Interview with: Andri Benson
Company Name: Always Andri
Location / Coverage: Based in London, cover London and the south east of England
What does Always Andri do?
Always Andri offers a couture wedding planning service, primarily in London and the south east, which offers couples the opportunity to be a guest at their own wedding, having taken the stress of planning off their hands.
Have you always been interested in weddings and wanted to be a wedding planner?
I actually trained in theatre design and spent three years after university and drama school freelancing as a theatre designer. From there I went on to work for the BBC costume department, but the idea of side-stepping into weddings was never far from my mind after I had seen the obvious parallels for myself when I got married.
How did Always Andri come about and how long has the business been going?
In their ultimate wisdom, the BBC shut down the costume department and in the face of redundancy I signed up for some skill-building outgoing workshops they organised, including how to become a sole trader. From there I was inspired to pursue my earlier ambition of working in weddings, so I underwent a wedding planning course with UKAWP and launched Always Andri in 2009.
My first year in business was an exercise in research, concentrating on meeting wedding suppliers and building up a portfolio of experience assisting other planners and working alongside a local florist to help set up weddings.
What services can Always Andri offer to couples planning their wedding?
My focus is on a full wedding planning service, from extrapolating a couple’s initial ideas to being there on the day to oversee the smooth running of their event. From choosing the venue to sorting out all of the paperwork, I offer an overseeing and supportive eye to every element of planning for the big day.
I also offer a bespoke partial planning service to give couples the option of coming in at any stage during their planning or just having an on-the-day coordinator. This is never really just one day’s work, but it does mean that once everything has been handed over to me in the weeks prior to the wedding then the couple can be guests at their own wedding, safe in the knowledge that I’m on hand to look after everything.
Why should a couple choose to use you to help them plan their big day?
I firmly believe that whilst most wedding planners offer similar services, we all have different strengths. I personally love the balance of design and creativity with the science of logistics, so I feel like I offer the best of both worlds. It’s very important to me that my clients enjoy the planning process which is why I endeavour to create a personal relationship with them and try to be as much of a calming influence as possible.
Which part of helping to plan a wedding do you enjoy the most and why?
I love seeing all the various elements come together that we have worked so hard to create, as well as retrospectively taking stock. It’s important to assess what didn’t work alongside what did in order to learn for the future.
Do you have a specific style of wedding that you like to help create?
I love clients who are open to ideas and aim to create a wedding that is reflective of their style and creativity, without rigidly sticking to tradition.
Having spent time working with a florist I have a love of beautiful blooms and adore weddings that have healthy budgets for floristry and lots of highly personalised stationery details – my other love.
What are the best and worst things about being a wedding planner?
The best thing is watching my couples being completely absorbed in their day, knowing that they haven’t had to worry about a single thing, and hoping that it’s even more fantastic than they imagined. The worst thing is perhaps the lack of sleep but that could just be due to having a six year old who likes to wake up early!
What is your most memorable experience of planning one of your clients’ weddings?
One of my couples last year really wanted an outdoor ceremony, but on the morning of the wedding it was looking decidedly overcast. I decided we would go ahead with the outdoor ceremony anyway and even though by the end of it all the guests had umbrellas up (which we’d handed out to them as they sat down), seeing my couple have the outdoor ceremony they always dreamed of made it all worthwhile.
What’s your top tip for planning the perfect wedding?
Really think about what’s important to you both.
What are the top wedding trends for 2012?
I think bright colours are going to be big this year and couples will continue to find unique ways to personalise their day.
Where can I find out more about Always Andri?
- Website: alwaysandri.co.uk
- Blog: alwaysandri.co.uk/blog
- Twitter: @AlwaysAndri
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/AlwaysAndriWeddingDesign
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/alwaysandri
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