This weeks Supplier Spotlight is for wedding and events coordinator Louise Pritchard. With her trademark bob and love of sparkles, this lovely lass is just the gal you need planning your wedding – find out more about Louise, her experienced hospitality background and passion for planning below.
Tell us about you
Hi my name is Louise Pritchard and I am The Cotswold Event Planner.
I help businesses and individuals save time, money and stress when planning their events by using my industry experience, my network of the very best local suppliers and some good old fashioned hard work! On the day itself, my clients can relax and really enjoy the event, knowing I’m on site making sure all the well planned details run smoothly and any loose ends are tied.
How long have you been in business?
I have been The Cotswolds Event Planner for 8 months, although my entire career has been in hospitality and events.
From my very first weekend job at 16, it’s always been about hospitality. My university years and also those that immediately followed were spent getting to know event and wedding planning in hotels.
I followed that with an incredible couple of years working for an Event Management company in Swindon, as account manager for 2 large clients. My work took me across Europe and further afield with planning and on site event management of events from 10 to 250 delegates. My knowledge and understanding grew exponentially.
A wedding and a relocation brought my husband and I to Cheltenham. After a few years in a beautiful country events and weddings hotel, an opportunity to be part of the opening management team for the Montpellier Chapter – now the Malmaison, Cheltenham – came along and was simply too good to pass up. It was a thrilling time at an amazing venue that I will never forget.
How and why did you start your business?
The time just felt right. Working in the events industry can be unforgiving and isn’t always easy with 2 small children- the hours don’t necessarily suit family life, but I missed the buzz organizing and planning gave me. So I decided to work for myself, this way I can control my work life balance, and I’m thrilled I did.
For you what is the best part of running your business?
There is just nothing like the feeling of being at an event you’ve planned, watching the guests having a fantastic time, grins all round, knowing that you’ve been part of that. It gives me goose bumps!
I offer prospective clients a 30 minute, free of charge, no obligation meeting. With a range of services I can provide feel free to get in touch if you’ve got an event to plan. I offer event consultancy at an hourly rate, with full, partial and on the day packages, making my services accessible to small businesses and individuals.
He’s proposed, it was the most surreal and beautiful moment of your life, you said yes (it was always going to be yes!). Suddenly everything is clouded in confetti covered specs.
Then it begins…… where to have the ceremony, will it be church or civil? At the same venue as the reception or local registry office. Home or Abroad? The start of a very long list of decisions.
Many a consultation has seen me chatting to Brides who have had to spend money rectifying earlier mistakes simply because the excitement of planning her wedding has completely run away with her (one client bought 4, yes 4 different wedding dresses!). Of course what Bride to be isn’t excited, and I would certainly be concerned if your weren’t but with a few simple hacks it can be an efficient and streamlined process (with minimal stress!) and a touch easier on the pocket.
The biggest mistake that I commonly see Brides make is the same one I did. Newly engaged I rushed out and cleaned the shelf off every Wedding magazine known to man. I couldn’t wait to get home and within an hour had planned at least five different weddings.
A favorite quote of mine is one from Winston Churchill:
If I where to do it again this is what i’d do and in this order:
Have a Wedding Planning Prenup
Sit down with each other and agree upon the length of engagement, take a rough look at costings (easily found doing a google search) and agree on your budget (then add on 10%). Write this down as an informal agreement between the pair of you – saves any arguments later.
2. Treat It As A Business
Your wedding planning will become a huge part of your life for a while……. Don’t make it become your life. Ensure you have set up a separate bank account for finances so you don’t lose track of what you’ve saved (direct debits into a designated account are great!) Set up a separate email address and use this for everything from RSVPs to conversing with suppliers. Into social media – set up a Instagram account with your own hashtag ie #mr&mrsliggat so any photos taken on the big day, respective stag and hen nights or for those times that your wedding planning ie dress and suit shopping, your friends can use the hashtag and you can save or print pics as necessary.
3. Checklist, Checklist, Checklist
Yes its uber boring but make a checklist for everything, and I mean everything. Not just for the things you need to ie book venue, get dress, order suits etc but also for example a shot checklist for your photographer to ensure that those important shorts are captured, a checklist of approximate timing on the day (make sure that you give this to a couple of people in the wedding party in case you need it for reference on the day. It also means that when you suddenly cant remember if you’ve booked or organised something you have a written copy to refer to and wont need to ring a supplier in a panic to check.
4. Be Tourists
Your venue is one of the biggest spends generally, when researching the venue it really is beneficial to visit as many as possible, stay the night if applicable, eat there, experience the venue after all that is what you will be parting your cash for: the vibe and experience of your chosen venue. Don’t be afraid either to think a little outside the box , is there a restaurant, club or cinema that has special meaning to you both? We approached our local hillclimb racing track (hubby is an amateur car racer) and had our reception there, whilst friends of ours had their reception meal at the local indian.
5. Pound The Streets
Every girl wants to sort THE dress, before you do this you need to know what type of wedding your having: a festival, traditional church, castle, beach – a full on princess dress would be perfect for a castle wedding but may look alittle out of place if you having a festival themed do. Try and hold off and save your feet, until you’ve agreed on the venue and style of your big day.
Bridal Dress shopping – the one piece of advice I can give you here is to block out time to spend pounding the streets for the ONE. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes, take your trusted maids and plan which shops your going to hit and when (most will require you to book an appointment), with military precision. Whilst you may have an idea of the style and type of dress you like, BE OPEN MINDED. The dress I ended up with was not what I thought id have. Trust the stylists, they dress brides to be every day of the week!
6. Choose Your Entourage Wisely
Whilst we all have our besties in mind when picking bridesmaids and best men, be truthful – how are there organisational skills? Can you depend on them? They need to be the people that will be honest with you that the puffball wedding dress you’ve got your heart set on actually makes you look like you’ve gained 10lbs, that pick you up when the alcohol hits on the hen night and you have a sudden drunken meltdown. Should something happen on the day would you trust them to make the right decisions in your stead?
5. Its Ok to Social Media Stalk
When picking suppliers, research, research, research. Social media is great for finding out what suppliers you like, monitoring their work, reading their reviews. Once you’ve a short list arrange to meet with them – its vital that you have a great working relationship with your suppliers.
6. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Whilst it would be dreamy that you have real confetti petals, rose buttonholes for all the males guests and a rose wrist corsage for the ladies, a harpist while guests wait outside the church, an organist for the entrance, not to mention junior and senior choirs for that ‘voice of an angel’ hymn singing. Be realistic – what is important to you. Are real rose petal confetti going to mean the difference between a good and great best day of your life? Are multi pocket invitations in gilded gold really that important? By all means if you’ve the budget and you want them, go ahead. If you haven’t….. how important is it? Equally whilst its nice to have extras such as sweet charts, favours, table confetti, you don’t have to have them.
7. Don’t Underestimate the DIY
Every bride wants to feel like they have made a personal touch to their day, some more than others. However do not, under any circumstances, underestimate the time factor in your planning if you are DIY’ing aspects of your day. If its something you can only create nearer the day ensure you factor in lots of practice runs beforehand! I made my own invites – simple enough and I only needed 50 so a couple of hours work right? It actually took me 3 days and i eventually made double that number as I tweaked designs etc along the way.
8.Your Day, Your Way
You will have to learn to be diplomatically strong. Try not to take family comments to seriously if they express a dislike to something you have planned. Calming state that this is what you and your other half have decided – once you enter into explanations of why you have picked that and not this you will irreverently start to doubt yourself. Remember this is YOUR day so its needs to be done YOUR way.
9. If It Goes Pete Tong………SMILE
Unless you have complete OCD or have employed a Wedding Planner, things will go slightly off plan. Its unrealistic to think it won’t. However only you will know if things have gone awry. At my own wedding i totally forgot to do a table plan – yes i know. However it wasn’t an issue… people thought what an refreshing idea it was to allow people to sit where they liked! I just smiled and let them carry on thinking id planned it!