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    Practical Wedding Planning Tips – Six of the Best

    practical wedding planning tips

    The fact you’ve clicked on this article about practical wedding planning tips shows me you’re A) getting married and B) and efficient person. I fully support both of those things. Below I’ve written six of my top wedding planning tips which you can actually put to good use. If you’re looking for light-hearted advice on how to make things pretty, this isn’t the right post. I literally reference bird shit. But you might find that in one of my other posts so check them out.

    Practical Wedding Planning Tips

    1. Read your contracts

    The first of my practical wedding planning tips isn’t so fun (sorry). It is, however, very important. By spending some time reading your contract you can avoid potential problems and stresses further down the line. Every venue has different rules from the next, and each photographer may ask for different requirements. Your contracts are the best way to get all of that information. Some common venue contract lines to look out for are the use of real candles, fixings to the walls, sound limiters, and supplier lists.

    2. Invest in a good photographer

    If you follow my Instagram, it won’t come as a surprise to you that I think investing in a good photographer is one of the most important parts of your wedding day. Let’s be honest, once you’ve spent all the money, everyone has left and is tucked up in their beds, and the day is over, the photos are all you have to help remember the day. It sounds dramatic, but you can’t restage your wedding. If you really trust your friends to know what they’re doing and get high-quality pics, then by all means. But one of my biggest wedding planning tips is to hire a professional.

    3. Write a schedule

    I’m dyslexic, so having to remember a load of information is difficult for me. Sometimes I can be chatting with a few different couples at a time, and there’s a lot of detail involved in my job! The way I get around this is by writing a schedule.  It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just who is doing what and at what time. When you can download the information out of your brain and onto a sheet of paper, it will make you much less stressed out simply because the pressure is off your brain to remember it all. It’s also a really useful tool to send around to your suppliers to make sure everyone is on the same page. Apps like Asana are also the dream for helping you get organised.

    4. Ask for help

    My next top wedding planning tip is to ask for help. People love getting involved in weddings, so don’t feel like you have to do it alone. This can be anything from asking Aunty Sue to make your cake, to asking your bridesmaids to help you pick the favors. Most of the time, people will be more than happy to help you. I get more complaints from family and friends about not feeling like they’re doing enough, rather than having too much to do! Even professional wedding planners like myself have a team of people to make sure we get the job done right, so why should you be expected to do it all by yourself!

    5. Don’t make quick decisions

    I’ve been talking about this a lot recently. I think that’s probably because all the shops are running their end of wedding season sales! Quick decisions when planning your wedding can often lead to regret. That regret might be something small, like buying a guest book you no longer like. Or it could be more of a problem, such as having second thoughts on your £8k dress. Making hasty decisions can add to stress further down the line, and it can also be quite wasteful. Sticking with the “end of season sales” as an example, you may buy a guest book for £10, a pair of socks that say “Groom” for £2, and a set of place cards for £1. Then, as you get closer to your wedding, your style may change. You might decide you don’t like them anymore, which is totally fine, but it leads to buying another. And buying another isn’t a big deal when the original guestbook was only £10. You might have all good intentions to put the original book on Facebook Marketplace, but in reality, you’re losing money and it’s probably going to go to landfills. Just something to think about.

    6. Wedding Day Kit

    The final one of my top wedding planning tips is to prepare a wedding day kit. Not as glamorous as it sounds, trust me. Particularly useful to those who are getting married in venues which are less polished, a wedding day kit should be full of useful things you “wish you had”. Bin bags, anti-bac wipes, hair ties and grips, a cloth and a sewing kit are a few things which I include in mine. There have been a few occasions where I don’t use anything, but there have been days where I’ve been in and out of that suitcase constantly. It might seem like a lot of effort, but it will be worth it if you end up needing something. Plus, if you turn up to your barn and the pigeon have got in, someone needs to clean that up…

    So there you have it. I hope you can put some of these practical wedding planning tips to good use. Guess what? I’m writing a book! Did you like this article? You’ll probably like the book full of juicy wedding planning advice I’ve got coming. If you’d like to know when it’s released, sign up for email notifications here! If you’d like to see if I can help you with your wedding planning, let’s have a chat.

    Longton Wood Showcase: The Quirky Wedding Fayre

    I’m not sure if I believe in Wedding Fayres. For me personally, I think they’re too broad, and my kinda people are hard to find. However, when the opportunity came up to exhibit at The Quirky Wedding Fayre at Longton Wood, I thought it would be a good occasion to loose my wedding fayre virginity.

    Longton Wood

    I’ve admired Longton Wood from afar for a while. As a venue, it’s remoteness and untouched landscapes are right up my street. I’ve always seen pictures on Instagram of the spectacular boho weddings which happen there every summer, and naturally wanted to be a part of it.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you should be able to pick up that my style is very indie/festival/natural, something which I think works well in a woodland. When thinking of designs for the show I didn’t want to stray too far from my normal style, so started gathering inspiration. I had to choose one look and focuss on it, rather than exhibiting several styles I like, simply because they clash! Bright colours next to dried flowers is a bit of a nono in my book.

    The Design

    To showcase what I do in a 6ft by 6ft square is hard. The most value from my services comes from looking after everyone else who was in the bell tent exhibiting, not just the styling. I decided to create a wedding set up rather than just a table, and as always my first port of call was the other half of my brain Hedges and Flowers. She sent me back the below pic straight away which confirmed that as always, we were on the exact same wave length.

    I hired some beauties from The Little Wedding Warehouse, including a vintage table and wooden folding chairs. Then, I set about creating three different tablescapes which would work with the environement of Longton wood. I decided natural tones was definetly the right way to go, but I wanted to make things which were a bit quirky and different so people could see what’s possible.

    Creating the Arch

    Once everything was together, it still felt a bit flat. I looked into hiring an arch for Elise to flower, but couldn’t find anything which worked with the vision I had in my head. Whilst discussing with my partner Fraser in a put one evening, we started sketching ideas onto a napkin (cliché, but true). By the end of the evening, we had a semi feasible plan of how to create a copper arch. The next day I went out to buy the materials, and less than 48 hours later I had the arch which I envisioned. It was also half the price to buy and make it from scratch!

    The final hires included two large peacock chairs, very on trend and completely fitting in the style of the stand. I can imagine these chairs as the head of the table at a Longton Wood wedding, so decided it would be silly not to get them. I hired a vintage faded rug with similar warm colours to the tables to create a more homely vibe. Lastly, we bought every woven or wicker item we could find. We had all sorts of baskets, lamp shades and vesstles to include on our stand to further highlight the use of natural materials.

    Due to a few last minute changes beyond our control, we unfortunately couldn’t carry out the look we were initially going for, but I was happy with out outcome none the less. We created a welcoming space, full of texture and depth, which was quite frankly like something from a boho dream.

    With thanks to:

    Lily Jones | Event Organiser
    Longton Wood | Venue
    The Little Wedding Warehouse | Furniture Hire
    Linen & Stripes | Linen
    WeddingLux | Acrylic Stationery
    Babooche Caligraphy | Hand made stationery
    Hedges & Flowers | Florist

     

    If you’d like to find out more about my planning and styling packages, please click here!

    Wedding Inspo from Celebrity Weddings

    Chloe-lloyd-wedding-flowers-all for love london

    We’ve been taking wedding inspo from the rich and famous for years. Even before Instagram and hello magazine deals, we were looking to celebrities for inspiration. Did you know the reason we wear white wedding dresses is that Queen Victoria did in 1840? Clearly, she was quite a trendsetter. These days, we’re much more likely to take inspiration from Ex-Islanders, Pop Stars and models, but while some weddings feel miles away from our own, take inspiration from celebrity weddings?

    In this article, I’ve identified ways of stealing elements from famous celebrity weddings. Some of the weddings have followed trends, some have set them, and some have had an influence for years to come. So let’s start. From Queen Victoria to another Queen V:

    Victoria and David Beckham

    Arguably one of the most memorable weddings of recent times, Victoria married David Beckham in Ireland, in 1999. If you didn’t know the year, you could probably guess it from the photos. One of the most iconic images, which people to this day refer to, is their king and queen thrones. I personally hate them, but I do think they started a movement of thrones at weddings which have now developed into Peacock chairs. I LOVE peacock chairs. They’re a bit boho, but still a chic way of identifying the bride and groom seats without being too OTT. They also make a great photo op.

    David-and-Victoria-Beckham-wedding-thrones

    Mandy Moore and Taylor Goldsmith

    SO many people sit on the fence about Mandy Moore’s 2018 wedding, mainly because she chose a lacey pink number which is a bit fluffy. But that’s not my focus here, my focus is on the aisle lined with pampas grass. We’ve seen a lot of pampas grass in the last few years, but Mandy Moore optimised how to do it well for me. Creating floor standing arrangements as she did would be surprisingly cost-effective. I would use a similar look for the top of the aisle, creating a textured beauty of a backdrop to your ceremony.

    mandy-moore-wedding-pink-dress-pampas-grass

    Kate Moss and Jamie Hince

    In my opinion, Kate Moss’s wedding dress epitomises cool. In reality, you probably wouldn’t expect anything less from the supermodel. Often sheer dresses can be met with immediate visualisation of tacky cut out side panels. Ms. Moss shows us how you can pull off sheer with poise and grace. To me, it’s the perfect balance of edgy and elegant. Wedding inspo central.

    Kate-moss-wedding-dress

    Kim Kardashian-West and Kayne West

    Important note – I don’t follow the Kardashians, I don’t know anything about them, and it would take me a while to name all of them. It was hard to avoid Kim’s wedding to Kanye West in 2014. In true Kardashian style, it was plastered everywhere. It’s the first wedding I can remember really focussing on the flower wall. The shot below is probably the most famous from their wedding, and I think it was the start of the flower wall craze. Now, you can rent flower walls from as little as a few hundred pounds. They’re incredibly easy to find, just join your local wedding suppliers Facebook group.

    kim-kardashian-kanye-west-wedding-flower-wall

    Chloe and Josh Lloyd-Cuthbert

    Firstly, their last names. They are Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd-Cuthbert. I love that they barrelled their names and put Chloe’s first. It just shows you can really do what you like with your last name, and the old tradition of straight-up taking your partners name is outdated. That’s if you don’t want it of course.

    Anyway, I’ll have to control myself here because I would literally have Chloe Lloyd’s life if I could… hair goals. Her florals. Her arch by All For Love Flowers is to die for, and a brilliant example of how to create an impact. If you don’t have Chloe Lloyd’s budget, because let’s face it The Sun aren’t paying for all our weddings, use the same tactic. Think about an area where people are going to spend the most time. There’s no point in spending tones of money on something people will see for 30 seconds.

    Chloe-lloyd-wedding-flowers-all for love london

    Billie and Greg Shepard

    Billie Faires wedding was quite a similar vibe to Chloe Lloyd, but my focal point for wedding inspo is very different. I am still not over how beautiful she looked with her sister Sam, both in white dresses. Bridesmaids being banned from wearing white is again a thing of the past, and the pictures below show exactly why this is such a good idea.

    billie-faires-wedding billie sam fairies wedding

    Tom Daly and Dustin Lance

    Bovey Castle in Dartmoor hosted the wedding of Tom Daly and Dustin Lance in 2017 at their estate near Dartmoor. Set in 275 acres of beautiful countryside and rolling valleys, Bovey Castle is a truly unforgettable wedding venue. With a capacity of up to 130 and a multitude of spaces to chose from, it’s clear to see why Tom and Dustin chose this beauty. It’s also in such a beautiful part of the world, you’ll particularly agree with me if you’re from a big city.

    Bovey Castle wedding tom daly

    Kaley Cuoco & Kark Cook

    KC2 married in 2018, in a wedding which even over social media you can tell was super personal to them. They had tequila shots for favors, photos taken in the stables, and my favorite part, they bought their dogs. Tank is the true star of the show as this picture continues to circulate. If you’re anything like me and you love your pets, make them part of your day too. Only if they’re well behaved that is. If they’re terrors it might be better to leave them at home!

    dogs at weddings

    John Lennon & Yoko Ono

    Taking you back to 1969 here, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married in Gibraltar after many hiccups. They originally wanted to get married on a ferry, then in Paris, but that’s a story for another day. Instead of a honeymoon, John and Yoko held a “bed-in”, a non-violent protest against the Vietnam war. Now an incredibly iconic image, at the time this stirred up a lot of media attention. I’m not suggesting that you stage a protest instead of going on your honeymoon, but I am suggesting that you do some good if you can. If you’ve got all the toasters you need, perhaps consider asking people to make a donation to charity. You could get your favors from somewhere which supports small business, or it could be as simple as taking your flowers to a local hospital when you’re done.

    John Lennon Yoko Ono Wedding

    I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year of celebrity weddings brings up, and if anyone does choose to go for a Vicky B style throne as a result of this article. There are ways of taking wedding inspo from everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to carbon copy. As I said from the start, not all of us can have weddings sponsored by Hello, but we can all feel like celebrities for a day. So I hope you were able to take some wedding inspo of your own from this article, let me know if you did!

     

    Want to talk more weddings? Sure! Get in touch.

    Tips for Stressed Brides

    We all know that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start, how you’re going to get everything done, or just generally feeling out of your depth. This is such a common feeling when wedding planning. There’s a lot which goes into a wedding, and most of the time it’s not a repeat activity, so you don’t get any practice. There are often worries surrounding paying for the damn thing too, adding another layer of apprehension. Oh, and if you’re getting through your planning without any family drama, you’re extremely lucky. So here are some tips and techniques on how to stay chill and not end up like that pic of Kim K. Even when everyone is really getting on your tits.

     

    Don’t let your perfection overrule you

    Pinterest, Instagram, magazines etc are creating an unhealthy need for perfection within the wedding industry. In reality, most of the “real weddings” you see are shoots, and you’ve been fooled into thinking that’s what you should do. It’s SO unhealthy.

    Media platforms are great to take inspiration from, but just inspiration. Don’t pressure yourself to mirror it. And if it’s people on facebook you’re comparing yourself to, you don’t know what life the people behind the images have in reality. Maybe they live in a council funded house, don’t have a car and struggle to get by, but their parents have given them 40k to get married. Or maybe they didn’t spend 40k on their wedding, so they can start their married life stress free, not worried about money, and being able to afford date night once a week.

    Only you know your own priorities, and it’s not up to anyone else to decide that for you. This is your wedding, not a Pinterest shoot.

     

    Expectation predictions

    I know quite a few people who feel like their weddings guests are going to expect their wedding to be phenomenal. In reality I don’t think anyone expects anything. And if they do, it’s probably based on the fact that you have a beautiful house, dress really well, or something along those lines. They have faith in you to produce something amazing (whatever that means to you), and you should have that faith in yourself too. Do ask yourself if you have any evidence for your thoughts. For example, if you think you’re Mum think it’s going to be a shambles, what evidence do you have of that? Has she said something? Or is it something your mind has misinterpreted?

    On a scale of zero to death…

    How important is it? How important is it that your font is wrong on a scale of zero to death? In reality, not at all. This is a great technique to help you remain grounded. There might be some things which for you are closer to the death end of the scale, like if your perfect dress is destroyed. You’re allowed to be upset by that. But try to keep perspective on the smaller matters. Getting panicky won’t help you.

    Remember a wedding is the start of your marriage, not just a wedding

    I am a wedding planner and I know that means I should think wedding are the most important things in the world. However, I don’t. Yes, it is lovely to have an amazing celebration which sends you off into your married lives, but it is also the start of your lives together. If you’re doing this so you can have a wedding, I’m sorry but you’re here for the wrong reason. Try to remember this if things aren’t quite going your way. It’s what really counts.

     

    Include personal touches to make it feel like your wedding, not “a wedding”

    To take away the stress of wedding planning, remembers its yours. It your decision how you want the flowers to look. It’s your decision to not have a seating plan. It’s your decision to have baby photos on the wall. It’s not A wedding, its YOUR wedding. Do it your way, make your own traditions, and do what you think is right. I’m going to stop now as this is sounding a bit like the opening scene from Train Spotting.

     

    Don’t forget about your partner

    Now I know most of the time it’s like that scene from friends where Moncia is showing Chandler pics of flowers (meme below for those of you who don’t have the 10 seasons in your head). It should be fun for both of you, ask them questions too. To avoid tension and arguments, ask their opinion and try to be genuinely interested in their answer. Take what they have to say on board, and if you disagree, come to a compromise. If you want everything your way, then you should probably be having a party for you, not a wedding.

    Monica Geller Wedding

     

    It’s one day out of your life, 24 hours.

    It’s an important day but it’s still one day. Remember this while you’re making decisions, it will help you remain level headed. Once those 24 hours are over, you’re left with the photos and the memories. You don’t get the thousands of pounds you’ve spent back, so make sure you’re spending where it counts. I can’t imagine anything worse than regretting splurging on something. HOWEVER (and this is just as important) you never want to look back and think “I wish I did that”. Only you can find the balance.

     

    Save the link to this post, and have a read when you’re in the midst of wedding panic. I promise it will help. All of these tips have been suggested by an actual real life therapist. So it’s good legit stuff. If you want to hear more, check out The Wedding People episode 13: Managing Stress and Wedding Planning Emotions. Here’s the link, or search The Wedding People on Podcasts or Spotify.

    ATB

    RBB x

    Corporate Event Strategy | Choosing a Venue | How to Plan a Corporate Event | Part Two

    corporate event strategy

    Welcome back to my guide on how to plan a corporate event. We’re now moving onto one of the most important parts of building your corporate event strategy: How to choose a venue. Below I’ve noted down my thoughts on the key things to look out for, things to consider, and suggested options which may work for you. So, have a read, and I hope this is helpful!

     

    Locations

    This is such a key part of your corporate event strategy. If you want to make sure you get good attendance, this is one of the most important things you need to consider. If the main bulk of your customers are in London, then running an event in Glasgow is probably not the best idea. You can also take it one step further. London is a big place. Think about the transport connections and if you were your attendees, what would be the route you would take to get there. Taking London as an example, somewhere near well connected stations is of course a good idea, like St Pancras, or Bank, or Green Park. If you know everyone is travelling in from Stansted, then maybe around Liverpool Street is better. You get the idea.

     

    Capacity

    My second point to consider with your corporate event strategy is pretty self explanatory. If you have read my first post, by now you should know how many people you’re expecting to attend, so your venue needs to hold that many people. Be careful though, as sometimes the numbers venues give you are somewhat optimistic. Always ask what the comfortable number is, rather than maximum capacity. It’s always safe to find somewhere that can take around 10% more than your target numbers too, just in case your event is a roaring success. I would suggest using this number on any search sites too.

     

    Seating Style

    So, depending on the type of event (dinner, forum, conference, reception), you’re going to want to consider your seating format, if any. One day I’ll do a blog post on all the different styles, but that would bulk out this post too much. Some of the more common ones are:

    • Theatre (standard for conferences)
    • Banqueting (Round tables, standard for dinners)
    • Standing (for receptions)
    • Cabaret (Good for forums or anything which involves group discussion).

    Now of course a space which can hold 100 standing, won’t be able to hold 100 banqueting. It’s always good to know what you’re looking for when you go into the process.

     

    Cost

    There is a HUGE variance in cost of venues. Not only across the UK but even across London. I will say that I’ve found you largely get what you pay for, so if something is dirt cheap, there’s probably a reason for that. Again, there are different ways in which venues price:

    Packages – Everything included in a normally per head price

    Dry hire – You get the building itself and that’s it. It’s up to you to find the catering, furniture, AV, everything.

    Minimum spend – More common in restaurants. You get a reduced hire charge if you sign a contract to say your guests will consume £xxx amount of F&B.

     

    Style

    Just like anything, the style of a venue can totally vary from place to place. There are positives and negatives to all types of venues. For example, unique historic venues bare such grandeur and historic reference, but will always come with a set of restricting rules, and rarely have lifts. Important if you have any attendees with disabilities. Equally, ultra modern venue can come with the most up to date tech, but sometimes fall guilty to feeling a bit cold and characterless. Hotels are great for package deals and good DDRs, but you’ll rarely  be able to have exclusive hire. If you’re going for an outside space, make sure you check out the wet weather options too.

     

    Availability

    The most popular day for corporate events are historically Thursdays, and also Wednesdays. Sometimes companies who know they’re going to use certain venues will pre book 2 years in advance to make sure they get their date, so finding somewhere that’s available on 1stoption can sometimes be tricky for the best venues. It’s by no means impossible though, and if you have a bit of flexibility on the day of the week etc, you’ll find it much easier. For example, it’s quite rare that people hold corporate events on Mondays and Fridays.

     

    Juicy Extras

    Some good places to start your searches are:

    http://hirespace.com

    https://www.squaremeal.co.uk/event-party-venues

    There are tones of others, and there are people who will find your venue for you for no charge to you. I am one of those people if I’m planning your event, it’s all in the service.

    Always do a site visit. Once you’ve got good venue options, be sure to take a trip to check the pictures match the real thing. I’ll do a full post on site visits soon.

    If you’re enquiring into loads of venues, it becomes really easy to loose track of what’s what. Use a spreadsheet to track all the responses with some key headers.

     

    I hope this article has give you some helpful insight into how to choose a corporate event venue. As always, it’s something which becomes easier with time and experience.

    First Dance Songs That Aren’t Cringe

    arctic monkeys in black and white

    Recently I’ve been noticing more and more couples opting to not have a first dance. In fact, I don’t think I’ve got anyone booked in who is carrying out this tradition. Last week, I had a groom decide to cancel on the morning of! Don’t get me wrong I’m all for not doing something which makes you feel uncomfortable for the sake of “tradition”, but equally I want you to know that you’re options aren’t limited to Perfect by Ed Sheeran, or Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, or Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran. So, I’ve compiled a playlist of 40 First Dance Songs That Aren’t Cringe which you can see in Spotify. For the time being, here are my top 10 First Dance Songs That Aren’t Cringe.

    First Dance Songs That Aren’t Cringe

    1. Songbird – Oasis
      I really hate Wonderwall. I’m sorry but what is a wonder wall and why does everyone insist on playing it so much? But I do love Oasis, and Songbird is a sweet but up beat song, perfect for an informal first dance.
    2. Just Like Heaven – The Cure
      Apparently, this was written by Robert Smith when he was away, and thinking about returning to his future wife. Small edit – Fraser has never written a song about me, but I’m pretty sure if he didn’t it wouldn’t have the same impact. No offence hun
    3. Baby I’m Yours – Arctic Monkeys
      Anyone who knows me knows there was little chance of me getting through this without adding an AM song. Admittedly, this isn’t the most complex song in the world, but it is a very sweet and mellow number for your first dance.
    4. Love You ‘Till the End – The Pouges
      Hmmm… Not sure how this is going to go down. Probably quite recognisable  from “PS I Love You”, and The Pouges themselves for the Christmas song we all love to belt out, “Fairytale of New York”. I’m not sure if it’s my Irish heritage, but this song bares a sweet simplicity to me.
    5. Anyone Else But You – The Moldy Peaches
      Slowing down, and the most acoustic song on the list so far. This, again, super simple song does what it says on the tin. One of the more alternative options for the list for sure.
    6. Loving is Easy – Rex Orange County
      Warning – Expletives from the outset. If you’re having kids at your wedding, maybe don’t go for this one. I love this song, it’s upbeat and happy, but still has a good meaning behind it. Also, it’s only 2.36 long, winner if you’re wishing for your first dance to be over before it’s started.
    7. Here Comes Your Man – The Pixies
      Apparently, The Pixies hated this song and thought it was too pop. But, there’s some great guitar in there, and it’s definitely one of the less obvious first dance choices.
    8. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
      I know I’m going to get hate for this and I don’t even care. Slightly off key, but cmon, I challenge anyone to have a bad time while dancing along to this. CLASSIC!
    9. Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
      Yes, it’s The Cure again. I think they make great first dance songs though.
    10. Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
      I know this isn’t a love song, but this isn’t a list of love songs. This is a list of first dance songs that aren’t cringe. I love this song, I always will, and I think it would make for a cracking first dance.

    So there you have it, 10 suggestions first dance songs that aren’t cringe. My all time favourite choice, and that which will be my first dance song, didn’t make it onto this list. I share so much, and no offence, but I don’t want to go to a wedding where someone else has it. BUT, if you can guess it, I’ll tell you. So, what is the best first dance song of all time?

    If 10 songs aren’t quite enough, you can find these songs and an extra 30 on my Spotify playlist. Search “40 First Dance Songs That Aren’t Cringe”, or Click Here. Let me know if you liked this post! I really enjoyed writing it!

    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.

    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!

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    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.

    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!