I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 2014 Inner Circle Experience (ICE) at the St. Regis Bal Harbour. This was an inaugural event created by Sade Awe, the founder of The Bridal Circle. She invited about 50 of the most influential wedding planners, event designers, florists, Catering Managers, stationary companies and motivational speakers to attend a luxury marketing conference in Florida.
I scored an invite because I manage the wedding marketing initiatives for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and because Sade Awe and I have become great partners this past year marketing select St. Regis properties. Before I go any further, if you are an event planner … props to you! You are truly some of the most creative people that I have worked with. I really enjoyed meeting each and every one of you.
Our event started with a welcome reception and meet and greet with Alexis Maybank, founder of Gilt. Then, a welcome lunch at J&G Grill at the St. Regis resort. I sat with Kellie from The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Amy from Amy Mancuso Weddings and Anna with the Cove Atlantis. The brainchild behind the florals, the centerpiece and the event décor was Jose Graterol Designs.
After lunch we listed to presentations from Alexis with Gilt; Beth Hayden, author of Pinfluence; Cindy Novotny, and more. Instead of chairs (I mean … by this point everything was over the top and the day had just started) we were made comfortable with white suede couches, colorful pillows, St. Regis Butler service and plenty of delicious treats.
After a day full of meetings, we were welcomed to a sunset reception at the resort. There was music, drinks, great food and lots of networking going on. There was also a full moon and not a cloud in the sky.
Meanwhile, my husband was dealing with the largest rainstorm in Arizona history. No, really. The streets were flooded. I tried reeeeally hard not to socially share any photos from this evening as I felt horrible that I was enjoying a great night while he was stuck indoors with two crazy toddlers.
Amy Mancuso and I really hit it off. We were the only two girls representing Arizona so we had to stick together. Amy is such a wild and crazy, talented and fun woman who made this experience that much more enjoyable for me.
Let’s talk about this food for a second. Amazing! This guy is a culinary genius, I know I told you all about his book in this post, but seriously you guys … this food was like a slice of heaven (and it was pretty fun to photograph too).
The next morning the Inner Circle Experience continued with more presentations from top executives and luxury companies. The room was transformed again into a beautiful and botanical space, with succulents and lots of glam (look at the ceiling!). We heard from companies like Starwood (hurray!), Jo Malone London, Fabergé (you know … the infamous Easter egg), and motivational speaker, Simon T. Bailey.
Lunch was another WOW factor … perfectly designed and great food. I sat with Simon Bailey, Beth Hayden, Amy Mancuso and Marley Majcher, celebrity event planner and founder of The Party Goddess … we both have little girls so we had fun swapping stories of our diva daughters.
After lunch we broke into roundtables, where I got to ask and receive professional advice from Simon in an intimate setting. He was remarkable … everything you would expect in a motivational leader. We had fun making a video for my boss (who loves his work), which I’ll share with her when she gets back from her fancy vacation in Rome, Paris and Italy (me = jealous).
After another day full of meetings, we got all dolled up for an evening to remember. A formal gala. There was a cocktail reception followed by a plated meal, dinner, dancing and lots of great music by Rock with U Entertainment. I would 100% recommend these guys for any event. They were incredibly talented and got us on the dance floor, even before dinner was served!
This is the St. Regis Bal Harbour crew – from the Catering and Sales Managers to the Director of Sales & Marketing – they make up a great group of women and we are lucky to have them working with St. Regis.
This is Sade Awe, founder of The Bridal Circle and our hostess for the week. She truly is remarkable and has fostered some deep relationships with many key influencers. What a star!
I loved meeting up with Ceci Johnson with Ceci New York, you know her work. I know you do. Just click here and see some of the couture wedding invitations that she puts together. Follow her on instagram too – you’ll get a peek into some of the custom watercolor prints she makes and you’ll feel a bit more inspired with her every post.
And that’s a wrap! Sade said at the beginning of the conference, “How do I wow people who do wow for a living?” Well, my friend. You just nailed it. Until next year …