With all the tweets on Twitter this weekend about the kick off of Engage: Cayman Islands, now is as great of time as any to *finally* share my experience of Engage: The Grand Del Mar from earlier this summer. I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy as the attendees are soaking up not only the sun and surf, but engaging in conversations with some of the wedding industry’s top professionals. Not to mention, they are likely meeting new friends galore from all over the country – and world – all chatting about a subject near and dear to our hearts: the business of weddings.
When I signed up for Engage last January, I did it less than one week after I came back from Making Things Happen. I knew that if I was going anywhere or making any further investment for my business, it was going to start there. As an outsider looking in, the sheer caliber of talent and business that are speakers and attendees at Engage was downright scary. It’s an intimate conference – limited to around 200 attendees – and that scary fact also excited me. There is simply no other event that offers this opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the best of the best in the industry. I pulled the trigger within the first hour registration was announced. I had no idea who I was going to room with or what it was going to be like going to something so huge and ALONE, but I was going!
The scary feelings I had are all now but a silly memory. For all those that have considered going, but something is holding you back, know this: the new friends you meet are amazing, the content and workshops are hugely impactful, and I can’t think of a better investment for my business yearly than attending this conference. I also can’t forget to mention the sheer amazingness that goes into the dinners, parties and events at this conference. As a wedding designer, so often you don’t get to really *experience* your client’s event. Going to Engage means also the opportunity to enjoy the food, drink, decor and experiences that we usually miss out on. Hello! That alone is reason enough to go – for a working vacation where you’re the wedding guest each night! ;)
Besides the fun memories, Engage: Del Mar also has another signficance for me. It is here that I had a chat with Lara Casey about the gut feeling I had for my business and the desire for something bigger. So, you could say it was here that the seed for my new Amber Housley brand was planted! On the first day, my rock-star roommate Kathy Romero (who I met on Twitter, yes, really!) launched her new Kathy Romero Weddings & Events brand (by Making Brands Happen) and I watched her cry happy tears of joy when she saw the website go live right there in our very own hotel room. When I saw how authentic she presented herself with her new brand — and folks you must know that Kathy Romero is 110% of positive energy, love and life, and that brand says it 110% — I knew that I wanted something for myself that moved me in the same way.
Through Kathy, I met the awesome Cathy Olson of Love-Inspired, who was the designer behind her new website. Cathy and I were joined at the hip just about every day and evening those four days and I’m so lucky I had the opportunity to get to know her. It made complete sense months later to hand the web design reigns over to Cathy when it came time for the AH brand launch.
Wow, looking back at all the new friends and new directions for my business from attending Engage makes me feel so lucky. It just so happens that Engage 12: Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas was just announced for next June – in my hometown no less – and my calendar is already saved. It’s like they say… “Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
For a real experience, check out the wrap up film here. I make a blink and you’ll miss it at 2:08: