Sarah Haywood recommended me the Engage summit. She is also a frequent speaker at this event – it’s the best of its kind in the world, most certainly worth attending. Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce from the USA are the organizers, and they’re the most influential people in the wedding business. The summit takes place 3-4 times per year, in America and Europe, also newly in Asia. Currently, the best of the best meet at this event, the most influential people with a global reach. This event serves as a source of other-worldly inspiration, contacts, and know-how.
Once this event was listed, I knew I had to attend, though I did hesitate with the registration, and the tickets were sold out within an hour; I was disappointed. In the end, I asked Sarah Haywood for help, she was a co-producer and alas: 5 months to go, I couldn’t wait.
Putting together such an event is financially demanding and requires the best to make it work. I’m grateful I could attend such an event and find great inspiration and learn many new things, which I’d like to make use of in my work.
The event itself was to take place in one of the best hotels in London – Rosewood; where I arrived a couple of days in advance, to look around, get my bearings and get a feel for the atmosphere. This hotel truly is the creme de la creme, with beautiful interiors and first-class services; Rosewood itself hosted the lectures, and all the other events were held at different locations in London. Every event had a theme, along with a specific dress-code.
The summit started with registration at around 12, which led me to think this will be a grand event. The registration and opening ceremony happened in the conference hall, decorated in such a way so as to pull the attendees into the story. Music was playing; the fore-ground was decorated with iconic British items: pillar & telephone boxes, many beautiful floral arrangements and theme-based stations with refreshments.
There were also many registration stations, where I received an envelope with an invitation and name tag, a brochure containing all important information and other presents. Naturally, a special corner – called Engage boutique – wasn’t missing; I received a beautiful leather bag for the items and materials we would regularly receive: cosmetics, fantastic biscuits, teacups, a diary, scarf and much more. All the gifts had a logo – Engage – which was designed specifically for this occasion. All printed matter had a recurring symbol – a key – and these color combinations: Mersey blue, Royal claret, Oxford blue, London fog, English mustard, and St. James green. We had a while to get changed since an evening party awaited us – we left at six o’clock in the evening.
Dresscode: Modern Londoner
The opening ceremony and the entrance to the main hall were spectacular. Perfect lighting, great design of the stage, notebooks ready for work. I took the place in the second row to get a good view. The summit was opened by Rebecca and Kathryn, followed by Sarah Haywood and Milan Thakrar as co-organizers. The individual lectures were focused on marketing, communication with clients, production and more. I was lucky to meet wedding and event celebrities in action.
The break was no less interesting. We were greeted with delicious food stands and a great band that created an amazing atmosphere. After the break, other lectures were lasting up to approximately 5 pm. We got a moment to change, and we were scheduled to leave for the evening party an hour later.
I looked forward to the Welcome Party, the first surprise came on our way there – a classic doubledecker arrived to pick us up, marked with ‘Private party’ and ‘engage19’. We got stylish, dated tickets and a designated class. All attendees were immaculately dressed, the mood: celebrate.
The opening to the Welcome party was colossal, and it wasn’t only me tearing up (even my colleagues did), it was such a grand moment. When we arrived at the Tower of London, the band of the royal guard welcomed us, an oration was given by Beefeater, and then it hit us: dated, live music started playing, fires lit up, and a light show emphasized the mood. The main gate opened, and we found ourselves in an area, mystically lit, with beautiful Medieval music playing. On our way to the hall, where the Crown Jewels and historical artifacts from the British Empire were located, we passed musicians playing on various string instruments. A private tour ensued. The Crown Jewels are beyond magnificent; we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. I can’t forget the unbelievably original floral décor and the perfect lighting, both strengthening the castle’s atmosphere of purity.
After the tour, we were transferred into a columned hall, where a string quartet was playing, light refreshments were served, and the servers were dressed in historical costumes. Everyone was having fun, and it proved to be a brilliant setting in which we could all get to know one another – as colleagues. We heard some singing – it was divine – when we crossed the courtyard, there was a historical chorus playing on our way to another hall, where a banquet was to take place. The feast was arranged on a central podium, decorated with beautiful floral arrangements and perfectly lit. There were musicians playing center stage, savory and sweet bites were served, truly délicieux, everyone enjoyed them. Signature drinks were served by the personnel, a Champagne stage was also present, along with other alcoholic drinks. The atmosphere was highlighted by ever-present Beefeaters and other historical figures. The photo booth was particularly interesting: there was a metal construction of a dragon with red lighting.
The dress-code: Cosy in (Crown) jewel tones.
At around ten o’clock, we went to the docks, which were right next to the tower, where a luxurious boat awaited us – Dixie Queen. Equipped with luxury furniture, beautiful floral decoration and of course, a photo booth, this time around with a British flag. The whole boat was interestingly lit up. Once we were all aboard, we set sail for a lovely sightseeing cruise, and we were served fantastic canapés and brilliant drinks, including Champagne. Interestingly, they had an ice-cream corner. An extraordinary band accompanied our evening, world-class musicians setting the atmosphere. Not only was their performance stunning, but they looked the part and danced as well. Everyone was enjoying themselves, particularly our American colleagues; they put on an impressive show. The highlight of the whole afterparty was when we floated through and under Tower Bridge, which they opened for us. The whole evening was perfectly organized, the concept was brilliant – we got to see the historical and contemporary London and the whole evening flew by.
PHOTO: BEN FINCH, GENEVIE VEDE MANIO, JACQUI COLE, VARNA STUDIO, GORBIN GURKIN, JOHN CAIN PHOTOGRAPHY, BENGA STUDIOS
To be continued….