Wedding Fairs: Yay or Nay?

The idea of attending a wedding fair can fill people with feelings of excitement and/or nervousness; the large number of businesses exhibiting can help you plan your special day (and you can talk about your day with people who get just as excited about weddings!), but they can also be quite intimidating, especially if you've no idea where to start. I always recommend to my clients that they attend at least one wedding fair, particularly if there is one on at a venue they are interested in or have booked, as it can help them visualise what their day could look like. 

It can be very useful to compare different suppliers, and being able to do it in one day, in one place, as opposed to making appointments and going from shop to shop, or town to town, can be very beneficial. You also get to see examples of the suppliers' previous work, which can help you decide if they're the supplier you want to use. 

Some businesses hold competitions or offer discounts at wedding fairs, to encourage you to book them. Whilst this can mean you get a good discount, don't rush to book someone just because you want to save money; make sure they are the right supplier for you.

Exhibitors know and understand that it can be overwhelming for couples, both in terms of the information you're given and the ideas available, but they generally just want to have a chat, find out about you and what you want, and try to help. Just remember, you are not obliged to book anyone or make any decisions when at a wedding fair; it is fine to just wander around, get some ideas, maybe talk to a supplier or two, get some business cards or leaflets, and then go home and think about it all as and when you want to.

Wedding fairs are designed to help you meet the businesses who could help you bring your dream wedding to life; so why not check out some wedding fairs that are happening near you soon?

 

Here are some wedding fairs companies covering Kent, with upcoming fairs:

The Wedding Experience - Their next fair is on 18 February at Hop Farm, Paddock Wood

A Kentish Wedding - Their next fair is on 11 February at Discovery Park, Sandwich

Whitesky Events - Their next fair is on 4 March at Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham

Main Event Wedding Shows - Their next fair is on 11 February at Brands Hatch, Longfield

Why should you hire an on-the-day wedding manager?

So, you’ve got engaged, and you’re starting to plan your wedding; here are some of the benefits to hiring an on-the-day wedding manager that you might want to consider:

-          We can meet you at the venue prior to your wedding to run through the schedule and layout for the day

-          You can benefit from our knowledge and experience in the industry, as we can take care of any last-minute details and ensure that nothing has been missed

-          You can spend the morning of your wedding enjoying getting ready etc., whilst we can be meeting and liaising with the suppliers and ensuring everything is ready for your special day

-          We can manage the running order for the day, so you relax and enjoy being with your guests without suddenly panicking that something needs to happen

-          Your parents, Maid/Matron of Honour and friends will also be able to relax, happy in the knowledge that someone else if on-hand to deal with any last-minute problems (they will thank you for this!)

-          This is a budget-friendly alternative to hiring a full wedding planner, and it still gives you complete control

-          Some venues provide an event coordinator, but they are usually the person who you liaise with at the venue to make arrangements and discuss timings for the day; they won’t necessarily be on-hand to contact the photographer if they’ve not arrived or let the band know when they need to start performing

-          If you are having a dry-hire venue, marquee or private residence wedding there will be no event coordinator provided by the venue, so we can help you bring everything together on the day

Hiring an on-the-day manager still gives you the full control of planning your wedding yourself, without having to deal with any of the stress on the day. After spending so much time (and money!) planning it, you should relax and enjoy your day, knowing that someone else is taking care of everything.

Get in touch with me today to discuss your upcoming wedding!

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.

Mini-moons

It is well known that weddings can be quite expensive, and with the added cost of having your honeymoon immediately after your wedding, it is no wonder that many newlyweds are now postponing their honeymoons for a while after their wedding. However, a break is surely needed (and well deserved!) after the hard work of planning a wedding, so some newly-married couples are now favouring a short break or weekend away, duly dubbed a ‘mini-moon’. A mini-moon allows the couple to enjoy their first days of married life together away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, whilst also enabling them to save their money to spend on a belated honeymoon, or put towards a new house or whatever they need or want.

Here are some suggestions of places to go for your mini-moon (or to just treat yourself for a short break!) that I have either visited myself or have been recommended to me: 

 

Apsley House Hotel, Bath

Apsley House Hotel is a beautiful Georgian country house, originally built for The Duke of Wellington. Each room has been elegantly decorated in individual ways, and the hotel has a luxurious but very homely feel to it.

There is free parking onsite, with a bus stop out on the main road to take you straight into the city. Alternatively, you can walk into the city in about half an hour. A session in the Thermae Bath Spa is a must if you want to relax, and the Roman Baths are well worth a visit to explore the history of this old city. Architecture lovers will appreciate The Crescent, The Circle and Bath Abbey, whilst Jane Austen fans will enjoy retracing her steps around the city and visiting the Jane Austen Centre on Gay Street.

 

Hever Castle B&B,  Kent

The 5* rooms at Hever Castle are situated in the Astor Wing and Anne Boleyn Wing in the Tudor-style buildings behind the main Castle. They are all en-suite, and offer different features, such as four-poster beds or roll-top baths. All B&B guests have complimentary access to the Castle and gardens during normal opening hours.

The village of Hever is well-situated for guests to be within half an hour’s drive of the spa town of Tunbridge Wells, National Trust properties Ightham Mote and Knole House, and the surrounding market towns of Tonbridge and Sevenoaks.

 

Langley Castle, Northumberland

There are a variety of 4* rooms at Langley Castle, such as the Feature Rooms and Deluxe Castle Rooms within the Castle itself, as well as the Castle View Rooms in converted listed buildings in the Castle grounds. The rooms are individually decorated and some feature four-poster beds and window seats.

From Langley Castle, guests are within a half an hour drive of Hadrian’s Wall, the historical Roman site of Vindolanda, and the vibrant city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

 

The Cavendish Hotel, Derbyshire

This sumptuous hotel has two main suites, The Redesdale Suite and the Hartington Junior Suite, as well as Standard, Inn and Superior Rooms. The hotel is within the Chatsworth Estate, which you can explore at your leisure, and the main house is a fifteen minute walk across the grounds in front of the hotel.

The Cavendish Hotel is also well-placed to explore the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales, and is within a half hour’s drive of the buzzing city of Sheffield and picturesque market town of Chesterfield.

 

The Royal Duchy Hotel, Cornwall

The Royal Duchy Hotel is situated by the sea, and has 45 smartly-decorated rooms, some with views across Falmouth Bay or of Pendennis Castle inland. Turndown service is available, and some rooms offer luxury bathrobes and slippers.

There are two beaches within walking distance of the hotel, and it is ideally located for guests to explore Pendennis Castle and the National Maritime Museum, in Falmouth. Cornwall is famous for water sports, and the beaches in the Falmouth area offer a variety of sports, including sailing, kayaking and surfing. The Eden Project, which is a must-see, is within an hour’s drive of the hotel. 

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?

Be Our Guest? Ooh, yes please!

This week I was treated to the very special (and fully-booked until the end of November!) Beauty and the Beast-themed Tale as Old as Time Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel in London, and I wanted to share my experience with you.

Upon our arrival at this luxurious hotel, we were shown through to the Townhouse Restaurant and sat at a table by a roaring open fire. Now, with it being April, the open fire might have been a bit much, but it was a dark, damp day outside, so the sight of a warm fire was a rather welcome one!

We chose our tea (Jasmine Silver Tip Tea and Genmaicha) and the savoury entrees of ‘Bite size venison pie’, ‘Beef ragu and saffron arancini’ and a ‘Cheese souffle’ were brought straight out to us; they were full of flavour of certainly whet our appetites for the rest of the food to come. The tiered cake stand full of brioche buns (in homage to the baker in the Disney movie), sandwiches and sweet treats then arrived, accompanied by our own Mrs Potts (full of cream) and glowing Lumière! The layout and display was charming, and included scattered rose petals. The food was nicely tied in to the Beauty and the Beast theme, with ‘Vanilla & gold jelly’ (with an edible rose petal set in the middle), ‘Try the grey stuff’ (white chocolate mousse), ‘Chocolate clock tart’ (a Cogsworth-shaped chocolate ganache with marzipan), ‘Spiced snowball macaron’ (made of coconut and chocolate – and links back to the famous snow-scene in the movie), plus a ‘Speculoos dress’ (a ginger biscuit, with a marzipan topping in the shape of Belle’s yellow dress). As always with the best part of a meal, I saved the ‘Try the grey stuff’ until last, and it did not disappoint; it really was delicious! It was served in the small china Chip cup, which was just adorable, and I have since bought myself a Mrs Potts and Chip porcelain set!

My only disappointment was that there were not enough Lumière candlesticks to go around, so ours was relocated to another table halfway through our tea.

Overall, the afternoon tea was thoroughly enjoyable (even my husband said he enjoyed it and I’m sure he felt like he was there under duress!). It’s not a cheap afternoon out, at £35.00 each (or £45.00 with a glass of champagne), plus travel into and across London, but it is comparable price-wise to other afternoon teas in the city. You can also make the most of being in that part of London, by going to one of the free attractions nearby, including the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Natural History Museum.

 As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this afternoon tea is now sold out, so if you were unable to get tickets, then why not hold your own themed event? Or you could always hire me to plan it for you!

I will post some suggestions for a Beauty and the Beast-themed event over the next few days.

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