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. Parties that DON’T Pack on the Pounds!

    December 1, 2011 by Mindy Wood

    If you think about it, those of us who struggle with our weight often don’t shed the pounds because we use food for pleasure and a sense of reward. While it’s good for everyone to indulge in a little recreational “binge” there are ways to avoid turning those holiday parties into a buffet line! Consider a few fun ideas and food combinations that will at least leave you in the same size pants you were in before the holidays.

    First try to plan a party that isn’t driven by food. Let your party create a productive purpose like the gift wrapping social. Invite your friends over for a night of scissors, tape, bows and Christmas paper. It’s a chore for most people and with the bulk of the shopping done by a week before Christmas, it’s a party that usually doesn’t overlap other scheduled parties earlier in the month. You’ll add some fun to a usually boring occasion. A late afternoon party lends itself to light refreshments, saving you time, money and calories! Don’t pay someone to wrap your gifts when you can make a party out of it! Kick up the Christmas music, break out the wine and wrap it up!

    Christmas is so…ornamental isn’t it? Art is nestled in the soul of everyone making it common ground for everything from booking a museum’s seasonal exhibit to making ornaments. Check with your local art district or museum for a group class designing ornaments. You could throw a Christmas décor party where your friends bring bits and pieces of décor they don’t use and trade them in or put together wreaths, wall décor, and even preserve nostalgic ornaments with special meaning.

    In the 5k craze sweeping America, a lot of walkers and runners are opting for a trek through lighted displays ending with a simple party or meeting at a favorite coffee shop, smoothie place, or bar. While Decembers in Oklahoma usually start to get pretty cold, a dusk run is dark enough to enjoy the lights but still warm enough not to freeze your sneakers off! Ending the journey with hot cocoa and a favorite seasonal treat like toasted nuts is a healthy and a reward for burning off calories.

    Food is enjoyable but it doesn’t always have to be guilty pleasures that leave you with a smile. At your parties, be sure to exhaust seasonal fruits and vegetables and “tweak” the dips and sides to make it healthier. There are a lot of ways to replace certain ingredients without giving up the flavor. Forgo the mayo, substitute it with plain low fat yogurt and you’ll come out ahead by a whopping 370 calories! Can’t live without cream cheese? Puree low fat cottage cheese and save 100 calories! Opt for the turkey link sausage and spices instead of beef or pork link sausage to save yourself 160 calories. Search for healthy substitutes online or make sure your favorite chef will cater low calorie options for your party.

    While you’re at it, don’t over look spa parties, make up sessions in favorite boutiques, and shopping tours with a light lunch. There are plenty of party resources and tips here at SEO. Creative caterers, exceptional entertainment, party supply stores, boutiques, restaurants and much more!

    Happy Planning! Mindy Ragan Wood

  2. Don’t Miss Downtown in December!

    by Alison Shumake

    Only in Downtown Oklahoma City can you experience the thrill of outdoor ice skating, exhilarating snow tubing rides down the southwest’s largest man-made slope, water taxi excursions along the winding Bricktown Canal, free museum Sundays, free river cruises, a magically-lit botanical garden and historic avenue, a festive 5K run through the heart of Downtown and plenty of holiday cheer for the entire family! This month-long adventure attracts thousands of revelers to the heart of the City’s polar playground. Don’t miss the festivities that will run through the New Year! Get ready for Holiday Cheer as the newly remodeled Myriad Botanical Gardens welcomes three special activities in “Downtown in December.”

    Devon Ice Skating Rink

    Last month, the much-anticipated new downtown ice skating rink made its "Downtown in December" debut at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The rink is located on the east side of the Gardens across from the Cox Convention center, situated on the Seasonal Plaza just north of the new Gardens restaurant. The rink is open daily from noon – 10:00 pm. through February 28. Group sessions are available in the mornings with reservations and our affordable rates allows you to enjoy the rink for as long you want at just $10 per skater or $7 if you don’t want to skate.

    Devon Saturdays With Santa

    Get out those Christmas lists! Saint Nicholas himself will be at the Myriad Botanical Gardens December 3, 10, & 17, from noon-3:00 p.m. Visits will take place at the West Lake Pavilion near the Children’s Garden where Santa will be on his throne to greet children, while a sleigh will be on display for festive family photographs. Snacks and kids’ crafts will be available in the Children’s Garden area, along with a special mailbox to collect those important letters to Santa Clause. Admission:FREE

    OG&E Garden Lights

    The Gardens will sparkle inside and out through January 1 during "Downtown in December’s" OG+E Garden lights. Stroll through a fantastical winter wonderland of color and light in the newly-renovated outdoor grounds. Inside, warm up during "Holidays in the Tropics" inside the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. The Crystal Bridge will offer FREE ADMISSION from 6-9 p.m. every Sunday during "Downtown in December," (December 4, 11, 18, 25 and January 1).

    Downtown in December
    Contact: Alison Shumake
    301 W. Reno, OKC OK 73102

  3. Norman’s Award Winning Caterer!

    November 1, 2011 by Kris Abbey

    Some people get an adrenalin rush from skydiving out of plane or bungee jumping off a bridge but to me nothing is more thrilling than what I do. Catering labor intensive, high quality food takes creative instinct, seamless timing, and fantastic presentation. I’m Kris Abbey, owner of Abbey Road Catering in Norman and I can’t get enough of my work!

    I first got a taste of the hospitality industry one summer when I worked by day as a concierge for the Hyatt and by night waiting tables for banquet dinners. I had been apart of DECA in high school but when I experienced the excitement of pulling off a spectacular event, I was hooked. I decided to get my college degree and find a job in paradise. It was too bad that OU didn’t offer a hospitality program so I graduated with my degree in communications and headed to Belize where I got a job running a restaurant.

    When I returned to the U.S. It was a whirlwind of experiences. I got married and took a management position at Legends restaurant where I worked for four years until I gave birth to our first child. I knew I would need a more flexible schedule and left Legends to help a catering business for Hal Smith restaurant Group. From there I went on to managing Harold Powell’s restaurant, Cafe Plaid. When our second child came along, it was time to start out on my own.

    Today we have three children and they’ve grown up much like our catering business. Abbey Road Catering is a full service, three time award winning team of culinary artists and experienced event professionals. We bring our inspiration and creativity to every event with carefully designed floral arrangements, table settings and linens, and a customized menu to suite our guests.

    Whether your palate prefers rich and sophisticated cuisine or embellished originality and simplicity we serve a labor intensive, high quality product. Highlights from our plated and buffet dinners are the herb crusted tenderloin with amaretto infused sweet potatoes and for the hors d’ orderves that satisfy as a meal, guests rave over our Caribbean Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa and unique cheeses. Our mixed media presentations are exciting and alluring while we make sure our food is the perfect temperature from the first guest to the last.

    Weddings are some of our favorite occasions but we serve all types of events from grand galas and corporate events to ladies luncheons and intimate birthday parties. We can help you plan and design your event from the venue to the menu. Come by for a tasting at either of our two locations or visit our website at www.abbeyroadcatering.com to view our menu selections.

    Abbey Road Catering
    Kris Abbey
    1138 N. Robinson
    Oklahoma City, OK 73103

  4. Canterbury Choral Society

    by Kay E. Holt

     The Voice of the City!

    Oklahoma City’s holiday season and special event calendar simply wouldn’t be the same without the sounds of the Canterbury Choral Society  – joyful presentations which have lifted the spirits of audiences and given voice to the arts for more than four decades.

    Hello, my name is Dr. Kay Holt, the executive director of the Canterbury Choral Society.  For twenty-six years, I directed university operas and musicals and in community theaters in Oklahoma and several other states.  My PhD is in Education integrated with the Arts, and in addition I also worked as a consultant for school districts in creating arts-integrated curriculum for their schools.

    Eventually I moved into the field of arts management, more recently serving as the Director of Education and Community Partnerships for eight years with The Dallas Opera.  I returned to Oklahoma after over 20 years because I was very impressed with the commitment and vision that had inspired a Renaissance in our great City! The MAPS projects had brought new entertainment venues and a surge of interest in the arts.  When I was offered the position of executive director for the Canterbury Choral Society, I was thrilled to return to Oklahoma City and become part of its vision and regeneration.   

    The Canterbury Choral Society has been an Oklahoma City tradition for more than 40 years.  This 145 all volunteer choral group performs in OKC venues primarily in the metro area, such as the Civic Center, but also all over Oklahoma.  We are proud to serve as ambassadors to other states as well.   

    Smaller groups of our singers (usually four to 40) entertain at private parties, grand openings, weddings, in addition to sports, corporate and community events.

    We keep quite busy during the holiday season with our public presentations at the Civic Center, as well as tree lighting ceremonies and other public and private festivities.

    Our Canterbury Youth Choruses are comprised of extremely talented young people from 2nd grade through high school who are also available to perform during the holidays and at special events  

    Canterbury Choral Society is committed to collaboration and partnership. Tickets to Canterbury performances can be combined with a reception or other innovative ideas to create a full evening’s experience for your guests.    

    (Read More…)

  5. Whodunit Dinner Theater

    by Terri Myers

    Murder Most Hilarious! 

    It’s been said that everyone loves a good murder mystery.  That’s especially true when the “whodunit”  (and a good laugh) is shared over a delicious meal among friends, family and business associates.    

    Hello, my name is Terri Myers, Director of Whodunit Dinner Theater.  I began my association with Whodunit back in 1991 when I was a 16-year old actress in the shows.  I performed over an 18-year period with the theater, as well as in commercials and for modeling assignments.   

    Whodunit Dinner Theater has always been a family run business with tasteful productions suitable for any age and church group.  So, when my husband, Eric, and I began the responsibilities of running the theater several years ago, we decided to continue the tradition of fun, family-appropriate entertainment.   While I’m busy directing and communicating with the actors, Eric is managing backstage and taking care of business.  (Read More…)

  6. The Taste of Italy!

    October 1, 2011 by Bill Bonadio

    Who doesn’t like Italian food?  The fact is, Italian has become the fare of choice for Americans whether it’s dinner for two or a fabulous catered meal for 200.  Of course, there’s just Italian….and then there’s really great Italian!

    Hello, my name is Bill Bonadio, the owner and chef of Papa Dio’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar.  From the time I was eight years old washing dishes, I always wanted to be a chef and own my own restaurant.   As I worked my way up in the business, I was very fortunate to have learned the art under some wonderful chefs.  I also studied hotel and restaurant management at Oklahoma State University. I opened my first restaurant in 1979 featuring Dio’s original fried pizza.  We changed to full Italian fare in 1981 and added the wine bar in 1996 so we could offer upscale, formal dining available in addition to family dining on the other side of the restaurant.

    At Papa Dio’s we specialize in full catering services both on and off the premises.  Since we’re only open for dinner, you can arrange to rent the entire restaurant for an exceptional buffet or sit-down luncheon for up to 100 guests.  If you would prefer that we deliver a catered meal to another venue, we accommodate smaller groups or as many as 500 or more guests.  Our full catering service includes everything needed for a professionally presented buffet or sitdown meal, including lovely chafing dishes, fine plates and silverware.  Plus, when you let Papa Dio’s cater your function, you can trust us for professional bar service, wait staff and even security.  We will also be happy to meet all your additional event needs through our trusted resources, including entertainment, linens and florals.

    At Papa Dio’s, we’re famous for our northern Italian and Sicilian style fare.  Lasagna is always a wonderful choice for an event and, at Papa Dio’s, you can choose just about any type of lasagna imaginable, including seafood and vegetarian.  Our exclusive Trieste Sauce is a tasty combination of three different sauces.  We’re just as comfortable preparing American specialties, including roast beef and turkey and you haven’t lived till you’ve tried our fabulous Salmon Mousse or our Crème Brule prepared with Mexican vanilla which can be served flambé style for extra flair.

    For your next special event, large or small, count on Papa Dio’s for the finest Italian, American, French delicacies and so much more!   Visit our website at www.papadiosokc.com or give us a call at 755-2525.   If you’re looking for great food and service, we speak your language!


    Bill Bonadio, Owner/Chef
    Papa Dio’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar
    10712 North May
    Oklahoma City, OK 73120
    (405) 755-2525

  7. Having a “Ball”!

    by Mindy Wood

    Halloween is the one time of year Americans have a great excuse for dressing up in their favorite costumes. Other countries have scads of parties where they get to dress up (reenactments and seasonal parties) but we’re pretty much restricted to Halloween. So why not have a “ball” this year and change things up! For this type of great party, there are two versions: the adults only and kid friendly.

    For the Adults: When choosing your theme, of course, you have to consider your guest list. Try not to be too restrictive but if you’re going for a ball with masks and dancing, make sure there are as few rules as possible regarding costume period and design. Don’t restrict it to one decade or century (can you imagine demanding all your guests show up in 17th century attire?). The more flexible you are, the more people will want to show up. If a period theme is what you want, let your guests pick the decade or century they want to depict. As to rules you might insist everyone wear a mask until the unveiling or only while on the dance floor.

    Have categories for the winning costume like “most frightful” for those making a scary appearance and “most delightful” for those who went all out for an authentic period look, characterization, or something sexy. Tie in the décor with both modern and vintage accents like cobwebs, dark colored candelabras, gazing balls, drippy candles, gargoyles, black lace clad skeletons, and carved pumpkins.

    For music play a wide variety but be sure your DJ is prepared to play soundtracks from scary movies and classic flicks. Let your guest pick the songs they want to hear but be sure to have selections ready to signal things like a contest, door prizes, specific dances, etc.

    For the Kiddos: While a Halloween ball might be wildly appealing to your little pink princesses make sure you have plenty of guy stuff for the young ghouls too. Forgo the masks and set up stations for the kids to do activities that engage their senses. Hands in gooey green slime, finding “treats” in a box of gray colored beads or small rocks, or guessing games are great ways to have fun. While the ages of your guests will determine how scary you can make the over all experience, you can’t go wrong with crazy carnival games with some grooving music in between. You might be surprised how easy it is to line up the kids and teach them very simple dance steps. Award a prizes to the best “couples” on the dance floor but be sure everyone who participates gets more candy in their bags.

    For backdrop music select familiar soundtracks to movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superman or favorite game themes like Lego Batman and Indiana Jones to create epic suspense. For your dances, go for wacky classics like “Monster Mash”, the Adams Family theme song, “Ghostbusters”, “I put a spell on you” and “Martian Hop.”

    Consider your guests first and the theme for your party will emerge. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

    By Mindy Wood

  8. Superb Lighting, Magnificent Entertainment

    by Dewey Beene

    Photographers have coined the phrase “lighting is everything” and when it comes to your special event, it is just as vital. When the floral is set, the décor is in place, it’s the lighting and delivery of spectacular entertainment that makes the experience an unforgettable affair.I’m Dewey Beene, owner of Innovative Entertainment Solutions in Oklahoma City. My career in the special event planning industry started at Frontier City, just before I left high school where I learned the art of entertaining a crowd.

    For five years, I was the featured stage magician for the OKC theme park and later, to the national chain of Six Flags theme parks. My career moved forward when I began hiring and casting other talent for shows at theme parks, theaters and other entertainment arenas. Most recently was a stint in Branson at The Magical Palace. After touring for years coordinating shows, I married, started a family and decided it was time to stay home.

    I took all that experience in lighting, sound and audio effects from the theatrical arena and began to apply it to weddings and special events for corporations, charities, high society soirees, private as well as civic affairs. Out of Innovative Entertainment Solutions came a partnership with Dolly Levi’s Event Design Studio, a full service event planning company, and the creation of The Wedding Workshop, an educational seminar for brides and vendors.

    At IES we specialize in the event production. We understand that everything from creative lighting and moving sounds, to unique and novelty entertainment must have a cohesive element. Our team of experts skillfully merges the elements of mood and emotion, theme and style to create the environment clients want to experience.

    Lighting in the entertainment industry is known as the event planner’s secret weapon. It reveals elements you want to see, hides the ones you don’t and accentuates areas that need to have that special something. Imagine spotlighting a cake, centerpiece, color themes or image patterns which create those stunning accents. You can bring in all the drapery and all sorts of gorgeous décor and elements, but until they are lit they fade into the background.

    The entertainment at Innovative Entertainment Solutions brings world class acts to your special event. Broadway musicals, side splitting comedians, acrobats, “living statues,” tenor vocalists, humorous motivational speakers and an interactive dance floor are just a few professional acts from which to choose. Our wide variety of productions is a perfect for everything including weddings to President Bush’s recent visit to OKC to raise money for the McCain/Palin campaign fundraiser we coordinated last month.

    I invite you to take advantage of the many ways IES can enhance and transform your next special event into the unforgettable occasion of a lifetime.


    Dewey Beene, Owner
    Innovative Entertainment Solutions
    Oklahoma City, OK

  9. What’s Hot for Your Sweet Sixteen!

    September 1, 2011 by Mindy Wood

    There’s nothing more exciting or quite as special like a girl’s sixteenth birthday. In days gone by, not that long ago, it would be her “coming out” ball. We’ve come a long way from white clad beauties who were shopping early for their southern gentleman. While these parties still echo the age old appreciation for a girl’s passage into womanhood, today’s parties offer some fun twists. But don’t forget about your guys either. Their rite of passage is just as sweet….er maybe cool is a better way of putting it.

    The hottest themes for the sweet sixteen mirror destination, favorite fashion or music era, and even their favorite TV show or movie. What girl doesn’t want to live it up like a Hollywood celebrity with her best friends? If your girl is all about drama or high fashion, the Broadway theme or Paris runway is a popular choice.

    Sometimes it’s the era of fashion that really gets your girl excited and since she can’t get away wearing a period look every day of the week, her big party is the best place to enjoy it. Musicals like Hair Spray and the staying power of Grease have resurrected and sustained interest in 50’s and 60’s fashion. To the delight of most parents, one of the biggest comebacks that’s so popular among teens now is the 80’s! We’re seeing the bangles, the baggie shirts, big belts and yes even big hair is slowly making it’s way to salons.

    The hottest shows for teens now are usually found on MTV. While you might not want Pretty Little Liars or Teen Mom to be the theme of choice, try to think more general like a reality show with games or having a DJ set up a green screen, karaoke and props for a music video experience with club lighting and their favorite music. According Teen Ink.com High School Musical 3, Dream Girls, and Twlight rank high for young movie buffs.

    Some faithful crowd pleasing themes remain: the tropical luau, winter wonderland, under the sea, and even the princess make the top favs. Ultimately the theme you choose depends on the birthday girl. Explore her favorite things and help her think about what she wants. At least you’ll have a few options before you start shopping.

    What to do for your guy? Since most guys want to keep the “sweet” part on the down low, these parties can just be named for the theme. Think about the James Bond and Mission Impossible themes “License to drive” or even a black tie affair, something growing in popularity. Sports and night club themes are a great choice for something more formal. Pack the house with great music, plenty of food and with girls around they probably won’t care what the theme is!

    Throwing a bash for your coming-of-age sixteen year old is a great way to show them how well you know them, how much you love them, and how proud you are to call them your own. Grab them up and browse the best venues, caterers, entertainment companies, and supply stores right here at SpecialEventsOklahoma.com!

    By Mindy Wood

  10. OKC’s Most Unique Limousines!

    July 1, 2011 by Ron Rampersad

    Have you noticed the new limousines in town? You’ve probably seen the H2Hummer, the F-350 Dually, and sleek Lincoln sedan streaming down Oklahoma City’s hottest clubs, best restaurants, and movie and sporting events.

    I’m Ron Rampersad owner of OKC Luxury Limo. At a length span of 39 feet, we drive the longest limos in OKC and offer the metro’s only fully functioning truck limousines! As owner of multiple businesses serving real estate and home construction markets, I used limousine services as a customer appreciation gesture for my client’s office and end of the year parties. I’d always thought about owning a limousine company but when my family couldn’t find an available limo for my nephew’s prom I decided there was room for another limousine service in Oklahoma City.

    I wanted my line to stand out and generate a buzz. I secured truck limousines in addition to other luxury cars and made sure they featured the latest audio visual entertainment systems, LED lighting, and the best drivers in the metro area. I believe in offering the best service in anything I do, so our drivers are always prompt, courteous, and professional. They’ll treat you like the metro’s most important guest anywhere you want to go. We’re also Remington Park’s exclusive limousine service!

    A night on the town is so much more fun when you’re driving in limousine style. We serve weddings, birthday parties, proms, quinceaneras, reunions, sporting events, business travel, wine tastings, a night out with friends, and more. All of our vehicles can carry eight or more passengers and we offer competitive packages if you’d like dinner reservations, movie, theater or sporting event tickets. Whether you want the classic appeal of our black Lincoln sedan limousine or you want to make a bold statement in one of our truck limousines, you’ll be escorted with class, elegance, and style.

    For your next big plans, let us provide you with the hottest limousines in town and the best service. See our vehicles for yourself on our website or call us to book your next ride in style!

    OKC Luxury Limo, Limousine Service