My latest Big Day Small Talk interview is with Katie White, the brilliantly capable event coordinator at Beales Hotel in Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Hi Katie, thanks so much for giving me your time today. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I work at Beales Hotel as the event coordinator, looking after weddings, Bar-Mitzvahs, Christenings, anniversaries, meetings – everything really. I’ve been in the business for three and a half years now. I worked in London for a wedding planning company, which was great, and I’ve worked in wedding venues since then. I really enjoy it
How long have you been in the business?
Three and a half years
What do you love about your job?
The diversity of it, meeting different clients and I love the different types of events that I organise, from small intimate gatherings to the large and lavish. You get a little insight into each client – a snapshot of their lives, what they’re about and what they like. The creativity is what I love too, making the day special especially for them
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about hosting weddings?
The responsibility, and creating the dream day for that couple, particularly the brides, as they have high expectations. We make real the ideas they have their heads and yes, the most challenging aspect is bringing all that together and making it come to life [Steve – we set ourselves up for that by offering a high level of service don’t we? We are offering them something special] Exactly – I’m lucky to work in a venue that offers a high level of service and delivers it too
What do you think are the trends this year?
Perhaps as I work in a very contemporary venue we get a lot of couples having a black and white theme – brides in white, bridesmaids in black. It works really well and I love it. Another trend I’d say is cake pops – miniature cakes on sticks, like a lollipop! They’re great you can get all sorts, any design. They’re really good!
What has been your most memorable booking and why?
The most memorable, in a good way, would have to be the bride who was terminally ill, so it was a difficult wedding to organise. I organised it all through her sister and the groom, so it was a very sensitive and emotional event – actually it was an amazing day. I felt privileged to be part of it
What do you think of the wedding industry at the moment and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
People are still being careful with their money when sourcing suppliers but I think the business is on the up. I have definitely seen a change in the last 6 months. People were having shorter lead times and rushing into last minute weddings which were cheaper, but we’re getting bookings further ahead again now and couples are taking their time and really saving up to source the venues and the suppliers that they really want. In five years time – well, weddings are always going to be around [we hope – laughs nervously] and I think the industry will be stronger. It’s never going to go away
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I hate embarrassing moments! [we all do!] I do have one… there was a wedding where they had a children’s room with all kinds of games including a Nintendo Wii. Everyone was sitting downstairs in the wedding breakfast and it was all going fine so I thought I’d just go and check on the children upstairs, and I kind of got involved playing on the Wii. Next thing, in walked the father of the bride and the best man! I thought ‘should I be doing this?’ Actually they were fine about it – I was just getting involved with entertaining the children!
A website and/or blog you like?
I do like blogs – I probably need to look at more. I know a good site that is for grooms – iamstaggered.com It has different ways to propose, funny stories, helping the bride out, sourcing suits and loads more. The boys feel a bit out of it sometimes. Love My Dress is good too – it focusses on vintage weddings and I love the whole vintage thing
What talent would you most like to have?
I’m really into floristry and baking cakes. If I had more time I’d do more of that and hopefully become better at it! I love baking Key Lime Pie, it’s in a recipe book by Hummingbird Bakery in London – I think I’ve tried every recipe! Key Lime Pie is like a cheesecake and it’s yummy. I’ve done a couple of courses in floristry, and I’d like to do more of that, and it’s a hobby at the moment. Ideally I’d like to combine baking, floristry and weddings somehow. I’ve done wedding floristry, and wreaths for Christmas. I do all my own decorations at Christmas, and creating centre pieces for dinner parties as well
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family my dog and my boyfriend [In that order?] laughs – not necessarily, but family first!
Something that is overrated?
This is a hard one! Cars. I love walking. If I had the time, I’d walk everywhere. Cars are so expensive nowadays to run, and I know they are convenient, but that’s all they are to me. [My daughter is in London and happily walks 5-4 miles across town] Yes, I lived in London and didn’t have a car for two years. I walked everywhere and it didn’t bother me at all. My boyfriend and I go for lots of long walks and it’s something we share a passion for
Your favourite film of all time?
This probably sounds clichéd because I work in weddings – ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding‘ That’s been my favourite since I saw it when I was about twelve. I watch it all the time! It stars Julia Roberts, and Rupert Everett is my favourite character. [Would you say you were a romantic at heart?] Laughs – yes a huge romantic! Another film which I liked was ‘Julie and Julia‘ – I loved that film and as it revolved around cooking and baking it really appealed to me
A book you’ve enjoyed recently?
This was a hard-hitting book called ‘How Could She?’ by Dana Fowley, based on the emotional life an abused young girl – a difficult story well told
What ambition have you yet to achieve?
Running my own business – incorporating some of my skills
What would you say has been the main key to your success in your business?
Probably determination – I came into the industry at a hard time and I was persistent (in a good way) to get where I wanted to be in the wedding and event industry. If you get a knock back you have to try to move on in a positive way and learn from the experience. Keep striving…
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become professional and do what you do?
Not to give up. You have to have a passion, stick at that, focus on it, get as much experience as you can. I did loads of unpaid work to get experience when I started. Try and get that – it will be worth it. It all goes on your CV. I worked for wedding planners, unpaid at first to get experience, and one contact led to a paid job…
What is your most treasured possession?
My dog, Alfie, a Shih-Tzu. He’s four in April, and we’ve had him from a puppy. He’s a real character, and a big part of my life
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
My health, and my family’s health, having a family of my own, and having a relaxed lifestyle. [Do you have a relaxed lifestyle?] I do – I try and get a good balance between work and home. I’ve got better at that over the last year or so – it’s very important to me to have a good home life and a good work life. I’m not one to panic – I don’t think anything needs to be a panic. It’s important to keep calm!
What would your superpower be?
To stop time and fast-forward time. I’d stop time to enjoy the happy times and good moments, and fast-forward past all the boring ones!
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
My dad always used to say to me ‘There’s no such thing as Can’t’ He’s a big believer in that you can achieve anything you want. Never let anyone get you down, and always try your best. My dad’s really inspirational to me
Your favourite indulgence?
Pick-and-mix! And chocolate. Green and Blacks…mmmmm
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Something creative, maybe working in a florist, or something related to sport. I go to the gym 4-5 times a week, doing different classes. I play squash, and go to Zumba twice a week too, so I’d be doing something along the lines of personal training or coaching
Tea or coffee?
Cat or dog?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Hopefully setting up my own business, and starting a family, having planned my own wedding!
If you had one wish…
I’d wish that life was everlasting, so that my parents, family and friends were around for ever. I don’t know what I’d do without them