As you know from following my Tweets, I have spent the last week participating in the Engage!12 Conference at the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. Held twice annually, Engage! is a series of summits crafted around the luxury wedding business with the intention to educate, inspire, and elevate the wedding industry and business practices of those attending.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah...Blah, blah, blah," you (probably are) may be thinking. "So my wedding planner gets to go play with Mindy Weiss, Sylvia Weinstock, and the rock stars of the industry. But what do I get out of it?!?"
My thoughts, exactly! Now, it makes sense that hiring an educated, inspired wedding planner will naturally result in your having a more exciting, more meaningful wedding. But the fact is that if I don't deliver something to you right now, this minute, then the conference will have inspired me, but failed you. In which case, what would be the point?!?
Engage!12 Top 3 Tips for Couples
1. Be Yourself...
Sounds so simple, it's almost stupid. But the fact is that a wedding is one of those occasions that requires couples to consider the thoughts, feelings, and traditions of not only their family and friends, but of their partner's family and friends, as well as the societal pressures of the time. With all of these pressures, it is easy to fall victim to the pre-fabricated and the easily accepted. Don't do it! The only way to host a wedding that speaks of you, and directly to your guests, is to infuse each and every detail with the authentic, the personal, and the true.
In my case, I needed to embrace the getting-bigger-by-the-minute baby bump that I would be bringing along with me. Rather than attempt to hide it behind flowing skirts and baggy sweaters I dressed her up and put her out there! People responded to it in the loveliest of ways ~ Saying hello, creating conversation, and bringing a personal part of themselves to a very personal part of me.
People love people. Real, complicated, convoluted and crazy. The people coming to your wedding love you. Both of you. And, hard as it may be to believe at times, (almost) all of you! So don't be afraid to be who you are! The only way to ensure that your wedding is meaningful and unique is to build it around the things you love. Obsessed with comic books? Have a cake topper featuring your favorite super heroes. Are you vegetarians due to your love of animals? Create a hearty meal that even the most die-hard carnivore will devour!
Be true to yourself and your relationship, and your wedding is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on your guests.
2. But Be Respectful...
As much as I would love to tell you that this is just your day...Yours! Yours! Yours!...the truth is that there are a lot of people for whom this day is just as important. If you have children, then you know the longing and hopes that are fulfilled as you watch your child reach a milestone. Don't have children? I assure you, these feelings are there, and they are real. This doesn't mean that you should bend to the every whim of your future mother-in-law, but it does mean that you should make an effort to allow her to participate in at least one element of the wedding. Believe me, giving her a small consideration now will earn you years of latitude when it comes to holidays, family vacations, and more!!!
Being gracious and thoughtful does not end with only your in-laws. Want people to say that yours is the best wedding that they have ever been to? Then make every decision with the guests experience in mind. Arrange for a craft table and sitter to entertain children so Mommy & Daddy can have a slow dance all by themselves. Be sure that there is a car service available to guests if you are hosting an absolute rager of a bash. Change the music as the night goes on to be sure that everyone from grandparents and older generations are inspired to get up on the dance floor and feel represented.
By keeping your guests comfortable, delighted, surprised, and taken care of from start to finish you will guarantee that your wedding is the one which will stand out in their minds for years to come.
3. Branding - It ain't just for Business!
From the moment I opened the Engage!12 website to the last napkins I picked up on my way out of the Gala Dinner, every element was branded with the golden sunburst pattern of the conference. Each attendee received a golden welcome bag with the logo hanging from the strap, we took notes in embossed journals and wore name badges with dangling golden insignia. We even wiped our mouthes with napkins kissed by the sun pattern.
Branding the conference not only reinforced who the organization was to us, but it also created this incredible feeling of unity throughout the group, making us easily identifiable to other guests and staff. Without our conscious knowledge, wearing and interacting with the Engage!12 logo made us all part of the same team. The sunburst became out unofficial baseball uniform, gave us a sense of belonging, and instilled a sense of pride in all of us. It was a silent way of saying, "We're with Engage" - And it mattered.
The same can - and should - be done with your wedding. Especially if it is a destination wedding. Early on you should settle on one strong, memorable, and easily identifiable element, but it color, logo, pattern, or motif. Incorporate this element into everything from your wedding website to your invitations and beyond, and guests will immediately associate you as a couple with it for years to come.
Within two days of the conference ending I had to leave town for a 24 hour out-of-state consultation. The first thing I grabbed was the tote I received at the Engage!12 check in. Why this, from the myriad of designer bags, rolling laptop cases, and clutches? Because it is tied to a memory that instilled me with information and confidence, and it's tied to great memories. If that's what branding a conference instilled in me, imagine what branding your wedding will do for your guests!
Keep these three things in mind while planning your wedding, and I guarantee you a fete that will keep guests talking for years to come!