My Best Friend's Wedding.

Fiona and The Big Fella, Wedding Day

Fiona and The Big Fella, Wedding Day

“What do you do when you go to a friend’s wedding?” is one of the questions I get asked most as a wedding planner.  Over the last month I’ve had the absolute joy of attending not one, but two of my best friends' weddings - the first in a stunning converted church in the heart of Edinburgh, the second on a beautiful family farm, on my stomping ground in the heart of North Yorkshire.

How can I answer that question honestly?  Well, I never, ever judge anybody’s wedding.  Every wedding should be a testament to the couple getting married and I’m there to enjoy their big day with them and embrace the spirit of their celebrations.  

But I do worry, of course I do.  I want them to have the best day of their lives, I would wish for it of I could; for the blue-sky, stress-free, love and laughter filled day of perfection that they deserve.  But I know that sometimes trains are delayed, that wasps sometimes sting and there are things you simply cannot prepare for.  Sometimes it rains in the UK!  I think we’re pretty-well prepared for that actually, but every now and then we’ll have a blisteringly hot day in March, which I think we are prone to forget that far more easily.  

The Ghillie Dhu, Edinburgh

The Ghillie Dhu, Edinburgh

So I sit on my hands and try my absolute best not to interfere; give advice only when it is asked for and be on the end of the phone when I’m needed.  On the day, I always take my two kit boxes; one with practical tools; cable ties, staple guns, twine… and the other for on-the-day happenings; with my first aid kit, sewing kit and sun tan lotion etc, because, as anyone who was ever a Girl Guide knows, you can never be too prepared.   I have to remind myself that wedding days are often perfect because of their seeming imperfections - that the moments you can’t plan for are often the ones that raise the most joy and laughter.

Sometimes I am privileged enough to be asked to assist in some small way.  Fiona and Phil asked me to announce them into the room and introduce the speeches, cake cutting and first dance.  I wrote and delivered a reading during the ceremony for Sheryl and Grant.  In both instances I was moved to tears to be asked - wedding planner or not, it is a very special thing to be a part of such an important day. 

So what do I do when I go to a friend's wedding?  When the day rolls around, my tasks are performed with pride, and then I sit quietly, sip a glass of champagne, toast the happy couple and relax into the day - focusing on the important stuff - enjoying watching them turn a page of their love story and pulling on my dancing shoes!

... what I would wish for all my friends; their perfect partner and the perfect day.

... what I would wish for all my friends; their perfect partner and the perfect day.

Two Peas in Pod  - for Sheryl and Grant
Be two peas in a pod; 
Grow together with honest hearts, with differing minds and moods, 
grow window-sill seeds and grey hairs and wrinkles, 
and in time, tiny heartbeats, eyelashes and noses.
Be as thick as thieves; 
Steal nights together without friends, or family, or photos on phones, 
steal finger tip touches and glances at parties, 
and stolen moments, that are no ones but your own.
Be birds of a feather; 
Fly to far-away places, sail stormy seas to land on perfect beaches, 
fly to the limits of your dreams and find each other there, 
and make your nest your castle, with feather-pillow forts that can’t be breached.
Be a storm in tea cup; 
Have remote-control tantrums and proposals in Paris, 
Have cocktails and cross-words and eat lazy brunches,
Have laughter for days and tears when they’re needed, 
And Snowball fights and Haley's Comets,
Because all of the wonders in the universe, are no greater than the love you give each other;
Be as thick as thieves, be birds of a feather, a storm in a teacup…
Be two peas in a pod.
LW xo

Photos of Fiona & Phil courtesy of David Ruff, Glasgow

The Big Reveal

I am so excited to share this news with you... 

LW events is exceedingly proud to be representing Birdsall House as their wedding planner and coordinator! 

http://birdsallhouseweddings.co.uk/index.php/weddings/ 

I may have been a little quiet lately, like the spring bulbs I have been waiting for a little sunshine before I burst into wedding season… and what a way to begin!

In November I was absolutely delighted to be named Yorkshire and North East Wedding Planner at The Wedding Industry Awards for the second year running.  It was a very happy surprise and spurred me on to think about the direction I wanted to see LW Events grow in this year.  

I love working with couples in their chosen venues and homes, and after two years I felt the time was right to expand and find a venue in Yorkshire to develop and grow as well.  When the opportunity arose to work with Lady Cara and The Hon. James Willoughby in their beautiful family home in Birdsall, a few miles from Malton, I was over the moon.  I could not have asked for a more perfect venue.  Not only is Birdsall House a stunning setting for wedding receptions, there is also a very large Church within the grounds and ample space for marquees and teepees, nestled amongst some 12th century ruins and the many peacocks.  

As if that isn't adventure enough, I will also be focusing more attention to event styling; a passion bourn during my time at university dressing the stage for plays I was directing.  I am delighted to be working with my one of the most inspirational women I know, Nicola Louise Dixon (http://nicoladixonphotography.com) for a styled shoot at North Star Club in April and I can’t wait to share the images with you. 

If you would like to know more about either Birdsall House or taking part in the styled shoot, give me a call m. 07764 949 078 or drop me a line at e. hello@lwevents.co

Veni. Vedi. Cepi.

For every couple planning their wedding, there tends to be one aspect of the day that is most important to them; sometimes an exquisite meal, or a free-flowing bar, for some a kick-ass band will make the day theirs.  Considering how you most like to enjoy yourself and making this the focus of the day is a great way to prioritise your planning - and your budget.  

I’ve attended a few weddings as a guest with no hired wedding photographer and while it was lovely to enjoy the day without breaking for posed shots, after each one I have received slightly frantic email asking if I took any pictures of the day that I could share and it got me thinking.  There’s a great argument for living in the moment instead of behind, or in these cases in front of a camera.  Almost everyone has a smart phone now, so social media sharing sites are a great way to capture candids - why not have your own wedding #hashtag.  

The thing is, after the food has been eaten and the band has packed away, after your dress has been dry cleaned and cake has been distributed the one part of your wedding that increases with value over time are your photographs.  Your special day, more often than not, will be a blur of love and hugs and tears and smiles, a good photographer will tease out moments from the day, writing your story in a picture book.

Even for the most camera shy couple, I would recommend finding a good photographer and selecting them should be a wholly personal process.  Ensure their style of photography is to your liking, that they are happy to take the shots you wish to stage, but most of all make sure you choose someone you like. You want to feel as comfortable as possible in front of the lens - it will translate to beautiful images that capture the real emotion of your wedding day.

As a planner, I get kid-on-Christmas-morning excited when my happy couples share their wedding photos with me.  It’s a chance to re-live the special day; the golden moments shared and captured for you to keep forever.

My Paper Anniversary

As 2015 dawned I had great plans for my year ahead; for LW Events Year One I had great and elaborate plans which involved styled shoots, a bi-weekly blog on my shiny new website that would definitely be up and running by the end of January.  Maybe even finish my business plan too.  All things that felt like starting a business to me.  Important things.  I bought a lot of post-it notes and a big white board in preparation!  

What actually happened was quite different - I was really, really busy!  Suddenly I had back-to-back events to plan and coordinate and all thoughts of marketing went out of the marquee window!  I worried constantly that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing; I had barely written a single post it note and my white board didn’t even make it onto the wall. 

Today marks a year since my first wedding flying solo, I can barely believe it - it feels like a lifetime ago, it feels like yesterday.

Somewhere in the midst of this wonderful and hectic year I received notification that my beautiful Bride Charlotte had nominated me for The Wedding Industry Awards, for my role in her wedding in June.  Over the moon just doesn’t cut it - I was tickled pink! 

On a stormy night in October, through a twist of fate that saw the suspension arm puncture my car tyre at 1am, after a 17 hour corporate event at Leeds Armouries, I sat with a bottle of beer and waited for the recovery van.  The ETA was 4am; finally I had some time to kill.  I decided to use my time productively and completed TWIA application, thinking the evening would be a good networking opportunity and an excuse to have my hair done. 

I blinked and it was November; traditionally a quiet month for weddings and I was preparing for the biggest event I had ever undertaken; Shedding Festival or alternatively known as ‘Dave and Lou gave free reign to the Whitwellium Imaginarium’.  It was my dream wedding and I don’t think I’ll ever have as much fun or as little sleep creating an event again.

When the awards came I was in the period post-event that’s equal parts exhilaration and exhaustion, so much so that I nearly didn’t attend.  In the car my sister asked how I felt about being nominated, if I wanted to win, how I would feel if I didn’t.  The answer was easy; especially on the back of Lou and Dave’s incredible day - the reason I do what I do, is not for recognition, but to help people create memories they will cherish for the rest of their lives.  It’s the closest thing to creating magic, in my mind.    

…And of course I wanted a big gold star for all my hard work.

When they called my name to say I had won ‘North East Planner of the Year’ I sat in nearly fell off my chair.  They couldn’t mean me?  The last award of the night was ‘Newcomer of the Year’, it barely registered that I had been entered for this too - winning that as well was the perfect end to an incredible, extraordinary and unexpected year - the icing on the cupcake.

Small Cheer and Great Welcome ... *The Joy of Seating Plans

To seating plan, or not to seating plan, that is the question.

The second most important piece of advice I give to my Brides and Grooms is this;  if you are going to follow a traditional seating plan, make sure it is completed at least a month before the wedding.  I know that nobody ever follows this; it's the one thing that tends to keep anxious Brides and Grooms awake the week before the wedding.  If we’re honest it is a bit of a chore - at best a little dull, certainly not a patch on cake tasting, and at worst the subtle art of manoeuvring the politics of a modern family can be a logistical nightmare.  As a planner I’m happy to assist with whatever tasks you need, but this really is one of the times you really do have to grit your teeth and get it done, I’m afraid.

 

A good tip is to use post it notes with guests names on, for ease of change and an A2 sheet of card with your table shapes wether banquet or rounds.  If you’re having a top table start there, as decisions about who will join you there, should inform who goes on the tables closest to you.  

Communication is key - if you do have family members that are not on good terms, be honest with them about seating arrangements well before the wedding.  If you have too many parents and step-parents to fit comfortably on your top table, it might be worth considering seating other members of your Bridal Party with you - best man, maid of honour and their partners.  Or seating all the groomsmen and bridesmaids there, so there is no favouritism shown to parents.  

Abandoning a traditional seating plan can be lovely, especially in less formal settings, but a word of advice; some older guests may appreciate a reserved area away from entertainment, or on a table that will not be moved after the wedding breakfast.  Same goes for casual seating; if you're dining on hay bales, don't forget a few cushions for those who could use a little extra comfort - after all what Nana doesn’t love to be treated like the VIP she is?  

Similarly please, please remember to save seats for yourselves; if you’ve gone to the trouble to plan a fabulous wedding you will definitely want to sit with your beloved to have a bite to eat!  You’ve earned it!  Such a simple thing, and you don’t need to adhere to the rules of the top table, but find a couple of seats where you’ll have a great view of all the special people in your lives who are there to celebrate with you.

The Little Things

Weddings are full of precious moments, love, laughter and humanity - it’s one of the reasons I became a planner.  If asked what is my favourite part of a wedding is, I cannot chose a single element; each wedding is different it seems silly to try and compare.  I’m frequently moved to tears when the bride walks down the aisle and I never miss a Father of the Bride’s speech.  I toast every bride and groom privately for luck, even if it is with a cup of tea in the kitchen, that’s my own personal tradition.  

 

Often the most memorable moments are the ones that aren’t planned; I always encourage Brides and Grooms to not focus too much on the details - every wedding is perfect, even in it’s imperfections.  There will always be things you cannot plan for, most notably the elements!  But the most beautiful memories can be gifted from things ‘going wrong’ - when the heaven’s open and everyone has to run for cover, only to be rewarded with a sky-splitting rainbow a few minutes later. 

 

I had a venue visit with a bride recently and when discussing the day she trusted me with the most sacred of secrets… the song choice for The First Dance.  And it is going to be magical.  I felt so privileged to be trusted with this knowledge; it’s a great responsibility being a planner but the rewards are many.  Often you are the sole person who knows the plan for the entire day; the surprises the Bridal party have organised is just one example.  You get witness the private moments when a wedding is more than a wedding and is the beginning of a marriage.  I love the quiet minute before I announce the new Mr and Mrs into the wedding breakfast; sharing a hug after all the weeks and months of preparation has culminated in saying the ‘I do’s’, just before sharing their fist meal as a married couple the festivities begin.

 

The piece of advice I give to every bride and groom is to take 10 minutes alone to just be with each other.  The day will go in a flurry of well wishes and music and the blink of an eye, you need a pause to take it in and share a few minutes and a few kisses that belong just to you.