In my Wedding Wednesday blog post today, I’m delighted to feature wedding planner, Andri Benson.
After years of dressing actors and styling characters both for London’s theatres and on screen, Andri set up her company, Always Andri Wedding Design.
Interwoven in the interview are beautiful images from one of her wedding shoots – The Secret Garden.
It features gorgeous floral arrangements by Fairy Nuff Flowers.
When did you start Always Andri and where are you based?
I launched Always Andri in 2009 after a change of career thanks to redundancy.
I cover London and the south east, including Surrey, Kent and Sussex but can travel further afield if necessary.
Could you tell us more about your company and the wedding planning services you offer?
My focus is on a full wedding planning service, from extrapolating the clients’ initial ideas to being there on the day to oversee the smooth running of their event. From choosing the venue to sorting out all of the paperwork, I offer an overseeing and supportive eye to every element of planning for the big day.
After an initial consultation in which we have an overall discussion of what they want and work out what they do and don’t like, because sometimes the don’ts are far more indicative of their style, I will then put together a proposal for their wedding along with a fee.
Once I’ve been booked, I’ll immediately begin a venue search, as this tends to be the key element that dictates everything else. I draw up a report of suitable locations and attend venue visits with the couple to help make their decision.
The next stage is to work on some design ideas for the day. I’ll ask more detailed style questions based on the initial consultation and create a detailed design brief, mood boards and a breakdown of the elements required to achieve the design goals.
We then move on to selecting suppliers, beginning with the photographer as they are often the ones with the least availability. I have an extensive list of suppliers that I work with but cater my recommendations on what’s best for the couple. It’s not just a question of who provides the best value for money. They must also be the most suitable fit for my clients.
I will draw up a supplier report with a shortlist of three or four vendors for the client to choose from. In some cases, such as with florists, a more in-depth discussion is necessary, so I will go along to the consultations with the clients.
Throughout the process, I try to facilitate the ideas that my clients have and encourage their creativity. My job is centred on creating working progress and providing a guiding hand to bring my couples’ ideas to life. I love clients who are open to ideas and aim to create a wedding that is reflective of their style and creativity, without rigidly sticking to tradition.
I also offer a bespoke partial planning service to give clients the option of having me come in at any point during their planning and an on-the-day coordination service. This is never really just one day’s work but does mean that once everything has been handed over to me in the weeks prior to the wedding, then the couple can be a guest at their own wedding, safe in the knowledge that I’m on hand to look after everything.
Could you tell us more about how you work with florists?
I spent most of my first year of business working with a florist to help set up weddings as I gained experience. This has given me a huge appreciation for the art of floristry and is a key consideration when thinking about the design elements of a wedding.
I’ll always go with my couple to their consultations with potential florists as many of them won’t know quite what they want or how to achieve their design goal, so I like to facilitate the process to get the most out of it for both them and the florist that they ultimately choose.
What do you find as the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I take great pride in watching all the various elements come together as well as knowing that my couple had a fantastic day that they will always remember and that they enjoyed the planning process too.
What advice would you give to a bride-to-be when she’s considering using a wedding planner?
That we’re not there to take over your day, but to give a guiding hand and take the worry out of wedding planning.
It’s very important to me that my couples enjoy the planning process which is why I endeavour to create a personal relationship with them and try to be as much of a calming influence as possible.
What is your favourite flower?
I love ranunculus, they’re so pretty with their delicate petals and lovely range of colours. At a wedding last year I had to step in at the last minute and make all the personal bouquets after a family friend was unable to.
So I used ranunculus combined with lisianthus, for the bridesmaids’ hand-tied bouquets as they had such a lovely spring quality to them.
What are your plans for 2012?
This year has got off to a flying start and I’m almost already booked up for the whole year with some fabulous weddings and one in the diary for next year too.
As a result, I just want to concentrate on giving the best service to my clients and build on the business so far.
P.S. Thank you to garden designer Lisa Cox for introducing me to Andri.
(Images : Fiona Kelly Photography, Always Andri Wedding Design)