Gina Brown who co-owns Brown Bear Events with sister Charlene, discusses all things weddings and events, with some handy advice thrown in
Why did you decide to get into the industry?
We have both been very passionate and interested in the events industry since a young age and after both studying event management at university, we knew it was a route we wanted to follow. We’ve always loved being organised, socialising and seeing the smile on people’s faces when we create events for them!
What’s your favourite part of planning a wedding?
Working alongside and getting to know unique clients, all with a different creative vision and with new exciting challenges to face and overcome. Each event is a new personal story and our role is to turn their fantasy into reality for their special day.
And the most challenging?
One of the most challenging elements we find is when clients are unsure of their budget. In events, it’s very much how long is a piece of string. We eliminate this by initially providing a shopping list of bespoke, styled items for the couple to review, allowing them to choose the most suitable options for them.
What are the bride/groom’s biggest concerns or worries?
As always, budget, but with our expertise, we’re by their side to advise where to cut corners and which elements are key. However, sometimes it’s the little things, like table plans, that really stress clients out. They’re concerned with who they are upsetting whilst seating people on certain tables, when a lot of the time this isn’t the case!
Who are your typical clients?
A complete mixture to be honest. We like to be approachable and affordable to all. That’s why we offer three packages: full planning, part planning and on-the-day assistance only, which we feel gives everyone a good opportunity to work with us.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at a wedding?
A Sangeet during an Indian wedding. It’s always magical to see how much effort and creativity family and friends go to when performing for the bride and groom.
What makes Brown Bear Events different to other planners?
We pride ourselves on a very personal and bespoke experience and are honoured to be part of a couples’ special day. We work around the clock to ensure all elements are delivered exactly as they’re expected. We ensure that the same Brown Bear team member is by their side and the main point of contact throughout the entire experience, from planning to execution, which makes clients feel at ease, giving them a familiar face from start to finish. Through this, we’ve built many long-lasting friendships with our brides and grooms. When it comes to the actual wedding day, we feel part of the family and are as excited as everyone else to see their vision come to life.
What are some wedding trends for 2022?
Since the dreaded Covid, when there was very little celebrating, we have found a lot of people requesting a more social party style of celebration, rather than a formal sit-down meal. Multiple day celebrations are giving guests opportunities to dust off those dancing shoes and destination weddings are making up for all of those missed travelling moments! Since everyone is finally seeing the back of most Covid restrictions, everyone has a much more positive attitude and outlook on life, which is reflected in their events. Essentially, guests are ready to party… so, 2022, here we come!
Hints & Tips
Why hire a wedding planner?
Of course, the exciting time arrives when you start to envisage your special day and it is full steam ahead with planning mode. The Pinterest and Instagram addictions start. A lot of brides and grooms like to plan and organise the majority of the wedding themselves, but never consider who will take over and bring it all to life on the day. The reality is that hiring a wedding planner doesn’t necessarily mean bringing someone in to take over your special day. Our role is to work alongside you and use our years of expertise within the industry to bring your vision to life. Advise what does/doesn’t work best, negotiate with suppliers, turn that fantasy into reality and be there throughout the entire process. Hiring a wedding planner isn’t an added expense, it is a special bond that creates a personal, bespoke and stress-free day for you all!
Where to start
Start as you mean to go on, get excited and get organised! Start an Excel document that includes all of your initial ideas, this will help you keep track and make the entire process feel less overwhelming. Essentially, it is a ‘base’ that enables all the information you collate to be reviewed in one document. It also allows you to start forming a rough estimate of costs and helps ensure you stick within your assigned budget. It goes without saying that the earlier you get planning, the better. Whether it is the venue, florist, band, photographer or makeup artist – the list goes on – everyone gets booked up well in advance, so being ahead of the game broadens your options and means you won’t be left disappointed.
Things to consider when choosing a venue
Whether it is a destination wedding or local wedding you have in mind; always consider the time of year and climate you would ideally prefer. Unfortunately, wherever you decide to host your wedding, the weather is one of those underlying elements that is out of everyone’s control and can affect your special day if not contemplated. Always ensure the venue can offer a contingency plan, which can be utilised as a last resort.
The wedding cost reality has hit and the panic sets in as you realise you need to cut costs. Don’t worry, you are not on your own. No matter what the budget, every bride and groom come to this stage. Try and create a rough, overall idea of the associated costs before you have committed and contracted with suppliers, as most will come with a cancellation clause. Relook at the finer detail of each element, exactly what is included and what can be utilised elsewhere to eliminate other costs. Consider using high- quality, artificial florals and props rather than all fresh flowers and potentially focus on a couple of statement pieces, which could end up being more effective than cheaper table centres. Save costs by getting creative, for example, replace handmade invitations with bespoke digital invitations and make your own wedding favours, stationary and wedding cake to give that personal touch. Finally, ask a wedding planner, they are there to help!
Are wedding planners expensive?
Wedding planners don’t need to be expensive and can play a vital role on your day. Make sure you are clear from the onset about where you’ll need support, as this will determine and justify the amount of time that will need to be spent, the type of package most suitable for you and the associated fees. Never rule out the option of a wedding planner, there is a solution for everyone and never be scared to ask!