It’s funny how things change and take a turn so that we end up in situations we might not have imagined for ourselves!
I have loved writing my little wedding blog for the last few years, and I always had the idea in mind that maybe one day I could use it for something or turn it into more of a career. But I never really thought it could actually happen.
When I found out I was being made redundant in November, I knew this was the time to do it! Without realising, all of the features I had done, the people I had worked with and the contacts I had made in 2020 had propelled me into a position where I could actually think about making a go of it. I had a half decent website, an Instagram following, and a lot of really great support.
So in January I decided I’d go for it. I was going to offer wedding planning services, using my knowledge of hospitality from my last 10 years of work and the fabulous network of suppliers I was now creating.
I still wanted to help these amazing businesses through the pandemic, and I knew others would too. I was trying my best to share their offerings and encourage people to shop small during lockdown, and so many people were on board. I tossed around the idea of a service where we could benefit from all of the lovely products and services that our suppliers have been creating - a win for us and hopefully for them as it would bring them some extra sales and income. And so the Small Business Subscription was born.
Again, I didn’t really anticipate anyone signing up. But I am so happy that they did!
It felt a little like I was going off on a tangent… I had set about becoming a full time wedding planner and here I am offering a totally different service. Okay, granted, it’s only a small sideline. But where did it even come from?!
Well, it’s not that unexpected. Supporting small businesses goes hand in hand with what I want to do as a wedding planner. The entire industry is made up of individuals who are self-employed, people who have created a business out of baking, crafting, cooking, creating... and without those little businesses we wouldn’t have the weddings we know and love. No cake. No flowers. No handmade stationery or centrepieces. So here’s a few reasons why I’ve decided that these two things go hand in hand, and why it will be forming the heart of the business I am trying to create:
It's where it all began...
The whole reason I began my little blog in the first place was because I was working in a wedding venue and I was so mesmerised by the suppliers I was meeting. Individuals who came to dress the venue, drop off the cake, provide music and entertainment. I’d collect their business cards, chat to them about their work and ask to go and visit their studios to find out more. I loved getting to know them, and researching their little world of work. That’s something I will never lose. This has never just been about me wanting to further my own ambitions. It’s about finding the little gems that are out there and showcasing them far and wide.
That’s where I hope my job as a wedding planner will come in. I know about these people - I know the services they offer, I know how friendly and reliable they are, and I know where to find the real quality. So I can use that knowledge to help couples who may have never ventured into the world of weddings before, to help them find what they need for their big day.
Covid won't stop us...
Throughout 2020 my desire to support these businesses grew and grew. I watched as people fought to keep hold of their livelihoods, changing and adapting to keep going. But still always offering beautiful services, still here to help us get through lockdown with their new ideas, and somehow still with smiles on their faces!
I've been trying to show people how they can support - buying flowers for loved ones, having food boxes delivered for nights in at home, doing all of their Christmas shopping with local businesses. It's those small businesses that have helped us through. Making our lockdown lives a bit more entertaining, making sure our birthdays and occasions could still be celebrated safely, and showing us how much kindness was still out there in our communities.
Why would you not want to support that?!
And when it comes to weddings… I know so many of these businesses have worried for their own futures and livelihoods. Let’s not forget, this is how they put food on the tables and shirts on their back. But, HONESTLY, the biggest concern for these independents has been their clients. The love they have for their brides and grooms is astonishing. When you shop with a small retailer or a little independent maker, they invest so much in YOU. It’s personal, it’s organic and it’s bloody lovely to see. That goes for your venues, your celebrants, your stylists and your photographers too. They adore working with you and they appreciate every one of you. And we really, really, really need them to stay.
When I thought about setting up as a wedding planner, I did some research. I tried to look at it as though I was a bride. If I got engaged, totally clueless about what to do, and I wanted to look for a planner to help... what would I find?
I didn’t really like what I saw. Firstly how expensive it is is a real turn off. Secondly, it seemed that so many wedding planners focused on the On The Day support bit. So if I wanted them to do any of the actual planning, I have to buy into their very expensive packages. Why would I book a wedding planner whose main job isn’t planning?!
That is what my focus has always been from the word go. Helping people in those initial stages to get their head around what happens, what to book, and who to turn to.
I hope it is clear from the moment you land on my page that I am super invested in our local suppliers, that I know some bloody brilliant people and that I am happy to go and research any other bits and pieces you need that are specific to you. And I hope that's what sets me apart. I’m not just here to tell you what to do, but to introduce you to the world I have been living in for the last 10 years. To share my wisdom, match you with some amazing suppliers and help you to create something really special.
I can also run an event with my eyes closed and am super great at admin, so that helps too.
It’s taken me a long time to figure out how this is all going to come together. But this is what my niche is. It's not just about what I know but who I work with and bring on board.
I've done that research, meaning you can avoid hours trawling the internet for no reason. I show you great people up front, so there’s no messing about. And I work with the best quality, friendliest, loveliest, most wonderful people who you can trust to deliver the most amazing day for you.
And that’s why supporting small means you can think big.
Let’s talk about music!
For a lot of us, in everyday life, music matters. Whether it’s a song that spurs you on to run your 5k, the one you remember from your crazy teenage years (00s Emo/ Pop-Punk will always have a special place in my heart…) or the one you use to sing your babies to sleep, music can really mean a lot.
Some of my favourite memories are of being at festivals dancing and swaying to beautiful music, from road trips to see my bucket list bands and from evenings spent with friends bundled into a room jamming with acoustic guitars.
And every couple has “their song”, right?! I guess that’s why choosing the right music can be a big decision for your wedding. Whether you’re trying to create a special moment with sentimental pieces or you’re determined to get your guests on the dancefloor and give them a night they’ll never forget, picking the right music will be key!
When you're planning your own wedding, I only have one piece of advice and that is: do whatever you want to do! Don't worry about whether your choice of music (or anything else for that matter) is everyone else's cup of tea; you just do you! But, that said, it's still worth thinking about a few details when choosing who's going to play for you.
For instance, if they're playing through your ceremony you might want something soft or mellow. For your drinks reception, you might want something that people can nod along to but that still allows your guests to chat and mingle. And perhaps you want to wait until the evening to bust out the big tunes - but when you do, do you want to go all in?!
Firstly, research your musicians and make sure they're going to bring the sort of vibe you're after. Let's face it, there's nothing more awkward than someone playing to a room full of people who could not be less interested. Make sure they're appropriate for the tone of the day - and don't forget this may change as the day goes on.
Strings or harps are a good choice for your ceremony, as you can play classical or modern but it always gives that sense of grandeur and romance. For your drinks reception you might want jazz or soft piano music to fill the room as your guests chatter, or maybe some acoustic folk songs that inject a little life into proceedings and that people can hum and sing along to. Maybe for the evening, you want to go for a DJ or a full on party band. Your day may go from formal to relaxed to a bit of a pissup, so you need something different at each turn!
A good piece of advice is to try to find a person/band who can do more than one style. You may find a duo who can play something chilled during the afternoon and then come back with a full band later on to turn it up a notch. Or the people who play at your ceremony can stick around while you have your photos done to entertain the rest of your guests - and they may alter the song choice accordingly. Chat to your musicians about what they can offer and how it can work for you.
Don't feel compelled to go in any one direction (these are only suggestions after all!), and as with everything - don't be afraid to try something different if it's what you really want! Your guests might even appreciate something a little less traditional. Just have a think about what will make the most sense and give you the kind of atmosphere you're looking for.
Secondly, you might also want to give some thought to any specific songs or genres that you want them to do. As obvious as it sounds, if you want dance music and energy, pick someone that will deliver just that. If you want refined, laid back cocktail music, some performers do that better than others. If your choice of music as you walk down the aisle or that first dance is really important to you, then you should choose someone who can do your preferred thing, and do it well! The same way I say to research your florist or your photographer - it makes sense to choose people who specialise in the kind of thing you're looking for.
Finally, what is the theme or the style of the day overall? You'll want to choose music that's in keeping with the rest of the goings on. There are some things that work brilliantly in a tipi in a field that may not go down so well in a church - and vice versa! So think about how it fits in with the other things you've chosen. Consistency in a wedding is key - it works best when everything comes together.
But most importantly - make sure that when all is said and done, you're happy with your decisions! Your wedding should say something about you as a couple and the music is no exception! It is a really key part of the day, and can make the most wonderful, hilarious and sentimental moments all the more important.