Engage!11 Conference : Grand Del Mar

Personal

Last year I had the pleasure of attending the Engage! Conference…and I desperately wanted to make it happen again. And again. When I was asked to speak at Engage! this year as part of a branding panel, I couldn’t believe it. I hung up the phone and I felt incredibly honored.

Part of the reason I love this conference is because it forces me to take a good, hard look at my business from a wedding perspective, not merely a photographic perspective. I’m pushed to voice goals and refine my decisions…and I walk away with a fresh outlook. I couldn’t think of a better way for me to jumpstart my season!

250 wedding professionals spent four days at the Grand Del Mar and here are a few highlights from our time together…

This is the ever fab Rebecca Grinnals, the mastermind of Engage! Conference…being around her makes your soul dance a jig. She’s inspiring, infectious, and her go-get-em personality leaves me always ready for more…

Kathryn Arce is Rebecca’s partner in awesome. No, really, her job title is Director of Awesome. Or something like that! She’s patient, kind, attentive…and the type of person who makes you feel at home any place in the world.

Engage!11 was hosted at the gorgeous Grand Del Mar and it couldn’t have been possible without Paige Levy at the helm…the entire catering and events team made our stay completely over the top. I’m finding almost any reason to go back for a visit. Or to photograph a wedding…just sayin’…

I first met Todd Fiscus last year at Engage!10 in the Cayman Islands…and I fell head-over-heels for him. He’s one-part hilarious, one-part business guru, three-parts wedding designer extraordinaire, and one-part fabulous. Shaken, not stirred.
He delivered a wonderful presentation and I’m now {more than ever} dying for him to design a party for me. I just have to convince JD to hand over his credit card!

Susan Moynihan is Editor-in-Chief for Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine…and she also happens to be one of the funnest girls to be around. Before going to the engage gala on the last night, she passed by my hotel room. As she sat in an overstuffed chair, I snapped a couple photos. Yes, I was THAT girl and probably annoyed everyone with my picture taking (juuuuuust one more, promise!), but I just wanted to remember every bit of my experience…and that usually happens behind my camera!

Ooooh, how can you not LOVE a face like hers?! Sylvia Weinstock is a world-famous cake designer from New York City. Myself and nine other people were lucky to have dinner with her at an Engage dine-around last year, so I like to pretend she’s the Jewish grandmother I always dreamt of having! 😉

For those who are unfamiliar, the Engage Conference is primarily for wedding coordinators and designers. In fact, I was one of a few photographers at the entire event (photographers made up about 5% of the audience), but I attended this conference to help me see weddings differently, hone my ability to connect with new vendors around the United States, and spread my wings. The biggest difference between wedding planner conferences and wedding photography conferences is the parties are over.the.top. They’re lavish, unrestrained, decadent…and everyone dances to make up for the lack of dancing we do every weekend while working.

Not gonna lie. I closed down every party. I’ve been aptly described by loved ones as having an 80-year-old soul, but it seems to disappear when there’s so much fun to be had…

I was very lucky to speak at Engage this year with Harmony Walton, owner of Bridal Bar, and Lara Casey, Editor of Southern Weddings Magazine.

Millie Martini Bratten, editor of Brides Magazine and one of the classiest, nicest, and fanciest ladies I know, hosted a Q+A with famed wedding dress designer, Monique Lhuillier

On the final day of the conference, I was honored to speak about branding, but the best part of was meeting and making new friends who are equally as passionate as personalizing their businesses…

This post has gotten too long already…there are more pictures on Facebook, so if you see yourself in any of them, tag away!

At this conference I made a list of goals I want to have accomplished by 11.11.11. Why that date? Uhh, because it’s COOL. Duh. These goals are big, lofty, and scary, but I hope to work hard and make them a reality. If When they happen, I’ll blog about their inception, process, and result…it’s my sincerest hope we can keep each other accountable to following our hearts and dreaming big.

Happy Monday!