How did you get involved in wedding planning and what’s your background?
As a kid my parents were involved in organising street festivals so I suppose it was inevitable! I first worked in marketing and PR but was eventually drawn back to the fells and worked on some public events for the local council and for a while in marquees (I have the scars to prove it!). One wedding marquee client back in 2010 asked me if I’d have a coffee with her because even though all the tent was done, she was getting very stressed about the rest of the planning. Three hours later she was all set and I knew that was what I really wanted to do. ‘Weddings by Annabel’ was born!
What’s the advantage of having a planner? Do I need one?
Think of a planner like a shoulder to lean on and a professional ear! The first stage of planning is fun; gathering ideas, creating the theme, making lists… then you realise how many moving parts there are and decisions to be made. You have many conversations with each supplier but can sometimes struggle to see how they all fit together. A good planner takes all the info and puts it together for you like a big jigsaw. Then you see the whole picture, what’s missing and what does not fit. On the day, a planner coordinates, communicates and leads the day. You and your guests shouldn’t ever need to know the time or have any queries or concerns. Calm and smiley, they are a kind barrier around you so you dont have to do anything but relax and take it all in. Ever watchful, they look for potential issues and constantly safeguard the wonderful atmosphere. I find myself learning something new at each event as we get asked to help with anything! Love the challenge though!
What one piece of advice would you flag up to couples planning their wedding?
One piece!? Eek, where do I start!? I suppose my biggest key ingredient for any event is creating the right atmosphere. We have all been to an event where the mood was off or just not warm. It makes such an impact! Influencers include elements such as lighting, temperature, music and scents. Walk through the day and think about what the guests will experience. What will they enjoy or remember? But be careful not to waste your money or effort on fluff that has no real impact though! Each decision should be considered not just for the atmosphere and memories made but also our environment.
What’s most often overlooked?
The clear up. Its not the fun part so I get it! Try to ask your venue, bar and caterer what will be taken care of and what you will need to sort. Ask if there will be recycling and what happens to leftovers.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
People. Sounds daft but every plan looks brilliant on paper then you add people in the mix and things get much more challenging! Relationships, families, individual needs, diets, abilities, accidents, age… so many considerations and none are right or wrong, just important to think about to some extent whether for your peace of mind or someone you care about.
In your opinion what gives a real wow factor?
I love lighting! I think it has the biggest effect on a space and is so versatile. When I first started in events there wasnt much choice really. Fairy lights were the big player. Now you can get such wonderful options for indoor and outdoor, highlighting or floods, coloured or not. I also believe its the one element that continues to have an effect. As the space changes and evening comes, you might miss the odd floral arrangement but the lighting can be suited to the mood and lift the space.