Twin Cities Wedding & Event Professionals (TCWEP) celebrating 14 years of networking. TCWEP has been to 149 different venues across the Twin Cities. It has brought together over 4000 event professionals. And TCWEP could not be what it is today without the support of it’s 1,400 volunteers and sponsors.

Award Nominees Announced Live:
Wabasha Street Caves
215 Wabasha Street S.
St. Paul, MN 55107
11am-1pm Wednesday March 8th

Award Show:
Neu Neu Event Center
514 N Third St, Unit 101,
Minneapolis, MN 55401
6pm – 9pm Wednesday April 12th
Cocktail attire, Cash Bar

Northern Lights Twin Cities
2023 TCWEP Nominee Finalists 14th Anniversary Gala and Awards Show at The Neu Neu Wedding & Event Venue
2023 TCWEP Peer Nominated Finalists with Elizabeth Sherry, Matt Sherry & Michelle Tverberg
2023 TCWEP Award Winners
DJ Greg Ellis Neckwerk Entertainment
Tami Cabrera MuddyPaws Cheesecake
Jeannine Pohl Jeannine Marie Photography
KJ Smith Empowered Lotus Photography
Noe Sanchez Viva La Fiesta DJ Entertainment
2023 TCWEP Award Winners
DJ Greg Ellis – Neckwerk Entertainment l Tami Cabrera – MuddyPaws Cheesecake l Jeannine Pohl – Jeannine Marie Photography l
KJ Smith – Empowered Lotus Photography l Noe Sanchez – Viva La Fiesta DJ Entertainment


Mountain Mover Award 2023, Tami Cabrera
Tami Cabrera Award Winner 2023 Muddy Paws Cheesecake

Mountain Mover Award
Award criteria: Consistently impacts the successful outcome of events. A pivotal team member who goes above-and-beyond, making it all happen.

Ari Reynolds, Tami Cabrera, Ryan Veil

Ari Reynolds Photography started in 2011, in the course of a decade Ari has been a beacon of light in the wedding and events industry. She stands for integrity and strong morals, as a mother of two she has always had to work for where she is today. She has done that by being an innovator of ideas, being a creative problem solver and a go to for weddings pros and brides alike. For instance, during the pandemic Ari put together a webinar series featuring several industry professionals to share knowledge and help brides navigate through the panic of the unknown. It is situations like this that you will see Ari shine her brightest. In recent years, Ari has begun to share her professional guidance as a business coaching. Helping others reach their true potential is fuel to her fire. It doesn’t matter who you are a bride, a wedding professional, a guest at a wedding, maybe just a friend, people gravitate toward Ari, because she is always willing and able to help. She is a light that shines bright and there is nothing that stands in her way.

“TCWEP has been a joy a pleasure and such a wonderful experience. It has allowed me to expand and grow into my true potential! TCWEP fills my cup back up each month getting to see all my friends in one room. There is nothing like it.” -Ari Reynolds

Muddy Paws Cheesecake Co., 3359 Gorham Ave, St Louis Park MN 55426
Tel. 763-545-7161
After growing up in Chicago’s restaurant industry, Owner Tami Cabrera acquired
a taste for a dessert synonymous with Chicago—cheesecake. After moving here
in 1991, she found it impossible to find such cheesecake so started her own
business. Today, 30 years later, their St. Louis Park, MN based facility produces hundreds of
Chicago style cheesecakes weekly, in over 222 flavors! They have appeared on
Kare 11, WCCO, CBS, The Jason Show, The Emmy Awards and on Food
Network’s Roker on the Road in addition to receiving several local awards
including Best in Minnesota and Best of the Nation. Even the White House invited them to visit in 2011!
All of their cheesecakes are made from scratch in small batches daily. For more
information go to

“I have been a part of TCWEP since the beginning and it’s not only an association, it’s composed of friends. Friends want to genuinely help, support and celebrate you. That is what TCWEP members do for myself, my company and every member/vendor. When you have friends, everything is possible, easier, less scary, empowering and uplifting. TCWEP gives myself, us all, knowledge, connections, fun, support, reputation, referrals and so much more. I’m very grateful! On top of this, Michael, Elizabeth and Michelle give of their own time (a lot of time!) and resources to make this group and meetings happen – which is an incredible gift! WOW! I’m so blessed. THANK YOU FRIENDS.” – Tami Carera

Ryan Veil, owner of Studio Veil, in 2006 sought to create a multi-service company that made wedding & event planning less stressful for couples and corporate clients. Transparent pricing, easy-to-navigate websites, quick and clear communication and humble expert service are hallmarks of what Studio Veil brings to the table.

“TCWEP has been an amazing place to make friends, share both good and scary event stories, learn, and share business. I’m so thankful to be part of this group.” – Ryan Veil

Noe Sanchez Viva La Fiesta DJ Entertainment 2023
Noe Sanchez award winner Viva La Viesta DJ Entertainment

Rising Star Award
Award criteria: Person or Business that’s grown with networking. A referral partner, they make an effort to really understand and know other’s businesses and refer business back-and-forth. They are really starting to shine in the event’s industry.

Jacquelin Elizabeth, Jessica Knighton, Noe Sachez

I discovered my creativity and love for the arts during my very early years. After I graduated high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to professionally study voice, piano, theatre, dance (ballet, tap, jazz, etc.) and skills in professional production for stage performance.

Since moving back to Minnesota, I have built 3 businesses: Jacqueline Elizabeth Artistry (performing arts & music education), Ascendance Productions (wedding and event services), and Jacki E. Coaching (business consulting.)

I feel that our company statement for Ascendance Productions says it best:

Our mission is to design and provide experiences for clients and their guests that will bring them together now and forever. We strive to achieve events that are authentic to each and every client we serve. We approach every project with elegance and excellence, for the purpose of ascendance.

Elegance: the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner; style.

Excellence: the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.

Ascendance: the act of rising or moving up.

“It is so easy as a small business owner to feel alone in our journey – even when surrounded by clients and peers on a daily basis. We often forget the importance of finding time to pause and be fully present in order to reflect. TCWEP has been such a wonderful environment to pause together and form a network of other event professionals that truly understand the industry, through the successes and hurdles alike. I look forward to checking in with one another each month and learning together. It has truly become a resource for friendship and support!” – Jacqueline Elizabeth

My mission is to make the world a more inclusive, sustainable, and super fun place by providing outstanding wedding photography experiences to couples from all backgrounds, and working with industry professionals to create more mindful celebrations for those we serve.

I love the connections I have built with my couples and their loved ones, and the sustained relationships with fellow wedding professionals — what a fun world it is when you get to choose your co-workers!

I’m so thrilled to be a part of such a welcoming group of people who will stop at nothing to make sure that we are all taken care of. I know there is always someone to turn to if I’m struggling, and I am ready to help anyone who asks me!

I know that I would not have the confidence or industry knowledge I have now without this group, and I’m so excited to continue growing with everyone!” – Jessica Knighton

Noe Sanchez, the brains behind Viva La Fiesta DJ, is a bilingual audio artist, husband, and father. His musical journey began in 2011, spinning tracks at local community and family parties, and even the night club scene. In 2018, Noe decided to switch gears and focus on private events. Little did he know, there was a demand for a bilingual DJ in the Twin Cities wedding industry, and Viva La Fiesta was born!

Viva La Fiesta DJ prides itself on providing a personalized experience tailored to each couple’s preferences. From simple to luxurious weddings, we are committed to delivering the ultimate music and entertainment experience for all types of events. We are the Party Pros! Viva La Fiesta – Long Live the Party!

“TCWEP has been more than just a networking opportunity – it’s fostered incredible friendships! Connecting with like-minded individuals in the wedding industry has been a positive impact as it has allowed me to stay motivated and keep me mentally sane! It’s amazing to see the growth in both myself and my peers, nonetheless it’s nothing short of magical. The power of networking is truly remarkable!” – Noe Sanchez

Jeannine Pohl Jeannine Marie Photography diamond award 2023
Jeannine Pohl, award winner

Diamond Award
Award criteria: Has the industry “it” factor. They get it, they show it, they share it, they are it! The crème de la crème.

Diamond Award Nominees

Since 2007, Jeannine has had the honor of documenting fun couples wedding days and creating epic memories. She loves being a positive contribution to making the day extra special. She lives in St Paul with her husband and their seven-year-old. They spend much of their time at local restaurants, playing baseball or softball, riding bikes, and visiting family up North and in the Dominican Republic.

“TCWEP has been a part of my life and business for over a decade. I have made lifelong friends that have made running a business so much easier. Not only do I get amazing clients through referrals from other vendors, I also get to support their businesses so we can all continue doing what we love!” – Jeannine Pohl

Jenna Culley is a born and raised Wisconsin girl but began her career in New York working at high end, private clubs learning how to plan, execute and design over-the-top events. When she returned to the Midwest, she launched Jenna Culley Events in the Twin Cities in 2012 and brought all of that big city experience layered with her small town smile. She now has a team of planners that hold her same service-driven values and perfectionist tendencies.

In 2022, Jenna and her husband, Justin, purchased Linen Effects, a decor and event rental company based in Minneapolis and she is now the CEO and Creative Director of both Linen Effects and JCE.

Jenna and Justin live in Oakdale with their three children, Cate, Ava and Wyatt and their King Charles Cavalier, Caymus (who’s named after a vineyard!)

“When I first started my business and had almost no marketing budget, TCWEP was not only a great place to network but was also an organization that made me feel accepted rather than turned away for my inexperience in this market. Since then, I’ve made amazing industry friendships and they’ve been there to celebrate with me in my wins and were a huge source of comfort throughout the pandemic. I’ve grown with TCWEP and could not be prouder of the organization it’s become.” – Jenna Culley

Kahani Events & Design offers full-service planning, decor & design, rentals, and henna – for cultural, multicultural, and South Asian weddings. Reena Maheshwari started Kahani Events in 2019, to bridge a gap and especially address the needs of multi-cultural couples. She focuses on design & decor, and has been involved in design for all her career – from art to graphic design to interiors, and pulls from her various backgrounds to curate her unique inventory as well as create beautiful settings at various budgets. Equality and sustainability are an important aspect to Kahani Events and we plan our events with intention.

“I’ve made so many vendor friends from TCWEP, increased my network, and its just nice to be a part of this supportive and fun community of event vendors.” – Reena Maheshwari

Greg Ellis, Member of the Year award Neckwerk Entertainment DJ
Award Winning DJ Greg Ellis

Member of the Year Award
Award criteria: exemplary current TCWEP Member, supports the vision of networking, collaborating, supports fellow businesses.

Member of the 
Year Award nominees

139 Hair by Heidi is an onsite wedding hair and makeup company serving brides primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I’ve loved doing updos since I was a child, and it’s been an amazing journey to turn my passion into a career! With my amazing team of artists, I love to make brides look and feel amazing on their wedding day.

“TCWEP has been the most influential business decision I have made in my career as a wedding hairstylist. The connections have made me feel like I have a community and colleagues in my business. The encouragement and support has been priceless. The connections have helped me elevate my own business as I watch and learn and grow from and with my peers. This group has not only given me education, encouragement, and inspiration-but also wonderful friendships. I’m so very thankful.” – Heidi Akpaette

“I’ve met a lot of wonderful people in this group. I love hearing the stories about how and what we create for our clients and each other.” – Greg Ellis

Tami’s interactions with flowers & design began at an early age in Idaho where she watched her mother tending their flower gardens on the family farm. Tami even recalls getting scolded when she cut her mother’s flowers to make arrangements out of them. Her business really got started in 2003, when Tami decided she would create the flowers for her own wedding. Never being one for doing things halfway, she took professional floral design courses and fell head-over-heels in love with everything about the floral business. Tami is much more than just a florist. She treats every wedding as her own! She limits the number of clients she takes on per week, in order to provide individual attention to each couple’s weddings. Couples love her calm demeanor, attention to detail, creative ideas and her expertise to pick the perfect flowers and decor for their weddings.

“TCWEP has brought this introvert out of her shell. It is a safe and supportive place to come and get and give business advice. I know that I can refer the members of this group to my couples with confidence that they will do a great job. I have also received many referrals from the members of this group. I know that if something came up where I needed some help at an event, someone from this group would have my back and I try to do the same.” – Tami Johnson

Kjerstin Smith wedding warrior award Empowered Lotus Photography
Kjerstin Smith award winner Empowered Lotus Photography

Wedding Warrior Award
Award criteria: Person or Business that not only survives, but thrives in the midst of change and uncertainty, able to pivot and adjust,  creates opportunities, gives hope to those around them, inspires innovation, adaptation and leadership.

I’m KJ, a wedding and divorce photographer located south of the Twin Cities. I specialize in empowering women and celebrating changes in their life such as a divorce, birthdays, weight loss, or just to embrace themselves and where they are now in their life. I have degrees in photography and have been a professional for over 10 years.

“Such an amazing group of friends in this group. All of the support and encouragement has been such a blessing in my journey.” -KJ Smith

Keyed Up Events is celebrating 10 years in business in 2023! We have helped over 400 couples create special and memorable days and have given them the wedding experience they were hoping for. Our owner Dana Allison has a history of being able to reign in the chaos which translates in how we handle our clients’ events and give them peace of mind.

“How hasn’t TCWEP made our business life better? The networking and comradery that we experience not only during the meetings but then also when we work together is one of the reasons we are in business. Being able to say “Oh yes, I know (insert wedding vendor here) and they are great” cannot be measured!” – Dana Allison

I officially launched my business, Positively Charmed, when I graduated from Seminary in 2010, but I had officiated weddings as early as 1998! My business has evolved over time and it represents a collective of skills and passions. I offer custom ceremonies as well as micro weddings and elopements…and I also bring beauty to the settings for those events. I started collecting decor and delving into working with floral in 2012. And then, in 2022, I followed a dream and created a couple of sweet petite venues! One is mid-century modern industrial and the other a vintage classic. I just can’t be a “stay in your lane” kind of person because my creative interests and professional history are so diverse! I love having a varied calendar of projects and responsibilities and how they dovetail into a cohesive and fulfilling career!

“The friendly and professional community of TCWEP offers both acknowledgement and accountability. We show up for one another and we witness one another grow and evolve. We cheer each other one and expect integrity. Being part of a group, that truly fosters connection, means that we see our own and each others personal and business lives transform over the years. We are such an open and welcoming group…I have industry friends from several years ago and new friends who joined recently…there is always comfortable space for emerging businesses and the creative people at the helm!” -Leslie Johnson


Laura Alpizar Photography

Heather Hanson Photography

Northern Lights TCWEP

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