You know what’s fun? Attending a party thrown by people whose entire job is throwing good parties.

Wednesday night was the second annual Event Professional Industry Class Awards, the joint effort of the Greater Detroit Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events, the International Special Events Society Metro Detroit Chapter and the Association of Bridal Consultants.

The awards, according to the invitation, "recognize outstanding examples of quality and creativity in Michigan's event industry and demonstrate how working together for a common good can promote excellence in event design, planning and production." The three groups, by working collaboratively, are helping to standardize excellence in the planning industry.

Below is the full list of winners, helpfully provided to me by Keri Dinica, events manager at FordDirect and president of the NACE chapter.

But back to the party. Nearly a couple hundred of the industry’s most committed professionals gathered at The Henry Ford for a reception and sit-down dinner. The food was delicious and the staff extremely helpful (I say this as someone who walked into the building wearing high-heeled boots while lugging dozens of copies of the magazine for distribution. I definitely depended on the kindness of strangers, and The Henry Ford’s staff couldn’t have been more obliging.)

Mike Staff Production’s Kurt Colone emcee’d the event with his usual warmth and affability (when he wasn’t winning an award for Event Professional of the Year.) Bill Hamilton, winner of two awards, brought his partner, his humor and, of course, his eye-catching pants. I met Dale Morgan of Blossoms when he swooped me into a ballroom dance on my way back from the restroom.

In other words, it was a fun night. But it was also meaningful and inspiring. The events industry is clearly full of hardworking, dedicated and visionary people who give a lot of their time to help others. It’s a group with a future that I look forward to watching.

And congratulations to the winners!


Award for: Best Team Effort
TwoFoot Creative
Bill Hamilton Designs
Gourmet Invitations
Chair Covers and Linens
The Lighting Guy
Mike Staff Productions
Epic Motion
Event: Glitz & Glamour

Award for: Best Wedding: Event Budget over $20k
Name: Mark Ephraim
Company: Top That! Event
Event: Winter Wonderland Wedding

Award for: Best Wedding: Event Budget under $20k
Name: Jessica Clum
Company: Crystal Gardens Banquet Center
Event: A Walk in the Garden

Award for: Best Social Event (Non Wedding): Event Budget over $10k
Name: Todd Lloyd
Company: Top That! Event
Event: Volkswagen Holiday Party

Award for: Best Social Event (Non Wedding): Event Budget under $10k
Name: Elizabeth Gray
Company: Royal Park Hotel
Event: She Found Her Main Squeeze - Jennifer's Bridal Shower

Award for: Best Themed Event Décor
Name: Kimberly Reynolds
Company: The Lighting Guy
Event: The Summoning

Award for: Best Tabletop Design
Name: Bill Hamilton
Company: Bill Hamilton Designs
Event: Peacock Wedding

Award for: Best Catered Event
Name: Elizabeth Gray
Company: Royal Park Hotel
Event: Cirque de Bebe - Sarvy's Baby Shower

Award for: Best Cake Presentation
Name: Debra Meyers
Company: Sweet and Savory Bake Shop
Event: Cameron's First Birthday Party

Award for: Best Technical Production
Name: Todd Lloyd
Company: Top That! Event
Event: Defiance, Ohio, Presidential Rally

Award for: Caterer of the Year
Name: Joe Thomas
Company: Crystal Gardens Banquet Center

Award for: Event Professional of the Year
Name: Kurt Colone
Company: Mike Staff Productions

Award for: Michael Havens Award
Name: Jessica Clum
Company: Crystal Gardens Banquet Center

Award for: Rising Star Award
Name: Kathryn Douglas
Company: Ferris State University NACE Student Chapter


Alexa Stanard
Michigan Meetings + Events

“Cannabis can have a presence in the dinner entrées and the desserts at an event. One of our panel experts from the event, Chef Sunflower [aka Enid Parham], plans the meals with ‘microdoses’ of cannabis so there is not too much consumed at one time,” says Connie Seibt, event manager and vice president of programs and education, ILEA Detroit. “It should be planned ahead for the type of cannabis to infuse in the foods, i.e. providing a relaxing mood versus high energy.


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