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s o u t h w e s t

inspiration and ideas from top event professionals


A Amy Mancuso Events A m y Ma n c u s o P hoeni x , A Z

Amy Mancuso never intended to become an event planner; in fact, she spent more than a decade working in the law

field and was once pre-med before she even considered the idea. But once she realized that her talent for assembling 10,000-person corporate gatherings and 10-person dinner parties was genuine, she hastened to learn all she could about every side of the event industry.

Since establishing her own company in 1996, Amy has been living her passion. Her exquisite work has been featured online, in print, and on television, garnering numerous awards from major media outlets and the event community. An uncanny ability to zero in on a host's innermost wishes and dreams for their event, whether spoken or unspoken, and translate them into a reality is one of Amy's specialties. Whether they require constant updates and check-ins or just want Amy on hand the day-of to manage the flow of the event, hosts have the option of securing Amy for as much assistance as they need. There's no such thing as a silly question, as Amy strives to make her hosts feel 125-percent comfortable with the planning process.

One thing Amy never forgets is that she first broke into the event planning business by learning from others, and she maintains that philosophy now by constantly absorbing as much information as possible. By literally having an answer for everything, Amy is ready for anything.

Sometimes a venue, no matter how beautiful, has certain elements that don't work with a design scheme and need to be reworked. For a December wedding, we re-covered the entire ballroom in white plush carpet and double-draped the walls in diaphanous white fabric to begin the room's transformation into a winter wonderland. Blue uplighting, carefully placed pin spots, and vases that glowed from within completed the otherworldly feel.

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Event Planning

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck


Photograph by Phyllis Lane Event Planning

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck


"Expert planners should be like chameleons, constantly changing to suit each individual's needs." —Amy Mancuso Right: An ice curtain in Arizona? Not only did we find a way to make it work, it turned out even more stunning than we anticipated. Strings of softball-sized ice chunks 10 feet high and 20 feet long flanked the entrance to the reception tent, and as the night went on they gently melted into a purple-lit waterfall. Facing page: Sometimes it's the unexpected touches that take a room from good to incredible. White birch trees hung with crystals outlined the dance floor—which lit up and changed colors—so guests got a hint of dancing in an enchanted forest without being completely enveloped in branches. A mod lounge setting carried the feel of the evening into the wee hours, allowing guests a more relaxed setting in which to socialize. Previous pages: Even in Arizona, weather doesn't always cooperate, so back-up plans are still a must. With less than a week's notice, we transformed an outdoor ceremony into a tented dream, with a canopy of white hydrangeas and pillars of calla lilies creating a stunning vision. When the weather is gorgeous, we can take advantage of that and do things like recreate an English garden using over 4,000 roses.

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Photograph by Phyllis Lane


Photograph by Artisan Photography

Photograph by Artisan Photography

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Photograph by Artisan Photography


Photograph by Phyllis Lane

Above and right: The little touches add up quickly, so it's important to keep in mind the overall look you want to achieve when selecting individual elements. When the linens, table settings, floral arrangements, and even amusements like a hand-rolled cigar table all come together, the effect can be magical. Facing page: With peacock feathers for inspiration, we translated the colors in both expected and unexpected ways. Placing feathers in the floral arrangements and tucking them into the teal blue napkins was a literal way to go, but stringing the aisle with indigo orchids and warming up the walls with amber spotlights extended the theme in ways people might not have anticipated.

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Photograph by Artisan Photography


Photograph by Hollye Schumacher

A feminine color can be interpreted in many ways, from frilly and flowery to sophisticated with a touch of black. Swagging the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa Gainey Ranch with bubblegum-pink fabric and uplighting the walls created depth, while the floaty chiffon chair covers and sweet pink bows brought femininity to the tables. On the other end of the spectrum, a non-traditional ebony aisle and jewel-toned accents gave a pink-themed private home wedding a chic and stylish air. No matter the decorations, having a sense of humor and incorporating things that are important to your everyday life will leave a lasting impression with your guests. Coco, one bride's beloved pooch, made a memorable appearance at her owner's side for the big day.

Photograph by Hollye Schumacher Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Phyllis Lane

Photograph by Phyllis Lane

Photograph by Hollye Schumacher Event Planning

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Photograph by Phyllis Lane

Photograph by Phyllis Lane

Photograph by Phyllis Lane Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Phyllis Lane


"There are no do-overs, only one chance to create joy and magic." —Amy Mancuso Right: Fireworks are not only a dazzling ending to an evening, but also a great transition between cocktails and dinner. Facing page top left: A huppah can house the exchanging of vows before doubling as a dramatic backdrop for the cake. Facing page top right: Placecards calligraphied in 24-karat gold and a dupioni silk box containing crystal flutes and a bottle of champagne awaited each guest at a very formal reception. Everything was custom-made, from the beaded chair caps to the ornate centerpieces. Facing page bottom left: The only place to set up the reception in a family's backyard was over the pool, so we built a Lucite dance floor over the water and lit the waves from below—believe it or not, not the first time I've constructed something like that. Facing page bottom right: When you really start thinking about all the ways you can personalize your event, the possibilities are endless. Things as small as a napkin ring or as large as the entertainment all play a part in determining the atmosphere. Photograph by Phyllis Lane

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Event planners have an expert knowledge of the industry, region, and vendors, and are no longer considered a luxury as the benefits far outweigh the costs. Most people don't have experience planning events, so hiring a coordinator to represent your vision goes a long way toward making your event flawless and stress-free—down to the most intimate detail. There's comfort in knowing that someone can handle everything and turn your dreams into reality, making your special day an exquisite occasion that will be remembered forever.

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W T h e W e d d i n g G u y s® Matt h e w T r e tte l M i n n eap o l i s , MN

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Bru ce Vassar

Just as museums rely on curators to select the exhibit collections, both engaged couples and wedding specialists

depend on Matthew Trettel and Bruce Vassar to showcase stunning event ideas and untangle the mysteries of etiquette surrounding that auspicious day in a couple's life. Matthew and Bruce both have extensive experience in the special event industry. Their unique backgrounds and skills—Matthew with fashion, video, and print communications and Bruce with marketing, catering, and music—make their collaborative venture, The Wedding Guys®, capable of taking on anything.

Through phenomenal wedding planning events, select signature weddings, and their TrendSpot blog, Matthew and Bruce love to fast-track the trends and bring new concepts to the forefront. Their innate ability to envision the undiscovered allows them to creatively make an impact and guarantee that guests will walk away with a one-of-a-kind experience. From something as simple as the unique placement of flatware to the more complex art of combining a modern art gallery wedding with the classical sounds of cathedral bells and organ music, Matthew and Bruce know just how to tweak the traditional.

Even considering their eye-popping work, Matthew and Bruce both agree that the personal relationships are what matter the most. Regardless of the exact design, their happiness lies in creating something truly personal for the soon-to-be-married. For The Wedding Guys®, the nuptial weekend should tell the family's story, incorporate individual personalities, and help guests learn something new about the couple.

For a Signature Wedding we created a mod event focused on a contemporary ambience with clean lines. The dining space included three long tables featuring muted colors and sleek accents. Dendrobium orchids softened the modern groupings of mercury glass vessels and acrylic runners. Slender black lamps added height for an intimate feel.

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Photograph by Coppersmith Photography Event Planning

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Photograph by Coppersmith Photography

Photograph by Coppersmith Photography

Photograph by Coppersmith Photography Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Coppersmith Photography


Right: After dinner, guests moved to a dance lounge that was created in the hotel's courtyard and enhanced by large cabanas featuring interactive stout tastings. These upscale "beer tents" were draped with muted yellow canvas to enhance the comfortable seating areas. Centerpieces mirrored the dinner accessories and featured metallic orbs and clear vases. Facing page: To maintain the art theme of the signature wedding, we incorporated clean lines and polka dots throughout the event. Acrylic materials offered an immaculate base, from the multilayered invitation to the acrylic and glass art-sculpture altar created for the ceremony, and even the menu that doubled as a placecard. The dot pattern that acted as a modern aisle runner and was sprinkled on various elements mimicked the color palette revealed throughout the wedding. Personalized laser-cut monograms and other artistic touches, such as multiple flatware patterns at each place setting, capped off the event's theme.

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Photograph by Coppersmith Photography


Photograph by Coppersmith Photography

"Inspiration is everywhere and can reveal itself in the oddest places. Look for something that brings excitement, and then reinterpret it for the event." —Matthew Trettel

The fashion within weddings is so important that we place ourselves in the epicenter by producing the Bridal Fashion Week shows for the press and fashion buyers at New York's Couture Bridal Market as well as bringing these high-fashion experiences to brides through Unveiled—The Ultimate Wedding Planning Event. Each fashion show can be challenging because we want to feature the latest couture design styles. We use lighting, video, and music to create the mood and place the focus on fashion.

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Photograph by Jenn Barnett Photography


Photograph by Coppersmith Photography

Photograph by Coppersmith Photography Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Coppersmith Photography


Photograph by Coppersmith Photography

Above and facing page bottom right: We alternated tables for the Zen-inspired celebration between 4- by 8-foot options and 3-foot square options. The smaller tables, set for four, featured purple crocodile chairs from the ceremony, while the longer tables, set for 8, featured mahogany Chiavari chairs. Guest place settings began with either slate tile charges or a field of slate mosaic tiles, which contrasted with gold-lined Saki cups, sushi-roll napkins in orange and purple, and a pair of chopsticks for an interesting and unique experience. A mirrored tabletop added dimension to the orchid and calla lily arrangements and reflected the glow of candlelight. Facing page left and top right: The Zen atmosphere continued with warm bamboo elements, natural stone accents, and unique Asian accessories. We selected hand calligraphy for the elongated placecards, which we suspended from a towering bamboo structure. For the ceremony, we created seating in-the-round with a carved stone fountain as the centerpiece. By constructing a bamboo canopy from which we hung capiz shell chandeliers and adding bamboo sculptures in large brown urns, we created a calm environment that popped with the purple crocodile chameleon chairs.

Event Planning

"Event ideas should inspire a vision for the designer to run with, not prompt an exact copy that lacks a personal connection." —Matthew Trettel

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Photograph by Coppersmith Photography

"For artists to achieve a noteworthy creation, freedom in design and execution is essential. The same applies to event professionals." —Bruce Vassar Left: The glowing red room highlights how the appropriate use of dramatic colors and lighting creates a mood. By adding the texture and comfort of a red velvet settee to the elegance and interest of a chandelier draped around a nude mannequin silhouette, we took the ambience to an entirely new level of passion and sensuality. Facing page: In revealing the music box cake room, guests were delighted by a fanfare confetti blast announcing the opening of the stunning red velvet-lined space. The reveal showcased the tiered chocolate cake and dessert buffet as music box tunes filled the room.

Photograph by Coppersmith Photography Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Jenn Barnett Photography Event Planning

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Photograph by Kate McGough, Perspective Studio Photography

Photograph by Kate McGough, Perspective Studio Photography

Photograph by Coppersmith Photography Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Jenn Barnett Photography


"A complete understanding of the etiquette rules must first exist before they can be appropriately modified." —Bruce Vassar Right: An eight-course dinner for 75 guests with individual wine pairings for each course and more than 3,000 pieces of china, crystal, and flatware requires a highly detailed design. We utilized U-shaped seating with an opulent table that merged traditional baroque silver chargers with contemporary china for a blended vineyard feel. Facing page: In every event, the details create the impact. We ensure that everything from the appetizers to the favors meshes with the overall design concept and speaks something about the hosts. Presenting food as highly stylized art incorporates the sense of sight into the culinary experience. Another unique touch is usable favors, such as a candle lantern that guests can carry as the wedding couple departs.

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Photograph by Kate McGough, Perspective Studio Photography

To help generate new ideas when planning an event, use a technique called branching. Start with one element, like a daisy, and write down all of the aspects of that element—white, yellow, round, oval, leaf veins, green, fresh scent. Then take some of those aspects to bring in other design components that might not have been considered before—an oval for the invitation or the leaf vein pattern on the menu, for example.

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T l aq u e paq u e A rt s & C r a f t s V i l l ag e Wen d y L ippman Se d on a , A Z

It's no wonder that when Abe Miller, a successful Nevada businessman, was looking in the 1970s for a place to recreate

Mexico's lively arts scene, he chose Sedona. A magical place revered for its natural red sandstone formations and abundance of artists, Sedona was home to a creekside parcel of land owned by Harry and Ruby Girard. After convincing the couple that he wouldn't disturb their bevy of sycamore trees, Abe got to work constructing an arts community that combined the charm and mood of old Mexico with the Southwestern history of the area. He named his project Tlaquepaque, meaning "the best of everything" in the ancient language of the Aztecs.

With unconventional architect Bob McIntyre and an army of amateur artisans on board, Tlaquepaque began to take shape. Truckloads of iron grillwork, enormous carved doors, handmade lanterns, clay pots, and benches came up from Mexico into Sedona on a regular basis. The crew was given unconditional freedom to design, build, and execute their visions—hardly anything was sketched out on paper beforehand.

Tlaquepaque today entices all of the senses: the sound of the water in the fountains, the sight of the gorgeous landscaping, the smell of the rose garden, even the aromas from the restaurant kitchens. The little village is surrounded by a thick eight-foot-tall stucco wall, making the atmosphere magical and exclusive for each event.

Abe Miller's promise to Harry Girard that his beautiful sycamore grove would always remain untouched was honored, and as structures went up they were built to incorporate the trees' natural form. Today you will find great sycamore limbs growing through massive walls and even twisting up through the roof.

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Photograph by Sedona Bride Venue

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Photograph by Sedona Bride Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Sedona Bride

Photograph by Sedona Bride

"Buildings must be built to echo laughter, dancing, and singing." —Bob McIntyre

Above left: Eileen Conn created a painting for the chapel of St. Augustine, featuring Pope Pius X, Saint Bonaventure, Samuel, Peter, and John the Baptist. Almost 12 feet square, it is resplendently set off in a beautiful gold leaf frame. Above right: From the beginning, Tlaquepaque was awash in flowers and brilliant colors. After years of growth, the village is graced with climbing vines of sweet scented honeysuckle, purple clematis, ivy trumpet vine, and silver lace. Fountains are perpetually decorated with fantastic floral creations in celebration of a wedding or private event. Facing page: Like the great haciendas of Old Mexico, the chapel was designed as a place for meditation and contemplation. Stained glass windows, hand-carved wooden and leather pews, and whitewashed adobe walls resonate with the loving care that built the chapel over 30 years ago. At the completion of each wedding ceremony, the bells in the Tlaquepaque bell tower ring in celebration and commemoration.

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Photograph by Sedona Bride

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Photograph by Sedona Bride


"Candles, barrels, flickering fires, fountains, and flowers are what architecture is all about." —Bob McIntyre

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Before building, Bob and Abe looked at how the patios, courtyards, and plazas of Spanish Colonial Mexico created natural gathering places for the villagers to sell their crafts and mingle together. Today that translates wonderfully into areas perfectly suited for family and friends to gather and celebrate.

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Photograph by Sedona Bride

Work with someone you admire but can speak to honestly. Don't be afraid to ask for timelines or backup plans, especially if your venue holds most of its events outdoors. Acts of God or mother nature do happen, even in the best of climates, so make sure you're content with the alternate plans.

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E n v i ro n s & E v e n t s V i v i a n Ull m an Sc ottsdale , A Z

Who better to create a party venue with the perfect theme, fabrics, finishes, flowers, and lighting than a woman with

a passion for art and color who is also a professional interior designer? Vivian Ullman has an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit and a flair for style. As a teenager, she ran an art school and planned elaborate birthday parties for friends and family. As an adult, she melded her passions into one successful company aptly called Environs & Events.

Aside from the obvious creative tie, interior design and event planning are alike in their need for developing a personal rapport. Working with people on their homes or their parties is a personal and oftentimes very emotional process, so Vivian's role is as much about helping others as creating a sense of place. The fleeting nature of parties gives her a chance to be conceptually bold, and the permanence of homes offers the opportunity to let ideas percolate and evolve over time. Vivian's process with both endeavors is wholly collaborative, with homeowners and hosts alike relishing the journey.

As an event stylist, Vivian conceptualizes everything from the invitation, theme, and color scheme to the room décor, lighting, menu, and all of the other details that support the overall vision. She appreciates that great events require an interesting mix of creative and organizational skills and welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate her passion for both.

I completely transformed the Arizona Biltmore's Gold Room—so named for its 18-karat goldleaf ceiling—utilizing soft greens and ruby red with washes of green light accentuating the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired columns. Pomegranates hold significance in the Jewish faith—their 613 seeds correspond with the 613 mitzvot, commandments, of the Torah—and as a traditional symbol of the bridal couple's vows of dedication, the fruit became an important part of the décor and menu.

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"Because the invitation is where the excitement begins, it needs to hint at the theme and reveal enticing, intriguing aspects about the special event." —Vivian Ullman

Photograph by Willo Art

Top left: A gracious and elegant ambience is achieved through layered details: gold napkins folded into roses, monogrammed menus that appear to be etched on glass and gold-beaded chargers, gold-leafed votive candles, glass columns with table numbers hand-painted in gold, Chiavari chairs accented with gold sheer fabric tied in rosettes, and pomegranates, apples, and cranberries galore. Trumpet-shaped glass vases were filled with green apples and topped by bountiful bouquets of lilies, roses, callas, and orchids. Bottom left: Decorated with sheer organza fabric and clusters of white hydrangeas, the huppah was illuminated by votive candles suspended in varying heights. Glass cylinders filled with floating candles and white dendrobium orchids lined the aisles. Facing page: A magic carpet transported guests into a mysterious portal of the Kasbah for a New Year's Eve birthday celebration at The Boulders in Carefree, Arizona. Jewel tones of copper, purple, and turquoise adorned the tabletops and tented ceiling treatment interspersed with twinkle lights. Sheer organza fabric veiled the enormous hourglass centerpieces, which were embellished with fresh fruit and flowers, counting down the sands of time into the new millennium; miniature hourglasses served as placecards. Tents, camels, fortunetellers, belly dancers, and staff members dressed in Moroccan garb furthered the exotic environs.

Photograph by Willo Art Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Joel Zolondek

Photograph by Goodman Photography Event Design

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Photograph by Goodman Photography


Photograph by Vivian Ullman

Above and facing page top: The water lily pond at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale was the inspiration for the wedding's "Reflections: Monet's Garden" theme. I covered the reception table in hand-painted sheer fabrics in calming hues of blues and greens to suggest water and movement. Images of water lilies on the placecard CDs, square glass vases with floating candles and flowers, and the occasional lily pad supported the artistic theme. In order to bring the outdoors inside, I designed the illuminated tent as the focal point of the dance floor and ballroom, creating the ambience of a starlit night sky. Individual tables in gold bichon linen were adorned with fan-shaped menus. Variously sized glass vases held floating orchids, calla lilies, and peonies and rested on large lily pads with blossom-shaped votive candleholders. Left: Festooned atop bamboo poles, orchids in shades of pink, orange, and yellow lined the aisle of a waterside ceremony. Along with the towering palms, the orchid arrangements provided a lush canopy. Facing page bottom: On the premise that famous French artists were gathering for dinner, I fancifully recreated a lively 19th-century Paris bistro for a tabletop competition. With an artist's palette forming the outline of the table, placemats created colorful dabs of paint. Buckets held monochromatic bouquets of fresh flowers, the artists' signatures were accented by squeezed tubes of paint, and giant paintbrushes adorned the centerpieces and napkin ties. Each menu cover depicted a famous painting created by the artist guest.

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Photograph by LaCombe Photography

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Photograph by Jane Bernard Photography

Photograph by Jane Bernard Photography

Photograph by Vivian Ullman Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Jane Bernard Photography


"Never underestimate the impact of color in creating an ambience" —Vivian Ullman Right: Certain venues need only simple touches to attain the proper ambience. With its rich history and magnificent mahogany woodwork, the U.S.S. Sequoia vintage motor yacht, which has been graced by more than a dozen American presidents, is such a venue. For a birthday party dinner cruise on the Potomac, I minimally enhanced the interior with crisp white linens and centerpiece of imported lilies of the valley. Facing page top: The clear-top tent adorned with myriad twinkle lights, sunset pink and orange linens, patina chargers, clusters of flowers, and candles fostered a romantic ambience. Facing page bottom: Hand-painted terracotta saucers filled with an array of delicious Southwestern items awaited guests upon their arrival for a sunset wedding at a hilltop estate in Santa Fe. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed the martini bar and then a formal dinner. The tables were covered in hand-painted fabrics, numbered through frames with a Southwestern motif, and decorated with wax vessels filled with apricot and white roses and white dendrobium orchids.

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Photograph by Vivian Ullman

With event design, nothing is unimportant. Attention to detail, a flair for the dramatic, a touch of fantasy and elegance, a teasing of the senses are absolute requirements for a great event. From the initial design of the invitation to lighting, the presentation of food, table settings, and dĂŠcor, everything needs to be in harmony.

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E Events Ke n H e fli n Se d on a , A Z

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S h o w S to p p e r s

J im Bullock

Creative people just can't be limited—to a locale, a style, an approach, or anything else. They have the ability to dabble

in various crafts, and it's precisely that freedom of experimentation that fuels every project to be even more innovative than the last. The founders of Events by Show Stoppers are two such creative individuals.

Jim Bullock's formal training as a painter and his professional background in visual merchandising are a perfect complement to Ken Heflin's business savvy and floral artistry. When they formed Show Stoppers in the 1970s, they focused primarily on bringing high style to major tradeshows and annual charity galas. Today they focus on corporate and private events and are commissioned throughout the Phoenix area and across the country. Ken and Jim have worked in almost every major city in the country.

A charming older Sedona house with plenty of character serves as a working studio for Jim and Ken and their talented staff, who appreciate the low-key ambience— working at their design tables surrounded by gorgeous flowers, never-ending bolts of colorful fabrics, props, art, red rock views and, of course, their four-legged friends. Inspired by the notion of creating and recreating environments, the Show Stoppers team enjoys an artist's palette that encompasses everything from flowers and fabrics to lighting, space planning, backdrop painting, and all things required to produce the desired effect in their vision.

We used the wooded, creekside setting of L'Auberge de Sedona to make our warm-toned color palette pop. Styled after an ancient Egyptian collar, the organic carpet of rose petals elegantly frames the alfresco dining experience. The use of flowers, seeds, colored sand, and other natural artifacts as a transient art form throughout history is a romantic notion that has inspired us in so many scenarios.

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Photograph by Katrina Wallace, Sedona Bride Floral Design

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Photograph by Katrina Wallace, Sedona Bride

Photograph by Katrina Wallace, Sedona Bride

Photograph by Katrina Wallace, Sedona Bride Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Katrina Wallace, Sedona Bride


"Drama, décor, and direction are the most important elements in creating an event experience. We refer to it as our own 3D effect without the glasses." —Ken Heflin Right: Whenever possible, we take design cues from the setting. For a chapel wedding in Sedona, we layered rose petals on the patterned tile as if playing with a larger-than-life coloring book. The soft light of candelabras, wax luminaries, and altar candles created the perfect glow of romance. Facing page: Designing with simple combinations of interesting forms and colors—like the trio of exotic pincushion protea that resembles sea life, classic lavender stock, and cymbidium orchids—is the best way to create a unique focal point. When we want to incorporate regional flair, we do it very tastefully, with just a touch of cactus or an elegant manzanita branch, both of which have wonderful lines and texture. Table settings are probably the most important detail of an event because that's where guests spend most of their time. They can't help but inspect every angle of the centerpiece, so we like to give them something to talk about—a flower they've never seen before or a design incorporating an everyday element in a new and surprising way.

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Photograph by Katrina Wallace, Sedona Bride

The lyric "arrive without traveling" in a song by The Beatles is the basis of our creative approach. We develop people's vague ideas, thoughts, and wishes into a cohesive theme, allowing them to arrive at their design destination without having to worry about any of the logistics.

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C i ao B a b y C at e r i n g D e e D e e Maza P hoeni x , A Z

Everything you need to know about Ciao Baby Catering comes through in its name: it's distinctive, it's au courant, it's

rich. Owner Dee Dee Maza is one of Phoenix's premier caterers thanks to her commitment to never repeating herself, viewing each event as individual, and creating a truly good time centered on delicious food.

After years of restaurant experience, Dee Dee's catering skills were honed at a Scottsdale hotel starting in 1999; by 2005, she had built enough of a name for herself to set out on her own as Ciao Baby Catering. Hosts fall in love with Dee Dee's style because she prioritizes their needs, conscious or not, above all else: she understands implicitly that a good event is one allowed to take its natural course without a rigid schedule, and does everything to facilitate that. Her servers undergo rigorous training in accordance with that philosophy, and she insists that hosts finalize their menu as close to the event as possible in order to ensure fresh, up-to-theminute fare. In some cases, Ciao Baby will undergo a progression of tastings to craft a personally tailored, absolutely perfect menu—an unconventional practice that demonstrates just how much Dee Dee cares.

All food is cooked on-site, often at made-to-order chef stations. The company limits itself in the amount of events per night in order to give each the full attention it deserves. No two menus are ever going to even resemble each other; each is uniquely fabricated according to the tastes and themes of the day. Ciao Baby cuisine is also green; Dee Dee's dedication to eco-friendly practices—from compostable cups and lids to avoiding paper brochures—is unwavering. And to provide hosts with even more tailored, direct service at their own pace, Ciao Baby has its own venue, The Center Courtyard. At Ciao Baby Catering, the food and the guests take center stage. At a party in the desert for a lumber company, a menu of entirely seafood served atop wooden dishes stole the show. We sanded and burned wood for use as plates, then topped them with scallops, tomatoes, onions, and microgreens.

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Photograph by de L'oeil Photography Catering

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Photograph by de L'oeil Photography

"We believe food deserves center stage at an event. The colors and flavors should speak to the theme." —Dee Dee Maza

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Photograph by de L'oeil Photography

Photograph by de L'oeil Photography

Above: From a passed hors d'oeuvre scallop and sausage salad evocative of the green and yellow wedding colors to a salmon tartare course at a corporate affair, our creations will be original every time.

Catering

Facing page: The wedding reception entrĂŠe presented rare beef in a fresh way: on a rectangular plate, aligned with a line of oil infused to match the yellow color scheme.

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Photograph by Michael Fragale Photography

Above: A Tuscan-style wedding inspired us to bring in rustic wood tables, the perfect setting for a prosciutto hors d'oeuvre. Left: For a couple who loved figs and cabrales cheese, we dreamed up a passed hors d'oeuvre combining those elements with blackberries. Facing page top: Our venue The Center Courtyard hosted a wedding reception that served tagliatelle pasta with golden beets, arugula, walnuts, and parmesan cheese in an olive oil sauce infused with rosemary and garlic. When creating pasta station menus, we prefer unique combinations never done before—and in order to ensure everyone's flavors come together perfectly, we come up with ready-made arrangements that can have ingredients removed as needed. Facing page bottom: At a launch party, beets were the star: beet slaw topped a fennel salad with a citrus pineapple beurre blanc dressing, accented by beet florals and beets outlining the table.

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"The goal is to do better overall, not just compared to our past. We design things to be prepared on-site—it might take a little longer, but the freshness is worth it." —Dee Dee Maza

Photograph by BlueiConcepts Photography Catering

Photograph by BlueiConcepts Photography

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Photograph by Michael Fragale Photography

Photograph by BlueiConcepts Photography Art of Celebration

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Photograph by BlueiConcepts Photography


"Great food is an excellent way to leave your guests buzzing in the best way possible." —Dee Dee Maza Right: One of the first weddings at The Center Courtyard had pear sangria as the signature cocktail. For each wedding, the colors and themes inspire us to concoct a special cocktail to be passed during the reception. Our creativity is unlimited in these cases—from melon martinis to raspberry kiwi sangria rimmed in everything from colored sugar to dried fruit, we do it all. Facing page left: The Center features a three-story loft and a terrace for an urban feel not normally found in Arizona. The green, eco-friendly venue boasts furniture made of plants, green tea-stained tables, bamboo flooring, and natural lighting. Our intensively trained staff, well versed in etiquette conventions, combined with our personal venue ensures the full Ciao Baby experience. Facing page right: Salads can be served in martini glasses or on plates: from an all-organic cocktail salad with prawns to a medley of arugula, cabbage, figs, raspberries, blueberries, walnut-encrusted goat cheese, and poached pears drizzled with pear shallot vinaigrette. Of course, as with the rest of our repertoire, our dressings are freshly made—and designed— every time.

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Photograph by BlueiConcepts Photography

Have lots of tastings leading up to your event, but wait to set the menu for good until a time closer to the big day. After all, thanks to our continuous evolution and innovations, we won't be making the same food a year from now. Take advantage of that!

Catering

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J

Jennifer Schmitt,

calligrapher

J en n i f e r S c h mitt P hoeni x , A Z

Jennifer Schmitt always knew she had a well of creativity deep within her, and that it would only be a matter of time

before she discovered the avenue through which she could express her talents. While she studied calligraphy and art as a young girl, Jennifer never really took the centuries-old practice seriously until she began working as a resort event coordinator in Los Angeles. Noticing that most printed materials seemed like a laser-printed afterthought, Jennifer ignited her passion for hand-lettering and began writing for a nearby stationery store in 1998. She was delighted to discover that her creative skills enhanced people's events in a unique and deeply personal way. After moving to Phoenix, she further developed her techniques and now her elegant work graces everything from the most eloquent private invitation suites to couture perfume bottles and even NBA players' sneakers!

She encounters inspiration in her daily environment. Even a routine trip to the grocery store or a drive along a highway can yield interesting hand-drawn fonts, unusual word placements, and distinguishingly playful color combinations. Jennifer frequently haunts antique stores to unearth hand-lettered poetry, awards, certificates, and other paper treasures. A framed invoice from 1887 hangs above her workspace, the carefully crafted characters strikingly similar to the scripts and flourishes Jennifer writes each day. Graceful lines on paper are not all that Jennifer appreciates. With phrases like "Where RU?" and "TTYL!" entering people's everyday lexicons, Jennifer happily contributes advice on proper etiquette and the emotional sentiment, ensuring that the meaning of the invitation is as striking as its appearance.

People are often surprised when I reveal that my writing instrument of choice is a traditional wooden stick fitted with metal nibs, which I dip into custom-blended bottles of ink. It may seem old fashioned compared to the fancy markers and calligraphy cartridge pens now available, but there is something romantic about creating my letters in much the same way scribes meticulously penned royal decrees or religious documents ages ago. That high regard for craftsmanship has led me to collaborate with Julie Gibson of Studio Grace, who designs exquisitely radiant invitations enveloped in gorgeous fabrics, custom constructed boxes, and bejeweled encasements.

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Photograph by Andy DeLisle, de L'oeil Photography Printed Materials

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Photograph by Andy DeLisle, de L'oeil Photography

Photograph by Andy DeLisle, de L'oeil Photography

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Photograph by Andy DeLisle, de L'oeil Photography


"The intimacy of a handwritten item can never be replicated or replaced." —Jennifer Schmitt Since details are the most perfect expression of an event, I understand that many intricacies contribute to the personalization of the celebration, and it is easy for a host to become overwhelmed. I strive to assist in any way I can. Postage and mailing procedures are the two elements that are usually overlooked, especially when invitations need to travel internationally. By visually spacing text on envelopes, I allow for oversized, customdesigned, and vintage stamps. Sourcing return postage for reply cards that will be mailed from practically any country in the world is the ultimate nod to exacting detail. Focusing our attention to the overall theme of the event, the host and I often discuss how the precise calligraphy piece can complement or coordinate with florals and linens. Calligraphy can infuse an event with alluring Old World charm or provoke the edgy signature style of a modern occasion.

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Photograph by Andy DeLisle, de L'oeil Photography

It is the human touch that makes calligraphy so enduring. I am honored that my simple pen strokes are a part of people's significant milestones. From gathering loved ones together to gently assisting them through the celebration to sometimes coming home with them in the form of a menu or placecard keepsake tucked safely into a clutch or suit pocket, I find it truly gratifying to have even a small hand in that happiness.

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R

R e b e c c a B o u c k P h o to g r a p h y R e b e cca B o u ck P hoeni x , A Z

Brooke Shields has called her photographs "sweet and real." She is Charlie Sheen's family photographer. And Chris

Kattan told InTouch magazine that she did an "amazing job" photographing his wedding. Since 2001, Rebecca Bouck's been lucky enough to do professionally what has been her passion since she was six years old.

Rebecca spent her early career as an event planner, gathering knowledge and skills from that profession and combining them with a master's degree in business from The George Washington University to form her own photography business. Now her roster includes an impressive list of celebrities and everyday folk who treasure her candid, elegant images. Though she's based in Arizona, Rebecca has traveled the world photographing weddings, family portraits, and social events in Morocco, Serbia, Greece, the Caribbean, and all over the United States. When Matt and Suzy Hoover, contestants who met and fell in love during the second season of "The Biggest Loser," got hitched in Jamaica, Rebecca was there to capture every joyous moment.

Not only does Rebecca photograph people who make their living in front of a camera crew, she herself makes the occasional onscreen appearance. As one of the resident photography experts for the Lifetime television show "Get Married," Rebecca dishes out tips and tricks for betrothed couples preparing to walk down the aisle.

People put a lot of time, thought, and money into the details of their event, so I make sure to photograph even the smallest details.

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography Photography

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography

Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography Art of Celebration

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography


Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography

Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography

Chris Kattan's wedding to Sunshine Tutt was an unbelievable opportunity to photograph some of the best comics in the business. Many of Chris' co-stars from "Saturday Night Live," including Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Parnell, Seth Meyers, and Rachel Dratch, were on hand to celebrate the day with love and laughter.

Photography

"Having someone who is friendly and trustworthy behind the lens guarantees a positive experience." —Rebecca Bouck

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography


"It's not just about taking photographs; it's about capturing moments that people will treasure for a lifetime." —Rebecca Bouck

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Having a combination of portraits and photojournalism shots really tells the story of the whole day. When photographing guests, I've found that the quicker I shoot, the better the outcome. It allows people to get back to the party, but it also doesn't give them a chance to get nervous.

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Photograph by Rebecca Bouck Photography

Knowing when the sun sets is extremely important for photography. When you're scheduling an event, keep in mind that any images you want to take outdoors will reflect the time of day. High noon is most likely going to result in squinting eyes, while the last hour before nightfall produces absolutely beautiful light for portraits—it's my favorite time of the day to get behind the camera.

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S String Serenade J ennifer D e Witt phoenix , A Z

l

R ichard Mancini

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent." Victor Hugo's lyrical sentiment

resonates deeply with Jennifer DeWitt and Richard Mancini, a violist and guitarist who together form String Serenade. Though both are originally from the East Coast, Jennifer and Richard have been one of the most celebrated and sought-after award-winning musical duets for special events in Arizona for many years.

With a repertoire that runs the gamut from Bach to The Beatles, Jennifer and Richard can modify their playlist to reflect any theme or occasion. Classically trained and adept at the string family instruments, Jennifer's style perfectly complements Rich's skills as a self-taught instrumentalist on guitar, piano, and vocals. Their acoustic and amplified harmonies add the perfect ambience to not only weddings, but corporate events, private parties, fundraisers, high teas, and wine tasting soirĂŠes.

The unique blend of the viola's rich register and the guitar's lilting fluidity can serve a multitude of functions, from welcoming guests with a soothing melody to signaling the beginning of a vibrant reception to awakening beloved memories with a particular song. Not only does String Serenade consist of the specialized duet, but string trios, quartets, and other ensembles can be arranged. Being a part of people's special occasions is something that Jennifer and Richard truly cherish, and they do everything possible to ensure that their music contributes to a perfect event.

Richard's roots come from rock'n'roll, recording music with his first band at age 12, while I grew up in private study and currently play with symphonies and chamber ensembles. Somehow we met in the middle, and our styles intertwined to produce a beautiful sound unlike anything else.

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Photograph by Keith Pitts

Photograph by Keith Pitts Entertainment

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Photograph by Keith Pitts

Art of Celebration Southwest—SNIPPET  

Art of Celebration Southwest

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