I was fortunate enought to spend last week at the historic Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida for the 10th Engage luxury wedding summit. For those not familiar with Engage, it is the brain child of Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce, founders of Engaging Concepts, a company that provides strategic consulting to the wedding and honeymoon industries. This was my third Engage and by far, my favorite!
For those not familiar with with Engage, it is an innovative series of luxury wedding business events that brings together the wedding industry’s key influencers and thought leaders from around the globe to exchange ideas, network and be inspired to take their businesses to the next level of success. I have gotten so much from attending Engage. Not only has it provided me inspiration for my business, but has introduced me to tastemakers in the industry that have become not only mentors, but friends.
The Breakers Resort outdid themselves! Every detail was perfectly planned and orchestrated. We are a tough bunch to impress, but our expectations were exceeded in every possible way!
The images above show the tangerine filled room where we listened to speakers each day and the incredible swag that we received upon registering. My friends Susan and Heather, founders of Gifts for the Good Life, a company that provides artfully branded goodies to business and brides, never disappoint with the creative gifts that they provide us! They are always useful, innovative and perfectly brand appropriate!
Throughout the week we listened to inspiring talks from some of the most talented and creative people in the wedding industry. They shared advice, relatable stories and inspirational words. Pictured above are my friends Tait and Abby Larson, founders of Style Me Pretty. They spoke about transforming Abby’s brainchild, a small wedding blog that she started in her bedroom, into one of the most influential wedding blogs and brands in the industry that was just partially purchased by AOL. Also featured above is caterer extraordinaire and creator of all things mini, Peter Callahan. We alway love hearing him speak, not only for his brilliant insight, but because he shares with us some of his delicious creations! Above, I am clinking my mini Bloody Mary that was severed with a tiny bagel with lox with my friend, Kelly McWilliams, founder of Brides by Socialites. Peter also treated us to mini stacks of blueberry pancakes! Can you say YUM?!
I felt like I was on Oprah’s Favorite Things show when were were presented with a gift certificate for a pair of Tieks– my new favorite obsession! If you are familiar with Tieks, they are THE MOST comfortable shoe on the market! They come in tons of fashionables colors and fabrics. They are perfect for people like us who are on their feet all day, but I also adore them for brides and maids!
Some of my favorite insights from our speakers were the following:
“Kindness in business is an invisible bottom line: You can’t see it but you know it’s there when you connect with it” – Simon T. Bailey
“It’s not about what you lost, it’s about who stood by you” – Ed Libby
“Change. It’s the new black!” – David Beahm
“Never underestimate the person sitting next to you.” – Abby Larson, Style me Pretty
“It’s not who you are that holds you back from success, it’s who you think your’e not”- Simon T. Bailey
“You didn’t come here to stay the same, did you? – Make it happen” – Lara Casey, Southern Weddings Magazine
The first evening we were treated to a good southern welcome at the Opening Party. We were encouraged to wear Boots & Bows to get in the down home spirit! No detail was spared at this gorgeous event- from the glorious clear, illuminated tent that was resurrected on the resort propety, to the delicous southern style food, it was an incredible way to kick off our Engage experience!
When we registered at the beginning of Engage, we picked a card at random that assigned us to a dine-around dinner to take place on the second evening. Guests are escorted to local area restaraunts where we dined with 8 Engage attendees and our table was hosted by someone who is a leader in the wedding industry. My dine around was led by the uber talented and absolutely hysterical, Tara Guerard from Charleston, South Carolina. If you are not familiar with Tara’s work, you must check out her site! She recently planned the wedding of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively that you will be able to read about in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, due to hit newstands on December 24th! The dine-around was truly the highlight of my Engage experience. My table was filled with such talents that I instantly bonded with. We had a raucous evening and created memories and friendships that will last forever!
After dinner, we were escorted back to the hotel and treated to a Winter Wonderland themed desert party, complete with ice sculptures, dancing Rockets, and even snow! – in Florida!!
Featured center left: Myself, with an old friend that I met at a previous Engage, Kasey Conyers of Bliss Events, and a new friend, Colin Cowie. Center right: Being sparkly with Kelly McWilliams, founder of Weddings by Socialites. Bottom far right: More friends that I met at previous Engage’s- Photographer, Sarah Natasha Horowitz, and my fellow fashionista and the king of impromptu posing, Elan Villamor, producer for I Do Films (the talented filmakers that created the Day 1 and 2 recaps that we will post tomorrow).
Each detail was immaculate- including every coffee and lunch break. As were in West Palm Beach, we had a coffee break and luncheon designed with a Lilly Pulitzer flair- which of course, I could not get enough of!
Featured top center: Myself and Nichole of Coral Phesant enjoying a red velevet encrusted deep-friend Oreo that was served at a circus themed break. This one of my favorite images from Engage, captured by Sarah Natasha. Bottom center- these adorable fabric flowers doubled as our seating assigments for a fabulous Palm- Beach inspired luncheon. It was such a clever detail!
The final evening we celebrated with a Gala event that was awe-inspiring. When were escorted into a ballroom in The Breakers swatched in glorious light and bursting with gorgeous blooms. The piece de resistance was a choir singing “In the Name of Love”, by U2. There were goosebumps and damp eyes all around!! After the most divine meal, we were brought into another ballroom that had been transformed into a Miami-style club, complete with a DJ suspended from a second story scaffolding tower, a 21 piece band by Elan Artists and painted dancers on pedestrals. It was an incredible evening!
Featured Top Center: With two of my favorite girls, Kasey Conyers and Nichole Michel, Middle Left: Nichole and I with my friend Anthony Luscia, editor for Martha Stweart Weddings, Middle Right: We were surprised with a visit by Randy Fenoli, who had just flown in from hosting an episode of Randy to the Rescue with my friends at Anna Be in Denver. He took the always inspiring, cake diva, Sylvia Weinstock for a spin on the dancefloor and they exchanged glasses as a goof! Bottom Center: From left- Kym Bychon of The Breakers who was responsible for the lovely evening, Sarah Natasha Horowtiz, myself, Nichole Michel and Carla Ten Eyck.
Thank you to Rebecca and Kathryn for creating Engage and providing all of us the opportunity to connect and to be inspired by each other. I can’t wait for the next one! To get the full feel of the Engage experience, be sure to watch this recap video by Cloud 9 Creative.