I talk to my venue clients a lot about the need to tell the authentic story of their location and to bring to life the personality of the place for maximum sales results. I also talk about how the team delivering weddings & events (and the experience they offer) is just as important in a wedding client’s decision-making process as the bricks and mortar of the building. With this in mind and practicing what I preach, I thought I’d tell a little bit more in today’s post about my story and what makes me tick in weddings and in the world at large. So, here goes:
How long have you been in the events industry and how did you get started?
I’ve been in event planning for 20 years and wedding planning and the wedding industry for 14 of those years. I fell into events when I left university with a French degree along with a passion for travel, a natural love of marketing & communications, bags of organisational skills and the love of a good gathering or party! I’ve worked on a vast array of events over that time. Across the globe from pharmaceutical marketing advisory boards, medical congresses, large-scale conferences, high level reward trips for blue-chip client top achievers, charity galas, private parties and of course unique wedding celebrations.
Do you have a favourite event or wedding venue?
I’m asked this a lot and whilst I have some personal favourites, I know that it’s most definitely not one-size fits all in the wedding market.
The style of the weddings I plan with my independent planning business, The Bespoke Wedding Company www.thebespokeweddingco.com tends towards classic elegance, designing timeless celebrations in aspirational British settings, but without ostentation. I’m rather partial to a country house, stately home and heritage “home from home” and am very lucky to have worked on many wedding weekends in gorgeous private rural settings. I’m very experienced at understanding the conflicting demands, financial considerations, protection of privacy and more, which working in privately-owned and/or heritage properties brings. A lot of my consulting clients appreciate my sensitive handling and advice to help them obtain their unique goals.
What is your proudest career moment?
There are quite a few, over 14 years in the industry. Being made a Director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (our industry body) back in 2006 was a landmark. Being asked to join the Judging Panel for the highly-praised The Wedding Industry Awards in 2014 was also a proud moment. Then over the past three years, launching and growing my consulting business for wedding venues successfully, on the back of so much demand from ambitious locations wanting my advice and input is very satisfying.
What is your least favourite thing about working in events?
I still find it annoying that many people think it’s so easy to put together an event effectively and quickly and often pass off events & weddings to team members who are very inexperienced when actually to do it well does take a lot of time, attention to detail and in the case of complex & luxury events, experience and/or training.
What is your most memorable event that you worked on?
This was for a couple who wanted a wedding celebration party for their UK guests when they had previously married in the USA. Guests met on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral for transport to a mystery venue which was actually a rather dark and moody nightclub under London Bridge which we utterly transformed into different zones including a Russian themed drinks reception, a classic white draped marquee lunch, a circus workshop complete with all activities and a Moroccan afternoon tea. Crazy and action-packed and lots of fun and detail!
How did you branch out from wedding planning into consulting?
This happened very organically after being asked by several ambitious venue teams who I worked with over many years on weddings, for business advice and consulting to help grow their venue businesses. Being asked time and again and, with an inbox full of people asking for my valued input, it was time to put that into practice and create a new business!
What is your favourite service you offer to venue clients?
I enjoy getting face to face with clients as much as possible. My signature programme is my ‘Refine & Shine’ 3-month programme.
Here I work with established, successful wedding venues to refine and improve their wedding approach. To help them achieve better sales results through looking at all areas of their wedding offering. The main ‘Refine & Shine’ day allows me to really delve into what they do and allows their team time to reflect on how they do things and the transformation that occurs really quite quickly is great to see. It’s not unusual within the follow-ups that are part of the 3-month programme, that we see major shifts & positive change in all areas of the wedding business, with lasting improved sales performance, happier teams and happier clients.
And just for fun…
Who in the public eye would you like to meet or plan an event for?
I’m not big into fame or celebrity as a rule, but there are a few people I’d like to have dinner with such as Alex Polizzi (I fancy a spell as the Wedding Inspector) and Kristen Scott Thomas (just so elegant and intelligent and partly French, which is just effortlessly glamorous in itself).
Who is the most interesting person that you have sat next to on a plane?
Well that would be my husband. After 17 years of marriage, we’re still learning together and we enjoy some fabulous adventures with our little family.
What do you like to do when you are not busy running events & consulting?
I love living in a village setting in the Surrey countryside near to Guildford and regularly exploring nature and the outdoors – National Trust’s Polesden Lacey is like a second home to me!
I’m a big believer in “experiences” over “things”, with a particular passion for travel to France (I have a degree in French) and the island of Corsica which is one of my favourite places on earth.
The love of a good party naturally extends to enjoying hosting and time with friends and family over good food and wine is a must in my life, but I’m more “front of house” than a kitchen dynamo!
I hope that gives you a little more insight into what makes me tick, what experience I bring and what I like best. I’m passionate about working with like-minded ambitious clients to bring out the best in their teams and their unique venue – if you’d like to explore whether we could work together then please do get in touch over email and we can line up a time to chat about your goals: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credits: Charlotte Webb Photography // Rachel V Photography // Stoke Park – Paul White Photography // Hedsor House // Kelly with daughter Neve at Polesden Lacey, National Trust // Kelly at Polesden Lacey, National Trust