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Member Focus: Isabel Smith

In our regular series, today we welcome Isabel Smith of Buckinghamshire-based  Isabel Smith Wedding Design www.isabelsmithweddings.co.uk

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Why did you become a wedding planner?

I fell into wedding planning by accident.  Having helped a boyfriend’s parents plan their silver wedding celebration and absolutely adored the rush when it all came together, I wrote to some hotels looking for some work experience when I left university.  I started a two week marketing role to find that the wedding planner there wanted to move into marketing and since I wanted weddings, we switched.  Within a month I knew I wanted to set up my own business but wanted to spend a few years gaining the experience and contacts to make me really stand out.

What’s your USP? 

My experience.  Having spent three years at some of the Country’s top wedding venues like Cliveden, I have had the privilege of being involved in well over 150 weddings at some stage of the planning or other.  I really know what can make a day run smoothly and elegantly both front of house and backstage.

Signature dish?

Mothers of Brides – I have always been good at getting along with people of all ages and from all walks of life and I invariably end up becoming as close to the bride’s mum as I do to her!

Do you have a favourite venue? 

Oh hundreds – Great Fosters or one of the Oxford colleges for classic and country weddings, any of the The Crazy Bear sites for a really funky/boudoir twist, The Landmark in Marylebone for city chic…the list is endless.

How would your clients describe you? 

Professional, passionate and knowledgeable.

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

I had a client who lived abroad and was staying in the area for one week to meet the registrar’s residency requirements.  We had just that one week to work together on the plans before she left me to source all the suppliers.  It was a late-lead wedding anyway so trying to get hold of everything at short notice, and then factor in the time difference when trying to get the final sign-off was a real challenge.  Luckily she was a star and knew pretty much exactly what she wanted so there were no problems that working a 100 hour week couldn’t fix!

How do you unwind? 

Feeding the shoe addiction works a treat, but when you just really need to be still and relax, there is nothing like a large glass of red wine in front of a classic movie – usually from the action/thriller genre.

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

I have a real fascination for dedicated bachelors – if I couldn’t be the woman who pinned down George Clooney, being the woman to plan his wedding would be a fab second place!  The same applies to James Bond – fictional I know but imagine planning his wedding!

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

I have the greatest respect for all planners but particularly the pioneers – be it the likes of Siobhan Craven-Robins for bringing the concept of a planner to the UK mainstream or Zoe Lingard for modernising the approach.

What’s your biggest achievement since launching?

Getting my first enquiry put me on top of the world as I knew then that all the preparation and hard work was paying off. 

What is your vice?  

See above – SHOES!  And Terry’s Chocolate Orange.   And Champagne.  And America’s Next Top Model. And…was I only supposed to pick one?

What trends are you seeing for 2009/2010? 

2010 is going to be a really exciting year.  I think the credit crunch has really forced a lot of ingenuity amongst planners and brides in terms of managing the budget and it will be great to see what form this takes as the economy picks up.

Colour-wise, I love that the 80’s are coming back – I bet nobody ever thought they’d see peach at a wedding again – but this time round it comes in a much softer, creamy tone and looks great highlighted with soft plum shades.

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