It’s every true romantic’s dream job – organising beautiful weddings for a living. We asked one of Auckland’s top wedding planners, LittleWolf’s Emily Hardaker, to share her secrets.
How did you become a wedding planner?
I worked in restaurants in the UK, so I have a background in hospitality. I love food, but I’d never done anything in the event industry until I started as a wedding co-ordinator here at LittleWolf. I shadowed our creative director on my first few weddings, then from there I did it all myself. As far as I’m aware there’s not any specific training available – the best learning comes from actually doing it. This is the fourth wedding season I’ve been at LittleWolf and I’m still learning something new from each wedding.
What sort of person do you need to be to be a wedding planner?
You definitely have to be calm and very organised, and you have to be able to manage people, not just staff but also suppliers. You need to be able to make a connection with the bride and groom and really listen to what it is that they want, or advise them on their best options based on your experience.
What’s the magic that you bring to a wedding?
A big part of the job is keeping up to date with what’s happening in weddings, not just in New Zealand but overseas as well. LittleWolf has a great reputation for beautiful modern weddings so we need to make sure we stay on top of our game in terms of the international trends. Our chefs change out our menus seasonally and we can create bespoke dishes if that’s what the couple want. We work with a range of Auckland’s top venues and suppliers and give advice on styling to create an event that’s even better than the bride and groom imagined.
What’s fashionable in wedding food at the moment?
In the past couple of years shared table has been the on-trend style. The food is brought to the table on platters ‘family-style’ so people can help themselves to exactly what they want. It’s less formal (and less expensive) than being served a plated meal, so it suits our relaxed Kiwi attitude, and helps break the ice when guests who don’t know each other well are seated together. Grazing tables are a popular starter option for similar reasons.
What does it take to plan the perfect wedding?*
Beautiful, delicious food is pivotal, but LittleWolf weddings aren’t just about the food. My job begins with creating proposals for clients, putting together their menus and helping them decide what their tablescape is going to look like. Once they’ve decided what they want, I organise staff and equipment for the wedding, create run sheets and make a site visit so I’m aware of the space and there are no surprises on the day. The day before a wedding I’ll visit the venue again to make sure everything is running to plan and all the supplies are set up ready to go. Then on the day I’ll be there in the background to deal with anything that comes up. I can do as little or as much as the client wants – it can be anything from helping with the music during the service to fixing the bride’s train as she walks down the aisle. I’m there to take the stress out of the day for the bride and groom, so they know there’s someone there that isn’t family or a friend that they can ask for help without having to worry about whether or not I’m enjoying the day.
What do you love about it?
I love to be part of the wedding process with couples, getting to know them and helping bring their vision to life. Sometimes I’ll spend up to a year working with them to create the best day of their lives. I enjoy working with other suppliers in the industry who are on top of their game in what they do – all the other vendors, marquee companies, florists, there’s a tight-knit group of top suppliers that we love to recommend and they love to recommend us. It’s always good to be working with people that you can trust.
Do you find it stressful?
I used to, but now I have managed enough successful events to know that it’s just about being really well organised. I don’t think you can be stressed if you’ve got a plan and things are going to plan.
*What’s been your favourite wedding moment? *
I’ve done so many I can’t choose one that I’ve loved more than others. But there’s a lovely moment in most weddings when the speeches are over and all the pressure is off and the bride and groom step out on the dance floor for their first dance as a married couple and you can see them truly relaxing and celebrating together.
We have to ask – are you married yourself, and if not what would your own dream wedding look like?
Not yet! The kind of wedding I’d want, we can’t afford at the moment. We could have a garden party now, but I’d rather wait three years and have the dream wedding. It’s impossible to know now what it will look like, though, because wedding trends change so fast and I see so many beautiful weddings in my job that I fall in love with new ideas all the time!