Image by Jonathan Watkins - Photoglow Photography
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a wedding planner? We asked Ruth, owner of Finesse Planning and winner of Best Wedding Planner at The 2013 Wedding Industry Awards, to give us a sneek peek into her world...
When I was asked to write this article, I thought to myself 'sure, this won't take long, not a problem' but as I tried to sit and write a breakdown of my 'typical day’ I realised it is actually a lot harder than I had anticipated!
For a start, not one wedding is the same and this is one of the things I pride myself on. I create truly unique weddings that are personal to each couple and that reflect them both throughout the whole celebration. Each wedding is completely different and as such, requires different elements throughout the process. This in turn means that not one single day is ever the same, not even on the wedding day!
The majority of our clients book about 6-9 months in advance. Most are couples who have started the planning process and then find themselves struggling due to their busy schedules, distance or time differences. Others simply feel overwhelmed by the task and enlist our services to help them through the journey. From that point on, their planning becomes enjoyable rather than a stressful or arduous task.
Being a wedding planner isn't all about designing pretty things, going to bridal boutiques, cake tastings and meetings with florists; this is actually only a small fraction of what is involved. So to give you an understanding of what an award winning wedding planner (and mother of two!) actually does, I have decided to pick a week from my diary that explains more about my job.
A week in the life of a wedding planner
7am - Up before the children (I have an 8yr old boy and a 3yr old girl) to check my emails quickly and see if there are any urgent emails or enquiries that have come in from overseas overnight. I have a number of couples who live around the world including Singapore, USA and UAE. Once the children are up, dressed and fed it's off for the school run!
9am - Both children dropped off at their respective schools/preschools - time to grab a quick takeaway coffee!
10.30am - First meeting of the week is at Wyelands Estate in Chepstow where we are the recommended wedding planners. We are meeting a new caterer whom we are proposing to use for one of our client's weddings in September. There are a lot of details to cover as it is very important that the wedding venue are satisfied that the caterers are going to uphold their own high standards, plus I need to be confident they will be able to work closely with me and my clients and provide exactly what my clients are looking for and within budget. A lot of groundwork has gone ahead of this and the negotiation skills I have, have paid off; I have secured a great deal for my clients and the venue is happy to use them too, a great result!
12.30pm - Head back to Cheltenham to collect my daughter from preschool - grab a quick sandwich from the garage!
1.30pm - Collect my daughter and head back home. Settle her in the playroom whilst I quickly try to grab half an hour to reply to my emails from the morning and contact any clients or suppliers needing a response.
3.15pm - Collect my son from school and head to the park for some fun with the kids in the sun before heading home for tea.
6pm - The other half is home now so I can hand over the children because I have a Skype meeting with a bride in Abu Dhabi who has just booked my full planning services for her wedding next year. We have a lengthy chat as I find out all about her plans and ideas to date and we also put together a detailed budget plan and to-do list for her. I will now use the information I have gathered to produce her design and ideas book that I will present to her in a few weeks’ time via Skype and email.
The design and ideas book is a great way for me to provide ideas about how the wedding will look from beginning to end but the couple will still choose their favourite elements. This ensures they are making the decisions and this is what creates the personal element of their wedding.
8pm - My next Skype meeting is with one of my students. As well as being a wedding planner, I am also the tutor for The High End Wedding & Event Management Course run by The Wedding Planner School. The students study at home and attend lectures throughout the year plus they get a monthly mentoring session with me. During this session, I help the student finalise her ideas for her presentation for the end of year event the class put on during London Fashion Week. It's going to be fantastic and I love helping teach people to be amazing wedding and event planners, thus ensuring our industry has more integrity.
9pm - I log back in to my emails and respond to the 56 email messages that are waiting for me.
10pm - I have a break to have some dinner that my husband has lovingly prepared.
10.30pm - I jump back on to the computer and carry on with the general admin that is needed to run the business.
12 midnight - Off to bed, it’s a busy day tomorrow!
7am - Alarm goes off and the day begins!
9am - The kids are dropped off again at their respective schools/preschools, time for that coffee!
9.15am Today I am teaming up with my business partner from my other business, House Of Bunting. We are heading to one of our favourite bridal boutiques, The White Rose Bridal Boutique in Chipping Camden, to style one of her windows. Danielle asks stylists and planners to provide a monthly display, and this month, we will be providing a 1920s style window, which we felt is perfect as it is is this week that The Great Gatsby is released in the cinema. 1920s vintage is a fantastic trend and one I have already had the pleasure of working with for one of our weddings last November. After the release of the film, I’m sure the Great Gatsby wedding theme will be even bigger than it is now! Our display includes lots of feathers, tassels and pearls and we love it!
12.30pm - Head back to Cheltenham to pick up my daughter from preschool, grab some lunch and then back home. This afternoon is relatively 'quiet' so a great chance to spend some time making new items with my business partner, Kim, for House of Bunting. We made a new range of gorgeous hessian and Lace runners and bunting for a massive order going out in a few weeks’ time. This is another huge trend I have seen, hessian and lace for the more rustic themed wedding, especially for barn weddings –a very popular choice of wedding venue in Gloucestershire!
6am - Up earlier than usual as today there is a breakfast networking meeting!
7.15am - Breakfast networking meeting where I enjoy a full English breakfast (and coffee!) and meet some very interesting people. Some may not obviously need my services, or me theirs, but you never know who they know that might and vice versa. I am a huge believer in networking and feel it is a lot harder to get ahead in business without it!
11am - On to a site visit with a marquee company for a couple who are getting married in a couple of months. It was a very late booking for me and I have been brought on board as the couple who live in London (80% of my couples come from London) were struggling to plan their Cotswold wedding at the groom's parents’ house. Since coming on board, I would say 75% of things are now in place - not bad for a couple of weeks work! The meeting goes well and we now have a very clear plan for the wedding logistics and the marquee. A big tick in the box!
1.30pm - I get to have some fun for lunch today as I am meeting friends for a birthday lunch. One of the luxuries of being self-employed is that I can actually plan my diary around my life, although it very rarely feels like it!
3-3.30pm - Collect the children from school and head out to the park as the weather is very pleasant, need to make the most of the sun! We head back home for the usual teatime ritual. This evening my husband is away, so it's kids to bed and laptop open. Time to catch up with the 84 emails in my inbox!!!
12.30am - Bedtime, a super busy day tomorrow!
7am - You guessed it, emails, up, dressed, kids up dressed, fed, school!
9am - Today I have a crazy busy day! In the car for an hour and a half and a chance to make my first calls of the day to clients and suppliers -the joy of a good Bluetooth! Including a chat with my South Wales Wedding Co-ordinator, Deeanne Felman, about a lovely enquiry that has been received this morning from a couple in Australia looking to get married in The Gower. Deeanne is an amazing asset to my business and it's great to be able to bounce ideas off and discuss things with. Being self employed on the whole is a very lonely career choice, so it's great to have Deeanne on hand to help with the weddings as well as being a sympathetic ear!
10.30am - First stop is a meeting with a client and Enlightened Lighting who provide amazing lighting effects for events. We are meeting to discuss the requirements for a client's joint 50th Birthday party in Henley-on-Thames in a month's time. We come up with some amazing designs and I can't wait to see it. Lighting really does make a huge difference to any event and doesn't cost as much as you might think!
1pm - My client, her friend and I head to a catering company in Reading for a food tasting. My client has chosen canapés followed by bowl food and desserts and it was wonderful to see such a brilliant array of choices, we all left very full up!
3.30pm - Head back to Cheltenham to collect children from different friends who have kindly helped me with childcare after school.
5pm - Get the kids home for tea, quick catch up on the emails, only 45 today! Then get refreshed and ready to go out again.
7pm - Second food tasting of the day with another couple who have travelled from London to try their chosen menu. We have a great opportunity to discuss lots of other elements about their wedding day and we all leave very excited...and full!
10pm - Get back home to start work on designing an invitation for a couple getting married in September. I really enjoy creating stationery designs for my couples as it helps to start off the theme as well as potentially save money. I have emailed the proof, let's hope they like it!
11.30pm - Very tired, so heading to bed 'early'!
7am - The end of the week, but it's still the same process!
9am - Today however, is a bit more relaxed and after dropping the children off to school, I head back home to catch up on some much-needed housework! Once the floors are done, polishing done, washing done and put away, children's rooms tidied etc. I then catch up on the admin side of House Of Bunting, sending out booking forms, checking the accounts, dealing with new enquiries and updating our systems. If I see my diary looking crazy busy, I try to ensure that there is one day in the week where it's a little less hectic, otherwise it's impossible to maintain!
3-3.30pm - I collect the kids and tonight I am signing off work to spend some quality time with my family.
I could go on about my weekend, but to be honest, it's another full day on Saturday spending it with clients from London meeting, florists, cake makers, celebrants, hair dressers and photographers. This in itself would be another blog!
Well, I'm exhausted having reread my working week, but that is really just a typical week in my life. I do work hard and I juggle the work/life balance and don't always get it right, but the main thing is I love my job, I love helping make dreams come true for people and that makes every single second worth it.