Hi Francesca … can you tell us how you first got into events?
I have worked in the hospitality industry for a long time and for as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with weddings. After my A-Levels and working for an independent restaurant I decided to go to University and study Hospitality and Events Management in Birmingham at a college which specialised in the hotel and events industry.
What is your role at The Norfolk Mead and what does it include?
My role at The Norfolk Mead is Event Manager. Luckily enough for me there are two of us so I get to work closely with my colleague Victoria. Our job is rather varied, but in a nutshell, we get to show couples and clients around the Hotel and grounds and work closely with them right up to the wedding or event itself. We are also both there on the day, running the events team making sure everything is going to plan.
What makes a good event planner?
Organisation, organisation and organisation! You can’t possibly plan for every eventuality, but you can try!
What do you love about events?
As I’m sure anyone who has planned a wedding or an event knows, the lead up can be rather stressful. So, what I love most is when it all comes together.
What is special about weddings?
To me, love is the most important thing in the world; being able to show your love and commitment to one another in front of your family and friends has to be the most special thing about a wedding. That’s certainly what keeps me going in the thick of the wedding season!
What are the current trends you are seeing for weddings?
Just like fashion, food and travel, weddings are subject to trends. We are seeing vegan food options become more and more popular and we have even catered for some completely vegan weddings; from the canapes to the wedding breakfast, and right through to the evening food being all completely vegan.
Another trend we are seeing is sustainability; couples are finding ways to become more eco-friendly with their wedding planning, for example using recycled paper for their invites and using all locally sourced decorations.
My personal favourite wedding trend, however, is that us ladies are more frequently than ever standing up and making a speech. Brides, mother of the brides and the bridesmaids are all standing up and taking part in one of the most important parts of the day. Let’s face it … it’s been a long time coming!
What do you like best about your job? And what are the challenges?
The best part of my job is the couples I get to meet. Being part of someone’s wedding is an honour and being trusted by a couple to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible is a great feeling. The challenges can, of course, be the last-minute changes, but with time and with organising events for the last three years, this becomes easier with time.
How do you motivate the rest of your team during an event?
Unlike Victoria and I, most of our events team are unlikely to have met the clients before they start work on the day of an event. It’s our job to ensure we brief our staff in detail, so they feel they know as much about the client as we do. We are all part of someone’s special event and, like Victoria and I, our team also want to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible. The whole day is a team effort.
What advice would you have for anyone thinking of going into events?
Be prepared to work unsociable hours and weekends. It can be tough especially when you may miss out on some important things in your own life. There is, however, an abundance of satisfaction when successfully executing an event you have worked so hard to organise. This in itself makes the unsociable hours a lot easier.
If you could go to any event in the world, what would you go to and why?
If I could go to any event in the world it would have to be the MET GALA in New York. The event is a fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. I have a love for fashion and each year there is a different theme which guests must uphold in their own outfits.
What about a dream wedding to attend if you could be a fly on the wall past or future?
No doubt a Royal wedding. No one does a wedding like the Royal family; the traditions that they must adhere to and the secrecy of all the small details is completely fascinating. When Meghan and Harry got married in 2018, we also had a wedding at The Mead that day. I went the entire day avoiding the internet and the TV and finally watched the whole thing when I got home at 1am, not seeing a thing all day!
If you could start your career again but not go into events planning, what would be your alternative career choice and why?
I would have loved to have been a midwife … there is something rather special about bringing life into the world. Unfortunately, I’m unable to even watch an episode of Casualty without being squeamish, so I knew it wasn’t the job for me! Although until a couple have a baby, they usually say their wedding day was the best day of their lives and being able to be a part of that is also pretty special.