Always Andri is a London based creative wedding planner and designer.
We sat down and chatted with Andri Benson founder of Always Andri to discuss her exciting plans for the future.
How did Always Andri Wedding Design begin?
My background is in Theatre and TV. I was a freelance theatre designer for a few years, and then worked in the BBC Costume Store curating outfits for film and TV. The BBC then went through big budget cuts and the Costume Store was closed. At this point we’d had our little boy, so I knew I wanted to do something that used my creative skills and gave me flexibility to work from home. I used the redundancy to move into wedding planning. It felt like a natural progression from my theatre days. A wedding day has parallels to the theatre – you have the stars of the show, the supporting cast, the fabulous costumes and props and the behind the scenes machinations.
What are your five top tips for planning a London wedding?
- What kind of wedding do you want? Will it be traditional and formal or relaxed with a party vibe? When you know the type/style of wedding you want it will be easier to decide what kind of venue you want and look for suppliers that are a good fit for you.
- Make a provisional guest list as soon as you can as this will dictate the size and style of venue you can get married at – sometimes a smaller guest list can give you so many more venue options than a larger one.
- What are your top 3 priorities? Is it food & drink, photography, flowers, entertainment etc, when you know where your priorities lie it’s easier to focus on what needs to be done first and to decide what to spend where.
- Decide what budget you have to spend on the wedding as it will factor into many of your decisions. Don’t just pick a random number out of a hat (or a wedding magazine), do your research on the venues and suppliers that are in the area you want to marry (London weddings do tend to need a bigger budget) that fit the type and style of wedding you want then work out a ball park figure you can spend plus a contingency to cover any extras that come up.
- Think about the timings of the day from the very beginning – there’s a lot to fit in on a wedding day, you and your guests don’t want to feel rushed but neither do you want to have large aps where the guests are unsure what’s going on.
Bonus tip? Hire a wedding planner we really can make your life so much easier and allow you to focus on why you’re getting married to each other.
Photography by Siobhan H Photography
What has been your favourite wedding to plan?
Hard to choose a favourite as I love them all but one of my top 10 was a lovely intimate winter wedding I planned for a UK and US couple. As many guests were coming over from the US we wanted to give them a very British experience from the food chosen to seeing the sites of London. It was an early ceremony at the Asylum, one of London’s best ceremony only venues followed by pie and mash boxes served with mulled wine and hot chocolate. Guests were then taken on a red London bus to the London Eye – advantage of only 50 guests we could hire 2 pods to use. Then the evening reception was held at St Bart’s Brewery were guests were served family style ploughman’s starter and a traditional British roast dinner. The place cards and favours were Christmas crackers which they don’t have in the US so proved a great talking point.
What is your advice to those wanting to get in to the wedding planning industry?
Try and get as much hands-on experience as you can working on weddings and events with other planners or suppliers such as caterers, so you can see the work involved – it’s not all cake tastings and dress fittings. Research the market and decide what kind of wedding planning business you want to have and who your ideal clients will be, from there you can go on to create a brand that resonates with them. Don’t undervalue your self – even coming into it new you will have previous experiences you can bring to the industry, know your value and charge accordingly.
Photography by Paul Joseph Photography
How do you combine motherhood with running a successful business?
I’m very strict about setting boundaries for myself, so I set myself work hours, don’t look at emails after 8pm and make sure I allocate time to spend with my family.
And lastly, what are your favourite flowers?
At this time of year, I love peonies, but who doesn’t. I also love summer garden roses like David Austin roses as they smell so lovely. Other favourites are ranunculus and dahlias and I love them in the deep jewel colours.