After our second annual Coterie retreat it's only fitting that we quote Drake and say with great enthusiasm "What a time to be alive!" 2015 was a year of major strides and we couldn't have accomplished any of it without the talent of our members. A few highlights: we touched brides in five major cities with our City2City Tours; we were introduced to the world with a spot on CNN International; and continued to refocus the bridal lens to sharpen the image of women of color. So what better way to end such a year than with an epic retreat in Barbados? On December 7th some of the most dynamic industry professionals came together for three days of refocusing, refining, and reflecting at the iconic Hilton resort. We learned, we networked, we laughed, we danced and even helped plan a proposal. Congrats again Andrea!

But that's enough talk, visit the recap here to view photos from the second annual Coterie retreat by Amy Anaiz Photography and Dana Lee Jones Photography. As well as a video by Bridges Cinema.

Our 3rd Annual Coterie retreat will be in New Orleans December 5th-8th, registration is open now!

Day 1 - Refocus: Focus Groups; Opening Sessions; Welcome Party Attendees were wowed by focus groups led by some of the industries most influential leaders. Eliana Baucicault of ellyB Events changed the way we utilize social media, Brian Green of F&G Weddings targeted timelines, Lindsay Mann represented Mark Ingram Atelier in her focus group on the business of fashion, and Christine Traulich of Red Bliss Design gave knowledge on the business of stationery.

Later in the day we began the opening sessions with an introduction by Jackie Nwobu. Heather Crabtree gave a riveting talk on Ways to Streamline Your Business; ending the day with a dynamic talk from Heidi Yarger and Myrna Plaisir of Your Digital Stylists.

 
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Day 1 was beautifully brought to a close with a welcome party planned and designed by Brian Green of F&G Weddings. A resident of the island, Brian had us swaying to the sounds of traditional steel pan drum players while indulging in authentic Bajan cuisine!

 
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Day 2 - Refine: General Sessions + White Party Another day of influential talks by industry leaders like Jackie Nwobu, who gave a heartfelt talk on "Leading with Empathy" in addition to the social media and branding panel with Myleik Teele, andLuvvie Ajayi. Celebrity event planner extraordinaire Mindy Weiss dropped major knowledge giving insight to her tenure in the industry. Andre Wells gave a powerful talk on the Event Planning industry with the most amazing intro, and teamed up with Kawania Wooten, and Brian Green for the corporate events panel. Myrna and Heidi gave mini website reviews and branding sessions.Candice Coppolla, Amy Anaiz, Selina Howard, and Brian Green all weighed in on the styled shoot and book publishing panel. Candice even closed out the day with a signing of her book "The White Dress-in Color."

Everyone tapped their inner angel for the chic White Party planned by Weddings by Malissa and hosted at the Champers Restaurant. And a party it was!

 
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White Party

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Day 3 - Reflect: Speakers + Gala It was the last day of a truly refreshing journey and it was bittersweet. "The Budgetnista" started the day offering some financially sound advice to all of the entrepreneurs. A multicultural panel featuringAnand Gohel of Maharani Weddings, Keith Cephus, Chioma Nwogu of Dure Events, Nkechi Eze ofBellaNaija Weddings, and Jide Alakija highlighted the importance of embracing and celebrating culture. We tapped into the luxury market panel with Lindsay Mann of Mark Ingram Atelier, Sade Awe of The Bridal Circle, and Christine Traulich of Red Bliss. Munaluchi's founders Jackie and Chike Nwobu offered mini coaching sessions, and Chike gave us all words of wisdom to reflect on.

Day three ended with the stunning gala designed by ellyB Events with florals by Akeem Clayton Designs. We marveled in the extravagant decor and danced the night away with sounds by One Sound and Entertainment.

 
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Awards Gala

Our gala was held in the Needham's Ballroom at the Hilton Barbados Resort.  Not only was it inspirational, but it was truly the best party in town! DJ Mark Battle had the attendees on the dance floor from the moment they stepped into the luxuriously designed ballroom.

 
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Each year we hold the Coterie Retreat Awards during the gala.We spend the entire year observing the actions and accomplishments of our members, so it's always a pleasure to recognize our members that are doing amazing things throughout the year.  This year, we were please to present the following members with awards:

Vanguard Award This awards is given to an individual that has been in the wedding and events industry for many years, and has exemplified service excellence and set a high standard of doing business for the rest of us. This year's recipient was Mark Ingram of Mark Ingram Atelier.

Spirit Award   – Chip Dizard of Chip Dizard Weddings Collaborator of the Year Award – Darryl Wilson of D'Concierge Events and DVLW Munaluchi Advocate Award – Dajuan Jones of In His Image Photography Mentor of the Year – Eliana Baucicault of ellyB Events Jet Setter Award – Joshua Dwain of Joshua Dwain Photography Rising Star Award – Sam Jasper of Sam Jasper Photography

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.

Lauren Beamon + Makini Regal Designs  – Brooklyn Tour, Ebony Peoples Events – Dallas Tour, Neakai Lewis + Selina Howard – New Jersey Tour, Ivori Nicole Events + Chip Dizard + Kenny Clapp – Baltimore Tour

 
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Coterie Retreat 2015 - Barbados! from Bridges Cinema on Vimeo.

Thanks to all the sponsors who made this conference a smashing success. We are so grateful for all of your hard work and dedication.  We look forward to inspiring you this year in New Orleans.

Platinum Sponsor:BTMI (Barbados Tourism Management Inc)

Welcome Party: Planned and designed by Brian Green of F & G Weddings, Entertainment by DL Smith, Linens by The Finishing Touch-Fine Linen Rental, Drinks by Platinum Wines andFourSquare Distillery, rentals from Milestone Events Barbados.

White Party Sponsors: BHTA, TDC, Champers Restaurant Barbados, Christina of Simply Flowers, Malissa Blackman of Weddings by Malissa, Table Numbers by Ten23 Designs, Menus by Le'Trice Penn of Lepenn Designs - Couture Invitations & Stationery. Entertainment by David Collins Guitarist.

Awards Gala: Planned and designed by Eliana Baucicault of ellyB Events, Floral design by Akeem Clayton, Menus by RedBliss Design, linens by The Finishing Touch Linens NY, Rentals by Milestone Events Barbados, Entertainment by One Sound and Entertainment, Chair decals by Ten23 Designs.

Thanks to our Coterie Committee: Tara of Perfect Planning Events, Eliana of ellyB Events, Rilyn Uyanwune and Kimberly Giles-Nagbe. Photography: Dana Lee Jones PhotographyAmy Anaiz Photography, Videography: Sandra Bridges, Stationery Sponsor: Lepenn Designs, Swag bag sponsor:From Sir with Love, Canvas prints: Made Divine