For as long as I can remember, I have always had an insatiable curiosity to discover and create beautiful things. My childhood was spent in a rural town, where I spent most of my time drawing and painting, and trying to soak-in whatever I could from books, tv, or rare (divine!) museum visits. I was fascinated with the mystique of history and the lure of far-flung places I had not yet traveled.
As a “grown-up,” I’ve been a graphic designer for over twenty years. For fifteen of those, I’ve been in the wedding industry in one form or another. First, I was moonlighting as a wedding invitation designer. Then I was a videographer and filmed weddings. But for the last twelve years, I’ve had the pleasure of being the founder, editor in chief, creative director, and to this day, a graphic designer for WedLuxe, a print magazine-turned-multimedia platform that reaches over a million people a year. I first created WedLuxe as a love letter to design. It was born entirely from my desire to create “something pretty” after spending the earlier years of my career designing corporate brochures. The first two issues, I was the only employee and lovingly wrote and designed each and every page myself. I honestly could never have guessed back then that my little design project would become a real company, and my true career path.
I still love my job, but I have spent the vast majority of the last twenty years planted firmly at my desk. Thankfully, along the way, I have also had unforgettable travel experiences to the most beautiful places in the world for press visits, photo shoots, or speaking engagements. #BecauseofEngage
During my travels, I am creatively recharged. I ALWAYS return to my desk with a treasure trove of new visual references. I take hundreds of iPhone pics documenting the design elements of what I saw. The pics often become the basis for color palettes, logo designs, event installations, and mood boards that converge with things we create for WedLuxe.
I was travelling with my family. We had paid a rather hefty sum of money to have a private tour. My pent-up dreams to savor Marie Antoinette’s playground were quickly dashed, as well as any fantasy I may have had of hanging on to ‘every word’ as my son kept asking, “When are we going back to the car?”
The proverbial ‘piece de resistance’ came as we entered the epic Hall of Mirrors, where he promptly fell asleep only after my husband offered to carry all fifty pounds of him to avoid any more complaining. In theory, a sleeping quiet kid would be ideal. In reality, without a stroller, (because who knew Versailles was the size of a town?!) it was a mess! My loving and always up-for-a-tour husband came along in good spirits, and was interested, yes. But he was NOT OBSESSING OVER ALL THE DETAILS, like I was.
I found myself thinking, “this tour would have been incredible if I had been here with a bunch of designers.”
It was my lightbulb moment.
During that same trip, on a visit to a Chateau in the Loire Valley, while hoards of tourists were listening to standard-issue headsets, I was drawn to a menu on a cluttered glass shelf that spelled out the full treasures of a royal dinner that took place in 1758. (Exhibit A). I can’t believe they were doing round menus back then!
I also remember a time my WedLuxe team and I were filming at a privately-owned 700-year old castle in England, where we were given exclusive and unfettered access. As I roamed through the castle, I was on Cloud Nine. I found design inspiration in everything from the insignia on the gate, to the weathered patina on the front door, to the patterns in the centuries-old tapestries and wallpaper, to the dusty leather bound books on the shelves. During breaks, I POURED through several of the those books to find forgotten visual treasures like a lithograph, a family crest, a hand-calligraphed signature, a cartouche, or an image of someone, anyone, dressed in their best regalia. (Note Exhibit B; a pic I snapped from one of those very books : showcasing an original illustration of a vintage faerie tale illustration! (I die!)
My twenty-something self would never admit these obsessions out loud, never mind professionally because I realize it’s eccentric to be “nerding out” over this kind of stuff.
However, the longer I have been in the luxury wedding and event industry and find myself surrounded by like-minded creative entrepreneurs from all facets of the arts—event designers, stationers, florists, cake designers, caterers, planners, photographers, fashion designers, etc., I realize that SO many of us are on an endless quest to discover beautiful things from the road less traveled. I believe we need to look to yesteryear in order to create TOMORROW’s unique event design, upcoming install, cake design, stationery set, or menu.
The thing is, if your spouse or life partner isn’t into these same things… when do you fill your wanderlust tank and where are you finding truly unique creative references? Are you tired of surfing Pinterest and Instagram to discover the same old tired ideas? How many times do you drag your kiddos into a museum and find yourself longing for just a bit more time to really indulge your inner design nerd? Are you EVER going to travel solo just for a creative recharge? Maybe. But now you don’t have to go it alone.
These trips are my new love-letter to design. They’re a heartfelt invitation to you, my like-minded “family” of creative event professionals, who adore and appreciate the path less traveled. They’re for those of you who get excited about the scent of a 300-year-old leather book as it opens, or hang on every word of a museum curator while your mind races about the lives and celebrations of those who came before you.
Of course, I’m also a sucker for a five-star hotel experience which is an integral part of these trips. There is nothing like stepping into an exquisite hotel lobby for the first time, or slipping into a plush five-star hotel bed with crisp white sheets after a long day of being a world-traveler. Our hotel partners are the best in the world. They await your arrival with a sense of excitement and hospitality because they know they’re welcoming event professionals. Combined with fine dining or alfresco adventures in exclusive settings, incredible tastings to discover local delicacies, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, small group networking, resting, relaxing, and an unabashed focus on all five senses with my personal promise of signature “WedLuxe” surprises along the way, these are going to be once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
I am thrilled, honored, and deliriously ecstatic to invite you to join me in a wonderful adventure of discovery and imagination.