I’m writing this on a plane. What’s new?  And yes, I did say I was leaving the laptop at home.  You caught me.  I won’t use it much, though.  I promise.  I’ll be too distracted by the beach and a very special traveler who, due to his rad schedule, never gets to go anywhere with me: my husband.  This is the first trip we’ve taken together since we went to Vegas last year before WPPI.  The last trip before that?  Hawaii four years ago.  So, it’s about time!  We’re headed to Kona for 6 days for his best friend’s wedding.  His BFF, Mike, was actually my… um… maid/man of honor?  Yes, at our Vegas wedding he was my MOH.  So excited to see all of our friends from LA and actually go to a gorgeous wedding.  Then, I’ll head to Oahu for a few individual MTH/branding intensives and several site tours for a destination weddings feature and a little something I’m cooking up for the blog.  I have one slot left for an individual intensive while I’m in Hawaii, so speak now or forever… wish you had?  OK, forgive my lack o’ witty wedding-reference humor.  4 hours of sleep and 14+ hours on planes today…

I am a firm believer in giving knowledge away freely.  I did two Twitter series’ entitled Get Branded and Get Published.  I plan on doing many more and working hard to use this blog to educate in as many ways as I can.  In my opinion, we’re supposed to build one another up in love and to encourage each other to grow, using all of our talents to do so.  It’s part of my personal mission.  I’ve said it before: I don’t believe in competition.  If we’re all helping each other to be our best selves, we raise the collective level of success in our industry. Yes, there are lots of things I won’t give up unless you pay me for a formal consult and lots of things I can’t give away because of the obvious: consulting is personal, tailored and specific to that brand’s needs.  Speaking of which, I have 4 consulting slots left for the next 6 weeks.  (My calendar would make your head explode.)  If you want one of the four, email me now.  Anyway, I re-posted both the Get Branded and Get Published series’ here on the blog.  Read them.  Tweet me more questions.  I’m happy to answer. pic below :: poser.

I just got back from speaking at Eventology on “Building Your Team,” and it was the most challenging speaking topic I’ve tackled thus far.  Yes, I have a great team. It may seem easy to run a team of people who are already great, but the biggest mistake you can make when leading is to think it’s just common sense and that you can “wing” team leadership. Leading is work. The hardest work I’ve ever done. Yes, harder than putting together a magazine and any combination of items on my plate. Why? It challenges you to be your best self, every day, no matter what.  Let me be very clear: it’s not about trying to be perfect so there is an appearance of strength; it’s about genuinely working to change so that you truly lead and grow by example… failures and all.  There’s no more powerful way to lead than that. If I slack, complain, forget, or, yes, fail, it affects us all.  Granted, there’s a great deal to be learned by a leader failing gracefully as opposed to someone who’s perfect all the time. pic below :: jen lynne.



My best takeaway from years of learning everything the hard way and finally coming out on top? Lead by example. Lead well. Fail well. Thank you so much to Katasha, the whole Eventology crew, my fellow speakers Sasha Souza, Terrica Skaggs, Saundra Hadley, Harmony Walton, and all of the amazing professionals we met.  Behind the scenes tidbit: my Eventology presentation was the very first PowerPoint I ever made.  Yes, I’ve laid out three magazines and never made a PowerPoint.  They didn’t exactly teach us that at Carnegie Mellon.  #educationfail  I spent a good 30 hours on it.  Note to self: next time just make a PowerPoint, not a mini magazine.



I also had the pleasure of speaking at the Indy ISES meeting on branding while I was there.  Such a great group!  There were some minor internet issues, so I used my new-found PowerPoint skills and created a 48 page presentation in 9 minutes.  No joke. Thanks to Melissa from Royal Events for hosting us and to all the attendees for a great afternoon.  It was a fun few days in Indy!

I’m honored to be speaking at Engage 10 :: Breakers this year.  I’ll be attending on the media panel for Engage Cayman, too, so come say hello! I’ve been to three Engage conferences so far and I don’t plan on missing a single one in the future.



Past recaps: Engage08 :: Celebration, Engage09 :: Cayman MegaPost!, Engage09 :: Encore Las VegasRebecca and Kathryn always raise the bar with these luxury wedding business summits and this year is just beyond incredible.

Cayman’s lineup:



In October at the Breaker’s I’ll be joined by:



Hello!  Someone pinch me!!!! If you have any questions about my past experiences at Engage, please email me.  I’d be happy to share and answer any questions.

We’re hard at work on the next issue. I finally opened the massive (and I mean massive) folder of cover submissions in my inbox.   Oh my goodness, we received some very creative creatives.  Thank you, thank you!



Lots of people have asked for critiques, so I will be writing a post on how to put together creatives and how to best market yourself to editors. I’ll be choosing the top cover submissions this week and will announce them when I get back.  That is why I brought my computer.  Time to get these killer cover shoots rolling!  P.S. We have a brand new media kit.  Want a copy?  Email Katharine. She won’t bite.  Unless, of course, you withhold her daily dose of Smarties.

I got a very encouraging letter in the mail yesterday from our magazine distributor. Our sales are 40% above the national average. In today’s magazine economy, you may not think that that is saying much, but it’s a pretty significant statistic. I also got word today that Barnes and Noble wants to push more copies through of our current issue to Southeastern stores.  OK, first of all, that does not happen.  Our issue dropped in November.  Needless to say, we’re thrilled.  I have 3 tons of magazines in my garage.  I’m so glad they’re about to get new homes!  We’ve been featuring a lot of behind-the-scenes images on the blog lately, so be sure to check these never-before-seen images out and get yourself a copy.



Some favorites: Watercolor with Fred Egan (as shown above), Watercolor with Jory Cordy, Watercolor with Kyle Barnes, Watercolor with Jeff Holt, our Serenbe Cover Shoot with Jeremy Cowart.  Sidenote:  I readily admit that I have asked a lot of dumb questions since I started publishing Southern Weddings.  Adriel, my distribution agent, has been so patient and kind explaining things in layman’s terms and walking me through the perils of publishing.  I’ve had to make a lot of hard choices, holding firm to our core values in content: real, personal, relatable. More often than I’d like, that means making choices that err on the side of long-term vision and brand integrity vs. short-term cash.  We turn down advertisers who just don’t fit us, weddings that are too luxurious for our brides to relate to and sponsors that want to run the show.  I’m not complaining.  From someone who has no formal background in publishing or marketing (or business, for that matter!), I’m very happy with where this path has taken us.

Little-known fact: I plan and design weddings.  I know I know… you’re thinking, how in the world do you have time?  How do you do it? Please refer to said amazing team in point number 3.  I have, however, progressively limited the amount I take as my schedule intensifies each year.  This year I took 3 weddings and I have two left: both gorgeous; both incredible brides (hi Sara and Nameeta!).



Why do it still?  I love it.  It’s in my blood and it’s how I got started in this industry almost seven years ago.  Here’s a recent favorite that we did last May with Our Labor of Love.  Weddings are the ultimate creative challenge.



I went to school for music, theatre, dance and design.  Production is what I know and what fuels me. pics above :: my iphone.



Weddings are essentially a production – lighting, sound, a script, design, music, and surprises all wrapped into one big beautiful day.   It also serves to keep me grounded and aware of the challenges that planners and photographers face.  I’m not an editor who went to school for journalism and just happens to like weddings because they’re pretty.  I’m in the trenches too.  “The trenches” are hard work, but fun.  Sometimes I kick myself and wonder why I take on so much.  Then, I send a bride down the aisle and see the look on her face when she walks into her reception.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to create and I love the brides I get the honor of working with.  They’ve all become dear life-long friends.  Pic above :: Kyle Barnes

OK, fast forward to sitting in our room at the gorgeous Mauna Lani, looking out at the volcano in the distance.  Minus the 6 hour time difference that had me up at 4am, it’s so good to be here with Ari.



Check out these welcome bags that greeted us!  So, this update is rather random because I have a backlog of info to share.  I want to start blogging at least 3x a week, shorter posts, more on the fly.  Emily always gets on me about my epic posts.  But, I censor myself, I craft, I perfect, and I tend to get really nervous before putting a post out.  I have several people read it.  I nitpick.  I’m afraid that if I write like I think, it will come out too vulnerable, emotional, real.  That’s me.  So, what do y’all want me to write about?  I want to hear from you.  Leave me a comment with any thoughts on what you want more of on the blog.

Life in general has been a turn from burnout to a serious search for clarity and balance to finding quite a bit of it lately.  I got to go home a couple weeks ago and discovered some pictures that made me think about child-like unabashed joy. I want that in my life. I love this picture of a childhood friend and I having a picnic. I’m not sure who made who laugh first, but this makes my heart smile. I posted a bunch more on facebook.



In all the craziness of my life – the schedule, the travel, the team to manage, the busy businesses, and the constant surprises, I need God.  I am fallible, I make selfish mistakes, and I have so much to learn and mature into.  I talk about my relationship with God here on the blog because my whole point in starting this thing was to take you on this authentic journey with me.  It’s a journey to find joy and discover my best self.  My goal has been to be as honest as possible about how I really make things happen.  As a rather emotional, sensitive INFP, my relationship with God is what keeps me together.  It’s a daily challenge and a practice.  I have recently made the choice to not work on Sundays… at all.  It has taken me far too long to get to this point.  I love my work.  I get really easily bored when I’m not working.  Hello, I mean I’m writing this in Hawaii when I could be on the beach, but doing this right now satisfies me more.  I’ve come to look forward to Sunday all week long.  I get up early, workout, go to church and sing my heart out, then come home to do Bible study for a few hours.  It’s been life-changing to make that time.  I’ve also been reading The 4 Hour Workweek in my travels and it is seriously blowing my mind.  Tim Ferriss is my soul mate.  I’m taking my time to read it and digest, but I’ve already applied so much of the book successfully to my life and our work days.  Key points: work smarter, less hours, more efficiently.  I will be writing an extended post on balance soon with a full post on how I’ve tackled what my studies are teaching me.

Since I couldn’t fit all of you in my suitcase, I want to bring a little Aloha spirit to you!



Leave a comment telling me about your dream vacation and enter to win either a strand of Hawaiian freshwater pearls, Kona coffee, or a collection of macadamia nut and coconut goodies.



Three winners, your choice on the prize!  You have till the day I leave here (next Thursday, the 6th of May) to enter.

Mahalo, y’all!

xo

lc

Show Comments (45)
  1. Astrid and Rene Photography

    My dream vacation: a train trip all across Europe with my husband!

  2. The Broke-Ass Bride

    1. I love you and I love your epic blog posts.
    2. I am 100 pages deep into the 4-hour work week and holy tomatoes, my head is exploding with excitement about applying those tips!
    3. I would like to see you blog more about your biggest challenges and how you’ve tackled them. I know you’re scared of being vulnerable, but your big open heart is why we love you. You are supported here!
    4. My dream vacation is a one-year trip around the world, during which Hunter and I can take our time and immerse ourselves in other cultures… learning their languages, tasting their food, befriending their people, absorbing their philosophy, and experiencing newness… opening our minds and hearts at every turn.

  3. Stephanie Ascari

    You just make me smile!
    So so proud to know you!!!!!

  4. ashlyn @carter & cook event co.

    Lara, you are so refreshingly honest, true and full of joy. I love reading your blog, and I love your heart for the Lord. Learning about your journey in business and life is so fun to read! Keep up the fantastic work…I enjoy seeing God’s blessings in your life! xo

  5. Denise L. Woods

    Thank you for all of the great advice that you give.

  6. Kricia Morris

    First of all ALOHAAA!!!! Welcome to the Islands, we are SO excited to have you! I absolutely 100% can’t wait to have a one on one with you next week, I’m already prepping for brain mushiness.

    I MUST buy the 4 hour workweek…with business, family, health issues, life has just gotten insane and I need to find a way to balance. That being said, I would love to see you write more on two topics I’m very interested in right now: balancing all of the projects you want to be a part of, and how to promote yourself to be eligible for some of those projects.

    Finally, my dream vacation right now would be to simply go home. I traded paradise in Destin for paradise in the Islands, and while I can’t complain about my surroundings, I would love to see my mama, my girlfriends and get some good ol’ sweet tea.

    I hope that you have a fantastic vacation, and I can’t wait to see you next week. Looking forward to my homework!

  7. Mary Saou

    Dream trip: to Paris– what a romantic city, and my husband has family there who I have yet to meet. (I could even wear a strand of those Hawaiian pearls on the trip…)

  8. Lisa Jeffries

    Ok so true story… how long does it take you to write these posts? ;-) Have a faaaabulous trip! Nick and I were there about 5 years ago for two weeks and it was just NOT long enough.

    • Lara

      Lisa, true story- this one took me most of the 14 hours in the air and 2 hours today. It would have taken longer had I not had Emily, Katharine, and Ari help me edit. Other posts? MTH Vol 1 took me over two weeks. Fast blogging is a skill I will acquire in time. I have a lot of people encouraging me ; )

  9. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by LaraCasey: NEW on the LC Blog :: Hang 10 http://bit.ly/c8A5Eu…

  10. Melissa

    I love reading your posts! It was such a pleasure to meet you and the SW ladies at the ISES meeting. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your hectic schedule to speak. It was inspiring and refreshing at the same time to hear your thoughts on branding. That weekend I started with the small things by changing my website to have a white background. Thankfully I didn’t have any music to remove. Lol! There is so much more that I have yet to do in my business and in life and your authentic posts are encouraging and so appreciated. Enjoy your time in Hawaii with Ari! PS. My dream vacation is Cap Juluca in Anguilla with white beaches, deep crystal blue water, and Moroccan style architecture.

  11. Elizabeth

    I love your epic posts! :) Such great content.

    Again, it was a pleasure meeting you at E10- you really have no idea how that made my day, especially your kind words.

    My dream vacation would probably be a get away with not only my wonderful husband but our immediate family- parents, siblings and their spouses. Somewhere we could share a big house, enjoy each others company, down time and life together. Catch up and slow down.

    Enjoy your time in Hawaii- may it be refreshing and relaxing.

  12. Becka @Studio222 Photography

    I just discovered my dream vacation! Nate (my fiance) showed me a hotel called the Conrad Hilton in the Maldives and we’ve already decided that somehow, one day, we’re going to get there. There’s a restaurant under water and the entire walls and roof looks like an aquarium. It’s insane. The rest is gorgeous with huts over clear blue water and lots of reefs to snorkel on.

    • Lara

      Becka, that is too funny. Someone JUST showed me the Conrad yesterday! They actually turned the restaurant into a guest suite temporarily to celebrate the hotel’s anniversary. Unreal. I’m getting in your suitcase if you go!

  13. Laura Brooks

    ALOHA! You amaze me and make me feel lazy… but you encourage me to keep working for all my dreams and MTH! Thank you for all your post on branding and getting published I have them all written down in my notebook and look at them often so I can start working on them. As for my favorite vacation.. I think mine would be Italy. I haven’t been but being an art major I’ve seen and studied plenty of photos of the architecture and art that fill the country. My perfect vacation is a place that is inspiring and one that would leave an imprint on my life besides just the memories and photos. I imagine that Italy (and truly so many other places around the world) would do that. Then there’s also the wine and the food! Nourishment for the whole soul!

  14. Monica Smith

    Since I was 10 years old I have wanted to go to Hawaii. My fifth grade teacher shared slides from her trip for two weeks in class. I rarely take a vacation because I don’t make it a priority, but I have promised myself over and over again that when I get to take a big vacation it will be to Hawaii. Since I will be celebrating my 50th birthday this year, perhaps now is the time?!

    What will I do when I get there? Thank God for being patient in helping me realize I am worth the dreams He has given me and sit on the beach to watch, listen and dream some more.

    Lara, have a blessed time with your husband and friends! You deserve it and all that God has for you!

    Monica

  15. Janice Carnevale

    I started blogging Lara! First post scheduled for tomorrow. I hope I can make you proud. I like your epic posts, because I don’t have time to read quick riffs every day. I was glad to see you in Indy, but wish we had some more time together. I bought a present for Jeff Holt yesterday. I can’t wait to mail it to him. And I want to pimp my man Kurstin Roe one more time to you for the cover shoot finalists. Don’t overlook him! xoxo, janice

    • Lara

      Yay Janice!!! Cannot wait to read your blog! And thanks for the epic blog post encouragement : ) Great to see you in Indy. Yes, we need to talk soon!

  16. Wendy Kidd

    Lara – You are fab and you should know it. I love your writing style and I envy you your team as my posts tend to be marathon as well and would love help editing! I would love for you to blog more about managing/supporting/leading your team. I’m unfortunately “winging” it and would love to do better!

    As for the dream vacation, the hubby and I LOVE going to Vegas. We would love to go back and do a spa day, great dinners at fab restaurants and take in as many shows as possible. We are both ready to go see Bette do her thing. Enjoy your trip to the islands!

  17. Emily Humphries

    1) I love a good “epic” blog post. No worries there ;)

    2) I’m secretly pumped you took your comp with you on vacation. We get to hear more from you.

    3)This spoke to me today: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,for His compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” Lamentations 3:22-26 Yay for vacation, yay for feeding your soul, yay for resting in Him.

    4) Lauren Kelly and I have e-mailed and we’re skyping tomorrow. Thought you’d want to know =)

    5) My dream vacation: A month of touring Europe with my hubby visiting historical sites, reading books in the cities they were written in or about, singing in major cathedrals, and eating fantastic food with no weight gain because we would walk and bike everywhere =)

    Epic blog posts, deserve epic blog comments ;)

  18. T.J.

    My dream vacation would be fighting and beating a dragon on top of a volcano with my wife watching my awesomeness. Then we would go swimming.

  19. Danielle Ford

    Our scuba adventure honeymoon was a dream vacation that I’d love to re-live! We’re planning a dream trip to Ireland next year, but as cheesy as it sounds, my dream vacay is wherever my husband is.

  20. tiffany @lucky photography

    Oh my…my dream vacation. Well, here’s the thing. I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter much where I go; but what does matter is who and what is there. That makes all the difference in the world. I could go on a short drive just to get away, and as long as certain conditions are met, it would feel like paradise to me. So, in my dream vacay, these following would be nowhere to be found: 1.Hannah Montana, Tiger Woods, Sandra Bullock and what’s his name, and most importantly Ryan Seacrest 2. My children in their winey-butt mode. Of course they’d be there with me because they are my life, but sweet mama, please speak only of what a wonderful mother I am and do not ask me “when are we going to do something fun?” 3. There would be no WalMart Not-so-Superstores. Only Targets where suntan oil (yea..I said it…oil and not sunscreen with an SPF of 500) and aloe vera are on perpetual inventory. 4. There would be no people who slurp their coffee, one table away, while I’m eating my biscuits and grits beachside 5. And last but not least, there would be no frizzy hair. I’m talkin’ that I wouldn’t even need to plug the Chi in. So, send me to Hawaii, send me to Bolivia in the middle of malaria season, but please apply the above and I’ll be fine. For right now, I just lock myself in the toilet to escape. :) Did I just type that?

  21. Catie Ronquillo

    Whenever you write a new post, I stop what I’m doing and read it. Even on my iPhone. Because I always know that it’s gonna be epic.

    My dream vacation is to go to Fiji with my hubby. We recently watched Couple’s Retreat and as silly as that movie was, we fell in LOVE with the backdrop. The BLUE water. The white SANDY beaches. The LUSH tropical feeling. Getting to unplug and just spend time with my husband would be absolutely fantastic. Of course, a fun jaunt across Europe wouldn’t be to shabby either ;)

  22. Vari Avila

    Aloha from Cabo! the pics you posted are gorgeous! I love your posts, long or short, they always make me want to get up and DO something! My dream vacation? I have more than a few in mind but the latest one involves taking off 6 months and driving down the entire American continent… I would stop at all the popular tourist places but I would make it a point to also take plenty of back roads and EXPLORE! To practice, I’ll be driving the Baja Peninsula in a few weeks, it won’t be the epic adventure I have in mind but it will still be awesome! all I need is great company (shout out to J!), an ipod full of rad songs and coffee. =)

  23. Marina Miller

    Holy blogorama! I am loving your blog. Cant wait to meet you!

  24. Rachel @ birdy blue design

    I think my dream vacation with my hubby would be exploring the cinque terre region of Italy. It just looks soooo beautiful there!

  25. Michael Newman

    Great post! LOVE LOVE LOVE the childhood photo!

  26. Morgan Holley

    My dream vacation….one week, anywhere with my husband uninterrupted. Whether it be an island, a lake house, or a metropolitan utopia…me and him with plenty of cuddle time. Cheezy, I know,but my husband is my best friend and the one I love to spend time with most.

  27. Phyllis Cheung

    I would love to take the family around the world – one day we will – show them how others live – and show them how blessed we are with how much we have. It’s funny – my daughter already has the travel bug – she asks daily, “Can we go back to New York tomorrow? I didn’t finish the museum.” Makes me smile to know that she loves art and travel already at such a young age. Hope you had a wonderful time in Hawaii!

  28. april walker

    Such a great post & hope you’re enjoying gorgeous Hawaii! My dream vacation would be a week in Tuscany followed by a week in Santorini with the people I love most. I would love to see the culture, explore the land/sea, eat good food, drink great wine, and enjoy lots of great conversation! I think it’s awesome that you are taking your Sundays off and it’s great to see someone who is successful be completely honest about who you are and staying true to yourself in your work and what you believe!

  29. Veta Bateham

    Motorcycle/photography tour across New Zealand for our 10th year wedding anniversary. It’s coming up in January, too! Perfect time to travel to the different hemisphere!

  30. April orr

    My dream vacation? QUIET!! One of best family trips we took was to a home in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, no TV, no phone, no internet. 7 days, the in-laws, the kids. It was HEAVEN. I would love to see some of Europe that way.

  31. Ashley D.

    Provence, France. I’ve studied the language for 17 years…and never set foot on the soil. The day I do will be one of the best in my life :-)

  32. Khadine

    There are so many places I would love to visit but on the top of my list is Tahiti. From an island myself I am just a sucker for beautiful beaches. Since I have been to quite a few in the caribbean the next best is the pacific ocean. For some reason that island screams my name every time I hear or see an ad or someone mentions it. I can’t wait to go!!

  33. Anna Kim

    My dream vacation would be to take 3months off and jet set around the world on a string of one way tickets w/camera in hand. I’d leave Maui–>Australia–>New Zealand–>Japan–>Korea–>Italy–>Greece–>France–>South Africa–>Costa Rica—>home.

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  35. Kristen Steele

    1. I’m with Emily Humphries (I LOVE that we all know eachother now!) and i seriously love your epic blog posts.
    2. I cannot WAIT to hear about how you balance everything- looking @ your travel calendar, hearing you talk about how much you do AND making time for Jesus is so inspiring to me. As a new business owner I’m so overwhelmed my how MUCH I think about what i “could” be doing if I’m doing something else. There’s always a continual To Do list that seems to be running through my head and I’m glad I realize that now, because I need to be taking the time to stop checking twitter, log out of facebook, leave all the photos that need to be edited til the morning and spend time with my hubby and my sweet Saviour.
    3. My dream vacation: Traveling to the Pacific with my husband and staying in one of those crazy awesome Tiki huts out on the ocean (but there wouldn’t be any bugs), our own personal cabana on the ocean, an iPad full of the books I’ve been meaning to read, an empty journal, my Bible and a private bartender to bring me Strawberry daiquiris!

  36. Amy

    No work on Sundays sounds great! I need to make that happen! And I have the four hour work week but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Can’t wait to see what your thoughts are on the book.

  37. Beth

    How would suggest a new wedding coordinator get her name out there besides a wedding show? WE have networked for a year, advertised locally, done a charity benefit covered by the Dallas Morning News, blogged, tweeted, facebooked and emailed. We have done giveaways and we are currently redoing our website and adding an online store…but if no one knows you it does no good. If we ever get face time with a bride we get the deal 95% of the time. We know we help them and we really want to get our name out there. We tend to get all our vendors business because the brides ask us for suggestions but I don’t think the vendors really say, “need a coordinator?”…just doesn’t work that way.
    Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated…we just love all your work!!

    • Lara

      Hi Beth, I’d love to chat with you more about the specifics of what you are doing. Feel free to email me lara at laracaseyreps.com

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