It’s been a tough time for the wedding industry of late. As she celebrates her 10th year as a wedding planner in Surrey, Susie Evans discusses the highs and lows of the past year.
How did you become a wedding planner?
I previously worked in investment banking and insurance but knew balancing a career in finance with having a family would not be easy. So, I began looking for something that would enable me to be a mum and still work. When my husband and I got married there were no companies in the Surrey/Sussex area that helped style weddings and so that’s where the story began, wedding styling. Five or so years later, I moved into wedding planning and venue consultation and this year marks the 10th anniversary of Susie Evans Weddings Co.
What makes a good wedding planner?
You need to be organised, of course, you need to have an eye for detail and good contacts –
collaboration is most certainly key. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about really understanding your client and also being open and honest with them and their families, who are usually very involved, particularly in at home marquee weddings, which is what I specialise in. Being able to mitigate when necessary is a good skill – and that’s most definitely been put into effect this past year.
Without dwelling too much, how have you coped this past year?
We are slowly coming out the other side and there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel but it has been the hardest year ever. I have cried so many tears with couples as their hopes and dreams have been crushed multiple times – some of my clients have had their weddings postponed five or more times. However, the ups and downs have taught me so much and my business is stronger that it has ever been. I’ve even expanded and taken on a new member of staff, Libby, who has been a god-send plus we’ve had quite a few bookings for post-Covid marquee garden parties this summer!
What makes marquee weddings so special?
They are a completely blank canvas. You can create the day you want and are not restricted by a venue’s specific stipulations, so usual traditions can go out the window (if you want them to). They are also a real family affair. It’s really special getting married at a family home or a location that is particularly special to the couple. A marquee wedding isn’t necessarily cheaper as you are in essence creating a wedding venue from scratch, but it does allow you to have exactly what you want.
What are your top tips for a marquee wedding?
Make use of your garden space and don’t worry about obstacles you think might prevent you from having a marquee wedding at home – marquees can be built over almost anything. We’ve planned weddings where marquees have been built over swimming pools and even a ha-ha. Anything is possible. Marquee weddings are more logistically challenging though, so it’s an idea to get help to avoid extra stress leading up to the big day.
And finally, what local businesses do you like to collaborate with?
Mad Lilies in Banstead [which we showcased last month] has been a huge part of my success and has made me realise how important it is to have a friendship with my suppliers, as well as a business relationship. Other local companies who are amazing and we use time and time again to create amazing weddings for our couples are Inside Outside Marquees, Drunken Jockeys, Two Many Cooks and Caper & Berry.