We caught up with Joe Blackman, CEO of leading wedding planning agency Collection 26, for all the latest wedding industry news, trends and predictions for 2015.
5 Star Weddings: 2014 has been a big year for high profile weddings. What would you say have been the most popular trends with your clients?
Joe Blackman: One of the reasons I have always loved planning bespoke weddings and events is the ever changing trends that flow down from other creative industries, such as fashion, art, design and music. I love the way seasons can create a totally different landscape for a wedding, from the enchanting, magical scenes of winter, to the effortless and relaxed ambiance in summer. During 2014, there have been a few distinct trend changes though weddings.
From the ever changing landscape of social eating venues and bars, has come an appetite to bring a less formal dining experience into weddings. People are sharing more, passing food around tables, and swapping the traditional formality for a much more intimate style. Instead of the traditional champagne receptions, we are seeing concepts such as craft ale bars, seasonal cocktails using fresh organic ingredients.
This styling trend has seen a propensity for people to move this into their wedding designs, and we have seen a significant amount of couples taking inspirations from enchanted forests, using wood, low level incandescent fairy lighting and mix and match seating. When we look at other creative aspects drawn from the catwalk, muted tones have always been popular but we certainly saw more block colours introduced for bridesmaids in striking colours such as cherry, fuscia, cobalt and cerulean.
5 Star Weddings: What advice would you give to couples planning their wedding abroad?
Joe Blackan: Firstly, it is important to consider the type of ceremony you are looking for overseas, and the varying legal requirements of different countries. Most countries have residency requirements that dictate the amount of time you need to be within a country, or region, prior to getting married. Countries such as Italy have lower residency timescales, so often tend to be a popular, and accessible choice.
Many couples choose to complete the legal part of the wedding in the UK, and do a symbolic ceremony overseas (which can be exactly the same as a normal ceremony) except the legal part is done prior, in the UK. An experienced internationally planner will be able to help you with all of these items. Another important consideration for planning a wedding overseas is quality of suppliers, and the language barrier. Quality can vastly vary, and there are many overseas countries with unreputable suppliers on google. As an international wedding planning company, we have a little black book of contacts for most destinations which makes planning a wedding totally seamless.
5 Star Weddings: Which is your favourite part of the wedding day to plan?
Joe Blackman: My favourite part of the day is actually usually the evening reception. There are always nerves and excitement during the ceremony, but during the evening everyone tends to let their hair down a little bit more and start to really relax and enjoy themselves. I love walking around making friends with guests, and ensuring everyone is having a fantastic time – and I have been known to throw a few shapes on the dance floor, much to the inevitable embarrassment of my team!
5 Star Weddings: You must have seen some spectacular wedding catering throughout your career, are there any dishes that have stuck in your mind?
Joe Blackman: I once did a ten course wine matched tasting menu at a wedding, and it was the quality of presentation, variety and match of wines to suit each course that totally stood out in my mind. It is so important to work with a really good caterer who totally understands your vision for the wedding to ensure all elements have passion, attention to detail and thought put into them.
5 Star Weddings: What can a Collection 26 bride to be expect from you on her big day?
Joe Blackman: If everything has been planned correctly, usually I tend to not be doing much. The key to success is planning everything properly prior to the wedding, to ensure everything runs totally smoothly. I like to think of my role on the day a little bit like a conductor in an orchestra. Everyone has the music to play, but just need that little bit of attention to ensure the details and finishing touches are right.
5 Star Weddings: What do you think sets Collection 26 apart from other wedding planning agencies?
Joe Blackman: We have one of the largest planning team’s in the world and are internationally renowned for our ability to turn our couple’s ideas into reality. We take them with us on a magical enchanting journey of planning and creativity whilst ensuring fun and expert guidance. People come to us because we have the experience, creativity and resources to deliver weddings of all sizes. We have planned weddings for multiple royal families around the world, and we have planned small intimate weddings in country barns.
5 Star Weddings: If you could plan a wedding for anyone, who would it be?
Joe Blackman: That’s a really hard question. It would probably be for someone really close to me, even if it was small. I have never planned a family wedding before, so many for my sister if she eventually finds the right man!
5 Star Weddings: What is the most extravagant wedding you have ever planned?
Joe Blackman: Unfortunately, I would love to tell you, but unfortunately confidentiality is everything to us so my lips are sealed! However, when I tell you that some of the budgets for our weddings exceed the amount it costs to plan a 60,000 people music festival – that may give you some idea.
5 Star Weddings: Are there any trends in wedding styling and design you think we will see more of in 2015?
Joe Blackman: I think the trend for individuality will continue to become increasingly important. I have seen more people using electronic invites for weddings now than before – which horrifies me. I love a tactile piece of stationary as a lovely way to start guests on the journey to a wedding! People are continuing to look overseas to venues such as Italy, and I think this will continue to increase.
5 Star Weddings: What are the essential creative touches that you find brides and grooms often forget?
Joe Blackman: Details are everything. They are the single most important difference between a professionally planned wedding and a self-planned wedding. Often when people plan weddings they don’t see small imperfections that a professional might pick out, or put proper contracts in place that really clearly detail expectations. So, consider your guests senses. What do they see when they arrive, what are their first impressions? How does the lighting, atmosphere, floristry make guests feel as they first step into the venue, and how to you control this throughout the rest of the day. What do people smell as they walk around the venue, do you have enough scented candles to give the right perfume to the venue, or have you got scented floristry that does this job. What music is playing in the background, how do you take the edge of a quiet room?
5 Star Weddings: What excites you most about working in the wedding industry?
Joe Blackman: The responsibility and gratitude that comes with creating one of the most important moments of a person’s life.