Event Expos Offer One-Stop Shopping For Those in Planning Stages


By Peter Key

Without being Martha Stewart, or having the capabilities she’s displayed on television over the years, it’s hard to take care of everything at your event, unless the event is a small one.

Choosing the people to take care of things, however, can be a chore itself, even if you’re just choosing one and letting that person handle the whole event.

That’s why there are event expos, which gather event planners, caterers, florists, disc jockeys, photographers and others under one roof (and usually in one room), so you can get their names, phone numbers, email addresses and start the process of selecting the ones you feel most comfortable with.

“Event expos are great,” said Stacey Kesselman, whose Conshohocken-based Exceptional Events is a full-service planning company. “[They offer] a great way to meet a lot of different vendors at one time.”

Kesselman said her company likes doing event expos because they give her and her team a chance to meet potential clients face to face and pitch Exceptional Events’ wares in person.

At the same time, she said, she doesn’t expect herself or her employees to close many deals at them.

“More often than not,” she said, “the people who do the mitzvah expos … just got their date, so they’re really gathering information and trying to find the best vendors there for them.”

The fact that vendors at the expos don’t expect to land many contracts at them is a good thing for you if you plan on going to one because it means you can request information without getting the hard sell.

For example, Adam Weitz said when his company, Southampton-based A Sharp Production, sends a representative to event expos, he expects the person to hand out information and tell attendees that if they find it intriguing, they can make an appointment to get more details at a later time.

Weitz also said that people interested in A Sharp Production can get more information about it from its website — and many do.

“As the millennials have come of age, they prefer [getting information online] to going to an event,” he said.


Still, if you’re the type of person who likes putting a face to a name (or a company), event expos are for you.

“When you go to a party fair, you become educated in a short period of time about everything because they’re all there to help you — and boy, do they want to talk to you,” Weitz said.

JL Original Designs wants to do more than talk to you. It wants to show you its work.

Jennifer Lawn, the company’s owner, said she used to go to event expos and give elevator pitches, which are short summaries of a company’s capabilities that get their name because they’re brief enough to be made and digested during a chance encounter in an elevator.

Over time, however, she concluded that most of the people at the events are so overwhelmed by the wealth of choices before them that her words weren’t sinking in.

To remedy that, she decided to show them what JL Original Designs could do instead. She began making bouquets and bringing them, a backdrop and a photographer to the expos so brides-to-be could get pictures of themselves with some of her company’s creations.

It worked.

“We started to see a lot more people come back to us because we started that rapport with them,” she said.

Having a good rapport with your event planner is necessary to having your big event come off with as few headaches as possible.

That’s why Merida Alexander, whose Events by Merida is based in Morrisville, said you should make sure the event planner you choose is personable, which event expos can give you a chance to do.

Alexander also recommends making sure your event planner has a history of working on events like the one you want to throw.

“It’s pretty easy to tell from photos sometimes whether or not they’re familiar with your traditions,” Alexander said. “You don’t want to hire a planner who has no idea how a Jewish wedding works.”

If you want to find someone who knows how a mitzvah works, you can attend one or both of the two mitzvah expos scheduled for April 2.

Mitzvah Expo is being put on by JL Original Designs to showcase the Sheraton Bucks County in Langhorne, where it is being held. It also will feature JL Original Designs (obviously) and vendors that Lawn and/or the hotel management have extensive experience working with.

“It’s a smaller show,” Lawn said, and not meant to compete with Mitzvah Palooza.

“In fact,” she said, “I know several families attending both.”

Mitzvah Palooza is at the Chubb Hotel & Conference Center in Lafayette Hill. Its other two sponsors are Garces Group, the Philadelphia-based restaurant operator and caterer; and EBE, a Philadelphia event-planning company that now employs 14 bands, 10 mitzvah and party masters of ceremony, 12 wedding and special events DJs, and 16 club-style party DJs.


Other vendors who provide such services as event decor, cakes and photography will be there, too, but the event won’t be just three hours of attendees browsing around. Instead, it will be structured like a mitzvah.

“We try to give you the party experience in a condensed amount of time,” said Tara Buchanan, EBE’s lighting and production director/event planner.

After a cocktail hour that gives people time to look at the vendors, EBE will choose a young volunteer and have him do a grand entrance, then show attendees how one of its mitzvahs would flow.

“It’s informative and fun and also you get an idea of the different MCs that we have,” Buchanan said.

If you plan on going to one of the mitzvah expos, you might want to get there early. Buchanan said people start planning mitzvahs two or three years in advance.

One reason is just to get ideas. Even if you and your child know what you want the theme to be, mitzvah expos are a good place to see different types of decor, invitation styles and the like.

Additionally, while the area has plenty of venues that can host mitzvahs, if you want to do something unusual, you’ll need one that can accommodate it.

To make sure you get it, you should book it a year or two ahead of time, as others might have interest in it too, said Randi Martin, the chief event planner of Trilogy Event Design in Hatboro.

The same is true of DJs or bands.

“Entertainment is also something that’s going to be a high priority for everybody else,” Martin said.


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