Sandy launched her event planning business in 2003. Tern Events has a reputation for excellent organisation, creativity and attention to detail, which provide a good recipe for elegant, smooth running events. Sandy is also one half of the UK Alliance Of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) founded for one purpose: to promote professionalism in wedding planning. UKAWP invests in training and professional development that generates sustainable growth in the wedding planning industry.
In this episode you will discover:
- Why Sandy has helped to create a respected community with an ethical code of practise.
- How Sandy allocates the percentage of her client’s budget to various types of suppliers.
- Why it’s important to have a contingency fund and what normally blows it!
Links for this episode:
For Audio Transcript click here
Sandy: I love it, I just love seeing everything come together and all those happy smiley faces. It just makes me feel amazing.
Audio: Toby and James are involved in amazing events all over the world. You’re listening to The Planner’s Planner podcast where top event professionals share real world experiences and cutting edge ideas. Sponsored by metropolisproductions.co.uk.
Toby: Hello and welcome to the Planners Planner podcast I’m Toby Goodman. I’m back with James Eager. How are you today, James?
James: Really, really good. How are you doing, Toby?
Toby: Very well thank you. We’ve picked up a few new listeners James. Where were they from? Have you got any messages for them?
James: Well, my main message is just keep spreading the word. The observer amongst you will notice we have a new website which went live at the beginning of this month. We have a new gizmo in there which gives up some analytics from the guys at Blueberry or where people are listening.
It didn’t really surprise me even, that we’ve got a bunch of listeners in the thriving events market, which is Australia and New Zealand. What did surprise me a little bit more, was that we’ve got listeners in Norway and Finland. I would love to hear from you guys if you want to say hello.
Toby: Yes, come say hello, my Nordic friends. James this new thing seems to be saying, “I guess” as opposed to, “Absolutely” so that shows progress. On with what we’re doing here today. Today James talks to Sandy Moretta from Tern Events and also from UKAWP which stands for the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners. They’re mainly based in the you know. The UKAWP has a growing community of suppliers and planners throughout the world.
Our friend Louise Perry is also a member of … You can find Louise’s interview on the Planner’s Planner site. It’s the first episode we did. It won’t surprise you that Sandy practices what she preaches. As you’d expect, she has her own wedding planning business and that’s called, Tern Events.
This was a great chance for James to talk to a planner this time, and having reflected on my chat with Louise, James was able to ask Sandy some more specific questions about planning, that we didn’t ask Louise. It’s a nice continuation of the same theme, but hopefully some new information that you’ll get from that, so on with the interview. See you at the end, James.
James: See you at the end, mate.
Audio: The Planner’s Planner Podcast is sponsored by metropolisproductions.co.uk and metropolis-life.com
James: Hi Sandy, welcome to the Planner’s Planner Podcast, how are you doing?
Sandy: Fine, thank you. How are you?
James: I am really really good. It’s quite amazing. We’re actually on Skype talking here but we live about a half a mile apart.
Sandy: I know.
James: Technology is amazing. Anyway, it’s great to have you on the show. There are two strings to your bow. One is running a very successful event planning business, your own company, Tern Events. The other is founding UK Alliance of Wedding Planners or UKAWP. Before we talk about those, can you tell me how it all began? How did you get into the crazy world of events?
Sandy: Well I’d love to say I sort of laid there in my cot and it was what I wanted to do. Which is a lot of people tell me on a Monday morning when I open my email. It wasn’t like that at all. I used to be in the world of retail finance and credit cards. I sat down one day at a computer and filled in one of those online forms, which said something like, “If you could get paid to do something you love doing anyway, what would it be?” It came out as party planning. I thought, “Don’t be silly, I work for a great big company. We have teams of people that do that, why would I do it?” But then when I thought about it I thought, “Do you know what? It’s a project, isn’t it?” It’s a project, it’s a pretty one, and that is literally how it started. Simple as that.
James: Brilliant. When did you form Tern Events?
Sandy: Back in 2003.
James: Okay. Can you give us a sort of overview of the sort of events that you do with your business?
Sandy: Yeah, it is predominantly weddings. I also do … What I would describe as corporate and private celebrations. I guess the one sort of thing that I don’t do is conference type work. It’s not my forte and there are fantastic companies out there who do exactly that. The kinds of things I might do for a business would be maybe a Christmas party or a fun day for their staff and then obviously lots of milestone birthday parties, anniversary parties, that sort of thing.
James: Fantastic, let’s just move on to the UKAWP. You founded that didn’t you?
Sandy: I wasn’t there at the very beginning. My colleague Bernadette is the only actual true founder left. I was in after two years, in 2006.
James: Can you explain what they do?
Sandy: Yeah, absolutely. The UKAWP was founded for one purpose only and that was to inject some professionalism into the world of wedding planning. We are rather scarily completely unregulated as an industry. All of us who set up ten, twelve years ago used to get lots of very unhappy brides call on a Monday or Tuesday morning saying that they had given money to somebody who had either not turned up on the day, or run off with it, or really didn’t know what they were doing.
What we wanted to do was … We can’t regulate the whole industry. We wanted to have a membership scheme and build training courses whereby we taught people how to do it “properly” and we have a code of business practice that everybody has to adhere to. We make sure that people are trained, that they have the correct insurances in place, etc. And therefore we can regulate those who are our members.
James: Brilliant, are you able to give me from the benefit of your knowledge or archives. Can you give any specific examples of events which I guess went wrong, which could have done with a wedding planner?
Sandy: I wouldn’t say specifically events which went wrong that I’ve been involved in but certainly thinking back, I can remember one particular couple. It was terribly sad they were down near Bath, who telephoned me. They actually telephoned me as Tern Events. They telephoned about six weeks I think it was, before their wedding. They had handed twelve thousand pounds. Probably about half of their budget, over to a wedding planner. Who I never knew the name of, which is probably a good thing. Certainly not a member. Her business had gone under. She had obviously put that money into her business account and when the business went under obviously, the liquidators saw that as money that belonged to her business, so it was completely lost. They called just in a state saying, “Could I possibly help them out?” Which obviously I did with my Tern Events hat on. Obviously also, my heart went out to them as UK Alliance Wedding Planners.
It was very interesting, we are always very very specific now when we’re training planners to say, if you have clients who want to give you a pot of money, which is not normally the case. It might be if they are in the States for example. They want to give you a pot of money to be paying down specific suppliers, please do not put it in your business account. Put it in a separate account. Those are the kinds of things that can go wrong.
James: That to me sounds like it makes an awful amount of sense. Can you … I know we probably covered this in one of our first episodes but there’s no harm in talking about it again, the one with Louise. Can you actually just briefly describe what a wedding planner does to anybody who’s unfamiliar?
Sandy: Wow, it can be as long as a piece of string, really. There are varied services that we offer. I guess for most of us, myself included, what we love to do because we are complete control freaks and we’re happy to be. My perfect client would be the couple who gets engaged and then picks up the phone the day after and says, “We haven’t done this before, we’d like to hire someone who has. Please take us through the entire exercise and help us find the dream venue that we’re thinking of.”
I would then take a brief about what they want in terms of photography, in terms of music, etc..and then put maybe three to five options in front of them which fit their budget, their style, their ideas and then we take it from there. Obviously they make all the choices. It’s absolutely their wedding and their vision. I basically just sort of take the reigns away from them and they get the fun bit. Whereas I manage the project.
James: That sort of feeds next into my next question. What would you say are the high points … I was going to say and what do you think are the low points, but I think low points is really the wrong word. I’d say possibly less glamorous is a better way to describe it.
Sandy: What’s less glamorous based on? The high point for me is almost always, on the day around seven or eight in the evening, when the bride grabs me and says, “Oh my goodness, we couldn’t have done it without you.” To which I will always say exactly the same, “Yes, you could. Of course you could, but you might not have enjoyed the whole planning process quite so much.” Because obviously there’s a lot there to do.
I love it, I just love seeing everything come together and all those happy smiley faces. It just makes me feel amazing.
James: What would you say is the sort of I guess, less glamorous side of it for you?
Sandy: That would be where … I think the classic is if it’s let’s a marquee wedding, and as it does in this lovely country of ours. It’s absolutely pouring with rain for the whole of the morning, while you’re setting up. My hair looks like Monica from Friends. Heaven knows how many years ago that was. Then of course the sun comes out, and the guest arrive and you think, “How am I going to look vaguely normal?” Because nobody understands why I look like that.
James: I can see that’s less glamorous.
Sandy: Yeah, so you’re walking around in your wellies but again I love it. Better me than the bride for goodness sake.
James: From the interview we did with Louise, one of the things that I understood that you guys do is you basically are on hand, not sort of 24/7, within reason. You are constantly there to field email and take the stress away from the client, is that right?
Sandy: Very much so. I think all of us have lives and that might be, certainly in Louise’s case and in my case it involves children and husbands and businesses and all the rest of it. I would never say to her … I have never say to her once said to a client I’m quite happy if a client hears me saying this, “I’m going on a school run.” I am quite sure that they understand but I often have meetings [inaudible 00:11:15] at half past three.
That’s fine for them because they want to meet … When they actually physically want to meet me, it’s generally evenings or weekends which is absolutely fine. And then I will often be on email at eleven o’clock at night or six o’clock in the morning. That doesn’t really matter, a lot of what I do in the planning process can be done at anytime anywhere.
James: Brilliant, are you kind of getting into this world of working remotely then?
Sandy: Oh, very much so. It’s funny, I look at my own kids and I very much believe that when they look at houses or when they build houses going forward, it will all be about two different office spaces and not about so much about how many bedrooms and dining rooms. Because I think that’s what so many of us do now.
James: Yeah, I’m hearing stories of companies built with, I know thirty, forty staff, which are all remote across the world these days.
Sandy: Yeah, it makes sense.
James: Yeah, it totally does. I’ve got a question moving … Get a bit on. This is actually from Toby who you know. He has a question along the lines of, what would you say are the major areas of expense in a wedding?
Sandy: Oh okay. Very much the venue and the food and drink. I would generally say almost regardless of it’s style, the budget, or what have you, is around forty-five to fifty percent of any budget.
Sandy: If you have twenty thousand to spend, you’re likely to spend about ten on that. That’s the big one. Then it really varies, because it depends on the client. Some clients, as you will know, are very much into their music and that has to be right. Others are very foodie so slightly more will go on that. After the food, the drink, and the venue, generally it would be photography, and then entertainment, and then flowers.
James: Flowers, and what about I guess the dress and the suits?
Sandy: Yeah again that really varies. If you’ve got fifteen bridesmaids then that’s quite a large proportion of the budget, but if you’ve got just her sister then much less so. That is the one area … I tend to say when I’m starting from scratch with a couple, “Try to keep between eight and ten percent of your budget back as contingency.” And I would say, over nine times out of ten, it is the dress that blows the contingency.
James: Okay, I’m really really curious. I think this is partly because I’m a bloke actually, but going through some of these costs, because I don’t actually know. Say we had, I don’t know what is a reasonable price wedding budget to choose, would you say thirty, thirty-five thousand, something like that?
Sandy: Yeah certainly. The average is around twenty, twenty-one. A lot of average budget clients tend not to want to have … Certainly don’t want to have full planning with a wedding planner because they don’t want to give up too much of their budget, quite understandably.
James: So what would you say, with Tern Events, what would you say is your average spend?
Sandy: Average around forty-five to fifty, probably.
James: Okay, let’s take fifty thousand. If you had a fifty K budget, how much would someone say spend on the venue, do you think?
Sandy: Well again that depends whether everything is in-house. If it was just the venue. No food, no nothing, anything up to ten.
James: Ten K, cool. What about the caterer?
Sandy: Again, it depends very much whether it’s all packaged up as in-house or not. Catering and drink would take you up to about twenty-five out of that fifty.
James: Okay, so fifteen thousand on that?
James: Wow. Okay, entertainment, we’re in the music business so I can take a guess at that myself, without too many problems. These are the two ones that I actually [inaudible 00:15:12] after fifteen years of this business. I’m really aren’t that familiar with what they cost. What about the dress and the suits, that kind of thing. What do people normally spend on that?
Sandy: With a fifty thousand pound budget. Probably four, something like that. On all of it, not just on the dress.
James: Sure, so what would an average kind of dress spend be?
Sandy: An average kind of dress spend is probably between a thousand and fifteen hundred. You can have a beautiful dress for that. I’m a great believer in that. I have a daughter. I keep saying that over and over.
James: Oh really, have you started saving already then?
Sandy: I wouldn’t go that far. [inaudible 00:15:54] trying to manage expectations.
James: I can see that one. Last couple, what about a florist?
Sandy: Oh gosh, again as long as a piece of string. But if you had say, a fifty thousand pound budget. Again, probably around four on flowers. Again, of course it depends on numbers of bridesmaids because you might have one bouquet or fifteen, but as an average.
James: Okay, and then photographer or videographer?
Sandy: Generally about … so if you had both, probably five.
James: So roughly two and a half thousand each, something like that?
Sandy: Yes, probably with that budget, yes.
James: Cool, that’s really really interesting. I know I’ve just put you right on the spot there. Some of these things … I just actually never known what they cost because I never bought flowers before, in the case of a wedding, that is.
Sandy: Sure. I think it’s important to say that actually it can be done for a lot less than that. I’m thinking if you had fifty thousand then that’s the amount you might spend on photography, videography, etc.
James: I think it’s key to make it clear that you can get married for ten to twenty thousand pounds very easily.
James: As a company we’ve been on quarter of a million pound weddings. Been overseas to do them. There’s a whole end of the spectrum. It’s actually from my perspective, asking those questions. It’s very difficult to know where to pitch them, to even begin with.
Sandy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
James: Going back to the UKAWP. You said you had a code of ethics. I’ve just got them up it in front of me, in fact. Can you tell me. What … How did you come around choosing these code of ethics?
Sandy: Probably, bit like most things in life, eighty, twenty. Eighty percent of it is pure common sense and operational. One hopes commons sense … I don’t have it in front of me. For example, where we say, that we will get … That members must get back to people who have telephoned them within forty eight business hours. For example, that is common sense. Of course these days it tends to be five minutes rather than forty eight. Everything has to be immediate. I think, the one thing that particularly sticks out for some [inaudible 00:18:25], is that we don’t allow our members to take commission.
James: Okay. Can you explain a little more about that.
Sandy: Absolutely. That is very much … If I had to pick one US [inaudible 00:18:35] that would be it for us. Within the corporate events of the industry, it is completely normal to take commission and I have absolutely no problem with that. It’s just how it works. In the wedding industry we’re firm believers, that people generally have saved for a long time. It’s their personal money. They’re not a company, they are individuals.
Sandy: Therefore, for me to add ten percent to what you … You’re charging ten percent to what photographers charging, is just … It’s just not transparent for the client. It’s also actually, if you think about it. From a planners point of view, very complicated. It means I have to stay on top of absolutely everything. Whereas, if it is completely transparent, I don’t. I am simply quoting what you’ve quoted me.
James: Okay. Can you just give me an example. It might be quite obviously maths, how would that ten percent work?
Sandy: It works one of two ways. For example, if … It needn’t be ten percent. That’s fairly easy maths wise.
Sandy: If for example, I don’t know, you as a … An entertainment organization had quoted me three thousand pounds to do whatever it is, you’ve been asked to do. I charged say, ten percent commission. I would therefore be telling the client that your cost was three thousand three hundred.
James: Sure. If the client had a … to go back to the fifty thousand pound spend, they would actually spend fifty five thousand?
Sandy: Well they probably wouldn’t. If they told me their budget was fifty thousand, then they would spend … that would be the total that they spent. A large part of that might be commission.
James: Okay, so it’s more likely to roughly they would spend forty five thousand and then the ten …
Sandy: [crosstalk 00:20:29] maths but yeah.
James: More like with … Give or take five hundred quid?
James: That’s really good …
Sandy: The other way it works for example, would be, if you tell that you were going to charge three thousand, then either I would quote to them … Should I take commission. Either I would quote three thousand three hundred to the client, or you would just have to give me the three hundred and it would never be told to the client. Either way, to me that’s complicated and certainly not transparent. Which is why we don’t allow it.
James: Yeah. I believe with any business we do here at Metropolis, just everything has to be transparent. It’s what gives the client confidence at the end of the day.
Sandy: Also if you think about it. If we were working together and the client, perhaps goes and listens to you gigging somewhere else, and gets into direct conversation with you. Having only come through me in the first instance, then you don’t necessary know what somebody charging commission has been quoted to them. You can get into a mess.
James: Yeah. I am actually trying with what we do. To have one final price for the client and depending who we work for. Actually discount from that point. If we’re working for a planner, they get a ten percent price discount. Regardless, whether the client goes direct. It’s always the same price, whether the client goes direct. I found that one is really good one for kind of brokering relationship with both, the clients and actually any middle people. Middle people that we work with.
Sandy: Absolutely. What we say to our members is. Don’t take commissions but ask for a discount for your client. Not for your self, but for your client.
James: Yeah. That seems like a really really good way to do it. Going so … Obviously you head up UKAWP with Bernadette. Can you tell me … Part of what you do is training there. The training obviously, there are parts where areas of putting on a wedding. Where planners are more comfortable in other areas, then in other areas. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?
Sandy: Sorry not quite sure what you mean by that.
James: My apologies. [inaudible 00:22:44] question. What areas are the planners tend to be more comfortable planning in and what areas do they need a little bit of help with?
Sandy: I think we need help with everything. I am a great believer that we are the holder of the clip board. As supposed to … I can cook dinner for my kids but I am certainly not a caterer. I can stick daffodils in a vase but I am not a florist. I’d liked to say that I can sing but I can’t even do that. I can’t do what you do. We very much see as our role. Particularly when we starting out, to learn from the pros in each sector. What we need to know in any boo- In order to be that middle man, and explain things to a client. I think particularly the sorts of things that you do in the entertainment world can be quite complicated to explain to a client.
James: Sure. Can you give me an example some of the recent training courses that you’ve put on for your membership?
Sandy: The two key training courses that we run are specifically aimed at wedding planners. Obviously we don’t pretend to do what you do. Or to be experts in floristry. We have two very specific courses. One, business practically. It’s all about how to set up your business, how not to spend too much on advertising, how the power of PR is. It’s time rather then money that’s so much better.
Sandy: The finance side of it. The business planning side of it. What to charge. Then the second course set by step is literally, if you like. You’ve got your first wedding, how you going to do it?
Sandy: We run through finding suppliers, working with suppliers. Putting the schedule together etc. When it comes to things that are not our own area of expertise, we will ask other people to run workshops. For example, a dress workshop or a floristry workshop, that sort of thing. Where we would be there, but we don’t profess to be the floral expert.
James: Excellent. I guess the other thing which is kind of coming to mind here, is that, it creates a sense of community, because you’re giving all these guys, obviously wedding planners. All in the same room together to get to know each other as well.
Sandy: Oh, absolutely. A little bit like you were saying earlier. So many of us work from home. I would say, over ninety percent of our planner members do. For me, that’s great, because I have a busy life. I love the fact that I sit in my own little box on my own for most of the day. If I lived on my own, it can be quite lonely. Having that community is fantastic. We do things like … We have private facebook groups, so that people can have a little bit of rant, if they need to. Or just ask a question that is out there on social media with everybody watching. It’s just got planner members or supplier members or whoever, watching and answering questions. Yeah, absolutely. When we ask our members as we do once a year. Which of the benefits to them are the most important. There will be a lot of people will say, it’s the facebook group. It’s the what we call our mix and mingle evenings, where people get together. It’s just having like minded people to talk to.
James: Would you say all wedding planners generally work solo? Do any of them have employees?
Sandy: Yes, some have employees. Most of our members are generally solo, but might take on either an intern or some assistance, particularly over the summer period. Some of … There are some larger companies, but generally they are one man bands.
James: Brilliant, brilliant. I am kind of curious. You get to see a lot of weddings. You get to … You are interacting with a lot of suppliers. Are there any suppliers which are particular a catching your eye, which are really moving things forward?
Sandy: Yeah. There’s always something new going on. I think particularly in entertainment with some of strange kind of, particularly circus act took a sort of … It seems to have taken the wedding industry by storm over the last couple of years. I think the kind of whole move towards making everything that much more elegant and upgraded. Whether it’s through linen, through glass work etc. There’s definitely a trend that way. In terms of individuals. It’s very hard to say. I think there is centrally a trend that we are seeing is a lot of UK planners looking to work abroad as well.
James: All right. What sort of countries are we talking?
Sandy: Dubai comes up quite a lot. Italy.
Sandy: South Africa, where else. Turkey, I was talking to somebody yesterday. I think increase in the … Which kind of makes sense because increasingly couples are … UK based couples are going abroad to get married for a variety of reasons. It does makes sense that they have someone who speaks their language. Who can help them through the whole process.
James: Are they generally fairly sizable weddings, or are they just kind of smaller thirty, forty people type affairs?
Sandy: I would say they are one or the other and not so much in the middle. Yeah. They’re either really really big high end, perhaps big wedding in Dubai or they are simply people who have decided that they want to go to the Caribbean or they want to go to Italy, because they love the place, they love the food. As you say it might be thirty people.
James: Right, Okay. That’s the one probably above … Just got another question. How does the circus entertainer fit into a wedding?
Sandy: How does anything fit into a wedding?
Sandy: There are all sorts of … Whether they’re stilts or … I don’t know how to describe them. They are people that sort of dance inside the big … I am glad nobody can see me doing this, because I am waving my arms around. Dance inside sort of large transparent balls, for want of a better description. All sorts of things. I think people are looking for things that are that little bit different. More and more couples, particularly kind of couples that we work with as planners, has perhaps got very good jobs in the city. They’re used to going to high end functions. They see these sort of thing. Once they’ve done the really important bit and married each other. They want to put on a little show for their guests.
Sandy: Why not have something a little bit different. Whether it’s singing waiters or circus act or something …
James: Actually you are making me think I am literally … We’re literally finish contracting a job somewhere, where the client is booking electric string quartet. [inaudible 00:29:32] with the glamorous dancing.
Sandy: Oh, yes.
James: Yeah. That particular situation with that one is, it’s an afternoon wedding. They wanted something at the end of the day to make it memorable. I thought that was a really really nice idea.
Sandy: There is so many different eclectic things out there. It’s just amazing. We’re lucky to work in the industry, I think.
James: Do you get a particular planner within your … Within the group which may sort of do like a retro style wedding, for instance?
Sandy: We have a complete mixture, it’s quite interesting, talking about the whole community. We will all go and help each other as well. We have day rates and what have you. Where we pay each other to help each other. Certainly there are members within the group who, if I have a particular kind of wedding I think I must ask her or I must ask him, because I think they have … It might be the language. It might be a lot of experience in, whether it’s marquees or particular … If there are lots of complicated dresses that’s my kind of … I don’t like touching the dresses. I’d rather someone else did that. It’s great to be able to look around the community and say, it will be really great to have him on board, because I know he can speak that language, or can do that kind of wedding.
James: I’d say you can sort of draw on each others skill basis.
Sandy: Yeah, we do all the time.
James: Okay. That comes from, I guess the forums and the meet ups you do as part of the community?
Sandy: Yeah. When we’re training. We’re great believers in classroom training. We do train people one to one, if for specific reasons they want that. We love having ten to twelve people in a room. Which actually we got this weekend in London. We know that … They feed off each other as well. Yes, we train them, but the more backgrounds and age groups and what have you that you have, the more people get out of learning. The more they work together going forward. You find out that somebody’s got a background in, it could be anything. Teaching, they might have been a nurse, they might have been a lawy- We have a lot of lawyers at the moment. Those backgrounds help as well. We have one of our ambassadors, one of our London ambassadors used to work for BBC wardrobe. What she doesn’t knows about a dress is not worth knowing.
James: Right. Just to give the listeners an example, what is the training training session on Saturday?
Sandy: Tomorrow and Sunday, we are doing the second course that I mentioned. Step by step. Which is very much … You’ve got your first wedding, how are you going to go through it from beginning to end. Finding the suppliers, working with suppliers, putting the whole thing together.
James: How many people are on the course?
Sandy: Twelve this weekend.
James: Excellent. That’s quite a nice number to work with, is it?
Sandy: We try not to go above twelve, to be honest. We like everybody to get lots of air time to put it bluntly.
James: Are you actually delivering the course yourself?
Sandy: We’re doing a day each, which is again what is we try to do. We think, if we possibly can, people get two different trainers as well and two different points of view. The more that we can throw into the mix, I think, the better it is for everybody.
James: The other one you do is you bring suppliers into the train as well, don’t you?
Sandy: Yeah, we do sometimes. We also have suppliers who haven’t written our course material but they overlook it. Is that the word? Oversee it for us. Make sure that we are right, maybe tweak it a bit, which is really helpful.
James: Excellent. Let’s just sort of … We’re coming to a close at the moment. Let’s just talk about a couple more things. We’re working together or actually we were doing a show together for Micklefield hall next month, aren’t we?
James: Micklefield hall, we’ve actually mentioned before on this podcast, because one of our technicians who works with this a lot is actually getting married there.
Sandy: Oh, wow.
James: Yeah. We’ve actually discussed how beautiful Micklefield hall is again. I am sure Jaime who owns it would love it if we did it again. Why don’t we actually talk a little bit about the fair that you are putting on there. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Sandy: Yes. Actually the word fair makes me shudder. I am not a lover of wedding fairs.
James: What would you call it then?
Sandy: Shows. Showcase event.
James: It’s a wedding showcase. I like that word even better.
Sandy: The reason we call it that is that just over the last five years I think in particular, wedding fairs in personal mind have become a little bit tired.
James: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sandy: What I hate as a punter of anything, not necessary in the wedding world. If I go to something, I can’t stand the idea of having people’s business cards thrust under my nose. And being asked to kind of sign up for something possibly. Do I want this, do I want that? I just want to go somewhere and have a look around and do my own thing. What we do is run it very much as a … An advice driven event where people can wonder off. Yes, taste a bit of cake but nobody is going to be thrusting business cards at you. We try to get some interaction going. You guys are going to play.
Sandy: Now and again for us. In between times you will just be showing people things and chatting to them. I’d be giving people advice about wedding … Planning their wedding. I certainly won’t be specifically targeting for business. It’s more about, can I help you at all. What are you having a problem with? Long term we believe generally that these events … That is actually what we expect of everybody anyway. You are not frightening people.
James: It’s basic marketing, actually. That you want to … Before you sell to a customer you want to give them value, don’t you?
James: It sounds like you are slightly re positioning the idea of a wedding fair into the showcase. Which is, a non pushy environment, I guess?
Sandy: Yeah. Very much so. The other thing that I try to do, because we are all working together and these are predominantly like yourselves, the venues preferred suppliers. They have chosen the suppliers for good reason. They like to work with them. What I tend to do as I did last year, is give a color palette. Everybody works to that. Whether it’s food, napkins, flowers, linen, dresses etc. Which just makes it … It doesn’t looks exactly like a wedding as you work in, because clearly it’s not laid out quite that way. It looks as though it’s joined up. It looks as though people are meant to be doing what they are doing, and that they all came with same colors.
James: Oh right. That interesting. You have been talking to Toby, who obviously …
Sandy: I have. It matters slightly like … I don’t know if you can make music a certain color.
James: We can … The vision of how we present ourselves is often … I was going to say more important than music and that isn’t true. To say the least. It is the major factor when we present ourselves. If we can when to your color palette to a certain extent, it’s very very relevant to us as a business.
Sandy: Absolutely. Yeah.
James: That’s really interesting. People come to the showcase and basically have a day of advice, more than anything else?
Sandy: Exactly. A day of, hopefully having a bit of fun. Testing Jamie’s wines, listen to your music, getting a little bit of free advice, tasting some cake, having some fantastic canapes from caterers who are going to be there. Yeah. Just wondering around and seeing the place. If they haven’t booked their wedding already. In a nicer … As you say, in a gentle environment, thinking actually I might come here [crosstalk 00:37:18].
James: It’s kind of more about experience than anything else?
James: Okay. I should probably know this. Do people have to pay to get in?
Sandy: No they don’t.
James: Brilliant. This is free. When is it, just remind me.
Sandy: Nineteenth of April. Sunday the nineteenth.
James: Okay. Who else suppliers wise is going to be there? Can you remember off from the top of your head?
Sandy: Oh my goodness, off the top of my head. Calm kitchen, who are caterer. The cake house, sherry cake designer, who’s based in [inaudible 00:37:45]. Pearl pictures is the photographer. Snack box photo booth. Andrew Fleming florist and the Revival rooms, two lovely girls, who do floristry but they also have lots of accessories and furniture and what have you. I know I am struggling to come up with anybody else.
James: Okay. Apologies if we’ve missed anyone out [00:38:00]. I just threw that one at you. Cool. I am really really looking forward to doing that with you. Thank you again for asking us. What’s next for you? What’s next for you at Tern events? What’s next for the UKAWP?
Sandy: In terms for the UKAWP, we are … we’ve emailed everybody today, yourselves included.
James: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sandy: Looking at whether or not we bring back our educational seminar that we used to run up until 2012. If that goes ahead, that’s quite a lot of work for Bernadette and myself. In terms of Tern. I am working with a couple of venues close to me who are … Who want to earn money from their venue and or their grounds but don’t actually want to be involved in the events. I am just working with them to put together how Tern will manage that for them. There’s always something going on.
James: It sounds like you are kind of quite entrepreneurial there. You are not just planning the weddings, you sort of seeing how you can get involved in other peoples business and help them along.
Sandy: I think it’s the nature of the business. It’s not exactly fingers in pies, but you sort of, you meet people and you think, oh I’d really like to work with you in whatever way it works best for everybody. Yeah, a bit of entrepreneurism.
James: Okay. Someone wants to become a wedding planner. Just a kind of wrap up. What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to them?
Sandy: Talk to other wedding planners to find out whether it is really something you want to do. It’s definitely not a get rich quick scheme.
James: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sandy: Train. I wouldn’t say absolutely … I am not here to touting for business. It doesn’t have to be our course. There are other good courses out there. We list on our site. We don’t just list our own. Really do get some training behind you.
James: Okay. Talking of your website. I’ve got it actually up in front of me now. It is literally full of content. You could spend hours on that, couldn’t you? Can you tell, where can people find out about UKAWP?
Sandy: The URL is www.ukawp.com and if you do /training, you will see all the training courses, and /membership, explains how you become a member, if that’s what you are looking to do.
James: Brilliant. Are you happy for people to drop you a line and get in touch with you?
Sandy: Absolutely, yeah.
James: Brilliant, that sounds great. We coming up to the end. We’ve been going nearly forty minutes now, it’s flown by. Is anything else that you would like to cover? You would like to mention at this point?
Sandy: Oh my goodness. Not specifically that I can think of. Only as you say, if anybody has any questions about wedding planning generally. About the industry, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org. It will come direct to me, and you can ask whatever you like.
James: Yeah, it’s worth pointing out that this podcast is going out internationally. It would be great to open up some conversations about international weddings and how they differ across the globe as well.
Sandy: Absolutely. We do have members across the world. We know, as we were saying before, a number of UK couples like to go abroad to get married. As membership director particularly, I am looking to increase the number of wedding planner members we have outside the UK, provided, of course that they work to our code of business practice.
James: Okay. For instance you would take a member in America, would you?
Sandy: I would love to have my first member in America.
James: All right. Maybe … Let’s see if we can make that happen with this podcast. Pretty much Sandy it’s been great fun talking to you, it always is. Thank you very much for coming on the podcast and we will see you soon. I will see you soon at Micklefield hall.
Sandy: Lovely, thanks very much.
Audio: You are listening to plannerspod.com.
James: Toby, there we go, forty minutes of chatting to Sandy. I always enjoy talking to her. How did you find it?
Toby: Yeah. Really interesting. As you you said, a really nice continuation from the conversation I had with Louise, couple of months back. What I really like is, again how really ethical approach the UKAWP’s center of community that she’s got going on. There’s no reason why people who do the same thing, and they are self employed and have small businesses can’t talk to each other even though they are in the same fields. I think a lot of people with this kind of business, where it’s very location specific obviously. There’s events at the end of it. They would go to someone who is based in a certain part of the country. There’s obviously really nice community there with UKAWP, where people are helping recommend venues, and they just genuinely knowing when to ask other experts.
The thing with that being, Sandy’s talking about the lady who is involved, who used to be involved in the BBC’s wardrobe department. She is the person to talk about problems with dresses or suits or whatever. I love that she’s bought that sense of community, because really that will give her clients the best experience.
James: Yeah. I would agree there. I think, the other thing that i really enjoyed is that they … They’re really starting to throw the net out there and take membership from, which is not in the UK. I would love it. I know from the analytics that we talked of earlier, we got a whole bunch of listeners in America. If any of you guys want to join the UKAWP, we’d love it if planners pod would be responsible for that one, wouldn’t we?
Toby: Yeah. That’s good. Then obviously is, we won’t take any commission for that. That’s not what UKAWP do. Really lovely lady. Really nice and ethical. That whole thing about, joking aside. That whole thing about being transparent and around costings and price really works for us. James I liked what you said about, the way we work here as well, so that there’s never any sort of confusion over what people pay when with metropolis. That’s it really. Other than just to say, please come along and say hi to us on Sunday April the nineteenth at Micklefield hall. Details of that wedding showcase where Sandy will be and where a bunch of other people will be, can be found on Micklefield hall’s website, micklefieldhall.com/invitation-only. Micklefield spelled M-I-C-K-L-E-F-I-E-L-D. Beautiful venue, just northwest of London. James, where can we find out more about Sandy?
James: You could find out more about Sandy at her website, www.ternevents.com. You can find out more about the UKAWP at ukawp.com. Just to test you Toby, do you know the difference between a wedding fair and a wedding showcase, after the end of this podcast?
Toby: Well, you could listen to the podcast again, or you could listen to the podcast again. Anyway, Sandy’s talking about how it’s not a sales in your face and how it’s just more of an experience rather than being sold at all the time. It’s more about what can we do for you, if you are having an event or you know someone who’s having and event. I think that’s what’s going to happen on Sunday. We’re going to use our approach, our experience, just to say, hello, and what can we do for you, if you got any question, rather than podcast. Which is obviously Sandy’s approach as well as ours. Is that a good enough answer for you?
James: Totally. It’s definitely something which really really resonates with us, and the way we try and do things at metropolis. Let’s wrap it up. Toby, where can people find out about planners pod?
Toby: I thought you were going to do this. Facebook.com/metropolislive is where we live. As metropolis along with twitter/metropolislive1. The podcast is directly available via the iTunes and stitcher, which is the android app, which I have just learnt about. Just search for the planners planner. You can also find accompanying notes linked through the podcast, of course more about us on www.plannerspod.com. Just be absolutely clear, Sandy’s tern events website, tern events spelled T-E-R-N-EVENT.COM.
James: I think with that Toby, thanks again for joining me today. Shall we do this again next time?
Toby: Shall we do it again next time? Yes, I think next time we will. The time after that possibly not, there’ll be someone else.
Audio: You are listening to the planners planner podcast with Toby Goodman and James Eager. Visit planners pod.com.
PP008 | Sandy Moretta Tern Events & UKAWP Show Notes:
00:26 – Intro with Toby & James.
00:40 – New Planners Pod website announcement.
01:30 – Find out about who Sandy Moretta is and what she does.
2:35 – James talks to Sandy.
03:12 – Find out about Sandy’s professional background and her journey into events.
04:00 – How long her company Tern Events has been established.
04:20 – What types of events she will and won’t work on.
04:50 – Why UKAWP was founded and what they do.
06:20 – Discover what happens when there is no one to oversee an event properly.
07:20 – Why you need a separate bank account!
08:05 – What a wedding planner does and who Sandy’s ideal clients are.
09:25 – Sandy’s favourite part of an event.
10:08 – Find out what Sandy doesn’t like in an event.
10:57 – Find out about where and how Sandy does her work.
12:16 – Sandy talks about the major areas of expense in a wedding.
12:50 – Where clients can be different.
13:35 – The % of budget to keep back as contingency.
13:42 – What invariably blows contingency.
14:00 – The average cost of a UK wedding.
14:18 – Sandy talks about Turn Events client average spend.
14:30 – Sandy breaks down % split of different services.
15:30 – How much a beautiful dress will cost!
16:08 – What flowers, photo and videos cost.
17:30 – Sandy discusses UKAWP’s code of ethics.
18:18 – Discover the math behind an event and find out the key rule and USP for members of the UKAWP.
21:40 – James’s talks about how suppliers might deal with agents, planners and middlemen!
22:48 – Sandy discusses training for planners.
23:55 – Why ‘Business Practicalities’ and ‘Step by Step’ training teaches planners to execute quality events.
25:00 – How UKAWP brings a sense of community to self employed planners.
26:44 – Latest trends in weddings.
27:18 – The types of Weddings that happen outside the UK and where they are happening.
28:27 – Sandy talks about circus acts at Weddings!
29:50 – The types of people that are members of UKAWP and how they help each other.
31:00 – Discover the differences between one to one and group learning at UKAWP.
31:50 – Details of a specific training course.
33:10 – Find out what’s going to happen between UKAWP and Metropolis at Micklefield Hall!
33:42 – James get’s schooled, and finds out why a showcase is not a fayre!
34:28 – Discover the environment that Sandy likes to create at a showcase and… why!
37:28: Find out where you need to be on Sunday 19th April, 2015! Come and say hi!
38:25 – Find out what’s next for UKAWP and Sandy at Tern events.
39:40 – Sandy’s advice to other planners.
40:15 – Where you can find Sandy on the web.
42:10 – Closing comments with Toby and James.