After a solid week of recovery from my 7th Engage! (makes me a seven baller), I am finally taking curser to screen….
First and foremost I am honored to be one of the speakers at Engage. Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce have truly created the industries premier luxury wedding summit. It is a pleasure to see them “lean into” (Rebecca that was for you) their role as leaders and trendsetters. It is exciting to watch their trajectory and I look forward to continuing to contribute over the years.
The landmark Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina was a stunning location for the conference. The landscape and history lent a unique perspective. You could just feel the Vanderbilts wandering those hallowed halls. It created a sense of belonging to something bigger than us and gave us a peek into a gracious era of entertaining since past. I particularly revelled in the outdoor tent setting for the general sessions. I found it was much easier to digest the information in such an organic setting. Not to mention having the estate as a backdrop was the perfect compliment for David Beahm’s fragrant O’Hare garden roses and Peter Callahan’s mini margarita’s!
This year I feel the speakers were phenomenal. Not only was the content the strongest of the Engage! conferences I have attended, I felt the presentations were creative and entertaining. We all seemed to mirror the same sentiments. Spending is on the uptick, charging fees to protect the bottom line is a smart way to go, you have to re-invest in your business in order to keep your creative footprint fresh and clients are hiring their wedding professionals to be leaders, not yes men and woman. And my personal favorite, own who you are…it’s all you’ve got.
The cadence of the conference mimicked a destination wedding and I hope that resonated for others as well. There were rocking chairs to hang out in and lazy walks. We floated down rivers and learned archery. We rode seqways and horses. I personally hope we continue to trend in that direction.
Although not personally a big fan of bus transportation, oddly enough, as Mindy Weiss pointed out…the bus is where I met the most new attendees! We laughed and gossiped and mostly deepened our ties. The true Appalachian feel to the opening party was relaxed and approachable, as friends old and new arrived it was easy to begin to give way to the seduction of the place.
The Biltmore Estate was a staggering back drop for the party and those kick-ass fireworks! Karen Tran decorated her heart out and Josh from Elan Artists provided beautiful music and entertainment. I heard a bit of kerfuffle about the burlesque show being a bit too racy, but for me it was a gorgeous art form and I can’t wait to talk a client into a sexy burlesque show at my of my events! I loved Jeremy Rentas Barlow’s idea of creating an exhibit with our collective photos. I am also a big fan of the fire dancers. When dusk hit and they got “cooking”… you truly forgot time and place. And just when you thought all the the powers that be drained their creativity, the Biltmore Estate was lit up like a christmas tree and the fireworks took our collective breath away. It was just so amazing it would scare the bejesus out of me if I were hosting the next Engage!.
Here are a few of my favorite moments at Engage!13….
We delighted in the magic show.
Stole a negligee from a burlesque performer.
Competed for best dressed.
Talked shop by the loo.
Pretended we lived there.
Got our groove on.
Dressed to the nines.
Triumphed over confetti.
Smelled the roses.
I am proud to say that Engage! is my alma mater. It is the place where twice a year I learn, I listen, I teach. It nourishes my psyche and bolsters my spirits. Thank you to all my friends old and new for your constant support and guidance. I am already taking notes for the next time around!
Congrats Rebecca & Kathryn!!