Motivation to Celebration: Engage!10 at The Breakers

I recently just got my feet back on the ground after the wondrous event that is Engage! For those of you not in the industry or in the know, Engage! is a luxury wedding seminar featuring the biggest and brightest names in the industry where you have a chance to listen and learn, meet and mingle and get motivated and moved by the people whom you aspire to and appreciate. This years event was featured at the ultra posh hotel The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. As a first timer to the Breakers I must say I was floored, their website does not do it justice. Reminiscent of a bygone era featuring Italian frescoes, gilded ballrooms and elegant parlors, The Breakers would make any bride’s fairy tale wedding come true. Not only did it serve as the backdrop to this glamorous event but showed us just how drool worthy their culinary arts are as well.

The ever so charming Lara Casey of Southern Weddings Magazine helped to welcome the attendees.

Simon Bailey kicking your mind and spirit into shape with his motivational pep rally teaching you to ‘Shift’ your focus and life. I got a chance to speak to Simon one-on-one the night before and can honestly say what an amazing and inspiring person he really is. Consider him your own personal cheerleader who truly wants you to succeed.

The Palm Beach inspired cocktail lounge that served as a platform for the welcome reception. And of course… the gorgeous food that I was drawn to. Gorgeous chilled soup shots and prosciutto wrapped buffalo mozzarella served with sliced tart apricots.

Me and some of the Engage! attendees sipping frozen mojitos. What’s so great about Engage! is how friendly and helpful each person was, they truly wanted to help everyone to succeed with their own tips and advice. Competition was never present, only consideration. Here I am amidst some of the mid-westerners of the group including Amy Zaroff, Amy Rubins, Me, Lindsey Piram and more.

A gorgeous courtyard at The Breakers served as the location for the kick off breakfast after a long night of mingling. Mel Barlow and her team didn’t miss a single delicious detail such as these grilled banana parfait bites, piping hot sugared donuts, lox bagel bites and breakfast brulees.

The Breakers ballroom was transformed into our classroom where we awaited the words of talented industry leaders we came to see and hear.

Never shy on beauty or food, our first break welcomed us into a berry parfait and macaron filled parlor.

Southern charm was never short on hand, especially when we were treated to a discussion featuring the ultra talented trio of Todd Fiscus, Tara Guerard and David Beahm.

Listening and learning intently to our speakers. From right to left: Vanessa Van Wieren (me!), Harmony Walton of The Bridal Bar, Lara Casey and Emily Ayer of Southern Weddings Magazine.

The hilarious and witty Mindy Weiss who braved many a celebrity weddings and even shared her own wedding photos!! Hat’s were very en vogue in the 80’s don’t you know…

For our lunch we were brought into a gorgeous rotund ballroom featuring opulent chandeliers and more delicate Italian painted frescoes. Adorable boxes branded with my all time favorite food adjective, YUMMY!, held a Lobster Roll, Gazpacho, Deviled Eggs and Crudites. The refreshing watermelon juice was a beautiful way to add color to any table!

During lunch we were treated to a demonstration by the iconic cake designer Sylvia Weinstock.

Not only did we receive decorating tips but life and marriage advice as well. One of the most important to her longevity… VODKA! Randy Fenoli didn’t miss a beat and jumped to serve Sylvia her well deserved afternoon nip.

A panel of wonderful women including Darcy Miller of Martha Stewart Weddings, Abby Larsen of Style Me Pretty, Amy Atlas Dessert Bar Designer Extraordinaire and Donna Newman photographer.

The hilariously fashionable Randy Fenoli of Say Yes to the Dress and luxury stationer Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York.

An afternoon Citrus Break featuring a whole new look to the parlor including orange Crush sodas and orange mini cheesecakes.

Engage! veteran Marcy Blum was so refreshingly direct and honest about business tactics in the industry including her do’s and don’ts.

One of the most jaw dropping designers Bryan Rafanelli, known for his celebrity clientele such as Chelsea Clinton, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, showing us how he transforms open spaces into gorgeous city sized tents with his team.

That evening we were treated to a ‘Dine Around’ where we broken into smaller groups and went to dinner with an industry leader. I was lucky enough to get Lara Casey! After the Dine Around were were treated to another fantastic cocktail party where I mingled with the beautiful Daniella Ferdico Faget of Bella Signature Design.  Also on hand were the adorable New Yorkers Michelle Spezia of Fims by Francscso, Chelsea Clinton’s photographer, and Jacqueline Elfe of Stellar Style Events.

The following evening after a day of smaller broken up classes we were treated to an elegant and luxurious farewell fete. When you walked into the room you were awe struck by the hundreds of glittering champagne glasses hung with ribbon and the stilted bride and groom who cut down a glass for each guest as they approached.

The neo-baroque style room was transformed into a pink fantasy for our delectable dinner of individual raw bars on plated ice sculptures, seared lamb and gallon sized make-your-own-sundae martini glasses with every possible topping. During dinner were were treated to talented jazz singers, dueling violinists and a hilarious show of bucket beating waiters. After dinner we were treated to even more fantastic entertainment including break dancers, musicians and beat pumping dj’s. All entertainment was provided by Elan Artists.

A lovely end to the evening as I say farewell to the super sweet (non pun intended) and charming Amy Atlas.

What more can I say except WOW! After forging some fantastic friendships and getting so much inspiration and a newly refreshed drive, I’m ready as ever to push myself and my designs even further for my wonderful clientele.

Photography by Mel Barlow

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  1. Dawn Heers
    October 12, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Vanessa, the Breakers is a lovely place, dont you think? I spent New Years last year and enjoy my visit each time I am at the Breakers!
    Your pictures are beautiful, continued good luck in your work. Love ya, Dawn Heers

  2. October 12, 2010 at 10:38 am

    This was the best blog entry I have read in a long time. Fill of wonderful photography, links, and storytelling! Thanks for sharing the event and all the information with us. I really enjoyed the whole experience.

    All the best!

  3. October 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    awesome recap, vanessa!

  4. Thank you ladies! It was such a great event, this blog post doesn’t even start to give you a full recap of all of the events!



  5. October 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Oh, wow oh wow! Your post has to be one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen. The photos are so gorgeous, if there was an audiotape of Engage 10 your readers would feel as if they were actually there since we can see so many of the fabulous details of the event! Thank you for doing such a wonderful description and pictorial! I hope to get there someday. :)

  6. October 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Great recap Vanessa! And now I am super hungry for lunch - the food all looked amazing! Hope I can attend this next year :)

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