Charmed by Details Dazzled by Inspiration
By Gloria Boyden, MBC™

Inspiration was everywhere at the Association of Bridal Consultants Business of Brides 2011 conference in Baltimore. Attendees were impressed with the grandeur and elegance of the historic Tremont Hotel, where they networked among peers, gained new business ideas, and were wowed by the keynote presentations and extracurricular events.

Creating Magic in the Industry
Diann Valentine, an internationally acclaimed wedding and event planner and interior designer, gave the first keynote address. Shelby Tuck Horton, MBC™, the Maryland state coordinator and personal friend of Valentine’s, introduced her saying, “What Diann dreams is what she will fulfill.” In her speech, Valentine advised attendees to outline their goals and tell other people about them. “Put a voice to your dreams, and you will become accountable. Every single ‘no’ gets me closer to a ‘yes,’” she says. Her personal mantra includes three guiding principles: God, hard work, and excellence, in that order.

As a planner, Valentine seeks inspiration from many places, but not from wedding magazines or the work of her colleagues. Instead, she is inspired by getting on a plane to Paris, reading many different books, taking walks in the park, and taking time to notice the details in life. When beginning the design process, she first tours the venue. She believes the space will speak to the planner. “We elevate our industry, and we elevate our brand when we demonstrate our worth. What are you showing me that will change the experience?” she asks of it. She says she spends between $15,000-20,000 on client presentations so she will earn the work and show her clients all of the possibilities. “I want to only get up in the morning and create magic,” she says.

Go the Extra Mile for Service
The second day’s conference highlights included a keynote address from Grace Ormonde, publisher of Grace Ormonde’s Wedding Style Magazine. Once an engraver, Ormonde began her wedding career by producing a local bridal show with a celebrity host, whose fees she negotiated to about one-third of his normal rate. Thousands of brides attended. She later created a printed program designed as an upscale magazine. She launched Wedding Style Magazine soon after, landing it in bookstores and, ultimately, in distribution through Time-Warner. What’s the secret to her success? “There are people in this room who will make a mark. But to make a mark, you have to risk,” she says. She also stresses the importance of service and knowing what your customers want. But, it’s her family that keeps her grounded, she says.

Ormonde co-presented with JoAnn Gregoli, MBC™, from New York. Both had several tips to offer attendees. They feel photography and detail shots of a wedding are crucial. Gregoli says, “If you do a million-dollar wedding and have no photographs, the experience is worthless to you.” On the flip side, “A simple wedding with great photography can sell so much more,” she adds. Ormonde suggests it’s also critical for consultants to be good communicators. “Brides want to know what is possible. Your job is to do that, and explain what could be.”

Seeing the Sights, Tasting the Tastes
Those who wanted to experience Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were able to do so through the extracurricular activities organized and offered during conference. Pre-conference attendees could opt to tour Washington, D.C., and take in a narrated, historic tour visiting the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Veteran’s Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and more. One of the historic venues in Baltimore, the 1840’s City Lites in the Fava Building, was the host for Monday night’s dinner. Award-winning chef Jerry Edwards talked to attendees as gourmet food was paired with exquisite wines. With beautiful décor and a bank of windows that overlook the cityscape, it would be an ideal spot to host a small reception or larger rehearsal dinner. Tuesday, guests could choose to experience a Taste of Baltimore—sampling the diverse neighborhood cuisine and enjoying the city’s dance scene. Glamour, elegance, exquisite samplings, industry expertise, networking, and much more made this year’s annual conference a “not-to-miss” experience.

Presenters Share Inspired Ideas
In addition to being inspired by the wisdom of our keynote speakers, Business of Brides’ attendees were impressed with pre-conference and breakout sessions. Presenters and sessions included:
•    Judy Alden, MBC™, “Sharing My BFF (Business Friendly Forms)”
•    Gloria Boyden, MBC™, and Lovelynn Jensen, ABC™, “Weddings That Charm and Dazzle”
•    Heather Canada MBC™, and Elisa Delgardio, CSEP, MBC™,  “Become the Webmaster of Your Domain”
•    Lauren Cave, “How to Think Like a Wedding Editor”
•    Sally Conant, PhD, MWV™, “All About the Dress”
•    Bernadette Coveny Smith, “Gay Weddings Are Good for Business”
•    Elise Enloe, MBC™, “Bridal Show Bootcamp”
•    Shay Freeman, MBC™, “Be Charmed, Be Dazzled…Be Your Best”
•    JoAnn Gregoli, MBC™, “The Future of Destination Weddings”
•    Kate Harrison, “Green Weddings”
•    Tonya Shadoan, MBC™, “Tired and Ready to Quit?”
•    Mark Kingsdorf, MBC™, “$#*! Happens” and
“Are Their Clients Being Dazzled By Your Work?”
•    Teddy Lenderman, MBC™, “Teddy’s Top 12” (survival tips)
•    Robyn Martin, ABC™, “Dancing in the Rain”
•    Peter Merry and Elizabeth Scott Daly, “The Art of
Directing an Entertaining Wedding Reception”
•    Sandra Monahan, MBC™, “Get Ready, Get Set…But Do You Know?
•    Annette Tuxen, PBC™, “Pairing Wine With Food the Italian Way”
•    Tammy Waterman, ABC™, and Bill Waterman,
“Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em” (teamwork for spouses and consultants)
•    David Wood, ABC president, “Forum With the President”
•    Renee Grannis, MBC™, “What Makes a Good Contract”
•    Barbara Diez, “Celebrity Latin Weddings”
•    Rev. Virginia Bishop, “Creative Ceremony Rituals”
•    Omu Obilor, “Experience a Nigerian Wedding”
•    Yoshi Kohara, MWV™, “Japanese Weddings”
•    Holly Lynch, PBC™, “Planning the At-Home Wedding”

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