event planner

Congratulations - you're engaged! Now what?

So, you’ve just got engaged - congratulations! But now what? Once the initial shock and excitement have passed, you’ve phoned your nearest and dearest, and posted a photo of your ringed finger online, make sure that you take some time to enjoy that ‘just engaged’ feeling.

When you’re ready to start planning your wedding, you might be tempted to buy a dozen wedding magazines or go to wedding fairs straight away, and these can be great ways to get inspiration for your big day, but the first thing you need to do is have a realistic conversation with your fiance/fiancee about your budget. Do you have savings you intend to use, or are you going to set aside a certain amount each month from now on? Your finances will govern every decision you make for your wedding, so it’s important that you both know what your budget is, before you get carried away planning a lavish event that might not be realistic. If you’re going to have a save up for your wedding, try to work out how long it will take you to save a reasonable amount (bearing in mind weddings typically cost anything from £10,000 to £30,000!).

The next thing to consider is the guest list; start with the essential people who you definitely want to be there for the whole day, and see how many you have. Then create a second list of those who you would like to come to the evening reception, and see how many you have. You can always move people between the lists (they’ll never know!). If you end up with a very long list, have a good think about why you’re inviting certain people; do you actually like them or is it out of obligation? It is worth remembering that one of the easiest ways to save money on a wedding is to reduce the guest list!

You then need to think about the type of wedding you both want to have, and the time of year. Do you have a specific date or month in mind? Is your heart set on an outdoor wedding, a traditional church ceremony, a stately home or maybe a marquee in the garden? Is there a particular theme you want to incorporate, and therefore a specific type of venue that fits with this?

Once you have decided on the type/style/theme of your day, you can then consider potential venues. At this point you should think about key things that are personal to you that will affect your final decision, such as: how many people the venue can hold; is there accommodation onsite/nearby; can you have the ceremony and the reception there (if that’s what you want); what dates do they have available that suit the time of year you want; what are the menu choices; can you have a live band; etc…

Don’t forget, if you find any aspect of planning your wedding daunting, you don’t fancy trawling through lots of venue and supplier websites, or you simply don’t have time, you should consider hiring a wedding planner to do all the hard work for you. Yes, it will be an additional cost, but their experience and connections in the wedding industry may actually help save you money in the long run, and the stress it will alleviate from you is priceless, so it is worth thinking about. I offer a variety of planning services, from full wedding planning to partial planning, so you can pick and choose the areas you might need some extra help with.

Please get in touch to have an informal chat and find out more!

Choosing your wedding venue...

When you start planning your wedding, one of the first things you’ll need to do is decide on your venue. You may already have your ideal venue in mind, but this may change depending on your guest list, your budget, your chosen theme/style, the time of year you want to get married and the venue’s availability.

Some of the things that you will want to think about before viewing any venues are:
     - Do you want the ceremony and reception at the same venue, or different ones?
     - If your budget is an issue, would you consider having a small ceremony with a larger reception? Could your venue accommodate this, or would you need two venues?
     - Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding? Or do you want any outdoor space?
     - What theme are you having, and does the venue suit it?
     - Do you need accommodation onsite or nearby?
     - Would you prefer a dry-hire venue, where you can often have the day before to set up and the day after to take everything down? (In which case, you might want to consider hiring a wedding co-ordinator to liaise with all the suppliers, arrange the set up and make sure the day runs smoothly.)

When you’re viewing venues you’ll want to bear these things in mind:
     - Do they have in-house catering?
     - Can you use your own suppliers, or do you have to use their preferred/recommended suppliers?
     - Does the venue offer a package with everything included, such a cake, photographer and décor?
     - What exactly is included in the price?
     - Will the venue let you decorate it yourself, or do they require you to have insurance?
     - Does the venue allow live music?
     - Are fireworks permitted?
     - Logistically, how does the venue run on the day (including timings)? This is especially important if you’re having the ceremony and reception at the same venue, and they require time to turn the room around.
     - What is the back-up plan in the case of adverse weather?
     - Will a member of staff be present on the day? If so, who? Can you meet them?

Also, don’t forget to check the finer details, such as:
     - Can the suppliers set up the day before?
     - Can you use real candles?
     - Does the venue allow confetti?

Your guest list and budget will be the biggest deciding factors when choosing your venue, but there are so many different venues available for weddings, including churches, castles, stately homes, hotels, woodlands, tipis, barns, marquees, contemporary, traditional and historic venues, that you are sure to find something that will become the setting for your perfect day.

And don’t forget, if you need any help choosing a venue or planning/styling any aspect of your wedding, please get in touch to find out how I can help you!

Carddies Wedding Set - A Review

Keeping children entertained during a wedding can be difficult, especially during the speeches when guests want to be able to hear what is being said. This is why Carddies, a company that make creative colouring sets, have branched out to make a special wedding edition. They kindly sent me a sample to have a look at and I decided to share my thoughts with you.

I’ve seen a lot of similar ideas and sets, and they’re great at occupying children, but they tend to just be pictures to colour in. The set from Carddies are different because they come with small plastic bases for each individual character to stand up in, which means they can be easily played with once they’ve been decorated, and so will keep the children (and maybe some adults!) entertained for longer.

There are twelve different characters to colour in and name, as well as a big background picture of all the characters that can be decorated and kept. There are two adult males, two adult females and eight child characters of various sizes, which is great because it offers a variety of wedding couples, such as a bride and groom, two grooms or two brides. It is inclusive and diverse; perfect for same-sex marriages and breaks away from the typical bride and groom images in other colouring packs. This set also comes with twelve colouring pencils, which is considerably more than the standard four colours of red, blue, green and yellow that are usually included.

One of my favourite features, and it’s only something simple, but I loved the fact that there are details on the back of each character; instead of it just being blank, there’s the back of their hair and their clothes. I thought it was a nice little touch that means that there’s another surface to decorate and when the cards are being played with, you know who’s who from behind!

I gave the set to my four-year-old son to see what he thought of it, and he started colouring the characters in straight away. He named them all and asked what the bases were for; when I explained, he said 'Oh, wow!' and tried to slot one of the characters in to the plastic base, which he did quite easily. He quickly had them all lined up, talking to each other. I don’t think I’m going to get them back!

The Carddies pack retails at £8.99 each, which may be more expensive than other colouring packs, but when you consider what the Carddies set offers, I think they are well worth the money. Carddies also offers the packs in different themes, including fairies, knights, sports and family, plus many more, so there’s something there for everyone! 

I think they are fantastic sets, which will keep children occupied and entertained not only during the meal and the speeches when they tend to get bored and fidgety, but also into the evening reception. They can even be taken home and played with long after the wedding, and they make a great memento of the day.

I think I’m going to get some to keep my children occupied on the plane when we go on holiday!

Note: All thoughts and comments are my own (and my son's!); I was not paid to write this review.

Here's to 2018!

I think it's safe to say that 2017 has been a rather busy year here at Caro HQ. After taking the plunge and launching my business, I have been involved with a variety of events, including birthday celebrations, weddings, wedding fairs and styled shoots. This has meant that I have been able to try out different ideas and styles, and I have developed a varied portfolio which showcase the different events I have worked on. I have also met and worked with some fantastic venues and suppliers, and built good, long-term working relationships.

Caro has expanded in the last few months in ways that I had not anticipated happening quite so quickly; I always had the intention of venturing into the styling side of events whereby I would provide the chair covers, centrepieces, etc. myself, but I thought it would be in the second or third year. Fortunately, an opportunity arose and I was able to buy a large amount of stock in bulk, and I haven't looked back since. I love that I am now able to offer my clients the full package of planning and styling their day.

As well as the day-to-day aspect of the business, I have also re-designed and developed my website, and I am thrilled with the results. I have tried different marketing techniques and found what works and what doesn't; I even tackled the dreaded tax return - and it wasn't as bad as I'd feared!

I'm very proud of what I've achieved with Caro this year, but I'm also incredibly excited for what's to come in 2018. As well as bookings that I've already got in the diary, I'll be exhibiting at the Wedding Experience at Detling at the end of January, and at two wedding fairs in March, one at Royal Wells Hotel, and the other at One Warwick Park Hotel. Come along to any (or all!) of these events if you're planning your wedding or a special event, and have a chat to find out how I can help!

So, here's to 2018 and a rather busy and productive future for everyone! I look forward to meeting and working with you soon.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Why you should do a styled shoot

When starting out in the wedding and events industry as a planner or stylist, it can be difficult to show potential clients what you are capable of, without having photos of events you have worked on. When I set up Caro Events UK, although at the time I had nearly seven years’ experience of working on a variety of events in Kent and London, I could not use any of the images, as they belonged to the companies I had worked for. Fortunately, I was quickly commissioned to work on a few events and so I was able to begin to build my professional portfolio for Caro Events UK.

One thing that can help to demonstrate your creative and styling capabilities, is to work on a styled shoot. I was invited to work on my first shoot this summer, and although I was nervous (because I didn’t know exactly what to expect - daft really, when I've worked on so many events already!) I thoroughly enjoyed the experience; it was great to meet and work with other local suppliers in a beautiful venue. This shoot then led on to another shoot, which had an elegant, classic style in a Tunbridge Wells hotel, and was rather different to the rustic ‘afternoon tea wedding’ style of the first shoot.

I am currently working on the planning and styling for a big shoot for the wedding brochure for an up-and-coming wedding venue in Kent. I am delighted to be working on such a big project and already have a fantastic local photographer, who I have worked with before, on board. I have also been invited to work on a wintery wedding shoot just before Christmas, so I will have an extensive and varied collection of images for my portfolio by the end of the year.

I quickly learnt that each shoot, whilst similar in the standard running times, can be just as different and varied as each wedding and event I’ve worked on, which means they never get boring! Styled shoots also give you the opportunity to play around with different ideas to see what may or may not work at an actual event, be it a new centrepiece, a room layout, or even a smoke bomb for a photo; it is your opportunity to show what you can do.

To anyone in the industry, be it you are just starting out, or even if you have years of experience, I would recommend exploring the options that a styled shoot can give you.

Collaboration and Networking

Over the past few months, I have been meeting with other local suppliers in the wedding and events industry, from venues and photographers, to bakers and confectionery suppliers. The reason for these meetings is to introduce myself and Caro Events UK, as well as finding out more about the suppliers, their businesses and what they offer.

When starting a new business, it can be incredibly daunting putting yourself and your business out there, but networking and finding these businesses to collaborate with is an essential part of building any business and making it successful. You have to approach each meeting with an open mind and think, not only about how this association could benefit you, but how you can assist the other business.

By meeting suppliers in advance, you can build relationships with these businesses, so that you know which is the best business for a particular event you are working on. From this networking, you may find businesses that you can collaborate with, whereby you work closely together, recommend each other, or offer discounts to your clients for using each other’s business.

Collaboration between businesses can be beneficial to both sides; it can inspire you, educate you, help you to solve problems, and, of course, it enables you to grow your network. It will be unlikely for you to be able to collaborate with everyone you meet, but these businesses will still be part of your wider network that you may work alongside in the future.

Fortunately, everyone that I have met with have been friendly and personable, and several businesses have been added to my list of recommended suppliers, as I know that they will deliver excellent customer service. However, networking is never-ending; there are always new businesses to meet and new ideas that people have about what they want at events, and this means that there is always the potential for your business to grow.

Ideas for your own Beauty and the Beast-themed event

As promised in my last blog-post, here are some suggestions for your own Beauty and the Beast-themed event, be it an afternoon tea, a party or even a wedding! 

The invitations from Etsy-based shop Gorgeous Invites are perfect for setting a luxurious tone for your event.

There are plenty of menu ideas on the Taste of Home website, including a three-cheese soufflé, jellied champagne dessert and a hazelnut chocolate mousse.

A cake is the perfect feature at any event… the first stunning cake is from Sweetie Darling Cakes and the second beautiful one from All Shapes and Slices Cake Co.

You could have your own Mrs Potts and Chip teapot and cup, which you can get from numerous eBay shops, although it will set you back around £40.00 for the pair.

There are some decorated glasses from Etsy-based shop JJ Glamour Glasses, if you fancied a tipple.

And, of course, you would need some themed decorations…

These candle/tea-light holders can be purchased from Jar Of Stars Magic on Etsy.

Simple bunting adorning the walls can be a simple and yet effective way of decorating any venue, and the silhouette bunting from Alice Ann London is perfect.

And finally, a decorative rose is a must-have for this theme! This one is available from Illuminated Glasswork on Etsy.

I hope these suggestions help you to start planning your own special event. What other themes would you like me to explore in the future?

Why should I hire an event planner?

You may wonder why people hire event planners for their weddings and parties; surely, it’s something you can just do yourself?

Many people can, have and do plan their own events, but why make things difficult for yourself? Life can be complicated and busy enough without having the potential stress of planning your special event. You want to be able to enjoy your event from start to finish, and that’s where I come in.

As your event planner, I can help you plan your event to make it fulfil (and ideally exceed!) your expectations. I can source and liaise with all the suppliers, saving you valuable time and energy in finding a variety of options, haggling a reasonable price and confirming details. Also, because of my knowledge of the industry and the contacts I have in different fields, I could help you find the best quality suppliers; I firmly believe that just because something is expensive, it does not automatically mean it is the best, but then the cheapest option is not necessarily a good idea either. A bride I worked with a while ago was adamant that she wanted to save money on the price of their wedding cake by getting it from a high-end supermarket, against my advice. Whilst there is nothing wrong with these cakes, I particularly like being able to show my client’s personalities through their events, and these cakes tend to be quite plain and generic (she only wanted a simple cake topper to decorate it). Upon collecting the cake, the bride confessed that she wished she had at least met with the cake makers I had recommended to see what they could offer. Of course, my clients are welcome to (and sometimes do) disagree with me, but I only make suggestions based on what I think they would like and would work with the event, within their budget.

Event planners often think of things that you have not even considered. Through their experience, they know what works and what doesn’t, and they can draw on their knowledge to improve various aspects of your event, from room layouts to how your menu can be tailored to suit your theme.

Finally, having an event planner there on the day can automatically make you relax, and so enjoy your event more, because you know that if anything, be it big or small, goes wrong, then someone is on hand to deal with it immediately. I would always recommend that your event planner is there for at least the set up and beginning of the event, just to ensure that it starts well and that you are happy. For parties this often works well, but for a wedding, it is useful to have your event planner there from the set up to first dance, as they can be on-hand to make sure the event runs to schedule and handle any glitches.

As a bride, groom, guest of honour or host, you should spend the event with your family and friends, enjoying yourself, and not worrying about anything. So, even if it’s just for the sake of your sanity (!) hiring an event planner is always worth considering.

Here we go...!

Hello everyone…

Well, here it is; my first blog! I figured I should probably do this properly and introduce myself – hi, I’m Lucy... I’ve been working in the event industry for several years now, but due to a change in circumstance and then the opportunity presenting itself, I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. For those of you who have done that, you know what a daunting prospect it can be! I’m now up and running with Caro Events UK and work is slowly starting to trickle through.

I have worked on a variety of events, from private parties and weddings, to public ticketed events, dinners and talks. Personally, I prefer working on private social events, such as parties, weddings, children’s birthdays and social corporate events (e.g.: Christmas parties) as opposed to public ticketed events. I think it’s because with the private events, you can show so much of the client’s personality through all the little details and I think this makes them more special (and more fun for me to work on!).

I’m planning on using this blog to share my experiences (both good and bad!), to talk about events I’m currently working on, as well as sharing a variety of ideas that may help you if you’re planning your own event. Of course, you could just employ me to do that all for you! (Shameless plug, I know!)

I hope you find what I have to say interesting, maybe even entertaining, but we’ll see how it goes! Please do get in touch if there’s a particular area you would like me to cover, or if you need any assistance at all in planning your special event.

Thanks for reading! x