Engaging stuff

The Cayman Islands are already near
the top of the list for couples wanting to get married in paradise and
destination weddings have become one of the few recession-resistant industries
as a result.

A major conference for the industry
taking place at the Ritz-Carlton, between 7 – 10 June highlights the popularity
of high-end weddings. Engage!10 will bring together more than 500 wedding
professionals from 15 countries for a series of talks, idea exchanges and networking
events, according to co-organisers Engaging Concepts and the Cayman Islands
Department of Tourism.

More than 25 speakers will
enlighten guests on all aspects of the wedding industry, including Jo-Anne
Brown of Celebrations and Cayman’s Romance Consultant, Rebecca Grinnals.

Luxury market

It all kicks off on Monday, 7 June
with a party on Seven Mile Beach before sessions take place the next day on
such subjects as luxury market insights, the business of weddings, industry
surveys and the defining factors for success. That evening, delegates will
attend dine-arounds at various Cayman restaurants before a poolside after party
at the Ritz-Carlton,

Smaller sessions are the order of
the day for Wednesday, 9 June on subjects including creativity, defining style,
branding and marketing. Attendees can then enjoy Grand Cayman’s attractions; including
trips to Stingray City and Rum Point, shopping, spas and of course the beaches.

Last year’s event was widely
considered to be a great success, with celebrity wedding planner Preston Bailey
telling the Caymanian Compass that everything was in place to make Cayman a
centre for luxury weddings.

“The location is beautiful, the
beaches are great and what I’ve noticed so far is there’s a lot of good taste
here and there’s money, so all of those ingredients are really perfect for a
wonderful destination area,” he said.

Speaking about the impact of the
wedding industry on a destination as a whole, Ms Grinnals noted that a wedding
party averages nearly 80 guests altogether, all of whom will subsequently spend
money on-island throughout a variety of businesses, not just the obvious ones
of restaurants, hotels and wedding organisers.

Spectacularly talented

One person keen to return to Cayman
is the spectacularly talented chef Ken Wilkinson, whose Cocoamoda company has
made him a celebrity. Now based in Texas, Englishman Ken was a Cayman resident
for a number of years in the late seventies, when he was executive chef at the
Royal Palms.

“It would be magic to catch up with
some old friends, on the off chance that anyone remembers me, at Engage. At the
time Royal Palms was one of only three on Seven Mile Beach, the others were
Holiday Inn and Beach Club Colony, said the world-renowned chocolatier.

“It’s almost like coming home. The
three years I was in Cayman everyone used to tell me I would get island fever
but I used to tell people to grow up. I didn’t go away from the island at all
but when I did I missed it so much.”

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