Photo by Garrett Richardson

10 Steal-Worthy Ideas from a Luxury Wedding Conference

December 22, 2023
Words by Jennifer Stein
Photos courtesy of various

You may wonder what a wedding conference geared toward educating and inspiring wedding planners, designers, florists, wedding venues, and photographers (among others) has to do with planning your own destination wedding. But I’m here to tell you, the abundance of ideas and helpful advice you can garner for your upcoming nuptials is hard to fathom. Engage! Summits is a luxury business symposium for the crème de la crème of the wedding industry. Several times a year, thought leaders from around the world convene to engage with one another, share insights, and find inspiration for their upcoming events, all with the goal of serving engaged couples like you.

This business summit lasts three days and is packed with mind-blowing creations from floral installations to flying drones, smoking libations, and the latest innovations in event design. The best in the business get together in a stunning destination to learn from each other and level up their businesses to better serve you. Engage! just wrapped its 43rd event at The Boca Raton, one of the finest establishments in all of Florida, and we’ve curated some top ideas that are steal-worthy for your own upcoming wedding.

1. Choose Your Host Property Wisely

As previously mentioned, the host resort for this conference is always a luxury property somewhere around the world. This time, they selected The Boca Raton, and what a wonderful choice it was. Dating back to 1926, the resort seamlessly blends Mediterranean-inspired architecture with modern elegance, offering timeless charm. With picturesque venues, from lush gardens to sun-drenched beaches, and a distinctive Mediterranean Revival style, it provides an unforgettable backdrop for tropical destination weddings. And spread across 200 waterfront acres with five different hotels on the property, there is no end to where you can wander in wonder.

One major stand-out beyond the beauty of the property is the service. No matter if it was someone at the front desk or a member of housekeeping, we were greeted with kindness, prompt attention (a hotel robe was delivered to our door within two minutes of the request), and genuine hospitality. Our bellman, Todd, even made sure to engage in a game of hide-and-seek with one of our younger attendants (she’s three years old). Not sure I can recall a time hospitality of that level or consistency was given in all of my travels.

2. Focus On Guest Experience

Guest experience can impact your experience, so make sure this is top of mind as you plan. At Engage! every moment was thought through from a guest experience point of view.

From the timing of events and when food was served (late-night snacks were a highlight) to seating (there was always plenty of it) and entertainment (some of the best singers and dancers in the business were performing at every event), they didn’t miss a beat. Even their gifting lounge upon arrival had items we could use throughout our stay (useful items like phone chargers, pull-over sweaters, and travel sunscreens were a hit and things you could include in your own welcome bags). Every step of the way, the attendees and participants were clearly the focus of the entire event and the “why” behind the “what” they were doing.

3. Lean Into a Theme

Each of the 43 Engage! events that have taken place have had a theme or a vibe to it. Much of this is inspired by the location or resort where the event is taking place. This time, there was a vintage country club feel to all of the events, and this was reflected in everything from the decor and design to the suggested attire. Considering The Boca Raton has been a haven for boating, golf and tennis for guests and club members for almost 100 years, the theme was spot on. When you’re thinking of your own wedding and the kind of feel you want it to have, lean into where you are and build your theme around that.

4. Don’t Skimp on Food & Beverage

Hangry is not something you ever want your guests (or yourselves) to feel when you’re celebrating your wedding weekend. True, it’s one of the largest expenses of your event, but it is always better to go overboard than to pare back when it comes to feeding your guests. One benefit to this is the party will continue long into the night if they are satiated with good food. If people are hungry and have been overserved, drama can ensue. The Boca Raton did a wonderful job of providing a wide array of food options (and absolutely delectable ones at that) along with beautiful cocktails and libations to complement what cuisine was being served.

Having enough bars to serve your guests is also paramount. If you plan to have elaborate cocktails offered, make sure you have plenty of bartenders to serve your guests. With 500 people attending, it was astonishing we never waited for a drink or another tray of passed canapés in three days.

5. Give Attire Direction

Many people often wonder why Engage! events always look so curated and put together regarding what people are wearing. This is very intentional, and the end result speaks for itself. The team puts together Pinterest boards to help guests with what to wear since this can sometimes be the biggest stressor for many attending.

The Pinterest boards are meant to serve as inspiration and a general guide. The boards become extremely helpful and provide a visual since “cocktail attire” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. We highly suggest doing this for your event and including a link to your Pinterest boards on your wedding website. By showing your guests a general idea of what to wear, it can help ensure they aren’t over or underdressed for the occasion and it also allows them to follow your theme if you choose to have one.

6. Hire Only the Best Vendors

Clearly, you’re not out to hire bad vendors, but you might be tempted to hire based on price or availability. Don’t. Make sure you really vet who you’re going to bring on to your wedding team and only go with those who have impeccable referrals and are well-known in the industry. Often, vendors who work well together and have teamed up in the past know how to seamlessly pull off a wedding. Good vendors typically work with and know other good vendors, so start with a great wedding planner and go from there.

Every vendor, from the linen supplier to the entertainment at Engage! is at the top of their game. Maybe save yourself some time, take the cliff notes from this article, and hire the people credited below.

7. Embrace The Destination

Your destination can set the tone for what your entire event experience will be like and ties directly into your theme. If you’ve planned on a tropical destination, you’ll likely want to use colors and designs that lend themselves to the locale you’ve chosen. Let the destination inspire you at every turn. Take Engage! at The Boca Raton as a blueprint. Every event, every attire Pinterest board, and even the logo and color palette were inspired by the destination.

8. Give Your Guests What They REALLY Want – Professional Pictures of Themselves

One trend we’re seeing more and more of (and we hope it’s here to stay) is professional photo booths at wedding receptions and other events throughout the weekend. Your guests are all dressed up (something we WFH marathoners don’t always get to do much of!) and they’re feeling celebratory, which is the recipe for a great photo! Giving them professional shots of themselves to take home or download (depending on the service you choose) is a gift they will truly appreciate.

9. Don’t Overschedule

It may be tempting to create an itinerary that accounts for every moment your guests are on the ground, but don’t. This is their vacation experience too. Yes, it’s your wedding, but if they are coming for several days, let them have a little downtime to explore and unwind the way they want to. You may feel like you need to keep them busy to keep them happy, but that’s not the case. Mix in some optional activities with downtime along with your mandatory events, and guests will love it.

At this Engage! the group was given ample time to connect and have meaningful conversations but also stayed connected to the itinerary provided. By giving a little breathing room, your guests will appreciate your destination more and get to experience it the way they want to.

10. Always End on a High Note

Surprising and delighting your guests can be as simple as leaving a thoughtful gift after your wedding during turndown service or it can be as elaborate as treating them to a private concert of a headliner like Flo Rida like they did at Engage! at The Boca Raton. Yep, that’s right. A private concert. Mic drop.

Ending on a high note leaves a lasting impression on your guests. Leave them wanting more. More fun, more laughter, more connection. After all, isn’t that what your wedding should be about – connection? And that’s what Engage! is all about.

Vendors: Event: @engagesummits; Host Property: @thebocaraton; Event Design + Floral: @boca_by_design; Art Direction, Branding, Gifting Curation, Paper, Design Support: @tpddesignhouse; Video Team: @DerekChanFilms; Photo Director: @charlastorey; Photo Team: @phillipvnweddings, @ElizabethAustinPhoto, @garrettrichardson, @Afrikarmando, @carterrose, @jessicariekephoto, @elizabethlanierphotography, @anyakernes; Linens + Furniture: @nuagedesignsinc; AV, Production, Sound: @encore_global; Gala Headliner Procurement/Production, Gala Showband, Gala DJ + Dessert Party Entertainment + All Immersive: @ElanArtists; Cocktail Experiences: @cocktail_acdmy; Draping + Carpet: @swagdecor; Creative Lighting Design: @jacobco_creative; Tenting: @sperrytents; Chandeliers: @signaturechandeliers; Stage Production + Props: @eventeffects; Rentals, Furniture, Props: @whitedoorevent; Tabletop: @differentlookrentals; Session Gifting: @mintedweddings; Gala Wholesale Floral: @fmifarms; Rentals: @lavisheventrentals; Night 1 Entertainment: @RockWithU; Rentals, Furniture, Props: @decoraeventrental; Speaker Hair + Makeup and Day 3 Beauty Lounge: @facetimebeauty; Hair: @shawnleech; Custom Event App: @odacreative; Lunch + Stage Fabrication: @valentincreativefl; Session DJ & Emcee: @djbrianbofficial; Show Director, Graphic Designer: @TrishaHay; Social Media Director: @Samantharoberts;  Photo Styling: @_shiramisu; Attendee Headshots: @denniskwanphoto; Banga Booth: @bangabooth; Coffee Hub: @coffeehubcafe; Engage! Foundation: @vowforgirls

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