The Coterie Retreat is a three-day annual retreat hosted by Munaluchi, for wedding professionals that cater to the fast-growing multicultural market. Our mission is to create an environment where collaboration and community triumph. We do this by bringing the best of the wedding industry together in a relaxed, non-intimidating setting for deep reflection, much-needed downtime, and education.
This year, our retreat took place at the luxurious Henderson Beach Resort in Destin, Florida featuring the most breathtaking stretches of white sand in the world, and the gorgeous jeweled waters of the Gulf of Mexico. After postponing our 2020 retreat due to the pandemic, we were excited to finally host over 30 speakers and 70 + guests for three days of learning, networking. relaxing and partying in the Florida sun. Scroll to see the highlights from Day 1 of our 2021 Coterie Retreat.
Emcee Karli Raymond
Day 1 started with a warm welcome from our emcee, author, and entrepreneur, Karli Raymond. This is her 4th year hosting the retreat. She is our “Hostess with the Mostess” bringing insights, grace, style, and humor that always keep our attendees engaged and entertained.
Welcome- Chike and Jackie Nwbou
The passion and dream of this conference are for our attendees to learn how to expand their business. We have to build better for 2022.Chike Nwbou
Chike and Jackie Nwbou, co-founders of MunaLuchi Bride, welcomed attendees with their reflections on the importance of entrepreneurs keeping a positive outlook in the midst of the pandemic. Jackie shared, “What the pandemic taught me was to never take anything for granted, even coming to a conference. Also, start acting on the things you want to do. Because you never know what will come next. It doesn’t have to be perfectly polished, but get started.” Finally, she stressed the power of networking, “Be open. Talk to people you do not know. Let’s take the time here to focus and fine-tune what you are going to do for 2022.”
Opening Keynote- Preston Bailey
We are in the golden age of the wedding industry, It’s important to learn how to do business in the age of abundance. We have the power. No more negotiating. No more giving away [our services] for free.Preston Bailey
With over 40 years of experience in the events industry, Preston Bailey blessed our attendees during his opening keynote presentation with his wealth of knowledge.
His advice to attendees had them on the edge of their seats. It included:
- Do not get locked into a budget before knowing the client’s expectation. Have explicit conversations about the vision of your event, and then determine the cost. Be very careful about the promises you make.
- Be careful of where you get your inspiration. You do not want to just duplicate what you see on social media. Consider creating your own unique renderings for wedding designs instead of using story boards containing the work of others.
Finally, he acknowledged that having quality weddings is getting more expensive, and there may be vendors who are offering similar services for less but stay true to your aesthetic and price. “Give your talent a fee. Your cost includes your time and talent,” he stressed to attendees.
Panel- Moving Together as an Industry
Build your own tribe with people who are on the same level, mindset, approach, and aesthetic as you. Find your unique brand voice. Discover your superpower-the thing that only you can do that no one else can. You cannot just compete on price. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? When you identify that your business will take off. Once I nailed down who I could deliver the best experience for, my company evolved.– Michelle Gainey of Lemiga Events
Megan Ely, a wedding publicist and owner of ODF consulting, Tara Melvin of Perfect Planning Events and the National Society of Black Event Professionals, Jamie Quickert of AllSeated, and Michelle Gainey of Lemiga Events spoke at a panel hosted by Karli Raymond on how to move forward as an industry after the pandemic. Each speaker shared gems of advice. Here are a few highlights:
Megan spoke on how to achieve longevity and relevancy in the wedding industry moving into 2022. Relevancy ties into getting your work published. Megan emplored, “Start introducing yourself to writers/editors and start sharing your events.” In addition, she shared “Build it before you need it. Build your network; build your team; we all could have a stronger base. Stay innovative and settle on ideas that will push you forward. We don’t have the time and money to just throw things at the wall.”
Michelle spoke about the need to implement and create protocols to have safe events. “I don’t see Covid going away so we have to continue to be smart and have policies to protect ourselves and our clients.” She continued, “We were excited to go back to work in 2021, but we have added stressors. I’ve said ‘No’ more than this year than any other year.” As event planning picks up, remember to care for yourself.
Tara, nicknamed the “Oliva Pope” of events, shared that her most powerful pivot during the pandemic has been logistics, “being able to move like a chameleon and navigate the chaos. Clients don’t want to hear ‘That can’t happen.'”
Jamie advised attendees to “Continually evolve. Find something you are passionate about and you ask yourself ‘What’s next?’ You do not have to stay in your lane. People who tell you to stay in your lane are trying to keep you tiny. You can be whatever you want to be. I am going to find a lane, and I am going to ride in it until I find another lane.”
All of our panelists stressed the importance of being mentors for others. Jamie shared, “Pay it forward. If someone has shown you loyalty and guidance, return the favor to someone else. That is how you become a #girlboss!” Tara included, “I am not mentoring my competition. I am trying to level the playing field and give women and men the skills to be the true bosses they were born to be. It is up to us as people who are more experienced, not to just sit and watch others make mistakes, but to guide them through this journey of entrepreneurship.”
Thank you ladies for paying it forward!
Fireside Chat- Jackie Nwobu and Tamuel Cowart
“When you are a black wedding professional you are not allowed to mess up. You are given less grace.”Jackie Nwobu
Tamuel Cowart of RW Events interviewed co-owner of MunaLuchi Bride, Jackie Nwobu, on the evolution of MunaLuchi Bride. Since starting in 2010, MunaLuchi Bride continues to focus on multicultural black weddings and celebrates the diversity within the African diaspora. “Black weddings are not a one size fits all. There is so much diversity within our race” Jackie exclaimed. “[MunaLuchi Bride’s work] has inspired other publications to dig deeper when reaching out to the multicultural marketplace.”
Wedding Pro- Audience Insights by Kiara Kempski
Gen Z is the most diverse generation ever. So share what makes you unique and be inclusive in your langauge and approach.Kiara Kempski of The Knot World Wide/Wedding Pro
Who are your customers? What are their values, behavior, influencers, motivators? How does your brand fit into their journey? What pain points are you solving for them? These are all questions Kiara Kempski, Vice President of Global Consumer Marketing at The Knot World Wide/ Wedding Pro, asked attendees to think about. In particular, she honed in on the difference between Millennials and Gen Z (the next generation of married couples.)
What are the differences between Millennials and Gen Z? Gen Zs are digital natives, who have shorter attention spans. They are much more connected to global issues, are very politically engaged, and believe in a shared community. They are financially savvy and spend their money with intention. They want to support diverse businesses that align with their morals and values, and they love authenticity- authentic images, real weddings, and real moments.
In 2022 Gen Zers are entering the peak marriage age range, so get to know your new customer base, and be ready to adapt and stay relevant.
Lunch Hosted by Wedding Pro
After a morning of eye-opening and inspiring sessions, our attendees headed to a lovely outdoor lunch sponsored by our friends at Wedding Pro. The Flower Guy Bron and his team created the gorgeous floral arrangements that donned the tables.
Stop Selling Your Service and Sell the Experience – Tara Melvin
Not every client is YOUR client.Tara Melvin of Perfect Planning Events and the National Society of Black Event Professionals,
After lunch, Tara Melvin of Perfect Planning Events and the National Society of Black Event Professionals, kicked off our afternoon breakout sessions sharing her advice on how to book clients that align with your brand. She noted that event professionals should clearly express their value proposition to clients in meetings, on the web, and on social media. “Market yourself. Make sure your client knows the unique qualities you bring to the table. Be confident, relatable, and technically sound.”
She stressed also to attendees that they should never be desperate to land a client, and they should be open to feedback. “Objections are opportunities, not deal breakers,” she shared. “They are an opportunity to reframe your thought process and get clarity on what your client really wants.”
Cash Flow- Richard Snow
If you can’t pay yourself, you are not successful.Richard Snow
How do you get fair loans as a small business? How do you plan properly so that you do not default on your loan? Richard Snow, Vice President, SBA National Franchise Relationship Manager at WSFS Bank, let our attendees in on banking secrets. For example, did you know must plan 3-4 years ahead before applying for a loan? When applying for a loan, banks look at your credit score, tax returns, operating income, business plan, brand maturity, historical success rate, projected success rate, and they may even search you on social media. Make sure you are truly prepared when you apply for a loan!
Floral Workshop- Larger Than Life Events
After lunch, some of our attendees opted for a hands-on experience building floral centerpieces in a workshop led by Atosha K. Barboza Bennett of Larger Than Life Events. The lush centerpieces then served as decor for our “Earth Tones” Welcome Party.
“Earth Tones” Welcome Party
After a day of workshops and presentations, guests were ready to eat and mingle during our welcome party. Everyone came dressed in their best “Earth Toned” attire to honor our theme, and with DJ Exeqtive on the one and twos, dancing soon ensued.
Stay tuned to MunaLuchi social media for news and updates about the 2021 MunaLuchi Coterie Retreat. Click here for information on becoming a Coterie member. View the Summer 2021 Issue of MunaLuchi Bride magazine here!
- Photography: Trene Forbes Photography– @treneforbesphotography; KFinch Photography– @kfinchphotography
- Video: Felicity Moments– @felicitymoments @tristanbarrocks
- Planning: Tiffany Chalk Events– @tiffanychalkevents
- Rentals: RW Events– @rwevents
- Beauty: Felicia Graham Beauty– @feliciagrahambeauty; Gold Karatz Beauty– @goldkaratzbeauty; Shaleria Smith Bridal – @shaleirasmith
- Floral design:The Flower Guy Bron– @theflowerguybron
- Stationery: Sandi Spells Designs– @sandispells
- Dance floor wrap: The Brimstone Group- @thebrimstonegroup
- Floral workshops: Larger Than Life Events @largerthanlifeevents; Leah T Williams Events -@leahtwilliamsevents
- Entertainment: DJ Exeqtive– @djexeqtive
- Gifting: Miscellaneous Market- @misc.market
- After party DJ: DJ Spinderella @djspinderella