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Thursday, September 19, 2019
This past June, I attended my happy place – Engage! The Luxury Wedding Business Summit at Baha Mar Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. It’s the wedding conference to end all other wedding conferences. You might be wondering how this can apply to your destination wedding since this is an event for the wedding industry and not for engaged couples. Read on and I promise you’ll get some pretty fabulous ideas for your own walk down the aisle.
Each Engage! event is chock full of innovative ideas, trends and creative details that any couple can adopt (think beyond your wedding to your rehearsal dinner or even a day at the pool with your guests). They hold the conference in different parts of the world each time – everywhere from Banff, Canada and Palm Beach, Florida to London, England and Cancun, Mexico. Every conference is a little different yet always provides fun, entertainment and learning opportunities for industry leaders to connect and, well, engage!
Here are 10 of the most steal-worthy ideas from the past Engage! event at Baha Mar:
Image courtesy of: Corbin Gurkin
1. The Welcome Bag to End All Welcome Bags
You’re going to want to make sure each of your guests is provided a welcome bag when they arrive to your destination wedding. Take a page out of this welcome bag book and provide colorful, relevant items that your loved ones will not only use while they’re at your wedding but things they can keep for years to come. This cute tote bag is not only handy but filling it with items like an oversized plush towel, reusable water canteen, portable radio, sunscreen and even statement jewelry allows your guests to feel truly welcomed and appreciated.
Images courtesy of: John Cain Sargent
2. Use Your Destination As Inspiration For Everything
The reason you’re getting married in a particular place is likely because the culture, the colors and the place resonate with you and your fiancé. This particular event happened at Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas and between the teal-hued ocean, bright sunny skies, green palm trees and pale pink exterior of the resort, the entire color palette of the event pulled from the inspired elements of the location it was in. The flavors of the food, the music that was played and everything down to the signature drinks served at the welcome party, felt as if they were an extension of the destination.
Images courtesy of: Love Life Images
3. Let the Local Cuisine Take Center Stage
Let’s face it, your guests have traveled a long way to be a part of your special event – so make sure they have plenty of amazing food and drinks to celebrate. Lean on your host property here and make sure they are well versed at serving groups and doing it in a manner that allows you to relax and enjoy alongside your wedding party. Baha Mar Resorts did an incredible job providing local favorites paired with interesting, indulgent mainstays.
Image courtesy of: Eric Kelley
4. Don’t be Color Shy
I love an all white wedding as much as the next person, and even if you have that colorway planned for your main event, enjoy some bold colors in your other celebrations. Rehearsal dinners, welcome receptions and even farewell brunches are a wonderful place to get creative and have some fun with prints, patterns and big colors.
Image courtesy of: Charla Storey
5. Include Décor in More than Just Your Wedding Day
Piggybacking on number four – adding décor elements to other events outside of the wedding makes for a truly spectacular experience for all involved. You don’t have to go overboard, but even just a beautiful runner and some floral arrangements at your farewell brunch, for example, can give you and your guests more opportunities for photos and make for an upscale celebration overall.
6. Add “Live” Details
If you really want to kick things up a notch, including animals (like the adorable baby flamingos who were mingling during a refreshment break at Engage! Baha Mar) or entertainers (like the mermaids swimming in the negative edge pools during our dessert after-party at NEXUS Club really gives your guests something to talk about. Make sure it fits the vibe and scene you’re going for and hire talent-packed companies like Élan Artists to pull off a flawless performance.
Images courtesy of: Love Life Images
7. You Can (And Must) Do Better than the iPod DJ
Music can make or break an event but so can the lack of an MC. Awkward pauses and strange song transitions can really lower the energy of an event. It’s always better to go with a professional DJ (we were entertained by the talented DJ Brian B or live band. If you are really wanting to entertain your guests, combining a DJ with a specialty professional act like a boy band or tribute band (again Élan Artists is a great resource for all kinds of entertainment) will keep the party going for far longer than your iPod ever could.
8. Don’t Skimp On Your Paper Details
The geniuses over at TPD Design House created everything from the event’s color palette and logo to the snack boxes and spyglass chargers that doubled as a menu. There is no end to what you can add to your own destination wedding that can be both helpful to your guests and create a conversation piece.
Image courtesy of: Paul Morse
9. Take Over The Pool
If the resort or venue you’re hosting your destination wedding at has the option to take over the pool for part or even the entire day, do it. Pool parties are a great way for your guests to get to know one another and relax. By doing a full take over, you don’t run the risk of bothering other guests and you can really let loose and have fun. Plus, your guests will get to put their welcome bag to good use.
10. Go All In With a Theme
The theme for the Engage! Baha Mar gala was James Bond. Everything from the escort calls (instead of doing escort cards, they had a bank of vintage phones on the wall where you would talk to a “special agent” and get your table “mission”), the signature martinis at cocktail hour, the James Bond/Bond Girl dress code and even menu descriptions (“The Prime Who Loved Me” and “Spiny Spy Salad”) fully embraced the theme and got everyone into it.
The creative direction and event design inspiration behind the magic at Engage! Baha Mar was the über talented Emily Clarke from Emily Clarke Events. I mean, wow. Girl’s got it goin’ on.
For more inspiration, follow the hashtag #engage19 to stay up-to-date for the next two events this year. And make sure to watch the highlight video by Le Rêve Films to get the full experience:
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Photos courtesy of Mathias Fast
A Once in a Lifetime Experience
When it comes to choosing the most unique and adventurous location for your destination wedding, South Africa takes the cake. For Tanya and Alex, the mix of mountains, wine and rolling vineyards South Africa has to offer immediately came to mind after getting engaged. The destination felt close to nature and close to home for the bride, a native of the country.
“South Africa has always held a special place in our hearts — the warm people, the stunning landscapes — and we always dreamed to share it with our loved ones,” the bride says. “It also felt great to be able to give back to the many vendors in South Africa who continue to innovate and make us proud of our African roots.”
However, hosting a wedding in a foreign country involved some strategic planning for the pair. To ensure everything runs smoothly leading up to the big day, Tanya recommends that couples find a planner they trust to make executive decisions and negotiate deals throughout the process.
“Yes, there were hiccups, but we stayed organized and worked through each one as it came up,” Tanya says. “We tried to always remember to enjoy the process. Even the small things that seem like annoyances are things you will only get to do once if you do it right, so enjoy every moment.”
The couple also advises confirming that all travel logistics are in order prior to going to the airport. Before the wedding, the groom’s family was denied access to board the flight to South Africa because they were unaware that one of the younger guests needed to provide a birth certificate.
“Luckily, with a few new bookings, we got everyone over in time for the wedding, but that was a stressful morning,” Tanya says. “We learned to always check visa statuses and any travel documents in advance if you plan on bringing in a big international crew.”
Lastly, Tanya and Alex suggest that other engaged couples consider a welcome barbecue or other fun activity before the actual day of the wedding. In addition to the ceremony and reception, Tanya and Alex’s five-day extravaganza included two “warm-up nights” that gave guests the opportunity to form new friendships with other guests. Tanya says this contributed to the intimate feeling of the wedding, even with a guest list of 90 people.
“We kind of felt we had to do more since it was destination and our family and friends came from all over the world to be there, and we likely would have only done one day if it had been a hometown wedding,” the bride says. “In the end, having the whole week was totally worth it for us, and it became a holiday of a lifetime for so many of the people we love in our lives.”
Vendors: Photographer: Mathias Fast; Wedding Planner: Jadee McGowan; Ceremony/Reception Site/Florist/Cake: Babylonstoren; Stationery: Secret Diary; Hair and Makeup: Langaro; Gown Designer: Kaviar Gauche; Groom’s Clothing Designer: Monokel
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