Engage! {a recap of my own experience & a personal post}

{all images shared with instagram, my username is “lovelydetails” if you want to follow along}

I’ve tried to write this recap about 4 times and every time I come to a point where I’m at a loss for words. To put it bluntly, Engage! was the best experience I have had thus far in the wedding industry. With a hefty price tag ($2400 for registration, plus flight & accommodations), this conference was something I really had to plan for, but was also something that I had on my list of goals for personal & business growth. For the past three years, I’ve said “next year I will go” - so this year, I made it happen and signed up. And like I said last week, the experience was so amazing, I went and signed up for the winter session while I was still in Vegas. That’s how monumental this event was for me. Here’s a little bit more insight from my perspective, fabulous parties & swag aside, peppered with some of my favorite quotes that I heard through the presentations..

As many of you know, I’ve been working in the events industry for almost 10 years. I got my start in weddings fresh out of college, and I was hooked. I wasn’t sure how to make this passion of mine in to a career, but I knew, I just knew, that this was something I was meant to do. After years of planning special events in the corporate world, and putting my business marketing/communications degree to work, I finally had the chance to plan the event of a lifetime - our own wedding. It was then and there that the spark was re-ignited. I hate (strong word but I seriously hate) when people say the cliche “oh so you planned your wedding now you want to be a wedding planner?” That is so not how it happened for me. But you know what? It is how it happened for some people, so I really can’t stand when people knock it. Those who have started their own business know it’s about a lot more than pretty flowers & decor - it’s a ton of work, LLC filing, trademark filing, annual reports, book-keeping, etc. But for me, planning & designing my wedding (from across the country) was the best experience I’d had in a long time. I remembered what it felt like to love something so much that I wanted to do it every day. I blogged daily, sometimes a few times a day, about my experiences. I read up on all the wedding “trends” and news and what was happening. I wanted to live, breathe, sleep, eat, and drink weddings 24/7. I had a crazy no-one-can-stop-me passion to get my butt in gear and start my business rather than daydream about it. I remembered that feeling I had working weddings almost 8 years prior - and I knew this industry was for me. Lovely Little Details was born, and there was no turning back. And you know what? There’s something that no one in this industry ever talks about - and it’s about having a full-time job and managing your own business. Do you know how many people do that? A ton. And no one talks about it, because they don’t want you to a) think you can’t handle both, b) judge you because you can’t take the leap to make your part-time biz in to full-time, and c) because it’s not too much fun talking about powerpoint presentations that are due on Monday vs. flower orders that are due on Saturday. And for a long time, I was doing both. I had a great career in the corporate world, planning events and marketing plans for amazing clients. I learned so. much. That corporate world experience has been so incredibly beneficial for me both personally and on a business level, and being able to provide my clients with that insight and knowledge has been instrumental in getting LLD where it is today. But back to the story - I was also getting up at 4am for trips to the flower mart for my LLD events, then coming back with my orders to prep the blooms prior to my 7:30am conference calls for my corporate job. I would have days full of meetings, followed by afternoons & evenings devoted to Lovely Little Details clients, designing place cards or rendering tablescape mockups. Then I was trying to fit in quality time away from the computer. And it became too much for me to handle - I could never admit that I couldn’t do it all - but one day, I finally gave in. I was scared to say goodbye to the corporate world - but something had to give and that light inside me that made me smile like crazy and tear up at sentimental songs while driving to the flower mart at 4am and made me happy told me that I was making the right decision. I gave my notice to my corporate job and it was time for LLD to be my full-time gig. And my passion and drive and excitement and huge smile and swollen-day-after-working-a-wedding-feet have not slowed down since. But my ability to shut down the computer at 5:30 and cook dinner and take walks with my husband and dog has returned - and that is so important to me.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because it gives context to my experience at Engage!. For so long I had been living the corporate America life - working Monday-Friday and traveling several weekends for events, but I never had that feeling of belonging. I put 110% in to my work and had a great career - I loved my colleagues and made some great friendships. But I didn’t have that feeling. I actually didn’t know what that feeling was until my first trip to the flower mart. I didn’t know any vendors at that point and I felt silly asking a question about peonies to one of the guys working that morning. That guy is now one of my favorite people - he and his team are my “colleagues” now. As are my ladies at Paper Source, and my favorite peeps at Flax, and my friends at the farmers market. I suddenly had that feeling of belonging - like this is exactly where I was supposed to be, and what I was supposed to be doing, and it was OK if I didn’t know all the answers all the time. Unlike the online world where it is so easy to judge someone, in the real world, we are all in this together, and I found that there are like-minded individuals out there who are going through the same experiences as me, and who speak my language. These people are the exact people I was surrounded with during my experience at Engage!. From poolside chats with a new friend to nodding my head in agreement for presentation after presentation to a hilarious day by the pool with my new LA BFF - I finally felt like I belonged. I felt like my actions were justified - I had a great conversation with Abby Larson after lunch one afternoon and having her say “you’re doing a good job” made me believe it. I suddenly dropped my worries of who was saying what on twitter, or who blogged this and that. I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing what I loved, and my drive to give my clients the absolute best experience was increased by about a thousand.

I’m not saying that Engage changed me because I believe it is up to you to change yourself - but I do know that I went in to the experience ready to absorb every piece of information and make changes based on what I saw fit, and how I understood the advice given to me. I treasured every single connection that I made and I can’t wait to work with some of these people in future events. Most importantly though, as star-struck as I was when I arrived, I realized that so many of my mentors and people I admire felt the same way as me. To have Elizabeth Messina say “follow your instinct even if you don’t know what that means” made me realize, we are all striving to be our best, and that standard is constantly evolving. To have Sharon Sacks (LOVE her) walking us through her client approach and so many others sharing their recipes for success made me realize - in a world full of duplication, there really is only one you. The resounding theme of the entire week’s presentations echoed that very sentiment - be you. Be the best you you can be, and don’t compare yourself to the person you think you should be.

So yes, the registration cost is high. And I’ve had several wedding pros contact me since returning from Vegas to see if it’s worth it. For me, the answer is a resounding yes, and you can bet my clients will benefit from my experience as well. As the sweet Sylvia Weinstock said, “your name is as good as your last party”. I’m striving to make sure every party I create is nothing short of awesome, and my clients’ experience is unforgettable.

Thank you Rebecca and Kathryn for pulling together the experience of a lifetime - can’t wait to see you all again in December :) If anyone has questions or wants more information, feel free to email me!

  • Jen Hibbard says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    You’re a very inspiring woman! Your passion and drive are contageous! Just wanted you to know that. :)

  • Elizabeth says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    You are so inspiring! I’m the younger you stuck in the corporate world, but dream about wedding planning at every free moment and skim wedding blog after wedding blog during lunches (including yours!). Your planning style is something I strive to mimic - preppy, clean, simple yet elegant, and so much more!

  • Liz @ Shorely Chic says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    SO I’m pretty much obsessed with this post, especially after quitting my day job on Friday! I can so relate to how you feel, and am so excited to be able to shut down at 5:30 and spend time with our new family. You’re such an inspiration to me, and you basically just rocked my socks off with this blog post :)

  • sarah says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this! Thank you, thank you!!

  • Faith says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    you are incredible. when i say i am so thrilled for you, i truly mean it.

  • Jessica says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    As Jen said, you are so inspiring!! I’m so glad I’ve been able to follow your blog throughout this journey. From before you got married until now, you’ve come a long way and you are someone I certainly look up to!

    If I had the guts, I would have done the same thing you did. My wedding coordinators begged me to work with them and I didn’t have a clue how much I loved what I was doing until it was all over and I came back to work. You jumped in with both feet and I applaud you for that!

    It sounds like Engage! was a fantastic experience and your customers will certainly benefit from it. :)


  • Lauren @ Every Last Detail says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    This is SUCH a great post Jacin!!! So excited that you were able to go and thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts! I will definitely be trying to join you in the Winter!!

  • Jess Carmody says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    You already know how much you inspire me but this is JUST what I needed today. I love to hear your passion. You are a woman who knows who you are and where you’re headed & I think that is incredible! Can’t wait to hear more details about the trip :)

  • Stephanie U. says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    Jacin, your article is really touching! I am so happy I finally got the opportunity to meet you. I think you are an amazing person and I love everything you’ve done with your company & branding. All the hard work and your dedication & love really shows. I can’t wait to spend more time with you in the future… I’ll have to visit whenever I’m in SF! :)

  • Kristin @ BBC says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    Jacin, I am sitting here wiping tears from my face. I can’t wait to meet up with you someday in the midst of our busy lives. It’s like you just took my own heart and spread it out on a piece of paper. We’ve had similar roads, though in different industries; but the passion, the burning the candle at both ends, the striving and pushing yourself as far as you can go to surprise yourself at just how far you can actually go… it’s universal to some people, but I cherish every time I meet one of those people. Reading this helped me to remember that there are other people like me out there. I, too, always said, “Someday I’ll go” to Engage. For whatever it’s worth, you’ve inspired me to start planning for it- really planning for it- today. Thank you for that. So happy to have read this today. Your passion is contagious.

  • Cassandre Snyder says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    Jacin - PERFECT post! It’s so refreshing to meet someone so honest & open about life & business! It was SO great meeting you and I am HONORED you included me in your blog post! Till December sweet friend! xoxox

  • Laura *You Stir Me* says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    i just love you. Keep it up darlin’, you’re going places! This was a wonderful recap and so beautifully written - you inspire us all. I love Elizabeth Messina’s quote - I’ve always said to trust your gut despite everyone else telling you to go the other way:) I’m on “Team Gut”!

  • Steph | bubblerock says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    Panache… I got stuck on there. It’s true. It’s about being you, doing everything you can and with panache. And that’s something you have never lacked of.
    As well as passion, dedication and well, talent.
    Sometimes we need something to just confirm that the direction we are taking is the right direction and Engage didn’t change you, it just helped you solidify your decision into something that was meant to be.
    This is who you are meant to be and often your write-ups just do that: they give instant motivation to anyone/everyone, whether we follow the same path as you or go in a different direction.
    Inspiring, Jacin! Truly.
    AND - I know it is just the beginning.

  • Gaby - SouthBound Bride says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    Thanks so much for this post Jacin - I read it because Engage! has always been something that interested me, and ended up feeling inspired. In fact, it was just what I needed to read today and some of what you said really resounded. I’m so glad you had a wonderful time, and so glad that I get to be ‘colleagues’ in this industry with people like you!

  • lisa says on June 11, 2012 Reply

    Jacin- I am the first to admit that I am a huge fan of yours {and you know this because of all the fb love:)}! I have to say your post today completely re-fueled the fire in me in aspiring to work on the next level for my baby here in Minnesota.

    Everything that you listed in this post was exactly what I had hoped Engage would be. I, too, left the corporate world after finding that there was something creatively missing for me in the 9-5 and truly longed to run after my dream. But, most days, let’s face it{when you work solo}, I am feeling the need to connect, refresh, and renew. I think Engage will do just that.

    You’re feedback has given the piggybank a kickstart to me taking another leap-in believing that I am just as important to the clients I work with as the ones that visit with Mindy, Sylvia, or anyone else at the top of their game. I am looking forward to making Engage a realistic goal for me, my company, and my clients.

    {Oh, and I am totally looking forward to seeing what’s in store for you too!!}


  • MEGAN says on June 12, 2012 Reply

    You are so very inspiring. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. You make me want to follow my dreams :)

  • naomi says on June 12, 2012 Reply

    Jacin - I was one of those who asked you to tell your experience at Engage! and I am glad you did. It really hit home when I started reading the tweets that were being sent by the attendees including yours. What really had me go, “WHOA!” was the same that probably got many, “style, flair, and panache.” I really got tired of comparing myself to other bloggers and wedding planners/designers and when I did, I felt so much better. I don’t entertain half of the thoughts that use to go through my head because I know, no matter what this is exactly what I am suppose to be doing. Period. Don’t compare yourself to the person should be…” is pretty spot on..I’ll add this to your great point if {if I may Gina!} “Be the person you want to be.”Great post :-) xx

  • Anna says on June 13, 2012 Reply

    Love this post, girlie. If you get a sec, I just posted my new guest post for Lauren Conrad and pictures of my wedding dress. Eeek. Love if you could stop by. xo


  • Lindsey says on June 13, 2012 Reply

    what an amazing post! You are such an inspiration and I’m so happy you shared this with us! The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me, since today is officially my LAST day at my corporate job. Self-employment officially begins tomorrow! Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • chandra ~ Oh Lovely Day says on June 13, 2012 Reply

    Jacin, you inspire me! I used to think,” I could do _____ but I have a full time day job (not anymore!) so I can’t,” or sometimes I think “I want to do _____” but I have the kiddo…” And you reminded me that you can’t let things hold you back. You have to balance, work hard, try hard, and make it work. You’ve been so generous and shared info and things with me since I started blogging full time, and I so appreciate that, especially knowing how busy you were and what you were doing yourself! You truly are a sweet, generous, inspiring woman. I really hope we get to meet in person soon.

    And who are these twitter haters, b/c I’m gonna go bust some *ss! :)

  • Chrissi Holt says on June 17, 2012 Reply

    What a beautiful story. I saw what you did for Bethany and Gabe’s wedding back on New Year’s even and I loved it. You are so inspiring. I wish that I had the corporate experience that you have under your belt but I am going to have to try to make it as a planner without :( xx

  • Brian Worley says on June 18, 2012 Reply

    Lovely post! Had such a great time at this event-thanks for such a great recap and all the takeaways-couldn’t agree more!

  • Erika says on June 18, 2012 Reply

    You are amazing, Jacin! Your enthusiasm is totally contagious and I am so lucky to know you. We are ALL so lucky to know you ;) Congratulations on your big decision to take LLD full-time! xx

featured and seen in
   | Web hosting and development: The Hosting Guide