Engage!08 Wedding Conference Recap :: Part 3

Monday, June 23, 2008

I have some more photos now, so here is part three in the recap of my time at Engage!08, a conference for high-end wedding professionals. I don't have photos from the morning sessions, but I'll highlight some of those anyway:

First up was Rebecca Grinnals, the owner of Engaging Concepts and the person who invited me out to speak at Engage!08. She has a unique perspective on the wedding industry because she was the co-founder of Disney's Fairytale Weddings and has literally seen thousands of brides from all different walks of life. I can't think of anyone else in the wedding industry who can make that claim or who has that type of experience under their belt. She now works with clients such as Sandals and the Waldorf Astoria hotels in revamping their wedding programs so that they are more profitable and better at meeting the needs of today's couples. Rebecca is so down to earth, knowledgeable and fun and is truly a visionary in the wedding industry.

Rebecca gave a bunch of stats and trends about today's market and presented a great overview of where the industry is at today. She also mentioned that Disney's Fairytale Weddings launched during the last documented recession - just something to keep in mind if you work in the wedding industry. Here is a photo of me and Rebecca from later in the day:


Next up was Simon T. Bailey, a motivational speaker and author, or as he likes to call it - an inspiration catalyst. He is brilliant and if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, be sure you do! I will probably say that about every speaker at Engage!08 because Rebecca and Kathryn really had a great line up, but it is still true. Simon is also the author of Release Your Brilliance and several other books.

Simon spoke about the potential in each of us and the things we do that block that potential from manifesting itself. I was glad that his session was one of the first ones because it really helped everyone get in the right mindset for the rest of the day. There is no magic wand in business and no step-by-step guide to being successful. I find that often in business conferences, the fruit comes in allowing your mind to be open to a paradigm shift in your thinking rather than expecting a list of things that will make your business blossom overnight. The latter doesn't exist, but steering the course of how you think about and approach your business is what will change it for the better.

Simon's presentation helped set the stage for that, but it wasn't all purely philosophical. He had each of us go through some worksheets that identified areas and ideas we are drawn to and have strength in as well as areas to work on over the next year. Here is a photo of Simon with Preston Bailey during another portion of the day:

preston bailey

The next speaker was Susan Moynihan from Destination Weddings and Honeymoons magazine. She spoke on the inner workings of publications, how to get an editor's attention, what the media looks for in stories and so forth. She gave a lot of great practical advice on the public relations side of running a wedding business. This lucky lady travels about once a month for her job and I am not at all jealous. Okay, maybe a little. Okay, maybe a lot.

After lunch, Rebecca set up an "Inside the Wedding Studio" panel with Preston Bailey and Marcy Blum. They both shared about their successes, mistakes, and the early years in business. They are best friends and have worked together quite a bit and it was hilarious to watch them interact because they tend to finish each other's sentences. One thing they both spoke about was deciding upfront what outcome you want from certain projects, such as being on television or writing a book. Both shared that certain time-consuming and expensive projects didn't result in direct sales or bookings, but served as important stepping stones to help leverage greater success later on.

marci blum and preston bailey

Christine Boulten from Think Like a Bride and I were supposed to do a panel discussion on blogging and new media and how to effectively use them for business, but the schedule got rearranged a bit at the last minute and we each ended up speaking separately. Here is Christine, Rebecca and me discussing the change in plans:

wedding business seminar

And here we are posing for the camera:

engage08 wedding business conference

Christine giving her presentation before she had to leave for the airport:


After Christine spoke, I was up. Several people have asked if I was nervous, and truthfully, no, I wasn't. This part was a bit of a blur for me though as I was speaking a bit off the cuff because of the change in plans. Apparently I talk a lot with my hands and make interesting faces:

engage08 wedding conference

wedding business conference

Last but not least was Harmony Walton from The Bridal Bar. If you read Harmony's blog and think "wow, she seems so nice", then you would be correct. She is 100% awesome and like everyone else I've mentioned, if you get a chance to meet her, you should. Harmony spoke on the public relations side of owning a wedding business as well as some of the special circumstances specific to celebrity weddings that vendors face.

engage08 wedding conference

As you can see, I had a wonderful time and am so thankful that Rebecca asked me to participate. I have been really blessed in my business so far and am grateful for opportunities like these to meet others and grow my companies in new ways. Thanks, Rebecca!

photos courtesy of Christine Tremoulet, photo of Marcy and Preston by Donna Von Bruening

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