Last year was going to be hard to beat, but 2012 has managed to exceed my expectations and has been the year we took our workshops and talks across the globe. The year kicked-off however, with the first independent Wedding Industry Awards event at London’s Café de Paris. I am thrilled to be a founding judge and look forward to seeing this year’s finalists (congratulations!) at The Bloomsbury Ballroom on January 9th...
In April I traveled to the Middle East where I was delighted to be asked to open the iWed Expo in Qatar and host a workshop at the uber-luxurious St Regis resort in Doha. A highlight of the five-day trip was attending a traditional (ladies only) Qatari wedding reception. As a western woman I know what a tremendous honour the invitation was and it was an evening I will never forget (I dressed in an abaya, but never believe you know anything about fashion until you see what these gorgeous ladies have on underneath all that black - I’ve never seen so many designer gowns or so many Jimmy Choos and Louboutins in one room before!). There are no photos as they are not allowed - but it was beyond opulent and SO MUCH fun...
From Doha to Dallas in week is something of shock to the system! In Texas they really do do things bigger: I presented a talk at the Houston chapter of NACE for their annual big bash event. It was a most marvelous evening and the only time (and I do not expect there will be another) I have been welcomed on stage with a live trumpet fanfare! Our colleagues in Houston know how to throw a party and I learned that even a mac n’ cheese station can be glamorous (it is of course all in the presentation)!
The summer saw me in South Africa where I hosted a workshop for a fabulous group of ladies (plus one gentleman!) at the Wedding Expo in Johannesburg. The entire visit was wonderful, I made many new friends and I look forward to hopefully returning to Cape Town later in 2013 (as well a new South African venture we will be announcing in the spring)...
Other highlights included attending the Engage Luxury Wedding Summit in Las Vegas: an inspiring few days where I connected with great and the good of the US wedding industry (it was “awesome”). And I was twice honoured this year by my friend Peggy Porschen to present to the students at her Academy. Peggy is due to give birth to her first child this New Year’s Eve - so we wish her and husband Bryn all the very best....
The latter end of the year I have been working on the new editions of my Wedding Bible bridal books: I am beyond excited to be bringing you all new and redesigned versions of these books - which are now over five years old and in much need of a revamp. The Wedding Bible Planner will be published on Valentine’s Day and followed by the original Wedding Bible later in the year....
Happily I am now back to doing what I hope I do best: planning beautiful weddings. But as anyone who knows me will confirm, sharing our knowledge and know-how is something I am always anxious to embrace; so 2013 will also see our Luxury Bridal Workshops return home to the UK (and with the odd one overseas just to keep me on my toes and up to par!). We will be announcing dates at home and abroad with plenty of notice. But this New Year I am in Canada - a highlight of the trip promises to be the WedLuxe Show in Toronto next week. I and my colleagues thank everyone we have worked with in 2012 and who have contributed to such a successful and enjoyable year. To all our friends, colleagues and followers we wish a Happy New Year. And if you are planning a wedding for 2013 “Happy Wedding Planning”!
© 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