Engage!17 Venice Recap!

If you follow us on social media, you may have seen that we were just in Italy for Engage! If you're not familiar, Engage! is a luxury wedding conference where the best of the industry come together to "engage" with each other and learn from each other. There are three summits each year, but as destination planners, we chose the international location: Venice! The Belmond Cipriani hosted us and we are so excited to share all the details with you! 

 Gondola ride to the Belmond Cipriani.    Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio.

Gondola ride to the Belmond Cipriani. Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio.

 Engage! in Venice.  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

Engage! in Venice. Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

First of all, if you are in the wedding industry and haven't been to Engage!, register now. You won't regret it. This was our first Engage!, but we will be back for more! 

 Arrival to the Belmond Cipriani.  Photo by John Cain Photography.

Arrival to the Belmond Cipriani. Photo by John Cain Photography.

Day 1. Sunday night, we boarded our flights. Or so we thought - Sarah's flight got canceled last minute and there was a scramble for her to get on a different flight to meet Chelsea in Venice! Luckily, the stars aligned and we arrived in one piece Monday morning ready to dive into Engage! At registration, we received our name tags and our welcome bag, which was loaded with goodies. We should have realized right then and there that gift giving is a signature of Engage! - this was only the beginning. The highlight for us was definitely the beautiful, oversized book created by TPD Design House we received that had all of the attendees listed and how to find them on social media. It already has a home in our office!

 A peek at our registration gift bag.  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

A peek at our registration gift bag. Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

Then, it was off to the new attendee session! Since we just flew in, we had to choose between grabbing a quick lunch and attending this session - we are so happy we didn't miss it! We learned great nuggets of knowledge, like don't walk around with your business cards (thanks, Brian Leahy!). Counterintuitive, we know, but true. 

At the Opening Session, we heard from an incredible group of speakers. Our favorite was Brian Rafanelli. He reminded us that our next client is always in the room. Definitely something to think about! 

After a quick coffee break, we returned to our seats to find more gifts before finishing sessions for the day. We were starting to feel a bit jetlagged, but no time for that - on to the welcome party! If you are thinking of going to Engage!, try to get there a day early, it would have been helpful with the jetlag (though we didn't have a choice because we had a Saturday event). 

  Opening Session Engage!17 Venice.  Photo by John Cain Photography. 

Opening Session Engage!17 Venice. Photo by John Cain Photography. 

  Can you spot SG?? We have no idea where Chelsea went...  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

Can you spot SG?? We have no idea where Chelsea went... Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

We arrived to the Palazzo Pisano Moretta by boat - it's located right on the Grand Canal! We were greeted by a dramatic performance by violinists in over the top costumes. Nuart was the entertainment provider for all of Engage! and they blew it out of the water! When we got upstairs there was a TON of entertainment and a woman in table served us bubbly from Ferrari.

  Dramatic performance of violinists as guests arrived.  Photo by John Cain Sargent.

Dramatic performance of violinists as guests arrived. Photo by John Cain Sargent.

  Ferrari Bubbly for all!  Photo by Betsi Ewing. 

Ferrari Bubbly for all! Photo by Betsi Ewing. 

Day 2. Not going to lie, we got breakfast in bed and it was glorious. Then, we kicked off the day with a general session of speakers. Wendy El Khoury was our favorite speaker - she made sure everyone was up to speed on social media. We can't wait to put her advice into action! 

During the break, there was some more fabulous entertainment. There was even a woman in a piano full of water and flowers! We're still not exactly sure how they managed it! When the session ended for the day, we received our favorite Engage! gift - a pair of gondolier shoes! The colors are so vibrant and they are super comfy! 

  Nuart's woman in a piano!  Photo by John Cain Photography. 

Nuart's woman in a piano! Photo by John Cain Photography. 

  Colorful gondolier shoes! We wore these for the rest of the trip!  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

Colorful gondolier shoes! We wore these for the rest of the trip! Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

In the evening, we all parted ways to go to our dine-around experiences, a signature part of Engage. The point is for you to eat in smaller groups so that you have a chance to sit at a table with people in the industry that you might not normally get to chat with. Chelsea went on a food tour and an iconic gondola ride, while Sarah went to the Seguso glass factory. A highlight of the glass factory tour - the owner's wife is Marika Contaldo, one of the founders of Acquolina in NYC. Needless to say, the food for the dine around was amazing!!!

  Our Murano glass group!  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio.

Our Murano glass group! Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio.

After our evening tours and dinners, we all met up at Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi for a dessert party before heading back to the Cipriani. 

  The view from the roof of il Fondaco dei Tedeschi.  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

The view from the roof of il Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

Day 3. Somehow Engage! flew by and it was already our last day! In the morning, we attended three breakout sessions - Carrie Goldberg, Lynn Easton, and Ed Libby. We learned a lot in particular from Lynn's session. If you're a planner, we highly recommend her session at future Engages!

After lunch, it was time to get ready for the gala. This was definitely the best event of Engage! When we arrived at the tent, the room looked like this...

  The start of the Gala!  Photo by John Cain Photography. 

The start of the Gala! Photo by John Cain Photography. 

...and then the domes were lifted to reveal the tables underneath! Vincenso Dascanio's design work was stunning!! 

  After the domes were lifted!  Photo by John Cain Photography. 

After the domes were lifted! Photo by John Cain Photography. 

The dress code was "celebratory"...so we were sparkly and so were some of our friends, new and old! We lingered until the last moment, but soon, it was time to say arrivederci! 

  In our opinion, Jordan Kahn had the best tux. Even his shoes were sparkly!  Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio.

In our opinion, Jordan Kahn had the best tux. Even his shoes were sparkly! Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio.

 Randy Fenoli also was a bit metallic! Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

Randy Fenoli also was a bit metallic! Photo by Betsi Ewing Studio. 

We woke up the next day sad to be leaving, but full of ideas and inspiration. We headed off first thing to scout some venues with Belmond over the next couple of days (more on that soon), but are grateful for the friendships we made and the industry insight we gained because of Engage.  

A big thank you to Betsi Ewing Studio and John Cain Photography for all the photos! Click here if you want to learn more about Engage! - we'll see you there next year!