Celebrating 2017!

To call 2017 eventful would be a major understatement, in fact, we successfully launched FOUR new divisions - all expanding our ability to create, do and give more to our community!

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To accommodate these new additions, we expanded our space with a beautiful new show room and threw a killer party to celebrate!

Video Credit: National Audio Visual


Nevertheless, we also did what we do best – Planned, Designed, & Executed over 200 Weddings & Special Events.

Photo Credits: (Top left to right) Kirsten Barbara Photography, Al&Lyndsey Photography, Derek Montgomery Photography, Kirsten Barbara Photography, LaCoursiere & Co., Kellie Rae Studio (2), Three Irish Girls Photography, Al & Lyndsey Photography, Tandem Tree Photography, Three Irish Girls Photography, Geneoh Photography, Al&Lyndsey Photography, Kellie Rae Studio (2), Al&Lyndsey Photography.

Photo Credits: (Top left to right) Kirsten Barbara Photography, Al&Lyndsey Photography, Derek Montgomery Photography, Kirsten Barbara Photography, LaCoursiere & Co., Kellie Rae Studio (2), Three Irish Girls Photography, Al & Lyndsey Photography, Tandem Tree Photography, Three Irish Girls Photography, Geneoh Photography, Al&Lyndsey Photography, Kellie Rae Studio (2), Al&Lyndsey Photography.

Proudly, we continued to honor our commitment to giving with over $40,000 of event services donated to local non-profit organizations.

Photo Credit: The Boys & Girls Club of the Northland

Photo Credit: The Boys & Girls Club of the Northland

Most importantly….

We created beautiful memories and we loved every minute!

Photo Credit: The Wild Booth

Photo Credit: The Wild Booth

Here's to a new year....new challenges...new opportunities...and plenty of new memories to be made!

With Gratitude,


The Gratitude Project

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My freshman year of college, my grandfather passed away. I was 2000 miles away from home at school and it was Thanksgiving. To say I was a grandpa’s girl, is an understatement. We were connected on another level. He was the most incredible man I had ever known – kind, soft-spoken, and selfless. He was an entrepreneur who gave his life to helping others. I’d never felt grief like that before, and I didn’t know how to cope. Enter Oprah. I distinctly recall catching an episode while home for the funeral where she featured author Sarah Ban Breathnach and her New York Times best-selling book Simple Abundance. This was my first introduction to the principal of an abundance mentality and a life lived in gratitude.  Rather than focus on my loss, I learned to focus on the abundance of love he had given me. That book weathered me through that difficult time and continues to influence me today.

I know my grandfather would be proud of the entrepreneur I have become and the role of gratitude in my business and in my family. One of the Northland Special Events core values is GIVE – humble, kind, generous. In our work we give with our whole hearts, bodies and minds in the planning and executing some of life’s most precious moments. We give and we gain. For that we are so grateful.

The month of November 2017 marks twenty years since my grandfather’s passing and beginning of a new chapter in my gratitude journey. I am elated to launch The Gratitude Project, a three-pronged initiative to incorporate gratitude in everything that we do – honoring our clients, partners, and team members in thoughtful ways and in significant moments. I look forward to unfurling this project one step at a time and sharing this abundance within our community.

I am grateful for clients that trust fully in me to plan their ‘Best Day Ever’ and give me the space and time I need to let the creative energy flow.

I am grateful for industry partners who steer clients in our direction and who show up ready to work together as a team.

I am grateful for employees who have become like family and who give me grace when I stumble as their leader. They are the wind beneath my wings. (Thank you, Diane for giving me that line)

Take a moment to reflect on the abundance in your life. Be grateful and be forever changed…

With Gratitude,


2018 Trend Report

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald


From the first time I read this quote in one of my all time favorite novels, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it resonated profoundly. Growing up and living in a climate with four distinct seasons conditioned me to be ready for change every three months. In fall, the start of school, the chill in the air and the turning of the leaves symbolized a time of transition, reflection and preparation to start anew. I always find myself full of energy and ideas about ‘next year’ and ‘in 2018’ and I love the chance to make plans for the “Best Year Ever.” In a design driven business, I also love the fall for trend spotting and dreaming up new concepts for next year’s events. This is the time of year we start diving deep into wedding and event plans and spending a LOT of time on Pinterest!

And so, we bring you a highlight of some of our favorite 2018 Trends and what to watch for in next year’s weddings and special events. Let us know if any of these spark your attention! We’re always adding to our inventory and we love hearing from our clients about what they’d like to see!

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1.     Pantone Palette.

It’s bold and muted – all at the same time! We love the push and pull of colors that both amp up the volume and create rich undertones. We can see these shades really popping in bridal bouquets and bridesmaid dresses!

2.     Walls, walls, walls.

When you need more space…..go UP! Last year saw the trend of Donut walls and we love that next year takes the concept and makes it both sweet – and salty! How about a bagel wall or pretzel wall? BBQ sauce wall? Yes, please!

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3.     Vintage Floral Patterns.

Vintage pieces have been all the rage for some time, but 2018 will see an upsurge in floral prints in wedding fashion and décor. These prints have a special place in my heart – they make me nostalgic for my grandmother’s floral wall paper! A perfect addition to the ever popular, blush and gold palette, floral prints add another layer of femininity and beauty. We’re down for that!


4.     Greenery Backdrops.

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 This is one where we are right on trend and already planning to create some stunning greenery backdrops in 2018. With last year’s Pantone color of the year being “Greenery,” it’s no surprise that all things green are trending right now. Walls of boxwood, moss, or ferns bring the outside in and range from rustic to preppy. We can never seem to get enough green…


Be inspired. Life starts all over again and again and again each season and there’s always next year!


With Gratitude,

Mariah & Team NSE

The Vault by NSE

It all started out with a mini-van, a family wedding, and a creative passion unleashed….flash forward seven years and we are now about to open The Vault to our vast, eclectic, amazing inventory of event décor and linen for individual rental! To say that this is an exciting next step for the NSE family is an understatement. We love our treasures. We have collected them one at a time and nearly all of them come with a story of their provenance...found on the side of the road, rescued out of Grandma’s basement, lovingly gifted by a past client or strategically selected to create a dynamic and “Pinterest-worthy” inventory. Now we want to share it with YOU!

The Vault Event Décor Rental is an easy to navigate (we hope) website (www.eventdecorduluth.com) featuring select gems from our event décor and linen rental inventory available for individual booking over 3-day time frames. Clients may visit the site, select their items, and book their rental dates all in a matter of minutes on the website. We will continue to update the site with new items as we add them to our inventory and with seasonal changes. We’re even planning some exciting larger additions that we hope to unveil soon! This site is perfect for DIY weddings, baby and bridal showers, birthday parties, plays, and so much more. Of course, our Event Specialists and party planning experts are only a phone call or email away to help you with any rentals that are more complicated or require special assistance. We love assisting our clients to create an amazing atmosphere for their guests and our ultimate goal is to make the experience as stress-free, as possible! (218) 499-9449 or info@eventdecorduluth.com.


All items may be viewed in person at our showroom located at 324 W. Superior St. in Duluth. We are open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and we promise to show you The Vault, if you’d like to see it. No really, The Vault is real and we’re very proud to call it our home!

Our Future is Bright

On May 3, 2017, we threw an EPIC party. We celebrated the beginning of a new chapter for NSE and we celebrated with everyone we loved – family, friends, colleagues and clients. We truly love the Northland and growing our footprint in Downtown Duluth just felt right. Let me take a moment to introduce our reasons for celebration:

  • A dedicated NSE “show room” with display space for our décor and linen collection and beautiful conference room for hosting larger client groups
  • The opening of The Duluth Balloon Company, a divison of NSE, offering helium balloons from an innovative e-commerce platform and boutique store front
  • The expansion of Fleurtation, our floral design brand, to include every day floral offerings. We were especially excited to debut the Fleurbox, a surprising new twist on giving flowers

We never work alone when producing spectacular events and our own party was no exception. Our vendor friends showered us with love and shared their talents to make our party next level. We are so thankful for their support!

  • Blackwoods Catering. Exceptional on every level. From meeting with us to develop a custom (pink-themed) menu to providing professional staff to butler pass hors d’oeuvres (a crowd favorite) this group never disappoints. We love every opportunity to partner with the Blackwoods Group!
  • How Sweet It Is Cakes – Utterly delicious pink macarons. The party wouldn’t have been the same without them.
  • Duluth Event Lighting – Ken illuminates all.
  • Fannie Rose Candy Shop – Pink Popcorn. Yes, custom pink popcorn just for us!
  • CashWise Liquor – Pink Champagne….do you see a theme here?
  • Snazzy Cakes – The prettiest darn cookies you’ve ever seen. Yes, they were mostly pink.
  • The Wild Booth – Duluth’s best photo booth. Hands down.
  • Sternberg Studios – Michelle worked tirelessly to bring our showroom to life with images of our clients. She’s definitely an honorary member of the NSE family.
  • Koehler & Dramm Wholesale Floral – Oodles of pink flowers and years of keeping our Fleurtations in bloom.

Last, but certainly not least…..

  • National Audio Visual. Watch the video and you’ll understand just how amazing and special this company is to us. We couldn’t love it more….

Thank you a thousand times to everyone that has been part of the NSE family. Our future is bright and we can’t wait to celebrate more…..

NSE Gives

Givers Gain. This is a phrase I have come to love and believe wholeheartedly. At NSE, giving drives everything that we do. In fact, we consider giving to be one of our core values. We give in so many ways….we give our time, our talents, our support, our materials, our love. We give with a smile on our face and a positive attitude, and we always gain.

Several years ago, we started a program to help Non-Profit organizations produce memorable, professional, well attended, and most importantly PROFITABLE fundraising events. We call this program “Inspire by NSE,” because through our event expertise, these events inspire donors to give and the events themselves inspire us to keep giving. It sounds like a win-win situation, and I can tell you, it is exactly that.

What makes a non-profit event successfully inspire guests to give generously (ideally year after year)? Two key elements drive our work with these events:


As with any event, the overall atmosphere indicates how an event plays out. By nature, people gather to have fun, laugh, experience emotion, and make memories. Creating the appropriate atmosphere that leaves guests feeling satisfied and wanting more is essential in a fundraising scenario. The guests give their time and their resources to attend the event, but what does the event give to them? We recommend that organizations give sufficient time and resources to this element, but we know that atmosphere doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It truly is a feeling that can be achieved in a variety of ways. Our guidance helps the organization find that perfect combination of investment and return. Most importantly, we ensure the organization doesn’t leave out a major component of atmosphere that might have negative repercussions. For example, the event setting might be simply stunning with linens and flowers and all the trimmings, but if there is no music, no sound system and a lot of dead air….the donations will reflect just that.

One of our premiere Non-Profit fundraising events is The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northand's Annual Gala. You can see the atmosphere for yourself in this photo, and to top that visual off - the soundtrack was killer!

This event exceeded an ambitious fundraising goal and set the bar high for next year’s much anticipated Gala. NSE will be by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland's side every step of the way.


An organization representing a cause decides to hold a fundraising event, but fails to adequately educate the guests about the cause and the reason behind the need for donations… unfortunately this is an all too frequent scenario. A fear of exploiting the cause or calling to light a depressing or difficult topic usually influences this retraction. We get it… but we can help. The guests need to know why they are at this event and what their donation will accomplish. They need to be confronted with the realities of the organization they are there to help, and they need to have their emotions played like a tiny violin. This doesn’t mean they need to be horrified, depressed or feel a sense of negativity around the event. Their presence there is the POSITIVE! This group has gathered to enact good; to fund a need; to answer a call to action. With the appropriate positive spin on the topic, the group will be motivated to give and will take the message of the organization far beyond the event. We have seen many groups do this well and benefit from the careful application of this principal to their event. We love working with organizations to find ways to deliver the appropriate messaging, ask for the right things, and share the fruits of the organization with their supportive audience. When combined with atmosphere, this mix of emotion is like rocket fuel.

Check out the amazing cut-outs conceptualized by NSE and created by Steward Taylor Printing for The Boys & Girls Club Of The Northland Gala. These custom props embodied the “Dream Up” theme and encouraged guests to think about how their contributions help youth realize their dreams. Boys & Girls Club kids enjoyed participating in a photo shoot to capture these images and the finished product really brought the kids and their cause to the Gala. 


At NSE, we work with organizations to create atmosphere and call to action at fundraising events. We evaluate past successes and failures and we recommend simple, affordable ideas to improve the event. In addition to offering our expertise, we also match, dollar-for-dollar, any cash contribution that the organization can put towards our services. In the past 4 years, NSE donated over $40,000 in event services for non-profit organizations in the Northland. We look forward to continuing to give and hopefully inspire others to give more.

For more information about the Northland Special Events “Inspire” program, please contact the NSE Team at info@northlandspecialevents.com.

September 10th...

- A re-shared post from our previous website/blog, originally posted in September 2016 - 

Photo Credit: Alicia & Jared by On3 Design. www.on3weddingphotography.com. Lyndsey & Al - we love you!

Photo Credit: Alicia & Jared by On3 Design. www.on3weddingphotography.com. Lyndsey & Al - we love you!

The MOST anticipated, feared, discussed date of the 2016 "wedding season" and perhaps in all of NSE history... and it's over. Just. Like. That. We knew this date would be epic from very early on in our booking cycle. For some reason, this particular date began booking early and every time we turned around it seemed a new couple wanted to books us for this date. Because we are a little bit crazy, and get attached to couples as soon as we meet them, AND we have a really hard time turning couples away, we booked them ALL - Eleven events in total. To put this in perspective, we have?built NSE from a handful of weddings in a summer to over 150 in 2016, with an average weekend of 5-6 weddings. We've always paced our growth to ensure the quality of our delivery and the attention we can give to each and every client... September 10th proved to challenge that pace and push us to deliver at another level...

And we did it. And we did it well... in fact, I'd say we ROCKED it! I want to take a moment to recognize the contributors to this success. This is not an easy job and all of these people gave it their all.

  • Super-Human Event Specialists. These women lead each of their teams to success through a week of illness, late nights, curveballs, and lots of mud to create memories for their clients. Tami, Yana, Michaela, Kyla, Alicia, Ellen, Arianne and Bridget. You all make me so proud.
  • The Fleuristas. Sara, Kaitlyn, Sydney, Yana and our guest Fleuristas Diane and Stephanie cranked out epic numbers of bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces, pew swags, ceremony arrangements, floral hair combs, floral head wreaths, pomanders, garlands, and more... that's A LOT of flowers. Unpacking the boxes alone took an entire day! I loved creating magic with you ladies and obsessing over each and every bouquet. Even in a high-volume situation we will gave each and every bloom our finishing touch!
  • The Signage Artist. We are so fortunate to have such talented artists on our team and we must recognize our signage artist extraordinaire, Stephanie, for her work not only for Sept. 10th, but over the past few years. Her talent is boundless and her perfectionism unmatched. Her hand created 100's of personalized chalkboards, mirrors, windows, canvases, and just about any other surface she could write on and these special touches brought our designs over the top every time!
  • The Assistants. You are the life-blood of our team! Assistants must be flexible and fearless. You never know what you might be doing when you show up to an event, but you always know you'll be working hard. Thank you for that hard work. I LOVED watching our assistants learn and grow throughout the entire busy season and I can't wait to see many of them move on to new roles within the company in the future!
  • NSE Friends & Family. With many of our staff headed back to school after Labor Day, we found ourselves in a pickle staffing eleven events, especially when the season would wind down significantly after the 10th. That's where our amazing Friends & Family stepped up to help us get the job done! A huge thank you to all of those that filled in our crews and took on so many tasks. We are grateful and hope you had fun! Maybe you'll even join our team in the future. We are also so thankful for all of the family support we receive from our husbands and children. We know giving up so much time with us over the summer isn't easy, but you stand by us through thick and thin. WE LOVE YOU.
  • Our Clients. You are why we do it. Celebrating your love and making memories for you makes it all worth it. Thank you to ALL of our clients for bearing with us during our busy weeks and understanding when we took a little longer to respond to emails and phone calls. Know that we give each event our all and yours will be no different!
  • Our Vendor Teams. Every wedding or event requires a team of professionals to pull it off. Working with all of these talented, amazing, supportive vendors makes the work all that more satisfying and enjoyable! Eleven weddings gave us a chance to collaborate with a huge number of vendors - old and new - and we loved it. We can't wait to see the photos, watch the videos and tell the stories of these events together. Thank you for being part of our team!

So what next? What date will be our next Sept. 10th? (early prediction:?July 29, 2017) How many events will that date have in store? Where will NSE head next and whose weddings and events will we have the privilege of planning and designing? The future is bright, that much I know...



Finding the Voice of NSE

- A re-shared blog from our previous website/blog, originally shared in August 2016 - 

On August 20, 2016, Northland Special Events will celebrate SIX years in business.six years of bringing magical, personal, fairytale weddings to couples across the Northland. As I approach this anniversary, I find myself reflecting on this experience - growing an events business from scratch - and the "why" behind what motivates me and my team to invest every ounce of our beings into our clients and their events. From day one, I have had a vision of what I hoped this company would become and each day I pinch myself and remind myself that with every successful event, with every happy family, with every thank you, NSE fulfills that vision.I am literally living in my dreams. Recently, however, I realized that missing from this narrative of our experiences (The "What") - well documented in our Instagram photos, Facebook posts, the website - is my voice. And so, as we reboot our blog and revamp our social media, I hope to bring our audience a glimpse into the dreams behind the operation, the vision that's lived in my head and the vast experience I hold and hope to share with all our audience - past, present and future!


It's 3 A.M. on a Saturday night in July and I'm counting close to 20,000 steps walked for the day over 20 hours of work and somehow I am still smiling, laughing, and beaming with satisfaction while the Team and I haul heavy bins, awkward signs, mounds of dirty linen and leftover floral arrangements back to our headquarters at The Vault. Why?

It's Tuesday, 9 P.M. and I've finished my 10th?meeting of the day and I boot up my computer to answer emails and dive into another full day of work. Why?

It's October and I realize I haven't had a weekend off since May, haven't touched my toes to the sand on the beach, and haven't taken a moment to get a haircut and I'm still going strong. Why?

Why? Because the work I do, the work my team does, matters. A quote from one of my favorite television series says it well:

"The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that's all there is." - Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey

The work we do at NSE is the business of life, we create memories. We plan events with the sole focus of making memories, documenting these memories, and ensuring that these memories turn out positive, inspiring, and everlasting. That's no small feat. Making these memories requires an epic combination of skill sets - creativity, design, engineering, problem-solving, psychology, strength, stamina, grit, and so much more. Making these memories satisfies our deepest emotions and keeps us coming back for more.

For me and the dream I've created at NSE, making these memories is about even more than sending clients away with a successful event, it's about recognizing that as their trusted advisor we facilitated these memories in ways they never could have imagined. We relieved stress, we saved them unnecessary expense, we infused personal details in their decor, we hunted down their favorite flowers, we offered a shoulder to cry on, and we solved problems behind the scenes so that they could dance the night away. We did all of that.

At a recent wedding, I shared a very special memory with a client. I'd worked with the Mother-Of-The-Bride for over a year to plan an epic event for her daughter and future son-in-law who lived out of state. Together we created many memories pouring over paper samples and custom printed napkin designs, squealing about the perfect appetizers, and celebrating when the Bride made it home for planning sessions over holidays. The wedding day could not have been more perfect. Every. Single. Detail. came to life, straight out of the deepest depths of my creative brain, the vision I had for the couple became reality. That made me proud. But, what made me remember "why" happened on the dance floor. My favorite song, "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey echoed through the ballroom. I immediately turned and headed in search of the Mother-Of-The Bride, grabbed her hand and dragged her out on the dance floor. Bold move, I know, but it had to be done. We needed to celebrate and make another memory together. I never stop believing in myself or my Team's capacity to execute memorable events, and neither did she. The happiness, love, and gratitude that filled that ballroom as we danced is my "Why." I know we'll be friends for life and we'll plan many more events together, I hope that's how all of our clients feel at the end of the night. That's the business we're in.

This is a long, wordy, sappy post, but it's my voice, the heart and soul behind Northland Special Events. I plan to share more going forward and dive into many topics related to our work. If you have suggestions, questions, or comments, please do not hesitate to join the dialogue! This is a new forum to talk about the work we do and I feel so liberated opening up the conversation. Let's make more memories..



Owner & Principal Event Specialist

PHOTO CREDIT: The amazing Michelle Sternberg of Sternberg Studios, who always makes me feel so calm and peaceful. Thank you for taking some very special photos for me!

PHOTO CREDIT: The amazing Michelle Sternberg of Sternberg Studios, who always makes me feel so calm and peaceful. Thank you for taking some very special photos for me!