Way down yonder in New Orleans …

  1. Sucré bakery's witty “Origami“ cake is a treat at the Wedding Luncheon.

  2. Dramatic decor delights at the Gala Celebration.

  3. The train from a performer's red gown serves as the red carpet at the Gala Awards.

  4. Michael Kloss of Emory University addresses the Academic Event Professional conference, which accompanies The Special Event. (Photo by Bob Almond)

  5. The “meadows” area at the Wedding Luncheon features tulips held in place with hydrangeas, creating eco-friendly arrangements.

  6. Hands-on-Hundred volunteers get ready to get involved in the major events.

  7. Trio Bella Rouge delights show-goers on the exhibit floor Performance Stage.

A GREAT START

The Opening General Session comes complete with an only-in-New Orleans brass band, while the TSE Starts Here party gets guests grooving at Generations Hall.

1: Show Ambassadors David Spear, CSEP, and Kellie Mathas, CSEP, CMP, kick off the Opening General Session. 2: Conference manager Tara Melingonis (in glasses) leads a high-stepping “second line.” 3: Special Events group publisher Melissa Fromento welcomes guests. 4, 7: Hot spot Generations Hall cooks up fun at the TSE Starts Here bash. 5, 6: The band cooks, too, as guests toast the event.

WEDDING LUNCH & GALLERY

Guests fall in love with dramatic displays of wedding design inspiration.

1: In the Wedding Gallery area, Master Bridal Consultant Frank Andonoplas of Chicago offers his interpretation of the theme “metal,” with elegant silver accents. 2: For the “paper” theme, Washington-based Janet Flowers dreams up paper tables, chairs and floral. 3: San Francisco-based Sasha Souza gives her “wood” theme a rustic yet rich turn. 4: Event chairs James Clawson of Urban Earth Design Studios and Sarah Hall of Joel Catering and Event Planning (far right) visit with guests. 5: The ballroom keys on a natural theme, including the “river” VIP tables, featuring cascading floral. 6: The “woodlands” area mixes succulents with red dogwood. 7: Sucré bakery offers up a cheeky “Limey” wedding cake. 8: Guests at the “meadows” tables take it all in.

EXCELLENT EDUCATION

As part of its longstanding commitment to education, The Special Event brings the best minds in the business together for fun and inspiration.

1, 3: At the annual Master's Brunch, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO J. Stephen Perry accepts the Steve Kemble Leadership Award as Kristin Shannon, executive director of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, looks on. The Intercontinental Hotel New Orleans offers a Louisiana Seafood Napoleon and elegant dessert array. 2, 4: Conference attendees drink in classes ranging from management tips to menu development to design secrets. 5: Event expert Michael Cerbelli and two beautiful friends demonstrate the newest event options at the annual “Hot Event and Entertainment Ideas” session. 6: Special Events editor Lisa Hurley shares a smile with Brent Patterson of Marianne's Rentals for Special Events, Oklahoma City, Okla., at the Master's Brunch.

WELCOME EVENT

With fabulous food from NACE member caterers and the magic of Mardi Gras World East, the Welcome Event makes the good times roll.

1: Mardi Gras World East — where actual Mardi Gras floats are created — becomes the personal playground for guests at the Welcome Event, co-sponsored by NACE. 2: Party guests have no trouble getting into the proper spirit. 3: NACE caterers dish up their delicacies for nearly 1,000 guests. 4: The evening ends with a fireworks spectacle custom-created for event-goers.

SEARCH FUNDRAISER

Special event professionals do good while having fun at the SEARCH fundraiser, collecting donations for event industry members in need.

1: Venue Bourbon Vieux provides the perfect place for guests to party with a purpose. 2: Larry Green, former SEARCH chairman, oversees the auction; all told, the event raised more than $112,000. 3: Delicious desserts keep guests fueled for fun.

THE SHOW FLOOR

With its enticing exhibits, dramatic displays and even a live Performance Stage, the show floor simply floors attendees.

1: The leader of the band poses for a photo with a show-goer. 2: The staff at the Bedazzle My Bonbons booth shows how sweet life can be. 3: There's always something new to discover in the booths at The Special Event. This year's “Best Booth” awards went to Jet Fresh (Best 10×10); Saro Trading (Best Large Booth); Decorative Novelty (Best Multi); Dazian (Best Overall Appearance); Fortune Products (Best Display of Product); and Airstar America (Best Customer Service).

GALA AWARDS

The show closes with a glamorous, glorious evening — the Gala Awards, honoring great events from throughout the world.

1: Exhibit sales manager Wanda McKnight (far right) presents the Gala trophy to Dublin-based Euro Events, winner in the category Best Event Produced for a Corporation: Overall Budget $250,000 to $500,000. 2: Lena Malouf, based in Sydney, displays her Gala Award for Lifetime Achievement. 3: The talented duo from Pendulum Entertainment dazzles guests. 4: The USA Hosts team transforms a ballroom at the Morial Convention Center into a stunning setting for the Gala Celebration.

GALA CELEBRATION

Accompanying a delicious dinner is a superb slate of entertainment, from a heartfelt tribute to New Orleans' indomitable spirit to high-style showgirls.

1: Kappa Alpha Psi performers rock the house with their “cane stepping” routine. 2: The New Orleans Hornets Honeybees cavort amid confetti cannon blasts. 3: Guests share the evening's high spirits.

A SALUTE TO OUR SPONSORS