Angie Menuau Joseph couldn’t help but notice something around wedding season in Port-au-Prince. She’d come across brides and grooms who were lost when organizing their weddings. “They [would be] looking for qualified providers, but [only had] word of mouth to [go by]. In Haiti, it’s very common to trust the friend of the aunt of the friend of the aunt’s cousin [for references].”
Menuau Joseph decided to sit down with two of her friends—Rachel de Delva Hyppolite and Jaelle Josecite. “In talking, we realized that the market in Haiti in this area was changing,” Menuau recalls, “and that it was important for professionals in this sector to make themselves known.” Jaelle Josecite had had experience organizing The Wedding Fair, a bridal expo of similar scope in another part of the Caribbean, and proposed doing a version of it in Port-au-Prince. Menuau recalls, “We immediately set to work, without asking ourselves too many questions. From that moment, we started to identify all the professionals in the wedding industry…To be honest with you there were many!”
Above: Rachel De Delva Hyppolite (extreme left), Angie Menuau (second from left) and Jaelle Josecite (in yellow) pose with a Haiti Bridal Expo participant.
Many, indeed. From photographers, to wedding cake designers, to makeup artists, to event planners, and bridal wear companies, all wanted to be a part of the first edition of the Haiti Bridal Expo. Menuau Joseph and her two associates were prepared to meet the challenge. De Delva Hyppolite says that in addition to her bridal planning experience, she also also ran a restaurant. She was put in charge of the General Administration Committee of the expo. Menuau Joseph took on the title of Exhibitor and Sponsor Relations Manager, as she had amassed nearly a decade’s worth of experience as an event planner. Jaelle Josecite’s background in sales, tourism marketing, communication and decoration made her ideal to handle the media outreach and sponsorship aspects of the Haiti Bridal Expo.
So, early this month, the ladies combined their know-how in their respective fields and put on Haiti Bridal Expo. Here are some lessons they learned over the course of the Haiti Bridal Expo.
Lesson #1: When several heads are trying to accomplish something, there’s bound to be goal and personality differences. What matters is how they’re handled.
JAELLE JOSECITE: Indeed work with people of different personality to accomplish something is not easy. In our small working group, we come from different horizons. For example, I am from Guadeloupe. I had to learn all about the Haitian system and it can be a real challenge. I do not agree about something I let them know [in a] respect[ful manner]. Rachel represents wisdom within the group but also another generation of Haitian more mature…So she’s the one who always have to decide or fine the good solution which is the best for the group…Angie as she has this really is a go-getter and dynamic generation of Haitian … She always have a solution for any situation … she has been working in the events in Haiti for more then 10 years so she knows everybody… But despite all this diversity we complete perfectly and we take great pleasure to work together but mostly learn from one and other. But our secret is respect, humility, professionalism and team work that is why it works well between us.
Lesson #2: Prepare for growth.
RACHEL DE DELVA HYPPOLITE: This first edition was a success…People from everywhere are constantly contacting us for our work…But for this edition, we were able to accept only 60 exhibitors. For the second edition, our big challenge will be to find a bigger place to receive more than 60 but 100 to 120 exhibitors.
Lesson #3: Publicity matters.
RACHEL DE DELVA HYPPOLITE: We want to work more closely with the media. For this first edition and for the first time in Haiti a press place was available for the media. For next year, we want to have more media and especially those from abroad.
Lesson #4: No matter how well you plan, you’re bound to experience some surprises.
ANGIE MENUAU JOSEPH: Of course…we would be lying if we said there weren’t [any surprises]. During the 8 months during which we worked on organizing the fair, things have not been easy. We met certain difficulties here and there, but we overcame them through our experience and our different contacts. But, the most difficult part was the financial aspect. Finding sponsors was not easy. But many people believed in our project and that is what counts the most.
Above: Haiti Bridal Expo attendees check through racks of bridal dresses, bridesmaids dresses, mother-of-the-bride gowns.
Lesson #5. Pay heed to the feedback have received from the participants and exhibitors.
RACHEL DE DELVA HYPPOLITE: Exhibitors and participants are constantly contacting us to congratulate us on the first edition. Among the exhibitors, some are already starting to register by asking for the same stand position or number…However, we did receive some advice, particularly with regards to the space, and this advice is very important for us, particularly that coming from exhibitors, because without them, the wedding expo could not have been a success. As such, we have even more in mind and, with the goal of offering a worthy second edition, we intend to invite exhibitors to a brunch in order to gather their impressions in a friendly atmosphere.
[All photos provided by subjects.]
CLICK HERE to follow Haiti Bridal Expo on Twitter | CLICK HERE to visit the Haiti Bridal Expo website | CLICK HERE to follow Haiti Bridal Expo on Instagram | CLICK HERE to follow Haiti Bridal Expo on Facebook