Frequently Asked Questions About Planning A Wedding
Planning a wedding is a uniquely exciting, emotional and somewhat daunting time of your lives as you plan to make a lifelong commitment to the one you love, followed by quite possibly the largest party you've ever organised for all your friends and family. It is therefore entirely natural if you feel that for something this big, you would benefit from with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have an expert eye and experienced hand by your side.
By engaging me as your wedding planner, you'll not only benefit from my knowledge, skills and service standards but also my personal dedication and commitment to giving you a luxurious and reassuring experience during this most exciting, but understandably nerve-wracking, time of your lives
With that in mind, it is natural that you'll have a number of questions prior to embarking on the journey with me so I summarise below the answers to the ones I am most frequently asked; no doubt you'll have a number of other questions which I'd be delighted to answer during our discovery call or meeting.
My venue offers me a complimentary wedding co-ordinator so surely I don't need a wedding planner as well?
A very common misconception! Us planners work very closely with venue co-ordinators every day of the week so we know first hand how very different our two roles are! Yes, your in house wedding co-ordinator will show you around the spaces, they may have a recommended suppliers list to pass on, they may manage the catering if it is in house and they will have an overall working knowledge of the schedule of your day - summary of timings and who your suppliers are - but they are ultimately working for the venue at all times. They need to ensure the rooms are clean and set up as promised, that they are functioning properly and staffed as required - facilities, cloakroom, reception etc. You need to provide them with all the information they need, thereby bouncing back into your court all the detailed administration and communication requirements with every single supplier, they don't do the thinking for you for you, as planners do. They don't liaise back and forth with your suppliers until your exact brief is met, they don't brief each and every supplier on your exact requirements and preferences and ensure that it is delivered, and they don't micromanage every moment of your wedding day to ensure smooth transitions throughout and a seamless guest experience and when it comes down to the nitty gritty, we are working for you throughout, and we painstakingly think through and plan every aspect - we take responsibility for all the details such as managing your stationery proofs and spotting the typos before printing, arranging parking for the florist outside your church, liaising with the registrars about your music and vows, providing the photographer and videographer with a minute by minute schedule carefully timed to coincide with your make up and hair team and the special mention during a speech of a particular person whose face just HAS to be captured at that moment and we discuss and agree the tracks you want played by your band or DJ - both favourite tracks and songs to be included and other songs or singers to be avoided at all costs!! I could go on .... suffice to say that venue co-ordinators and wedding planners are all on the same team, your team, working together to achieve the goal of a perfectly seamless and stress free day for you, but ultimately our responsibilities are very different.
What are your qualifications?
I have been in the events industry for my entire career, so more years that I care to remember but at least 20 years in total, starting off in a training consultancy organising their conferences, then onto a major City of London venue where I ran conferences, lunches and dinners and award ceremonies. From there, I moved into corporate hospitality, working for an agency in Battersea where we managed all the exclusive facilities for our clients (FTSE 100 companies) at major sporting and cultural events such as Ascot, Twickenham, Wimbledon, Queen's, the Grand Prix, the Open Golf, Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Music Festival etc. A personal highlight was exclusively managing all the hospitality boxes and private areas at the Royal Albert Hall for a 6 week run of Cirque du Soleil. I also managed all the corporate events at Shakespeare's Globe UnderGlobe as it was contracted out to the agency I worked for. From here I then spent 12 years at one of London's foremost bespoke entertainment and party planning companies creating and delivering a number of spectacular events and weddings at venues including The V&A, Kensington Palace, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Banqueting House, The Wallace Collection, Westminster Abbey, Two Temple Place and The Serpentine Gallery before leaving to work for myself and to found Couture Events Ltd. So you can see that I am no spring chicken when it comes to planning and organising complex events and parties and that I have spent many years working for high end, demanding clients whose events require complex logistical expertise alongside trusted and established supplier relationships and first class budget management and whose expectations of my service standards are naturally very high.
Since I founded Couture Events Ltd, I have done very little advertising and all of my work has come to be through word of mouth recommendation, which I am delighted by. I am thrilled to have been accepted as a member by the UKAWP (UK Alliance of Wedding Planners) which promotes professionalism, ethics and excellence and which is well known for being an organisation which you have to earn your inclusion into, you cannot simply buy your membership; the UKAWP vet each application against their strict criteria, follow up references and and turn many planners away.
It is possible to spend as little as £25 and be awarded a Wedding Planning Diploma or to pay to attend a course and receive a certificate but I believe that you can't beat experience, expertise, contacts and confidence. You want someone on your side who can give you the best ideas and advice, who has experience of juggling the myriad of arrangements and ensuring no clashes or oversights, who can steer you away from any pitfalls and who is calm and under control throughout - and who knows how to quietly and discreetly problem solve on your wedding day when something inevitably does not go according to the best laid plan.
Can you save me money on my wedding?
Weddings are naturally a very expensive undertaking and hiring a planner naturally adds to these costs. Whilst I don't state that 'I can save you money', as some planners do, I can assist financially in a number of ways such as: my years of experience means that I know the cost of things so can tell if you have been given a quote, or terms and conditions, which could be more favourable, and am happy and confident to negotiate on your behalf. If there is no flexibility on costs then it is more than likely that I can recommend one of my own trusted suppliers whose prices I know to be fair and in line with your budget. When it comes to my own trusted network however, I avoid asking for discounts as I believe that it devalues their own expertise, creativity and labour and as I am confident that the price is fair, I believe that you get what you pay for. Some suppliers offer commission to planners - one of the conditions of membership of the UKAWP is that we do not accept commissions, so if ever this is the case, these savings can be passed straight back to the client. Lastly, I am a firm believer in pricing up your own time - as a busy bride or groom to be, you will be being pulled in a million different directions - choosing your outfits, buying rings, choosing your attendants' outfits, managing family and friends questions, parties and weekends away, healthy and beauty preparations, writing your speech etc in addition to your usual hectic work and personal lives; if you think that your time is money, I can save you a lot of time (about 250 hours worth apparently!), headspace and sleepless nights, which is a not inconsiderable amount!
Will it be just you on the day or do you have a team?
As the founder and Creative Director of Couture Events Ltd, I will be your primary point of contact throughout the design, planning and organising process. I will attend all of your site visits and consultations and I prepare all the paperwork - briefs, schedules and budgets. On the day of your wedding, for my full planning clients I include one of my colleagues to attend as well on the day so there are 2 of us. For partial planning and on the day co-ordination clients, this is an optional extra, chargeable at cost for their hourly rate and petrol.
How Much Does a Wedding Planner Cost?
The critical question! As an accredited member of the UKAWP (UK Association of Wedding Planners), my fee for full wedding planning follows the standard industry rate of 10% –15% of the total budget, according to the complexity of the requirements and how many days the wedding celebrations last –a single day or spread over a destination weekend. A minimum spend applies if your wedding budget is lower than my minimum fee. If you prefer, am happy to negotiate a fixed fee based on your anticipated budget so that you know from the start what the fee will be and that it doesn't fluctuate according to your final decisions on the menu, flowers and production for example. I also offer a payment plan so that you can schedule regular payments and spread the cost in the run up to your wedding date. When you consider how much a photographer or videographer charges for their work, and align it to the 20 or more days I might spend organising your wedding, you will see if offers very good value!