As a wedding photographer I work with a lot of wedding vendors. I think for couples it’s great to get an insight into how each of us can help you have a dream day so, I caught up with Dominique at Stylish Events recently to find out what it’s like being a wedding planner and how she helps couples achieve their dream day.
Based in London Dominique covers events in many gorgeous places in the UK and also beautiful destinations in France and Italy.
What inspired you to start your company?
I’ve always been involved in events in one way or another since I was a teenager. By my early 30’s I was Head of Marketing in a law firm and earning a very respectable salary. The problem was the more senior you become the less of the events you are involved with. It’s all about Business and Marketing Plans. I missed doing the events and I’d lost my passion for what I was doing.
It was 2001 and my husband and I had planned a trip to New York. I had heard about wedding
planning and knew the USA was the home of the wedding planner. So I contacted a few and they very kindly met me and told be all about what they do for their clients and how they run their business.
Within a month of coming back from New York I quit my job and was putting together a business plan for my own company. That was 14 years ago and I have never regretted that decision.
What do you enjoy most about being a wedding planner?
Helping someone with the happiest day of their life is such a rewarding way to live your life. I know that may sound a little cliché, but it really is true.
Our role is to make a couple’s wedding dreams come to reality. I still get a tingle when, on the wedding day, after working with a couple for months and months, I am able to show them the final set up of the dining room (or ballroom, or marquee etc.) and they say something like “oh, it’s just as I dreamt it would be, thank you”. It’s such a honour and a privilege to see the look in their eyes and the smiles on their faces as they see everything they wanted for their special day. Just knowing you are a part of that is still such a thrill.
What do you enjoy the least about being a wedding planner?
I guess one of the things I find hard is the day to day admin of being self-employed. If it really was all about planning weddings, that would be great. Actually, a lot of time needs to be spent on the general administration of running a company. There is no one else you can hand these tasks on to when you are self-employed.
Do you have an all-time favourite wedding that you planned and can you tell us a little bit about it?
That’s such a difficult question as each wedding has something special that I will remember. If I’m really pushed, I organised a wedding at Aynhoe Park in 2013 for such a lovely couple. I loved everything the bride and groom wanted for this wedding; from the chic table settings, the amazing flowers, the elegant stationery, the delicious 6 course dinner and the fantastic venue. This really is such an unusual venue, not for everyone, but very special. I also think because the bride and groom were so lovely, the whole experience will be with me forever.
What advice would you give to couples who may be considering hiring a wedding planner?
Don’t be frightened of us. Some couples have huge fears that a wedding planner will take over their plans and make all the decisions. Honestly, this really is not true. We are there for you and only for you and we will create the wedding you want.
The second thing is that we may not be as expensive as some people think we are. Yes, there is a fee to hire a wedding planner, but in many cases we can save you a huge amount of money from the amazing contacts we have and our experience in getting the best value out of your budget.
What advice would you give to suppliers who want to work with wedding planners?
The best way to work with us is to do an amazing job for your clients and be willing to do an amazing job for our clients. We do tend to use many suppliers over and over again. As a member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (www.ukawp.com), we do not believe in taking commission. This is something I love and strongly believe in.
It essentially means that our clients know when we recommend a supplier we are doing so because they are the best person for them and their budget, not because we are getting something financial from the recommendation.
What some suppliers don’t realise is that most wedding planners get on very well and we share information on wedding suppliers. So, if you do a great job for one, you are spreading the word about how great you are with a large network of wedding planners.
The wedding industry is now a huge business; how do you think all of us as wedding suppliers can make organising and enjoying a wedding as stress free as possible for couples?
I always believe that suppliers should go above and beyond expectations for couples. The more we do for them the more they will appreciate our services and the less stressed they become. I know we are all running a business and need to make money from this industry, but couples love it when suppliers have a “can do” attitude, rather than a “can do for more money” attitude.
And a random question….Describe in 5 words your perfect day off….
A long Sunday walk with my husband, Dan, and my golden retriever, Barkley. (oops a little more than 5 words, sorry!).
Dominique can be contacted at +44 (0) 7780 702 060 and you can see more of the great events she plans on their website