollar for dollar. St. Mary's was most gracious and appreciative. I'm still alarmed to hear of hungry people and empty food banks in our city of great wealth.

This is my friend, Amy Vandervort- a brilliant event planner and the previous owner of WEN. She just wanted to raise her kids and simplify her life. She may get back in the game when her children are older, but if not, she went out at the very top of her career. Her last wedding was featured on a major TV show. Ray Grace, Ray the DJ, a fantastic local mobile DJ and one of my professional brothers is on the right.

Here I am talking to Courtney Moran from Lollicakes Company. They provided desert that night. Wedding cake- on a STICK! It was deeeeee-lish! Each lollipop represents about 4 or 5 bites of wedding cake- individually wrapped- like a lollipop. This picture was taken just before the event started and the lollicakes were still under refrigeration.
It's really gratifying that everybody in this industry makes me feel like such a rockstar. I'm blown away. The network operates on the trading of professional favors for exposure to others in the industry. My email list is substantial so even those who don't attend will see the logos of the participating vendors on the email blast that goes out to the industry in advance of each meeting.

There are a few who think that my group is irrelevant or redundant. Each of us are members of our various professional associations- I'm the president of the American DJ Association- we do have a few members in common, but we have a very different purpose. We each have great educational content at our various chapter meetings. This is one forum that provides inter-industry connections. It's not a meeting of just photographers, or catering executives or just event planners.

In addition to great networking opportunities, there is a chance to talk about things that we can do to add to the excellence of the industry since we all work together at weddings and other social events.

Next month's meeting- South Beach/Miami theme at the brand new Homewood Suites- Hilton- Phoenix Airport.

1 comment:

everyday katie said...

Sounds like your thriving in AZ. Great event.