Tampa Bay NACE @ Top Golf

Us event industry people like to have fun too! Our July National Associate for Catering & Events was hosted by Sarah, and her team at Top Golf.  I hadn't been there before and it was SO much fun!  It was, of course, a golf inspired theme with golf ball center pieces and chocolate favors.  Delicious food, great friendors, some of us golfed:-)  The light there is really cool as it gets dark the lights on the driving range green come on and it looks pretty sweet!
Venue | Top Golf | Linens | Connie Duglin | Favors | Chocolates by Michelle | Mobile Photo Station | Boone's Professional Events

Debbie Lundberg: Beyond Networking 101 @ The Centre Club

The South Tampa Chamber and Centre Club hosted the book launch of Debbie Lundberg, author and speaking coach from Presenting Powerfully.  Debbie has been a friend and mentor of mine for a number of years now and I was so excited to hear about, and read her new book, "Beyond Networking 101".  101 Do's and Don'ts for successfully engaging with others.  It was an hour packed with tips of what to do, and sometimes more importantly not to do.  Debbie is such an engaging and interactive presenter, I always walk away with some new ideas to improve my life immediately.  You'll have to stop on by Amazon to get your copy!  Congrats Debbie on the successful launch of your 10th book!!  

Metropolitan Ministries Bridge Builders 2018

Today is Give Day Tampa Bay which I thought was the perfect day to post sneak peeks from Metropolitan Ministries Bridge Builders event that I photographed last week.  This is one of my favorite, if not my favorite fundraising event each year, and this year their team blew this event out of the water.  The main speaker was going to be WWE wrestler, Titus O'Neil (aka Thaddeus Boullard).  I got to hear some of his story at the Uplift U Metromin graduation last fall.  His story is amazing, his mom was raped when she was 11 and he and his brothers overcame all the obstacles to graduate from college and he is infamous in the WWE.  He was suppose to be there in person but got called out of the country, so they did a series of videos. The first was of the Strong family, which their last name says it all.  The mom walked 18 miles to get to Metromin and how her 3 boys are looking towards college and becoming engineers (I got to talk with them after the event about that:-).  Then they showed Titus' reaction to the video of this family, he teared up at the familiar struggle of their story.  The 3rd video was of Titus having a sit down with the teens from Metromin and he told them he loves them and he believes in them.  He said when someone told him that as a teenager no one had ever said that before and it changed everything for him.  His mom, Daria, was there in person and they had a special hand crafted WWE belt for both her and Titus naming them as Metromin Champions of Hope.  They had Titus record a special video just for his mom, I know words are really doing it justice as to how powerful it was but hopefully you can get a little glimpse of it here.  Their hashtag is #behope and they definitely are making a huge impact to lift up people in Tampa Bay.  Give Day Tampa Bay is a 24 hour online giving challenge for tons of local non profits so whether it's Metromin or whatever your favorite organization is to give back to go on and give to make a difference in our city!

Children's Home Society Imagine Gala @ Bryan Glazer JCC

I had the honor of photographing the Imagine Gala for the Children’s Home Society of Florida on Saturday.  Alexis, Faith, Janelle and their entire team really created an amazing evening with honorary host Mike Alstott.  Children's Home Society's branding statement is "we do good" but honestly it's so much more than that.  They have services for foster children/parents, counseling, adoption, community schools like Mort Elementary and so much more.  It was really cool to hear the vision that they have revolutionizing the foster system so that every child has a family.  On each guests' chair there was a star from each of the kids from Mort Elementary with their name and what they want to be.  I read things like "math teacher", "engineer so I can design cool things", "doctor, so I can help people with disabilities".  Cocktail hour had lots of amazing silent auction items (my fav was the Justin Timberlake Experience:-).  Matt Winter Band played as everyone ate dinner, they had to follow the kids choir who was pretty amazing singing "This is Me" from the Greatest Showman.  Victor Sims, a young man who is a CHS Family Support Worker told his story of how he had gone into the foster system when he was just 3 months old.  He moved from home to home for numerous years and when he was in Kindergarten he said he asked a classmate when they were moving to a new home.  Of course the other child had no idea what he was talking about and said he lived with his parents, and Victor told him "those are really your parents" because he had never known anything different than moving house to house without parents.  He later was adopted by his sister and is one of the small percentage of foster kids who go to, and graduate from college with a Bachelor's degree.  It was pretty powerful.  Mike Alstott, super bowl champion, 6 time Pro Bowler, fellow Purdue Boilermaker,  and founder of Mike Alstott Family Foundation was the honorary host, former Bucs player Michael Clayton was also there but I have to tell you my personal favorite person I got to meet was someone who I randomly saw in the lobby in between speakers.  There was a very tall man who looked familiar and it was Quinton Aaron, who played Michael Oher in the movie the Blindside!  One of my personal favorite movies of all time.  I asked him and Miss Galaxy to get together for a photo, so that I could get a photo with him too lol!!!  It's on my Instagram @carriewildes if you want to see it:-)  All the people below and so so many more donated their time and talents to help raise money so that kinds don't have to just imagine what they can be, but have the opportunity to be what they want to be.  
Venue | Bryan Glazer JCC | Host | Mike Alstott Family Foundation | Band | Matt Winter Band | Centerpieces | ABC Event Planning | Step and Repeat |  OAI Visual Branding | Video Production | The Kind Mouse Productions

Vino & Voting @ Bakers Ranch

The team below pulled out all the stops to create this Tuscan wine themed event for Tampa Bay NACE!  The huge farm table in the middle was kind of the center piece of the room with the coolest wine themed decor.  The abstract boxes were draped in florals, grapes, and wine corks.  There were vineyards and wine barrels projected on the walls to make you feel like you were in a winery.  I photographed the room a couple of different ways so you can see the wall projection and keep the ambiance with the amber uplighting.  The outside space was draped in lights with, florals on high tops and wine barrels.  Delectables Catering had a fabulous charcuterie spread in the center of the pergola.  Arty, from Spunky Spirits was the wine tasting MC and I learned that "you can't have a party without Arty"!  A really unique touch the did was put each company's logo on a wine bottle for the backdrop of that table.  There was lots of vino, great conversation,  and some voting for the 2018 board members:-) Cheers to this fabulous team and the 2018 board next year is going to be amazing! 
Venue | Bakers Ranch | Coordination | Unique Weddings + Events | Florals | Events in Bloom | Wine Tasting | Spunky Spirits | Linens | Connie Duglin | Tables/Chairs/Wine Barrels | Elite Events | Catering | Delectables | Projection/AV | DJ Cory Barron | DJ | Breezin | Greenery | A1 Foilage | Dessert | The Cake Zone | Lighting & Draping | Music on the Move Productions 

Metropolitan Ministries Culinary Arts & Uplift U Graduation

Hope is Here.  It's so true!  That is honestly what they do in Tampa Bay and why I love Metromin and donating my time there whenever I can.  I had the opportunity to photograph the graduation from their Culinary Arts and Uplift U programs. Chef teared up as he talked about his students and celebrated each one as he called them up to be recognized.  They've got jobs in some of the premier restaurants in Tampa like Mise En Place and Ulele.  The Uplift U graduates have completed training that has landed them jobs and stable housing for themselves and their kids (all the kids are so freaking cute:-)!  At some point in life they found themselves in a position of homelessness with no one to turn to.  Metromin helped give them the resources needed to change their life and become self-sufficient. When Tim Marks, President and CEO was talking to them he said something like "this place isn't the best place, the best place is your own place" it's the same as home sweet home right?  Each of the Uplift U grads were recognized and I love that each of the kids got a medal as well.  At the end, they had a little surprise guest for the graduates.  WWE wrestler Titus O'Neil shared his story of how his mom was raped at 11 years old and he was born when she was only 12 years old.  His story is pretty amazing and he lives here in Tampa Bay and does a ton of work with charities helping kids go to college, after school programs, and United Way just to name a few.  This was definitely a very special event and so inspiring! 

Be Beautiful Do Good - Promise Love Fundraiser

This event has a really cool little story behind it.  Sarah, one of our brides, and also Michele Renee's posted on facebook that she wanted to do a makeup class and was curious who would teach one.  I saw her post and tagged Michele because I knew she did them.  Then, Michele and Sarah decided to make it a fundraising event to support adoption through the Promise Love Foundation!  I co-founded this organization and am so thankful for people like these 2 ladies who help us do what we do, which is partner with families to raise money for adoption.  Their goal was to raise $1000 from this event and they did it!  This money will go towards Mary Jo and Gil, who we have a goal of raising $27,000 for their adoption.  We're up to almost $5000 for them so far, so we do have a ways to go (and you can always donate here:-)   They are matched with a birth mom who is having a little girl in November.  Michele taught us how to use the color wheel and eye shape when applying makeup, I know I learned a ton!  There were sweets donated from Nothing Bunt Cakes, champagne, and even a silent auction with some awesome swag.  You ladies are amazing!!! Thank you so much to everyone who came and especially Michele and Sarah for all your hard work planning it!!   

Liz Kamali Events - Havana Nights Party

Liz Kamali Events team celebrating their new website and brand with an amazing Havana Nights themed party at Isla Del Sol.  Not only that, they used their party to give to support adoption and forever families through the Promise Love Foundation (which is also our passion:-).  Congrats LKE team and all the fabulous friendors that we got to see and celebrate with!!  It was amazing!! 
Venue | Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club | DJ | Grant Hemond | Furniture & Florals | FH Weddings & Events | Linens | Kate Ryan Linens | Chivari Chairs & Dance Floor | Signature Event Rentals | Custom Pillows, Napkins, Cigar Boxes, & Red Carpet | Just A BasketCase Events 

Evie is 3!

I'm not a crafty go all out pinterest-y person, with the exception of my kids birthday parties! Every year I saw I'm going to do low key and simple but I just can't help myself!  My youngest, Everly, turned 3 in June.  With it being so hot here in Florida in June, and the fact that this kid loves ice cream, we did an ice cream sundae theme.  The fabulous cake (by the Cake Zone) which looked like it was an upside down melting ice cream cone was the best part:-)  Each year I do photos of the girls on their birthdays separately and together to make sure I photograph them for real at least twice a year.  Evie loves baby dolls and our pets, especially Abita who's a pretty patient little pup!  

NACE Member Mixer @ Tailored Twig

Our local NACE chapter had our very first member only mixer hosted by Darin and his fabulous team at Tailored Twig.  Anyone who walks in falls in love with how cool it is (the swing though).  It's pretty much straight out of a mid century modern magazine!  They specialize in custom, one of a kind floral pieces.  Yes, you do see one hanging from the ceiling and the others have driftwood incorporated in them.  This was a smaller event for the members to get to know one another over deliciousness from Good Food Catering and Chocolates by Michelle.  Looking forward to more of these events!

Jorge and Luis University of Tampa Class of 2017!

Jorge's mom, Lilian planned a special celebration for him and his friend Luis as they just graduated from University of Tampa! They are from Venezuela, and many of their family members flew in to join them.  After photos on campus Lilian had a fabulous lunch planned at Cena, with custom favors, chocolates, and deliciousness.  Graduating from college is such a huge accomplishment and excitement for what the future holds.  Congrats Jorge and Luis, much success in your lives and careers ahead!! 

Women of Influence 2017

Each year (I think this makes 9:-) I photograph this event I am inspired by both the speaker and the energy in the room as 800+ smart, successful and amazing women come together.  This year in particular resonated with me because the story that Debbie Sterling had to share is similar to where I came from.  She is the inventor and CEO of Goldie Blox, which is a children's multimedia company designed to challenge gender stereotypes by introducing girls to engineering at a young age.  Debbie told her story of how she went to college for engineering and saw how few women pursue that profession so she became obsessed with "disrupting the pink aisle" and created the first ever girl engineer character named Goldie which is how Goldie Blox originated.  As a fellow woman who went to college for engineering, it is so true!  I never knew was engineering was either.  In high school I was good at math and science and heard engineering had a high starting income so that's what I decided to do.  I will say, Purdue had a really amazing women in engineering program to recruit and encourage more women to pursue this field so that's exactly what I did.  Even though I'm not in that field in the traditional sense, the skills I learned to problem solve, project manage, and business tools helped shaped me into the entrepreneur I never knew I could be.  As a mom of 2 little girls now, I want to introduce them to these concepts so they can do anything they want to do! I'll leave you with the quote that was my favorite.  "It's okay to be a princess...you just want her to be able to build her castle, too!" - Debbie Sterling

J's 1st Birthday Party!

This little cutie has grown up so much since his newborn session!  He doesn't even know it yet, but he's set for life for awesome birthday parties and cake for life (Grandma & Grandpa own Baker's Ranch and The Cake Zone)  They threw a fabulous farm themed party complete with the cutest cake pops and a huge bounce house.  He wasn't too sure about that cake but with a little help from his parents he got the hang of it.  My favorite part: photos with grandparents and great grandparents.  You might recognize my little cuties enjoying all the fun:-)
Venue | Bakers Ranch | Cake | The Cake Zone | Linens | Linens by the Sea | Balloons | Affairs in the Air

Zeke's Last Chemo Treatment

A parent’s worst fear in knowing something is wrong with their child and then finding out the diagnosis is that "something" is cancer. This is the nightmare that Alisha and Jeremy have walked through for the past 3 years. Their sweet boy, Zeke, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was just 3 years old. He has been a patient at All Children's Hospital during this time. They have an amazing staff that truly cares and grows close to their patients. Alisha and Jeremy's whole family came out to celebrate Zeke's, last chemo treatment. I was blessed with the opportunity to be there to photograph this monumental day.  There really aren't words to describe the feelings I had while witnessing this! It was a mix of joy and excitement, sadness and fear, all at the same time. As a mom of two boys, I was overcome with emotion as Alisha held her baby's hand as they accessed his port and took blood, hooked him up to the machine that pumped chemo into his little body for the last time.  No parent wants to go through this but this family is such an example of strength and endurance. They all joined hands and prayed, giving thanks to God for His healing of their boy. I literally was brought to tears as I watched Zeke ring the bell in the hall! This bell signifies the kids' last treatment and remission of cancer. Then again, I got all teary eyed as Alisha and Zeke walked the hall, hand in hand, to thank and hug all the nurses for their amazing care.  I absolutely love photographing weddings and all the joyous occasions we get to be a part of, but, his may go down as my all time favorite photo shoot ever.  Thank you Palmer Family for allowing us to be a part of such a monumental and blessed day!!  We also wanted to share from Alisha what this day meant in her words:

“To put into words from a mothers heart on the emotions and feeling of this day might be challenging but here it is. My son Zeke was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia on Sept 5, 2013, over 3 years I waited for this day, this day to say to my son "this is your last chemotherapy treatment". In the pediatric cancer world this conversation from one parent to a child is rarely had, I am beyond blessed to say "My son is done with chemotherapy treatments" because not all parents can say that. This is a chapter in my son’s life I pray to the Lord we never have to revisit again. But, from day one God's presence and peace was with me. I didn't know the out-come of this journey but I trusted the Lord through every hospital stay, fever, blood transfusion, platelet transfusion, chemo treatment in his port and every 3 months of chemotherapy in is spine and up to 12 pills at night I had to give him chemo, steroids, seeing specials from dermatologist, cardiologist and lung doctors, many hour of sleepless nights I knew the Lord was by my side.  Zeke's joy from day 1 was amazing, he never complained, NEVER. I am beyond grateful for the nurses and doctors that made this journey as pleasant as possible. Faith is all I had for each day, to see life through a different light, to be thankful for everyday and not to worry about the small stuff. Every moment is a blessing and I am beyond grateful to have these still memories to remind me God is always faithful and It Is Finished.”

Jennifer Matteo @ The Diamond Vault

The wedding and event industry is made of of many small businesses and it's really so fun and exciting to celebrate friendors (vendors that are friends:-) dreams coming true!  Sarasota is not far from Tampa Bay and honestly I just plain love going there.  Last week Jennifer Matteo hosted a fabulous launch party for her event planning company & the Diamond Vault in Sarasota.  I got to photograph it as well and get to spend time with some people I haven't seen in years and many new faces that were so fun getting to know.  As you can imagine, Jennifer had a fabulous group of people who worked so hard to make it a beautiful setting and celebration for her.  Her adorable son Jackson even got to make an appearance.  Thanks Jennifer it was so fun to be a part of!   
Venue | Diamond Vault | Catering | Cafe Gabbiano | Beverages | Liquor Locker | Gift Baskets | Just a Basket Case | China/High Tops/Linens | US Tent | Prosecco Pops | Pop Craft | Cakes | Wonder Cake Creations and Cakes by Ron | Musicians | Tasa & Rob | Florals | Oh Darling Events | Draping & Decor | Palacios Events | Furniture & Decor | So Staged Events

Metropolitan Ministries Bridge Builders 2016

Metropolitan Ministries truly brings hope to those who are running short on it in Tampa Bay.  Over 1000 people supported their annual Bridge Builders event at the Hilton Downtown Tampa.  Lunch was provided by their cafe and catering company, Inside the Box.  It's "Good Food Doing Good", because all proceeds go back to feeding the hungry and people in need right here in Tampa, the food and service there is awesome.  Definitely worth a visit if you haven't been!  They shared a video story of Linda, and how working there has changed her life.  She actually made the cheesecake favors at each place setting.  Pam Iorio was presented with the 2016 Bridge Builders award and a hug from some of the Notes of Joy.  Metromin's President, Tim Marks, talked about outcomes, success rates, and how they measure, and constantly improve on helping people (makes my nerdy engineering heart leap:-)  They have a 92% success rate in their short term program and 88% success rate in their long term program which means almost all their families are leaving with housing, and a plan to be self-sufficient.  If you haven't taken a tour of the campus, or volunteered with them, you must!  it will blow your mind the impact they are making on Tampa Bay! 

Women of Influence 2016

The Women of Influence Luncheon this year, was the biggest one yet, over 1000 people (mostly women but a few brave men:-) at the Hilton Downtown Tampa.  This is the 7th year in a row I've photographed this event with the Greater Tampa Chamber, and it is always one of my favorites.  Dr. Judy Genshaft presented the 2016 Dottie Berger MacKinnon Woman of Influence Award to Rhea Law.  Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3, which is the largest independent women-owned advertising agency in the US was the keynote speaker.  Back when she started her company in 1989 she wrote her mission statement on a napkin "Kick-ass work for clients who want to kick-ass".  I have to say I love this statement and feel the same in terms of what we do.  How about "Kick-ass photography for clients who want photos that kick-ass."  Gay was so interesting and energizing, it was awesome.