In this series we present real-life confessions from people working in the event industry. These uncensored, frank insights tell it “like it really is”. Some details have been changed to respect the anonymity of the confessor and ensure maximum honesty can be upheld.
As a venue dresser and event stylist, here is my confession.
My world is full of chair covers and bows, drapes, table centerpieces, lanterns, bunting and candles! Basically, it is my responsibility to make a venue, event or wedding look stunning. The bulk of our bookings are for weddings, but we get to dress galas, parties, bar mitzvahs and awards too.
I have always been artistic so when this opportunity came up I jumped at it. I definitely like being on my feet rather than stuck behind a desk, although of course I do help with the admin and proposals during the week too.
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The summer is peak wedding season and the downside is that I literally have no social life as we service multiple rentals. As you would guess, most of this work is over weekends so Fridays and Saturdays in particular are spent travelling between venues and dropping off and setting up various different events. A summer holiday is unheard of, so luckily it fits in well that I love skiing and take time off at other times of the year.
We have good relationships with lots of hotels and venues in the area so we get a good stream of business from them, as well as occasional events in newer or smaller venues or at garden and house parties. Sometimes at the busiest venues we even have to be there at midnight to collect or take away our items as they really struggle with storage, although if there is any way to delay pick up until the next day or early the following week we will! We work closely with florists and other vendors too so we all help each other out, although it seems that we never have much time to chat as we all have our heads down, working hard.
Crazes and Trends
It is fun to see how an idea comes into fashion and sticks in terms of event decor. For example rustic weddings, candy carts, flower walls and oversized lettering have been recent crazes. I am interested to see what is coming next.
No Room for Perfection
The thing that really shocks me is the amazing time pressure we constantly work under. I imagined that each venue would be lovingly dressed and we would obsess and take our time over every single detail. The reality is very different. Generally we only have a small window of time to access the venues and get set up in time for each event and we try to squeeze in the maximum number of hires we can. If traffic is bad or we get held up we can be on the back foot all day.
We also often have to ‘bodge it’ - pins, staples and duct tape are my best friend. Guests won’t tell the difference of course, unless they look really closely, but often this can be the quickest way to make it look good and make it more tamper proof too, particularly when it comes to disposable decor items.
Long Gone Before the Event
It is lovely to see a room ready to receive guests, looking beautiful and awe inspiring. We are always generally gone before the guests arrive so it is very rare that we get to see their reactions. Sometimes we get to see the aftermath of the celebrations though if we are on a late pick up! And of course our happy clients sometimes share some photos and videos showing the party in full swing.
Loss and Damages
One thing that I do find quite shocking is the number of items that go missing or that are so badly damaged beyond repair. Drink and event styling and decor can be a crazy mix it seems and people don’t always have respect. Items presumed lost have turned up in really bizarre places, generally out in the gardens or in someone's hotel room. Sometimes venue staff have even had to watch CCTV footage to find the culprit and to get an idea which direction it walked!
Pinterest is a massive source of inspiration and I try to invest time on the platform, particularly as it is so popular with brides. We have got some business in the past from people clicking through to our website from our pins and contacting us for a quote, so definitely worth the effort for us.
Plans for the Future
We are starting to create and build up a selection of event props as well as event dressing and styling options and I think that this could be a good way to grow the business and increase year round event bookings. Thinking more about this and researching our competitors is going to be our priority over the quieter winter period.
I certainly have some grumbles about my job in terms of the huge time pressures and missing out on social occasions over the summer months - but overall it suits me well. I think I would struggle to sit still with a less creative and active job and now I have plenty of ideas for my own wedding styling. Of course the pressure is on to create the most stylish wedding of the century! I am just hoping that when it comes around to my big day it isn’t me balancing on the ladders. I think that is one event I will want to just direct from the sidelines.
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