We interviewed Fiona From Couture Wedding Planning
About Couture Wedding Planning
Originally from Zimbabwe, Fiona moved to Sydney in her 20’s to complete her Degree in Hospitality and Event Management after receiving a Bachelor of Commerce from the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School.
After Graduating Fiona worked in well-known hotels in Australia and around the world. She then returned to university in Australia to compete her Master in Accounting and during this time worked in Bridal Boutique – where her passion and love for weddings ignited.
As she already had a very strong background in organising and executing events from her work in hotels, Fiona decided to fuse her vast knowledge of the bridal Industry and events and started Couture Wedding Planning over 10 years ago now.
Fiona adores everything to do with weddings and this shows in the creating of beautiful, creative and unique weddings for each of her couples.
When did you get started in weddings?
10 years ago now
When did you know you wanted to be a wedding planner/ work in weddings?
While I was doing my Masters in Accounting I worked in Bridal Boutique and I just fell in love with everything to do with weddings!!
How many weddings have you worked on in your career?
10 years now
Does it ever get old? Any challenging moments?
No it never gets old, I could no imagine myself doing anything else now, and nothing else sparks joy in me. Of course there are challenging times as you dealing with people where their emotions can run very high and so you have to manage a large variety of personalities and situations with compassion and help manage peoples expectations so they know exactly what they are going to experience and iron out any kinks that you may experience along the way.
Best part of the job as a planner / stylist?
The create side of the planning I just adore – who does not want to play with flowers, cakes and crystal chandeliers all day!! I also love the organisation side of thing – I am huge fan of a colour coordinated spreadsheet – they make my heart sing!! I adore the incredible bride and grooms that I get to work with and love creating the most memorable moments in their lives!! I get to know their families and then love helping them with other important milestones in their lives such as baby showers, birthdays and christenings later on down the track.
Best part of running your own business?
I have always fitted Wedding planning around my life and so it has given the flexibility to spend time with my family and travel the globe and experience new countries and cultures.
What is the largest event (based on budget or number of attendees) you have ever planned or assisted with planning?
1200 people (the Smallest I have planned was for 12 people)
ABOUT YOUR CLIENTS + WEDDING PLANNING?
In your experience, who typically ends up hiring a wedding planner?
I find most of my couples are professionals who have high-powered jobs and are time poor and would love assistance planning their wedding. Most of the time you are contacted by the bride but I have planned 4 wedding now where the Main point of contact is the Groom J
What do you feel are the most important elements to designing/ organising a party or wedding?
Try to bring in design elements that you have not used in another wedding before so the wedding is unique and fresh.
I love to create a Style Guide and use visual references so the couple know exactly what they will be getting on the wedding day.
Creating a great atmosphere for your couple and their guests and the wedding should really reflect the couple personalities and have a lot of personal touches.
Being organised and writing every single detail down I think is so important as this help create a seamless experience for your couple and allows you to see how one change can affect other elements and suppliers at the wedding.
When you get a client- where do you start? Is there a rough order of business or process?
We meet with the couple for a complementary initial consultation to see if we will work well together and to discuss their wedding ideas in more detail. Once they have decided to engage us we go onto sourcing their ceremony and reception venues followed by all their styling elements such as wedding gown, invites, cakes, flowers, décor hire etc and logistical elements such as car and boat transfer etc. We manager their budget throughout the whole process and create a detailed wedding day timeline which we communicate to all the suppliers the week before the wedding and run their wedding days for them so nothing can go wrong and they can just enjoy their day.
Can you tell me about the types of wedding packages you have available to couples?
We offer the Couture Full Wedding Planning Experience – this package is perfect for couples who have not planned anything and would like help with all the element of their wedding.
We also offer a Couture Styling package perfect for couples who have already organise a few elements of their wedding such as the venue etc and just need help making it beautiful and tie all the loose end together.
The final package we offer is Couture Wedding Day Coordination – this is perfect for couple who would love to plan their wedding themselves but would like to hire a professional to run the wedding day itself so they don’t need to stress and just have great time on their big day.
What’s your favourite part of working with brides and grooms?
My favourite part of working with my beautiful brides and grooms is the incredible connections and friendships you make along the way. I love learning what sparks joy in people and listening to their desires and dreams and then going out and making them come true. I am also fascinated with how couples work together and navigate their way through the wedding planning process.
What’s the most interesting wedding moment you’ve witnessed?
I am particular drawn to couple who come from cross cultural background and love finding ways of fusing their two cultures together and highlighting both of their traditions throughout the wedding.
Do you see any trends in the industry at present or with your current clients?
I think ceiling installation and large scale floral installation are very big right now – couples always want to include a wow factor in their wedding and these are some of the best ways to create an impact on their guests experiences.
What does your work week usually look like?
Everything changes week to week but mostly I am working in the office on emails and planning elements for each wedding. We also go to a lot of face to face meeting so we can introduce couple to their dream wedding suppliers and collaborate on the look and feel of their weddings. Sometime this means working in the evening or on weekends as a lot of couples work during the week, so I feel students that want to become planners such be aware of this.
YOUR BUSINESS ADVICE
What’s the best way to get started in the industry? What’s your advice to others starting out in the industry?
A lot of wedding planner are small business owner so sometimes it is best to intern at larger companies such as wedding venues or décor companies to get the experience you are after first as they have a lot more positions available. Once you some experience under you belt, contact planners to see if they need any interns for during the week or on the wedding day itself.
In your opinion, what has been the key to your success?
Being very detailed orientated and having fantastic relationship with my couples as they always tells their friends what an amazing experience they had, which leads to the best form of advertising – Word of Mouth.
What business actions have you taken that have really moved you forward?
Instagram and understand how to strategically market yourself on this very dynamic platform. It is not just about posting lots of pretty pictures, it is really a science and once you understand how to use it correctly it can be incredible form of advertising!!
Knowing what you do now, how would you develop relationships with vendors/ suppliers in a new city?
Good Question – I think it all about showing new suppliers what you are capable of through showcasing your past work and networking a lot and getting your company name out there!!
How did you transform your wedding planning business to the next level? INSTAGRAM is the Key!! Having fantastic relationship with both your suppliers so they will work above and beyond for you and really nurturing your relationship with your clients!!
How did you decide on the right pricing structure for your services?
This is a tricky one – It has taken me a long time to get a handle on how to price my service as there is so many variables. I take 10% of all the goods and services that I plan for my full wedding planning clients with a minimum spend.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
You learn from every wedding and always make sure you keep adding to your contract so that if the same challenge comes up again in the future you have covered it in your terms and conditions.
View further information and latest events by Couture Wedding Planning Here: website www.coutureweddingplanning.com.au