Bridal show at the Conrad

I had one of my more enjoyable marketing and networking experiences last night at the Platinum Wedding Gala presented by the Perfect Wedding Guide and the Conrad Hotel. I knew there would be a lot of high-quality vendors there, along with some wonderful bridal prospects, but I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and synergistic a night it turned out to be for everyone.

For starters, the ballroom was beautiful! The way that designer Gene Huddleson of Detail + Design, Gloria Boyden of Events by Design and Teresa Gift of Eventfull Planning among others transformed an already remarkable space was visually inspiring. Tonya Shadoan of Circle City Planners was there earlier, lending a hand and ribbing me for not working out and tanning yet for our April destination wedding in St. Kitts. It was great to see Gary Bravard, whose extravaganzas I had covered about a dozen times in the 90’s, back in his element helping Gene out as well. Here’s what the room looked like, courtesy of photographer Andrew Scalini:

Fellow videographers Ryan McKeever of Magic Hour Productions and Jason Girt of Creative Eye Productions were there, so it was fun to catch up with them before the show started. Ryan’s doing some amazing things in the corporate video world in addition to the great work he does with events, and Jason’s family is now in the honeymoon business with a newly purchased condo in Maui! Jason invited us to fly out there together sometime and have a creative powwow. Twist our arms, Jason! 😉

Once the brides showed up, we all had a chance to mingle and market at a much calmer pace than the typical bridal show parade. The way the vendors, all of whom had worked with each other often, were able to vouch for each other made for a higher-quality impression on each bride. For example, at least in my corner of the room, when a bride would stop to admire photographer Jessica Strickland‘s images at Eventfull Planning’s table next to me, I would “conveniently” have a video from that same wedding playing on my plasma screen, and Teresa suddenly had a nice multimedia presentation. Or when a bride asked about a date that I was booked, I could just point to Ryan’s table and send her there. Or if a bride asked DJ Sunny Moon on the other side of me about a video she enjoyed on his display, he could just pat me on the back and say, “Here’s the guy who shot it right here!” There was a nice moment was when a bride was asking the Conrad’s Liz Mok and Sunny about how a wedding and reception might look in a certain layout in that ballroom, and I just said, “Here, take a look,” and played Sara & Alex’s highlight video from 1/6/07 (see below) for her. Interestingly, she had long ago booked about four or five of the vendors who ended up in that corner of the room including myself, so she must have been pleasantly surprised to see us all there in one place.

The brides sat down for about an hour to enjoy a presentation, first by Gene, who did a great job despite learning just hours earlier that he would be speaking. Then nationally reknowned bridal consultant Susan Southerland of Just Marry! in Orlando shared some creative ways to incorporate visual inspiration into an event without breaking the budget. My favorite image that she showed was of an already existing multi-million dollar bridge made of ice on which the couple exchanged vows for their winter-themed wedding. Capping it all off was “Project Runway” designer Austin Scarlett, who got the biggest superstar reception and showed off some of his latest bridal fashions, this one captured again by Andrew:

The presentation was followed by more high-quality face time between vendors and brides, and much chocolate. What made the night even sweeter was some unexpected visits throughout by friends like Carrie Sprague, Amanda Coffey and Maureen Boulanger from the Omni Severin, Monica Richards from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and consultant Leslie Jones. It was great to see all of you there, and if I can book a bride or two from the show as well, that’ll be the icing on the cake!

I was planning to complete most of the remaining work on Elizabeth and Jonathan’s 2/17/07 wedding video today. However, the laid-back nature of this time of our year, along with my general fatigue from finishing the website update, made me vulnerable to procrastination. Stacy Newgent of Stacy and Mary Photography dangled the first carrot by inviting me to their new studio to try out an experimental portrait approach that they explained on their blog much better than I can here. Though I generally dislike how I look in pictures, I was intrigued by the prospect of being a lab rat in the name of art. Unfortunately, Stacy and I couldn’t resist just gabbing the whole time before I had to leave. Anyway, it was great to see their cool studio. Maybe next time, gals!

Then my friend and neighbor, DJ Jim Cerone, treated me to lunch at the Nickel Plate Bar & Grill in Fishers for great food (thanks for suggesting the buffalo chicken wrap, Stacy!) and a nice long chat. We’ve known each other for over a dozen years, and our boys have become classmates and friends at school, but this is the first time we’ve ever really had a chance to sit down and talk without either our kids or wedding festivities distracting us.

I got back to the studio just in time to take a call from a potential client (thanks to Rebecca Raymond and Tracy Heine for the referral!) who unknowingly made my day by telling me she really enjoyed the video clips on our website. You see, she’s a Mac user, the likes of whom had often had trouble viewing our sample videos in their Windows Media format, hence the big website overhaul. It’s so nice to get such quick feedback that the Flash video clips are succeeding in giving our website better cross-platform compatibility.

Well, it took a couple of weeks longer than I had planned, but I finally uploaded our “new” website over the weekend! I put “new” in quotes because it’s still essentially the same website with a few nice tweaks on each page. But what I’m most excited about is the new method of letting visitors view our video samples, which I completely redesigned from the ground up. My main objective was to allow the videos to be embedded within the page as Flash video clips, as hinted at from my experiments with Google Video and YouTube. Ultimately, to be able to show things exactly the way I wanted, I knew that I would have to author the site (with much help from Cathy Gerlach) and host the clips myself, hence the extra time. It was a huge yet very educational challenge, and I’ve learned more about coding than I ever expected to know in a lifetime.

As rewarding as it has been to finally see how our videos work within the site, it’s the silly little stuff I figured out that I’m proudest of. Like the new Google map on our contact page, whose satellite imaging will make it easier to direct people to our specific building. Or the DVD simulation – getting a “hotspot” within another image to highlight while the cursor changes to a pointing hand? Probably straightforward for most techies, but a year in the works for me! Having our e-mail links work yet become unreadable to most e-mail harvesters should greatly reduce the spam that I get. Even something as simple as having our logo include transparent layers is something I should have learned long ago. There are some minor tweaks to come, but otherwise, it’s better than good – it’s DONE! Hopefully the result is a slicker, smoother viewing experience for our prospective clients. What do you think? Check it out at

Elizabeth and John wanted a winter wedding and got it – on a snowy weekend just days removed from the area’s heaviest snowfall in decades. The rehearsal dinner the night before at the Old Spaghetti Factory was a special treat for me, not just because of the couple’s hospitality, but also because it was where I enjoyed my first prom date in high school many years back. The couple’s generosity extended to the rest of their lucky friends and family as well, as I have never seen so many gifts handed out, with so much thought put into each one. I even scored three rock candy favors for the boys!

I had an early start covering Elizabeth’s preparations at her beautiful home north of Downtown. It’s the kind of house my wife and I always drool over, Victorian but new. (Someday…) Once we got to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, we navigated through a maze of narrow paths of shoveled snow (not easy with all this gear) to get inside for pictures with Joe Defabis. The ceremony and mass were long as expected, but enjoyable nonetheless. To see this sweet couple, who I knew put more planning and detail into this day than most couples do, finally have their moment (along with plenty of time to soak it all in) was a true pleasure.

The reception took place afterwards at the Fountain Square Theatre just southeast of Downtown. Surprisingly, it was the first time I had ever seen this Fountain Square area that I had heard so much about, so I was quite impressed and made a mental note to bring the kids sometime. The theatre itself was like a whole new world that you don’t expect when you enter it from the outside, with an outdoor village atmosphere similar to the Indiana Roof Ballroom, but smaller and more intimate. Having a spacious dance floor and an entire stage to roam allowed me to get some perspectives that I don’t normally enjoy at most receptions, so I’m looking forward to editing the footage in the coming days.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a week since the Colts won the Super Bowl, but after countless hours of reading every article I could find and watching every morsel of Colts coverage I could fit on my TiVo, I think I’m finally ready to get on with being a productive member of society, albeit with an extra bounce in my step. I am completely caught up with all of our wedding edits, and once I settle on an ideal format for showcasing the video clips, I’ll look forward to sharing those highlights here. My main focus this week has been catching up on all the “little” projects that I have accumulated over the past several months and completing an update of our website. I’m doing much of this from my home for these couple of days, and the view out my window of the heavy snowfall actually makes a perfectly serene backdrop for working.

I had the pleasure of attending a brunch Sunday at the Omni Severin Hotel organized by the Association of Bridal Consultants. It was fun as always to chat with fellow vendors there, but the highlight of the event was a presentation by nationally reknowned bridal consultant Barbara Wallace. She had a lot of wonderful insights to share, primarily aimed at the consultants there but applicable to anyone in business, about how to get to the top of your field and stay there. While I did pick some good tips, most of what she said already mirrored what my approach has been, so I left with a sense of affirmation that I’m on the right track.

I’ve been in the IndyVisual kitchen the past week cooking up some cool new ways to display and share our work with our clients and website visitors, so I’ve been a little more under the radar than usual. Hopefully I’ll wrap that all up soon, as one of my three months of down time is already slipping away. The bookings have been incredible so far in January, even more than usual, so that makes this down time that much more precious. I’ve already taken my boys out for a couple of fun weekends away. We spent last weekend at the Holidome in Columbus, at Great Times on the south side, and looking at RVs and boats just because I never have before. It’s amazing how easily entertained the kids are when they get out of the house.

I’ve heard the question “What’s on your iPod” used in many interviews to provide insight into the interviewee, but my own answer would be that I don’t own one. But in what I consider to be a modern “golden age” of television, perhaps what’s on my TiVo could be just as revealing about me: Apprentice, Desperate Housewives, Battlestar Galactica, 24, Heroes, American Idol, Lost, 30 Rock, The Office, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, Entourage, Ebert & Roeper, ESPN’s Sports Reporters and Sportscenter. Oh, and the Colts/Patriots game, which may take me awhile to delete. What’s on yours? (If you don’t have one, trust me – best…invention…ever!)

I will resist every urge to turn this into a sports blog, but for the past several days, I have been living and breathing COLTS! I was at the crazy game on Sunday with my buddies, with whom I have held season tickets since 1995, and the drama and ultimate euphoria was like nothing I have experienced since I was on campus for IU’s 1987 national championship. I have closely followed every Colts game since they arrived in 1984, and so I’ve endured all the hard times, which only makes this Super Bowl trip even sweeter. (And by hard times, I don’t mean a 12-4 season followed by a playoff loss. I mean several 1-15 or 3-13 seasons and one 0-13 start. THAT was tough!) Prior to and since Sunday, I have been scrounging around for every online article and every morsel of TV and radio coverage I can find, which my doctor says is a classic symptom of “blue fever,” also known as gocoltitis. If you have similar symptoms and need support from a fellow sufferer, feel free to call or e-mail me. If you’re a current client, I promise I’ll still get some work done. GO COLTS!!!

Much of last Saturday was spent at the Ale Emporium in Fishers with a couple of fellow IU and Colts fans to watch both teams play. IU’s win over Penn State was certainly nice, but the real excitement was over the Colts’ grind-it-out win over the Ravens, which I predicted. Then I became a huge Patriots fan on Sunday, as I knew that a Pats win would mean an AFC Championship game at home, and the Pats pulled that one off. So after missing the win over the Chiefs in order to cover a wedding (I’m also bummed that my friends only got face value for my ticket), I’m thrilled beyond words about being in the Dome this weekend to send the Colts off to the SUPER BOWL!

I also popped in on the bridal show at the Ritz Charles to say hi to some fellow vendors. I was impressed with how many repeat vendors were there, the sign of a successful show, so I will certainly consider trying to get a booth there next year. Then I took my boys to stay overnight at the Hyatt downtown ($45 on Priceline!) so Mommy could have a couple of days away from the rascals. We had fun roaming around the hotel, the SkyWalk system, and Circle Center, then swimming and playing video games in the room.

I’ve spent the rest of the past week doing a lot of odds and ends as well as editing Sara & Alex’s wedding from a couple of weekends ago. Although I usually expect an uptick in phone calls from brides in January due to the busy bridal show season, I’ve been more swamped than ever with inquiries these past couple of weeks. It seems that a lot of people out there, clients and vendors alike, have been telling brides about us, so I am especially filled with gratitude and humility for that. Thanks also to Ryan McKeever of Magic Hour Productions for treating me to a wonderful lunch on Wednesday!

I have a couple of video clips and thank you notes to share, but I will hold off on posting anything new until I complete a website update in the next week that will change how our video clips are seen and shared.

Sara & Alex – 1/6/06

The majority of last week was spent getting ready for the two-day Perfect Wedding Guide Bridal Show at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the past few days were spent basically recovering from the show. In the middle of all that showmanship, I was also scheduled to videotape a wedding on Saturday evening, which certainly made for one hectic but fun weekend.

Sara & Alex’s wedding and reception took place at the luxurious Conrad Hotel downtown, which was already abuzz from the Colts playoff game that was happening at the same time. (Needless to say, I had to scalp my ticket.) Rebecca Raymond of Event Fantastic, who referred the couple to me (thanks, Rebecca!), was given what every consultant dreams of – the green light to do whatever she wanted. The result was a fantastic winter wonderland theme involving white petals, street lamps, bare trees, and her signature self-serve (white) candy station. Kevin and Alicia Monahan of Kevin Monahan Photography took the couple to the neighboring Artsgarden after the ceremony for some fun shots, one of which I’ll post below, and they were a joy to work beside the entire night. The reception was turned into a nonstop R&B and disco rave-up courtesy of the band Zannadoo, who have quickly become one of my favorite bands. This was actually the first time that I saw Zanna fronting the band, and boy could she belt!

I’ve never been a big fan of doing bridal shows, largely because of the cost and the pain of transporting my plasma screen to and from the shows. But the new two-day format of this particular show was a stroke of genius on the part of the PWG folks, as it allowed us to mingle with almost twice as many brides as usual, and it divided all the moving hassles over two days. (It was nice to just walk leisurely into the Scottish Rite on Sunday morning and have everything already set up from Saturday.) I had a fun time at the show meeting with current clients who came by to say “hi,” answering questions for prospective clients, and networking with my friends in the vendor community, several of whom were displaying our work at their own booths. This was the first time that I was honestly happy with the presentation of my own booth, as I finally updated my flyers to work together visually and found a layout for our materials and equipment that was appealing yet practical. This was also the first time that I played our video clips off of a PC instead of a DVD, which was great because it allowed me to show off some of our high-definition footage, and it allowed me to easily stop the presentation in order to show certain brides clips from specific venues. My only regret was that I didn’t have more down time to walk around and chat with other vendors there, but I guess that’s the sign of a successful bridal show.

New Year’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s a more “quiet” holiday than Christmas with much less hype (at least after midnight), and I’m a sucker for all of the great football games on TV and dorky year-end lists in the entertainment world. Best of all, it represents for me a time to contemplate the excitement and possibilities of the year ahead. There is much that I am becoming excited about in what is shaping up to be another record year for IndyVisual… The introduction of HD wedding videography to the Indy market. Another major upgrade to our website. A destination Caribbean wedding in St. Kitts. And many other beautiful weddings with wonderful clients and vendors in the area’s best venues. If you are a fellow wedding vendor, then I am looking forward to working with you and comparing notes about your goals, hopes and dreams for the new year. And of course, if you are a newlywed-to-be, then few of us are going to have quite as much to look forward to in 2007 as you are, and I look forward to being a part of your big day. As I often tell people, it’s so much fun to be in the “happiness” business, so here’s wishing a Happy New Year to all of you!