Engage!13 Biltmore Estate Asheville, North Carolina
History was in the making in May 2013, when 275 attendees converged on the historic Biltmore Estate for three days of inspiration and celebration. Engagees were sent a pre-arrival gift of a signed book on the history and legacy of Biltmore Estate, setting the mood for something special.
The branding and gifting theme was Southern Comfort – an homage to the historical luxury of the Biltmore mixed with equal parts ‘Downton’ and ‘Gatsby’. Sessions were held in a sweeping tent overlooking Biltmore House with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind, and attendees enjoying the scenic drive from the quaint Inn on Biltmore Estate.
In addition to appearances by The Knot’s Carley Roney and Brides’ Keija Minor, Andrea Wasserman shared the strategy behind Nordstrom’s entrance into the weddings market, David Stark shared secrets from his new book, The Art of the Party, and Tait Larson joined wife Abby to talk of Style Me Pretty’s partnership with AOL. Sean Low led a discussion with successful business owners Harmony Walton, Anne Chertoff and Xochitl Gonzalez on the joys and perils of entrepreneurship, and a powerhouse lineup of rock-star planners Mindy Weiss, David Beahm, Colin Cowie and Michelle Rago wrapped up the last day, shedding light on their values and creative processes.
The parties all had a strong sense of place. The Welcome party at Antler Hill Barn featured an artisan whiskey bar and decor by Carolina based Pressed Cotton and ended fittingly with a bonfire under the starry mountain skies. Afternoon small group activities allowed attendees a variety of experiences including horseback riding, river rafting and archery along with private behind-the-scenes tours of Biltmore House and Gardens.
The Gala began with an exclusive gathering inside Biltmore House, led by the great granddaughter of George Vanderbilt, Dini Cecil Pickering. Then came the unveiling of the Great Gatsby-themed extravaganza, a white-on-white floral and chandelier bedecked wonderland created in collaboration between Biltmore Estate, Karen Tran Events, Nuage Designs, Elan Artists, Classic Event Rentals, and Signature Chandeliers. The unforgettable party was held in a majestic tent on the South Terrace of Biltmore House as the sun set over the foothills. Burlesque and cabaret dancers and fire-eaters entertained and guests danced with wild abandon to the sounds of Carte Blanche before the surprise finale: a fireworks show that illuminated the estate and delighted everyone in attendance.