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Thursday, 31 March 2011

My Undercover Wedding Experience

So a few people have asked if I am going to expand my mini blog into a full size one as they are intrigued by the topic so I thought I would go for it!

I have wanted to be an events planner for 4 years, a wedding planner specifically for only around 2. I sort of fell into the events management course I am about to finish, after deciding I would actually go to Uni after months of saying I definitely wouldn't! A couple of friends at school were going off to do events management at other unis, but I decided to be lazy and stay at home whilst studying. The events course at Bournemouth Uni was pretty great anyway so there was no real need to leave the area, and I have always been a bit of a mummy's girl, seeing her as more of a friend than a mum.

Two years ago I started working for a placement company which was in fact a catering event company based in Southampton. It was whilst working for that company that I decided I wanted to work as a wedding planner, as well as other special events (birthdays, christenings, anniversaries etc). I worked on a few weddings and loved seeing the totally contrasting themes and little finishing touches each bride and groom had to their big day. I have always been an old romantic, despite my tough exterior and always loved to try and see the first dance, if I wasn't too busy. A lot of the couples chose Take That's Greatest Day song as it was in the charts at the time and summed it all up really. I didn't cry at the weddings as that's not me, but I did love to see how happy the couples were and knew that I wanted to help couples during the lead up to such a special day for them.

My Business Card
I had already decided I wanted to start my own business up once I graduated, but after my placement, and finding out I was pregnant, I knew it made even more sense. It was then that I decided on a name for my company, Emma's Events: Special Event and Wedding Planning, and that my business really started forming in my mind. Since then really I have been just wanting to finish university and start things up! I have given some tips and advice to couples planning their weddings, but due to being so completely overworked this year with a newborn and degree to finish, I haven't been able to actually work with a couple on their wedding yet. I am very much looking forward to this, as it will allow my creative side to really come out and shine!

I am currently writing my dissertation on the wedding planning industry and whether wedding planners are still required in 2011 and beyond in particular. Partly because of this, and partly because of my business, I decided to attend a Wedding Fayre last weekend, going undercover as a newly engaged bride to be. It  
At the Wedding Fayre
was a little scary making up a story as I was worried I would be caught out by all the people there. I wasn't, everyone believed my story that I had been proposed to only a week before and had just started planning the wedding for this September.

I must take a moment to say that I did none of this maliciously, it was all in the name of research, and if any of the people I spoke to come upon this, I do not wish to have upset them in any way. I did gain a lot from this experience. As a newly engaged woman attending the Fayre, I felt like the most special girl in the World. Everyone there wanted to talk to me and make me feel excited and happy about my upcoming wedding. I was given samples and leaflets at every turn, but didn't feel overpowered or like I was being pressured into anything, the people asked me when my wedding was and whether I had a venue/photographer/caterer etc, but they didn't push me into booking anything.

Various Photos from the day
I absolutely loved looking around as wedding planning is really a passion of mine and it was amazing to see everything under one roof and to be able to talk to the people from each various company. I was given a luxury goody bag, but upon closer inspection found that this was a bit of a con as all it contained was a few leaflets and a tiny pack of Love Heart sweets! I added to this with leaflets from all around the room but still felt a little like the hotel had done a bit of false advertising on that one! My faviourite stands were the photography ones as they seemed to have gone to the most effort, with impressive portfolios and really interesting photography styles. I love the idea of having a hardbacked photo album as opposed to the more traditional paper protected ones. I also really enjoyed the cupcake stand as they gave mini cupcake samples and they were delicious! I absolutely love the idea of cupcakes instead of a weddding cake, which has become more and more popular in recent years.

I found my idea of a perfect wedding dress whilst I was at the Fayre too, sadly wedding dress people don't allow photography as they are worried you will copy their dress, but it was gorgeous and I was really pleasantly surprised that the dress was only £499, I thought it would be over £1000. I really love the little details like the table decorations, so loved another stand with cute sweetie themed centerpieces and  
Pretty Invite Styles
girly seating charts. I also really enjoyed speaking to the lady on the stand as we were discussing my work on placement with weddings.

The Venue Grounds
After we had finsished looking around the stands, we were given a personal tour of the grounds and the various ballrooms at the venue. The lady showing us around was lovely, but did prove how 'important' getting married has become to young women, as she actually said 'well done' when I said I had only got engaged last week, as if it was a huge achievement to have tied a man down! I loved all of the ballrooms she showed us, but by far the best was the grand ballroom which she saved for last. It was lit up with fairy lights, with the DJ stage set up, music playing and 6 large tables set up and decorated in different styles. My favouite was probably the bright pink, closely followed by a white tablecloth with the chairs with purple sashes. When I worked on my placement we  
One of my favourite tables
used to hate chair covers as the people who put them on were always delaying us from setting up the tables and were so pretentious,  but I must admit, they really make a table and look amazing! The grand staircase down was decorated with fairy lights and I could picture myseld walking down it in my wedding dress when I was there, it was a truly great venue to get married in. I also loved how it was only a 2 minute walk through the grounds down to Bournemouth beach, paradise!

Bournemouth Beach

After our tour, we went to look around the grounds again on our own and then went to look at the sea, it was a really nice day. My mum, ever the practical one, started looking at prices and decided the venue was really expensive, though I do disagree as I know how everything adds up with weddings and the prices were inclusive of a lot of things. I had to remind both of us that there was no actual wedding just yet anyway... It was easy to get caught up in the atmosphere.

What I will say is that you are made to feel really special and welcome as a bride at a wedding fayre, everybody wants to make you feel comfortable and you do get this feeling of happiness from the fayre. I certainly enjoyed the experience and will happily go again, all in the name of research of course, to other Fayres that come to the area. Once I have my business up and running it may even be me making brides to be feel excited at fayres like this one. I made sure I didn't book anything at the fayre, apart from one thing which I considered not bad as it provided further research for me.

So, this morning, I found myself along with Cameron, at a local bridal boutique trying on wedding dresses! It was a little silly and I do feel a little bad as I had to carry on my story again and I do not feel good lying. But, I was able to see again how people treat the brides at places like this. I was made to feel extremely welcome, like the most special person in the World. I was given a seat and asked what I wanted my dress to look like, which styles I liked and didn't like and how much my budget was. I wasn't very helpful with the answers as I didn't actually know and obviously don't actually have a budget. The woman was really lovely and really good at her job as well as she managed to find 3 dresses which all really suited me just from my one answer that I didn't really like my shoulders.

I absolutely loved the experience of walking out of the changing room and seeing myself in a wedding dress with the shoes and accerssories and even the tiara and veil. It was pretty magical and I did feel a little like a princess! I would also highly recommend going to a place like this if you are feeling a lack of self esteem as the woman made me feel amazing, complimenting me on my figure and how I looked, and picking dresses that quite simply made me look fantastic! It was a really nice morning.

I have come away from it with a little more understanding of another aspect of wedding planning, and also with a rough design for my ideal wedding dress, when the time comes. I know I want a sweetheart neckline, a tiara, mid length veil, hair up, diamante spattering on the bodice and an a line skirt that comes past my feet.... I love weddings!

My Dream Wedding Dress

If you, or anyone you know, is planning a wedding and would like some free advice from myself I am happy to help. I will only be offering this free service until I start up the business upon graduation, so book me up quick! (contact

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