Friday, June 27, 2008

Are the "Sex And The City" Girls Part of the Coming Luxury Drought?"

Excerpted from Luxury Market Expert and Trend Watcher Pamela Danziger's Luxury Business Newsletter:

Luxury Marketers Need New Approaches to Entice a Resistant Affluent Consumer

"In the movie {"Sex And The City"} many of Carrie's choices are driven by meaning and emotion, rather than indulgence and self-gratification. Pamela Danziger explains, Carrie finds that luxury purchases are only worthwhile when they have a deep personal meaning. Carrie buys a Louis Vuitton handbag not for herself, but for her personal assistant who taught her to never give up on love, and she finds that a penthouse apartment or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mexico are only as memorable as the people she is with.

Even Carrie's wedding to Mr. Big, surely an excuse to go all-out in a celebration of the right couture in the right venue, was all wrong when it was a tribute to labels wrapped up in a Vivienne Westwood gown, but wonderful when it was a tribute to love in a vintage suit punctuated by Carrie's signature Manolos. Carrie still loves style, but she learns that it isn't as important to her as the people around her.

When Sex And The City first appeared on television, it set off a tidal wave of luxury awareness, with consumers from Manhattan to Minot copying Carrie's choice of shoe, handbag, and beverage. If the movie has the same effect, Carrie's new-found emphasis on love over label will resonate with the luxury consumer, and marketers will need to work harder to communicate why their products offer both style and substance."


Kathryn and I had the amazing opportunity to hear Pamela Danziger speak here in Celebration when she presented Luxury market insights, behaviors and trends to a very small group of marketers working with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism last fall. She is the author of a number of luxury marketing books, including "Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing to the Masses and the Classes." Her weekly newsletter is a must read for us as we continually strive to gain insights and learnings in marketing and selling to the luxury wedding consumer on behalf of our clients. Check out her website for her latest research findings, free articles and information on her webinars and books.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wedding Recession? 15 Things You Should be Doing Now Webinar

I was honored to be asked to be one of 15 wedding industry pros to contribute to the recent Webinar hosted by Alan Berg, VP of Local Strategic Solutions and Director of The Knot Market Intelligence last night.

The best part {besides that fact that it was FREE} is that it is available for download to anyone who wishes to get some tips on surviving the current economic downturn and how it may potentially affect your wedding business.

Here were my contributions as sent to Alan a few months ago:

-Pat yourself on the back and take picked the RIGHT industry! Yes that is right – while everything about the wedding industry is not perfect [who needs weekends anyway??] there is one major benefit to targeting the bride and groom: weddings are recession-proof. While people may cut back on spending in all other facets of their lives – they rarely cancel their wedding or honeymoon due to economic hard times. Revel in this fact.

-Focus on service. While it is a well documented and rarely disputed fact that weddings are recession-proof, spending on various wedding elements can be susceptible to market conditions. The best way to combat this is to be sure that YOUR piece of the overall wedding spend is protected. Continue to add value to your clients and the most effective [and appreciated] way to do that is to up your level of service at each and every touch point. Go back to square one and be sure that everyone in your organization buys into providing exceptional guest service each and every day. This is non-negotiable if you want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.

-Be Brilliant at the Basics. Take a day or even an afternoon with you entire team and dedicate it to focusing on your core business. What is it that you provide to the bride and groom and what value does it bring to their wedding event. Ask yourselves what it is that sets you apart from others that provide the same service. Challenge each other to see if you are really offering the very best you can offer for the prices you charge. Can you add any additional value without raising costs? Can you cut costs without sacrificing service? Brainstorm ways in which you can raise the bar for your clients and be sure you are being brilliant at the basics first and foremost.

-Be relevant. Now is the time to update your website/blogs/advertising/collateral etc. to ensure that you are telling the best and most compelling story about your business possible. How relevant are you to today’s [and tomorrow’s!] bride and groom? Fresh, exciting news, images, offerings, and experiences resonate with the increasingly sophisticated consumer.

-Be proactive and BOLD. Do not try to ‘save your way’ through the tough economic times. The opportunity to establish market leadership is now – when others tend to be gun shy about investing in growing their business via capital investments, new staff and marketing. If you are willing to be bold in your approach when others are sitting back and waiting it out on the sidelines, you have a distinct advantage in taking precious market share. Go for it!

Click here to download the full 1-hour, free Webinar, courtesy of The Knot's Market Intelligence division.

USA TODAY: "Hollywood Lives Happily Ever After"

Pick up a copy of today's "USA TODAY" for a cover story {Life section} on Hollywood's never-ending fascination with weddings! I once heard a stat that every movie with the word "wedding" in the title has grossed over the $100 million surprise to any of us in the wedding industry!

An excerpt from the feature to illustrate the point:

"Let's start at the newsstands, groaning with the 10-pound bridal magazines likely to reap some profits from Hollywood's marital bliss. It's a two-way street: The audience influences the movies, the movies influence the audience. (Antonia) Van der Meer says brides are so impressed by what they see at the movies that she predicts Mamma Mia! will send scores to the Greek islands next year for destination weddings.

At a recent early screening of the frothy musical, there was an audible gasp from the audience when the screen filled with a stunning panoramic shot of a Greek chapel perched on a craggy hill overlooking the sea, with a winding stone staircase lined with candles.

"We're all complete suckers for a wedding in real life. If you see a bride on the street, she's always surrounded by a crowd of complete strangers attracted to her," van der Meer says. "We're hard-wired to love a bride."

Hollywood, being Hollywood, is expert at recycling whatever is cool and hip at the moment. In this calculus, van der Meer says, weddings have more enduring power as a cool, hip topic than pregnancy..."

You can also click here to read the article in it's entirety including a fun round-up of recent wedding related movies as well as some on the horizon called "Going to the Movies and They're Gonna Get Married."

Any and all attention to weddings in movies, television and celebrity culture is, for those of us in the wedding industry,...a "Good Thing!" It is also one of the biggest predictors of future being aware of what is out there is of paramount importance {don't you just love that watching all of this counts as 'research' - definitely one of the perks of the job!!!!'}.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Lots of discussion lately surrounding pricing for anything and everything wedding-related {or wedding media-related for those of you on the ad/publishing side!}.  This quick observation from guru Seth Godin says it perfectly:

"Your customers may scream that you need to lower your price.

It's not true.

You need to increase your value. If people don't want to pay, it's because you're not delivering enough value for the money you're charging.

You're not selling a commodity unless you want to."
I encourage you to take a hard look at the VALUE of what you are offering...and increase it as much as you possibly can.  Also, be sure you are effectively sharing the VALUE of the services you already provide - remember, this is only the couples first (or second...) time they have planned a wedding - do not assume they fully understand what it takes to pull it off. Find the fine line between telling them everything it takes to do your job and sharing the important points of what you do and what sets you apart - and always remember to tell them 'what it means to THEM/how it helps THEM.'

When people sense they are getting  true value out of anything, they are satisfied, thrilled and naturally become your biggest advocates/brand evangelists - spreading the word to all they encounter.  And that is...priceless.

If you do not already read Seth's blog - click on over NOW to add it to your RSS feeder!!!

Getting it Right: Weddings Unique

Congrats to long-time industry friend, based here in Winter Park, Florida, Heather Snively of Weddings Unique on her recent wedding of Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough featured in the current issue of In Style Weddings!  

I love the custom designed email [see above - click on it to see image larger] sent out to her past, current and future brides and industry friends - a perfect example of how to share exciting news and drive awareness to a major achievement while promoting a new blog and website in the process!

Great job Heather - it was wonderful to have you join us at engage!08!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A fun marketing exercise

Videographer-extraordinaire Brett Culp of CVP Video shared this very fun tool - and of course I had to play around with it - I just love a fun and interactive web-tool as much as the next person!  Check out WORDLE - a free 'word cloud' generator using your own text with oodles of layouts, fonts and color palettes to tell your story! 

I found it to be a creative exercise in helping to further clarify and define the Engaging Concepts brand.

If you make one for yourself - be sure to share - I want to see them!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Blog Love" for engage!08 continues...

HUGE thanks to both Harmony Walton of Get Married and The Bridal Bar and Liene Stevens of Blue Orchid Designs for their wonderful blog recaps of engage!08 - we are just totally overwhelmed with appreciation and excitement from all who joined us. They each were speakers at this first event and received rave reviews from attendees for their valuable insights.

Click here to read Liene's part #1 recap and here to read part #2 and then here for part #3!
And click here to read Harmony's recap!

There are even more links to all the amazing attendees who have been so kind to share their experiences via their Blogs over on the engage!08 official Blog - so if you are interested in other perspectives and impressions - check it out.

We hear you - and are determining when the next one will be - sooner rather than later we promise!!!!

Special thanks to attendee Darice Michelle for all the incredible pictures - check out her comprehensive blog post jam packed with images from the event!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tulla Belles

You simply must check out TullaBelles - a brand new website from the most delightful woman, Cindy Folak!  I have known Cindy for many years - she is the super fun and fabulous mother of my dear friend Heidi Folak-Pickert of Disney wedding fame. She recently launched the website of her personal shopping service Tulla Belles - of which I am addicted!  Cindy worked closely with us as we designed the gift bags for engage!08 - we knew we wanted to weave the branding throughout the day and shower of attendees with lots of great take home goodies - just as Cindy's tagline says: "posh presents, trendy treats and gifts galore!"

We also had her create custom aprons for our staff to wear during set up and registration [see above] with engage! embroidered on the sash.  A HUGE hit and with custom fabric combinations in the hundreds a perfect way to incorporate professional but playful and fun brand recognition to wedding-day staff during set up and tear down for wedding professionals in almost all capacities - wedding planners, designers, florists, cake designers, catering professionals, installation teams and the list goes on! Much more fun and eye-catching than logo t-shirts or boring black ensembles!  They all have hidden pockets and one version is waterproof for the messier jobs/set-ups!

Tulla Belles is my official 'go to' source for all professional and personal gifting - so much so we jokingly call it "Tulla Becca's" as I spend so much with them! :)

The web presence is just the tip of the iceburg - so check it out but be sure to contact them for additional ideas - they specialize in custom designing or sourcing just about anything you can dream up!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Highest Original Wedding Show Season Premiere EVER!

WOW.  Now that says alot to us all...

The Wedding Planner's Wardrobe | Marcy Blum in NY Observer

GREAT profile on Marcy Blum in the New York Observer - a fun read! Those of you who have met Marcy in person will appreciate this all the more - she is one-of-a-kind! Love her - enjoy:

Name: Marcy Blum

Age: “Early fifties.”

Occupation: Longtime event planner who has staged the nuptials of actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick; authors Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie; and Mr. and Mrs. Billy Joel. “I go to Japan and give seminars to party planners, who are just figuring out that it’s a business. And the first time I went, I said, ‘I’m sure you invited me here because you wanted to hear from the quintessential JAP,’ but my interpreter refused to translate it. He didn’t find that funny.”

Work uniform: Evening dresses from high-end houses’ secondary lines, like See by Chloe or Vera Wang Lavender Label. “Because I run around and I dump food and wine and things on it.”

Boffo bargain: A pink linen dress with white flowers and black velvet sash, possibly a Dior, that she wore to an editors’ luncheon at the Norwood. “I found it at the flea market in Paris. It was one of those things where I said, ‘If I don’t breathe for the rest of the day this actually fits perfectly.’”

Little black dress: A black, sequin-sleeved number she wore for adman Donny Deutsch’s 50th birthday party in December at Lincoln Center, featuring the Pussycat Dolls. “I had to put leggings on because otherwise when I bent over … ”

Little white dress: An A-line from Barneys that almost got her barred from P. Diddy’s famous “white party” last year; the sentry protested that it was cream. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, you’re kidding, right? It’s the whitest dress I’ve ever worn in my life except when I got married!’” She had arrived with Katie Lee Joel, who hadn’t wanted to come—“I insisted, I stomped my feet”—and who offered to go change out of her off-white dress if Ms. Blum could go inside. The ploy worked:“I wound up at three in the morning talking to all these women, a ll these people who were there who knew his mother and who knew him before he was born. We had a great time.”

Big black dress: Michael Kors black silk crepe floor-length wraparound gown that she wore to the Rainforest Alliance Benefit in May. “People stopped me in the street all evening, like ‘Where’d you get that dress?’ Which is amazing because my boyfriend”—veterinary nurse Destin Coleman—“hates it with a passion. Every time I put it on, he says, ‘What’s all the foof-foof-foof?’”

Footwear philosophy: Louboutin and Lanvin. “I have taxi shoes, and I have subway shoes.”

Shopping philosophy: “Very expensive for me means over $1,000. I’m not like ‘Omigod, I can’t wear that because it was last season.’ I have things from 30 seasons ago. I’m not a socialite or a fashionista in that way, I just like nice clothing, so I really don’t care.”

Monday, June 9, 2008


It was Magic. That is the best word that I can use to describe what the premiere of engage!08 was last week.  And while we are blown away at the rave reviews pouring in from attendees far and wide - the credit really goes to each and every speaker and attendee who came to the event with their hearts and minds fully engaged to participate, network, learn, share and grow their wedding business.

Many have blogged about their experience and we thank them profusely and invite you to visit their [linked] posts  to read about their impressions and see photos from the event: Shelby O'Connell of SO Chic Events; Liene Stevens of The Smart Planner; Christine Boulton on the Wedding Dish; Savannah Cake Designer extraordinaire Minette Rushing; Laura Marcusse on AdornBrides; Erin Poticny of Casa Monica Hotel and more to follow!

We also wanted to share a FEW of the heartfelt comments sent our way following the event:

“You produced a professional event with tremendous following and you delivered! The best part of the day was the networking opportunity!  Wow, what a great room of industry pros.  I met several people I will definitely keep in contact with!    It was awesome, high-impact, and relevant to just about everyone in the room. You left me wanting more….much more!”   --Warren Dietel, Owner/CEO of Puff ‘n Stuff Catering

“Home run!!!  I'm engaged!!” --  Ed Culp, The CVP Experience

“You have no idea how wonderful and timely the event was for me.  It was really enriching both personally and professionally.  I learn so much from the both of you that I cannot begin to thank you enough. I made so many great contacts and have not ever had a such a successful networking experience.” --Nicole Cozier, Director of Catering, Celebration Hotel

“THANKS FOR AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE!  My head is still spinning, with the amount of information, ideas, knowledge and networking that happened at Engage!08.  I am at a loss for words to truly express how incredible, uplifting and extraordinarily ‘WOW!’, Engage!08 was!
It was far beyond my high expectations and I am sure all of the attendees will agree with me.  Never have I attended a conference, symposium, trade show, whatever you want to call it, (and I have been attending them for over 15 years) and come away feeling like I did.” -- JoAnne Brown, Owner/President Celebrations Ltd. Grand Cayman

“Thank you again for producing this incredible event. It was such a phenomenal day to be inspired, connect with wedding industry professionals and network. I especially loved the adorable touches such as the well-branded gift bags and your apron!! You need not conduct a topic on the power of branding when the entire day was an example!!” --  Lisa Aballo – National Director of Marketing, The Knot and WeddingChannel

“Wow. My head is still spinning from this week! What an amazing event. This was by far the most inspirational, information, interesting, engaging, invigorating...event I've been to (in any industry!)! The size and quality of attendees and speakers was a huge plus. I felt like I could learn and connect with everyone there.” -- Laura Marcusse; Vice President & Director of Marketing ADORN Brides

“The event was SO incredible and you are so, so, so inspiring to all of us that is was clearly a big hit!” --  Harmony Walton, Editorial Director Get Married TV and owner of The Bridal Bar

“All I can say is WOW! Your magic touch was evident by the synergy in the room;  you put together a network of fabulous people. Thank you for allowing me to be part of Engage!08; it was truly amazing!!!” -- Dianna Fletcher. Publicist, Fletcher Media

"...What I experienced that day [at engage!08] was probably one of the most memorable days of my life so far (other than the birth of my children of course). It was a day filled with networking and amazing speakers, and when I say amazing, I mean some of the best in this industry. To say I’m inspired is an understatement." -- Shelby O'Connell, Owner, So Chic Events

“It was a pure pleasure to have attended Engage 08!!  I found the event to be a great motivator...Every aspect of the event was fabulous and I applaud all your hard work. Word will definitely get out that the event was valuable and fun. I’m sure you can expect the next one to be bigger and better!” -- Sue Gilman, Publisher Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine and Caribbean Travel & Life

“Engage!08 was fantastic!  What a great opportunity to meet new contacts and learn new things.  I am completely blog-challenged, so it was great to learn about what is out there.  (I’m very 21st century now)  It was a pleasure to hear the stories and insights from Preston and Marcy and I LOVED Simon Bailey.   Thank you again for including me in the premiere event!” -- Cynthia Boyette, Director of Catering Sales, Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman

“THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for a fabulous conference!!! It was exactly what I needed to take me to the next level, personally and in my business. I didn't want to leave, I just wanted to continue soaking up all the great information that was being shared!!” --  Renee Maddison, National Marketing Director/Simplicity Gourmet

“Terrific conference! I can't wait til the next one!” -- Elisa Delagardio, Owner, A Flair for Affairs

“Thank you for a wonderful seminar on Tuesday.  It was so well organized and presented. I came back with a ton of information to share with my team and area professionals.” -- Kerry Castillo, President, Uniquely Yours Wedding + Event Specialist

“Going into engage!08 I didn;t know what to expect, but I cannot give you enough kudos on pulling off such a fabulous event - from the decor to your staff, the speakers and the networking opportunities presented me with - it was just wonderful! Worth every penny spent to be there for this first event!” -- Stacie Francombe, Founder and CEO of Get Married TV

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to one and all for putting your faith in us and supporting this very first event. It was an honor and privilege to spend precious time with each of you.  We learned so much along the way.  Rest assured, based on the response there will be more engage! events - more details to follow SOON!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The first engage! is a success!!!

WOW! We are blown away by the past two days!  We are wrapping up loose ends and saying final goodbyes to old friends and new and will blog all about it very soon I promise.  In the meantime, we have to share this AMAZING blog post from the incredible Savannah-based photographer
Donna Von Bruening:

"Education is a big part of my commitment to my profession. I invest time and money attending conferences and workshops to expand my business and my photography skills. I'll be point blank honest with you. I usually, no almost 99% of the time, walk away thinking I wasted money or trying to pull a few nuggets (which there always are some nuggets) away to rationalize the $2,000-$3,000 dollars I just spent. Don't get me wrong --it isn't that I am so wonderful that I know everything --it's just that I have been in business 10 years and so many conferences are geared toward newbies. Much of the time the information is basic and I could teach the class (which I have done). 

God, that sounds awful. But it is the truth. When I go to a conference I am looking to be inspired and take my business to the next level. I want to be moved. I want to walk away a better person and photographer than I was when I showed up. Some of my photographer friends tell me my expectations are too high. I tend to disagree. If I am paying you $2000 for 2 days, nevermind taking time away from my famly and business, -you best have me rave about you from morning to night.

So, Engage '08, was the best money I have spent EVER (perhaps the Hasselblad Wedding Institute rival it) in TEN years. Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce put on one heck of a business conference. I am moved, inspired and have met so many new friends...I cannot wait to tell you all about it. It was worth every penny and the 3 days away from home and business.

I am dying to tell you all about it --but I have got to get on the road home. I will blog the images and and the dish later today. I just needed to fill in my wedding colleagues who are dying to hear."   

We are humbled by this and the response from so many other industry friends who joined us for this special event. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Donna. I promise to blog LOTS more as soon as the dust settles...!