Are you planning a destination wedding? Mrs. Wedding Planner is your go-to girl. She has planned the weddings of so many people, including the Demurens, and I daresay she always does an excellent job at it.
The team had a chat with her about what she does, and she gave us an insight into her job.
SV – Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your company?
Mrs. Wedding Planner – My name is Rugie Wurie. I married my best friend of 14 years and I have of 3 children, a 12 year old boy, 7 year old girl and a troublesome 4 year old boy. I also look after my elderly father-in-law who also lives with us in our West London home. They are my biggest fans.
My whole business is built on the principle of celebrating family and marriage values.
Mrs Wedding Planner is a wedding planning and design company that plans for select clients worldwide. To reinforce our reputation in the industry, we were awarded the most popular destination Wedding Planner in 2015 for planning weddings in Europe, The Middle East and West Africa by the prestigious Wedding Industry Experts .
SV – How would you describe what you do?
MWP – I am in the business of helping the one percentile of individuals who prefer to celebrate their individuality through their weddings or events in a meaningful way. In principle, I facilitate their vision by throwing in ideas, guidance on due diligence as well as recommend wedding aficionados that are best suited to the experience they’d like to create.
SV – How did you get into wedding planning?
MWP – Turns out having a second baby right in the middle of my career in the city may not have been the best plan. Having babies at that point was professional suicide. I was probably perceived as having misplaced priorities, lacking ambition and being a poor team member. My role did not really require any specific skill set so I was aware I could be easily replaced. As signs of this became clearer, I decided to do my deflated self a favour and step into the insanity that is self-employment.
I literally booked myself in for a training course with the United Kingdom’s Alliance of Wedding Planners. And so the journey began.
SV – What is your favourite part of the job?
MWP – Pitching and negotiating. I pretty much have a 100% conversion rate for new business. I was a business developer in my past life so it’s good to know I have still got it . I absolutely thrive on creativity. Upgrading and repackaging simple concepts into more refined and thoughtful aesthetics is fulfilling.
SV – What is the worst part of the job for you?
MWP – Well as with anything in life, there are highs and lows, so working with tough budgets, difficult clients and awkward situations all come with the territory. I am not one for dwelling on lows, so I often try and make some sense of the experience, learn from it and move on.
SV – What is the biggest lesson you have learned on the job?
MWP – A client’s behaviour is very important to me and I feel strongly about my suppliers and I being trusted and treated with respect. For me I would walk away from people who are not willing to respect these values.
A year or so ago I had a “startup mentality”. That of desperation, working around the clock etc. I wouldn’t dream of saying no to any client because I needed the money. I had some serious financial setbacks and for me regardless of how a client would treat me I was hell bent on providing for my family.
That has changed. I now work strategically to function as a successful business. So I half my salary with the brightest people that are skilled in areas that I am weak in , to improve the operational side. I try to develop my business by being a one stop shop for my clients, providing everything they possibly need pre and post wedding celebration including honeymoon, guest accommodation among others. I partner more, and have a mentor for my own wellness, to coach me in working smarter and having a work life balance.
SV – What is your favourite colour combination for a wedding?
MWP – I am very relaxed and colour for me has to be about one’s mood. So white, powder blue, French grey gives me a sense of calmness. I love clean, minimalist and detailed design concepts. I often shy away from exotic colours and busy aesthetics. Otherwise I swear by the pantone chart when it comes to colour palettes.
SV – What wedding trends would you love your couple to imbibe?
MWP – With some creative interpretation, a trend can be added value if tailored to suit one’s overall design concept. So trends I am liking include idyllic/ scenic locations, interactive dining, well dressed tablescapes, typography fonts / word art on dancefloor, practical but well packaged favours / souvenirs, acrylic deco items, unusual props, levitating, rustic and angular floral arrangements, more couple involvement in designing wedding stationery and websites, meaningful wedding ceremonies, Food and drink presented as an art form (Mixologists and live food stations during wedding cocktail hour), tasteful and well designed pocket lounges. The list is endless.
SV – What wedding trends would you like your couple to leave behind?
MWP – If couples are not going to commit to tweaking trends they should just leave it alone. Over the top wedding shoots , flower walls (they should be played around with) , clustered aesthetics, photo booths with props (the concept is still a good one but it could be set against more creative backdrops).
SV – What tips do you have for couples planning their weddings themselves?
MWP – Inject personality into every aspect of your day. Unplug from social media every now and then and be inspired by your surroundings, Takes the pressure of measuring up to all these fabulous weddings away and allows you to find your own taste.
Politely decline offers from family members or friends who choose to gift you with their own preferred wedding vendor. Kindly ask them to make a monetary contribution towards suppliers you believe can execute your vision instead
Do not cut corners on food, drinks or photography.
Be strict with your wedding guests numbers. If your parents are paying this will be a challenge, but if you are, allocate an allowance to parents on both sides and do not worry about including long lost friends and family. Apologize whenever it’s brought up but stick to a controlled guest list.For me such weddings seem too have a genuine and intimate vibe and are very detailed.
Seating plans are sensitive. Seat guests sensibly.
Do not take on everything. If anything begins to stress you out, delegate tasks to friends and family members.
Get a Planner you trust and respect to coordinate the final stages of your event so your family and friends can have a good time.
Have a backup plan for absolutely everyone and everything from your outdoor ceremony to your bridesmaid losing her voice at speech time.
Be courteous and communicate effectively with all your suppliers so there is no bad blood as team spirit during the planning process and on the day is crucial.
Finally, do not sweat the small stuff and remember to enjoy your wedding
SV – What educational background or skills are needed to become a wedding planner?
MWP – Standard educational background will equip you for business practicalities and the discipline of perseverance.
I studied Languages at University but when I decided to be a Planner, I took a course with United Kingdom’s Alliance of Wedding Planners to understand the basics of business practicalities in wedding planning. I then completed another short course on Major Events with City University to have a broader scope of event management. Absolutely nothing would have prepared me for dealing with real weddings though.
SV – What is most rewarding about your job?
MWP – Clients and suppliers that become your friends. A client that says thank you. Seeing the day go well.
SV – What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
MWP – There is a huge difference between a Wedding Planner and a Wedding Coordinator. A planner directs the whole plan and a coordinator manages the wedding day. I hope I am right.
A wedding planner has a black book of tried and tested wedding aficionados with whom they have developed strong relationships with. This is therefore an advantage to the client as the Planner could influence said supplier to pull in favours and aspire to do great work. Although the planner gives guidance on suppliers etc, the client ultimately may choose otherwise. So for example, if the client insists on choosing a Caterer, the Planner is not responsible for inadequate or mediocre food.
SV – How do you think couples can most effectively use a planner?
Examine their work and see if it’s to your taste. Examine their recommendations and ask if you can call an ex client for reassurance.
During your initial face to face consultation, be honest about how laid back or OCD you are.
Scheduled calls instead of multiple messages and emails are more productive. Facts get lost in the process and too much bureaucracy for a small business could be time consuming and counter productive.
Leverage on your planners strongest skills. So if their strength lies in negotiation , try to push for discounts, if it’s in creativity use your planner for free reign on upgrading your vision. Remember you are all in this together and the planner’s job is to add value.
Be open and communicate exactly how you are feeling throughout the planning process.
Trust the planner you hire and allow her to get on with things. Planners give a lot more when they feel appreciated.
SV – How do you ensure the couple’s personalities are reflected in the wedding?
MWP – I spend a lot of time around them, listen to their arguments, pick up on the hands on one, the diplomatic, the particular one, the show off etc. When we begin to build a concept I remind them of my observations and engage the client that could thrive more in certain aspects of the plan. So the music lover could help with the playlist, the organised one could lead on the styling of the seating plan.
SV – How do you separate your personality from that of the couple?
MWP – That’s simple. I always remind myself it is not my wedding and that I am helping to facilitate their dreams. I interject in very subtle ways to ensure it’s tasteful .
SV – Could you give us some examples of when the couples have been glad they brought a wedding planner on board?
MWP – Hidden costs are a killer. For example one of my clients was keen on a venue with excellent lighting. With more probing, I found the lighting was an extra cost of £1000. There was no bar on the premises, and VAT was not included in the offer.
Another client was in the process of paying £20,000 for a venue, but with some flexibility on dates , I managed to get the price reduced to £11,000.
Another example was getting a 5 star hotel to sign off bringing in Nigerian external caterers to contribute to the menu items for a destination wedding in Dubai. This is almost unheard of. My clients were really pleased that they could keep all their guests happy.
I have also negotiated complimentary accommodation for a client doing a site visit for a destination wedding.
SV – It has been really wonderful talking with you. Thank you for your time.
MWP – It’s a pleasure. I enjoyed every bit of it. Thank you very much.