The CSE Experience

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Last week, I wrote about the importance of selecting the marketing mediums that are most effective for you and your business.  The overall message communicated that marketing a small business requires the proactive efforts of the advertiser along-side your chosen marketing partner(s) (publisher, blogger, producer, etc.).

At PARAS Events, the Canadian Special Events Expo (CSE) has been integral to the growth of our business and demonstrates the importance of collaborating with your marketing and advertising partners.  Inspired by the words of Benjamin Franklin above, being involved is the key to success in any strategy.

Today, I would like to share why the Canadian Special Events Expo has been beneficial to our business and why our firms proactive marketing efforts in tandem with the show producers fueled the growth of our company and my own personal growth as an event professional.

1) Platform to demonstrate your potential.  CSE is one of the first trade shows I ever exhibited in back when I was 23 years old.  I was the ‘newbie’ in a sea of seasoned professionals.  I was very intimidated by this as I felt it was important that I held my own amongst all of my peers.  I worked very hard on my design work but feared that I would not be able to ‘compete’ on the same level as the other participating designers.  Personally, I had a lot to prove.  I had just left school and this was my ’first’ opportunity to make my mark.  CSE allowed me to demonstrate my potential as a designer and introduce my design aesthetic to the industry.  It allowed me to develop my signature as a designer and figure out where I ‘fit in’ (or as I learned a few years later, how I would ‘stand out’).

2) Propelled my event business.  I originally participated in CSE with the intent to generate sales, but I quickly learned that CSE was going to be a marketing medium that would allow me to increase awareness of our business through strategic industry partnerships.  CSE is where I learned about ‘co-opetion’ from my colleague, Ken Kristoffersen of POP Kollaborative.  Part of my growth in this industry has come from the understanding that you cannot merely ‘compete’ with your peers -you must collaborate to collectively elevate our profession through increased value, depth of creative thought, and higher standards of production.  CSE allows you to learn from top wedding professionals and thought-leaders from around the world and forces you to evaluate your own business, its operations, and strategies.

3)  Friendship.  I have made so many of my long-standing friendships with those I met at CSE over the years.  Not only do I work with them on a continual basis, but they now represent my close inner circle of individuals that ‘lift me higher’ with their positivity, collaborative nature, and support.  We work on events together, support each other in the ‘ups and downs’ of being an event professional and navigating the work/life balance that so many of us strive for.  Many of us have ‘grown-up’ in the industry and it has been a privilege to be apart of so many amazing journey’s.

4) Networking.  This is perhaps the greatest benefit of being involved with the Canadian Special Events Expo.  CSE is an opportunity to learn from other event professionals and ignite a dialogue with many of your mentors.  There is no other Special Events conference in Canada that provides the same access to the diverse group of event professionals in attendance at CSE and all of its social events, educational seminars, and the trade show floor.  This is a great opportunity to learn from the best.  My business has been shaped by the many insights shared at CSE over the years.

5)  Star Awards.  Our firm was nominated for our first Star Award in 2004.  I was 23 years old and was beyond thrilled to hear of the great news.  The nomination gave me confidence, validated my swift career change, and positioned me as a serious design professional.  More importantly, the nomination gave me a sense of belonging to the industry I was growing into.  My parents came with me to my first gala and we sat with the ISES Toronto team.  That night, upon hearing we had won, I was overjoyed, but equally nervous.  I completely froze (and was somewhat star-struck by Jocelyn Flanagan of E=MC2 Events who presented the award to me) during my acceptance speech and don’t even remember what I said.  That night, I became one of the youngest recipients of a Star Award.  The Star Awards gala is an opportunity to celebrate with those who do the same, but also an night to celebrate the accomplishments of so many leading event professionals who are committed to their craft and elevating the profession.

The Canadian Special Events Expo continues to be a highlight for the Canadian Special Events Industry annually.  PARAS Events has been continually involved in different capacities throughout the years and the show has personally been an influential part of the event professional I have become today.  I am feeling a little nostalgic as I write this post today.  So many friendships made, so many lessons learned, numerous design challenges and exhibit designs, and lot’s of fun parties over the last eight years.  I cannot forget to send a big thank you to Mark and Stacy for their continued support and helping my inner light to shine.

I am looking forward to another amazing week at Canadian Special Events Expo 2014!  See you there!


PS -I will be speaking at the conference this year on ‘Igniting the Creative Process’.

Weekend in the Hamptons

I can’t help but hold onto summer for a just a little while longer!

Check out our latest feature in Lavish Dulhan Magazine (on newsstands now) entitled ‘Weekend in the Hamptons’.  A beautiful collaboration with very talented industry professionals.

The design and decor of this stylized shoot reflects casual elegance at its finest.  The theme of relaxed luxury is communicated through the use of decorative ‘objets’ amongst bountiful fruit and floral compositions.  Timeless blue and white ceramic dinnerware evoke a sense of nostalgia and restrained elegance.  Wooden furnishings provide warmth to the overall design scheme.

Relaxed summers by the beach provide the perfect inspiration for this stylized shoot.

I hope you enjoy this shoot as much as we did creating it!

The Dream Team

Produced/Styled: Arora Wedding & Event Planning / Photography: Verve Photo Co. / Design, Décor, Florals & Styling: PARAS Events / Make-Up, Hair & Styling: Amplified Soul-MakeUp+Hair Couture / Fashion: CTC West / Cakescape/Sweet Table: Fine Cakes by Zehra / Stationery: Love, Paper & Ink-Fine Bespoke Stationery / Fascinator: Blair Nadeau Millinery

Anokhi Daily Spotlight

I am pleased to share that our current feature on Anokhi Daily Spotlight TV is now available online!  The full segment is available at

Tune in for a sneak peek of my upcoming book ‘Inspired Celebrations At Home’ and learn about my three key tips when designing a tablescape when entertaining at home.



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