Every year the amazing team behind Engage!, lead by masterminds Kathryn and Rebecca, hosts several luxury wedding summits to celebrate, educate, inspire, and support members of the wedding industry.
The first summit I attended was in 2014, held in the Grand Caymans. Since then, I’ve also been to Sea Island, Orlando, and Banff, the last of which I attended with my three-month-old son. I had intended to go to the Breakers in Florida in 2020 but Covid had other plans. After waiting two years, I was finally able to travel to another amazing summit, this time at Dove Mountain in Arizona.
I always look forward to my time at Engage. I come away from the experience with new ideas, having met amazing people and forged lasting friendships, but this time, I was feeling a bit different in the months leading up — I was exhausted.
At the end of the 2022 wedding season, I was feeling quite depleted. We had just gone through one of our hardest wedding seasons, hosting events that were postponed by the pandemic as well as working with new couples that got engaged in 2021. My heart and soul was a little bit broken after working with my couples to try and make their dreams come true during the pandemic. It was a lot, and I was feeling quite burned out. Because of this, I was particularly looking forward to spending four days in the Arizona desert and relighting my candle.
The team at Engage clearly understood that the last few years had weighed heavily on the wedding industry. They knew we were all recovering from turmoil and endless pivots, and they knew we were exhausted. With that in mind, they really prioritized health, wellbeing, and restoration at this summit. A number of the activities were centred around getting rest, connecting with the self, and engaging with nature — and it was so needed.
I came away from the four days feeling recharged and having gathered all the energy and inspiration I needed to start 2023 with a new perspective.
Looking back on this amazing experience, I wanted to share some of the details of what we did during our time at Dove Mountain and to acknowledge the fantastic work done by Imoni Events and the Engage team.
A wonderful four days in the dessert
I want to start off by saying that the Dove Mountain Resort is stunning. Situated in the middle of the Arizona desert, the resort is surrounded by cactus-like plants and seems to have gorgeous lighting regardless of the time of the day. And at night, the sky fills with stars in a way that you don’t see almost anywhere else. It gives you the chance to disconnect from the movement and energy of city life and really centre yourself as a small entity in the world.
This was the setting for all the activities we participated in as part of the summit.
One of the best parts of going to Engage is the gifting! This year, we had our choice of notebooks, water bottles, and gifts that reflected the beauty of Arizona and its night skies. During the registration event, we got the chance to talk to a lot of the vendors of these products and get to know more about their ethos as small businesses.
The welcome session was designed beautifully in a desert theme, with gorgeous pops of blues and pinks and yellows. This is typical of every Engage Summit event. They’re all crafted and designed stunningly, and each event feels like a treat.
This was followed by a lovely outdoor picnic event, with a photo frame, flowers, and delicious snacks.
After a quiet afternoon, we were shuttled to the venue for the welcome party. The theme for this event was Western, with cacti and hay bales complemented by tasteful rustic design features. After food, we danced the night away to music from a live country band. I was thrilled to meet fellow Canadians Derek and Cece of Derek Chan Films.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and got to choose from one of three activities: yoga, a sound bath, or a sunrise hike up the nearby mountain. I chose the hike, and loved it. The guide ushered us through an intentional walk where we were asked to talk about our life story to another person in the group as we went up the mountain. It was a really powerful session — and the sunrise was so worth the exercise!
During the rest of the morning, we participated in general sessions that covered a range of topics, Including one by Gurminder of Banga Studios, who shared the power of meditation. Later in the day we gathered for a lunch filled with fun colourful design details.
After another afternoon of sessions, we went out to dinner in smaller groups. This was great as it gave us a chance to mingle in more intimate settings. When we got back to the resort, the team had set up a Dessert Party that was themed around the moon and the stars. My favourite part was the astronomer who spent hours talking about the many constellations that are visible in the desert.
The last day started with breakout sessions in smaller groups, and in the afternoon we had the choice of attending a pool party or volunteering with a local organization. I chose the latter and joined a group in taking food to the Arizona Food Bank and then packing up donations at one of their distribution centres. This was a humbling experience that left me thinking about how important food is and the various systems that are in place to make sure people get access to healthy food.
We wrapped up the whole event with a glamorous cocktail party and gala. Everyone was dressed to the nines and it was a great way to celebrate our industry and the wonderful professionals that were there.
I’m so glad that I went to Engage! Dove Mountain. Every time I have gone to one of these summits, it seems to be exactly what I need at that moment. I came away feeling recharged, inspired, and filled with a renewed sense of purpose.