About NSE

 
Jane Cane Photography

Jane Cane Photography

Founded in 2010, Northland Special Events began out of the back of a mini-van at a popular North Shore resort. As owner, Mariah and her mom Sharron pulled together the finishing touches for sister Kaitlyn's wedding, they knew it couldn't and wouldn't be their last Northland wedding! Eight years later and hundreds of successful weddings and events, Northland Special Events is the region's premiere vendor for event planning, design, floral and decor services.

As a small, woman-owned business, NSE prides itself in working with local vendors to produce first class events. Our creative business model provides opportunity for Team members to pursue their event planning careers in a supportive, flexible environment.

Visit us at The Vault, our showroom and floral studio located at 324 W. Superior St. Ste. 50, Duluth in the Medical Arts Building, to see our extensive collection of event decor and if you are lucky you'll find the Floral Designers working their floral magic too!

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Love Note

Mariah and her entire team were incredibly awesome. We had many meetings leading up to the actual wedding, and each time I would go in with more questions and regular wedding planning worries,and I would always leave feeling so much better about everything and in such good hands. I wouldn’t have been able to do everything without Northland Special Events. The wedding day itself was more than I could have ever imagined- the centerpieces and decor were beyond my wildest dreams amazing, and having mariah as a “day of coordinator” was the best decision we made. She and her team can truly do it all, and I can’t say enough. If you are getting married in Minnesota (the cities or the duluth/north shore area) and want personal service and true dedication, this is your best bet.
— Katie

 

The NSE Team

Mariah McKechnie , Visionary & Principal Event Specialist   The O.G.   Mariah ( @mariahmckechnie ) founded NSE in 2010 from the back of her mini-van and suburban basement. Flash-forward 9 years and 1000's of weddings, and our creative visionary continues to bring fresh ideas and fun to the job every day. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Facts: Mariah is the mother of identical twin daughters, Lily & Josie, and an obsessed dog mom to Cheech ( @cheechmckechnie ). ⠀ ⠀ Super-Power: Bringing calm in the middle of the storm. Mariah's unwavering confidence that "everything will be ok" reassures her clients throughout the planning process and on their event days. Her mantra, "Trust The Universe." ⠀

Mariah McKechnie, Visionary & Principal Event Specialist

The O.G.

Mariah (@mariahmckechnie) founded NSE in 2010 from the back of her mini-van and suburban basement. Flash-forward 9 years and 1000's of weddings, and our creative visionary continues to bring fresh ideas and fun to the job every day. ⠀

Fun Facts: Mariah is the mother of identical twin daughters, Lily & Josie, and an obsessed dog mom to Cheech (@cheechmckechnie). ⠀

Super-Power: Bringing calm in the middle of the storm. Mariah's unwavering confidence that "everything will be ok" reassures her clients throughout the planning process and on their event days. Her mantra, "Trust The Universe." ⠀

Bernadine Spinner , Chief of Staff   To know Bernadine is to love her. Especially her cute face.   Over 5 years of experience bringing Mariah's crazy ideas to life gives her street cred for ever. She gets things done.  When "B" walks in the room, you know it. Why? Because you can't stop smiling. Everything about Bernadine is happy. She brings JOY and ORDER to everything that we do. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Facts: Bernadine has never had a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. She has two stinking cute kiddos, Tilden & Solina. She is a balloon master. ⠀ ⠀ Super-Power: FUN. Literally every moment you spend with B is fun. If you are in a crappy spot, you want B there, because at least you'll be laughing.

Bernadine Spinner, Chief of Staff

To know Bernadine is to love her. Especially her cute face.

Over 5 years of experience bringing Mariah's crazy ideas to life gives her street cred for ever. She gets things done.

When "B" walks in the room, you know it. Why? Because you can't stop smiling. Everything about Bernadine is happy. She brings JOY and ORDER to everything that we do. ⠀

Fun Facts: Bernadine has never had a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. She has two stinking cute kiddos, Tilden & Solina. She is a balloon master. ⠀

Super-Power: FUN. Literally every moment you spend with B is fun. If you are in a crappy spot, you want B there, because at least you'll be laughing.

 
Lynda Ritsche , Client Services Specialist   The Voice of NSE.   Lynda is the voice of NSE. Every phone call and inquiry flows through Lynda and her exceptional customer service begins every client experience on an incredible note. Lynda keeps our Event Specialists on task and has been known to run an event like a boss from time to time too! ⠀ ⠀ Fun Fact: Lynda lives in Madison, WI. Yes, it's true, she isn't actually in our Duluth office - but you'd never know it! Two years ago, Lynda moved to be closer to her kids and grandkids and successfully transitioned to a remote position. ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Remembering EVERYTHING. Lynda knows the comings and goings of every NSE client and team member. Her ability to keep track of details blows our minds and we're grateful for it. ⠀

Lynda Ritsche, Client Services Specialist

The Voice of NSE.

Lynda is the voice of NSE. Every phone call and inquiry flows through Lynda and her exceptional customer service begins every client experience on an incredible note. Lynda keeps our Event Specialists on task and has been known to run an event like a boss from time to time too! ⠀

Fun Fact: Lynda lives in Madison, WI. Yes, it's true, she isn't actually in our Duluth office - but you'd never know it! Two years ago, Lynda moved to be closer to her kids and grandkids and successfully transitioned to a remote position. ⠀

Super Power: Remembering EVERYTHING. Lynda knows the comings and goings of every NSE client and team member. Her ability to keep track of details blows our minds and we're grateful for it. ⠀

Kaitlyn Swenson , Human Resources Director & Floral Designer   Chief People Person.   Kaitlyn truly makes Team NSE happen. Hiring, onboarding, staffing, training....Kaitlyn makes working here work. ⠀ ⠀ Great Bouquet Thrower. Wearing double hats, Kaitlyn plays a vital role on our floral team designing many of our bouquets over the last 8 years  @superiorblooms . ⠀ ⠀ Fun Facts: Kaitlyn is allergic to flowers. She is an amazing make-up artist and awesome at hair too...she did all of us up for our head shots! ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Showing up when you need her most. Like the moment you think, "I need help" you turn around and Kaitlyn has heard your cry and is ready to slay. She's just ALWAYS there...in a GOOD way! ⠀

Kaitlyn Swenson, Human Resources Director & Floral Designer

Chief People Person.

Kaitlyn truly makes Team NSE happen. Hiring, onboarding, staffing, training....Kaitlyn makes working here work. ⠀

Great Bouquet Thrower. Wearing double hats, Kaitlyn plays a vital role on our floral team designing many of our bouquets over the last 8 years @superiorblooms. ⠀

Fun Facts: Kaitlyn is allergic to flowers. She is an amazing make-up artist and awesome at hair too...she did all of us up for our head shots! ⠀

Super Power: Showing up when you need her most. Like the moment you think, "I need help" you turn around and Kaitlyn has heard your cry and is ready to slay. She's just ALWAYS there...in a GOOD way! ⠀

Ellen Plumb , Event Specialist & Operations Assistant   The Master of Projects.   Ellen knows everything about NSE. She knows where every single inventory item lives, the exact dimensions and ceiling type of every venue, and the contract details for every event we do. Ellen has all the answers. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Facts: Ellen is a connoisseur of soft pretzels. She first joined Team NSE as an intern from UWS-Stout. ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Anticipating our every need, before we know we need it. Ellen can think 10 steps ahead and knows what's around every corner. When prepping for an event, you want Ellen's brain on it to make sure you haven't missed anything. ⠀

Ellen Plumb, Event Specialist & Operations Assistant

The Master of Projects.

Ellen knows everything about NSE. She knows where every single inventory item lives, the exact dimensions and ceiling type of every venue, and the contract details for every event we do. Ellen has all the answers. ⠀

Fun Facts: Ellen is a connoisseur of soft pretzels. She first joined Team NSE as an intern from UWS-Stout. ⠀

Super Power: Anticipating our every need, before we know we need it. Ellen can think 10 steps ahead and knows what's around every corner. When prepping for an event, you want Ellen's brain on it to make sure you haven't missed anything. ⠀

 
Sydney Fischer , Superior Blooms Manager   The Sweetheart.   Sydney oversees all of the every day and event floral at NSE. She manages a team of designers and assistants that put out gorgeous arrangements, bouquets, memorial pieces, and more every day. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Facts: Sydney loves Dogs.....like a lot. Her puppy, Surly, starred in a recent NSE styled shoot. Syd has worked at NSE since High School! ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Organization. Syd keeps track of hundreds of floral pieces and all of their ins and outs every week...and she always has a smile on her face! ⠀

Sydney Fischer, Superior Blooms Manager

The Sweetheart.

Sydney oversees all of the every day and event floral at NSE. She manages a team of designers and assistants that put out gorgeous arrangements, bouquets, memorial pieces, and more every day. ⠀

Fun Facts: Sydney loves Dogs.....like a lot. Her puppy, Surly, starred in a recent NSE styled shoot. Syd has worked at NSE since High School! ⠀

Super Power: Organization. Syd keeps track of hundreds of floral pieces and all of their ins and outs every week...and she always has a smile on her face! ⠀

Kathy Beede ,  Senior Event Specialist    The O.G. Event Specialist.   Kathy joined NSE as our first official hire in 2010 and never looked back (we hope). Together with her amazing clients, Kathy plans, designs and executes weddings and special events. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Fact: Kathy plays competitive volley ball. Kathy may be one of our more senior team members, but she has more energy than the rest of us combined. ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Kicking Cancer's Ass and never missing a beat. We bow down to Kathy's strength and courage, she sets an incredible example of resilience for our team every day.⠀

Kathy Beede, Senior Event Specialist

The O.G. Event Specialist.

Kathy joined NSE as our first official hire in 2010 and never looked back (we hope). Together with her amazing clients, Kathy plans, designs and executes weddings and special events. ⠀

Fun Fact: Kathy plays competitive volley ball. Kathy may be one of our more senior team members, but she has more energy than the rest of us combined. ⠀

Super Power: Kicking Cancer's Ass and never missing a beat. We bow down to Kathy's strength and courage, she sets an incredible example of resilience for our team every day.⠀

Kyla Ekstrom , Event Specialist   The Queen of Calm.   Kyla works with clients to plan and execute weddings and special events. Nearly unflappable, Kyla's calm manner brings her clients peace and reduces their event anxiety. She also works in our marketing department and assists wherever we need her. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Facts: Kyla is married to Kyle. Kyla started working at NSE after interviewing Mariah for a college project, came for an assignment and left with a job! ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Mad Canva skills. Kyla can whip up table numbers, flyers, menus and pretty much any graphic you need in a FLASH. ⠀

Kyla Ekstrom, Event Specialist

The Queen of Calm.

Kyla works with clients to plan and execute weddings and special events. Nearly unflappable, Kyla's calm manner brings her clients peace and reduces their event anxiety. She also works in our marketing department and assists wherever we need her. ⠀

Fun Facts: Kyla is married to Kyle. Kyla started working at NSE after interviewing Mariah for a college project, came for an assignment and left with a job! ⠀

Super Power: Mad Canva skills. Kyla can whip up table numbers, flyers, menus and pretty much any graphic you need in a FLASH. ⠀

 
Bridget Zuk , Event Specialist   Glitter Sister.    E vent Designer to the Stars....or at least she should be. Bridget plans, designs and executes weddings for amazing NSE couples. She brings impeccable personal style and class to her role. By day, Bridget teaches middle school Spanish , which also explains why she is so skilled at keeping wedding plans in line! ⠀ ⠀ Fun Fact: Bridget was an NSE Bride in 2015 and joined Team NSE immediately following her wedding. She is best known for her love of GLITTER....all things GLITTER. ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Sparkle. Along with all the glitter comes an inner sparkle like no other. When Bridget is in the room, everything and everyone lights up. ⠀

Bridget Zuk, Event Specialist

Glitter Sister.

Event Designer to the Stars....or at least she should be. Bridget plans, designs and executes weddings for amazing NSE couples. She brings impeccable personal style and class to her role. By day, Bridget teaches middle school Spanish , which also explains why she is so skilled at keeping wedding plans in line! ⠀

Fun Fact: Bridget was an NSE Bride in 2015 and joined Team NSE immediately following her wedding. She is best known for her love of GLITTER....all things GLITTER. ⠀

Super Power: Sparkle. Along with all the glitter comes an inner sparkle like no other. When Bridget is in the room, everything and everyone lights up. ⠀

Nick Vittorio , Graphic Designer & Staff Photorapher   Mr. Patient.   Nick creates amazing content for NSE,  @superiorblooms and  @duluthballooncompany  to support our marketing activities and document our work. Nick photographed all of our head shots. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Fact: Nick was an NSE groom in 2017! He is the lone Dude on our team right now and does an amazing job working with so many strong women. ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Strength. Nick can pick up a farm table and carry it over his head with one arm. His strength and determination keeps us motivated during heavy duty event set ups and tear downs!

Nick Vittorio, Graphic Designer & Staff Photorapher

Mr. Patient.

Nick creates amazing content for NSE, @superiorbloomsand @duluthballooncompany to support our marketing activities and document our work. Nick photographed all of our head shots. ⠀

Fun Fact: Nick was an NSE groom in 2017! He is the lone Dude on our team right now and does an amazing job working with so many strong women. ⠀

Super Power: Strength. Nick can pick up a farm table and carry it over his head with one arm. His strength and determination keeps us motivated during heavy duty event set ups and tear downs!

Brittany Lind , Showroom Manager & DBC Assistant   Wears Many Hats.   Brittany is a jack of all trades at NSE. She oversees Social Media for  @superiorblooms  and  @duluthballooncompany , coordinates events, and most recently assists Bernadine with day-to-day operations at The Duluth Balloon Co. ⠀ ⠀ Fun Fact: Brittany is the host of NPR's The Current Duluth Local radio show, a long time dream job. ⠀ ⠀ Super Power: Clothing Swap Guru. Ask Brittany about a clothing swap and she'll tell you what's what. ⠀

Brittany Lind, Showroom Manager & DBC Assistant

Wears Many Hats.

Brittany is a jack of all trades at NSE. She oversees Social Media for @superiorblooms and @duluthballooncompany, coordinates events, and most recently assists Bernadine with day-to-day operations at The Duluth Balloon Co. ⠀

Fun Fact: Brittany is the host of NPR's The Current Duluth Local radio show, a long time dream job. ⠀

Super Power: Clothing Swap Guru. Ask Brittany about a clothing swap and she'll tell you what's what. ⠀

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What We're Up To

 

As Seen In

Northland Special Events in the press. 

 
 
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Destined for Duluth

Minnesota Bride, Spring/Summer 2017

“Superior Street [is great] for bar-hopping, Canal Park is right on the lake with lots of cute shops and restaurants, and Park Point Beach is an unbelievable pristine sand beach,” says Mariah McKechnie, owner of Northland Special Events. “If wedding parties have a chance to head further north, there are lots of great spots. Sometimes [couples] will extend the wedding and go further north to hike or do a mini-moon in Lutsen,” further up the North Shore.

DESTINATION NORTH: HEAD TO THE SHORE FOR THE BEST LAKESIDE WEDDING CHARM MINNESOTA HAS TO OFFER

Minnesota Bride, Fall/Winter 2018

Wedding planner Mariah McKechnie, owner of Northland Special Events in Duluth, says the North Shore is becoming the ultimate destination for Minnesota weddings. “Because of the proximity to the Twin Cities, most guests can drive to the North Shore, so you’re not asking too much of them.”

“Spectacular photography is what everyone who chooses to get married up here appreciates: unmistakable sweeping vistas of Lake Superior, the iconic Lift Bridge in the background and beautiful fall colors,” McKechnie says.

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Northland Special Events grows services, downtown footprint

Duluth News Tribune, March 2017

Mariah McKechnie is a master of plans — which makes sense, given she's the owner of wedding and special occasion planner Northland Special Events.

Now she's got something planned for herself as her business continues to balloon.