engage!13…fabulous AGAIN!

Posted June 14, 2013
Each time I have the opportunity to attend engage!, it’s an amazing experience.  This year was no exception! So, last week, with Rachel in tow, I headed down to engage!13 at the GORGEOUS Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.
Biltmore Estate | viva bella events | Cincinnati Wedding Planner
These luxury wedding summits put on by the amazing duo, Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce, are a few days jam-packed with informative sessions, fabulous surprises, over-the-top events, and we can’t wait to share the details…
When we arrived on Day One, we checked-in and received a huge bag full of fun “southern comfort” swag! Gifts are always a big theme at engage! and this one was no exception. The ladies at Gifts for the Good Life truly know how to make an amazing gifting experience!
engage!13 | #engage13 | Dora Manuel | viva bella events | Cincinnati Wedding PlannerThese little details like, “E” cookies, printed napkins, and the engage!13 logo on absolutely everything, makes such an impact.
Engage is so great about creating different experiences that even the Opening Session was done in 2 different places with a fun wine and cheese break in between!
viva bella events | engage! luxury wedding summit | CIncinnati Wedding Planner
That night, the evening party was in a barn on the Biltmore property–it was totally decked out!  This cute sign out front showed us where to go, gave us a rundown of the events, and set the “southern charm” tone for the evening…
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The decor and bluegrass band were in keeping with the “southern comfort” theme and the food was SO good–ribs, corn cakes, barbecue, mac-n-cheese, ice cream sandwiches, and pie!  Rachel and I were so full! Later, they created a huge bonfire complete with s’mores!!
engage!13 | #engage13 | Dora Manuel | Cincinnati Corporate Events
One thing is for sure at engage!… you will never go without a delightful surprise and certainly, you will never go hungry! After the mounds of comfort food, dessert, then s’mores, we returned back to the hotel where Biltmore staff handed us in the lobby a “Midnight Munchies” bag with popcorn and warm chocolate chip cookies that the team at Pressed Cotton put together… Mmmmmm, no, of course I didn’t eat it all before I even got back to my room… of course not!
viva bella events | engage13 | comfort foods | Cincinnati Wedding Planner
Day Two’s sessions started in a beautiful outdoor ten with a hilltop view of the Biltmore.  There were no buildings around, just giant trees and wildlife–such a nice serene setting for our sessions.  We heard so many great speakers, like Abby Larson from Style Me Pretty!  I just love what fresh insight they bring to the wedding industry!
viva bella events | Style Me Pretty | Abby Larson | engage!13
During every session, we were treated to the most amazing SNACK BREAKS!  Oh, my goodness…wine & cheese, popcorn, caramel apples, whoopee pies, tiny tacos & tequila, cotton candy…endless, endless goodies!
engage!13 | #engage13 | Dora Manuel | viva bella events | Cincinnati Wedding Planner | endless treats
That afternoon, we went back to the hotel for lunch and to get ready for our afternoon activities that we got to pick during registration! Rachel went on an architect’s tour of the Biltmore…she opted to take a full tour afterward because she was so intrigued.  Seriously, the grounds surrounding the estate are stunning and the history behind it all is fascinating!
I opted for the river float trip and met some great ladies! Fun!
engage13 | viva bella events | river rafting
In the evening, we had a “dine around” dinner, where we sit with industry leaders and get to glean from them.  It is a great feature of the engage! experience.  After dinner, the dessert party was a vintage Downton Abbey-inspired (Still sad about Mr. Crawley!) event held in an outdoor tent with a clear ceiling.  The vintage decor was everything from purses, chests, vintage dresses to amazing furniture pieces.
engage13 | viva bella events | Rent the Runway | Cincinnati Wedding Planner
The after-party was a “speak easy”!  So fun!  We had to give a password the the guy at the door to let us in!  How fun is that?
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We continued on Day Three with great sessions and awesome speakers.  For lunch, a horse and buggy came up the hill with picnic baskets and blankets for a picnic over looking the Biltmore.  It was just perfect!
Picnic Lunch | engage!13 | #engage13 | Cincinnati Wedding
The gala on this last night was Great Gatsby inspired.  Oh, how we love this era!  Everyone got dressed it their roaring 20’s garb and there was even a room where we could go to get fashion advice and accessories to wear for the evening.  Many people wore loads of sparkling beads, headbands, gloves, and RED lips.  (Rachel and I wore more of our Rent-the-Runway looks!  So great to feel fabulous and then return the dress after one wear!)
viva bella events | engage!13 | Dora Manuel | 1920's style
Ok, so let the swooning begin…
viva bella events | engage!13 | Dora Manuel | Cincinnati Wedding | Amazing Florals
We could feel the excitement when we first arrived at the tent.  The.decor.was.a.mazing (designed by Karen Tran, whose work we just coo over in the office all the time!). The tent had a grand entrance covered (I mean, covered!) in ivory and blush flowers and two 20’s burlesque girls greeting guests! Throughout the evening, a band played jazz era music and burlesque dancers (yikes) entertained the crowd.
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We also saw fire performers outside– a nod to 20’s carnival themes.  The food stations served food grown and raised right on the Biltmore Estate–a very cool detail. When the sun went down, we were led out to the front lawn to see an incredible fireworks display!
engage13 | Dora Manuel | #engage13 | viva bella events | Cincinnati Wedding Planner | fireworks
When we went back into the tent, we were given light-up rings and “soda guys” were passing out fun glass bottle sodas.  Then the dancing began!
viva bella events | Cincinnati Wedding Planner | Fun dance wedding | engage 13
These engage! conferences are such a great time for my team and me to be inspired and energized about the upcoming wedding season!  I cannot wait to extend my learnings to viva bella’s events and incorporate the latest and greatest trends!
Photos courtesy of Allan Zepeda, Carla Ten Eyck, Andrew Henderson, & Jeremie Barlow
For a list of all the talented who contributed their creative juices to this fab event, please visit the engage!13 website.