Update, Monday 4th February: Due to huge demand, we regret that spaces at this event are now full to capacity. We thank you for your interest and look forward to seeing those of you who are able to make next Friday.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece in response to hearing the news of the demise of The Designer Wedding Show (DWS) It received a huge response (thank you), with brides and industry suppliers alike taking time to leave their thoughts on what had been, up to then, one of the most celebrated designer showcases in the UK wedding events calendar for over a decade. Sure, it wasn't for everyone, but it was an event enjoyed by a great many – exhibitors and attendees alike. Many wedding industry people (photographers, designers, wedding planners and yes, bloggers too) would attend even if they weren't exhibiting, because, well, everyone knew that everyone would be there, and so it became more than just a show, it became a reason to socialise – a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues and enjoy being a part of an industry that we all feel so proud of.
As I read through the comments on my DWS piece in just a fortnight ago, a theme soon emerged. Whilst many referred to the vitally important role of the smaller, independently ran wedding fair, it was clear that almost everyone who either was due to, or had previously exhibited at the DWS, really loved the show, ie, it generated great business, it was a great opportunity to spend valuable time with clients and it was also a great opportunity to catch up with industry friends. It would appear that those people leaving these comments all shared the same concern - that the show itself was great, but the organisers (then Foxglove Events) had lost touch with their exhibitors and the wedding industry as a whole.
As news emerged of how Foxglove Events (the former owners of the DWS) had gone in to administration, and that the DWS was very unlikely to be happening this February, Philippa Craddock (who for those not in the know, is a high end Floristry Designer) decided to take stock of the situation and have a meeting with her team to see if they could eek out any remote chance of turning the rather disastrous situation of the time in to something positive. Shocked at learning that exhibitors were set to lose thousands in exhibiting fees already deposited and sad at the loss of the show, Philippa had the seed (pardon the pun) of an idea in her head that she could make something good of the whole, rather sorry situation.
The next morning, I received a phone call, it was Philippa – eager to tell me about an idea she had to organise an informal event, that would enable those who would have been due to exhibit at the DWS to come together to talk about what had happened – to share their observations, experiences, thoughts, dreams, plans, passions and own little seedling ideas in order to identify where the industry could get back up and dust itself off from this blow and focus on moving forward in the best way possible.
Beautiful wedding stationery by Abbey Warner formerly Sugalily) at The Designer Wedding Show, February 2011. Image Copyright Katy Lunsford – you can see more images from the show here on Love My Dress
Two weeks later, and I'm planning a trip to the glorious Fetcham Park in
Surrey for Friday 8th February (which would have been the first day of
the DWS), where I will be spending the day with a host of brilliant suppliers and designers, most of whom were due to exhibit at Friday's Designer Wedding Show, some who have previously exhibited. We're due to spend the whole day discussing new trends,
developing new collaborations, sharing details of new products and
services, and, addressing the Designer Wedding Show. This day is intended only to produce something positive out of what started as a negative sitaution.
What is it they say? …from tiny acorns?
Fetcham Park by the way is one of two exquisite family owned properties managed by the delightful Mrs Laura Caudery – who very kindly stepped in and offered one of her venues to play host for the day for this exciting opportunity to bring some key players in the wedding industry together. (As an aside – you should see the first in our new series written by Laura that focuses on finding the perfect wedding venue and what to do once you've found it – it's a very honest must read).
Laser cut stationery specialists Cutture and their impressive flower wall at The Designer Wedding Show, February 2011. Image Copyright Katy Lunsford – you can see more images from the show here on Love My Dress
So here I am, planning to spend my next Friday with the great, the good, the award winning and the talented listed above, where we'll discuss new trends,
developing new collaborations, sharing details of new products and
services, pouring over our passion for this industry and how we can make it a better experiences for those getting married, and of course, talking about the Designer Wedding Show. And that's important, because, whilst it might not be going ahead in February,the show is most definitely going to be back in October – under new management. And that's thanks to Single Market Events, who stepped in at the last minute to save the future of the show by buying it out.
Which of course means that the guest most people will want to meet next Friday, aside from me of course (I jest!) is Tim Etchells, of Single Market Events. They're a pretty cool company by all accounts – they've staged some major events in the UK, Europe and Australia, including the likes of London Fashion Weekend and, for anyone into their tardis action, The Dr Who Convention (yes, I know, not very 'weddingy' but its huuuuuugely successful and attended by thousands the world over!).
"Single Market Events. are an impressive company and have very quickly applied a
serious amount of resources to fully research and understand the wedding
industry inside and out."
By the way, last time I checked the Designer Wedding Show website was down – lets hope, with a view to updating it. Because Lord above and lets be honest here, it needed a serious makeover!
I'm proud to be a part of this exciting development, and I hugely admire Philippa Craddock for so passionately driving forward with her ideas to turn a negative situation in to something so positive. Remember, Philippa set out to make this happen before news of the DWS having been bought out. The support and sharing of ideas is one of the best
ways for companies to grow and better themselves and all that they offer. This event will also be a fantastic opportunity for everyone to suggest ideas to make the
Designer Wedding Show great in going forward too. Bravo Philippa!
An impressive 1920's inspired headpiece by Donna Crain on showcase at The Designer Wedding Show, February 2012. Image Copyright Eliza Claire – you can see more images from the show here on Love My Dress
From my point of view, it's both rewarding and very encouraging that the wedding industry are involving wedding bloggers in this kind of development. But it's been a long time coming, I feel. I've already blogged about how I think the National Wedding Show have been sensible teaming up with another big wedding blog to raise the profile of their show. Perhaps Foxglove Events might have faired better overall if they had not just listened to their exhibitors, but also engaged more effectively with social media and interacted with wedding bloggers. Many of us wedding bloggers are now running successful businesses of our own and we have a direct and very valuable connection with real brides and couples getting married – they trust us, they come back to us in their droves every single day. Work with us, ask for our feedback, involve us – we want to support you and be a part of this industry and see it do excellently! I'm looking forward to meeting and talking with you on 8th Mr Etchells.
Single Market Events by the way will be present not to talk in
detail about their plans for the October Designer Wedding Show as these
are still very much in development, but to introduce his business and talk
through their current efforts (which are impressive) to ensure the
success of the October DWS show.
In attendance on 8th will be Peta Hunt, Editor at Large for You & Your Wedding magazine (a magazine I purchased my own body weight in when I was planning my own wedding, I'm sure!). Peta has been with the You and Your Wedding team for just over 10 years and personally
knows all the leading designers in the bridal fashion world. She
travels worldwide conducting fashion shoots, attending press days,
fashion shows and bridal exhibitions, bringing the latest inspirational
Also in attendance will be Sarah Hayood – one of the most highly regarded wedding planners in the world. Sarah is a fellow Wedding Industry Awards judge, who started her career as a TV news journalist. She is also author of the top selling Wedding Bible books. Sarah was the international media's 'go-to' wedding expert for the 2011 Royal Wedding and was CNN's wedding expert from Buckingham Palace on the wedding day. Sarah will be talking about how to grow your business successfully into a luxury wedding brand.
So there you have it folks, an update and a new, positive way forward for the Designer Wedding Show. And here is hoping that this means fabulous things not just for many talented wedding suppliers and exhibitors but ultimately of course, for all those who turn to the show to seek inspiration and to book products and services for their own wedding days.
Brides, if you are planning your wedding on a longer term basis, I'll let you know more about the October show as soon as I receive the details – I'll be there and would love to meet up with you for tea and cake and some wedding chit-chat.
I'd really welcome your thoughts and feedback, and I also want to wish you the loveliest of Sundays – have a good one friends,