Follow:
    Corporate Events, News & Updates, Wedding

    Exciting Announcement | The Historic Dockyard

    The Dockyard Chatham Event Hire

    I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have been listed as the first event planner at The Historic Dockyard, a place which is close to home in more ways than one. Not only in terms of distance (a mere 2.4 miles from my house to be precise), but the site has played an important part in my life on several occasions.

    My Connection

    I spent my summer evenings in The Royal Dockyard Church, as this was the location for my school’s annual prize-giving assembly. It was here that I was unexpectedly awarded Vice Head of Gad’s Hill School, and went on to celebrate with my peers.  My headmaster lived in the on-site Admirals cottage, where I attended prefect receptions. In my final school days, this was the setting for the handing over of my cane. Years later, one of my first outings at The University of the Creative Arts was a task of drawing the contents of the third slip. Subsequently, my final major project was displayed in the exact same space years later.

    The Venue

    The venue itself bears important historical reference, not only to myself but to the local area. Formally a royal/naval dockyard, the 400 acres was one of the Royal Navy’s main facilities for several hundred years before it closed in 1984. Now the site is a museum filled to the brims with evidence of its former life.

    Venue Hire

    A new use to many of the spaces is the ability to hold events and weddings. There are so many functional spaces. From small and intimate boardrooms to vast reception spaces. Making an impact would not be hard in many of the rooms, as they well and truly do the talking. You can even hire one of the slips in the summer months for larger, more extravagant events. Fashion shows, product launches, and receptions would fit right at home. The Dockyard Hire rates are also extremely reasonable for a venue of such calibre.

    Weddings

    If you’re looking for a wedding venue, again there are a multitude of options. From the more traditional Commissioner’s House and garden to HMS Gannet, the opportunities really are endless. I can see the most intimate celebration dinners around one table on board being a big hit, but I can also see how the bare industrial setting of the courtyard would look unreal. I’m thinking of fairy lights and velvet furniture. For a historical venue, the team are incredibly flexible and supportive of your event needs.

    I cannot wait to work in this stunning venue later this year, and would encourage every person reading this article to visit The Dockyard. Even if it’s for a day out, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget, consider The Dockyard hire for your next event.

    Corporate Events, Event Management Tips

    How to Plan a Corporate Event | Part One | by a Corporate Event Organiser

    If you’re not a corporate event organiser, but need to plan an event, I’ve started writing a series of articles to give you a hand. You can thank me later. This handy how to guide will walk you through all the things you need to know, which I’ve found out over a decade as a corporate event organiser. Today we start with the pre-event planning planning which you and your team need to think about before you start doing anything. If this series was a management book, this post would be your why.

    The Idea

    What’s the purpose?

    Every event has to have a purpose to make sure you see a benefit, otherwise it’s a hell of a lot of money to invest for no reason. The purpose could be something as simple as “to improve brand recognition”, or “to increase networking between colleagues”, or maybe you want people to leave having learnt something. At this point, I find it’s always good to add a measurable to the goal; for example, if we make £40,000 the event will be a success. If 400 people attend, the event will be a roaring success! As a corporate event organiser, I think it’s really important to iron this out as early as possible, as the purpose will determine the decisions which you make going forward.

     

    How many people will be there?

    Ideally, how many people do you want to attend your event on the day? Note, this is not the same question as how many people will you invite. You know your audience and how reliable they are. Determine a number of people you want to attend, and as standard, add 10% more. Check your previous attendee rates, you may need to invite up to 50% more! Would you rather have 10 super engaged attendees? Or lots of networking opportunities with 800 people?

     

    Will you get any sponsors involved?

    A very important question to answer before you consider your budget. Sponsors can be great. They money which they can give in exchange from brand recognition, attendee contact details, or whatever it may be can make a massive difference to your event. There are many companies which will find the information or exposure you are offering to be more valuable than the cash. Don’t dismiss this as an option. If you are approaching sponsors, I’d suggest being flexible. You’re much more likely to get a good reception if you’re willing to help them achieve what they need to too.

     

    What’s the budget?

    Based on the information you’ve decided above, you now need to think of a realistic budget. It’s impossible for me to give you brackets, as there’s so much choice all at totally different price points. Make sure you think about all the areas you need to cover when setting your budget. For example, catering, venue hire, décor, printing (if any), anything which sponsors have been promised, AV, staff costs and I always think it’s good to put in a misc pot just in case. This may also help you determine if you need to charge people to attend your event. Set the ticket price based on what profit you’re looking to get out of it.

     

    What date/time of year do you want?

    Now you’ve pretty much got the shell of your event, you can start looking into what that will actually look like. Think about the time of year when you would like the event to be. Are there any industry events which could be a potential clash? Check this website for dates to avoid. What days are your attendees most likely to be available? Normally, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the most popular days for corporate events, but you might find a Monday works better for your crowd. See what works for you, all you can do is experiment and find out what the right combination is. It might take a while to perfect, but as long as you keep listening to guest feedback, you’ll be moving in the right direction.

    That’s pretty much it for the pre-event stuff which will contribute to a successful event. Although this article isn’t much more than 700 words long, these steps can often be the most time consuming when there are lots of stakeholders involved. These points are however some of the most important.

    If you want to make sure you get the next instalment of how to plan a work event, subscribe below. And if you want to have a chat with me, click here!

    ATB
    RBB

    Wedding

    How to keep your wedding guests cool

    Micklefield Hall London wedding venue

    How to keep your wedding guests cool

    As I write this blog post on how to keep your wedding guests cool, I am hiding in the basement of my local Costa Coffee at 8pm with an iced caramel latte. The heat of the house AND the office is too much to handle. With temperatures expected to soar to 38 degrees tomorrow, I can’t help but think of all those couples getting married in weather which feels more suited to the Sahara dessert. Brides in their dresses, and groomsmen in their three-piece suits. I salute you. But don’t panic, here are some ideas on how to keep your wedding guests cool.

     

    Electric Fans

    Obviously. But maybe not so obviously, you can rent pretty hefty industrial size fans. If your venue doesn’t have aircon, this will make a big difference to the comfort of you and your guests. Most of the time they just need a plug, but if you’re not sure where to start, just ask your wedding planner or venue coordinator. They should be able to point you in the right direction. At the time of writing, after a quick search online I found some to hire for £53 per week. (http://www.coolingandheatingsolutions.com)  Barg!

     

    Paper Fans

    At primary school, I was told that you shouldn’t fan yourself because the effort it takes makes you just as hot. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I continue to do it. You can get some on etsy which are made from recycled paper and can be recycled again after. This is important to me as the wedding industry extremely so wasteful. Place the fans on people’s seats for the ceremony or have a help yourself basket by the entrance. They’re a cost-effective option to helping people stay that little bit cooler. You can also get handheld battery-operated fans for around £2, which you could personalise with your names or wedding date to double up as favours!

    wedding favours paper fans

    Water, water, water!

    Look, I know these suggestions on how to keep your wedding guests cool aren’t rocket science, but sometimes during the pre-wedding panic we forget about the simplest things. Have plenty of water and refreshing drinks on site, full of ice. Either in big dispensers like Kilner jars, or again you can personalise glass bottles and give them away as favours. Slightly love island esk, but as long as you don’t start shouting “I’ve got a text” every five minutes I think you’ll get away with it.

    How to keep you wedding guests cool

    Ice cream

    The first thing I do when it’s hot is reach for something frozen. Another way to keep your guests cool is to pile on the delicious goodness which is ice cream. Speak to your venue/caterers to find out what they can do. Maybe you could do those frozen alcopop lollies? You know the ones which are basically an alcoholic Calippo? The DREAM on a day like today. If for whatever reason that’s not possible, you could call a local ice cream van and ask them to stop by. Most of the time, they will be more than happy to if they know they’re going to get a few people buy an lolly or two.

     

    Frozen towels

    This is probably one for the bride and groom and my personal favourite for getting to sleep at night. Running a flannel or small towel under cold water and putting it in the freezer for later will be a joy to go back to in a few hours. I sleep with one around my neck and it always cools me down instantly. If it’s super super hot, and you have a little place you can sneak off to for a quick five minute cool down, this will really help you drop your body temp quickly.

     

    Shade

    If your ceremony is outside, that is bloody lovely. But in temperatures above around 25 degrees, I think it’s sensible to re-address, particularly if the area is unshaded. Your guests will be really uncomfortable sitting in the beating sun, I’ve been there, it’s not nice to feel like you’re going to pass out as your best mate says I do. If you’ve got your heart set on it, then putting in place some of the steps above will obviously help, but try to have parasols, or other means of creating shade available too. Your venue will have a “wet weather option” which you may have to enforce. It’s a nice problem to have!

    How to keep you wedding guests cool

    Paddling pools

    This is definitely the most random suggestion on how to keep your wedding guests cool. I don’t know about you, but I basically reflect the temperature of my feet. If my feet are cool, than so am I. They’re like my thermostat. If you have some outside space available, put up a few paddling pools for people to stand in while they’re having a glass of fizz. It may sound silly, but we all know when you get to a certain point of hot, you’ll do anything to cool down.

    How to keep you wedding guests cool

    So, I hope I’ve given you some ideas here on how to keep your wedding guests cool during the summer months, or destination weddings for that matter!

    To find out more please Get in Touch.

    Wedding

    Creating your wedding to do list

    So often, the thought of writing your wedding to do list is so overwhelming because you think it’s going to be really long and difficult. I bet you’ll find that as you get into it and start ticking things off, it will be no where near as scary as you originally thought. Here are a few tips which I’ve collated over the years from several different brides!

    Chose a method

    Finding the way that works and makes sense for you is really important here. If you still live a life where you can write everything down in beautiful handwriting and still manage to make sense of it, I salute you. I, a dyslexic person who would lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on, use Asana. Asana to me is the most beautiful project management tool, which allows you to separate each task, in a really easy to view way. I’m constantly trying to do things which allow me to not think. If I log in I don’t even have to think about what to do, it just tells me and then I do it. This works for me when managing lots of wedding to do lists.

    This is the tool I use for planning my clients weddings. I start with a project board, like the below, and make each heading a category, like catering, production, décor, stationery. Then under that, I write everything I need to do. Then tick it off when it’s done and a unicorn appears. Who could possible protest to that.

    What do you have to do

    It might feel like right now you can do everything on your wedding to do list, but in a few months time if work gets really busy or you’re struggling with motivation, you’ll be thankful that you’ve identified where other people can help you.

    I always find that around weddings family and friends are more than happy to pitch in, so even though you have to create the guest list, someone else can help you with writing all 150 envelopes. Make a night of it, get some pizza and maybe a bottle of wine, and watch the handwriting get progressively worse…

     

    What’s easy?

    One of the most common causes of overwhelm is the to do list. I know if just told you to write it all out, but once you’ve actually done that, just looking at that list can cause minor heart palpitations. But don’t panic, it will all get done. Especially if you can enforce step two.

    Another way to get over the overwhelm is to work out what on your list is the easiest thing to do, and do that. Just start doing the really baby jobs, buy stamps, look on Pinterest, email a venue. Once you start making your way through the easy things, you’ll probably find enough momentum would have build up to start tackling the bigger things.

     

    Know your deadlines

    As an planner, I can’t even tell you how much missing deadlines makes my blood boil. You’d have thought I’d be used to it by now, but Oh my God when a client misses a stationery cut off and doesn’t understand the consequences… eye twitch.

    Whilst everything is calm, write yourself out a timeline. This is another reason why Asana is so great. If you plot in the deadlines, it will literally flash at you when you have to do that thing. If you can’t get on board with that, use a simple excel doc, or paper diary, or Outlook Calendar, whatever works for you. But PLEASE DON’T INFURIATE YOUR SUPPLIERS. They will love you extra if you do everything on time.

    Do you have any tips from your own experience of your wedding to do list? Leave a comment or get in touch!

    Corporate Events

    How to get an events job in London

    autumnal bridal table uk

    In such an overcrowded market, how do you get an events job in London? There are so many different routes you can take, including apprenticeships, getting experience in events, and looking wider than event agencies themselves. Here’s my “been there done that” advice on how to get an events job in London.

    Start from the bottom

    That title sounds like starting from the bottom is bad thing, when in reality, starting at ground zero was probably one of the most useful decision of my career. I say decisions like I had a choice… Getting a job as an assistant is a sure way to make sure you know your craft. It will provide you with the ability to say “been there done that” to many tasks and jobs in your future.

    Working as an assistant means you eventually will get the overall vision of how the industry works. Not only the vision, but the feel of how it is to be in that position. This has served me particularly well at later stages in my career, as I know how it feels to be asked to make 350 name badges. SNORE.

    Don’t be so narrow minded

    If you’d have asked me when I was 16 what sort of events I wanted to do, I’d probably have said wedding planner. Shiny, sparkly pretty things, are what everyone thinks of. I applied for SO many wedding planning jobs and struggled to get anywhere because it’s such an overcrowded market.

    There are so many routes to get you to the same end goal. If you want to be a wedding planner, don’t discount corporate. It’s such valuable experience, and you might fall in love with them on the way (speaking from experience). You could work for a caterer, you’ll be put through your event management paces there! London has some of the best event caterers out there (a few of my favs are Bubble, Caper & Berry, and TableTalk), and they can give you access to some of the most amazing venues.

    Experience is key

    I fully appreciate that this point is an absolute pain in the arse, a continuous catch 22 of needing a job to get experience, and vice versa. However there are ways around it. I’m sorry to say that sometimes you might have to suck it up and work for free. My first few wedding clients I got by putting an add on GumTree and working for free, because I knew I needed portfolio images and testimonials. Offer your time to local event agencies, even if you end up packing boxes on site, you can say that you have some experience in an on site team. I’ve hired people before with no experience, sometimes organising something as simple as a McMillan coffee morning is enough to get you through. And you’re doing a good deed. Double pat on the back.

    Take a course

    OK I’m not entirely sure I agree with my own point here. I’ve done two event courses, and I’ll be honest, they were both a load of crap. The didn’t teach me anything, BUT I’m not sure how much I have myself to blame for that as I’d already been working in events when I went.

    Now I’m not saying this will ever replace on the job training, because personally I don’t think it ever will. Events is a practical job which can only be taught in practice, not from a book. It does however show to potential employers that you’re committed and dedicated to learning your trade. They will also teach you the real basics of how to write a good to do list, the things you need to think about, and so on. But this advice is really for those who are starting from zilch.

    I do however fully support apprenticeships. They’re a great way to get on the job training and a proffesional qualification simultaneously. You can find apprenticeships here on the Gov website.

    Be careful

    Events is a desirable industry to get into, and therefor you will find on lots of websites jobs which say events, but are far from it. Sometimes they’re tricky to spot, but reading between the lines you can work it out. I’ve included some examples below which I’ve just found, what the title advertised is vs what the job actually is:

    Event sales manager: Selling a meeting room in Hilton or equivalent hotel

    Hospitality event co-ordinator: Bar staff

    Event Crew: Forklift driver

    Special events manager: Club promoter

    Meeting and Events Team Member: Tea bitch

    If you do accidentally apply for one of these jobs, don’t worry, they are sneaky. Go for the interview anyway, all experience is good experience.

    I hope you found this article useful, and that it’s helped you work out how to get a job in events. The events industry is a bloody brilliant world, and once you finally break through the door, it will be worth it.

    ATB

    RBB

    Get in touch!

    Uncategorized

    We’re live! (And tired)

    Annnnd we’re live. Actually, we went live on the 6th of June, I’ve just been bloody busy.

    Launching this business baby has been an extremely anxiety inducing experience. I’ve had what Brene Brown would call a “vulnerability hangover from hell”, after sharing what I’ve spent a lot of my life dreaming up. Each time I’ve shared a post on my social medias (I did them bit by bit), I’ve ignored that platform for around 24 hours. I should have learnt from history by the time I got to LinkedIn that everyone would be incredibly supportive and full of well wishes.

    This isn’t my first rodeo, I previously partnered in an events business, so I thought I’d been here and got the t-shirt. Turns out, when it’s something you’ve created all by yourself from scratch, the feelings are so much more intense. I’ve listened to business podcasts for years, and I know understand the lowest lows they talk about.

    The complete 360 to this however, is the highest highs. Doing a job I love, making my own decisions, simple things like creating my own templates. It’s all filling me with so much joy. This business wasn’t thought of overnight, it’s been a good 5 years (at least) of thinking about branding, cultivating the correct skills, and finding what my style is. The rush of confirming a client, and the satisfaction of receiving those emails isn’t really comparable to anything else in my career before now. I’ve learnt to ride on the positivity of those confirmations, before the enviable money worries kick in! I’m already understanding the importance of trusting my gut, but also not letting myself confuse gut feeling with self doubt. Sometimes a tricky line to find.

    Since launch, I’ve booked in six weddings and two corporate events. I am honestly SHOCK by that number, but I guess I’m doing something right. They’re not even boring! Each one is so entirely different, my portfolio is going to be something crazy by the end of 2020. I work really hard, and really want this to work, so I’m thankful that it’s going well so far. My money worries are that money will be the reason I have to stop doing this, and I reaallllyyyy don’t want that to happen.

    Even in these first two weeks, this has been the best experience.

    I wrote this post because I feel that often the event industry is guilty of only posting the shiny, finished product, rather than the actual process of getting there. Anyone in this business knows that most of the time, it’s not shiny. It’s picking up cigarette butts at 3am so the venue don’t kill you. (I’ve done that). I think we’re doing the next generation of event planners and wedding co-ordinators a disservice by not showing the real deal.

    *Disclaimer: I am writing this post at 11.38pm, as my beloved dog Treacle has just got SO scared of the thunder and lightning, and is going to need pats for the next hour at least.*

    Uncategorized

    Why I started this business…

    rebecca brennan-brown in lavender field

    This post started as an Instagram pic, and you guys loved it. It’s one of the most highly engaged posts I’ve ever put up, so here’s the extended version…

    Ever since I was very young, I knew that eventually I would end up owning my own business. To the untrained eye, it may look like I left my job on the 31st of May, and started this biz two weeks later, but in reality this has been brewing for years. I’ve had years of saving pictures of events, years of practice designing some good, and some not so good websites, and years of time to think about what I wanted the brand to look like, feel like, and resemble.

    Eventually, I got to the point where I was getting so frustrated in my job. I found myself getting irritated at how difficult it was to find people who could plan a logistically well thought through event, and simultaneously produce a well considered design. I felt, and still feel, the events industry is largely inefficient, and lacks creativity without spending money which could literally buy a house.

    I feel like I can genuinely help people and contribute to their lives in a positive way. That sentence feels a bit ridiculous and sounds like something a doctor or therapist would say. But I’ve spent nearly a decade learning the dos and don’ts, and knew that I could share that experience to help other people. If you’re a lawyer, how can you ever be expected to know the first thing about how to style a dinner table? I don’t know the first thing about intellectual property law…

    I love the feeling of having actually genuinely made someone’s life a bit better. Something which is by no means tied to money. Some of the most satisfying moments of my career have been messages from people who listen to The Wedding People, and have had a moment of joy, revelation, or feeling supported. That good shit makes all the bad shit worth it.

    I wanted to start a more authentic business, somewhere I couldn’t really hide behind a brand. Somewhere I can say what I like on an Instagram post without anyone disapproving. Sometimes when working for corporate companies, you get pushed into a box. You have to act a certain way, pretend to have a certain lifestyle, and behave in a way to gain “acceptance” and “respect”. I write both those words in speech marks as the irony of it is that no one really respects anyone, because it’s rare anyone is being honest. I grew tired of it. I grew tired of having to play a part which wasn’t me, when really I just wanted to swear on an Instagram post. It adds colour to our palate, as my Mum would say.

    The actual job itself? Well, I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’m quite dyslexic, so writing posts like this are really hard for me, but ask me to pull three colours which go together, no bother. I think I’m wired in a certain way that makes event planning come naturally to me, but that is not to be confused with easily. My job isn’t rocket science. You know those videos where someone has set up hundreds and hundreds of dominos in all a line, then they hit one over, and they all fall? It doesn’t ever work if one of the pieces are out of line. That’s effectively what I do, gather dominos and put them all in a line, so that the end result flows.

    Side note: How cool would that job be if I was talking about the pizza?

    But really, it all stems back to just knowing in my gut that this was my calling. I have incredibly supportive people around me. My Dad, who is also my mentor (please don’t start charging me), built and sold a business. Maybe that means its always been in my blood, or maybe it just means I’ve always had good influences close by. I have a lot of cheerleaders in my life, and ultimately, I wouldn’t do this is it wasn’t fun!

    RBB x

    Corporate Events, Event Management Tips

    Tips for how to manage your on site event team

    natural festival wedding

    We all know event planning is hard, but then there’s the event team management bit. To me, planning is pre-event, and managing is what you do on site. Successful events have more chance of achieving their KPIs if you have comprehensive plans of how you will execute the event on site. Something which is significantly easier if you have a kick arse event team. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to use a two day conference with around 1,000 guests, and multiple breakouts as an example. Mainly because I’ve done that before, speak what you know and all that…

    Assign sub-section leaders

    If you’re lucky enough to have a team, you should give each member of your team a section to look after. Give one person catering, another speaker management, another AV, another registrations. Think about the honest strengths and weaknesses of your team. Who is better to have in front of house roles? Who isn’t scared to tell the kitchen they need to hurry the F*%k up? With larger events in particular, your job as the event manager should be to oversee all of the mechanics. You should know exactly what is going on in each of these sections, so that those who have been assigned roles get a great briefing from you. More on that later.

    Communicate

    Before you’ve even assigned out your roles, communication with your event team is paramount. They need to know exactly what they’re doing and what you’re expectations of them are. Perhaps most importantly, they need to know what to do if something isn’t right. They need to know how to get hold of you on the day or lead up to the event, and how much you’d like them to deal with problems themselves vs come to you.

    Choosing a mode of communication with your event team is important. Make sure people know what that is. Your life will be easier if you know you only need to look at whatsapp. However, if one person is messaging you by text, another is emailing, another is using slack AND you’ve got a radio in your ear. You’re quickly going to loose track. One tip which I’ve learnt the hard way, test the internet connection and signal in all of the rooms you’ll be using before deciding to go with a phone based messaging system.

    Ask for help

    Even with the best plan in the world, sometimes things will happen which you could never in a million years have predicted. I recommend that when on site at an event, as the event manager you should have a go to person to delegate to. This should be someone who you trust to do the job just as well as you could. This person will have a briefing which contains every single tiny detail that only you would know. They shouldn’t be assigned any category as above. Their main role will be to do whatever you tell them to, no matter how big or small. They should also be the person to go to if you’re taking a well needed break.

    Plan for weakness

    OK let’s be honest here, events is a high pressured industry to be in. As event managers, stress levels are often high, and when someone isn’t performing the way we want them to, that can quickly turn into unhelpful sarcastic comments and bitchy behaviour. Blame the adrenaline.

    Instead of this, simply immediately pull the plug on the person that’s not up to scratch. Time to bring in back up. Whether your catering lead has really bad period pains, or your AV manager is literally just not in the mood. Whatever the reason, don’t even bother trying if you can avoid it. Even though it will put another member of your team under more pressure, having someone who is in the right place to work will make your event run much smoother. Plus, it will relieve your stress by allowing you to know everything is in safe hands. It will also release tension in the team of someone not pulling their weight.

     

    On top of these tips, I’d say eat plenty whenever you can, have bottles of water EVERYWHERE, and good luck!

     

    If you found this article helpful, check out my other articles about corporate event planning.