Pure, Unadulterated Exuberance: The 2011 Wedding MBA Features Luxury, Greatness, and a 1.4 Billion Dollar Supermodel-Mogul

Wedding Painter, Sam Day, captures WMBA'11 on canvas

After presenting at last year’s Wedding MBA conference and seeing the amount of content and connections assembled under one roof, returning this year to the Las Vegas Convention Center as an attendee hungry for more was a no-brainer.   (Already bought my pass for 2012.)

The 2011 Wedding Merchant Business Academy, produced by the Hegarty family, once again featured the A-listers of the wedding professional community.

Seminars were presented and private events were hosted by industry notables like Carley Roney, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The KnotSonny Ganguly, SMO of WeddingWire; Tammy Elliot, President of The Perfect Wedding Guide, Sasha Souza, celebrity wedding planner and founder of Wish Upon A WeddingAmy Wilkens, publisher of Martha Stewart Weddings; Peter Merry, author of The Best Wedding Reception Ever and director of the The W.E.D Guild; Susan Southerland, celebrity wedding planner and author of The Susan Southerland Secret; Andy Ebon, The Wedding Marketing Authority; Alan Berg, producer of the Wedding Industry Leaders Conference; and Kathy Ireland, CEO and chief designer from Weddings by 2be and Kathy Ireland Worldwide.

Carley Roney- Co-Founder & EIC of The Knot

Among the 10 new wedding trends that Carley Roney revealed was “a return to luxury and classic elegance.” She sees a lot more black-tie events on the horizon but was quick to add that “formal can still have personality.” Roney said that brides are seeking “pure, unadulterated exuberance” on their wedding day.  They want pleasant “surprises” and “ways to wow” their guests like a having bakery-styled food truck outside the venue so family and friends can enjoy a late-night snack on the way home from the reception or an early treat with the morning paper the next day. Another trend that Carley mentioned was something my wife and I did for our Wedding back in 2005.  For the non-traditional couples who don’t mind seeing each other before the ceremony, Roney presented the option of taking your portraits and family photos before the ceremony.  This allows newlyweds to enjoy and not miss any of the cocktail hour festivities (typically one of the best parts of the entire celebration due the abundance of cuisine and mixology, visiting opportunities and relaxed atmosphere).  As a Wedding Entertainment Director and Event Producer, I can help facilitate the timing of this desirable alternative with the planner, executive chef, venue principal, photographer, cinematographer and of course, your preferred sources of entertainment.

Andy Ebon, in his usual forthright-reality check-way reminded everyone that “just because you are unique, it doesn’t mean that you are useful.” And, “Don’t idolize, become inspired.”  And,  “You need to have 360 degree awareness.” He also reminded business owners that in a complimentary fashion to facebook and twitter, “blogging is still one of the most important things you can do for your business” to allow clients to discover the ‘online soul’ of your product or service.   Ebon, who helped me create the MMP Blog back in 2008, featured  photographer Jazmine Star and Marilla Cupcakes as stellar blogs.  He subscribes to the same philosophy of Sonny Ganguly who said that “social media allows you to humanize your business.” Speaking of Sonny, I really loved what he had to say in reference to Wayne Gretsky’s famous quote about being “where the puck is.” He said, “I’m not a huge fan of hockey, but I am a huge fan of greatness.” Well said, sir.  As always, the Wedding Wire guys entertained the crowd and encouraged us to go further with mobile technology.  They even offered a free QR code for their clients.

The Susan Sutherland Secret

Susan Southerland, who is one of the most dialed-in wedding professionals I know, shared her knowledge about how to manage client expectations of the personality-driven bride and how to deliver an experience that goes above and beyond simply helping a couple’s fairytale come true.  After interviewing numerous brides and asking how things went before their big day, Susan determined that wedding professionals who were great listeners, solution-oriented, respectful, humble and genuinely excited about their client’s celebration were swiftly chosen over their equally qualified  contemporary.  The classic staples like work quality and professionalism were mentioned as well.

Southerland is the Wedding Expert for Tammy Elliot’s firm, The Perfect Wedding Guide. Tammy did a great job of making all the attendees identify their current strengths and weaknesses as well as future opportunities.  Elliot also discussed the goal of being “consciously competent,” being able to duplicate your success at will. It was pretty deep and definitely made the gears start spinning.

The Knot offered up a few tech and social nuggets that had people checking their Klout score, looking into Qwiki and Uber– and then considering a Facebook business page view upgrade with Flipboard… which was just mentioned in Vanity Fair magazine.    The Knot also recognized a few companies in their annual “Best Of” awards which recognizes excellence in marketing, branding and social media.  The honorees included; Amy Zaroff, Michael Will Photography, The McNamara Alumni Center and Desiree Spinner. (I love her little messages: laugh. play. celebrate and dream. love. wed.)

Marcello Pedalino and Kathy Ireland, Wedding MBA 2011

Like many high school kids back in the day, The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was a highly anticipated annual highlight.   One of my favorite supermodels was Kathy Ireland.  Over the years, as my company progressed and I kept tabs on anyone who had a contagious entrepreneurial spirit, Ireland always stayed on my professional radar because the ability to utilize her brains and spirited work ethic as well as her stunning beauty became more and more apparent. Fast forward to 2011 at the Wedding MBA in Las Vegas… Ireland took a few hours out of her busy schedule to make a special guest appearance and share her journey from running a paper route as a little girl to running a 1.4 billion dollar enterprise. The 2000+ attendees, among whom included business owners from all over the U.S, Canada, Brazil, and New Zealand, were treated to personal stories of character building, photos of recently-launched Kathy Ireland 2be designs, (check out the gorgeous shots below) and some impressive video clips of her philanthropic efforts.

When I had the chance to chat with Kathy after her presentation, I told her that she had some of the most tweet-worthy moments of the conference yet when she said things like, “Its never been done- doesn’t mean it can’t be done” and “I never had a family business, but now I have a business family,” and “When it comes to someone’s wedding day, it’s got to be the best… you can’t mess it up.” That last one really hit home because it accurately describes the tremendous pressure we experience every time we’re given the honor and responsibility of playing a major role in someone’s wedding day.

Editor’s Note: I’m sure you can tell from the photo that, yes,… Ireland is still stunning*One of the funniest moments of the conference was when Ireland gave out her phone number so attendees could contact her for professional guidance, inspiration or business collaboration opportunities.  I’ve never seen men find a pen and paper so quickly to write something down!  Including me….  ‘cuz I don’t know about you, but having a supermodel giving out her number isn’t exactly a common occurrence. 🙂

Having breakfast for dinner with friends at the Blueberry Diner in Las Vegas. Life is Good.

It was a pleasure connecting with fabulous professionals and making some new friends this year:  Jane & Patrick Kelly from iDoAppointments, Keri Macana from TPC Las Vegas, Jennifer Fox from Perfect Planning, Gabrielle Lennartz from Black Swan, Charese Feliciano from CFD Floral, Chandra, Dawn and Bea from Mira Bridal Couture Christy Schimpf from Bride and Groom Planner, Barbie Howard from Rocky Mountain Bridal Show, Sheila Dunn from Wedding Guide Bridal Extravaganza, artist extraordinaire- Sam Day & my mate from New Zealand, Nick Logan.

Special thanks to Jodi Harris and her husband Pat, from Sight and Sound, for always making me feel so welcome when I’m in Vegas.  On the last night before returning home, they took me and my good friend, Ron Brown, to the Blueberry Hill Diner for what they said were the best pancakes in the country. I won’t argue that.  They were pretty awesome.  I’ll keep working out just so I can treat myself to meals like this every now and then.

See you next year!  -mp

The Knot Brings A Touch Of Elegance To The Palace At Somerset Park

I thought I was competitive…  Then I met Carley Roney, editor in chief and co-founder of The Knot and realized that I need to step up my game.  After proudly listing about 10 things that The Knot was #1 at during her brief presentation (like wedding websites & iPhone apps) etc., Carley proceeded to tell the packed room the only area  where The Knot is number #2 and  said, “this is the only thing we’re not number 1 at…. YET!”   Love it.  🙂

Michael & Lisa from A Touch of Elegance, Rachael & Heather from Glass Slipper, Carley Roney from The Knot, and Melissa Hylan from Invitation Bar

This competitive spirit is  part of the reason why out of the 45,000 weddings that are happening in NJ for 2010,  The Knot had 44,000 brides register with their network. The other 1000 are out of state brides getting married in NJ!   Even if your not a bride who is checking out the blog today…  as a business owner or entrepreneur, you have to respect and appreciate that impressive stat.  So whether you are a consumer or a professional, it’s no exaggeration that Carley and her team have a wedding planning resource and go-to bridal network for the industry that is second to none.

Last night, I was a guest of my good friend Alan Berg, Vice President of local client solutions for The Knot.   Both he and Carley were among the bridal-rockstars who were speaking last week at the Wedding MBA in Las Vegas.  The Knot hosted a comfortably-chic networking soiree  for some of NJ’s finest wedding professionals in the Palace at Somerset Park.

Among the notables were Lisa and Michael Plociniak from A Touch of Elegance who supplied the gorgeous decor and floral arrangements. I also reconnected with in-demand wedding planners, Kathi Evans, from All the Best and Rachael Citron & Heather Balczarek from Glass Slipper Weddings– who made it out to Vegas last week also.

A quick mention of photographer Jeff Tisman who Kathi introduced me to during the cocktail hour.  After a cool exchange about “putting your trust in the professionals you hire” he handed me one of his eye-catching over-sized business cards.

Jackie Marko ISES Pres., Altair Rasco ISES DAH, Marcello Pedalino & Christine Brower, ISES Pres. elect

I loved the photo he featured on the back-side.  Jeff said he was working with a stunning bride, Stephanie Sarmiento, in the city when they came across this construction site and decided to capture some images. I’ve seen a lot of great wedding photos in my career and you know from reading this blog that I get to work with some of the area’s finest… this shot makes my top ten list of all time. Joy, beauty and spontaneity. That’s what an artist can capture.  Great stuff.

The North Jersey Chapter of ISES was also represented by the lovely Jacqueline Marco, President, Christine Brower, President Elect and Altair Rasco, Director of Administrative History.  The chapter has a fantastic Halloween-themed event coming up on October 13th at the Lambert Castle called “Nightmare on Event Street.”   $35 for members and $45 for non members.

Kathi Evans, Marcello Pedalino, Rachael Citron, Alan Berg & Heather Balczarek

I chatted briefly with Christine and Jackie about possibly setting up an encore performance here in New Jersey of the Take Care Of Yourself seminar that Mike Walter and I presented last week at the Wedding MBA in Vegas. As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Not only was The Knot event a great networking opportunity and a fun-filled evening, I was also able to do a site survey at the venue for an upcoming Signature Event.

Pomptonian Food Services, in conjunction with the New Jersey School Board Association has contracted us to provide the entertainment, multi-media features and lightscaping for their convention gala on October 19th at the Palace.   It is sure to be an exceptional evening.

Special thanks to Carley, Alan and The Knot Team for their hospitality.  I’m looking forward to a future collaboration.   -mp

Jackpot: The Wedding MBA Sends Every Attendee Home from Las Vegas a Winner- Mike Walter & Marcello Pedalino Come Up Aces

Andy Ebon, The Wedding Marketing Authority, speaks to the capacity crowd of 1500 at The 2010 Wedding MBA Conference

It’s nice when something lives up to the hype.    I’ve been hearing about the Wedding MBA for a few years…  things like, “It’s THE convention to go to if you are a wedding professional,” and “the seminars are above and beyond what you’ll find at your typical wedding industry gathering,” and “hold on to your notebooks, laptops and iPadsyou’ll be taking lots of notes from some of the most successful special event gurus in the bridal business.”  The Wedding MBA delivered.

After 2 and 1/2 days of presentations from the likes of Sonny Ganguly & Tim Chi from Wedding Wire, Tammy Elliot & Susan Southerland from The Perfect Wedding Guide, Carly Roney and Alan Berg from The Knot, Julia Markel from the Association for Wedding Professionals International, Andy Ebon from The Wedding Marketing Network and Peter Merry, the author of The Best Wedding Reception Ever I’m exhausted and my brain hurts a little.

Mike Walter and Marcello Pedalino present “Take Care of Yourself” at the 2010 Wedding MBA Conference

There was barley enough time to squeeze in a few runs at sunrise and barely enough energy left over at night for some additional networking, but I’ve got at least 10 new ideas to share with our brides and 5 new concepts to implement into MMP’s 2011 business plan so it’s all good.   After speaking with many of the 1500 attendees, they all seemed to share the same sentiments.

Social Media was definitely the “it” phrase of the week.  You couldn’t go more than 15 minutes without hearing someone mention a possible tip or tweak for utilizing Facebook, Twitter, blogging or youtube marketing for SEO and staying connected to the e-universe we live in now. If you’d like to have your mind blown, check out this video clip that Sonny shared with the crowd about sixth sense technology.  We all had to pick our jaws up off of the floor.

from left: Wedding MBA Chancellor- Will Hegarty, The Knot’s Alan Berg and Marcello Pedalino

Another golden nugget was the universal message from The Knot’s editor in chief, Carly Roney.  She said that “many brides and grooms now value personal expression more than tradition.

The celebrate life team here at MMP Entertainment is happy to incorporate your unique personalities and preferences into your once-in-a-lifetime reception.

Speaking of personalities, you can visit Susan Sutherland’s bountiful site and discover her secret survey offering…  take this quiz and figure out what type of bride you are. It will help us enhance your wedding planning experience by understanding your planning personality. Susan was really dialed-in to the wedding industry and offered valuable insight into the psychology of  today’s bride.

from left: Marcello Pedalino, Author of the Best Wedding Reception Ever- Peter Merry, & Wed Guild members- Shawn Whittemore and Liz Daley

The convention rock stars were hard to miss as they each made several guest appearances and gave multiple seminars. Andy, Alan, Sonny and Peter always had a crowd around them in the halls asking for additional advice, photos for their wall and autographs of their books.

I was very happy to see that all of my friend’s and colleague’s  hard work and dedication to their craft was being recognized.

I’m also happy to report that our presentation, “Take Care Of Yourself,” was very well received . Mike Walter and I, as the new kids on the block at this gathering, spoke about the importance of a Health and Wellness program for the 21st century entrepreneur.

Peter Merry taking photos with his fans and signing copies of his new book, The Best Wedding Reception Ever.

We shared our philosophies and offered solutions on common personal and professional challenges like time management, prioritization, diet, exercise, dolce far niente and overall life balance.  In essence, if you take better care of yourself, you can take better care of your clients.  And if you take better care of your team, you’ll be taking better care of your bottom line.

Special thanks to Dr. Drax from the ADJA for the sponsorship and support, to Will & Patti Hegarty and Shannon Underwood from the Wedding Merchants Business Academy for producing  such a monumental event, to Ron Brown for his production assistance, to Sonny Gallardo for transportation, and to Liz Daley, for sharing a few of her photos for this entry.

:)... a quick mention to a few of the several hundred new friends and wedding professionals  that I met while attending the WMBA…

Mike Walter and Marcello Pedalino

Jean-Loup Bitterlin from Casa De Los Siete Patios in Mexico, Rachael Citron and Heather Balczarek from Glass Slipper Weddings in New Jersey, Jose Betancourt Jr. from Junior’s Band Orchestra in Florida, Olga Goddard from My Favorite Flowers in Utah, Carmen Hocking from A Beautiful Wedding in Kansas, Marc Conneely from Wedding TV in London, Kathi Evans from All The Best Celebrations in New Jersey,  Jody and Tammy Maxx from Music to the Maxx in Texas,  Patrick Kelly from I Do Appointments in Oklahoma, Ali Berberich from The Blue Angel Cafe in California, Eric Goldschmidt from Eventurous in Ohio, Doug Rice from Bridalicious in Texas and Pete Miller from Speaker Coachwho came all the way from Australia!!!

The 2010 Wedding MBA Conference In Las Vegas Confirms Mike Walter and Marcello Pedalino to Join the All Star Line Up of Featured Speakers: 9/20 – 9/23

By:  the MMP Wire Staff —  Las Vegas Convention Center, Nevada

The logistics have been worked out and the scheduling details have been finalized, Mike Walter and Marcello Pedalino have been added to the list of notable industry presenters at the Wedding MBA for Wednesday, September 22, at 4pm.

The 7th Annual Wedding Merchants Business Academy Conference will feature 3 days of presentations from well known bridal-biz superstars like Timothy Chi from WeddingWire.com, David Katz from Conde Nast, Amy Wilkens from Martha Stewart Weddings, Alan Berg from the Knot, Andy Ebon from the Wedding Marketing Network and Peter Merry, author of the Best Wedding Reception Ever.

Walter and Pedalino’s seminar, “It’s All About You!… SeriouslyHow To Take Better Care of Yourself So You Can Take Better Care of Your Bride,” will focus on the benefits of health and wellness as a peak performer and a wedding professional.

Like the other presenters at the Wedding MBA, Mike and Marcello will share some of their secrets to success as well as some underestimated lifestyle habits that are paramount for longevity in the special events industry.

Special thanks to the ADJA for the national endorsement and continued support.

If you will be attending the conference but haven’t signed up yet, the Wedding MBA has offered all of MMP’s loyal readers a $100 discount on their registration fee.

Marcello Chats with Alan Berg from The Knot and The Wedding Channel: Aspirational

Marcello with Alan Berg from The Knot Wedding Network

Tonight, I had the pleasure of meeting with Alan Berg, Vice President of Local Client Solutions for the Knot Wedding Network.  He was the keynote speaker at a conference for tri-state wedding professionals held in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Alan was referred to me by my friend, Andy Ebon, The Wedding Marketing Authority.  Like  Andy, Alan is totally dialed in to the thought process and preferences of the 21rst century bride. His company, The Knot, is the go-to source for top publications and TV shows like Vogue, CNN, TIME, Live with Regis & Kelly, and Good Morning America.

In addition to some very useful ceremony and reception planning information which I’ll be able to share with all of MMP’s upcoming brides, I also learned a cool new word…”aspirational” …   Influential motivation via visualization. Look for it in the next edition of Webster’s dictionary and Wikipedia.

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