2014 ISES Minnesota Star Awards

2014 ISES Minnesota Star Awards

The International Special Events Society’s Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter announces its 2014 award-winning events.

Each fall, the International Special Events Society (ISES), Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter, seeks entries for its Minnesota Star Awards. Submissions are accepted from anyone who plans or produces events or who supplies the Minnesota special events industry. Categories focus on event planning, design, installations, food and event services. The ISES Team Effort category is the only category where entrants must be ISES members.

Members of ISES chapters in Rhode Island and Austin, Texas, judged the qualifying entrants. The three entries with the highest scores become the nominees, and the top score wins the category.

Below, Twin Cities Business highlights the winning events. Read on to learn whose menu was the most innovative, whose event logistics went off without a hitch, and more, at events that were the toast of town.

Best Menu Innovation, Best Off-Premise Catered Event

Around the World in Eight Courses
Elizabeth Hinke, Mintahoe Catering & Events

When two foodies tie the knot, the catering takes center stage. At this event, an entirely customized eight-course meal paired with the newlyweds’ favorite vintage wines was presented. Set in a historic mansion, the culinary journey took guests globe-hopping throughout the venue, with items such as ahi tuna rolled in five spices, balsamic-glazed portobello bites, and rosemary and garlic marinated lamb chops. Wines included Steininger zweigelt, Barraud Pouilly-Fumé, and Martin Ray cabernet.

Other nominees:
Best Menu Innovation: “Stem to Root: A Menu and a Movement,” Christie Altendorf, Bon Appetit Management Company. “Holiday Festival,” Courtney Curry, Premier Catering Best Off-Premise Catered Event: “Minnesota Monthly Best of the Twin Cities Party,” Michael Meyer, MHC Culinary Group


Best Use of Floral

Tubman Night in Bloom
Pete Nelson, Event Lab

At the Tubman Center gala, 38 unique table centerpieces represented the diversity of women and children that the Tubman Center helps every day. Raspberry and lime-green linens highlighted the organization’s logo. While dendrobium orchids, stargazer lilies, roses, snapdragons and a wide variety of accent greens provided the basis for distinctive arrangements that symbolized the different families served. At the entrance, a 40-foot table displayed 1,500 votive candles to represent a woman or child who will stay in one of the shelters. A mock shelter was constructed to give attendees perspective on the challenges faced by people in vulnerable demographic groups.

Other nominees:
“Gatsby’s Greenhouse,” Summer DeMers, Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry


Best Photography – Wedding

Le Wedding
Katrina Hannemann, Studio Laguna Photography

Holding both Vietnamese- and Western-style wedding ceremonies presented challenges and opportunities for this photographer. Juxtaposing the contrasting themes meant getting creative to provide lively and dynamic portraits that told a single cohesive story. The overarching element in the three ceremonies was water, with tones of blue throughout the floral arrangements and décor; the bride and groom even arrived to the outdoor ceremony in canoes. When water wasn’t available, the photographer
used glass and reflections to capture the ambience.

Other nominees:
“Molly and Mike,” Laurie Falk, Lauren B Photography


Best Tabletop Design

Gatsby’s Greenhouse
Gretchen Culver, Rocket Science Weddings & Events, and Summer DeMers, Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry

Tablescapes inspired by the extravagant art deco parties described in The Great Gatsby were designed for this wedding. The bride, a florist herself, gave only the color scheme (neutral metallics) for direction. Square and oval dining tables were set with muted gold floor-length linens, mahogany chiavari chairs and a variety of tabletop accents such as vintage birdcages, copper pots and gold-painted sword ferns. The head table was decked out with dark copper linens and gold chiavari chairs. Flowers included astilbe, Sahara roses, amaranthus and copper cymbidium orchids. Vintage-inspired custom-made place cards and menus printed with deco-inspired typography tied the scene together.

Other nominees:
“Curtain Call Ball,” Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents; Jean Cowles, Violet’s Flowers; Chris Swarbrick, Ice Occasions


Best Event Design & Décor (Under $25,000)

Hilton Renovation
Event Lab

On a budget, the clients wanted to wow attendees at the unveiling of the Hilton Minneapolis room renovations. Lights cast a fuchsia glow over the event to highlight the main accent color of the new rooms. Instead of traditional hotel ballroom furnishings and decorations, metallic cocktail tables, long wooden pub tables and white lounge furniture with silver, textured pillows were used. Floral arrangements accented the 32-foot black bar and the individual food stations.

Other nominees:
“Winter Nouveau,” Gretchen Culver, Rocket Science Weddings & Events; Katiee Wandmacher, Apres Party & Tent Rental; and Jessica Barrett, Aria. “A Hamptons White Party in Minnesota,” Katie Lenz, Festivities. “Corporate Reception,” Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents


Best Event Logistics

Randy to the Rescue
The Wedding Guys; Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents

When TLC’s hit show Say Yes to the Dress hit the road to bring the dresses to the brides, it presented distinct logistical challenges. Building, tearing down and moving an entire set while keeping 200 couture wedding dresses in pristine condition, plus accommodating a TV crew, kept the company busy. The company also provided pre-event registration support, on-site support, inventory management and problem-solving on the fly.

Other nominees:
“Cultural Music Fair,” Colleen Healy, Irish Fair of Minnesota. “Frozen Lake Golf,” Dawn Westermann, Ultimate Events


Best Event Design and Décor (Over $25,000); Best Nonprofit Event

Dawn of a Dream: Bringing Life to Dreams
Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents, Chris Swarbrick, Ice Occasions; Summer DeMers, Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry; Emily Corson, Children’s Cancer Research Fund

In shades of blue and pops of orange, this gala event took guests to a dream world. Mirror-tile curtains and chandeliers provided starlight while 86 ice sculptures decorated the dining tables. Posters of pediatric cancer survivors in costumes showing what they dream of becoming when they grow up offered inspiration and optimism. Two aerialists performed before the main program and during interludes. A professional choir sang a gospel rendition of “Clouds.” The pre-dinner area was completely revamped to become a nightclub setting for the after-party. The event exceeded its fundraising goal thanks to contributions from 860 guests.

Other nominees:
Best Event Design and Décor (Over $25,000):“Curtain Call Ball,” Children’s Theatre Company and Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents. “A New York City Feel on New Year’s Eve,” Debbie Seabloom, Festivities; and Jennifer Christianson, Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel Best Nonprofit Event: “Curtain Call Ball,” Children’s Theatre Company and Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents. “Star Gala,” Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota; Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents


Best Specialty Item

Beet This!
Dawn Dacut Crawford, Bon Appetit, and Justin Graddy, Graddy Photography

Looking to reimagine the Japanese tasting spoon using contemporary food trends, this fundraiser highlighted locally sourced, health-conscious hors d’oeuvres. The main ingredients were beets, blood oranges, pistachios and goat cheese assembled on a porcelain spoon. The beets were slow-roasted, caramelized and tossed with a balsamic blend.


Best Photography – Non-Wedding

Unveiled: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Event
Katrina Hannemann, Studio Laguna Photography

Up-and-coming wedding trends were presented at the high-end fair, providing a bevy of eye-catching subjects for the event photographer. Documenting everything from wide-angle crowds to one-to-one exchanges to booth displays and fashion shows, the photographer had to keep in mind the client’s marketing platform, which used circular templates. The photographer also was conscious of including event sponsors through the detailed and artistic framing of sponsor products.


Best Wedding (Under $50,000)

The Kiss!
Gretchen Culver, Rocket Science Weddings & Events

The wedding ceremony chapel was far from the reception sites, so the event planner suggested making the wedding a two-night affair. On the first night, a small gathering of family members watched the bride and groom tie the knot in a cemetery chapel. A formal dinner followed the ceremony. On the second night, the party really began. A mosaic theme ran throughout both nights, a nod to the bride’s favorite painting, Klimt’s The Kiss. Another challenge was the bride’s dietary restrictions—the event planner had to find a food vendor with completely gluten-free menu items that were cooked separately from its typical offerings. Cocktail tables and hors d’oeuvres on the go encouraged guests to move around the ballroom to mingle and dance. A photo booth with fun props added levity to the celebration.


Best Social Event

20th Anniversary
Dawn Henriksen, Details Event Planning + Design; Jennifer Warner, Event Lab

The client was celebrating the 20th anniversary of owning a country club, and through some happy coincidences (including birthstones and favorite songs), the theme emerged: The Wizard of Oz. Actors portrayed Dorothy, the scarecrow, and the wizard at the valet area, where they welcomed guests to the event. Guests proceeded on their own journey through Oz with a 6-foot tornado, a decal yellow-brick road, a poppy tunnel and a stage that replicated the porch of Dorothy’s house, complete with two ruby-slippered feet. Centerpieces were wicker picnic baskets with plush Totos peeking out.


Best Marketing/Graphic Design; Best ISES Team Event

Twin Cities Bridal Show – the Wedding Dream Expo
The Wedding Guys; Matthew Trettel, the Wedding Guys; Laurie Falk, Lauren B Photography; Ryan Hanson, BeEvents; Sheree Bochenek, Apres Party Rental; Jane Klein, Big Ink; Joel Schetter, Green Spring Media; Ryan Daniel, Zandolee Media; Andrew Meyer, Midway Party Rental; David Baer, Level 11; Elizabeth Wright, Avant Decor

It was a total team effort to bring together this huge wedding expo. Preparations and marketing began long before the fair opened, with billboards, radio and TV spots, and a special section in a local lifestyle magazine. Consistent branding through all the different media types was achieved through color matching and typography. The event brought together planners, rental providers and photographers. Each facet worked smoothly with the other throughout the multi-pronged expo, from fashion show runways to a café to the “Club Groom,” a sleek bar geared toward grooms-to-be.

Other nominees:
Best Marketing/Graphic Design: “Spotlighting Success with Old Holly- wood Glam,” Liam McMonagle, Type A Events. “Irish Pink Wedding Suite,” Gretchen Berry, Gretchen Berry Design Co. Best ISES Team Event: “SOAR,” Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Ultimate Events, Eurest Dining Services, Ziegler, Event Lab, Biff’s, AVEX


Best Event Filmmaking

Lake Superior Barn Wedding
Christopher Martin, Sky Focus Films

In Super 8 stylized vignettes and rustic, low-saturated frames, the filmmakers captured this wedding on the shores of Lake Superior. Nature was a focus of the film—long shots through tall grass, sunlight reflecting off the waves, driftwood and wildflowers as decorations. The clients gave the filmmaker full access to the family gathering. High winds, high temperatures and moving pieces couldn’t prevent the film from capturing the couple’s big day.

Other nominees:
“Stephanie and Gabe Kern’s Wedding,” Robert Kopp, Play Story + Film. “Twin Cities Bridal Show,” the Wedding Guys; Ryan Daniel, Zandolee Media.


Best Event Rentals (Non-Tenting)

Eat Big Give Big Texas BBQ
Dawn Westermann, Ultimate Events; Michelle Veverka, Rudy’s Event Rentals

The rental team provided and built a vintage barn setting for Eat Big Give Big Texas BBQ, a fundraiser for at-risk youth presented by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s All Day Foundation. Rentals included both aesthetic and practical pieces, from large rustic wood tables to white stanchions that mimicked a picket fence, as well as over 1,000 mason and jelly jars.


Best Tent Installation

Top-Notch Tenting
Tim Smith and Colin Ericson, Ultimate Events

Dealing with variable temperatures and a less-than-ideal setting, the rental company provided tenting as well as food prep equipment, event furniture, linens and skirting for a high-end VIP area, providing pre-event hospitality. Keeping guests comfortable was the No. 1 priority, whether it was hot or cold outside.


Best Technical Production

Thrivent Financial Virtual National Sales Meeting
Steph Pfeilsticker, Thrivent Financial

Thrivent wanted to include more of its sales staff in its annual meeting but recognized that not everyone could travel to attend the three-day event in person. So they came up with the idea of digitally broadcasting the entire thing. Treating the meeting like a major sporting event with multiple viewing rooms, Thrivent utilized a virtual platform and streaming system, video production, A/V producers, a studio floor manager and a virtual MC.

Other nominees:
“Twin Cities Bridal Show,” the Wedding Guys. “C3 2013,” Tim McVean, AVEX.


Best Entertainment Production

Late Show 2013 Annual Dinner
Frank and Jane Steck, Spotlight Corporate Entertainment

An invitation-only event with high-profile guests and speakers, it was important for everything to go off without a hitch. The Late Show concept facilitated natural transitions and impeccable timing for speakers and video presentations—including a video featuring the real Late Show host David Letterman. All the while a house band performed, with songs during intervals, as well as background music for changeovers.

Other nominees:
“Curtain Call Ball,” Children’s Theatre Company; Ryan Hanson CSEP, BeEvents; Michael Ferrell


Best Corporate Event

Vintage Carnival
Lauren Segelbaum, Event Lab

Fire dancers and stilt walkers greeted guests as they arrived at this big-top event. With a palette of red, white and Tiffany blue, the designers created a vintage carnival setting for the client at a local circus school. Entertainers performed between meal courses. Centerpieces included vintage Cracker Jack boxes, silver miniature Ferris wheels with carnations and tea lights, peanuts, lilies and popcorn boxes. Appetizers included beef sliders and mini hot dogs, paired with a specialty drink garnished with a circus peanut. A bonus feature was the candy bar, stocked with red, white and blue candies in vintage glass containers. Guests filled treat bags before departing.

Other nominees:
“Thrivent Financial Virtual National Sales Meeting,” Steph Pfeilsticker, Thrivent Financial. “Late Show 2013 Annual Dinner,” Frank and Jane Steck, Spotlight Corporate Entertainment


Best Public Event

Irish Music Fair
Colleen Healy, Irish Fair of Minnesota

With multiple stages and simultaneous performances on Harriet Island, the Irish Fair of Minnesota had something for everyone. Visitors could learn to dance to traditional music in the social dance tent or take in a set from international superstars on the main River Stage. This free event required a small army of volunteers to manage the cultural activities, sports, competitions, food vendors and a marketplace. About 100,000 people are estimated to have attended, making Minnesota’s the largest
free Irish fair in the nation.

Other nominees:
“Twin Cities Bridal Show,” The Wedding Guys


Best Wedding (Over $50,000)

Modern Glamour
Gretchen Culver, Rocket Science Weddings & Events

Combining the bride’s love of Cinderella and a taste for classic mid-century style à la Mad Men, this unique wedding’s concept was called “Modern Glamour.” Held at sunset per Jewish tradition, the ceremony took place by candlelight and included an aisle with hundreds of hanging votive candles that alluded to magic fairy dust. Food featured ’50s standards such as deviled eggs, martinis, popovers and mini malts. Though guests continued to celebrate well into the night, the bride and
groom departed at midnight to live happily ever after.

Other nominees:
“Savannah Wedding,” Becky Harris, Event Lab. “A Wedding’s Tribute to Traditions,” Amy Rubins, Fete Perfection