Lasting Memories proprietor Alison Smith found her metier in 2011 after opening her artificial flowers and party decorations store near the Altrincham Market. In retail since leaving school, this Wilmslow-born mum-of-one had not, until reaching her late thirties, been able to explore and extend her creative side. But now, designing and making her own floral arrangements, her personal needs were being met.
Weddings and events stylist Alison says: “I have always loved artificial flowers. Their quality has really improved over the years. I only work with real flowers by incorporating them into my own arrangements. It’s the longevity of artificial flowers that I love so much, hence my company name, Lasting Memories. I meet clients at my showroom and hire out the flowers, trees, chair covers, vases, lanterns and candelabras stored in my business unit. By recycling my wares, it’s eco-friendly.”
Alison’s big break came in 2013. She dressed a room for a Mottram Hall Hotel wedding and sensed an immediate rapport with the hotel staff. That relationship has continued, bringing her work to the attention of their corporate, private and celebrity clients. And she’s not looked back. With eight assistants on call, Lasting Memories can be relied upon to transform a bare room into a beautiful ceremonial location and then, within an hour, into a stunning dining area for anything up to 400 guests.
Weekends are hectic. It’s up and out in the early hours to prep weddings and functions, which must look perfect each time. And then back to dismantle the decorations. Naturally, for Alison, the most special nuptial adornments were for the marriage of her own 27-year-old son.
Decor colours change year by year. It’s costly but fun keeping up-to-the-moment – from the deep Cadbury purple of a decade ago to the pastels, sage greens, dusky pinks and creams of today.
People person Alison adds: “For weddings, the present trend is to dream up and actualise an unforgettable almost fairytale environment. Each couple’s looks of approval and wonder, plus their emotional hugs when they first see their room set out, mean the world to me.”
And Christmas! Alison’s initial embellishment of Mottram Hall’s Christmas trees was so much appreciated, she’s been commissioned annually to carry on since – and it’s a home service she offers celebrities and private clients like you too. In fact, one Prestbury customer has Alison and her team adorn all six of her trees!
TIPS FOR DECORATING YOUR TREE
Invest in a high-quality tree because it will last for years and keep its shape. When buying the right-height tree, always check the width, as this varies, and the tree may not fit your desired space. Once you have put your tree together, pull out and shape all your branches first, this will make your tree look fuller with no gaps. I use a star shape when pulling out my branches.
Make sure you buy a set of lights that is big enough for the size of your tree, as it will look much nicer with lots of lights. Start by adding your lights to the tree first, starting from the bottom and working your way up, making sure they are even on the tree. Turn your house lights off when you have done them, as this will show you any gaps you may have missed.
Buy some lovely bigger decorations as showstoppers for your tree, these may cost more, but you can then fill with cheaper decorations to keep the cost down. Shop around for your decorations, as prices vary from place to place. Some great decorations can be found at really great prices at places like B&M.
Use different size baubles and they look lovely when clustered together too. I always like to use wire on these, as they’re easier to twist on to the branches (and keep in place) and easier to remove afterwards too.
Ribbons, voile and organza are a great idea to fill out the decorations and adds a different texture to your tree. Also using lovely Christmas branches too.
I always like to decorate my trees to the floor as it makes your tree look bigger and there is no gap at the bottom. This can be done easily and cheaply by wrapping empty boxes and maybe adding ribbon decoration. You can also use things from around your home, such as lanterns and decorative boxes/baskets. An even simpler way is just adding a tree skirt, but make sure you add this when building your tree at the start.
LASTING MEMORIES Weddings and Events Ltd
Call Alison Smith on 07904 872 300