After countless requests from you, my friends, I’m delighted to share a recap of my time at Engage! 13 Biltmore Estate.
To say my experience was incredible would be a lie. Because in full truth, any words I write seem astonishingly underwhelming in comparison to the real life fairytale I lived that week.
On my plane ride home, I journaled for 12 hours straight. No lie. I wanted to get everything down on paper so I wouldn’t forget…. the revelations I had, the conversations that stirred me and most importantly, the ways in which I saw God work through every minute of every day. You can read my personal reflection on that here.
Trying to sum up all that took place, both internally for me and externally, within the event, would take hours. If you want the whole story, I’d be happy to go for coffee. But for the sake of this blog series [I’ve broken it up into 4 parts], I want to focus on and highlight the things that truly made my experience once in a lifetime… the happenings and details that in my opinion, stole the show.
After a nightmare of connections and a seemingly never ending day of traveling, I arrived at the estate close to 1am. With darkness upon us, I didn’t experience the majesty of this place until morning, when I opened up my curtains to discover a storybook before me.
The rolling hills. The lush and vibrant landscape. The feeling of being small surrounded by God’s vast, exquisite creation.
Pictures can do no justice to the nature that surrounds Biltmore Estate. While the conference itself was unreal, I wanted more than anything to run through the fields with 100 balloons and read beneath a big oak tree, I coveted for days. [side note: On the last day, with all my friends departed, I made my wish come true and ventured to this tree, solo.]
On the first day of conference we had the pleasure of hearing from Darcy Miller, Editor of Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine. While many of the speakers that day intrigued me, it was Darcy’s love of details with roots, that had me applauding and feeling hopeful. With us, she shared that while details are beautiful and trends come and go, it’s family heirlooms and details with meaning that in her opinion, make a wedding truly unique and timeless.
She shared many examples of how Martha Stewart as a company continue to inspire and encourage brides to own their story and use it to set the stage for their once upon a time- that it’s about far more than having a wedding that looks good on pinterest, but one that reflects who you truly are as a couple.
She shared her infatuation with family photos used in decor and DIY projects, which I simply couldn’t relate to more! [And not the perfectly posed engagement photos you might be thinking of, but the everyday, iphone photos and antique slide photos of your family lineage. Perfectly imperfect, but filled with sentiment]
To all of it, I say Amen. Preach it sister!
In the evening, we were treated to a Bluegrass and Bonfire party on Mr. Vanderbilt’s Farm [the original owner of Biltmore Estate]. Welcomed with the strongest lemonade I’ve had in my life, we kicked off the evening touring the stables and oogling the adorable farm animals.
There, I ran into Lara for the 1st time since arriving and together we shared a few happy tears and grateful hugs. I’m fairly certain that hug made my whole year!
The festivities took place inside the barn itself, where stables had been converted into food stations and a live bluegrass band prompted line dancing and good humour. [I may or may not have grabbed a gentleman dancing solo, to line dance with me, after multiple failed attempts to get others to join me!]
On the property, a gorgeous tent featured simply swoon worthy picnic set ups, complete with every southern charm and tradition you could think of. My favourite and most note worthy take-away inspiration was the Make-your-own signature cocktail bar, in which you chose two words which described your mood or personality and a custom drink was made to order. You never quite knew what you would get, but one thing was certain, you were never disappointed! My words? “Fizzy” and “Frilly” which garnered me a delicious pink cocktail of pink champagne and fruit! Yummy.
To close off the evening, we gathered around a bonfire to sing songs and roast smores.With mostly city folk in attendance, this token canuck had to shown them how it was done! No serious. It was hilarious….
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Engage!13 experience coming soon!
Photos by Carla Ten Eyck, Allan Zepeda, and Jeremie Barlow