An interview with | Country & Coast Wedding Planning

June 15, 2015

On organising things, making paint disappear and the importance of champagne

Emma from Country and Coast Wedding Planning is a good egg. An excellent egg, actually. She’s worked in the industry for a long time and in different roles so knows how the industry works, has a great network of suppliers and instinctively knows what’s important to a couple.

Emma knows all the things to do and all the things to avoid. And you don’t need a large or lavish budget either; low key and intimate weddings benefit too. Emma can help you get the most for your money, the best from your suppliers and the most fun from your wedding. No stress. No worries. Anyone who has planned their own wedding will tell you what a blessing that is!

Emma’s a goldmine of knowledge so I’m really excited to share an interview with her.

How did you get into wedding planning?

I worked in my family business which had been established for 125 years and it gave me a good work ethic. The business was sold in 2000 and I went to work in project management for an IT company. I got to a point where I wanted a complete change and went to work for Portfolio Events who mainly do wedding catering. I worked there for a couple of years and came to love the wedding industry. I wanted to get more involved in the bigger picture of weddings though, not just the food so in 2009 I set up my wedding planning business. The rest as they say, is history.

What’s a typical wedding day like for you?

I like to arrive early to give myself time to breathe and take the moment in so I can appreciate what’s happening and how everyone is feeling. Seeing the preparations and everyone having fun getting ready is a great start to the day. Often I’ll know the people involved through previous weddings as most of my work comes from recommendation so it’s a nice chance to catch up.

I see all of the suppliers in and get them sorted with everything they need. Sometimes they need special access or have problems they need help with; especially with marquee weddings. If I’m there to sort those things out it leaves the family free to get ready rather than worrying about anyone else.

I’ll see the Bride off to church, to make sure she gets away on time. It’s a time for calming and reassuring.

The Ushers take over at church and there will be a lot of activity at the marquee or venue while everyone is at the ceremony. Once everyone arrives at the reception everything is in place and it’s a case of seeing what happens and reacting to it. I make sure everything and everyone is on schedule. I make sure everyone is having a great time and that their glasses are topped up. Alcohol always helps! I love watching people. I try to keep an eye on the children too, to make sure they haven’t run off. I muck in wherever it’s needed really; often with Portfolio Events. Simple things like fetching fresh bottles of water can make a big difference.

I stay until the first dance so that all the formalities of the day are taken care of before I leave. It’s typically around a 10 hour day. Long but lots of fun.

How does the planning process work once a couple book you?

No matter what service a couple book, I meet with them first. If a face to face meeting isn’t possible, we skype. It’s important to get a feel for who each other is so that we have a strong working relationship.

For my full planning service we have another, more in depth, meeting quite quickly. For my other services, like on the day coordination, we have a meeting mid-way between booking and the wedding to catch up and then a final planning meeting a couple of weeks before.

Full planning clients have me on speed dial pretty much the whole time. We get all the main suppliers decided on and booked over a couple of meetings. A beer, glass of vino or cake helps us power through it! There can then be quite a long period when nothing really happens, because all the suppliers are in place. But I’m always on hand and couples can call on me at any time.

What do you love most about being a wedding planner?

I love organising stuff. I don’t care what it is. I’m all about making sure all the boxes are ticked!

When I worked in project management, I got no real pleasure from it. There was no recognition at the end of a project. But with weddings it’s the opposite. I love seeing everything come together and lots of happy people enjoying themselves.

What’s the hardest thing about being a wedding planner?

It’s hard when a couple’s expectations don’t match their budget. As much as I try, there is a limit as to what can be done. There are only so many favours you can pull in.

Is there a wedding you’ve worked on that really sticks out in your memory?

I worked on a two part wedding where the wedding itself was held in Cornwall. It was an intimate wedding with 20 guests; just immediate family and close friends. It was over an entire weekend. The ceremony was beautiful and then afterwards everyone went to the beach in their wedding outfits for ice creams. The photographs were done the day after, a casual style on the beach and in the sea.

The second part was a really fun, festival style party for 150 guests. It started at 3pm which meant the day flowed really nicely. The bride & groom wore their outfits again, as did all the family and friends who came for the weekend part. The cake was kept for the second part, the florist refreshed the flowers from the weekend before, and the photographer produced a slideshow which was projected, so it was just like walking from one part to the next, apart from the week in between.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you on a wedding day?

I had a couple who had a marquee reception on their back lawn. The Bride was an Events Manager and everything was planned in minute detail. The marquee looked gorgeous.

They had a canvas on an easel and some paints set up on a table for guests to paint whatever they felt like (usually their interpretation of the bride & groom!). The wind was blowing through the marquee and the easel caught the edge of the table with the paints on. Paint everywhere! All over the table linen and the cream carpet. Proper, bright, children’s colours – Kermit the Frog green, post box red, sky blue and bright purple. And the couple had a delicate pastel colour scheme!

The couple and their guests were 15 minutes away en route from the church at this point.

It was too much to clean so I had to find a way to hide it. I ran into the house and found a rug; luckily it matched the marquee décor. The downside was that the family’s red setter liked to lay on it. So I had to hoover it in situ…just in time! The paint was splattered right in the walkway so there was no way it could be missed but the rug was just the right size. The Bride walked in, and she didn’t see it. Hoorah! It was only the green splodge on the table she noticed later in the evening that gave it away.

Whose wedding would you like to plan, past or present?

I love anything Victoriana, so someone from that era. I love the costumes, the dresses, the style…

What do you usually do when you get home from a wedding?

Hit the couch. Vino.

If you could give a couple getting married one piece of advice, what would it be?

Enjoy the moment. The day goes by so quickly. Don’t stress about the weather, we live in the UK. Be prepared. If you’re prepared, you won’t panic.

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