I always find it exciting to prepare these interviews with our experts – and this interview with Jennifer from Bells N Whistles Events is no exception! Planning and preparing to bring a couple’s dreams for this special day to life, must be a profession that is both exhilarating, exhausting and emotional all at the same time! But so worth it to see the looks on the faces of the couple and their guests, and to hear their exclamations. Jennifer so obviously loves what she does, and she tells us her story.
How did you decide that wedding and event planning was the career for you?
When I was seventeen, my older siblings were planning their own weddings. Both of them with full time jobs (and their partners as well), they started off-loading a few little bits and pieces of their wedding to me. I enjoyed it, and much preferred to style and plan their weddings than study for my exams!
My careers counselor told me it wasn’t a very sensible career and that I probably wouldn’t be able to get into the industry. She told me I should choose something more practical. So I did!
I went into office administration, then book keeping and finally advertising and events. I loved planning events, however, corporate events lacked something…that personal touch that drives me to make each of my weddings so special and unique.
I thought planning my own wedding would ‘get it out of my system’ but it only ignited the flame even more. After that I had no choice.
I had to be a planner and stylist. I studied, I read everything I could and eventually, I started Bells N Whistles Events.
I’ve never looked back.
Image by Tealily Photography
What are the traits of a good wedding planner?
We have a poster in our office – Patience, Persistence and Positivity. Three very important traits needed!
Also, it’s important for a planner to be able to plan a wedding very well. However, no event is perfect and we are always there to make it work. Some other wonderful traits are being decisive, quick on your feet and able to consider all options (very quickly).
You need to be intuitive – to be able to understand your couple’s needs and be able to give them the day they’ll treasure forever. Intuition is a hard thing to teach…personally, I think you got it or you don’t!
Behind every wedding planner is a great team and trustworthy vendors – can you please comment?
My team are all passionate, professional and creative. We work very well together – we help each other, we laugh with each other…we’re a little family.
As for suppliers, we try to work with those who share similar values and goals.
We match our couples up with quality suppliers who have synergy with the vision, style and budget. Where possible, we even try to match up the personalities of our suppliers and couples – and at all times making sure our suppliers work well together.
It’s not an easy task. We spend many, many hours choosing suppliers, briefing them, fine-tuning quotes and ensuring they are all doing what is needed on the day of the wedding.
We believe your wedding is only as good as your suppliers – from your planner & stylists, to your cake maker, florist, photographer, videographer, stationer – everyone.
We call them your wedding team!
Image by Tealily Photography
What is the approach that Bells N Whistles Events takes in the planning of each wedding or event?
We have a slightly different structure to other companies. We have team of planners and a team of stylists – who each team up and collaborate on each wedding. This keeps us all focused on the couple and what they want.
It also means we share resources and pass on our discounts.
On your wedding day, both teams are there to work together seamlessly to create your wedding day from start to finish.
With teams of people on your wedding day, we give our couples our very own Plan B. If one of us is ill or injured on your day, there is always someone else who is as heavily involved in your wedding plans that can take over and create your big day.
We also have a slightly different process to others. We style, and then plan your wedding.
For example, once we have listened to what you want – your vision and ideas, only then do we source your venue and then begin sourcing each and every element of your day. It saves you a lot of money to find a venue that works with your styling, rather than trying to make a venue look the way you want!
Would you explain the packages you have available?
Where do I start?
We cater for every couple at any stage of their planning and styling. We’re very flexible.
We have our on the day coordination package which is a big hit with the couples who plan their own.
Slightly different to this, we have an on the day coordination package with 4 weeks of planning. We pick up your wedding plans 4 weeks prior to your wedding and wrap everything up for you. It’s wonderful for couples who are worried about missing things or who are not 100% confident in the plans they’ve made.
Next, we have a consulting package (which also includes on the day coordination) to help couples along in their planning. We’re on hand to guide you, refer you to suppliers or simply look over your quotes and offer advice.
We have a styling package, which also includes on the day coordination. We’ll style as much or as little of your wedding as you wish, source everything and on the day oversee the setup. We think about wedding styling holistically – from gown to getaway car – ideally, we like everything to have synergy and to work together (we’d never want the bride to look like she’s turned up at the wrong wedding).
We have planning & styling hours. You tell us what you need help with, eg, a style guide, organizing your ceremony, finding a venue etc and we’ll quote the hours needed. You simply invest in blocks of our time. You get us to do all the things you can’t or don’t want to, leaving you to do all the fun things!
We have an SOS package for those who are having a very quick wedding! Some of our couples don’t want to wait a year, so they choose a date and it happens to be 5 weeks away (yikes!). We plan and create a wedding with the same amount of care and detail as if we had 12 months!
Alternatively, we sometimes get couples who plan their wedding and within three months of the date, turn to us and ask us to re-plan their day (SOS). Have you ever planned something, took a step back and realised you don’t love it? We have – we’re always looking at things from different perspectives and trying to improve everything we do. Sometimes, we get couples who need us to re-plan their wedding in a short amount of time.
And lastly, our full planning, styling and on the day coordination package – all the bells n’ whistles! This is our most popular package for our time poor, professional couples. We do everything! It’s all inclusive and we leave you to enjoy every step, every moment, every detail.
Image by gm photographics
Do you provide any extra services?
We pride ourselves on going above and beyond. We always give our couples a little complimentary ‘treat’. For example. The couple who really didn’t like the pole in the middle of their reception venue…we turned it into a cherry blossom tree (the bride loved cherry blossoms and, culturally, they are considered good luck!).
What the couple didn’t know was that I would add a special hanging installation above their bridal table – a branch with cherry blossoms and hanging baubles. I’m not sure which they loved the best, but there were smiles all round!
We also offer wedding nannies so your guests can enjoy themselves! We can help with any ages, on or off-site. Like everything we do, we make sure all the nannies have first aid qualifications and have police checks. We don’t take any risks.
Over the years, we’ve been asked to do a lot – we take requests in our stride and always find a way around them!
Image by gm photographics
How should a couple approach their initial wedding planning meeting with you?
We offer a complimentary consultation and find this is the best way to engage us. We have a lovely chat about what you want, what your concerns are, what you feel you need help with and then discuss how we can help you best.
It’s a great way for you to get to know us and vice versa.
How can couples best assist you to plan their wedding during the months before their wedding?
Trust and honesty are the best. Being able to call us and tell us if there’s anything worrying you or anything you are not 110% happy with (you won’t hurt our feelings!).
We tend to give our couples a little bit of work to do and some deadlines when needed. As long as couples do a little bit of work (eg, giving us the names and addresses so we can send out invitations), then we’re fine. We’re here to help you!
What do you most love about planning events?
The chaos and excitement. That moment the bride is walking down the aisle – it always brings a tear to my eye…even after all of these years!
I love meeting new people, planning different events – different cultures, different ideas, different people.
And once the event is happening, to be able to step back for a moment and appreciate how amazing it looks, how happy all the guests are, the smiles our couples faces – it makes all the hard work so worth it.
We get a lot of hugs from couples…I love those moments the best.
Image by gm photographics
You have a wonderful wedding planning event ‘Secrets of the Little Blue Book’ when will the next one be held and can you share any secrets about the next event? Can you explain to us the concept of this event and what it involves? How can we get tickets to the event?
We are always striving to make each event better than the last. Which is exhausting!
We haven’t yet got a date for the next one, but do check in our facebook page for updates next year! We were running them every 3-4 months, but stepping back (see I told you we step back and look at things a lot), I’ve noticed it’s so time consuming, we’re having to compromise the event as our couples ALWAYS come first and I can never implement 100% of the amazing ideas we have. So we’ll be having an annual Secrets from the Little Blue Book event from now on.
We’re making it so much more interactive and educational. Live demonstrations and wonderful experiences for couples to enjoy, learn from and interact with. For example, a lighting demonstration showing you the different types of lights, why they are important and how it all comes together.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have three young and sensationally beautiful children who I absolutely adore – so I technically don’t have spare time…and I’m slightly biased!.
I love sun, sand and beach. A good book and a cool drink work well too.
Our children are very creative, so we try to create projects for them…for example, making presents and cards for each other. Wall art for their bedrooms and in their toy room, we like to have themes and redecorate every 3-4 months (or whenever we get a bit sick of it).
The stylist in me likes to style the house with the kids, whether it’s the front of our house for Christmas, creating artwork for our living room or sewing new curtains – we like to be creative and experiment a little with our own environment.
Thank you Jennifer for sharing your story with us today. To find out more about Bells N Whistles Events please visit their website.
Headshot by Tony Potts