Engage!11 Recap :: Part 2

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Kathryn Arce and Rebecca Grinnals, the brains behind the Engage! conferences. Photo by Jessica Claire.

One of the things I love the most about Engage!11, and all of the Engage! conferences, is that they are a true snapshot of where the luxury wedding industry is at. Rebecca and Kathryn don't build the conference around a topical theme and they don't tell each speaker that they need to touch on the theme of "revolutionizing weddings" or "weddings making a comeback" or anything like that. This means that any themes that emerge during each Engage! are organic and represent what the wedding professionals working in this segment of the industry really are seeing and dealing with.

Sylvia Weinstock learning about the Earth Harp. Photo by Jessica Claire

As usual with this semi-annual conference, there were a few themes that stuck out to me this year. I'll cover a few in another recap post, but today I wanted to focus on one specific thread that appeared numerous times throughout the sessions and conversations: the art of story telling.

I was personally thrilled that story telling emerged as a prominent theme because it has been one of the core values of The Splendid Collective since the very beginning. In fact, there are over 95 posts on Think Splendid that talk about story telling. At its very center, this company is about helping others figure out how to tell their story in a way that allows them to continue living their stories and put food on their tables. One of the Splendid mantras is "social media is a return to old-fashioned conversations rather than a race to keep up with the next big thing" and old-fashioned conversations center around stories. Who are you? What kind of legacy are you leaving? Why do you think the way you do? How can sharing that story translate to a profitable business?

David Beahm during the opening sessions. Photo by Jessica Claire.

In his opening session, David Beahm remarked that we in the wedding industry have the power to create memories for people that they'll never forget. Weddings fascinate the psychologist in me because they are human nature cranked up to eleven. Thousands of interconnected stories all in the same room, all influential to the bride or groom in some way. We have a rare opportunity to help a couple tell not just their story, but also to help celebrate the stories of all the people in the room who helped shaped the bride or groom into the person the other fell in love with.

Todd Fiscus grew a $15 million event design business in less than nine years. Photo by Mel & Co.

Rebecca Grinnals, Cindy Novotny, and Todd Fiscus talked about running your business in a way that honors both your story and the client's story. What does the way you answer your phone or use social media say about you? How does your process communicate competence to your clients? How does the rest of the world see that you care about each client as an individual?

Marcy Blum has been creating celebrity weddings for over 25 years. Photo by Mel & Co.

Marcy Blum talked about creating environments that help your clients' stories be celebrated in a way that touches both the couple and the guests.

Part of the media panel: Marilyn Oliveira, Susan Moynihan, Christy Weber, Angela Desveaux. Photo by Mel & Co.

Michelle Rago discussed how partnering with media and press can help tell your brand's story to a much larger audience (and help keep you in business). The media panel that she moderated, Jill Meister, Marilyn Oliveira, Susan Moynihan, Christy Weber, Angela Desveaux and Abby Larson, all discussed the ways their skills and brands can best (and most literally) tell both your story and the story of the couples being featured.

Custom folders created for Engage!11 by Envelopments. Photo by Mel & Co.

I love that the art of story telling is being embraced by the wedding industry because it is what we do better than anyone else. We help create memories and tell the stories of our clients. It's trendy to think of a wedding as just another, albeit fancier, party, but it's not. Weddings are emotional and carry stories that we may never even get to hear: the story of the bride's parents who stashed away money in a wedding savings account every month since the day they learned they were having a girl. The stories of estranged families reunited for one weekend because they are celebrating their love for the bride or groom. The stories of the maid of honor who stuck by the bride's side through every story that didn't quite work out before she met "the one." Every wedding has thousands of stories, some spoken and some quiet, and we are lucky because we get the privilege of helping people celebrate them.

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