I started Bow Occasions in July 2010, five whole years ago, however I have not been planning weddings for that long but more on that later.

My story starts our like so many others I know, with an engagement. I got engaged in August 2009 and very quickly discovered a love for planning my wedding. At the time of starting Bow Occasions, I had worked for corporate companies for about five years in marketing and events so I had that events experience behind me however I wanted to understand more about the wedding planning side of events so I took the ICS Learn Wedding Planning Course. The course took about six months to complete and during that time I built and launched my first website using Dreamweaver.

Website

My first website (the only screenshot I could find)

The course was great however I wanted to gain experience from those that were already working in this field and reached out to Tiffany at Grant Riley Weddings. Tiffany was so welcoming and we actually met for a coffee where we talked all things weddings and I picked her brains. Whilst I never shadowed a wedding, Tiffany did give me a little project to work on for one of her clients which I loved doing. By this point we were nearing the end of 2010 and I knew I needed to gain experience in order to build my portfolio so I posted in a well known wedding forum (which you aren’t really supposed to do) advertising my services whilst only charging expenses. Two lovely brides, Michelle and Saleema, got in touch with me about my Wedding Day Coordination offering and I booked their weddings in for 2011. I booked my first paid wedding shortly after which was a referral from a wedding planner I had been speaking to via Twitter and a party shortly after that which was my first enquiry via my website. The party was where it all went wrong for me.

Martha and Stu (25 of 49)

Martha and Stu – My first billable wedding

It was a party for a local couple who had hired me to plan, style and coordinate the party for them. Now I’m not going to say too much here because I don’t think it’s appropriate but what happened is a prime example of going with your gut feeling when booking a client. I will write about this in another post however it is so important to follow your gut. If you feel that you and your potential client are not going to be a good fit then it’s a good idea to politely explain this to them and refer them to some other planners that you feel might be. This is what I should have done however excitement got the better of me and I wanted the experience. After this incident, I  vowed that I wasn’t cut out for this and I didn’t get back into wedding planning until after my wedding the following year in 2012. It was a real knock to my confidence and whilst I wish it hadn’t happened, I truly believe it happened for a reason.

I almost had to start again. I launched with a new website and got myself back out there and started booking weddings again. I’m pleased to say that I’ve never looked back and have planned and coordinated some lovely weddings for lovely couples.

Bow Occasions Website 2012

The newly launched website in 2012

I could keep writing for so much longer however I hope this has given you an insight to how I started my business and the rocky road that has led me to where I am today.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed the first post of the series and do come back in two weeks when I’ll have another post for you.

Louise x

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Are you an aspiring planner who would love to start your own company but doesn’t know where to start? Or, are you a new wedding planner just getting into the industry? Well, if so, this new series is for YOU!

I’ve been meaning to start this series for a while now (read forever) but kept putting it off for several reasons; why would people care what I have to say… I’m not as experienced as planner A, B or C… you get the idea. However, I  need to do it. It’s been in my head and on paper for a long time and I just keep coming back to it so I’m letting go of my fears and just doing it! Plus I get tons of emails asking for advice when setting out and whilst I would love to reply to each and every one of you, I just don’t have time time. Now I can refer you all to this series.

The Planner Chat series will be posted bi-weekly on a Thursday with the first post starting tomorrow.  I have some awesome content lined up that I hope will help anyone looking to get into or just starting out in the wedding industry. I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means, this is just my story and my experience.

First post….  My Story!

See you tomorrow,

Louise x

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Today’s post is purely for fun! A little get to know me…

Louise - Bow Occasions

1. I love yellow! It’s a well known joke with my friends that I am obsessed with the colour yellow and in fact so is my husband – Together we have yellow kitchen cabinets, a gorgeous yellow velvet love seat and yellow accessories galore. I also have a yellow car. Yep we’re yellow obsessed.

2. I met my husband online when I was 17 and he was 20. This year we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary and three years of marriage. When we first got together I was so embarrassed about how we met that I used to make up a story about meeting through mutual friends. Oh how young I was!

3. I never wanted to get married and now I am a wife who plans weddings for other lovely couples. My mum never married so that was all I really knew. It sounds cheesy but one day something just clicked and I knew that I wanted to be his wife. It was the best day ever… at least until the day my son was born.

4. I am a mum to a soon to be 11 month old, Dominic. Parenthood is the most exhausting, challenging yet most rewarding thing I have ever done and ever will do. It’s amazing.

5.  I have a bit of OCD and have to make sure everything is switched off and locked before I go to bed or go out. I check, double check and check again.

Okay now it’s YOUR turn! Tell me something about YOU! Leave a comment below!

Louise x

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I know we’re nearly half way through January but Happy New Year everyone!

Bow Occasions Logo
For those of you that have visited before, you may notice that things look a little different round here. Bow Occasions has had a makeover. We have a gorgeous new logo designed by the lovely Taylor of Letters of Grace Calligraphy and a shiny new website designed by me using the wonder that is ProPhoto.

screenshot-hp

This redesign has been in the works for a few months now and I have been working away on it in between working on my couples weddings. It was due to go live last Monday but my little boy was poorly over Christmas so I didn’t get much time put the final touches to the site. You will still notice that there will be some small changes to the site as I tweak it further but I really hope you like the new look. Whilst I loved my old website, it just wasn’t me anymore. I wanted something fresh, modern and chic but still with a touch of colour.

I’ll be back later this week with some more posts for you all. Happy Monday.

Louise x

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I still can’t believe that I’ve been a mummy for seven months now. In some ways it feels like only yesterday that Dominic was born and in others it feels as though he has always been here. With seven months working mummy experience under my belt, I wanted to share with you today how I juggle being a mum and running my own business.

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I won’t pretend to have all the answers as every parent (and every child) is different but this is what has worked for me.

Make the most of nap times – I have my laptop turned on and ready to go so that as soon as Dominic goes down for a nap, I can go into my office and get straight to work. I will admit that I don’t use this time to work on any big projects that require my attention for more than an hour as there is every chance that if I did Dominic would decide to only have a 20 minute nap. I use this time to reply to emails, check social media, plan blog posts or source suppliers for my couples.

Work after baby’s bedtime – We are lucky in that Dominic has pretty much always been a great sleeper and now sleeps through from 7 to 7 every night (I bet I’ve jinxed that now). This means that once he has gone to bed, my husband, Dean, and I will have dinner and then I will head up to my office for a few hours. It is during this time that I get big projects done such as design proposals or business planning. In order to feel less guilty about not seeing my husband as much as I would like, unless I have a wedding or a client meeting that can’t be made for any other time, I won’t work on Saturday or Sunday evenings. This then becomes our time to stay in and watch X-factor or go out for dinner with friends.

Utilise childcare where you can – We don’t currently put Dominic into a nursery however I am lucky to have my mum nearby who is happy to look after Dominic when I have a client meeting or need to spend a solid 6 hours getting some work done. This does mean that I need to plan ahead and factor in an extra person when booking meetings however this is a necessary factor to make it work. We have looked at nursery’s and put our name down for Dominic to start one or two days a week come February.

Set at least one day a week for the two (or more) of you - Our day is Friday. On Friday’s Dominic and I spend the whole day together without any work interuptions. We go to baby group and then we meet our NCT friends for lunch and a catch-up.

Download productivity apps – I try not to use my phone too much when I’m around Dominic however my iPhone is my definite saviour when it comes to running my business. I check and reply to emails, make notes of any ideas on the Evernote app, draft out blog posts using the WordPress app and pin styling ideas for my clients with the Pinterest app.

Do not procrastinate – It’s so easy to lose hours on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest however these are complete time suckers and before you know it you will have wasted valuable time that could be spent with your family or working.

Prioritise what’s important – I have to wear so many hats; mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend and business owner so I prioritise whats important and what’s not. What usually slips? The housework. As much as I would like to say that I clean my house every day, the reality is I don’t and that’s okay because my family and my work are my priority.

Oh and lastly, invest in a Jumperoo… No really, this amazing, bulky piece of plastic is a life saver. Dominic would happily bounce in it for hours if I let him (I don’t).

It really is amazing how much you can get done in a short space of time and if I add up the hours I work during an average day, it is usually about five or six hours which whilst isn’t ideal, is definitely enough time to run a successful business.

And when did I write the bulk of this post? Just now whilst Dominic played happily with his toys and bounced in his Jumperoo.

Let me know if this post has helped you or what you do to juggle being a mum with running a successful business. It would be great to hear from you.

Louise xo

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