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GUYS. HOLY MOLY.
What an awesome + incredible + magical week! We had the best time at The Next Level Retreat. This four-day event hosted by Laylee Emadi Photography did not disappoint! Read more to learn all about our favorite moments and biggest takeaways! We are still on cloud nine from the adventure!!
Leading up to this, we were so stinkin’ excited for what was to come. We made a packing list, checked it twice (okay, we checked it multiple times) and made sure we had everything we needed for the events ahead. The butterflies were certainly building, and we were counting down the days until we made it to Waco, Texas! Let’s be honest, we were mega-pumped about the retreat, but we were flipping out over the fact that we would be in Chip and JoJo territory! One of the best parts was that the retreat was hosted in the Barndominium! Yes, THAT Barndominium. We may have watched Season 3, episode 6 of Fixer Upper to prepare properly…We are pretty obsessed, can’t you tell?!
The first night was SO much fun as we got to meet new friends & connect with all the people we felt we already knew but hadn’t officially met! (Instagram friends are the BEST!) Plus hugging some of our friends from the Leaders Retreat in New Orleans once again made for a pretty sweet reunion!! The welcome dinner was full of catching up, giggles and more. Everyone was over the top friendly and welcoming; we knew it was going to be the best experience EVER just from our first night together.
Day Two kicked off with a delicious breakfast and brainstorming our business goals. This retreat centered around the next steps for your business and how you can accomplish those ideas. Natalie Franke Hayes from The Rising Tide Society & Honeybook, spoke to the group about growing your platform & expanding your reach. With a platform/brand as amazingly successful as hers, it was incredible hearing what she had to share about this topic…we clung to EVERY WORD SHE SAID! (and have 6 pages of notes to prove it! lol) Natalie is genuinely one of the BEST people in the world! We LOVE you Natalie!!
Next, SaRatta Murphy guided our discussion on goal setting for your business. We are BIG dreamers, so hearing strategies for accomplishing goals was a must for us! She provided a TON of resources, worksheets and more – so we felt super prepared and encouraged by her advice!
We soaked up EVERY word and alllll the tid-bits of advice from our peers. AND bonus points for Day Two because it was a ‘comfy clothes’ day…PJs and yoga pants for the win!
After lunch, the group took some down time to get creative during a Watercolor Workshop with Jessica of Simply Jessica Marie. Um…AMAZING!! Bret opted out of this session for some “man-time,” BUT the girls had the time of their lives! During this workshop, we all took some time to talk about how important downtime is for your schedule (& sanity) and how to invest in some hobbies! Everyone created beautiful masterpieces…I couldn’t believe I actually watercolor painted something halfway decent!!!
As the paint dried, we grouped for a mastermind session with our fearless leader, Laylee. Members of the group shared problems, trials, hopes and dreams. We talked late into the night about allllll the things on our hearts. We laughed, we cried, and we lifted each other up. I think we both agree that this night may have been our FAVORITE take-away from the entire retreat. It was a sweet night full of bonding moments…lifelong friendships were created and HUGE steps were taken within each of our businesses!
Day Three started with a breakfast and a fantastic session by the one and only Hope Taylor. She spoke about passive income, a topic we were super excited to dig into. Who doesn’t like making money in their sleep, right? Some of the tips and things she mentioned were mind-blowing. Hope, we are FOREVER grateful for the knowledge you poured into us!!
After the morning session, we all gathered our things and headed to the holy grail – Magnolia Market! Sure we had seen pictures and obsessed over the Silos, but that is NOTHING compared to walking around the grounds of the actual market. Each little detail throughout was so inspiring and incredible. You could tell the level of care and thought that went into every bit the Magnolia brand. #brandgoals
We both certainly “fangirl-ed” the whole time – taking photos of EVERYTHING! We enjoyed lunch at the food trucks and sat on the lawn…soaking up all of the magic around us. We faithfully watched EVERY episode of Fixer Upper, so being here was pretty much the BEST! (After all…Chip & Jo are the ones who inspired us to purchase our OWN fixer upper!!)
Ahh! THE bakery was every bit as beautiful and incredible as the show paints it to be!
After we finished up lunch, raided the rest of the market (we had to take some souvenirs home with us of course) and had our fill of sweet treats from the bakery…we ventured off to the Old Bethany Venue for the evening. But, not before a pit-stop at this pretty little flower wall we stumbled upon! Hanging with other photographers all week meant 1000s of photo ops! We were SO happy to be with like-minded friends who will do ANYTHING for the perfect shot.
Arriving at the venue, we were stunned at just how beautiful Old Bethany is! AND we may be a little star-struck as well because we heard that Joanna Gaines actually had her baby shower here! (We know, we know…we are crazy obsessed!)
Sarah of Sarah Ann Design led a workshop about styling the perfect layflat. She shared allll of her magic tricks for styling the perfect photos. (layflat = the layout and design of the bridal details, stationery suites, etc) This workshop was undoubtedly Bret’s favorite! Bret is such a detail-oriented person and shoots allll of the detail photos for our brides at weddings! He was soaking up every word Sarah said.
The retreat also featured a beautifully styled shoot to practice those detail shots and to squeeze some hands-on learning in! The florals, the dreamy table, the colors…everything was STUNNING!! Kate Mcleod Studio is the best!!
AHHH…then the headshot swap began!! Put 12 photographers in one pretty, well-lit room…and I am SURE memory cards (& hearts) were FULL! We loved getting the chance to capture SO many fun photos of our sweet friends PLUS we had the chance to be in quite few photos ourselves!! Headshots for DAYSSS!!! Cameras were clicking like crazy and giggles were echoing throughout the barn! We had an absolute blast!
Sidenote: when we arrived, we found out that there were TWO Brets at the retreat. (pictured above! Aren’t the two ADORABLE?!) Soooo the group made sure to give Bret the title of ‘Man Bret.’ This helped everyone make sure that we wouldn’t get the two mixed up. With Bret being the only guy there, the nickname seemed totally fitting and friends…HE LOVED BEING CALLED MAN BRET. Seriously, he loved it so much and grinned from ear to ear!! How could something so silly induce SO much joy?! We laugh every time we think about it!
Then, Man Bret discovered the ‘grooms suite’ at Old Bethany and took a few minutes to himself for ‘man time’ HAHA! He was a big fan of the leather sofa.
We hopped outside for some DREAMY sunset photos (our fav) and were CRACKING up at all the silly photos we were in! Again…12 photographers meant SOOO MANY PHOTOS!! These make my heart smile!
Our last day ended with a closing session and tearful goodbyes. We all decided that it wasn’t officially goodbye, but it was ‘see you soon’! (After all…the United Conference is in 37ish days…but who’s counting?!)
And as we ventured out of town, we had just enough time for one more Chip & JoJo stop…we grabbed coffee at Take Away. This is the cute little cafe at the Magnolia Table restaurant! Once again we were mesmerized by the sweet charm and impeccable design.
Various Vendor & Photo Credit:
Laylee Emadi Photography
Quianna Marie Photography
Gaby Caskey Photography
Catie Ann Photography
Dawn Elizabeth Studios
Brett Denfeld Studios
Sarah Ann Designs
Natalie Frank Hayes
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