Member Focus: Carrie Watkins

Today we welcome Carrie Watkins of Today and Forever to our regular Member Focus section.


Why did you become a wedding planner?

From a young child I have always loved design and fashion, and I have always been a creative person.  I am very passionate about detail, am very fortunate to have forward vision and yet,  for most of my working life, I was employed as a legal PA in commercial property !   Having worked in such a corporate environment I was very used to working under pressure and to strict deadlines.

I dealt with a number of clients on a one to one level and had great relationships with them.  In fact I always enjoyed the appointments and didn’t mind how many client matters I was passed.

However, in this job I never felt satisfied: the opposite really. I felt stifled and realised I was not utilising my talents to the best of my ability.  Photography has always been a passion of mine and after assisting with a few weddings and offering my organisational and photography skills, I was informed by many people I knew that I was in the ‘wrong job’ and I should seriously look to make wedding planning my career.

It took me a couple of years to actually make the decision, but during this time I undertook hours of research both abroad and in the UK, including a trip to Canada.  I undertook training with the UKAWP and also achieved a Diploma in Wedding Planning with the Institute of Wedding Planners.  Once I had reached that stage, I knew there was no turning back.  I launched my Wedding Planning Business ‘Today & Forever’ in September 2008.

Whats your USP?

I think my USP is my friendliness, the ability to remain unruffled and calm in a crisis, and to give 110% to a client (in some cases I have carried out more research than I agreed to do because I am a perfectionist and I wanted to produce the best for my client).  It is also a family business – my daughter assists with most of our weddings and I know I can totally trust and rely on her.

Do you have a favourite venue?

There are so many fantastic venues in Dorset and Hampshire but at the moment I am working on a wedding for next year at a gorgeous grand country house called Rhinefield House, Brockenhurst, in the New Forest.  It’s a blend of Tudor and Gothic, old and new, the romantic and the eccentric.  It is set in 40 acres and is a 4-star luxury hotel.

I am planning a wedding there for this time next year and I am loving every minute of it.  The bride is co-ordinating her wedding with lovely vintage and antique touches which fit the setting perfectly.  I can’t wait to see it all come together.

How would your clients describe you?

I have been told I am a ‘life-saver’ however I wouldn’t go that far!
“Organised – with a few blonde moments thrown in” – most probably!! 

How do you unwind?

Living very close to the beach in Bournemouth, I tend to take any opportunity I possibly can to get out and take my dog for a walk.   It’s a great chance to escape, let your mind wander and I find I can lose myself and make some great decisions.

Other than that I have been brought up as a motor racing fan – Grand Prix, Touring Cars, Classic Cars and my Uncle still races.  I would love to go on ‘Top Gear’ and try to beat the celebrities.  I can be very competitive.  Whenever a motor racing opportunity arises I grab it with both hands.  I have always loved cars, the bigger, noisier and faster the better (now this doesn’t fit in with the image of a wedding planner does it – but it works for me)!!

What wedding themes are you working on?

I am currently working on two full planning weddings.

One is based on the 1950’s Hollywood film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ – the bride is a very big fan of Audrey Hepburn, and the fifties fashion.   She is therefore trying to recreate that era in her wedding.  The wedding is going to be in a marquee at her parents’ home.  A blank canvas is perfect for her to incorporate her favourite icon, style and her own personal stamp.  The look is going to be fairly dramatic, bridesmaids in very sleek black three quarter length dresses, with tiffany blue sashes.  Candelabras tumbling with pearls and crystals with entertainment being supplied by …… [well a girl has to have a few surprises….. sorry my lips are sealed for the rest)!

The second full planning wedding is very different.  Stately,  vintage, antique, shabby chic and very romantic looking.  Lace and David Austin roses, dusky pink and champagne, fairy wands for little flowergirls and bouquets surrounded by feathers.  Scrolls with poems rolled and tied with co-ordinating ribbons as favours for guests.  Vintage shabby chic frame for table seating plan and hand made vintage guest placenames.

What is your vice?Chocolate, wine and fast cars (and it doesn’t matter in which order – I can cope with all three at once  if offered)!

Many thanks Carrie. To find out more about Today and Forever please visit their website.

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