Our Emergence: Highlands, North Carolina Experience

Last week, we (along with 30ish other industry professionals) tucked ourselves away in Highlands, North Carolina, where we guest hosted Emergence, an invite-only multi-day experience for us to share our ideas—and get some new ones, too. Here, we explain what made this getaway so special, and why it’s a must-book for other wedding pros.

Photography: Lance Nicoll

As guest hosts, we collaborated with Kaytee and Samantha of Emergence to greet attendees and be a part of all of the activities, from meals to networking to cocktail hour, and of course, deliver our creative session, “Building the Intangible: Why Your Personal Brand Matters.” That means we got lots of one-on-one  facetime with every attendee. “This format gives the attendees much more intimate access to us as speakers beyond a Q&A session,” Julie says. 

The intimate nature of the event—you have to be nominated by a peer to attend—is what makes it so special, after all. Because the guest list is so small, we had ample time to really connect with each attendee. “The smaller guest count and their intentional scrambling of groups means no one is left thinking, ‘I wasn’t able to meet X.’. It’s networking and learning from each other in a natural way,” Julie says. 

And we couldn’t think of a better place to escape to with some of our favorite event pros: Flat Mountain Farm in Highlands, North Carolina, a tree-lined hideaway with traditional design touches. “It is such a peaceful spot with obvious love and care put into its design and creation,” Julie says. “I loved that we were able to host our creative session in the living room of the KingFisher cabin. It absolutely felt like we were inviting guests into our home as we discussed how their individual voices and brands can become stronger.”

To play to the Americana feel, we asked guests to match the venue’s Ralph Lauren vibe with their outfits, something we—especially Courtney— had no problem with: “Half of my wardrobe was literally Ralph Lauren!” For Julie, she says: “It was so fun to rewear some of my looks from Ireland, including a favorite hat. Every attendee brought their flair to the theme, so plenty of plaid, boots and well-placed denim were on display.”

And what makes any experience like this memorable? The food—”The cornerstone dinner by Tembo Hospitality Group with Chef Santiago Cuzzetti and Sommelier Crystal Pace was simply amazing,” Julie says—and of course, the people. “The majority of the attendees were familiar to me from following them online except that I haven’t met them in person,” Julie says. “So I was able to learn body language, laugh styles and vocal cues from people I already love virtually, but now with that physical impact as well.”

“Nothing has a greater impact in our personal and professional development than spending quality, dedicated and intentional time with other like minded individuals, whether they’re friends, colleagues, mentors, or even new-to-us faces,” Courtney says. “[Emergence] acknowledges that as creative solopreneurs, we don’t operate in silos. The things that we want, we have to speak life into them and share those visions/desires with others.” 

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