I cannot believe it’s been a MONTH since Engage!11, a luxury wedding summit I attended in San Diego over Memorial Day weekend. I’ve been too busy catching up with work to post about how wonderful everything was. Here’s a quick and dirty recap and review, in 3 parts:

In a nutshell, the conference was massive amounts of inspiration by day with crazy lavish dance parties at night.

The venue was The Grand Del Mar Resort. Ulta-luxe behind a gate and up a hill and sitting in the middle of acres and acres of golf courses in the Souther California high desert. Five star all the way. Every request was handed with aplomb, every staff member seemed genuinely pleased to be there. Upon arrival, Engage attendees we greeted with lemonade, fresh flower sculptures and our conference credentials. Oh! And the gift bags! For the ladies, it was a custom designed train case with all kinds of goodies inside: a cute clutch, some Tejani bangles, an iPhone case, perfume, personalized notecards and more … it’s all pretty sweet. The men got Reisenthal messenger bags with what I imagine were manly goodies inside. All goodies were provided by sponsors of the event.

The opening session was held in a magnificent chapel onsite at the hotel. The cavernous space as decked out in the event’s signature colors: ebony, ivory and crimson. That color story was carried throughout the entire event in linens, gifts and even the food (more on that later). The first day’s beautiful flowers and decor came courtesy of  Karen Tran FloralsLa Tavola, and Hire Elegance.

Motivational speaker Simon T. Bailey opened the summit with an inspirational talk encouraging “Vujà Dé.” The opposite of Déjà vu, it’s about turning “been there done that” into something new, fresh and positively disruptive. I took copious notes, dear readers, and I’m already bringing that new thinking to à deux. It’s coming.

Up next, event designer David Beahm gave us a lesson in the Fibonacci sequence (in brief, how little things become big things) and led us in a guided meditation that was just the boost I needed heading into a packed week of inspiration and growth. David reminded us that members of the wedding industry have the power to create memories for people that they’ll cherish forever. That is one of the many reasons I work so hard to make my business better every day. I am influencing one of the most important events in a person’s life and that should never be taken lightly.

In the evening we got together for a sunset dinner on the Aria Lawn. Signature cocktails were flowing and food trucks from all over California were on hand to dish out everything from mini doughnuts to a crab boil to burgers to authentic Mexican food and more. It was … too much and I LOVED everything about it. I have to admit, I spent more time chatting with some of the 250 attendees and making new connections that I really just ate the doughnuts.

During the day it was all business talk. After dark, things got more relaxed. Do you know what happens when party planners get to actually enjoy the party? Wild awesomesauce! Dancing, eating, drinking, photobooths, more dancing, specialty cocktails, afterparties with the band, a little shop talk and then more dancing. Every night was a late one and my feet will never forgive me for getting down so hard in heels … on grass.

The first night we were blown away by Elan Artists. Do you know what an “Earth Harp” is? Me either but it’s exactly what it sounds like: an instrument made of 50-foot strings running from the stage connected to the roof and walls of the hotel. It was played like a massive violin minus the bow and produced a similar sound. Truly something you had to see to believe.

Again, the evening was filled with one-of-a-kind floral artistry by the creative genius of Tic-Tock Couture Florals and event design by Revelry.

Engage!11 Day Two recap is coming soon.

All photos courtesy of Mel & Co. Video by Cloud 9 Creative.

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