Podcast #9: Jessie Westwood of Studios Sorores on Planning Luxury Weddings, Why Wedding Professionals Charge What They Do, Commission, Sustainability and The Shift Away From Perfection

Jessie Westwood Studio Sororoes

My guest in Episode #9 of The Love My Dress Podcast is Jessie Westwood, the passionate and visionary founder of Studio Sorores, a leading UK wedding and event planning and design company.

Jessie lives in the Cotswolds with her daughter Flora, her son Augustus, her husband Henry – and their Fox Red Labrador, Jupiter.   

Jessie’s work is highly sought after by discerning couples around the globe, who seek exceptional talent to create the most luxurious and beautiful wedding day experiences.


Jessie is a force to be reckoned with, as anyone lucky enough to know her will contest.  She lives and breaths excellent wedding planning and design. She is smart and intelligent. She is hard working and a true grafter who will be the first to roll up her sleeves when a job needs to be done.

She is stylish, discerning, meticulous when it comes to detail and has impeccable taste in fashion and interiors. She’s a high energy, natural born leader who inspires all those around her. She is kind, loyal, and very funny. She has an infectious sense of humour and knows never to take herself too seriously. 

Outside of wedding planning, Jessie is also a trusted consultant, mentor and brand stylist. 

I’ve been friends with Jessie since March 2000, when our worlds collided as a result of the pandemic.  Jessie and I, along with our friend and colleague Tamryn Settle, worked together to support the wedding industry as it navigated it’s way through the most challenging of times – via a campaign movement that became known as What About Weddings – which many of you listening to this episode may be familiar with.

Jessie truly was the voice of What About Weddings. She gave so much of herself during this time to help other businesses, showing up for countless live TV and radio interviews. It was a truly exhausting commitment that she never once complained about. I will forever be grateful for the bonding, camaraderie and life lessons I gained from working so intimately with Jessie and Tamryn during that time. 

I am thrilled to witness Jessie’s business and career thriving wildly beyond what anyone could have ever expected, now that the pandemic is over.

Jessie is quite simply a joy to be around and frankly, I feel it is my duty to share some of her magic with you today. Jessie, welcome to the Love My Dress podcast.

37 Studio Sorores Jessie Westwood

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Podcast Transcript


Welcome to the Love My Dress podcast. I’m your host and founder of Love My Dress, Annabel Beforth, and I’m so thrilled that you’re here. This podcast is a tribute to the world of weddings and the people who make them happen. It has been created for anyone planning their wedding, for all wedding business owners and anyone interested in the world of creative business entrepreneurship. Whether you’re deeply involved in the wedding industry, on its periphery, or just generally curious. 

In each episode I’ll be engaging in conversation with inspiring business owners and exploring topics from weddings and business to personal life experiences that have shaped the careers and lives of my guests. 

I feel a very strong sense of purpose for humanising the wedding industry and revealing the incredible creative talent that thrives within it. In today’s fast-paced tech-dominated world that we are all navigating, I also feel a profound desire to encourage slower, more meaningful consumption of digital content. 

I’m passionate about storytelling and creating spaces where others can share their stories freely and authentically. Stories are the universal currency of our communication. They weave invisible threads that connect us all on a human level that help us to understand better, foster kindness, compassion and empathy. They spark ideas and inspire us to do new things. So storytelling is very much at the heart of this podcast. 

If you enjoy listening to this conversation, please take a moment to leave a friendly rating or review. Your support and feedback really means the world and makes such a difference.

And now it’s time to introduce my latest guest. My guest today is Jessie Westwood, the passionate and visionary founder of Studio Sorores, a leading UK wedding and event planning and design company. 

Jessie lives in the Cotswolds with her daughter Flora, 11, her son Augustus, 8, her fiancé Henry and their fox red lab, Jupiter. Jessie’s work is highly sought after by discerning couples all around the globe who seek exceptional talent to create the most luxurious and beautiful wedding day experiences. 

Jessie is a force to be reckoned with as anyone lucky enough to know her will contest. She lives and breathes excellent wedding planning and design. She is smart and intelligent. She is hardworking and a true grafter who will be the first to roll up her sleeves when a job needs to be done. 

She’s stylish, discerning, meticulous when it comes to detail and has impeccable taste in fashion and interiors. She’s a high energy natural born leader who inspires all those around her. She’s kind, loyal, and very funny. She has an infectious sense of humour and knows never to take herself too seriously. 

We’ve been friends with Jessie since March 2020, when our worlds collided as a result of the pandemic. Jessie and I, along with our friend and colleague Tamryn Settle, worked together to support the wedding industry as it navigated its way through the most challenging of times via a campaign movement that became known as What About Weddings, which I know many of you listening to this episode will be familiar with. 

I have to say at this point that Jessie truly was the voice of What About Weddings. She gave so much of herself during this time to help other businesses, showing up for countless live TV and radio interviews. 

It was a truly exhausting commitment and she never once complained about it. I’ll forever be grateful for the bonding, camaraderie and life lessons I gained from working so intimately with Jessie and Tamryn during that time. 

I’m thrilled to witness Jessie’s business and career thriving wildly beyond what anyone could have ever expected now that the pandemic is over. 

Outside of wedding planning, Jessie is also a trusted consultant, mentor and brand stylist. She also recently became engaged and is planning her own October 2023 destination wedding. Jessie is quite simply a joy to be around and frankly I feel it’s my duty to share some of her magic with you today. 

So Jessie, welcome to the Love My Dress podcast.


Hello Annabel, delighted to be here.


So Jessie, I’d like to start by asking you to take us right back to the beginning so that you can share with us a little bit about your life pre-wedding planner. 

I want to get an idea of what led you to the point of becoming such a sought-after wedding planner, and even a wedding planner in the first place. 

Was it something you’ve always aspired to do or something you kind of more fell into by accident?


Yeah, no, I never, I never wanted or dreamed of being a wedding planner. That was never on my agenda. 

I was always a bit of an all-rounder kid, you know, one of those irritating people that sort of was quite good at everything but never brilliant at one thing. But I was always pushed quite hard to be academic because I could, I just kind of did what I was told. 

So whilst I loved art, drama and all of these lovely creative subjects, I was pushed quite hard towards the academic side of things. I actually studied law at university. Weirdly,  I’ve attracted quite a few lawyers to me as clients over the years.  
Yeah,, I studied law, and I then thought, I don’t know if I want to be a lawyer. It’s quite difficult and, you know, it’s going to be a long path and a lot of money and extra training till I get somewhere. 

So I thought I’ll go into publishing in the legal world and maybe meet a few people and figure out if that’s what I want to do. 

Short story is, I didn’t. But I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I thought to myself, right, what am I good at? I’m quite good at kind of schmoozing and boozing and people and being organised. And, you know, I’d actually got really senior within the publishing world as a commissioning editor, it was quite a large portfolio. 

So I thought, I know, I think I’d be really good at PR. I had nothing that told me I’d be good at that. I just was young and kind of bold. And I did interviews and got absolutely nowhere until I met this really great guy, his name was Guy actually, who as a senior PR consultant, he basically said sink or swim. 

And that was a hugely enjoyable experience. I loved working in PR. I’d done quite a lot of book launches and corporate events through my publishing role. And I did a lot more working in PR for various brands. And I worked across corporate brands, creative brands, you know, from sustainable brands to high profile individuals to forklift truck companies, you name it, I did it. 

So I decided I would do a course in event planning on the side. And my boss was very supportive of that, you know, add another string to my bow. And it was it was fun. It was sort of teaching grannies to suck eggs, but it really made me realise that I was missing a creative element in my life. You know, that I could have something that brought together all my skills, but that also had an element of art about it. And I realised that I actually just really hated being behind the desk. The reason I loved PR was that I was often out and about, and even in publishing, you know, I was constantly told, get out of the office, go and talk to people, find out what’s happening. 

So I, again, had a chat with my boss, who honestly was the best person ever, and said, look, I think I might like to set up a little side business, but I don’t want it to impact my job. And I don’t, you know, I’m being totally honest. 

He said, look, as long as it doesn’t impact the day job and you get your stuff done, I don’t really care. And that’s what I did. And it got to the point where I was struggling to balance the two, having a side business, which was taking off quite quickly and working full time in PR. And anyone who’s worked in PR or events know they’re both fairly highly stressed, you know, busy jobs. 

And then I got pregnant. And I had a chat with my boss, and he said, look, why don’t you just freelance? For me, build your other business up a little bit, you know, take your maternity leave, figure out your plan, but why don’t you do that when you’re ready? 

And that’s exactly what I did. And I just slowly, slowly stopped freelancing on the PR side of things. 

Over the years, I have picked that up every now and then for clients where I think it’s a good fit and I’m excited by something and I’ve got time. 

But yeah, basically, very, very quickly, within a year, I was full-time on my wedding and event planning business.


That is so amazing. And also, I can relate so much to discovering that need to be creative a bit later in life and not wanting to be desk-bound. Really something that resonates with me very much. A bit unfortunate, given the job I do. 

So you started wedding planning. And obviously now, you’re working at a quite niche end of the market, where the weddings that you service are very high-end and luxury. 

Was that always the case? Or did you start servicing much smaller, low-budget weddings? 

How did that come to be?


Yeah, no, I 100% was not always the luxury end of the market. And I think it’s a really big mistake for anybody to try and enter it just straight in, because there’s a lot of learning to do and a lot of building of confidence to do. 

No, not at all. I did really low budget weddings and DIY weddings. I guess what was different, I started before there was Pinterest, before there was Instagram, you know, Twitter was emerging. You remember like we did Twitter meetups and you know, it was all network, network. And so it was all, you know, putting yourself out there and meeting people, it wasn’t about sort of visually proving your worth or having a certain net worth even. 

And for me, I entered the market and it was just a really, it wasn’t saturated at all but it was full of people who were, you know, a little bit older, they wore suits often and had clipboards, or it was just really, really camp, and that was nothing in between. 

And I decided I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be a little bit more fashion forward, a bit more design-led. I talked about wedding styling probably way before anyone else was really doing it. Like I said, I’ve missed that creative section of my life, and I’ve been working in corporate for some time. So I guess I really purposely talked about that because it’s what I wanted and it wasn’t my main business. It was my side business when I started. 

But yeah, my first wedding was in a village hall slash barn where they had an honesty bar and hay bales and everything was made. It was not a high level, high budget wedding. I threw myself in at the deep end and learn on the job. 

But yeah, some of my best weddings that people still talk about were really, really low budget where I had to think outside the box and get really creative. It’s really funny.


So that leads me on nicely to my next question then. I just want to go back to basics here. What actually is a wedding planner? What services specifically do they do? Because is there a difference between a wedding planner and a wedding designer?

Can you talk to me a little bit more about that?


Yeah, I think everyone will probably have a different answer. I think that you cannot be a good wedding planner unless you can design, unless you partner with a designer. 

So I’ll explain what they are. So planning a wedding is essentially, in a nutshell, you’re a PA, you’re a personal guide to a person, and you’re heavily into logistics, essentially. 

So you will be doing the budgeting, you will be doing the sourcing of suppliers, the reviews of contracts. You’ll be checking things like health and safety. You’ll be looking into access. You’ll be shortlisting things, reducing things, managing all of that admin, sending out invitations, collecting the RSVPs, building spreadsheet after spreadsheet, managing the timelines for the setup and logistics. It’s very much an unglamorous job, like any production anywhere, for any job, you know, someone who does all of that stuff behind the scenes. 

A designer is somebody a bit like an interior designer in building a house, I suppose. They look at the visuals and they plan the mood, the aesthetic. For me, I’ve always talked about it, and I know a lot of people talk about it now, but I’ve always talked about design being about all of the senses, and that’s why I think the two are so intrinsically linked because for me, it’s about, you know, what tastes good, linking with what looks good, linking with what sounds good and all of that feeling really cohesive. 

And I just think as a planner, you can’t be recommending suppliers unless you have a really clear vision and understanding of the aesthetic and the mood and what you’re creating. 

That’s not to say you couldn’t partner with a designer who kind of does that with you and recommends suppliers with you and then you take care of the admin and the emailing and the contacting side of things. You definitely can, but very few people would market themselves only as a wedding planner slash producer or only as a wedding designer. There are a few out there, but I think it’s very uncommon. 

And I think a lot of people really try and wrap that all up together to be both. But actually it’s really, really hard and there’s a lot of skills involved in both in different ways. And it’s actually like completely different personality types. So I think it’s quite rare for someone to be both. 

But yeah, essentially that’s what it is. It is someone who externally manages absolutely everything. Objectively, you know, is your right-hand person who works for you and nobody else. So it’s not like having someone who works at your venue who really is a venue manager and looks after the logistics there, they will do absolutely everything and anything to support you from beginning to end of your planning journey, booking your dress appointments for you, helping sometimes with concierge and your guests travel and all that kind of thing. 

So it’s quite a wide description and not everybody fulfils all of it. Some people have very sort of a niche part of it. It might be that they do the final production, the final eight weeks, they don’t get involved in the pre-bit. It might be that they do absolutely everything. 


You talked about the skills that are required and not everybody will kind of meet the par there. 

What are the key skills to be a designer and planner, taking into account somebody working at the level that you do? 


I do think it’s different for different levels as well. I mean, I deal with high net worth individuals, so typically they’re very strong willed, they know exactly what they want, they are very used to having teams around them who jump when they say jump. 

Sometimes you have to manage that relationship like anyone does in any particular market where, but particularly with weddings, when you are the in-betweener between a whole host of vendors and suppliers and a team and your client, and you have to keep both sides happy because ultimately your client is the person paying you, but the team you’re working with is the people you work with every year. 

So there’s like a real, I think you have to be the most effective communicator. I feel like if you’re somebody who easily loses their patience or you’re somebody who does not act well under stress, this is not the job for you at all. 

You have to always stay calm, you know, be solutions led, be people orientated, get people on your side, you know, often be a really good negotiator, not just in terms of negotiating contracts and prices and all that sort of stuff, but actually negotiating situations and live situations often as well. It’s not that you have time to sit back behind a desk and think about it. Quite often you’re dealing with that stuff, like right now in front of you. 

So I do think you have to be quite a strong person. But aside from that, you have to be highly organised, detail-orientated, you have to be fantastic at planning things out, but also understanding and seeing logistics, not just in a linear way, but also the different layers of it. 

So, you know, you don’t just plug your timelines in. You actually got to think about, well, the photographer probably wants to do a beautiful photo shoot at just that twilight hour when the sun’s going down and it’s gorgeous and glowy. So that’s not going to work with the timings that they’ve set for the dinner. And how are we going to get around that? How are we going to speak to the chef about maybe moving things? And does that affect their team? How does that affect pricing? So it’s not that kind of, it’s quite lateral thinking. 

Obviously to be a designer, you have to be someone who is good at visually putting things together, looking at colours, looking at tones, looking at patterns, all that stuff. But for weddings, for me, you have to be the most exceptional storyteller. 

I mean, that’s a lot, right? You’ve got to be a lateral thinker, a great communicator, great storyteller, a visionary, all these different things. But it’s one of those all-rounder jobs where, like, you can’t really drop the ball on anything, or you know what you want to do, and so you’ve got to hire people or collaborate with people that pick up on where your weaknesses are. 

And I think being bold and brave enough to know where they are and building the right team, that’s a huge skill in itself. And there are people that have gone and done that rather than trying to do it all.


You know, Jessie, you once said in an Instagram caption, actually, we make it look glamorous, but the truth is an event planner works longer hours, walks more steps and solves more problems than we ever show. 

In the months, weeks, days beforehand, during the events themselves, following through into the breakdown and clear up, you don’t see the team behind the scenes, but we each and every one of them works hard to ensure people like me are able to create all the magic we’ve dreamt up for clients. They take our logistics and briefings, they meticulously plan their own setup and staff, feeding back constantly and often late into a night with updates. There’s nothing quite like your event team family. 

Taking that into account and everything you’ve just said to me, I’d like you to talk a little bit on why wedding professionals charge what they do. 

I covered this actually in an article extensively some years ago, because I think it’s one of those slightly controversial issues and certainly something that legacy media love to talk about, you know, how we inflate what we charge and we overcharge everybody and add those zeros onto the end. 

But I know, being a wedding insider, that that’s not the case. And as I say, taking all of the skills and the time and the effort and the hours that you guys put in, can we just talk a little bit about why professionals charge what they do? 


Yeah, definitely. I have to smile though. They are an event team family. We are like a family. I was right in my post. It’s true. You work together under highly stressful situations often. And if you find the people that work their socks off, they really, really care. It’s a special thing. 

Yeah, pricing. It’s a really interesting one, isn’t it? I actually had this debate within a planning group recently. So I was like, look, my team, we can spend up to sometimes 1,000, 2,000, sometimes even 5,000 hours on a one wedding. And someone says, there’s only so many hours in a working week and so many weeks in a year. 

And I said, yeah, I know, but you’ve got multiple people working on that. That’s not just one person. You might have a team of 10 people working over a year. Like it’s very easy to build up the number of hours you put into something based on the scale of an event. It’s a five day event. You’ve got 300 guests. You know, aside from just producing the actual thing on the day, that’s a year’s worth of different people working across it. 

And I think people really, I think a lot of people see a wedding planner as a single person. And I think there is a difference between that one person who runs their own business, and that’s certainly how I began, and I priced myself accordingly, to when you have multiple staff members, freelancers, whatever you have working across something over a long period of time. It’s really scalable. 

But I think that, I mean, just to give you an idea of what we do on the day, it’s not just the number of hours, it’s like the level of effort and what it takes out of you and how much you need to charge to be able to not kill yourself every year. 

I have, obviously all of us wear various devices. We know how many steps we do a day, and I never knew that when I first started out, but I do around 30,000 steps on any day of a wedding that I produce or associated event around it, sometimes more. That’s pretty huge, and that’s pretty exhausting. 

So yes, we put in a huge amount of hours, more than people think, and it’s not just you as the boss, it’s everybody else around you. Yes, we also do a huge amount of physical work on the day with very little sleep, back to back, highly stressful situation often. Everything’s fast-paced. We have no go over, no second time to get it right, first time, well, you’re out. So there’s that. And you know, there’s only so many events and weddings that you can do in a year before you have a breakdown. You know, you have to have that balance. You have to keep that going every year. And you need year on year, you’ve got to plan your diary accordingly and actually have some time for friends and family. 

But it’s also a highly skilled job. And I think, you know, I’ll give a really good example of how people don’t understand pricing of, say, a photographer. And a photographer could be a fashion photographer, or a nature photographer, or a sports photographer. And as a wedding photographer, they’re like, oh, you’re charging more because you’re a wedding photographer. It’s like, well, yeah, because they’re doing all of those types of photography, right? They’ve got to be good at all of it. They’re doing landscape. They’re doing food. They’re doing detail shots. They’re doing portraits. They’re doing fashion. They’re doing repotage. All of it with drunk people shouting at them often, and bossing them around. Usually quite an intense situation. 

One day only, no second shoot available. And then they’ve got to edit it as quickly as possible to turn it around because they’ve got another one coming up. 

So the work is different. And I do private parties as well as weddings. I don’t charge differently because it’s a wedding. I do charge on the event, depending what it is. And some events are more massive than weddings and therefore I charge more. But usually the number of hours, the level of work and the amount of staff I need is much, much higher on a wedding production than it is for any other celebration, life party. 

Definitely so much more than corporate, which is very often not designed, that’s not particularly detailed, quite straightforward. 

So I know that there are obviously sometimes when it’s not, there are occasions when you do have a corporate event that is incredibly creative, and that tends to be a creative brand. 

So, actually, I do think we charge more for weddings, and that’s okay, because we should be, because it is harder. It’s more work than anything else.


By the way, 30,000 steps is about 18 miles. I think having to do that whilst having very few breaks and smiling all the time is quite some feat. It’s very impressive indeed. 

And I loved the example you just gave of photographers. I think in a nutshell, that just explains everything, doesn’t it? The level of skill required on the day. As you say, it’s a one-off. It’s not like you can do it again if you get it wrong. 

Obviously, Jessie, you’re personally working at a very niche end of the market, the very super high-end, luxurious side. And I know that that’s a small part of the market, very small. I’m not sure how small, but I know that it’s not short of really super talented and visionary other wedding planners. 

So how do you stay relevant in such a competitive scene?


Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t try and stay relevant. I think that’s how.
I really don’t try. It’s always been the case. 

I mean, actually, no, when I started out, I definitely was like, oh, what fun themes and how can I be groundbreaking? And how can I be more like Joy Thigpen? Oh, my God, do you remember Joy Thigpen?


Yeah, I do.


Someone I spoke to at a dinner the other day, had no idea she was a planner. Well respected, had no idea who she was. And I was like, oh my God, I feel so old. So all the old timers listening will know what I’m talking about. 

She was like this visionary designer. She wasn’t a planner, she was a designer. And I was like, this is the coolest person. She’s doing all this out of the box stuff. And it was art and 

God, you don’t see that anymore. You don’t see it. But I was like, I need to try and do this. And then I quite quickly realised that no, I do not try to do that because it’s not who I am. I’m not a groundbreaking person. I don’t, you know, I don’t walk in a room and feel like I’m this, you know, oh my God, super stylish person. I’m just quite basic, you know, that I am who I am. 

And I realised actually what I was good at was just telling someone’s story and pulling out of them the best version of themselves and the best wedding that felt very uniquely personal to them. 

And again, like these words get like banded around a lot. But I remember when I rebranded, like my second of three or four now, four, I started writing about this stuff. I started saying like, you know, actually let’s tell your story. Let’s talk about who you are. It doesn’t matter what trends there are. We don’t need to be groundbreaking. It doesn’t need to be cool. It doesn’t even matter if someone’s done it before if that’s what you love, but let’s try and make it you somehow. You know there’s only so many times you can reinvent a colour wheel. 

And I just think that the industry has shifted to everything looking the same because everyone thinks that there’s a certain look that attracts a certain market. So we’ve gone through all these phases, someone on Threads was talking about this, actually, about, you know, we’ve been through the fine arts stage, and then it was like the documentary stage, and you’re going through these different stages of photography styles. And it’s so true. 

And I said, well, I think next is kind of the grungy, don’t care, everybody looking drunk, smeared eyeliner, spilled over champagne bottles on the dance floor age. Like, people don’t want perfection anymore. The wedding industry needs to get its head around a little bit, because I think people want real life. And they care more about the feeling than they do, you know, it just being a picture that’s pretty, they want it to feel great. 

And I always say like, oh, I wish you could scratch and sniff my weddings. I wish you could, you know, feel it because it’s not the same in just a picture or a video. But yeah, I don’t try and stay relevant by doing anything new or groundbreaking. I don’t really ever do styled shoots anymore. 

I think because I enjoy telling someone’s authentic real story in celebrations and in parties. And it can be a brand telling its authentic story in whatever way. It could be an individual for their birthday. It doesn’t have to be a wedding. 

But I feel like there has become a blandness to the industry, because I don’t know if it’s not people pushing themselves artistically, because that’s not what social media wants in its algorithms, or whether actually it’s people think that there’s a market that makes money and they see certain people and certain styles and so they emulate that. 

So I know for a while it was like, oh well, Jessie, your style is this. So that’s what attracts the luxury market. So, well, no, not really. It’s me, you know, me as a person. And when they have a consultation with me and I talk to them and we get on, I mean, that’s kind of what originally starts it. And yeah, that I have a certain aesthetic, but I think that people have started to just go, what is it that makes money? We’ll do that. And I think that’s diluting the industry. And I think therefore it’s actually very, very hard to stay relevant and new. And I think the pressure is extraordinary on people. And then we’re getting into all sorts of issues that happen online, you know, with imitation and all that stuff that’s really, really horrible to see. 

So I don’t try. And I actually try not to follow anybody else across sort of visual platforms in particular that is in my sector. I chat to them. I love them dearly. I don’t want to see what they’re doing. I find it distracting. I find it better to keep pushing forward and doing my own thing. 

And if that happens to be similar to someone else, great. You know, we have the same idea. It’s great. If it’s not, not a problem. And if it’s not cool, it’s not cool. I don’t really care. 

And I feel like actually since I had that attitude, definitely levelled up because I focused solely on my client and not what other people think.


I absolutely adore that. And there’s so much that I can relate to that is part of that conversation about being authentic. And you know, you talked about, you’re not following other people and we got the amount of time you save there anyway and kind of, you know, FOMO anxiety, all the rest of it. But I love the fact that you’re connecting with your clients on a chemistry basis, basically, they are wanting to work with you because they feel that alignment with you on an emotional and kind of chemical level, which I think is the only way to do it. Otherwise, it’s not authentic. And then what’s the point?


I think that’s why people come unstuck, Annabel. 

Because what I’m saying is that they put forward this version of themselves. And then when someone meets them and their personality, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they talk doesn’t match what they’re putting out there. There’s like this disjoined feeling and it’s not authentic. It is just a portrayal of the look of a person you want to be. And so the client feels frustrated and the client feels like they don’t trust you or they end up not booking you because you’re not being you. 

I just feel like people’s brands and what they put out there and what they create and what they do should be very much themselves. Because I feel like otherwise you do, as I was saying, you become unstuck. 

But I feel like a lot of people haven’t taken the time to do that. And actually, you’ll see there are some like I’ve got some great wedding planning buddies and other industry buddies who haven’t really changed their brand or what they do at all in 15, 20 years. And they’re still making a lot of money, getting a lot of clients. That’s just because they’re authentic. They don’t need to change anything. What they’re doing is great and it works. They don’t care about being relevant and cool and trendy and trying to hit a certain market. They just they have their client. They know who that is and they just keep pursuing it.


I loved you talking about couples not wanting perfection anymore. And it made me think of a photograph. I think it might have been Amy Schuetzer actually, but it was a picture of empty plates on a table with crumbs. And obviously the table had been abandoned, but the image just told this amazing story. You got the impression of the table having been abandoned because the people had gone to dance, you know? And they just had the most delicious cake and they had the most crazy, amazing day. And you could read into it what you wanted to, but it told this incredible story. 

And it, for me, was part of that, you know, what really talented photographers do, which is tell the story, like you say, and that transition from the very start of the day where it might seem perfect. And then at the end of the day, you’re just bloody well having the best party of your life. I love that. 

And I love that people are sharing those images on Instagram now, putting them right up there on the grid. You know, whereas like two, three years ago, you’d have thought, what the hell is this? It’s a picture of an empty plate with some crumbs on it.  It’s a different kind of thing and I’m drawn to those images more than anything. 

And I think that obviously you as a planner play a big part in that role of storytelling on the day. It’s a term that you’ve dropped into the conversation a couple of times already. 

I wanted to ask you, like what influences your storytelling design approach? Because I’d love to get a glimpse into the factors that shape your artistic vision as a designer. 

And I also was going to ask you if trends are important, but I get the distinct impression they’re really not.


I mean, look, they’re important in terms of what people are feeling in the world. I will say that. 

So, you know, when times are tough, people are often drawn to warmer, earthy colours, comforting colours. It’s not bright and vibrant and exciting or cool. It’s always warm and earthy. 

You know, look at this year. Everything is going to be Barbie core, bright pink, glitzy, glammy Barbie, and great. And I think people are in the mood for a party this year and it’s the right timing and it probably influenced a lot of stuff. And it’s cool to recognize that because ultimately part of storytelling for your client is also understand how they feel in that moment because you also have to create an event that feels good to them. 

So if you’re like, well, I think you’re this person, but you like this at the moment and pull them in the wrong direction, they’ll feel uncomfortable. 

So I do think trends are important. I don’t look at weddings, I look at interiors, I look at fashion, I look at music, what’s happening where, and it’s not necessarily even like, oh, well, what colour is hot or what particular thing or how’s everyone putting on a plate? It’s more, what are people feeling at the moment? What is the pull that drives people’s emotions? And also, that stuff is really important to include in a way because your storytelling a part of someone’s life that’s like a pinpoint in their life. 

You know, I got engaged in the year 2020. How did I feel? I got married in this year. What was happening? What was relevant? What music was playing? And those are the memory triggers. So it’s not that I don’t pay attention to those things. I just don’t care about creating wedding trends or what other people are doing in weddings because I feel it’s kind of irrelevant. 

It may be that people pay attention to what I’m doing, but that’s fine. It just doesn’t work for me because I find it gets comparisons to Thief of Joy and all that, and you end up just designing the same crap. Excuse my language. 

But yeah, how do I design? I mean, I spend about two, sometimes three hours with my clients, usually, ideally at their home, which tells me so much about someone, what their interiors are like, what their sofa’s like, what photos they have on the wall, what music they play while we get, whether they get a glass of wine out or a cup of tea out, you know, like all those little things tell me so much about a person. And they’re comfortable and they’re in their own environment. And we usually, we end up eating, you know, and then I see what they’re eating and what they like, you know, and that influences catering, briefings. 

And so for me, the ideal place is to do it at someone’s home. It’s not always possible, sometimes in a hotel, sometimes at Zoom, but it’s all the same questions. Where did you meet? Where did you love to travel now together, but also when you were young? What are your biggest family memories? What’s your favourite meal that you eat with your family? What was the favourite meal that you had on your first date together? What do you cook each week? What magazines do you read? What do you wear? 

It all sounds like balmy, ridiculous questions that don’t really have anything to do with wedding design whatsoever. But for me, it builds a story. And I go back, and I have all these notes and scribbles and I’ve circled things and it’s like the work of a mad person. And then I’ll spot patterns and I’ll spot cohesive threads. And I’ll start building in my head and on a piece of paper, like a written picture. 

So for me, it’s not like immediately mood boarding stuff. I start really writing. I mean, it’s like literally telling a story, but like, OK, actually I could tell that their houses were these colours and they love travelling in this country and these foods, that all pulls together. That just tends to be, I don’t know how to explain it, you spot it, there’s a thread that you pick up. 

And it might be that I take something and that’s how they start the wedding design from like the ceremony, and I might move it slowly into something else for the after party, so that it kind of picks up on all those different parts, but I link it in a really smart way that doesn’t make it feel disjointed. But you can tell different bits of someone’s story that way. 

And silly things. I’ve noted down that her favourite grandmother was Lily, so let’s have some lilies somewhere. That’s a lovely, lovely idea. It’s small. No one else will know about it. The bride will. 

I put together a big, huge design document, sometimes 15, 20, sometimes more pages long. And for me, I always start by telling the story. So I don’t start with a picture. I start with a whole A4 page of telling that story, talking about the scent notes, talking about the aesthetic, talking about the feeling, what people will be wearing, how they’ll be moving from space to space. 

And I find for people who aren’t necessarily visually led, it’s really, really useful. Because if you’re a visual person, you normally quite like the written word too. You can visualise it. And if you’re not, it really, really helps you understand what I’m trying to create before you get into the pictures and the sketches and all the other stuff. 

So I do that, and then I have like an overall aesthetic mood board. So there’s never any pictures of wedding stuff in there. It will be like a picture of Greece and a picture of their cat, but it’ll all work in a cohesive thing with a mood board and a colour palette. So again, if you’re not someone that really is into words, you get a quick snapshot of like this is overall the story I’m trying to tell. 

And then I go into each individual element of the day and again that’s imagery, yes, but there’s also written word to describe it and there’s also logistical information in there. So X amount of tables, X foot high, X foot wide, in this space, sketches, floor plans. 

Again, lots of people are quite technical, they don’t really understand what all the pretty pictures are, but they can tell that the tables will look like X and they’ll be broadly that colour, and that makes sense. So I’m always trying to kind of guide the client through it so that they can see the journey. 

The funny thing is, the thing I hear most when I deliver these to clients is that they say, oh my God, you’ve created the wedding we didn’t know we wanted. We just didn’t know. 

Because they tend to have a Pinterest board and they’ve seen things and they like that and it’s totally mad, right? Alice in Wonderland, gone down the rabbit hole, like nothing makes sense, everything’s disjointed. And even if they haven’t booked me for planning from the very beginning, they’ll come to me at that stage in the planning because they have no idea how to make this a reality and it’s all really random. But even when I see that, I’m like, well, you say it’s random, but I can see you really love like these types of graphic or you really love soft light, so we need to include that. And that’s the only thread you have in there is soft light, but let’s make sure that’s a given. 

So typically, people don’t give me like, I want white and pink. Sometimes they do, that’s really hard to deal with. I absolutely want white and pink, and that is the end of it. 

So I have to find a way to make that relevant and tell their story through it, or tell a story through it. It might not be their story if it’s a multiple day event, and they’re just not really interested in giving me anything. So I have to tell a story to their guests and to them and then they buy into it, which is great, but it’s not as fun as telling someone’s personal story. 

But the other great thing, Annabel, about doing this process is that when I come to finding suppliers and briefing suppliers, they have this, they see this aesthetic and they don’t just see these are the cakes we like, will you make something similar or can you tell me what you do? They see and read this person’s story and what we’re trying to create at this celebration that’s like the whole concept vision, then they see the whole aesthetic and then they see everybody else’s like ,okay so the flowers will then be like that because of that reason that’s written up there and okay, the food is going to be laid out like that and these are different ideas for foods that’s great so when we come to designing the cake we know that we have to design something that’s in our… 

And I always say, do your own version of it, interpret it how you like, do it in your own style. You’re the artist, but make sure it fits in this vision and here are my ideas of what I think would be cool. 

And then they sometimes come back with something completely different to what I’ve suggested, but it amazingly works in the tapestry of everything else I’ve talked about. And that, for me, is exciting, right? That’s art. That’s really cool stuff happening. 

And then clients get really excited because it’s not just, well, here’s 6K design that looked like the thing you gave us. It’s like, oh, my God, somebody’s taken our design and they’ve made another version of something we, again, we didn’t even know we wanted, but this is so cool. We see how it works. 

And they can see threads of a story and they might pick up on it. Like, oh, you mentioned this in your design plan. So we kind of ran with that as an idea, as a concept. What do you think? 

I love that. That’s what gets me really excited. That’s what I love about design as much as wedding planning is, A, coming up with all these original, great, cool ideas that don’t necessarily seem original and groundbreaking to the outside world, but they are internally. And then marrying that, excuse the pun, with logistics and making that design plan contains all the logistics so that my suppliers know exactly what they’re doing, where they’re going, when the delivery dates are, what’s happening, how much of what they need and where they’re going. So they just allow themselves artistic licence and freedom.


It’s all a process of discovery, isn’t it? It’s really fascinating. And actually, everything you’ve just said highlights the immense skill you guys have in designing weddings. And I love the fact that your clients are coming back to you saying, you’ve designed the wedding that they didn’t know they wanted, and that they might present you with this mishmash, and then you use that incredible skill you have to identify the patterns and the threads that you talked about. 

I think it’s absolutely fascinating to hear the designer talk about the process in that way.


You can’t teach people how to do that. You know, you can’t have either, because I’ve done a lot of mentoring of people where I’ve taught them the basics of design theory. 

Really, honestly, I think it comes back to being a people person and loving people and being intrigued by people and stories. 

I think if you’ve got that and then you learn, you know, the design theories and technology, all the stuff that helps you, colour wheels, all that stuff you do need as well. 

I think if you’re really interested and you love people, then it becomes a lot easier.


Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s all about immersing yourself in their world, isn’t it? And like I said, a process of discovery. And I think if you have that innate passion for people and those people skills, and that’s just a joy, isn’t it? No matter how hard and challenging it might be and how intimate you have to get with those couples, it just must be such a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable process. 

Jessie, I want to ask you, have you had to ever, you know, navigate tension perhaps between your clients’ desires and your professional expertise? 

How do you find that balance between meeting their expectations and staying true to your own artistic vision?


Oh my God, all the time. I mean, I don’t think as a client I haven’t had this with, right? Because especially as you get closer, it’s like the wedding panic sets in and we must do all the things that brides do, or grooms do, or we see on Pinterest, like, oh, we have to have a guest book. 

You don’t need a guest book. 

Yes, we do. And can you sort something really original? 

No, there are no original guest books. Like, there are other stuff you can do, like photo booths, and la, la, la, la, la. I was like, but you don’t need it. It’s just adding stuff. I hate spend and expense and waste at weddings for the sake of it. Like, if it doesn’t mean something, if it doesn’t add something, like, cool, if you want to create, like, a Soho house vibe and have a black-and-white photo booth that’s kind of naughty in the corner of a club-like room. Like, let’s build that vision. But let’s not just book something because you want to guest book. 
People have very specific ideas of what they should do, or they have ideas in their head that they think are amazing that I know absolutely won’t work. 

I mean, what I will say is that I am just definitely not a yes-yes planner. I am always honest. There have been some clients who have definitely kind of come to me with ideas where I’ve gone, guys, this is just a really bad idea. It’s just not going to work. I’m telling you. They’re like, no, no, we want you to do it. I’m like, I will do it, but I need to tell you. 

And I would say 99.9% of the time, they’re like, look, we trust you. If it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work. Sometimes they’re like, look, we want it. And I don’t push it to the point where I’m being rude. I’m like, OK, fine. 

I can guarantee you anything that a client pushes through against my advice or a supplier that they book without my guidance or at least having reviewed them and spoken to them and kind of gauged their suitability is the one thing that goes wrong at every single wedding, categorically every time. The only thing that ever goes wrong is something a client’s gone off and done on their own or insisted on. 

And afterwards they always say, yeah, you told us not to do that. And it was the worst thing ever. I’m like, yep. But that’s part of the process. It’s their wedding, it’s not mine. I can advise them and at the outset I tell my clients, I’m briefly honest, I’ll tell you, but ultimately this is your show guys. If you want to do something, we’re going to do it. 

Unless it’s, you know, I had a client once who asked me very strongly to remove a tree which was protected and I was like, no. 

They’re like, if you don’t do it, we’re going to fire you. I was like, okay. And also, they refused to have a rain plan with guests coming over to England from all over the place, which is why they didn’t have a rain plan. 

I actually, in the end, gave that to another planner. I wasn’t interested in pulling down protected trees or not having rain plans. 

So there are times I will walk away, you know, extreme. I mean, in 15 years, I’ve walked away from a wedding twice.


I found a really helpful article on your site that covers five questions to ask a planner. I thought this would be a really good opportunity for any brides listening. 

I wanted to run through those five questions and ask you to just say a few words on each one, particularly the last one, which I think is really interesting. 

But the first one is, how experienced are you with the type of wedding I am hoping for?


I am. It does matter for certain things. For example, if you are having a marquee wedding, do not hire someone who’s never worked with marquees before. It is a grave mistake. 

And you can do courses and mentoring and stuff. I’ve done specific marquee training with planners who just not got their heads around it and don’t know what they’re doing, but are very good at everything else. But you can also go to a marquee company and shadow them and work with them and ask the questions. You know, I would say that’s the only exception to the rule, because it is just a different beast to anything else. 

Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve done weddings at new locations, new venues, new countries all the time. It makes no difference to me because the process is exactly the same. 

I might, if they haven’t got the budget to bring in suppliers, or there’s somebody who’s happy for me to be a little bit more ethical and sustainable about using local suppliers, I mean, I will go and visit those places and I will go and interview people and I will, my interview process is pretty tough with new suppliers in my books. So it makes no difference to me. But we can also, we’ve got teams who will fly anywhere in the world. 

So yeah, I don’t think it matters and it does matter at the same time. I think the mistake is to be like, oh, I’m going to this part of the country, so I have to hire someone from that part of the country. Like, you don’t. Other than like, if you’ve got big teams driving all over the country and like sustainability wise, that’s not ideal. 

You know, you can bring someone in from outside. That being said, I live in the Cotswolds. I actually rarely do Cotswolds weddings anymore. I’m all over the place, but I know this area like the back of my hand. And if you needed a supplier tomorrow to jump in, I’ve got them. 

So there is a benefit in being local, but I don’t think you need it.


Okay, so the second question that you recommended asking your wedding planner was, how do your prices compare to other planners and what value can you offer?


Yeah, it’s a really good question to ask that because if it’s someone who’s expensive, they should be able to tell you what value they offer and why they’re expensive. And if it’s someone who’s cheap, then you’d be able to work out why they’re cheap. 

For me, I just think that wedding planners in particular massively, massively underprice themselves. And I think that if someone’s underpricing themselves, they’re undervaluing themselves, if they’re undervaluing themselves, how can they possibly add value to your wedding? How can they possibly understand the value of other suppliers and recommend them properly? And how can they effectively run a business, which means how can they effectively run a wedding? It’s all intrinsic. 

And I get it, people enter the industry, they don’t want to appear to be charging more than other people, and so there’s now this weird norm, there’s a drive to a bottom. Just my appeal to anyone listening, if they are a wedding planner and they’re new, is not to do that. 

I honestly did it for about six months and then went, what the hell am I doing? And it was a side job for me, so I didn’t really need the money. I was like, but if I’m going to make money, I need to be charging properly. So I doubled my prices within six months, and then I doubled them again every time I got three, four bookings, I doubled them again. 

So I got to a point where I felt really comfortable. And it’s all about kind of working smarter and not harder. As I said earlier, you can burn yourself out really quickly in this industry. So if you’re charging very minimal amounts, and if you’re a bride or a groom or a couple listening to this, and you’re thinking of saving money in certain areas, I would just say you’re better off planning your own wedding than hiring an inexperienced, low-value planner, because they’re not going to give you a huge amount of value. Or book someone more experienced in for just a couple of hours. I do hourly consultations. You can book in one hour with me whenever you want, ask me anything. I’m sure there are others that do the same. 

So you’re better off having a small amount of good advice for your budget than a lot of bad advice, you know, for a larger amount. And I just feel like people don’t understand the level of work that goes into it. But I only do five to 10 weddings a year. I’ve got a team, you know, we fly all over the place. Running a business is expensive. Not just, you know, hosting a website, but all your insurances, your travel, your tax, everything. And I just think if someone hasn’t really thought that through, I don’t know how they’re going to produce suddenly a high-end complex wedding. Perhaps a very simple wedding would be fine. 

I just feel like that’s an important question to ask because you get really interesting answers either way. And yeah, just be considerate about where you’re going to get value from your money. And it’s not always just booking the cheapest person for the most amount. 


Absolutely. So that leads me nicely onto the next question, which was, do you have full insurance? 


Yeah. Do not touch any supplier who doesn’t have the necessary insurances. 

So if it’s a wedding planner, they should have professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance at a very high level. That is because if something happens, they trip over a lead and your venue gets burnt down and they don’t have the necessary insurances, it’s like falling on you, which you should always have your own insurance as well as a client, as a couple getting married. 

Any serious professional in this industry, and it’s an unregulated industry, there are qualifications you can do in each of the different various parts of it, but not everyone does them. A lot of people are self-taught. 

If they can’t be responsible enough to insure themselves, then I wouldn’t trust them with your wedding. And it’s as simple as that.


The fourth question was, are you a planner or a designer or both?


Well, it’s important. And I think, you know, now maybe you can understand whether some a lot of people will tell you both, but I don’t know if that’s really true. I think a lot of people that are honest with themselves would say, I’m more of a planner than a designer, or I’m more of a designer than a planner.

And it’s cool. Like, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t book a planner and a designer if you really love both of their styles. Like, you know, you speak to them both, and they’ll be a great pairing, often great. 

I think it’s important to understand if you’ve got someone who is far more logistically challenged, and they’re just not interested in design. And it’ll be obvious. Be obvious in the way that they quote. They’ll up front quote you a type of wedding with a certain style and images, and you’ll feel like you’re getting a wedding in a box. Because they’re really good at logistics, and they just want to do the same thing. They’re not bothered. They don’t want to be groundbreaking. Design’s not their thing. Or everything in their portfolio kind of, you know, seems samey or follows a certain thread. They’re just completely wildly different stuff all over the place, because they haven’t got that kind of personal influence in it. They’re just doing whatever. 

Whereas if you have someone who’s more design-led and less planning, like their work might be utterly, utterly beautiful, but it’s worth speaking to them about what they actually do in terms of production, the management, what happens when there’s a problem. 

Interestingly, I don’t know if I put this in my list of things to ask, but I’m often asked for testimonials from my clients. And I really, really hate sending people to my past clients because I just think it’s such an invasion of their privacy. They’ve had their wedding, they’ve loved it. They don’t need me promoting their business all over their space. I just feel really cringy. Maybe that’s something I need to get over. 

But I actually do think it’s also irrelevant because people on their wedding day are like, yeah, it was amazing. They don’t see the crap that was dealt with behind the scenes. They just have the best time of their life, hopefully. Best people to give you a testimonial are other suppliers, always. 

So if you want a testimonial about me, go and speak to the marquee companies I’ve worked with, the production teams I’ve worked with, the photographers I’ve worked with. They’ll tell you, honestly, whether, and I just say, go speak to them, I won’t tell them you’re speaking to them and here’s a list, or look up any of the ones I’ve worked with in my recent portfolio, you know, listed on my Instagram. They’re the people that will tell you what happened behind the scenes and how good they are and what it’s like to work with a planner and how effectively they managed your supply team. And actually that’s way more important than what a bride and groom think. 

My couples will say to me, look, we absolutely adore and love you, and you’re amazing, and you need to be our best friend for life, but they won’t know anything I did behind the scenes. I didn’t see it, they just saw me being fluffy with them. 


Now onto the last question that you recommend that all couples ask their planner, and I think it’s a really interesting one.

It is, do you take commission from vendors shortlisted?


God, do we need another podcast on this? I’m opening a can of…. Here I go, opening that can. 

I don’t charge it. Let’s start with that because I think that’s the easiest place to start. I never, ever have. I will enquire with suppliers and with venues and with people that I think will deliver what’s in my design plan and my briefing. 

And then they often said, oh, do you need us to add commission onto the quote? I’m like, no, absolutely not. 

And they’re always really shocked. They’re like, oh, great. Because I actually used to run a floristry business as part of my business. And I saw planners asking us, the floristry side of the business, to add commission on. But it was never honest. It was always hidden. So the net result of that is our flower quote was more expensive, and we were delivering less because we’re having to build it in 20%. And actually, it got to the point where I was like, no, we’re not doing it. We’ll lose the job then. Because it’s not fair. The client’s not getting what they’re being paid for. 

And for me, planners, unless they’re charging less and their business model is commission, so unless their upfront fees are pretty low and the way they make money is commission, and they’re honest about that, if they tell their clients that, look, my set fee is less than other people. The way we make money is we charge commission on absolutely everything directly with a supplier. It doesn’t touch your pocket. La, la, la, la, la. 

I mean, it does touch their pocket because ultimately it’s just adding on to everything and they’re not getting that in value. 

So I just prefer to charge more, charge my worth, and then they know up front what they’re charging what I’m being paid. And then I just recommend people based on their worth. 

Because if you do it the other way around, you then basically have a situation where a planner who’s got a low set fee, who’s making their money in commission, will not be shortlisting people who refuse to pay commission or refuse to add commission. And increasingly, that’s happening. People are saying, uh-uh, we won’t do it. 

So you get a very narrow list of people who are basically like, well, we’ll recommend them for the kickback. 

Now, at least, I suppose, if you know about that up front, then you kind of know that’s happening, right? The problem is, is people are totally dishonest about this. They’ve got nothing in their contract that talks about it. They do it completely behind closed doors. They typically charge quite a high fee and commission, anywhere up to 20%, by the way, which is a massive chunk of what you’re spending on your marquee or your food or your flowers, huge.

So it really sullies the water. And I know a lot of the corporate world, look, I work in the corporate world. I get it. I get the travel world. But again, in travel, they make their money in commission, and it’s from huge super brands, right? So the big hotel chains and things. 

So the client actually gets a discounted deal, and the travel agent in between takes a nice earning and the bookings are had in the big brands and the hotels and everything else. 

For small businesses who rely on this work, who are in an industry where we’re based on love, and it’s a personal, intimate, private celebration, I think it’s just morally wrong. And my position won’t be changed. 

The only time that I’ve ever done it was when a client was really pushing back on me on price and caps, and it was a really big spend. And I said, look, I’m happy to cap the spend, but we’re working with a major international hotel brand. And so therefore, I would be charging commission to them blah blah blah and I just need to be upfront with you about it and he’s like that’s absolutely fine. 

So I think if you’re honest about it and there’s you know you’re capping your fees or you’re charging less and depending on the type of supplier and the profit margins you’re dealing with in terms of asking that person there is some grey area and there is some nuance but as a general rule I absolutely am against it don’t do it don’t think anyone else should be. 

And I kind of think that people should just all charge more and charge authentically and deliver the best value that they can. But I know that I’m one of very few people who think that way.


I love how bold and confident you are in sharing your perspective on it. Is it something that you guys talk about in your community, like the Planner community, or is it quite hush because it’s a little bit controversial.


It’s totally hush, yeah. And there are people that don’t enter the conversation, talk about it publicly, doing the thing, because I know they do. 

I honestly, I think there’s a handful. If you took at the top 50 planners, I’d say there’s not very many that don’t do it. And that’s based on me kind of knowing from suppliers telling me, or them planners telling me themselves, you know? 

And there are some that are totally unabashed about saying it, that’s how I make my money, sorry. And a lot of people that come from the corporate world are probably less worried about doing it. 

I just think the industry is not the place it should be happening. And if it is, as I say, you need to be honest about it. And so when we had the floristry business, I would turn around and say to clients asking for it, I said, that’s absolutely fine. I just need evidence of a contract agreement or email that your client is aware that you’re doing it. 

And should I tell you how many times I got one? Never.


Let’s move on from the controversy and let’s talk about sustainability, if you don’t mind, for a little bit. Well, talk to me about sustainability in weddings then, because I know it’s something that you’ve been quite outspoken on in the past. 

Can weddings really be sustainable, Jessie? And what kind of things can couples be doing to help celebrate on a more
sustainable basis? 


No, they can’t be sustainable. Of course they can’t. Events are very, very wasteful. Like, that’s just dealing with the reality. They’re incredibly wasteful. They’re also joyous and part of life’s, you know, tapestry and how we celebrate and how we put markers down and how we remember the years that pass and they’re so, so important. 

So there are ways that we can be better at sustainability and there are ways we can offset and there are things that we can do and make a little bit of a difference and make things less wasteful and less impactful. And you know, it’s really, really, I’ll be totally honest with you, like in the luxury industry, it’s even harder. I mean, it’s so hard. 

And I do feel like there’s a lot of greenwashing that happens, particularly in the luxury industry, because the very nature of it is totally ridiculous. I mean, you’ve got people flying all over the world, you know, it is. 

But yes, I am very passionate about doing whatever we can to taking a close eye at my business and what I do and educating clients. And actually, that’s really difficult, educating clients. 

So I feel like maybe five years ago, maybe even longer, eight years ago, when I first started really talking about this, I feel like my clients just were not interested, and I would try and educate them, and they were like, we don’t care. 

Now I feel like people do care, but I also found the best way to teach people is just by making them think it’s really cool. Because it’s actually really cool to have this now. This is what everyone’s doing. Oh, we want it, you know. 

So I think people are much more aware, much more invested, much more interested, but ultimately, they still want their high-level event, and they don’t want compromises. So for me, it’s sustainability without compromising on quality. 

So yeah, I mean, there’s a few things that I mean, I’ve done a huge amount of research and work beyond what I should be doing as a wedding planner and more into just a personal project with the floristry industry. It’s not as simple and as straightforward as a lot of people think it is. 

You know, like, just use British flowers all year round. Can’t. Not all year round. 

There’s different moral questions, social responsibility to consider within that. You know, various countries that heavily rely upon the floral industry and being supported. And if we start breaking down that network, what happens internationally and then what happens to the environment? You know, it’s a big cycle that isn’t quite as straightforward as people think. 

When I run a floristry business, we had a very strong, complete no-floral-foam policy. So everything we made was with handmade structures with reusable water technology, everything. Everything we did was without floral foam, which then prevented us from being considered for a lot of the big venues that have, you know, really difficult rules to work around in terms of them protecting kind of old buildings. A lot of them will insist that you can’t have water, you have to have floral foam, which is totally ridiculous because floral foam holds water and it’s horrible and stains everything and gross, and you know, microplastics kill the flowers. There’s a lot of education to do in the various steps throughout the industry. And I think it’s really important. 

Even this year, I worked somewhere this year that had a very, very, very strict rule about which suppliers you could use and what they could do. And it’s like none of the florists were strong on no floral foam or British flowers at all. Some of them were making steps towards it, but they weren’t allowed to do it at this venue. 

None of the caterers had a strong sustainability ethos about them or a zero waste policy. And that was really difficult for me because I was like, I don’t really want to be seen to be working with brands that aren’t aligning with it, but because I’m putting this out here about myself that I’m trying, and so I’ll be deeply hypocritical. But I don’t have a choice. This is my client’s preference. 

So, okay, how can I be authentic and real and not be greenwashing? Well, I’m going to try and educate those people I’m being forced to work with and encouraging them to do courses and speak to different people I know and tell them the ways that I would do things on other weddings that would help. 

It is actually working. People do listen when you take the time not to be judgmental and not to be kind of pushy and just say, look, I’d really like to talk because basically I’ve put these commitments on my website and I can’t in good faith recommend you to my clients unless you live up to this. I’ve made this commitment to being more sustainable in my practices. 

So even little things, you know, from composting, you know, flowers rather than shoving it in waste bin liners, to we’ve got a company this year who are taking the petals and they’re being dried and turned into confetti, so it’s got another use. 

Hiring kind of reusable stuff rather than the throw-away-able plates, which sometimes think, oh, we’ll get, you know, some paper plates or some bamboo plates rather than not always, sometimes the most obvious things aren’t the most obvious things in terms of saving. 

But also looking at the sustainability practices of those companies, so you know, linens, that linen company, like in terms of what they do, what do they either do to reduce their impact and you know, that might be well we reduce the number of vehicles going out and we group them by location or whatever it might be. Or it might be well actually be offset because we donate certain percent of our profits to go towards this company, and that offsets what we’re doing here, and we’ve really taken on the advice of an advisor who’s shown as well as we can do. 

So for me, like, there’s not a lot I can personally do, as I’m not the person creating the waste as such, that the people I employ are. So I just need to look at all of their practices and assess them, and I’ve got quite strong sustainability criteria in my supplier application. And I do talk to people about it in depth. 

I work with caterers who absolutely are permitted to zero waste. So things like ingredients that you have in your main course might be reused and repurposed for canapes or like late night snacks, local ingredients, local producers, local staff, so many little things you can do. 

Look, I’m not an expert at all. I’m not a sustainability expert. I’m not someone who’s got any credentials or qualifications. I am just trying to learn like everybody else out there. I’m trying to figure it out. 

I just think that doing one thing and then putting something out there saying, oh, it’s a sustainable wedding, sustainable luxury, hashtags and all that stuff, like isn’t good enough if you’re not walking, talking and breathing it and learning and trying to do better and educating your clients or as I’m doing, you know, like I might not, I’ll educate them by kind of making it like it’s a new cool thing to do as well. Like, I’m not ashamed to say that because I think if it works, it works. If it gets people having better practices that I can then talk about and showcase, that’s a good thing. 

I am not the authority at all. There are people out there who definitely are. And, you know, I’ve worked with companies who do accreditation and look through your practices and see what you’re doing and give you advice. I would really recommend using one because I think it’s super interesting just to see what your impact is and what you want or are not doing. 

It’s never going to be a sustainable industry by its nature, but there is so much more that we should all and can all be doing and educating and sharing knowledge on. 


Yeah, I think that’s such a good point and from my perspective, I’m seeing a lot more suppliers with a real keenness to share that they’re trying harder and that they’re trying to be more responsible and also that they’re not perfect and they don’t want to greenwash. 

I know a couple of suppliers who try not to use the term sustainable too much, they rather use the word responsible because it just suggests that they’re trying to head in the right direction, which I think is the only way, isn’t it really? 

So moving sort of into the successes you’ve had in your professional life now, I’m really curious to know, have there been any significant challenges or moments of adversity that you faced along the way that you are comfortable talking to us about? 

How did you navigate your way through that challenging time? Were there any valuable lessons that you learned from the experience that helped you evolve and become more resilient as an entrepreneur? 

I know this is the kind of question that always, the kind of more meaty question that other entrepreneurs want to dive into and hear your response to. 

So what challenges might you have overcome as a wedding planner?


I mean, I think it’d be really easy just to put on COVID because that was insane. But I actually don’t think it was my most challenging period. 

Genuinely the most challenging period for me was when I got divorced, because being divorced as a wedding planner is an interesting conundrum. 

People when they’re getting married, they want to hear about negativity. And they’re like, oh, have you been married? 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that was a really, really challenging period of my life. I had two young children. I was running a business on my own, not knowing whether my finances would cover me and the kids solo. I mean, obviously, I had support from my husband, but I didn’t know what was coming. Or it was a bit of a leap of faith. And I really considered, do I need to just go and get like a regular job that pays me every month so I have that certainty. And then I was like, well, I don’t know if I can do that because then what I’d have to earn to have full-time childcare, whilst also when I run my own business, I’m flexible, you know, I still have childcare, but it’s not, you know, it’s not full-time. You know, I can flex them, a lot of my work’s at weekends, my ex would have them. 

I just think it was a really challenging time because I had to take a leap of faith in my business at that point, and it was six years ago. 

So I’d already, I was, you know, I was established, well established. And at that time, you know, I just really felt like doing it solo was going to be so much harder. And I just wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it. And I also wasn’t sure if a divorced woman was going to be something kind of socially acceptable within the industry, because I felt like a lot of people were like, well, if you haven’t been married, how are you ever going to understand what it’s like to be a bride? I said, well, I have been married, but I’m no longer married. 

And you know what? I’m getting a little bit of that weird anxiety again now that I’m getting married because a lot of people are like, oh, you’re getting married for the first time. And so if anyone doesn’t know, Annabel mentioned I’m engaged to get married again. 

And there’s a lot of people saying, oh, you know, you’re going to experience what it’s like to be a bride for the first time. Well, actually I’m not. It’s my second marriage. 

I just think in an industry which is all like, this is the person you’re going to love and be with for the rest of your life. And, you know, hopefully you won’t have to do this again, jokes at the rehearsal. You know, I just feel like divorce is such a taboo subject. And it was something I was very much dealing with. And then I found it really difficult to talk about with clients, but also with other people. 

And like being a single mum, I work in the luxury wedding world, it’s highly stressful, it’s clients who expect me to be around the clock available, and I know that there have been comments from people like, how does she do it if she’s a single mom? 

I did it, I carried on, and I’m better than ever, and the kids are older now, it’s not so much of an issue, and I’m living with somebody else, and life moves on, and so we go. But I just felt like that was such a huge challenge, and actually, I did speak out about it a couple of times at events or whatever else I was attending. And it amazed me that so many people started reaching out and saying, by the way, I’m going through a divorce right now. I don’t know what to do. I’m really losing my sense of identity. Working in the wedding industry is really hard. I’ve broken up with my fiance. It’s devastating. 

I always felt like, you know, I got into the wedding industry, I was gonna have this amazing wedding, and now I’m just like the single woman. 

And I just realised that we like tied so much of our identity as individuals to the wedding industry. And actually, you don’t need to be married, you don’t need to have children, you don’t need to have experienced it to be good at your job, like you really do not. 

And I just like a reason a lot of that happens is because so many people get married and then go into weddings, right? They get married, realise how much they might have built a bar that was amazing. And so they go into building bars, or they built some favours, or they’ve gone to favours, or whatever. It’s by accident often. 

But yeah, I do think for men and women who are single in this industry, it’s really, really hard. But I think it’s particularly hard if you’re going through a particularly nasty breakup. 

And I just remember going to one wedding, not really being in the mood for love. I wasn’t doing wedding planning. We were doing flowers and design and styling. And I just wasn’t in the mood. My sister, who worked with me at the time, was like, just go and build a flower arch and get out of the way. Like, you are, your face is not happy, happy love. 

And I just wasn’t. For whatever reason, I’d have a massive argument. The lawyers were getting involved. It was, you know, it was just a crappy, shitty day that I didn’t want to talk about other people’s happiness. 

Luckily, that particular wedding, you know, I wasn’t the front of face. I wasn’t doing anything particularly important at all. And I did build a flower arch, by the way. I’ve channelled all my angst into that. I wasn’t very good at doing flower crowns. That’s not my forte. That’s the reality of it, right? Sometimes you don’t want to show up to work in any job. But I think when it’s a wedding and it’s your client, you have to show up. 

But then I think really quickly, and I’m talking within the space of like within a year, I just clung on to the happiness of my clients. It was like feeding me, injecting me with hope. I was just sitting there and every speech I listened to, every time I watched someone walk down the aisle and someone cry at the other end, it was like an injection of happiness and love and hope and my cold, cold heart was melting. I wasn’t so adverse to finding love again. I wasn’t feeling so bitter and angry. I was just kind of warming again, warming again. 

It is the most incredible thing to see two people just surrounded by love and happiness and joy. It really quickly, I think, became the thing that got me through, the thing that actually made me feel wonderful again, and the thing that made me feel like life was worth really living, and like actually finding another person. Like, here I am, I have found somebody, and, you know, it’s an amazing thing. 

But I don’t know if, like, I didn’t work in this incredible industry where you’re just witness to it all the time, whether I would have got there quite so quickly. 

It was one of my hardest times, but it actually, my job massively saved me in terms of my approach to life and loving life and living joyously, through like living vicariously through others and feeling the warmth of them around me.


I just want to thank you for sharing that, Jessie, because that is such a personal story. And like you say, the whole issue of divorce is so taboo, I think, in the wedding industry. I’ve never tried to make it taboo. 

I know we’ve published multiple articles on Love My Dress that very directly talked about divorce and how it’s okay to want a huge, big celebratory wedding if you’ve already been married once, twice, however many times. We’re not here to judge. Weddings are a celebration and a reason to gather with the ones you love and celebrate love at the end of the day, that’s it, that’s all that matters. 

But I think it’s, again, it’s really brave of you to talk about how you felt and to address the divorce issue. 

I’m very happy to hear that you’ve got through that now and that the weddings themselves have helped you heal, I think, they’ve been part of your healing process. 

Jess, let’s just go back to business for a little bit because this has been a little bit of a strange year for many working in the wedding industry. It’s definitely not been the wedding boom of a year that we had last year. 

Can you give any advice to other business owners on how they might be able to navigate through these challenging times, how they can adapt, find resilience, and seek to perhaps innovate and thrive in this industry? 

You know, because I think not everyone is struggling, but a lot of people are. I don’t know whether it’s fallback from the pandemic or the cost of living crisis kicking in, but the general narrative seems to be that there just aren’t the number of inquiries that people are expecting this year and people perhaps aren’t spending so much either.


Yeah, I know. I’m really hearing mixed reviews. I think, again, this industry is lovely for so many reasons and there’s so many connections and brilliant friendships I’ve made, but it’s also terrible for saving face and not really telling each other and being competitive and I just feel like a lot of people are like yeah we’re really busy, really busy and are they? 

I have actually taken time off this year for the first time in a very very long while since I started because I’m getting married and I’ve actually got my legal wedding in August and then I’ve got my big one in October so I just decided that for once I was going to put myself first. 

So I perhaps don’t have the best perspective on it because I’ve had a pretty good year in terms of what I’ve booked outside of that. 

But I have spoken to quite a few people who just feel like, they’re okay, but you know, things aren’t as busy as usual. I haven’t really spoken to anyone who’s really struggling but I’m aware that that’s happening depending on what sector you’re in and the cost of the materials and supplies that you’ve got. But I don’t think there’s any part of the industry that’s not impacted in some way. 

I do think partly, you know, people were at home for three years, not meeting, not meeting in person, not connecting. And so probably less engagements have happened or people are starting out on dating or they broke up with people in that period. And so I think probably the level of engaged people has gone down a bit for this year. And because we spent the last couple of years so focused on delivering postponed stuff, we didn’t see it. We couldn’t see that, you know, because it was just sort of murky behind the fact that we were absolutely run off our feet, delivering, delivering, delivering the stuff that had been postponed. 

So I think maybe that’s partly the reason, look, I built my business after a recession. So I really stupidly decided to do it at a really bad time. In some ways, if you can be resilient and if you can have a voice that doesn’t feel inauthentic and that people get a relationship with you and recommend you and keep talking about you and that your clients invest in you, I think that you can still build something really fantastic that has solid, solid grounding for when things get better. That’s the thing, it’s just holding your nerve, looking at where you can cut your costs in terms of your business costs. And I think we all are a bit wasteful sometimes there. 

But also look at where you can invest, because if you just get very quiet and you’re not seen anywhere and you’re not doing anything and you’ve not got the links that fall back into your website, I think you run a risk of disappearing. So it’s just knowing like where places of value are that bring you traffic or, you know, upping your PR game and thinking about different things that you can be doing to target different audiences and understanding your audience behaviour. Like I sort of feel like the biggest squeeze in the wedding industry is the middle. 

So I feel like, you know, the DIY, low cost, budget weddings are probably booming, the suppliers in that section right now because as people cut costs, they’ll look for things that can do that are fun and easy and cheap. And there’s a massive market there. And it’s a great market, by the way. I know that some people are like, oh, DM in, that’s fantastic, brilliant. And my first wedding was massively DIY and not high budget at all. I think that’s probably an area that’s gonna thrive. But, you know, the cost of things has gone up, food’s gone up, materials have gone up. So even there, you know, they’re having to bolster their prices a little bit, but the impact is less so. 

I think that the top end of the market, you know, people are less impacted overall by movement. And I feel like, you know, typically people who get engaged are slightly older, so probably the level of engagement is still quite high. And I just feel like they’re just impacted slightly less. 

But they are, I mean, it’s like 1% of the market, my market, it’s tiny and there’s a lot of competition. So it’s always a bit nerve-wracking if you’ve got slightly less coming through. 

I just feel like the biggest squeeze is the middle, where, you know, it’s the average wedding. God, this is a horrible word, average. None of them are average, but we’re amazing. But I just feel like where people are delivering quality but trying to keep things reasonable is actually where it’s really difficult because it’s a decision someone makes on whether they have the cake or don’t have the cake, but the cake ingredient’s gone up. 

Oh, the photographer sounds great, but I might have to just get someone a bit cheaper than we really, really love because their prices have gone up. And of course, they’re investing in new kit and they’re travelling more and all those things. 

So I think it’s about holding your nerve. I think it’s about building very strong foundations and knowing where to invest your marketing, PR, and not doing anything. Don’t go underground because that’s a really quick way of just getting their attention and being non-visible when things get better. And being smart about who your audience is, who you need to attract, and not just immediately devaluing yourself by putting loads of offers on and discounting because I think that doesn’t really work. I think more it’s about adding value and maybe coming up with different packages, you know, weekday stuff, evening stuff, rather than insisting someone has to book you for X amount of hours, have a different package for the dates that you’ve got left, releasing the dates you’ve got and, you know, encouraging people to look at those. 

There’s so many things, but I think, honestly, 99% of it is an act of bravery and holding out. And I also think there’s absolutely no shame, by the way, in going and getting another job to keep your family, keep your house going. Like, if you need to say, I’m doing this part-time because I haven’t got the clients that have come in, I’m not going to let it go. I’m still going to spend my evenings and weekends plugging time into promoting this, but two, three days a week I’m going to go do something else or have a regular income. That’s fine. You don’t have to tell anyone about it. You’re not succeeding as a business person if you have to do that. 

As I said earlier, I considered doing that when I was going through a divorce. I started off that way. I don’t think there’s… I hate this kind of… I don’t know what it is. Internet, you can be anything you want, just quit your job tomorrow. You can just throw yourself into it. And if you don’t throw yourself, every single part of you and being of you into it, you’re not a success. It’s so rubbish. 

You can still run a successful business that maybe needs to operate in a slightly different way while you get through something and still do something else or work another job or get extra money in or apply your skills or offer freelance work to people who perhaps are busier than you. 

You know, you might be a photographer who’s struggling to get bookings. Well, speak to someone who’s really absolutely slammed and say, can I second shoot? Can I take on any of your clients as a referral? 

You know what I mean? Like, not being afraid to reach out to other people and use your network and do what you need to do.


If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Also, the taking another job thing. So many people I know have done that this year and last year, actually. So many people. It’s a very normal thing to do. So certainly not something to be ashamed of, as you say. 

But the key message that came out there for me was hold your nerve. And it reminds me of something you said to me during the pandemic, which is hold the vision, trust the process. I printed that out and put it on my notice board. And every single day, I was like, you’ve got this, Annabel. Just keep holding that vision, trust the process. It gives you that extra bit of self-belief and bit of oomph that you need, I think, in the morning. Really great quote. I recommend everyone else prints it out and puts it on their notice boards too. 

Jessie, I just want to talk to you briefly about the wedding industry as a career option, because I think it’s something that people don’t talk about enough. And there’s so many career options here, so many amazing creative career options. Why do you think it is that legacy media don’t take our industry seriously?


Yeah, well, because we’re mostly women. I mean, honestly, that’s it. And I know some people are going to listen to this and baulk at it, but it’s true. 

We’re a largely women-led business. And it’s not true, but the traditional crappy media will say that it’s an industry driven by women, which is ridiculous, because everybody can get married, men get married, women get married. And I feel like everybody’s quite invested and interested in it these days. I don’t really find like anybody’s particularly taking a backseat when it comes to their wedding planning. 

But it’s like, traditionally, like, bride gets engaged and they plan it with their mum, and it’s all about the women and the men just show up. And there’s loads of still like memes and gifs and stuff, right? That 100% perpetuate that myth. Like, oh, my husband just turning up to my wedding and doesn’t know what’s going on. It is just really sexist. 

And I also think that we haven’t valued ourselves. We haven’t promoted and valued ourselves. We haven’t priced ourselves properly. We haven’t looked at our business plans properly. Not to say everybody hasn’t, but the vast majority of the wedding industry when COVID came along quickly realised they have not really thought about their business properly. And I think that doesn’t help. 

You know, you wouldn’t look at a big event producer who’s worked on Glastonbury and criticise them. Why? A, because they price quite high. B, because it’s an industry that people can understand. It’s business as opposed to frivolity. It’s just a life thing. Why don’t you just go down to the local pub? And also because it’s men. It’s mostly men. If you look at the rest of the industry, it is broadly male-driven. 

The only part of the event industry that’s women-driven significantly is weddings. And I think that’s it. I think it’s just women’s with hobby jobs and women who want to plan a pretty wedding and why don’t they just have a few drinks down the pub and not bother. I think that is what it is, but it is an incredible industry with incredible opportunities.

 And you know what? Yeah, it’s driven by women. You know what’s great about it? There’s loads of flexible work. You can build your family. You can do whatever you want to do. You can use your creativity or you can use your corporate experience, you can build it around another career. There’s loads and loads and loads of positives about it. 

But I think actually, Annabel, the event industry as a whole has taken a bit of a knock. You know, very few people graduating with events-based degrees are going into events afterwards because they feel like it’s a risky business post-COVID, there’s no security here, the money might not be as much, it’s a difficult industry, it’s a highly stressed industry. 

So, yeah, I do feel like the entire events industry has had a knock and so perhaps we’ve moved on from it just being about it being a frivolous women-owned business to like a bigger, broader discussion about why people don’t go into events generally and why weddings aren’t included within the event stratosphere as part of the industry that’s important. 

So I think, yeah, there’s a conversation to be had there and I just think a lot of people do come into this industry unprepared and underqualified and without the necessary business acumen or insurances or everything else and I think they do give us a bad name. I think that does happen, too. 

So I think we all have a collective responsibility to hold people, you know, hold standards high, promote good practices and continue to employ good people. You know, we have to offer jobs to people as much as anything else.


I love working in this industry and I’ve met so many amazing, amazing people and have so many incredible opportunities as a result of my business. I think it’s fantastic. 

And also having daughters that are at the age now where I’ve one at college, she’s considering university or her options basically. And just having that chat with her about the creative opportunities that are available within the wedding industry is really interesting. It just was never a thing when I was growing up, when I had those opportunities. I think it’s very different now. And like you say, I think it’s definitely a conversation to be had. Probably could be talked about in a whole other podcast episode in its entirety. 

But talking about having conversations, Jessie, I’ve been spotting you on the new Threads app. What are you making of that? 

I’ve got to admit, I’m loving it. It feels like going back to the very early Twitter days, doesn’t it? Just like no judgement, just say what you want. It’s almost like you don’t have to get dressed up to go on social media, you just say what the heck you want.


I just feel like there’s a lot more connection and discussion and conversation. Like I just felt for ages I was just shouting into the void. Here’s a picture of me doing something, here’s a video of me doing something. And if I went to Twitter, it was like, silence. 

It doesn’t have to be clever, do you know what I mean? You don’t have to be smart and witty and just people having a chat. And they’re also not caring so much about whether you’re like some big influencer or not, like, like really normal people are talking to other people. It’s just lovely. I’m a big fan.

Obviously, they’re going to release a lot more stuff and it’ll be a lot more user friendly with various things like search functions and things. But yeah, I just found Twitter to become, has become just a really angry, vile place that lacks any creative soul. But it was a really important tool for connecting with journalists and keeping up to date with current affairs and stuff. So I did continue using it, but I’ve not looked on it once since.


I think most people in the industry haven’t used Twitter, have they, in years? Most people haven’t used Twitter in years. 

We used it when we were campaigning because, as you say, the connection with the journalists and news and information, it was really, really valuable. And is Instagram dying?


I think it has an identity crisis. I think it’s like TikTok slash Pinterest, something else. Like, I don’t really know what it is. And I’m just, I just, it’s just a lot of noise and a lot of just like, like, like, there’s no conversation there. 

So I think there might be a bit of a resurgence in Pinterest and I know that you love Pinterest, as do I. But I think people are going to be like, well, if I’m all I’m using Instagram for is just basically like saving things to boards, and I don’t, I want to cut out the crappy videos popping up every five seconds. I’ll go to Pinterest. 

And I wonder if people will promote Pinterest more on the threads as a result of that at some point. It’ll be really interesting to see what happens and whether Meta actually transform Instagram as a result of threads and vice versa. It will be fascinating, but yeah, I’m loving it so far.


Yeah, I’m loving it too. It’s fascinating too. It just feels very different. It feels like a safe and fun space. 

Like it feels like Instagram, all the joy’s been zapped out of it and it takes you for freaking ever to prepare content and then Instagram goes and posts duplicate images and it just feels so flawed, doesn’t it? It feels like a cumbersome beast now that needs to go to bed, possibly, I don’t know, forever, I don’t know. It’s not the fun place it used to be.

That’s how I feel anyway.

Okay, Jessie, let’s just get a little bit more personal, shall we, as we bring this conversation towards an end. 

You are obviously a mother of two beautiful children, a hugely successful wedding planner. How on earth do you find balance? Because I can imagine there’s a lot of stress and pressure that comes with being you. 

And you’re always smiling, you’re always joy to be around. It was always such an inspirational experience being with you, Jess. 

How do you do it all? 


I don’t think I do. I don’t think I do have any balance whatsoever in my life, and I don’t think many of us do. In fact, most people in this modern age have any balance whatsoever. 
I just juggle things and, like, bumble my way through things. 

So it might be that I one day just feel like I’ve been overworked, stressed, clients being really demanding, or loads of problems to solve, and I feel guilty because the kids haven’t had as much of me. Or I’ve taken a day off to look after the kids in the holidays and have some fun with them, and then I’m constantly checking my phone because there might be something urgent happening. 

I just don’t think anyone has time for the gym, keeping themselves healthy, looking after their kids, being a great partner or wife or girlfriend or whatever it is to someone, and keeping a career. It’s just one of those things, I think we’re all just so, so busy. 

The only thing I do ensure I do is to absolutely take time for myself because everything I just said is about other people. And I just think that the one thing I do make sure I do is ensure that I have time with my girlfriends, whether that’s a mini break, a holiday, doesn’t even need to be more than a long weekend, going and reading a book for an hour somewhere quietly because I just feel then that while I’m still stretching myself, I’m not quite as thin and I’m enjoying kind of the busyness a bit more when I’ve had a bit of still in between it. 

So, yeah, I don’t think I’ve really managed to juggle it all very well at all, but I do insist that I have time for myself, kind of blocked out and not just, you know, meditation or reading a book or these little things, but like a genuine block of time for a holiday or a weekend that actually properly resets my mind where I’m not being pulled in every direction. 


I love that. I love that because I didn’t give myself time for such a long time and now I’m making myself stop and read, I just go out of the garden, I’ve really got a sense of my work’s not going to get the best out of me if I don’t start looking after myself, but I feel like I need to take a leaf out of your book and do some of that block time book booking out because I haven’t quite got that far yet. It does make an enormous difference, doesn’t it, when that penny drops and you realise I’ve got to start putting myself first, otherwise no one or anything is going to get the best out of me whatsoever. 

So that’s really encouraging, encouraging to hear that you don’t feel you’re always on top of it either. 

So, okay then, just a few more questions on the business side of things. What’s your best advice to anybody who’s thinking about becoming a wedding planner? It might be the very start of their career. 


Well, first of all, do not make the mistake of thinking it’s an easy job. It is definitely not an easy job. It is extremely high pressured. It is one of those jobs that sort of seems like it’s going to be fluffy and fun and just basically making parties And it’s not you know it’s it’s a huge amount of work physically and timewise under quite a pressured environment with quite demanding clients not because couples are demanding particularly, but the very nature of a wedding and what you’re being asked to provide is demanding.

So I would personally recommend that you work across the industry in other areas before you launch into wedding planning. So a lot of people think that they are going to be really great at it because they plan their own wedding. And it’s just a different beast when you’re doing it professionally. And you get treated different by suppliers and by different… By suppliers and venues, your responsibility is a lot higher. It’s not the same remotely as planning your own wedding. 

So I would definitely recommend going and working for other suppliers. So especially those venues and caterers that will teach you the real nitty gritty and the late hours and the physically on your feet side of it. Don’t be afraid to go and get some training in different areas. So whether that’s because you want to be a wedding planner that specialises in design and so you need to do a course in design because you feel confident about planning logistics and timelines, or whether that’s really practical stuff like training in health and safety. It’s really imperative that you have that. 

So definitely get some training. Definitely think about what the job actually entails and what your responsibilities are. 

Going and getting some work experience, and not from another planner. I get all the time emails saying, can I have some work experience? Or have you worked anywhere else in the industry first? Like, have you just been a waitress? Because that’s kind of a big thing to do and understand the basics of what a day involves. 

But also I would say, just don’t give up the day job. I don’t know, that sounds like the opposite advice that a lot of people would say, but just dip your toe, take things slowly, build things slowly and authentically, price things properly, think about your business plan, how you’re going to make money, how that’s going to really translate to a career that is productive and you’re not killing yourself every year by doing hundreds of weddings that you can space things out because they are hard, and that you’re actually got good profits after tax and expenses. 

So I don’t think people necessarily consider all of that, and I think that would be my best advice.


Okay Jessie, so to bring this lovely conversation to an end and I’ve so enjoyed having this chat with you, I want to ask you three really light-hearted questions. 

The first is, if you were to host a dinner party and could invite any three people, living or deceased, who would you choose and why? 


So it has to be a girly dinner party because I love girly dinner parties and I love women. 

So the first person I would absolutely invite is my grandmother, who very sadly passed away not that long ago. She was just an amazingly quick-witted, funny, brilliant woman. And I just think that, you know, people have gone all too quickly before you’ve had a chance to really ask them things about their lives or, you know, your family history. 

So I’d love to have the chance to do that, you know, all over again and just to have one more cuddle would be quite nice. But I also think that she’d just be a brilliant person to sit amongst other brilliant women because she’d ask the questions I might be afraid to ask or she’d have no qualms in saying whatever she wants to say. 

So the other people, well, one person I would love to invite to a dinner party, sadly no longer with us either, but Sylvia Plath, famous author, poet. She was just this young, uninhibited, lover-party type of girl. And I just wonder, you know, would her story be quite different if she was around now? Because it was just so looked down upon and her life was so difficult and so lots of familial issues as well. But her writing is totally, totally beautiful. She’d be fascinating for so many reasons. You know, the meanings of things she says. Obviously, she died in really strange circumstances, so I’m sure my grandmother would have a chat with her about that. And I always love a quote that she wrote in actually a letter, and I think it’s lovely, which is, remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted. 

And I love that quote, and I just think it’s something I kind of live by, just living every day and not taking things for granted. And as I say, partly my grandma being there, you know, it would be nice to see her again with Sylvia, with words like that. 

And then my third guest, I really thought hard about this one, but I think it has to be Michelle Obama. She’s just such a queen of everything. You know, she’s brilliantly smart. She’s beautifully stylish. She’s got so many amazing causes that she’s an advocate for. She’s got a background in law, which I do as well. And she also quit her job in law. 

But I don’t know if she quit, supposedly because she went to go and follow Barack Obama. She was asked to mentor him. And she wanted to go and follow him on his campaign and gave up her job. 

I suspect, like me, she just thought law was quite boring and being in politics might be a bit boring. Who knows? But yeah, the first African-American, first lady of the United States, you know, she could keep the chat going, be fascinating. 

So I think Michelle, Sylvia and Grandma Belle would be an epic dinner party.


I love it. I love it. I’d love to be an additional guest at that dinner table, actually. 

Okay, second question. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you
want to have with you? 


Well I’m assuming that you know a tent and water and a pot or something or something to start fire, they’re the boring things, so I’m assuming like you have those okay, let’s in our imaginary world I’m survivable, so it’s just things that like I would want, in which case I would want a crate of wine, preferably a mixture of a Barolo and a Merceau, a very very large writing pad and a pen.


Excellent, excellent. 

And Jessie, if you could travel back in time and give one single piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?


I would say what I say to my kids every day. Every day since I took them to school, preschool in fact, I said the same thing to them and they kind of roll their eyes at me now, but anyway, I still say it.

 And I always tell them to be brave, be kind and make mistakes. And I think that is the best advice to give to anybody. And if my younger self could hear that, because I will make the mistakes, and I wouldn’t go back and change any of them. I wouldn’t go back and tell myself not to do them, because you need to make them kind of to be the bigger, better person. 

But yeah, to continue being brave, continue being kind, and just make those mistakes and if you’re brave and kind, then you’ll figure it out. So that’s what I’d say.


Jessie, it’s been such a pleasure having you. I’ve learned so much from you in this past hour, three quarters I think it’s been. 

Thank you so much for joining me on the Love My Dress podcast.


 I’ve absolutely loved it.

Thank you for having me. It’s been a delight.


I hope very much that you enjoyed this conversation,
but before we wrap this episode, I need to ask a favour. A huge amount of time, love, and effort is required to produce this podcast and in order to get it off to a flying start in season one, we need your support. 

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Additional Credits

The below suppliers and venues are featured in this article, but are not part of the Love My Dress Wedding Directory.


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.