Imagine going to a wedding reception that’s better than you could ever have fathomed, from multi-course menus to over-the-top decor and live music. There are guests in fabulous designer outfits from all over the world. Everyone has an interesting story. There is endless Champagne and tequila. It blows your mind…but then you realize it’s not someone’s nuptials at all. It’s the gala for a business conference. When Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce started Engage! Summit, the concept was simple: create a safe space for wedding professionals to engage. There, wedding planners, photographers, florists, venue coordinators, and other vendors could focus less on their competition with one another and more on how they can be better business owners, creators, and guides for their couples during the wedding planning process. Twelve years later, the initial small gathering of 75 has grown into a full-fledged network of thousands of event pros who attend the conferences around the world. The pros listen to TED-esque talks, take part in breakout sessions, make valuable relationships during dine-around luncheons and pool parties, and generally still do what they did at the very first meeting: engage. “There will always be certain celebrations in life,” Grinnals says of weddings. “They are happy times that bring family and friends together. You can’t really find another industry that taps into creativity and connects people.” Kathryn Arce (left) and Rebecca Grinnals are best friends who decided to launch a conference together in 2008. Arce and Grinnals first met while working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, a city they both still call home. There, the pair were part of the team that launched “fairy tale” weddings at the park, including at the popular Cinderella Castle. As part of their roles, they spoke at numerous trade conferences across the country, slowing realizing […]