I love being one of Chicago's Wedding Planners, but today, I am channeling my inner Barbara Walters and announcing the people I found the Most Fascinating in the Wedding Industry in 2009. These are the people that really raise the bar in the wedding industry and people I admire. Many of them I have come to know quite well and I am always amazed by their drive but also their large heart and open ears when I need advice or want to bounce a new idea off of them. They are in no particular order because they are all equally fascinating to me. Okay, I cannot just do ten, I decided to do eleven. They are all such fascinating people!
Wedding Industry Professionals:
Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce of Engaging Concepts, hosting the Engage Luxury Wedding Business Symposiums
Rebecca is one of the top experts in the business of weddings and honeymoons. In 2008 she and Kathyrn Arce began to produce the incredible luxury weddings symposiums, the Engage Conferences. I have attended all four conferences and plan on attending the two they are hosting in 2010, one in Grand Cayman in June and the other at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida in October. Everything Rebecca and Kathryn do for the wedding industry is top notch and well thought out. I have looked to them for support and advice on my business. They are both true leaders in the wedding and honeymoon industry.
Sasha Souza of Sasha Souza Events
Sasha is an amazing wedding consultant, woman and true leader in our industry. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her over the years, having first met at The Special Event Shows which we both attend every year. She is a source of inspiration to me as well as a friend to call when I need advice. Sasha has a new and beautiful book, Signature Sasha, which is one of the most gorgeous wedding books I have seen. She is one of Modern Bride's prestigious Trendsetters and one of the top innovators in the event industry.
Liene Stevens of Think Splendid
Liene Stevens is the president of Blue Orchid Designs and also Splendid Communications. My first contact with Liene, other than reading her amazing Blue Orchid Blog, was when she emailed me and wanted to feature me on her website, then called The Smart Planner. I was so flattered to be a part of that blog and so excited she had searched out me to include in her prestigious group of wedding planners. My first meeting with her was in October of 2008 and Liene is just that, Splendid. A trendsetter in how to make social media work for businesses, I asked her to Chicago to do her Blogging Bootcamp tour. Liene is an amazing woman and someone that is going places.
Rosalind Bordo and Siri Eklund of Two Bright Lights
Rosalind Bordo and Siri Eklund have designed a new software for wedding professionals to share images of their events. I met Rosalind when I first started my business years ago. She was one of the most sought after wedding photographers in Chicago and we did many gorgeous weddings together over the years. The software, Two Bright Lights, gives users a professional way to share images with their clients by creating inspiration boards and pretty slideshows. I myself love showing off my work and Two Bright Lights gives me the tools to do this with a couple of clicks of my computer buttons.
Sean Low of The Business of Being Creative
Sean Low is the mastermind behind The Business of Being Creative, a business consulting firm focused on practical advice on those companies that are in the business of being creative. He has been a great advisor to me as well as friend. His blog and wisdom he imparts on everyone is smart, to the point and not full of fluff. He tells it like it is, and that is what I like about him the most. He does not beat around the bush but helps businesses create business models to be successful.
Marcy Blum of Marcy Blum Events
I have read about Marcy Blum and her amazing events for years and years. I first heard Marcy Blum speak at the Engage Conference in Grand Cayman. Her wit and humour and candidness endeared me to her. I saw her again at the Engage Conference in Las Vegas in October and she gave me some very good business advice when I had an issue that needed a bit of tweaking. She stopped and took the time to give me some ideas and her kindness in doing so helped me deal with the situation much better. She is a true "eventista" and a leader in the event and hospitality industry and I look up to her.
Emilie Sommer of Emilie Inc and Pink Initiative
As well as being a renowned wedding photographer (and newlywed), Emilie Sommer started the Non-Profit, Pink Initiative. Pink initiative is a collection of wedding industry professionals and private donors dedicated to funding awareness, outreach, education and research for Breast Cancer. I met Emilie at the Engage Conference back in 2008 and immediately liked her ideas and her happy personality. Her dedication to excellence and her interest in helping a great cause has me in awe. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Emilie so make sure you are all watching! And if you are in the market for a wedding photographer, Emilie is one of the best in the business.
Simon T. Bailey of Simon T. Bailey
Other than being an all around happy and effusive individual, Simon T Bailey is one of the greatest motivational speakers I know and author of the wonderful book, "Release your Brilliance". I met Simon in 2008 at the Engage Conference in Orlando, Florida and immediately was transformed by his presentation and Brilliance. This is a must read book for anyone trying to take it to the next level in their life and career.
For my brides that love to read up on blogs and magazines and to see all things pretty for weddings:
Ami at Elizabeth Anne Designs
Ami is the creator and founders of The Elizabeth Anne Designs blog. It is one of my favorites not only for wedding and wedding inspiration but also for lifestyle, fashion, travel and food. There are many different bloggers for the website and each shares their own perspective for the modern bride's guide to the world. Ami recently redesigned this website and it is a not to be missed place to learn about all beautiful things for your wedding and life. I have it saved in my google reader and read every post.
Abby Larson, Style Me Pretty Blog
Abby Larson has created a gorgeous blog for brides and grooms and wedding industry professionals. I am part of her Little Black Book of vendors and honored to be part of it. Her blog has daily inspiration from wedding industry professionals around the globe and great tips for brides and grooms planning their special day. Make sure to add this blog to your daily reader for all things gorgeous and weddings.
Stacie Francombe of Get Married
Stacie Francombe is the Founder/Editor of Get Married, a national TV show, website and blog and now their new magazine. She is also the new host of the new season, which began on Jan 2nd at 9:30am. Check your local listing, it is on the WE Network, it will air on Saturday mornings or you can watch in online. I met Stacie this year and instantly fell in love with her. She is a powerhouse female entrepreneur and an all around great person. Her website and TV show is a must watch and read for brides and grooms.
Thank you for letting me go on and on about the fascinating people I have gotten to know over the years as my career takes me on the most awesome ride. I always say, you have to surround yourself with great people to become greater. These people are not only great but those I respect and am blessed they have come into my life as friends, mentors and people I can just have a cocktail and a laugh with.