Happy Holidays to all our friends and followers, to everyone we work with as well as all those who help our well-oiled wedding machine turn! Wherever you are in the world this holiday season, we wish you joy and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
This is the last time we will use this image (by BarkerEvans.com) which is the orginal cover couple used on my original 'Wedding Bible'. The new edition will be published next year and as this one has brought us so much luck over the past six years, I thought it might be a good omen to end the year on! Happy Christmas...
© Sarah Haywood
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2011 has been quite a year - here are a few of our highlights:
THE ROYAL WEDDING
The build up to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton dominated the first quarter of the year: pretty much every week from the day the engagement was announced last November, we entertained TV crews and journalists from across the world eager to know just how we do things here in UK brideland: eventually we had a permanent 'wedding set' in the corner of my office complete with a wedding gown and a crystal champagne bucket. But nothing prepared me for the wedding week itself: 17 live appearances on TV and radio networks from Australasia to the Americas, from India to Japan. I spent the week crisscrossing between the studios at Buckingham Palace and those opposite Westminster Abbey: from 6am for BBC Breakfast News here in the UK through to 2am appearances for Channel 9 Australia's breakfast show.
The day of the royal nuptials is one I will never forget (both wonderful and surreal): at 6am I walked through the crowds gathered along The Mall to get to the CNN studio in the media complex erected adjacent to the Palace. As their Wedding Expert I found myself next to Piers Morgan with Kat Deely and Anderson Cooper for CNN's worldwide, live simulcast - and with a bird's eye view of the Procession. At 3am I was still going strong (and following a bizarre web chat with the Washington Post during which someone actually asked me: "were the soldiers real?") and back with Channel 9 Australia's breakfast show. After just three hours sleep I caught a flight to Florence and a return to the day job: arranging weddings (and a very forgiving bride and groom who did not have me at their side for the usual wedding week build up - thank you N&M)!
LET THEM EAT CAKE!
We make it a rule never to blog, tweet or otherwise discuss our clients or their weddings. But this is the story of a cake: a six foot, ten tier creation complete with delicate and carefully crafted sugar-flower decoration that we needed to transport (together with 350 fragile 'bride and groom' cookies) aboard a private jet to Italy. These small aircraft do not have a hold, so luggage is stored in the cabin together with the passengers. We carefully ascertained exact measurements for the doorway and aisle, and the ever-meticulous Peggy Porschen and her husband Bryn delivered the carefully packed cookies and cake direct to the tarmac one sunny June morning (getting consent for that was interesting: "Excuse me madam: you need air-side clearance for a ten-tier cake?"). In went the bridal party and then we packed the cake boxes carefully around them - the last two being placed in the doorway before it was closed for take-off. The pilot then went through the safety procedure: "Ladies and Gentlemen: in the event of an emergency please eat your way out."!
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
In time for Valentine's Day we launched our luxury, bespoke 'Diamond Experience'. Formerly reserved for our private clients, we now offer exclusive access to our diamond dealer in the heart of the diamond capital: Antwerp's Diamant Beurs (generally only accessible to trade). Clients select certificated, top-grade and ethically sourced diamonds (including uncut and flawless gems). Our diamantaire's skilled craftsman uniquely cuts our '201' Signature Diamond: we are the only UK company to offer this 201 faceted diamond (a brilliant cut diamond is traditionally polished with 57 facets). Our clients are also introduced to a top jewellery designer and together they design a bespoke setting. We'll even fly you there in a private jet and arrange luxury accommodation: this is the ultimate engagement experience!
March saw me in Paris for an interview with Paris Match. I am not sure which was more thrilling: sitting in a café off the Champs Elise with the magazine's charming and rather dashing reporter, Clement, or actually seeing myself featured in this iconic publication!
WEDDING PLANNING (We've an app for that)?
Last year I was proud to be the first wedding planner globally to launch smartphone apps (it was not a race: even so, I was a tad surprised to get there before our US colleagues). This year we took it a stage further with our 'Ultimate Wedding App' for Android™, Blackberry®, iPhone® and Nokia. I am very proud of this application - for the price of cappuccino you have your own personal wedding planner in the palm of your hand 24/7 (see our YouTube Video).
It's going to be hard to top this past year: but with visits to open shows and present talks and workshops in 2012 in the USA, Qatar and South Africa (where in August I will be opening the Wedding Expo in Johannesburg) I'll give it a go!
Happy New Year - and if you're getting married in 2012 ' Happy Wedding Planning'!
Sarah Haywood © 2011
We wish a Merry Christmas to all the lovely couples and their familes whose weddings we have planned over the past twelve months (thank you for lettings us into your lives and treating us so well), the talented suppliers and beautiful venues we have worked with (thank you for making us look so good!), those who keep our business machine so well oiled - our PR and Design agencies, accountants, lawyers and bankers.
Thank you too the press both here in the UK and abroad for the kindness you have shown us and for the amazing interetest in us and our work. Royal Wedding week was a highlight: I belive I appeared across 6 contentns in 5 days and including 15 live TV broadscasts across the world. Appearing as CNN's wedding expert on the day of the Royal nuptials and being part of the biggest wedding story that I wil certianly ever see, was both a privilege and pleasure.
This beautiful Tuscan landscape in the snow was taken by our friend Carlo Carletti in Crete Senesi which lies to the south of Siena. It would make a great screensaver and he is happy for you to use it as such.
We wish all of you, wherever you are in the world a very Merry Christmas and peaceful and prosperous 2012.