100 Feature Fridays!
Wow, we are coming to the end of 2021 and I’m trying to get everything nicely tied up so that I can take a bit of a break over Christmas. This year has been a strange year in so many ways - I knew that starting a business would be challenging and it would require a lot of hard work, but I didn’t realise I’d spend so much of my time doing half of the stuff I actually have been doing!
I made the decision to go into wedding planning full time in January 2021, at a time when the country was in full lockdown and weddings were literally illegal. Looking back, that was a bold move! I knew that I wouldn’t spend much time this year working on actual weddings as they were such a rarity anyway, but I had to take the time to build up my brand, get my name out there and let the bookings start coming in. I had hoped I would be able to co-ordinate a handful (which I did) and maybe there would be a few fayres and things thrown into the mix, too (which there were). But what I hadn’t anticipated were the hours of website admin, Instagram reels, social media content planning and all of that malarkey that goes with running a business. I mean, I have some time on my hands to get it done, which is great, but it’s really not something I enjoy and something I wish wasn’t such a huge part of running a successful business these days. I like making funny reels, I understand the benefit of using socials to reach new people and to advertise my various projects but, man, it’s excessive.
What I do love, however, is connecting with different businesses. I’ve always loved sharing the little gems that I come across - in fact, it’s how I got started doing all of this in the first place. I wanted to create my website so that there could be a place that people could come to find the bits they needed for their wedding. Looking for a florist, a caterer, a band? My website tells you all about the best ones I have come across and details my first hand experiences of working with these brilliant people.
When the first lockdown happened, this was all I had to go on. An empty website with a few little articles which mentioned a couple of nice venues and cakes. That was about it. I used my time on furlough to write more and more, to get to know other local suppliers and connect with other wedding people. My website went from having just one or two tiny paragraphs to having ten, twenty, thirty businesses featured. I was writing about what they were getting up to in lockdown and how you could support them during the pandemic. I wanted to show you how epic these guys truly are. In fact, in July 2020 I decided I would “feature” one new supplier each day. That’s over thirty new businesses to share in just one month. (I told you I had a lot of time on my hands!)
I knew this had to continue, and that I wanted to make it a regular thing. I decided I would feature a new business weekly; people who I had met at previous weddings, people who I had found online who were doing great things, people I met at wedding fayres, those who I wanted to work with in the future. I started to share them once a week on a Friday. It was a chance to shout out someone I liked, to add something new and fresh to the website and to allow my catalogue of great suppliers to keep growing.
We’re now in December 2021, and we have hit an amazing milestone. We have now featured ONE HUNDRED amazing small businesses on our website. ONE HUNDRED! Venues, stylists, stationers, singers, prop hire, tipis, food, drink and more. It’s incredible to think we have featured so many brilliant people, and that we have barely even scratched the surface. There is still so much more out there, and I can’t wait to dive back in!
Sadly, some of the businesses we came to know and love are no longer trading - thank you so much, Covid. So if you look at the site I fear there may be slightly less than the advertised hundred there for you to look at… but it’s pretty darn close! And I assure you I have spent many, many, MANY hours of my life putting this all together. I hope you feel it’s worth it.
What’s amazing is that every single business featured on my page is someone I have been lucky enough to team up with, or that I have at least taken time to get to know. I don’t just sit here and copy and paste any old rubbish from people’s websites but I actually research what I can, I try to meet them for coffee or have a phone call to get to know them even better, and we send messages back and forth online all the time. It’s wonderful to think that a hundred of you have taken the time to talk to little old me. The wedding industry is a fantastically vast and varied place, and to be able to spend my days chatting to all sorts of fascinating people and uncovering new things every day is a real privilege in my book.
I hope to be able to continue doing what I do for a really long time. I hope my couples find it helpful to see some of the suppliers I have a good connection with - it certainly makes my life easier when tasked with sourcing suppliers for people to have a go-to list of fabulous people that I can pull from at a moment’s notice! I also hope suppliers enjoy me trying to indulge and learn more about their business and spread the word where I can. Ultimately it’s about making sure our suppliers are seen, and that you all get to have the best of the best on your big day because I can show you exactly where to find them!
Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to chat to me, to meet with me, send things back and forth to me, and to everyone who takes the time to read and research the brilliant people out there.
Here’s to the next hundred!
But first… I need some sleep.
Not too long ago I was approached about co-ordinating a wedding at a venue I hadn’t yet worked at. From what I could see online it all looked so pretty, and I was excited to get to meet a new team of people and work with another lovely couple. From the moment I spoke with Pete and Lizzie, they were a dream. We emailed a few times, spoke on the phone and they were just wonderful to chat to every time.
Having never been to Barton Court before I wanted to do a test run, to get my bearings and to see the space for myself, but a petrol crisis seemed to be doing everything in its power to keep me from getting over there! Thankfully, in the week before the wedding I was able to pop down, see the space getting set up for their big day and run through the plans with the venue.
Safe to say, the drive over there was gorgeous. From my house in Kidderminster I got to drive through Malvern and up around the Malvern Hills (which you think is beautiful in the daylight but I realised that, actually, it’s pretty magical when driving back late at night too, looking out over miles and miles of twinkling lights!). I pulled up to a gorgeous house with pretty little barns at the back which we’d be using for our wedding. There’s something really lovely about seeing an empty space and knowing that within a few days it will be filled with flowers, candles, food and drink and will be totally transformed ready for someone to spend what will hopefully be the best day of their life!
In those final few days before the wedding, there were a LOT of phone calls and conversations, but everyone I spoke with was just fabulous. The caterer (Richard from Rosettes), the bar (Emma from Peggy Sue’s), the florist (Beautiful Flowers by KB) and all the guys who I badgered with emails throughout the week! What a brilliant team of people - and what a great job they did to pull together such a gorgeous wedding!
On the day itself, I arrived early in the morning to help set the room and put finishing touches in place before the nuptials - with an army of amazing helpers including Bride’s Dad, brother, in-laws and bridesmaids all helping to bring it all together. We were hanging lights, placing name cards, creating super sweet photo memory walls, and at one point scouring the venue and collecting lamps to place around the room for “ambience”! And the room did look stunning when it was all done. Special shout out to Daz who was up ladders, fixing bulbs, emptying boxes… and Lizzie’s dad who brought over a much-needed round of brews for us all! I weirdly love that part of the day - it can be stressful and frantic but it’s amazing seeing everything come together and everyone wanting to do their bit to help.
Whilst this was happening, our beautiful bride was getting ready with her bridesmaids having hair and makeup done with prosecco flowing. The flowers came, aisle was dressed for the wedding, the amazing cake was delivered and put in place, and our groom arrived looking super dapper in an amazing green velvet suit jacket! I have to say though, the moment we all saw the bride for the first time… Lizzie looked incredible in a colourful, floral wedding gown that suited her down to the ground. Just stunning!
The ceremony was lovely - gorgeous music, funny words and, seriously, any wedding where a dog comes down the aisle is a winner in my books. I have to admit, Wilfred kinda stole my heart.
The October weather stayed crisp and dry for everyone to enjoy a drinks reception on the terrace and the horsebox bar was heaving from the middle of the afternoon! Rosettes provided an amazing two course dinner which looked absolutely stunning (and the team were just amazing from start to finish!), and the cake was cut for dessert. The speeches were all incredibly sweet and hilarious in equal measure, with a very poignant song from our Groom’s Dad, followed by a rendition of a Busted song that I don’t think I’ll ever forget! And I have to say I was really touched to hear Lizzie stood up and said a few words, where she gave me a special mention too… although I missed it because at the time I was going to find extra loo roll for the ladies toilets! You see, our job isn’t all glitz and glamour, folks!
The DJ got the evening going, and everyone was filling up on pizza from the fabulous Dough Hook pizza van. But I have to say as I was leaving, everyone seemed to be having the absolute time of their lives doing karaoke in the barn! Everybody was in their element - smiling, happy, all so fun and so lovely, and it made everything seem so worthwhile. I know weddings have been back for some time now, but it still gets me a bit emotional seeing everyone together having the best time ever knowing not too long ago we were all shut away and missing each other so badly. I’m so happy these couples get to have their special day and everything works out so well for them!
Pete and Lizzie were just such lovely people. Their families were so kind and so wonderful (at one point in the evening Pete’s Dad made a point of coming to tell me how happy he was for our bride and groom because he thinks being married to his wife is the best feeling ever. I could’ve cried!). I genuinely feel so lucky to be able to meet so many great people and be invited to be part of their special days. All of the bridesmaids, groomsmen, everyone who lends a hand, it’s so great to get to be part of your little team for the day and make sure you get to have a day you’ll never forget!
Thank you so much Pete & Lizzie for letting me come and help out on your day. I’m so glad everything went so well in the end. You deserve the very best!
I just HAVE to tell you about the gorgeous Autumn Wreath Workshop which happened last weekend!
You may know that Jordan, owner of Flo’s Coffee Shop, began by baking brownies from her home with a business called Flo’s at Fifty Four. During lockdown she was sending her brilliant brownies out in the post, and creating amazing cakes and treats for locals on their special occasions, too. Did you all see the epic cake she made for my 30th birthday?!
Well, when the opportunity came along for Jordan to buy premises close to her home and realise her lifelong dream of owning her very own coffee shop, she grabbed it with both hands. But she knew she wanted it to be more than just a cafe. She’s creating a hub for her local community where they can enjoy drinks, cakes, food, and so much more. Her regulars are becoming her friends and locals are loving having a space to come to hang out. She’s helping to share the work of other local businesses and has loads of ideas of ways she can create an exciting and welcoming space for her local community. And that’s where the workshops come in!
Jordan asked me to make some suggestions of local businesses who may want to team up to run workshops from her coffee shop, starting with some exciting floral wreaths by a local florist. I put her in touch with Flowers by Cleo, an amazing natural florist and flower grower based near Wolverhampton. I have to say I think the three of us make a pretty great team. We put a plan in place and managed to sell out the Autumn workshop within days! We got together for a coffee at Flo’s last week to go over all the final details, and on Sunday we welcomed our first wreath makers into the shop!
All of the credit goes to Jordan & Cleo (I was basically admin lady! I don’t have a creative bone in my body). Whilst I was busy at a wedding fayre on Sunday, the ladies came in to rearrange the shop, set up stations for the guys to create their masterpieces and filled the room with the most incredible selection of fresh and dried flowers in the most gorgeous Autumn colours and textures. The smell as you walked in was incredible!
Cleo taught our ladies how to create their wreaths, helped them choose their flowers and foliage and talked them through the process of making and decorating their unique pieces. By the time I came to the shop in the evening, work was well underway and there were some beautiful creations on their benches! Not to mention everyone had tummies full of cakes and brownies, coffees and hot chocolates. And, most importantly, smiles on their faces!
The ten finished wreaths were all absolutely beautiful - each one so different, it was incredible to see everyone create something so unique from all of the same supplies. There were some with berries, some dried fruits, full wreaths, half wreaths, some green, some brown, some colourful. And everyone was so proud!
None moreso than Cleo herself, who was delighted with everyone’s efforts and was beaming the entire time! As everyone left the shop she turned to me and said “I only met these ladies a few hours ago but I feel like they’re my new best friends. It’s like watching my chicks fly the nest!”
Jordan also made the loveliest comment - standing outside the shop as dusk came, everything in the street was quiet but with the lights on inside the shop and everyone chatting and working, the cafe looked so cosy, and I feel like this is exactly what she had wanted to achieve when she opened the shop.
So, all in all, a very successful day!
If you have any thoughts on other workshops you would like to see, or other little projects you’d like me to be involved in that will help our local businesses, please do get in touch and let me know!
We have a Christmas Wreath workshop with Flowers by Cleo back at Flo’s Coffee Shop on Sunday 28th November and Cleo is hosting another in Wolverhampton too. Please go and give them both a little follow and support them wherever you can. And next time you fancy a coffee, pop in to Flo’s!