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Member Focus: Claire Blackwood

In our regular series we are delighted to welcome Claire Blackwood from
Signature Wedding Design who is an associate member of the UKAWP based in Ayr.

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Why did you become a wedding planner?

Like many planners, I enjoyed planning my own wedding and had read many books and articles on wedding planning and etiquette, which ended up forming part of my research. I realised there were so many aspects to planning a wedding and how highly stressful things can get, that most brides could benefit from a helping pair of hands! It’s fantastic to be so involved in a couple’s special day, which is full of love and happiness.

What’s your USP? 

I certainly work to promote the benefits and differences of marrying in Scotland, as opposed to the rest of the UK.  In Scotland we have three legal ways to marry, which is unique to the rest of the UK: by Minster, Registrar or Humanist celebrant.  In Scotland there is also great freedom of where a couple may marry. From a rose garden to a castle ruin, on a beach to a hilltop, the options are endless…..

Signature dish?

Full planning of a Scottish wedding – with a twist! It’s great to work with a couple who want to push the boundaries and wow their guests with something totally different!

Do you have a favourite venue? 

I have many venues locally, which are diverse and unique! My personal favourite is Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, which is set on a cliff top location overlooking the sea – quite breathtaking! This is where I married last year. Other favourites include Glenapp Castle and Dundonald Castle (which is a fantastic medieval ruin!) We also have a fantastic local hotel, the ‘Brig O’Doon’ in Alloway, near Burns Cottage. Tam O’Shanter’s famous Brig is set behind the hotel and makes for great photographs.

How would your clients describe you? 

Friendly, imaginative, calming and enthusiastic!

Have you ever had a challenging client and how did you deal with it? 

Not as yet! Although it’s important to establish your role and remit clearly from the       outset, to avoid confusion and unrealistic expectations! Using the contract from the    UKAWP provides a certain level of reassurance for me!

How do you unwind? 

I love horse riding, although I am only a novice at this stage. I also enjoy relaxing beauty treatments such as massages and facials. I unwind best on holiday, and have travelled recently to Mauritius and Hong Kong which were fantastic! 

If you could plan a celebrity wedding (alive or dead) whose would it be? 

Someone utterly glamorous such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly. Or perhaps a Scottish hunk, such as Gerald Butler or Ewan McGregor!

Which wedding planner’s work do you respect/admire and why?

I enjoy watching the English planner, Jane, on ‘Wedding SOS’ on Sky, she’s a scream!

What’s your biggest achievement since launching?

I have now linked with a local specialist linen hire company, and provide chair covers and ties, co-ordinating table runners and napkins plus a lovely range of props, such as candelabras, mirror centrepieces and roman coliseums for hire . I thought that it may be wise to expand the business to include actual products as opposed to services and this business links well to my range of services for brides to be.

What is your vice?  

Cakes! Of all shapes, sizes and flavours!

What trends are you seeing for 2009/2010? 

Slightly smaller, more select weddings. Brides are more willing to book early/midweek weddings to get their venue of choice, rather than waiting 3 years for a Saturday during the summer at their venue of choice.  Brides are continuing to seek that ‘something different’ for their big day, and I certainly encourage couples to ‘think outside the box’ and go for something quite unique – especially when it comes to the venue!

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