If you’re curious who and and how The Celebration Society came to be, you’ve come to the right place. We love telling the story of how we grew from a simple city website to a nationally recognized brand – with a whole new name. Here’s how that came to be….
Where it all started…
Once upon a time there was a girl who loved parties and marketing and boy who believed in her dream of combining the two efforts—alas AtlantaOccasions.com came to be. Launched in the summer of 2008, AtlantaOccasions.com was to be the place to plan any occasion in the greater metro Atlanta area. Andrew and Heather Vreeland had originally set out to purchase a wedding venue property but while researching local marketing plans and how to advertise a wedding venue for more than just weddings they realized there wasn’t a strong place to do that. So, they took a complete 180 degree turn from opening that wedding venue and put Heather’s mass media communications degree and natural knack for graphic design to work to create just that—a directory for venues and vendors that serve weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and birthday parties—because really, you can be inspired by every celebration.
Let’s make a magazine!
And everyone else agreed. With the traffic and awareness of AtlantaOccasions.com increasing steadily, the duo set out to expand their reach on another platform—print—and launched Atlanta Occasions Magazine in July of 2009. This magazine wasn’t just any magazine—it was designed to be different from anything else on the newsstand and incorporate a whole new way to find an event venue—the very first step of any party planning process—with a comprehensive editorial-style venue guide. The layout of the pages eliminates the noise of company branding and delivers only what the party planner needs to know when choosing a venue: size, location, catering options, drink options, rental items included and photos! That decision catapulted their legit level in the industry and began attracting the attention and advertising dollars of big wedding businesses looking to diversify their reach. A short year later they bumped the production schedule up to three print issues per year.
During this time Occasions Magazine introduced local networking events for the Atlanta wedding industry that became wildly successful and the most well attended events in the local industry. As a result of these events, the Vreelands ended up with a serious LOVE of wedding businesses (venues and vendors like photographers, planners, florists, etc.)—friendors you could call them. Being business owners themselves they felt compelled to help these companies—large or small—reach their business goals with a great marketing partner. Much of this admiration has always led the editorial voice of Occasions Magazine.
In 2010 Heather attended the Engage Business Summit at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL which would turn out to be a game changer for their business. It was there she met many more wedding business owners who loved the Occasions Magazine concept of “all occasions” and realized this little magazine could have a life outside of the metro Atlanta area too. So, they acquired the new domain www.OccasionsOnline.com, and began working on a plan of expansion for the company when the time was right.
In 2012 the time was right to take the next step outside of the Atlanta area. The Vreelands always felt their heart was pulling them back to their home state of Florida and web traffic in the Florida region was the next highest outside of Georgia, so—they expanded the reach and distribution of the magazine into Florida and set out on a networking spree in the sunshine state. The magazine was welcomed with open arms and eager advertisers too!
With that growing group of advertisers, the Occasions team began referring to these businesses as The Celebration Society members in 2012 rather than just plain ole advertisers without ever knowing this catch phrase would inspire the next phase of their company growth.
At the end of 2013 Heather felt inspired to take the magazine a step further. While continuing the overall brand reach of “all occasions,” as the editorial director she felt slightly limited in the content she could share about one event, so as to not cross the line of being “too weddings” or “too mitzvahs” in an all occasions magazine. So, the time to make two magazines – for two demographics came to be. The Fall 2013 issue was launched as Occasions: Weddings Edition featuring hundreds of pages of gorgeous wedding inspiration. In January of 2014, Occasions: Mitzvahs Edition was introduced as an annual magazine for bar/bat mitzvahs. Both readers now loved the super special content designed specifically for them.
Let’s Get Focused
During all of this time, a ba-jillion other wedding and party blogs had popped up in the industry too. A lot of them. And while not many, really any of them, publish a print magazine too—as a company that sees themselves as a digital brand with specialty print publications—they had to ask themselves “how are we really standing out in an industry that is becoming so saturated with pretty pictures and varying voices? What do we supply that the consumer can’t live without?”
Additionally, being an “all occasions” brand the editorial varied between wedding planning advice to Easter decorations. There were a lot of content holes to fill with one little team and it was getting to be too diluted. So, during a Monday morning team meeting the question was asked “What are we passionate about?” After weeks of soul searching and deliberation, the answer was clear: Venues and Vendors—the companies we’ve grown to become friends with and advocates for—these are the things we are passionate about when it comes to planning a party.
Because the word “occasions” is really broad, and the company mission just wasn’t. It was apparent that a shift in name was important. While the team loves a pretty party and a beautiful Thanksgiving table, ultimately we just want to connect brides, moms and hostesses with the most reputable venues and vendors near them. And then we remembered that clever catch phrase we started calling those people, our advertisers, many years ago—The Celebration Society. And there it was—the very obvious new name we were looking for.
In January 2015, we renamed our company to The Celebration Society.
In 2017, we became part of the Nei-Turner Media Group family and welcomed Wedding Guide Chicago, now The Celebration Society Chicago, as an exciting Midwest expansion of our brand. Check out the first issue of The Celebration Society Weddings Chicago here.
Our core goal is to introduce celebrators like you to a reputable professional team you can trust to execute your party style and vision. We believe you don’t have to do it yourself and you certainly don’t have to hire a stranger. You can meet them here. Follow along for daily inspiration, venue discoveries and vendor spotlights on your favorite social media channel #thecelebrators
Occasions Media Group
Occasions Media Group was formed as the parent company for The Celebration Society and our sister city publication, St. Augustine Social. You can read more about our publishing company, other magazines, services, job opportunities and internships online here.