Becca Cole – My Story So Far

As you may have already seen on various social media posts, the lovely Angelique Franklin (aka our star blogger) has moved on to pursue her obsession and passion through launching her company ‘I Love Nails’. We miss her so much already, but luckily for us she still pops into the Stylish office for a cup of tea and a gossip! I’m afraid this means that you’re stuck with me. I thought for my first blog, I would share with you my experiences and how I came to be a part of Stylish Events.

I first met Dominique when I attended her very first ‘Life of a Wedding Planner’ course in March 2012 which I heard about through a friend who was studying Event Management at Greenwich University. Having completed my degree in Event Management at UWIC University in Cardiff in 2011, I was keen to learn more about the world of wedding planning, so booked onto the course immediately. It was so inspiring to learn in such depth all about the planning process, seeing real event proposals, plans, budgets, schedules and learning about Dominique’s experiences. But I think one of my favourite parts was flicking through amazing albums of real past events and weddings. At the time, I had no idea where that would lead me, but I couldn’t be happier that I attended Dominique’s course.

In June 2012, I was so delighted when Dominique asked me to assist her at one of her events. This Bat Mitzvah celebration hosted at The Reform Club was a dream 13th birthday party with a chocolate fountain, an ice cream stand, casino tables, a photo booth,  a four tier blue and gold cake and last but certainly not least…a very special performance by Diversity! It really was a fantastic event and I was so honoured and proud to have been a part of it and knew that Dominique was a true professional and a planner who could teach me so much more.

Carla's Batmitzvah

Photography: Colin Antill, Fotoseeker, venue: The Reform Club, London, Entertainment: Diversity, Flowers: Vive La Rose, Cake: Alexandra Clay, Sound, Lighting and Casino: JSO Productions, DJ and Host: 9 Events, Chocolate Fountain and Ice Cream Stand: Fruits and Fountains.  

I instantly applied for an internship following the Bat Mitzvah and couldn’t have been happier when Dominique offered me a four month internship at Stylish Events starting in November 2012. This was not my first experience as an intern but was by far the best and so much more than I could have ever imagined. Dominique took the time to pass on her knowledge and really involved me in extensive research and meetings, venue hunting, looking at budgets and creating mood boards. In my short four months at Stylish Events I had learnt so much about wedding planning and was so lucky to be involved in a real event which was a two day wedding in Buckinghamshire at Hedsor House.

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Photography: Ann-Kathrin Koch, Venue: Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire, Flowers: Chantal Flores Design 

In March 2013 my internship was due to end and this was when I was offered a position within the company alongside Dominique and Angelique as the Event Manager. I felt as if all of my dreams had come true and couldn’t wait to continue with the weddings I had been working on as an intern. It turned out that 2013 was an incredibly busy year for the team at Stylish Events and we are so proud of the weddings we have been involved in. We love helping our clients design their dream day and it’s such an amazing feeling to see it all come together.

Anna and Luke's Wedding Photos1

So that brings me to the present and the future and I am so proud to say that as of January 2014, I am now a Partner at Stylish Events.

I have been asked which is my favourite wedding of 2013, which is an incredibly hard question to answer. Every single wedding we were involved in last year has been entirely different. If I really had to choose one that stands out to me, it’s our autumnal themed wedding at the amazing Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire for Clare and Patrick. What I loved the most about this wedding was the colours, the décor was so warm and inviting and it complemented this quirky and slightly crazy venue perfectly. Clare had the most exquisite taste and her attention to detail was second to none. Clare and Patrick made it clear from the very first meeting that their priority was their guests. They wanted their close friends and family to have the best experience possible and spent hours planning and putting together a personally selected wine list, a lavish five course meal, their favourite cocktails and of course, they all had the most fantastic time. Weddings are all about the personal touches and this really came across on the day.

Blog - My Story

Photography: Simon Carr, Venue: Aynhoe Park, Oxfordshire, Flowers: Pinstripes and Peonies, Cake: Princess Patisserie, Caterers: Absolute Taste, Fine Wines: Giles Smith Walker, Independent Vintner,  Dance Floor, Stage and Lighting: Mission Events, Band: The White Keys, Jazz trio: 101 Jazz Trio, DJ: Stylish Entertainment, Celebrant: Mark Townsend

It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind since my first meeting with Dominique almost two years ago, and I am very much looking forward to another year with more weddings, more events and more fun!

Planning Perfection!

Hi Guys,  I thought I would talk to you today about something close to my heart – no not Shoes! lol  – Wedding Planning, but more specifically the UKAWP – no I haven’t gone all “urban” on you and dropped some new-fandangled text speak; the UKAWP is the ‘UK Alliance of Wedding Planners’ it’s the Industry body for the wedding Market. Their job is to encourage, promote and ensure professionalism within the wedding planning industry  through seminars, events and  training courses for any aspiring and experienced event planners! They’re also a source of knowledge and guidance to all brides-to-be helping them to find a Wedding Planner they can trust; as any Event Planner the UKAWP recommend or promote is always and only a member of their organisation – like myself and Dominique are! and I have to say I couldn’t agree more with this ethos, I think it’s great that Planners are be able to add to their skill ‘tool belts’ through all the professional educations seminar and events they organise and also that the UKAWP is a a trusted source for Brides to be able to confidently search for a planner for their big day. Which is no small thing by the way! finding someone who you can trust to manage and organise your special day is not a easy decisions to make and on top of that, brides should be able to know that when they hire a Wedding Planner they’re going to receive the best service possible, from someone who is honest, professional and actually cares about the job in hand – their WEDDING DAY! lol

But what I really love about UKAWP  is that its managed by two ladies who are wedding planners themselves and are actively running their own events companies: Bernadatte Chapman of ‘Dream Occassions’ and Sandy Moretta from ‘Tern Events’. Being an Event Planner myself – albeit a new one – it’s nice to know that the organisation is under the supervision of ladies who have over 10 years experience and are really passionate about this industry! The Lovely Bernadette (the original founder of the UKAWP) took the time to let me know the reasons behind starting  the UKAWP, the importance of having an organisation such as theirs, their upcoming events and also the future for the UKAWP:

The Story:

“Back in 2003-2004 I was receiving phone calls from brides saying their wedding planner had disappeared with their money, at the same time I would get emails from people wanting to become a wedding planner and asking how I started Dream Occasions. It led me to think there was a need for a) professional training and guidance on how to launch a wedding planning business and b) somewhere to help brides choose experienced and reputable planners for their wedding. I spent time thinking about what made a good planner and how we could introduce a code of ethics to its members. The UKAWP has seen such growth since its inception and is now recognised as the leading organisation for wedding planning training and membership”

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September 2012 – Mix and Mingle – *Photo’s taken from UKAWP website*

The importance of UKAWP:

“It helps the bride choose a wedding planner that is experienced, that is insured, doesn’t take commission and can show references for past events they have organised. And for the planner? They can show brides they are serious about their career by continuing their learning at UKAWP events. Planners get a sense of community from the UKAWP, many freelance for each other enabling them to experience weddings different from their own client base. They also benefit from a much larger marketing budget then they would have, the UKAWP advertise on many of the major wedding blog and publications and are also striving for new ways to market our members to brides.”

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October 2012 – UKAWP Study Tour to New York City – *Photo’s taken from UKAWP Website*

UKAWP Events:

April – We have a marquee workshop in London where we will explain the logistics of organising a marquee reception including the different types of structures available & how important lighting is.

May – A northern marquee workshop, probably in Leeds plus our last training course for the Spring will be Step by Step in Manchester. This is also the month for our annual members meeting whereby we discuss the past years activity and brainstorm new marketing plans for the forthcoming year, we actively ask members for input so we are spending money in the right areas.

June – a meet the planner afternoon is planned where those interested in the career of wedding planning can meet some new and experienced members + a director to really hear about what it is like as an active wedding planner. No glamour, just straight talking facts . Details of this will be announced very soon

September – our annual mix and mingle social evenings will take place in various locations across the UK

November – we are proud to be one of the speakers and exhibitors at the UK Wedding Conference http://theukweddingconference.co.uk

Also the training courses will start again from September and in November”

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7th February 2013 – Matching Wine and Food for Weddings – *Photo’s taken from UKAWP website*

The Future:

“There are so many exciting plans for the UKAWP many of which we can’t share with you yet! We are working on a new bridal focus with bespoke branding, this will be ready to soft launch by May. We have plans for a new membership category which we have to keep quiet for now until we are ready to announce the details! We will also be holding more workshops come the Autumn, the next planned topics will be PR from a journalists perspective and floral emergencies and we will be growing the sister company to the UKAWP namely wedding venue excellence http://www.weddingvenueexcellence.co.uk

Well I hope you enjoyed todays post? especially all you brides-to-be out there? I think it’s really important to know there’s a organisations out there; such as the UKAWP that is truly waving the flag for industry professionalism and planning perfection! Make sure you head back over my way real soon, as I will be bringing you our ‘Supplier of the Week’ John Natlacen of  Churchmouses Cheeses and his lovely Cheese Cakes – thats  a savoury cakes made of ACTUAL cheese people! until then….

Stay blessed and we’ll speak again soon.

xx

I had a dream….

So how was your first week back from that lovely four day weekend? …. it’s always a bit grim right? coming down off that long weekend high and having to adjust back to the norm. It’s the same feeling you get when you land back in London after your holiday of fun in the sun, that whole “wow..it’s over… and I live here in London… where seeing the sun is as rare as catching a on time train” lol

But hey, let’s look at the positives, it was a short working week and it’s now the weekend again! hoorrahh for that! and keeping on with the whole “looking on the bright side of things” I thought I would talk to you about something positive and even hopefully inspiring! Now if you’ve checked out my blog before, you will have (I hope) taken at least a peek at the “About me” page and did a quick scan of my life story and what I’m all about; but in case you haven’t (and shame on you for not – I suggest you head over right now! lol) you will know that being an Event Planner is still a relatively new career path for me, prior to 2011 I was working as a receptionist in a regular 9-5 job, I wasn’t even working in the field that I have a degree in; in case you want to know that is Journalism. I did a brief stint at a few magazines, but clearly I had a rose tinted idea of what working as  Journalist would be like; turns out it’s not something I’m that suited to or even really enjoyed! Cant’ tell you what a major bummer that was, to realise the degree I had worked 3 oh so long years to get, would be a field I didn’t end up working in – but it’s a tale very familiar to many Uni leavers. So anyway, fast forward to 2011 and I started to evaluate what it is I really wanted to do with myself career wise and after much umming and arriing and research and deep “who am I?” “What’s my purpose in life?” type convo’s with friends, I decided that I could see myself as a Wedding Planner

Great!…..but how do you become a wedding planner?! lol I was at a complete loss, so one day I randomly decided to check out a wedding fair, just to go for the hell of it! lol I didn’t go with any real idea of what I was hoping to achieve by doing this, but I went never the less, accompanied by some trustee friends and through it I met Dominique Douglas of Stylish Events – where I am now a Partner and Senior Event Manager! From a 5-10 min conversation with her that day at the wedding fair, I managed to secure myself an internship at Stylish Events.! As a result I resigned from my full time job of 5 years and decided to jump in with both feet into this career and really give it all my energy and focus.  I have to say taking control of my life and making that decision do an internship, was the best decision I’ve made in very long time! I can’t tell you how much I learnt during my internships (I also worked with The Lansdowne Club, Mayfair and with Penny Cullen of Tigerlily Weddings) I was gaining real life experience and skills in a job that really challenged me and had me waking up each morning actually excited to go to work – which I dont know about you, but was something very new to me! lol

But where I learnt and gained the most was during my time with Dominique, she allowed me to be so hands on with her events that year, I wasn’t there to make tea and coffee and re-orgnize her filing lol, No! I actually contributing to the planning and organising of a international wedding in Jamaica and a large Bat Mitzvah – this was my first ever event, I was seriously lucky, We had Diversity performing! I was definitely not complaining lol (see below for photo’s of this event). There was no sitting on the sidelines, Dominique really forces you to get stuck into the work and gives you assignments that as an Event Planner you will have to deal with; so I was sourcing suppliers, designing moodboards which I would present to clients at meetings and even being responsible for managing a project within the event, it was great! My time with Dominique really gave me the confidence and push I needed to be able to take myself and my future that much more seriously.bat mitzvahBut as well as taking on interns (we offer 6 internships a year – so take note all you aspiring Event Planners out there) Dominique also  runs a “Life of a Wedding Planner”  course. It’s a one day course, which teaches you the REALITIES of this job and what to expect. Dominique as an Event Planner of 10 years, talks to you about all the things you don’t really think of, from how to attract new clients, invoicing and preparing contracts, to finding the perfect venue and more! something I found BEYOND eye opening when I attended, was the ‘How to get a job within the Event industry’ segment which covered CV and Cover Letter Writing. I found this really informative and helpful, Dominique really breaks down to you, what it is that potential employers (like herself) look for when receiving cover letters and CV’s from hopeful and aspiring event planners; it’s funny, because the advice she gave was so simple, yet effective. Isn’t it strange how the majority of us rarely take the time to think of how our CV’s look and must read from the employer side of things? but when you think about it, our CV is our one chance of grabbing a potential employers attention and make them want to call you in for that interview! Now I could sit here all day gushing about how great Dominique is and how fab the course is – which to be fair is very biased of me some might point out! lol – so how about I show you some great feedback we recently received from Gemma who attended the course; Gemma contributes her getting a job, down to Dominique’s advice, as they say the proof is in the pudding!

“Dear Dominique, 

Following your course last November, I commenced a year long course with the wedding planner school, but I remembered your advice that getting some experience in the industry was crucial. So I applied for a part time role as a wedding manager a month ago.  I honestly didn’t think I stood a chance, but I followed your instructions about a good CV and covering letter, if I’m honest I actually used the exact template I wrote in your class, and I was amazed because I got an interview! I have just found out that I have been offered the position, which I am so excited about, so I just wanted to email to say thanks, because of  the course and  your advice it gave me the confidence and skills to get this job.

Regards Gemma”

Well like I said the proof is in the pudding and with feedback like that you can’t put a price on what attending a quality and well thought out course can do for you! Dominique feels really passionate about passing on her experience and knowledge to the next generation of Event Planners, which you can tell throughout her course. She especially values  how a well laid out and written CV can do wonders for you and can really give an insight into what type person and employee you would be. Many of the girls who have attended the course, have enjoyed themselves so much, they have wanted to stay on as an intern – in fact the past ( and present) 3 interns  (Becca, Sophie and Lindsay) all attended the course and each impressed Dominique with their determination and commitment so much, that she offered them an internship! Here is some lovely feedback from previous interns on their time working at Stylish Events:

“Unlike the majority of Dominique’s interns, I had previous experience in the events industry. Working for Dominique was a unique experience, one that cannot compare to any other job, volunteering or internship. I was working for Dominique almost for 5 months and I have been involved in weddings and events which was very satisfying as I could try many different things. Dominique isn’t a regular employer, the trust, freedom and responsibilities that you receive are very motivating. I strongly recommend it to anyone who would like to become wedding planner or work in events industry to do work experience with Dominique” – Lenka Podolanova

“Working with Dominique for three months over the summer 2011 was an eye opening experience. Not only does it look amazing on my CV but working alongside an events planner who has been in the business for nine years really is the best way to see and feel if this profession is for you.Dominique lets you have a go at everything that you would be doing as a real life event planner” – Danielle Simpson

“Dominique’s internship allowed me to pursue my passion for wedding planning and events. As a recent graduate I found it very difficult to secure any placements within bigger events companies as they are a very competitive industry; however it wasn’t until I attended “The Life of a Wedding Planner” that I found what I was looking for. What I loved most about the internship was that Dominique was not afraid to push you in at the deep end; she places full trust in her students and allows them to learn right from the start. With this I have now managed to apply everything I have learnt in my new role as Events Coordinator at a recruitment agency” – Jessica Harris

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From Right to Left: Interns: Lenka, Becca, (Me and Dominique) Jessica, Laure & Seyda

For more information on course dates, prices and internships head over to our website  quick quick!

So what can I say, attending this course and or doing internship with Stylish Events is something to seriously consider, look at me! I had a dream, which has now become a reality!

I hope you enjoyed todays aspirational post, tune in next week, for our ‘Supplier of the Week’ featuring ‘3 Egg Design’ and her lovely invites but until them peeps….

stay blessed and we’ll speak again soon.

xx