As Coterie members rise and shine for a delicious Wednesday morning breakfast catered by the luxurious Roosevelt hotel, the consensus buzzing around the ballroom is that Tuesday at the Coterie Retreat was certainly unforgettable.
Tuesday began with Coterie Retreat moderator Darryl Wilson, of D'Concierge Weddings, introducing our first speakers, Marc Wilson and Luvvie Ajayi. Marc Wilson is the creative director of MWD Lifestyles, a top resource in destination and luxury wedding event production. Marc's fascinating segment "Life Lessons: What 20 Years in Business Has Taught Me" was a necessity for anyone in the wedding industry, whether a veteran or just starting out. Luvvie Ajayi is an award winning writer, largely followed speaker and blogger, social activist, and author who’s book, “I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual,” is a New York Times Instant Best-Seller. Her much-anticipated lecture was on “How to Brand Like a Boss: It’s More Than Just Your Logo.”
The following speakers included, Laconya Murray and her segment on “Brand Value: Creating a Protect-able Brand Consumers Want to Spend Money With,” Laconya is a very successful business attorney specializing in trademark, copyright, and business development solutions. “How to Monetize Your Influence,” by Tiffany Aliche, otherwise known as the “Budgetnista,” an award winning educator on the topic of financial empowerment, and author of two Amazon #1 bestselling books. Nicole Walters' segment on “Profits Over Popularity,” Nicole is an income strategist, entrepreneur, and founder of the Monetized Life. Andre Wells, event planner and designer extraordinaire of Events by Andre Wells, provided his invaluable wisdom and insights on the industry. The lecture series was rounded out by a fascinating and informative panel on “LGBTQIA Weddings - How to Properly Attract and Engage This Market” led by wedding and event planner Brian Green, Marc Wilson of MWD Lifestyles, and Darryl Wilson of D’Concierge wedding planning. And finally, from ellyB Events, Eliana Baucicault's knowledgeable and informative discussion on style - titled, "Creating, Defining and Executing Your Signature Style."
Certainly one of the highlights of Tuesday was the white attire gala party. Guided by police escort and the TBC Brass Band, the coterie members, looking elegant in white, second lined through canal street as onlookers cheered and recorded the parade all the way to the New Orleans Board of Trade. Founded in 1880, the New Orleans Board of Trade was lavishly decorated by Lulu of Weddings by Lulu, Wedding Planning and Design. The gala party began with a candle-lit french quarter courtyard cocktail party, followed by an evening of dance and fine dining with music by the Phunky Monkeys, and Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Eric Roberson.
To make the night even more perfect, in a beautifully romantic gesture of love and devotion, longtime boyfriend of MunaLuchi Bride Magazine’s own Nicole McKenzie - Director of Marketing & Sales, secretly flew to New Orleans for a perfectly timed surprise proposal! Congratulations Nicole and Kyle - we are all so happy for you!
As Wednesday morning breakfast finished up and the Tuesday night buzz leveled out, Darryl Wilson, the Coterie Retreat moderator opened up the general sessions by introducing the speakers of the day, first being Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York, renowned designer of luxurious wedding invitations, an entrepreneur, artist, editor-in-chief, and much more. Following a short break we were introduced to Wendy El-Khoury’s lecture on “How to Use Social Media as a PR Machine to Drive New Business.” Wendy is the founder and creative director of Wedded Wonderland, a wedding inspirational and directory based out of Sydney Australia. Co-founder and CEO of Mezzohead Media, Myrna Daramy presented a must see lecture on “Musts That Will Have You SEO Ready for 2017.”
A panel on multicultural weddings was hosted by speakers, Chioma Nwogu of Dure Events, "Social Media Maven," Ink Eze of BellaNaija Weddings, renowned photographer Keith Cephus, publisher of South Asian Bride Magazine - Sadaf Kherani, and award-winning designer Yemi Osunkoya. The Q&A session featured conversations on the progression of the multicultural wedding market market, and how we can all benefit from and contribute to this expanding market community.
Eliana Baucicault of EllyB Events followed the panel with her second segment on “How to Build Additional Revenue Streams in Your Business.”
MunaLuchi Co-Founder and Publisher, Chike Nwobu spoke about "the Rise of the Multicultural Wedding Industry."
And finally, to round out an amazing day of presentations, lectures, panels, and seminars, international award winning cinematographer Ray Roman of Ray Roman Films presented his much anticipated videography seminar - a precursor to his Thursday full-day cinematography workshop!
The highlight of a day filled with highlights was of course MunaLuchi's last big bash of the Coterie Retreat - the evening Masquerade Ball, designed by Eliana Baucicault of EllyB Events. Fine dining at its best, an award ceremony, and dancing the night away with music by DJ Battle, on a stunning black & gold masquerade mask dance floor designed by Inkredibe Dance Floors.
The menu began with a Waldorf Historia original salad dating back to 1896, with a Roosevelt's signature Satsuma-Prosecco float, followed by a main course of grilled petite filet mignon & pan seared sea scallops, and finally a dessert featuring a signature combination of New Orleans most popular desserts - bananas foster bread pudding.
The awards ceremony featured seven main award categories followed by the MunaLuchi appreciation awards. The seven awards presented are the Vanguard Award, the Spirit Award, the Collaborator of the Year Award, the Munaluchi Advocate Award, the Mentor of the Year Award, the Jet Setter Award, and the Rising Star Award. Below are the winners for each category as well as the appreciation awards:
Vanguard Award - Andre Wells - Events by Andre Wells
Spirit Award – Michael Williams - Mike Music
Collaborator of the Year Award – Janelle Morris - Kaylabelle Events
Munaluchi Advocate Award – Lauren Atwaters - Ten23 Designs
Mentor of the Year – Darryl Wilson - D'Concierge Events
Jet Setter Award – Chip Dizard - Chip Dizard Weddings
Rising Star Award – Selina Howard - Vainglorious Brides
Munaluchi Appreciation Awards
These members were awarded the appreciation award for hosting us in their city as part of our annual city-to-city tour.
Of course the night wouldn't have been complete without the big announcement of the location of the 2017 Munaluchi Coterie Retreat to be hosted in South Africa! Click here for early bird registration.
A great big thanks to everyone for participating in the 2016 Munaluchi Coterie Retreat! There is still many more people to thank and much more coverage to be released so stay tuned!
Photography by Dana Lee Jones