ABC Business of Brides 2013

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Bridal Consultants‘ annual conference, Business of Brides. It’s one of the highlights of my year to see friends from around the world, and learn and grow with them.

Association of Bridal Consultants Business of Brides Conference

I got to spend time with wedding planners from Latin America, Canada, Japan, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the list goes on and on. But even better was getting to spend four days with my direct competition. You read right, there were four wedding planners from Jacksonville attending the conference. And not only did I share a hotel room with one, I spent a total of eight hours in the car round trip with them.

I’m very proud that our town has such a great wedding community. While we are competitors, I see these wonderful ladies as allies. In fact, one of them, Tanya Hendricks of Southern Charm Events, and I did a presentation together. It was called “Playing Nice: Cultivating Alliances Not Animosity,” and focused on building relationships while focusing on your own business instead of worrying what everyone else is doing. It was a huge hit, and I met some terrific ladies that came up to share stories after the session.

I also got to spend time with Monica Bernhardt of To-Doers Event Planning, and my fellow Master Bridal Consultant Lisa Burnett of Elegant Weddings By Lisa. While we see each other at local networking events, we don’t often get to spend that much time together, and it’s always great getting to know these ladies a little bit better.

The conference theme, Palm Beach Chic, was inspired by Lilly Pulitzer, so lots of bright colors greeted us at each breakfast, lunch, and break. With the exception of one – The White Party, a welcome reception where everyone donned their white resort casual wear for a great cocktail party. The bar from Just Bars was an amazing focal point – I can wait to use one of these at an upcoming event!

just bars

And the speakers – wow! Matthew Robbins of Matthew Robbins Design was our design speaker. As a contributing editor for Martha Stewart Weddings, he had lots of great insight on finding inspiration for an event theme. Plus he shared photos from his own wedding!

We also heard from Susan Southerland, who we are happy to have as a top-notch Florida wedding planner – she owns Just Marry! in Orlando. She is a phenomenal speaker, and all-around great person.

And lastly, we were reminded of our brilliance (his word, not mine) by Simon T. Bailey. If you haven’t read his books, go buy them now. I’ll wait. I think that all of us in that room have made changes (some significant) that will affect our lives forever. If you ever have the chance to hear Simon speak, don’t hesitate.

But in addition to these fabulous keynote addresses, there were over 25 amazing breakout sessions. I attended “Modern Jewish Weddings,” and “Are You Ready for the Storm? Disaster Preparedness for Wedding Professionals,” both of which gave me great information to bring back to our team.

I can’t say enough about how great it is to be in a room of 300+ wedding professionals from around the world. Every year, I come back energized and renewed, and ready to tackle the year ahead. If you are a wedding planner and aren’t an ABC member, or you are a member that doesn’t attend conference – call me! I’d love to share more about the experience.