By Carmen Mesa, MBC™, Conference Planning Chair/Carmen Mesa Weddings and Events, Inc., Cooper City, Fla., 
and Mark Kingsdorf, MBC™, Florida state manager, Clermont, Fla.

IMG_8944The 2013 Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) Business of Brides Annual Conference was literally a ray of sunshine and not just because of its location in sunny West Palm Beach, Fla.

The theme, Palm Beach Chic, was inspired by the colors in American fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer’s designs, the relaxed elegance of Palm Beach, and the Florida sunshine—incorporating citrus yellow, orange, ocean blues, lime green, and pops of fuchsia pink. Florida hospitality was on display as well. As they arrived at the West Palm Beach Marriott, the host hotel, attendees were greeted by ABC welcome ambassadors with hugs and a swag bag containing flip flops, fresh local oranges, yummy key lime cookies, local discounts, shopping guidebooks, and many other items from generous sponsors. The Palm Beach County Convention Center was the perfect meeting space, with exceptional food and service.

Conference was an international event
The more than 300 attendees hailed from all over the world, including from 36 of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Trinidad/Tobago, Costa Rica, Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Nigeria, and Japan. “We are truly an international organization,” says David Wood, president of the ABC. “Nowhere is this more evident than at this year’s conference. Not only did we welcome attendees from throughout the world, but we awarded Master Bridal Consultant™ status to eight individuals (see page 11), three of whom were from outside of the United States.”

ABC-BOB2013-0491The Palm Beach Chic white party opening reception delighted everyone with creative design concepts, new ideas in music and interactive entertainment, and a packed dance floor. Breakfasts, lunches, and breakouts throughout the three-day conference were a feast for the senses with great food, outstanding décor, beautiful accents, favors and sponsors who pulled out all of the stops.

Keynotes inspired the crowd with individualized messages
Keynote presenters Matthew Robbins, author and owner of Matthew Robbins Design; Susan Southerland, author and president of Just Events Group! Inc.; and Simon T. Bailey, author and founder of the Brilliance Institute, shared their time and talents and brought attendees three very different messages. Robbins’ presentation focused on “inspired weddings” and featured his beautiful designs. Southerland taught how to identify and handle the various personality types planners and vendors encounter in the planning process. And Bailey discussed how to exercise individual brilliance in life and business.

Something for everyone
_MG_3469-EditABC members really upped their game this year, presenting breakout sessions covering all skill levels and areas of the industry. First-time attendees learned how to get the most out of conference; Accredited Bridal Consultants™ learned how to take the next steps toward Master Bridal Consultant™ status. Attendees learned about everything from insurance to southern weddings, color in wedding design to disaster preparedness and writing a book to divorcing a business partner.

In addition, members sailed off to network, relax, and discover the 2013 WedStyle award winners (see page 14) at Monday night’s off-site dinner cruise aboard the Majestic Princess, enjoyed local shopping and dining at City Place, and even snuck off for local Cuban food. All-in-all, West Palm Beach proved to be a warm, inviting, and accessible location for this year’s conference.

Break-out Sessions
Business Marketing
Denna Fyock, Couples Are Buying: Are You Selling?
Brigid Horne-Nestor, MBC™, Pricing Intervention (for Vendors and Senior Members)
Renee Grannis, MBC™, Contracts, and How Much Should You Charge?
Charles Oster, Blissful Selling
Lisa Smith, Divorcing Your Business Partner
Angela Dupont, ABC™, Selling Your Business

Victoria Wagner, PBC™, Power Networking
Heather Canada, MBC™ and Tanya Hendricks, PBC™, Playing Nice
Shinar Hurd, PBC™,  Diffusing Difficult Situations with Difficult People
Gail Johnson, ABC™, You Oughta Write a Book
J.C. York, Entertaining the Experience: The Lost Art of Personal Engagement
Tracey Fricke, MBC™, Achieving Balance

Technology Topic
Bryan Glynn, Social Marketing and Internet Assets

Stephanie Davis, ABC™, Church Coordinators: Friend or Foe?
Deborah Simmons, MBC™, and Donna Brian, MBC™, Southern Weddings
Nancy Flottmeyer, PBC™, Color in Wedding Design
Calandra Terry, MBC™, Are You Ready for the Storm? Disaster Preparedness
Yehudit Steinberg-Caudill, Modern Jewish Weddings
Salli Goldstein, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
Jane Skarosi, MBC™, MWV™, and Yoshi Kohara, MWV™, Gowns Unveiled: Inspiration to 
Alexis Eliopoulos O’Mara, MBC™, Weddings 
in Tents
Laurie Beckmann, MWV™, MBC™, Unusual Venues
Elaine Parker and Shafonne Myers, Special Needs Weddings

You can view  all of the images from conference at ••

Conference By the Numbers
290: Registered conference attendees
40: Corporate exhibitors
36: Spouses/guests for optional events/activities
53: First-time attendees
1,450: Years of ABC membership/
experience in attendance
12: Countries and territories represented
40: United States and territories represented
37: Masters who arrived at conference
45: Masters who left conference
7,420: Miles traveled by furthest attendee
12: Miles traveled by closest attendee

ABC staff members who assisted with conference planning/details:
David Wood, ABC president; Elise Enloe, MBC™; Dena Davey, marketing; and Nicole DaSilva.

Business of Brides 2013 planning team: Carmen Mesa, MBC™, conference planning chair; Tammy Waterman, MBC™, hotel liaison; Rosmary Posada-Saldana, PBC™; Christine Terezakis, MBC™; Mark Kingsdorf, MBC™; Mercedes Dos Santos, PBC™; Emmanuela Stanislaus, PBC™; AnnaMarie 
Wintercorn, MBC™; Courtney Hammons, PBC™; 
Mary Alice Sublett, PBC™; Brenna Taylor, PBC™; Sari Skalnik, MBC™; and Bill Waterman.

Mark Your Calendars
The Association of Bridal Consultants next Annual Conference is at Sandals Whitehouse in 
Whitehouse, Jamaica, Nov. 8-.12, 2014.

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