Engage!08 Where It All Began

Way back in 2008, Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce had a thriving consulting business, Engaging Concepts; an extensive network of wedding industry colleagues around the world; and an idea: How great would it be to get some of those people in the same room for a day of conversation and education about the industry we all love? With that, Engage! was born. The very first event took place in June 2008 at Celebration Hotel in their hometown of Celebration, called Engage!08 — A Luxury Wedding Business Symposium. The single day of seminars included floral designer extraordinaire Preston Bailey (who gifted attendees with a signed copy of his book), rock star planner Marcy Blum, and motivational speaker Simon T Bailey. Christine Boulton of Think Like a Bride shared understanding the luxury client, and Liene Stevens of Think Splendid talked social media, a burgeoning industry at the time. Representing the media were Harmony Walton (then editorial director for Get Married!) and Susan Moynihan (then editor in chief of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons). The 75 attendees represented 17 states and 5 countries.

The agenda was simple: one day of seminars and questions, followed by informal dinners around the town of Celebration. The decor was simple: a black, white and lime color palette, with polka-dot notebooks and Engage!08 pens. And starting what would be become an Engage hallmark, most of the group stayed up late and closed the bar, thrilled to have made connections with like-minded wedding pros from across the country. Everyone involved left knowing they had been part of something special, and with that, Rebecca and Kathryn had another crazy idea: What if we did it again?