Welcome to Special Events Oklahoma Expert's Corner. Meet Who's Who in Oklahoma to provide you with tips in planning your next event. This is your opportunity to comment, ask questions, and receive free advice while networking with experts in Oklahoma. Be sure to check back monthly for the latest featured guests.
  1. The Travel Specialists

    May 1, 2012 by Bonnie Hedges

    There are almost as many travel agencies as there are reasons to travel. So, how do you know which is best for corporate, vacation, cruise or group travel?  Easy! Just choose the one agency that has the experience and specialized departments for them all!  Hello, my name is Bonnie Hedges, Certified Travel Consultant and Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Travel Leaders – Bentley Hedges Travel.   I married Bentley Hedges and joined him and his daughter in the business in 1999.  Previously, I had worked in Las Vegas as the Director and General Manager for a large travel agency, where I gained a great deal of experience in government,, cruises, tours and luxury travel with emphasis on group and corporate incentive travel.  Travel Leaders – Bentley Hedges Travel is a 40-year, full service agency with specialized departments in all the major areas of travel.  Each department agent has exceptional qualifications and credentials, detailed training experience, as well as extensive study in his or her area of expertise.   We actually send our agents to destinations so that they experience first-hand what our travelers can expect.  Our corporate and business agent helps corporate travelers find the airline with the most applicable benefits – the perks and best value.  After our agent is given a company’s travel policies, we determine the preferred vendors for air, hotel and ground travel.  Bentley Hedges also has a department that exclusively arranges weddings and honeymoons in Mexico (Cancun Rivera Maya), Jamaica, the Caribbean, Las Vegas, New York, Florida – romantic destinations all over the World.   We are aware of the all-inclusive options available, as well as the legalities of getting married in a particular country.  Couples can relax and enjoy themselves knowing that Bentley Hedges takes care of everything – the wedding, honeymoon, documentation and arrangements for the entire wedding party.  Groups and Incentive travel at Bentley Hedges is one of my specialties.  I arrange out-of-city and out-of-state meetings just about anywhere.  I coordinate every aspect of the meeting – air and land transpiration, hotel and meeting space accommodations, meals and audio/visual equipment.  Cruise meetings are becoming more and more popular as companies realize the advantages of having all their associates gather as a captive audience in one exciting and rewarding location.  Cruise meetings are often the best value, since lodging, entertainment, meeting space and meals are offered on an all-inclusive basis.                                      No matter what your reason for travel might be, choose your travel agent as you would interview and hire any other professional.  When you base your decision on expertise, experience and reputation, you’ll find as travelers have for more than 40 years, that Travel Leaders – Bentley Hedges Travel is the one to trust for a rewarding, long-term relationship.   Bonnie Hedges, CTC Vice President Sales and Marketing Travel Leaders – Bentley Hedges Travel 10011 South Pennsylvania Building H Oklahoma City, OK 73159 Vacations@bhtravel.com

  2. Mind Your Manners

    by Carey Sue Vega

    Have you ever found yourself at a formal social or business event and not really sure which fork is which, what was the right thing to wear, or even if it was okay to bring a guest with you? There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable. Proper etiquette is a tool anyone can and should learn….even young children.

    Hello, my name is Carey Sue Vega, and I’m an Etiquette Expert. After receiving my degree in Recreation from OSU (yes, there really is such a degree), I worked for a major cruise line as Youth Coordinator and then Cruise Director. As the host for Captain’s parties and VIP events, I realized that many of the passengers were not familiar with proper etiquette in a formal social setting. After all, few people sit down to a formal dinner on a regular basis. I realized that I could help educate people on etiquette, so that they feel more comfortable in a formal setting.

    As an Etiquette Expert, I offer a series of classes at various venues in Oklahoma City and Edmond for children (fifth grade through high school), college students and adults.

    Students learn proper posture, eye contact, how to shake hands and make proper introductions, among other topics. The younger students have challenge assignments they take home to implement skills learned in class. By working on the assignments at home, they see firsthand how putting the skills into place, they receive positive feedback and reinforcement.

    In our adult classes, we review proper etiquette for social and business occasions. Topics include party planning, table etiquette, silverware and settings, passing food,

    “gentlemen” manners, as well as mixing and mingling tips. We also discuss the proper way to write, send and respond to invitations. We answer questions like, “When is it alright to bring children?”, “How should I dress?”, “What are the rules in a business setting”, and even, “Is it proper for a lady to wear a hat after dark?”

    If you would like your child to learn proper manners, or if you would like to brush up on your social or business etiquette, please give me a call or check out my blog at, www.careysuevega.com to learn about upcoming classes.

    Carey Sue Vega
    Etiquette Expert


  3. An Even Better Idea for the Easter Hunt…

    February 29, 2012 by Mindy Wood

    Next month Easter will dawn upon us and if you want it to be different this year, who says you can’t mix up the Easter traditions a little? Whether you want to make it healthier or just less stressful, we’ll give you some ideas to make it the best ever!

    With the emphasis on all things green and sustainable, opt out of the plastic egg shells. Try sticking with the pastel and bright colored hard boiled eggs that the world knew before plastic. What to do about the candy? For every five eggs your child discovers, tally it up for a small reward like two pieces of candy and for the most eggs found, reward them with a prize and a few candy pieces instead of that huge chocolate bunny! Another option, if you can’t let go of those hollowed plastic containers, fill the eggs with “permission slips” for fun activities. “Pick the movie/game for family night,” or “one free ticket for your favorite meal” or “bake cookies with Grandma” or “soccer/shopping with Dad.” Those things are positive and healthy!

    If you can’t envision an Easter without the sugar, by all means fill them up but why not offer the rest of your guests a full on candy bar? They’re fun, different plus they add bright colors and excitement to any event.

    To save time, decorate only the dinning room, living room, patio or wherever you will spend most of your family time for Easter this year. You really don’t have to decorate the whole house and yard every year with the bunnies, flowers, and Easter stickers. Commercialism will lead you to believe that you must decorate for this holiday as much as Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas but you really don’t have to unless you want to.

    Unless the idea of catering for the Easter dinner is an obscene transgression against all things traditional, consider catering the meal. Caterers will even offer to prepare for pick up- just the leg of lamb or only sides to go along with the meal. Lamb can be challenging, so there’s no shame in leaving it to the expert!

    In fact, that’s why you’re here isn’t it? SEO is a team of experts in every aspect of event planning, no matter what size or occasion. You’ll find everything you need right here! Point. Click. Plan. It’s that easy….

    Mindy Ragan Wood
    Seo’s Feature Writer

  4. It’s all the rage: Flip Books!

    February 1, 2012 by Greta Madson

    The latest craze in personalized party gifts is flip books and has drifted from Dallas to Oklahoma. Word on the street is, it’s a blast! I happen to know because I brought this fun, crazy, and innovative idea to the state after I stumbled onto a flip book booth while attending an event about a year ago.

    Hi, I’m Greta Madson, co-owner of Pic Stories, a mobile flip book studio. When I approached the flip book booth, it took me a minute to figure out what they were doing. Remember when you were a kid and you doodled a stick man along the corner of each page in a notebook during class? Then you would flip through the notebook and watch your own cartoon come to life. Today video and print technology allows you to be star of your own cartoon with flip books that create a memorable party gift or keepsake.

    You’ll find people laughing and acting a little crazy with this fun energy as they step into the backdrop stocked with an array of props. Even when people are reluctant to get up in front of the camera, it’s always great to see them unwind and let their sense of humor unfold. You only have seven seconds to act out your scene but you’d be surprised what you might come up with! My favorite flip book was the “whack a mole” skit. Two guys would pop up one at a time and then a girl bopped them on the head with a blow up microphone. You can mimic others ideas or come up with a themed idea for your party.

    Helping people have fun is an important part of any special event and it’s a great way to break the ice at corporate parties, graduations, and proms when you start interacting with guests in an unexpected way. Capture a kiss from the bride and groom at a wedding reception or flash a sign up to say thank you while you’re doing something crazy. The possibilities and fun are endless!

    Our quick processing allows your guests instant gratification, printing and binding books in just five minutes following their video session. Our packages are affordable, starting at $325 an hour and includes the cost of your books plus a customized flip book cover.

    See a flip book in action when you visit our website at www.iloveflipbooks.com or give us a call to book Pic Stories for your next event at 405-819-5831.

    Hope to see you in front of the camera!

    Pic Stories “A Mobile Flip Book Studio”
    Greta Madson

  5. Creating Valentine’s Day Magic!

    by Mindy Wood

     Yes it’s true that with rare exception it seems men are last minute shoppers…which also means that they’re also terrible planners. Every girl wants their guy to surprise them, so what better way to give them a fighting chance than to refer them to SEO? Read on ladies and pass this on to your date for Valentine’s Day for some great ways to plan a truly romantic evening!

    Whoever is in charge of planning the date this year, this is the place to find creative ideas and the best food, entertainment, and expert tips to make it unforgettable. Yes we know the database is HUGE and it can seem overwhelming but if you’ll start with the basics and then get specific you’ll find what you’re looking for. Whatever you select, go for something new and creative to make it exciting!
    Eating fabulous food is a must. If you’re down with the candlelit dinner for two, then try having it catered to your home with a waiter to make it more exciting or opt for a restaurant that provides the dark corner. Great option for catering for two include Prairie Gypsies in OKC or Anything For a Buck in Tulsa. If you’re budget is slim this year (oh those diamonds are expensive!) then consider customizing an hors ‘deuvre and dessert platter. Candy platters and cupcakes are the rage! Almost any of our catering vendors will accommodate the dinner for two. Start with his and her favorite foods and work from there!
    If you need to get out of town to rekindle the romance, see the hotel, bed and breakfast inn, and venue listings on SEO for easy getaway. Hotels have become more competitive than ever which also means their prices will be too. V-day is one of the busiest days of the year so shop around. You can find great prices on even the higher end hotels like the Skirvin or the Renaissance in OKC or the Hilton and Hotel Ambassador in Tulsa. If you plan to spend more of your budget on a night out on the town, then don’t turn your nose up at Spring Hill Suites, Marriott, or Holiday Inn as these chains have been updating and expanding.
    If you really want to shake things up with something completely different, consider sailing or a dinner theater. Don’t rule out karaoke or hiring a three string orchestra to serenade you! You’ll find everything you could imagine and more under the entertainment listing. If you’re up for events, check out the calendar of events here on SEO to find concerts, comedic acts, art showings, and theatre events.
    You may not even know what you’re looking for until you’ve checked out the possibilities right here on SEO’s resource director. It’s easy to browse with websites and detailed contact information, including written bios on many of our listings.
    Happy Planning!

    Mindy Ragan Wood
    SEO Feature Writer
    PO Box 3693 Shawnee, OK 74801

  6. How Sweet It Is!

    by Renae Marshall

    What’s one gift you could give everyone at your event that’s sure to delight? Consider the sweet idea that’s making a splash at weddings and parties all over Oklahoma – a color coordinated candy buffet with crystal containers and personalized bags!

    When our daughter was planning her wedding a couple of years ago, she came up with a unique idea of creating a candy buffet for her reception. With help from friends, my husband, Jack, and I set it all up and were amazed how all the guests loved it, young and old alike. A photographer who had attended the weddings called us later and suggested that we considering creating candy buffets as a business. In August of 2008, Candy Forever was born. We advertised some, joined some networking organizations and participated in shows, but it was the large number of referrals, including a popular wedding coordinator who has helped make the business a success. In addition to weddings, baby showers, class reunions, birthday parties and anniversaries, we’re also in the process of booking proms.

    At Candy Forever, we offer three basic types of service: You can simply order party favors with personalized bags filled with your choice of candies. Or, we can set up a candy buffet for 100 guests or less much like the old fashion candy counter with a variety of colorful chocolate and hard candies.

    Our third packages is a custom candy buffet especially popular for weddings. The candies are chosen to coordinate with your colors or theme and beautifully displayed in crystal containers with scoops, usually eight or ten containers, but you could have as many as 25. Each guest receives a personalized bag with the bride and groom’s names, wedding date and saying.

    Candy Forever displays table-top signs, but some clients choose to add a few flowers or even an ice sculpture. However, one of the major advantages of the candy buffet is that it can take the place of expensive decorations or additional gifts for the guests. It can also take the place of a groom’s cake or dessert table.

    When you choose Candy Forever, you can relax knowing your dealing with a trustworthy, family owned business that takes care of everything. You simply provide the table and we provide the set-up, tear-down and clean-up service. We’ll even bag up the remaining candy and take it to your car.

    Although we’re headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we now service areas throughout Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City. So, no matter where you are, or what type of event your planning, make it a little sweeter, easier and less expensive by contacting Candy Forever today at 918-693-4943 or visit us at www.candyforever.net.


    Renae Marshall, Owner

    Candy Forever, LLC
    P. O. Box 571351
    Tulsa, OK 74157-1351

    Ph: 918-693-4943




  7. Unique Weddings and Events

    January 1, 2012 by Janay Bishop

    Unique Weddings and EventsYour Day, Your Way!

    Nearly every young girl has a fabulous vision of her wedding day – a someday dream that she always treasures. Unfortunately, as the big day approaches, many brides feel they have to settle for what well-meaning family, friends or even a wedding planner advises. I believe that every bride should have the wedding she always wanted.

    (Read More…)

  8. The Prairie Gypsies

    by Debbie Leland

    Take-out Catering 

    Most brides and other event planners assume they need a full-service caterer that delivers all the bells and whistles as well as the food.   A traditionally catered event often takes the biggest bite out of your budget.  That’s why today’s savvy planners are choosing a wonderful alternative…take-out catering. 
    Hello, my name is Debbie Leland, the co-owner of The Prairie Gypsies.  We began the catering and take-out side of our business back in 1996 working out of a tea room.  Business just kept growing so that by 1999, my co-owner, B. J. White and I decided to move to a larger facility with a commercial kitchen.   

      (Read More…)

  9. La Bella Event Center

    by Teresa Holden

    There’s something romantic about historic places. Maybe it’s because we feel we’ve escaped from the everyday life and all it’s demands into another world where charm and grace sweep us off our feet. La Bella Event Center’s “old world” elegance is the perfect setting for romance in historic downtown Shawnee, Oklahoma.

    Hi, I’m Teresa Holden, co-owner of this something old-something new venue. When my husband Dana and I spotted this beautiful building’s exterior murals, we were delighted to find it for sale and at a great price. Shawnee’s quaint historic art district was the perfect place for an event center. The century old building held charm inside and out and before we knew it, we jumped in with both feet!

    Starting a business in the hospitality industry seemed to make sense and especially wedding planning. Few wedding planners or event center owners know love quite like my husband and I do. As an ordained minister, Dana has performed countless weddings and is qualified to offer marriage counseling. He and I teach marriage enrichment classes at our church. For twelve years we were children’s pastors and found ourselves performing wedding ceremonies for couples we watched grow up in church. It gave us the idea to venture into our own business.

    The chapel is the diamond in the crown. The architecture echoes of a centuries old church whose hand painted murals and furnishings casts a quiet elegance. Two spacious dressing rooms provide full length mirrors and a long vanity for the bridal parties and flat screen TVs for the groomsmen. A family waiting area lets everyone relax in anticipation of the day. Up the stairs, a historical antique chandelier lights the way to the reception area seating up to two hundred guests. Among the round tables is a round oak wood dance floor and a lighted gazebo, perfect for pictures!

    We offer an all inclusive package that covers the tables, linens, flatware and glasses to a custom designed wedding cake and punch, decorated wedding table, set up and clean up, rehearsal, and your own wedding coordinator! Brides may bring in the caterer of their choice or work with those we prefer for. Some extra options include an aesthetician who will play with the bride’s hair style options and make up prior to the day of the wedding. This service allows the bride and if she chooses, her brides maids or mother, to have their hair and makeup done by a professional at La Bella. We have photography packages and offer a selection of musicians and vocalists as well.

    La Bella is so much more than an a wedding chapel. Visit us soon and envision your next prom, birthday party, corporate social, family or class reunion here.

    La Bella Events Center
    Dana & Teresa Holden
    102 W. Main St.
    Shawnee, OK 74801

  10. Wedding Trends Soft, Natural, Undone

    by Mindy Wood

    What’s hot for 2012 weddings might be easier to accomplish than ever before! As society’s values change, so goes the décor and wedding trends. That’s good news for brides who want the wow factor without the headache!

    According to Pantone Pallette Predictions, simple, undone textures are emerging but with strong attention to details. Soft colors found in the world around us collide with a movement that is ever turning the beauty of nature. Hues of blue, grey, and yes, even turquoise, or nudes with soft oranges and or pink accents are cast upon simplistic linens bare of floral arrangement for wall hangings and canopies. Strategic lighting and drapery whose fabric speaks for itself create a fresh and light mood.

    Wedding Business Today predicts brides will look to nature for the reception table décor and that’s no surprise. It might come as a shock but Brides.com is putting at ease those blushing brides who want their dress to blush too! That’s right, ultra soft hues of pink, peach, sliver, lilac and even green are gracing the wedding gowns. Still a rarity, it’s becoming a trend for the bold bride who is comfortable with what she wants.

    And who wants a boring wedding cake when you can have your cookies and eat it too instead? Oh yes, the cupcake trend meets the cookie monster bride! Cup cake towers are replacing traditional wedding cakes or simply added as an elegant bonus to the cake table. Last year’s naughty candy bars donned cupcakes but this year your favorite cookies are the rage. For those who opt for the cake, an imperfect perfection with texture is the rule.

    Hair styles always seem to be characterized around the dress so it’s no wonder we’ll see a lot of brides with a more natural look. This year it’s the bridal hair styles that will be the something old! Styles set by Grandma’s tried and true pin curls are surprisingly easy to don with accents. Great for a bob or long hair, soft waves are in! The more natural the style, the less structured but with the right setting and accents still adds elegance fitting for the bride.

    No matter what trends are shaping up this year, the wedding is always defined by bride’s individual taste and a reflection of all the reasons she fell in love with her own prince charming. Happy planning from us at SEO.

    By Mindy Ragan Wood