Today’s interview is with UK based wedding planner Sam Ketterer of Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy! Enjoy:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
My name is Sam Ketterer and I am a Director of Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy. Established in 2003, Absolute Perfection is the oldest wedding planning company in London, England. Over the years I have been honoured to work with more than 200 fantastic brides and grooms worldwide, on weddings as far afield as California, South Africa and Thailand!
My wife Marina and I manage the company and we are ably assisted by Toni Giles and Ed Close together with a variety of graduate planners from our Wedding Planning Academy.
Read the full interview after the cut!
How did you get into wedding planning?
Marina and I started planning our own wedding in 2003 and swiftly fell in love with the task in hand. I think I always wanted to run my own company and given the sheer amount of time we had invested into planning our own wedding we felt we had had the foundations on which to build a wedding planning business. At the time there were only a few wedding planners operating nationally and internationally within in the UK so we felt there was a niche in the market for us to fill. Within a few months we had decided to set up Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy. We knew it was going to be tough but we are pretty determined people once our minds are set on a goal.
Back then the only decent wedding planning training courses were in the USA so we had to teach ourselves from scratch. We spent the first 8-9 months researching and reading all the material we could find about wedding planning, which also helped us plan our own wedding. And we read a couple of books on how to run your own business. We also focussed on what other established wedding planners were doing at the time, both in the UK as well as in the USA, and looked for ways we could improve on the services they were offering and how they were offering them.
Very early on we started receiving an unexpected number of enquiries from couples based in the USA wishing to get married here in the UK. This led us to focus on promoting our services to the American market. Looking back it made sense since at the time wedding planners were still a bit of a novelty in the UK, whereas in the States a wedding planner was more de rigueur. Fortunately the business quickly took off for we booked 9 medium budget clients in year one and our first big budget client early on the following year.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Aside from signing new clients!? That’s a tricky one… I suppose in the planning stages I love presenting clients with surprising or unusual concepts or ideas and then incorporating them into the wedding celebrations. Although probably the biggest buzz is seeing all the diverse elements of a wedding come together flawlessly and the clients – together with their families and guests – delighted or impressed with the end results.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding planners just getting started?
Each year we see new wedding planning businesses launch in a blaze of publicity, only to disappear a year or two later. Ultimately, if you want to succeed in this industry you have to be realistic in your goals and in your abilities. You have to be extremely well organised, creative, personable and professional. You also have to be adept at solving problems and managing people from all walks of life. And then it is likely you will need to be able to run your own business. If you think you have what it takes to succeed, don’t just sit there dreaming about it. Act now! Do your research and enrol on an advanced wedding planning, design and management course. Then, if you still think you are cut out to be a wedding planner apply for a position at a local wedding venue or set up your own business. And if you are setting up your own business, you must be patient – don’t expect to make much money in the first 18 months.
All Photos by: Indigo Images
What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?
With 2 children – Sky aged 7 and Finley aged 4 – and one more on the way later this year it’s all about family!
Any great stories from working with a client?
A couple of stories spring to mind:
The most emotional wedding I’ve encountered was due to the groom having tracked down the bride’s biological father without her knowledge and had him arrive at the church to walk her down the aisle. They hadn’t seen each other for more than 20 years since he split with her mother and emigrated. The bride had no idea until she got out of the bridal car and was greeted by her father. After the initial shock and disbelief (her mother had to confirm his claim!!) she just broke down in tears – it was fantastic to see.
And I’ve seen a few torn wedding dresses over the years but the one that stands out occurred when the bride’s train was stepped on by the chief bridesmaid wearing 6 inch heels, just as the bride was entering the church! It was one of those moments when everything just seemed to run in slow motion! The bride stopped, turned, saw her dress with the clearly unmissable tear and appeared to struggle for breath. I didn’t know if she was going to scream or burst into tears. The heavy footed bridesmaid was equally distressed, as was the bride’s father. Fortunately the processional music had not yet started and most of the guests were unaware of the incident playing out at the back of the church. We quickly got word to the priest who informed the guests that there would be a 20 minute delay due to traffic! Thankfully the groom’s mother was a dab hand with a needle and thread. 15 minutes later the damage to the dress had been rectified so that you could only see the scar on the dress if you knew it existed – which, by the end of the drinks reception, included everyone at the wedding!
What is your current favorite color combination?
Good question… Probably monochrome colour schemes. I especially I love working with metallics such as silver or copper. Aside from monochrome, I think copper, rust and aqua are fantastic colours to combine. Alternatively, plum, lime green and light cobalt go well together. Or for a safer bet you can’t go wrong with shades of navy and peach!
Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?
Maybe it’s just me but I’m not especially keen on the overly dramatic feather dress embellishments we are seeing for 2016. Too 2010. And don’t get me started on sheer / nude wedding dresses – what’s that all about?! Other bugbears include naked/rustic wedding cakes, large letter lights and electronic wedding invitations.
On the positive side, I’m loving aerial photography and cinematography, rose gold wedding rings, a greater use of textures in all areas of the wedding industry and the trend towards more unusual wedding cake flavours.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning?
Wow, where do I start… Well, your engagement should be all about having fun and enjoying this unique and fleeting time in your lives so hiring a wedding planner is one of the best ways you can achieve this.
However if you are not going to use a wedding planner, focus on 4 or 5 areas of the wedding that mean the most to you and try hard not to get bogged down in trivial details of all the other elements of your wedding. Weddings are all about the finer details but only when you have the time, money and expertise to focus on them.
So concentrate your efforts on finding the best wedding venue and caterer you can afford. These 2 elements themselves will account for around 50% of your total wedding budget so it’s best you allocate the most time and effort to them.
Then I would suggest you ensure you get the best possible photographer on board and don’t try to cut corners here. Spend at least 7.5% (and ideally 10%) of your budget on this element. See it as an investment since images from your wedding day will be on display in your home for the rest of your life. You don’t want to be looking at them regretting you hadn’t chosen the best photographer you could afford.
Entertaining guests should be another primary concern and it is not good idea to cut back on the entertainment budget when, for instance, you subsequently find you have overspent on the dress or the flowers. If you are on a budget and still considering the added extra of an entertainer such as a magician during the drinks reception, I’d suggest it’s probably better to put the money towards the evening entertainment instead. You can then afford a better band, or even a band instead of a DJ. And maybe have some cash to put towards enhancing the lighting as well!
Thanks Sam! For more information about Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to their website.
Do you have any questions or comments for Sam? Add them to the comments below!