The Annual Conference for the Association of Bridal Consultants, called The Business of Brides, took place in Costa Mesa, California from November 8-10, 2015. There were approximately 300 in attendance and there were 17 different speakers with 4 keynote speakers. The keynote speakers were Rishi Patel from HMR Designs, Chris Horton from Dr. Rankwell, Sasha Souza from Sasha Souza Events, and David Merrell from David Merrell Events.
The first day of the conference (Sunday) started with an hour of training from Love Mexico who spoke about the benefits of planning weddings in Mexico. This day also included a three-hour training from Sandals & Beaches Resorts. This training earned attendees a certificate to be able to book honeymoons and plan destination weddings through the Association of Bridal Consultants at any Sandals or Beaches resort in the beautiful Caribbean. That evening, everyone was invited to attend an opening night reception, that was beautifully decorated – complete with an LED dance floor, cotton candy bar, and lots of different food stations. The evening was filled with dancing, networking, and catching up with friends in the industry.
Monday morning started with a delicious buffet breakfast then we listened to the opening remarks and the first keynote speaker, Rishi Patel. He showed us fabulous images of weddings that they’ve done and he gave all of the attendees really good design ideas. Later that day, we heard from another keynote speaker, Chris Horton. He shared good tips and free-to-low-cost resources on getting your website ranked higher by Google.
In between the two keynote speakers, attendees chose between various breakout sessions including:
- Follow the Leader; Grow, Building a Team With Love
- Award Winning Travel Gypsy Wedding
- Fee Structures and Pricing
- Dramatic Before & After – Transforming Spaces
- Reality of Being an Entrepreneur
- 12 Stages – Wedding Planning Tips
- Sales are the Keys to Success
- 5 Star Reviews
Once all of the classes were over, most attendees headed off to an off-site event at the incredible St. Regis, Monarch Beach for networking, cocktails, and dancing.
The final day, Tuesday, was filled with two more keynote speakers including Sasha Souza who spoke to everyone about her client process from inquiry to the day of the wedding. The other keynote speaker was David Merrell. David awed the attendees with slides and lots of information about upcoming trends in weddings by going through the trends in fashion, floral, and food & beverage.
A few tips and tricks that were learned from the presenters:
- Sasha Souza uses Smart Draw to draw out her floor plans and table designs before doing a full setup for the client – and she only meets with her clients about 3 or 4 times during the planning process!
- Chris Horton gave us a website link www.screamingfrog.com to use to check for broken links on our websites and told us to make sure that we have Google Analytics added to each page of our website. Google Analytics gives us information as to how long people are staying on each page on our website, whether they are reading the content or just going through the photos. It can also tell us where they are located and give us information that we can use to decide where our marketing dollars should be spent.
The last day was also filled with more breakout sessions, so if you didn’t get to attend something the day before, you could attend the session on the second day. The sessions ended with the ABC President David Wood giving away lots of great goodies from the trade show attendees, two tickets to WeddingWire World, 4 trips to Mexico, and one coveted Sandals Resorts vacation! Attendees were then shuttled to dinner at the Harborside Pavilion, Newport Beach.
This conference is great for wedding planners on any level. The breakout sessions are noted if they are more geared toward novice, intermediate, or advanced wedding planners. This helps an attendee choose their ideal session. In addition, there are many other types of businesses that attend such as caterers, photographers, dj’s, and invitation specialists.
I’ve attended a few other conferences over the years including Wedding MBA and The Special Event. The ABC Business of Brides conference is equal in education with a little less participation at the trade show during the last few years. The ABC conference is wonderful for creating a great networking environment for wedding industry professionals.
I personally love attending ABC Conference. I am a senior ABC member (10+ years) and I have earned the designation Accredited Wedding Planner. I always take a lot of notes during the conference so when I am in my off season, I can apply what I learned while at the conference. The only thing this year that I was sad about was the trade show: it was very small compared to previous years. However the companies that did attend were very interesting and I ended up placing orders for both current and future clients.
This is a guest post from Veronica Foster. Veronica is the Lead Planner & Designer at Behind The Scenes Inc. She has been planning weddings since 2002 and corporate events prior to that. Veronica loves everything about weddings…especially the challenge of making each one unique and a story on its own.