Wedding and Event decorators are the special people that transform your wedding from the ordinary to the extraordinary with style, flair, colour coordination and talent that usually leaves guests open mouthed as they enter wedding reception venues.
One of the very best teams I have witnessed in action are the women who head up GG Events, based at Tuggerah on the Central Coast. Although GG Events will occasionally work with couples on Newcastle and Hunter Valley wedding locations, their heart and passion lies with the Central Coast.
Below is the transcript from my interview with Jean and Amy from GG Events. If you’d rather see my interview about everything you need to know about wedding decor and decorating, head over to this page.
Wedding Decorators – The Glamour and the Glitz
Andrew: I just want say, thanks ladies for helping me out today with the interview. I guess the idea is to give brides who see this an idea of what’s involved in booking an events company. And just to get a bit of a feel for I guess, costing, what people have to look at before they book you, how early they have to book, and what sort of services that you provide. Maybe we will start with a little introduction.
Jean or Amy: Jean, Amy from GG events
Andrew: And you guys are up at Tuggerah, Tuggerah Business Park? Are you in the business park? Near the business park?
Jean or Amy: Yeah
Andrew: Okay, sure. So when brides come to see you ladies, how far out from the wedding does that happen?
Jean or Amy: A million dollar question really, isn’t it? Kind of closer to the date that we would prefer. But normally probably about sometimes 4 months out to 6 months, depending on their actual event date. Obviously in peak wedding season, they need to get in probably 12 months prior to get that booking.
Andrew: So if they leave it too late, it means they have less options? Or they can’t have you at all? How does that work?
Jean or Amy: Both, really for staffing wise, obviously, the quicker they book us, the more opportunity they have to get a slot because we can do, I would say, maximum 7 weddings a weekend. Obviously, again depending on staff and stock availability, so the earlier you get in and book with us, obviously the earlier we can both us and the have the stock that’s available.
Andrew: Sure. Okay so people that don’t know what you guys do. What do you actually provide? What is this service when you book an event decorator?
Jean or Amy: I guess we go through to see what theme or style they’re after. So there’s obviously a lot in between, but we’ll have a couple of appointments with the brides to go through any ideas, or magazine clippings, and all that sort of stuff. Colour themes, palettes, that kind of theme. And then once the day’s here, we’re packing the van, out the door, running around, doing that whole lot from kind of top to bottom, and then we will also go in the next day and pack everything down. So that’s sort of what we do in a nutshell. But obviously there’s a lot in between to get to that point.
Andrew: So when the girls come and see you, do they come with their partners? Or mainly just the girls and their mum or bridesmaid or?
Jean or Amy: All of the above.
Jean or Amy: Some days we have the dads, the brothers, you name it in the studio, which is quite fun because the more, the merrier. But again, that’s a lot more, quite often they don’t want be here either, they are doing their duties, they just want to know how much it will cost them.
Andrew: Fair enough, fair enough. Typical dad thing.
Jean or Amy: Normally the couple, the bride, and maybe her mum would come in, but we do have enough room in the studio for the in-laws if they do want to go down that path. Again, the more people here, the more opinions are getting thrown around so we generally recommend keeping it to a minimum.
Andrew: So that first phone call, when the girl says they want to have an event or have GG events do their wedding, do they need to, is it first just booking a date or do they need to have theme, ideas, colours, what do they have to have before they have that first appointment?
Jean or Amy: Definitely have the date and venue, we recommend. We can’t do anything unless we know where it is, obviously. So that’s the first thing. Once you booked in with your venue, and once you have more idea of the colours you’re using. So whether your attendants are dressed in a colour or there’s a particular colour scheme or style that appeals, then that’s the best place to move forward. We do get a few people that don’t really have an idea, we can sit down, speak to them, get an idea of their style, their personal style, and personality, and steer them in the direction that we feel would work for their wedding day as well.
Jean or Amy: And I guess we hope to achieve within that first appointment, they’ll come in and you’ll say or ask ‘okay what is the style you’re looking for?’ And they might go, country, we want hay bales, we want this or that or you know, country real classy. And at the end of the appointment, once we put together some ideas, we always say now we really think that fits when you first came in and sat down and asked for, so that’s the aim of the first appointment, I guess.
Andrew: So they’ve got the general idea of the theme that they’re looking for. Then you can sort of direct them a little bit, or steer them around products that are going to fit that theme.
Jean or Amy: Yeah, definitely.
Andrew: So, once the couple have got their theme or an idea of colours and date and the venue, they’re good to go as far as the event styling goes?
Jean or Amy: Yeah, pretty much. It’s basically that first appointment they come in, they pinpoint their style, and we can go from there. They may change a few things in the lead up to the wedding day. It always happens. They might feel that you know, they picked a very rusty them but they want to incorporate something a little bit glamorous to it, that’s an option we can always go down. But that first appointment generally pinpoints what they want, and from there we can move forward and create exactly the vision they’re after for the day.
Andrew: So just I’ve got a clearer idea, because I’m not exactly sure, what is it that you guys actually provide? Like is it chair covers, is it table settings, what is it?
Jean or Amy: Lots. Lots of things. We try and be a bit crafty and create a few things ourselves as well that’s different out there, but generally, the bulk of it I guess, chair covers, sashes, table centrepieces, which includes various vases, candelabra, vintage rustic style timber boxes, all that sort of stuff. We’ve got furnishings like cocktail setting, white lounges, ottomans, cafe tables, things like that. What else, we do backdrops, ceiling drapes, various lighting, as well, throughout the ceiling – what else have I forgotten?
Jean or Amy: I guess from there as well, we have the opportunity depending on the budget and the client to custom-make or custom-style their wedding. So there’s particular things that the client would like to be brought in. Like Jean had a wedding at the end last year, they had brussel sprouts and moss-balls. It was a very unique customized wedding. It was beautiful.
Andrew: Brussel sprouts?
Jean or Amy: Yeah.
Jean or Amy: We really like the talking point themes. And that was such a talking point. We had photos of men going over kissing these Brussel sprout towels that we made. So that just makes us feel so good for that result. Because everyone’s totally enjoyed it and there’s a talking point and it’s not same old, same old. And that’s what we love.
Jean or Amy: I think that’s the key. We do have all the stock that you could possibly want for a wedding day. But if there is those few special things that you can’t find anywhere, and other stylists can’t provide, you can’t find them yourself, then come to us because we love making or creating things like that.
Andrew: So basically, when I turn up with the bridal party, after photoshoot, we walk into a reception room, whether it is a surf club, or a hall or a marquee, basically everything we’re looking at is what you guys have created.
Jean or Amy: Yes
Andrew: From top to bottom? So everyone walks in and goes, Wow! – that’s you guys.
Jean or Amy: Yes. A little bit of pressure. But we love it. It’s that part, even when the bride’s come in and you’re still doing the final touches, so they’ve just had their ceremony. They quickly have to look at the reception and they go off and do their photos which happens quite a lot, that’s why you just hang out for that moment.
Jean or Amy: That validates the work that you put into. Cause at that point, the bride walks in looking stunning and we’re sweaty and aching from head to toe, we don’t look very pretty – but that’s when we love our job the most.
Andrew: So it’s not all glamour?
Jean or Amy: No, not at all.
Jean or Amy: Which leads us I guess to sort of putting the point across that labour is so huge on the day, people do think, oh, I could do it myself and it will be, you know, an hour or two. And that’s definitely worth getting us in to do it for you. It’s a lot of effort, isn’t it?
Andrew: Right. Just quickly in that last one, I know from when I come in to the room, when you girls are either finished or just finishing with the bride, they’re gobsmacked when they come in and you probably don’t even get to see that sometimes. Yeah, that is an awesome moment. And even if you don’t see it, they’ll talk ing about it later. So I hope you hear a lot of that.
Jean or Amy: We get feedback. We do get feedback. We have a few special brides, all of our brides, of course are special. But there’s one or two that keep in contact, posts us images that just love what we do. Especially the ones that we do do that little bit more of a unique style for, and they always come back to us going ‘you just captured it’ because they hadn’t seen it anywhere else. So we managed to give them what they wanted.
Andrew: That’s awesome. So you talked about some girls wanting to do it themselves. And I know when I’ve turned up, you guys are in the sweaty mode working hard. It’s usually like a bunch of people working. It’s not just the two of you, is it?
Jean or Amy: No. there’s a team. We always take a team on site with us.
Andrew: Right, so how many people you take roughly, let’s say for a 100-person wedding?
Jean or Amy: 3 to 4, depending again on the quantity of items that have been hired and selected from us. And the detail going into it. So generally 3 to 4, we take per job for about a hundred-person job.
Andrew: So it is full on. So have you got favourite venues? Or is it really the brides come to you with all types of venues? Can it be restaurants, surf clubs, halls?
Jean or Amy: Yep, marquees. I love marquees personally. I just think they’re a blank canvas and you can transform them into whatever style, and a lot more of the marquees we use these days have that rustic kind of feel which is just right up my alley. But having said that, it’s the blank canvases that I love the most. The neutral rooms, the surf clubs that have nothing happening, so you can really transform it. I think that’s my favourite kind of venue.
Jean or Amy: I think one of the best comments I had only a few days ago from someone that was looking at our Facebook page, constantly, she said ‘oh I was flicking through and I saw one of the surf clubs here and I couldn’t believe it was that surf club. I couldn’t believe that’s it’s the same surf club.’ And that’s what you try and do. It’s not just a surf club.
Andrew: No, it’s a wedding reception venue, isn’t it?
Jean or Amy: Yeah
Andrew: I guess everyone that has seen this video, they going to want to a bit of an idea of cost. For, say, a hundred person wedding, with a blank canvas, an empty room, what are we looking at roughly to decorate something like that?
Jean or Amy: It’s always our million dollar business. It’s really hard because you know, everybody’s taste and requirements and all that are so different and you’re always asked the ballpark figure. I guess the only way we can answer that is probably, so yes, based on a hundred people, chaircover, sashes, table linens, centrepieces, ceiling drapes, backdrops. That’s probably a normal package, is it? I guess with a little bit more detailed centrepieces, possibly looking at about $4,000? And that of course includes the labour, and delivery, and the cost for us to install and take care of all of the behind-the-scenes work as well.
Andrew: So, that’s everything – you turn up, set everything up. Take down the next day. The bride would just turn up, have their wedding and walk away. Go to the honeymoon. That’s all done.
Jean or Amy: That’s it.
Jean or Amy: If there’s anything, if they’ve got their own items that they want in there. They quite often will drop it into us, the week of and tell us what they want it and we’ll place it out as well.
Andrew: Is that a normal thing? So the couple will have a little detail to put in.
Jean or Amy: Details, placecards, gifts, that kind of thing. On the occasion, if there’s a special centrepiece that the couple have had in the family, or something like that that they wanna reuse, for sentimental reasons, whatever the case may be, we tend to help them out in that respect. Putting together the centrepiece that they want. Could just be an element to our centrepiece, if they want to add on to a personal touch, or something that they provided themselves.
Andrew: I imagine you’re working pretty close with other services. I just saw Tanya from Angel Blooms here, picking up and dropping up. So you’re working with the florists and different people as well?
Jean or Amy: Yes. Well you have to. I mean, essentially what we do is create the base of the room when you walk in, but then you’ve got, say, the florists, the cake people, all of that. They also have to do a theming aspect. So to tie all of that together is really essential for that contact with all the rest of the providers.
Jean or Amy: To make sure we’ve nailed the thing. Each of us have nailed the theme that they’re asking of us, the bride and groom.
Andrew: Okay so you’ll actually get on the phone and talk to say, Tanya.
Jean or Amy: Or Julie from the Sweetest Thing.
Andrew: And you guys will chat and work things out. Okay, great. That’s awesome isn’t it? I guess we do that with the video guys too, as far as photography goes. Makes life a lot easier, doesn’t it?
Jean or Amy: And we’ll often ring the photographer, can you get a room shot too? Before anyone goes in and puts their jackets down.
Andrew: Always a room shot?
Jean or Amy: Yes, we love it.
Jean or Amy: And just going back to budget quickly, if say, some people have a slightly lower budget, is there room to come down, can they sort of take a few things out, or if they’ve got a bigger budget, can they just go, wow! over the top?
Jean or Amy: Absolutely, we’re not set in stone for anything at all. We don’t do packages based on that. All of our clients come to us with completely different requirements, so we can do anything from a simple set-up to the most extravagant. It really depends on the client’s needs.
Andrew: Once you guys are booked for an event, how much more involved are the bride and groom or the bride and the mum have to get involved with you guys? On the day they coordinate between you and, are they the middle person between you and the venue?
Jean or Amy: No. I mean they do like to know when we will go in and set-up. And they quite often ask us, you know, what time can the venue expect you out there or let them know that we always get in touch with the venue ourselves straight up anyway.
Andrew: So once you guys are booked, they don’t have to worry about the room.
Jean or Amy: That’s what they booked us for, essentially. To take care of all the ins and outs for them. And the other thing is that they do ask us approximate times to set-up and what not. But we tend to want to encourage clients not to come to see and the room before their big unveiling at the reception. It just takes that element of surprise and whatever out of it, we feel. Occasionally, surf clubs, whatnot, the family might turn up the day of. But we try to discourage that as much as possible because it’s all about that moment.
Jean or Amy: And also I think they sometimes look at and they go, “uh-oh, I don’t know if you really know what you’re doing.” We do know what we’re doing, we do get to that end result. You just have to go through these certain messy looking phases to get to that point.
Andrew: I know I’ve come in early, and seen stuff like, everywhere. And all of a sudden an hour later, I’m like ‘man, this is the same place?’ It’s a real transformation.
Jean or Amy: Yeah, definitely.
Andrew: So let me ask you, what’s the most popular style? Is there a popular style at the moment, like vintage? I hear about lot about vintage as far as photography goes.
Jean or Amy: This is another hard question to answer. Yes, there is. And vintage and rustic is more and more the ‘in’ thing because that’s what you see coming from the States and what’s in the bridal magazines, and what not. I think one of the things we try to do here is incorporate the personal elements, as well, so it’s not just about styling a wedding based on what you see in magazines and online and what not, it’s about bringing a personality into the special day and making it something unique and purely about you as well. So I guess we take what we see, and take what’s in fashion, but then take it that step further, and bring in that personal element. Make it all about the couple.
Jean or Amy: I remember being one of the, it was the Brussel Sprout wedding actually, and packing down from the ceremony, so obviously the guests were all around, drinks were served and all that sort of stuff, and someone came up to me and they said just with the ceremony alone, we had the aisle lined with apples and things like that. And they said we expected nothing less from Estelle, that’s her style, that’s so her, and that’s exactly what you want to hear too.
Andrew: So you do ceremony location as well. Not just receptions?
Jean or Amy: Yeah, we do.
Andrew: So there’s a beach wedding or something on the headland, you’ll do the aisles, the chairs? Okay, right.
Jean or Amy: Aisles, chairs we’ve got a bamboo pavillion, we quite often do on beach, especially. Beach ceremonies.
Jean or Amy: Arch ways, all that kind of stuff.
Jean or Amy: Yeah, less and less popular.
Andrew: Now, you making me sound old fashioned.
Jean or Amy: So dated. It’s like the shepherds hooks and again that vintage, rustic kind of feel we bring into ceremony is more so at the moment, the pillars with arrangements, that kind of things.
Andrew: Okay, so let me just go back, so I’ve got a clear idea. When the girls come to see you on that first appointment, and they say we want vintage, we like this, here’s a few magazine clippings. So are you taking notes or do you actually take them? Do you take them through your massive warehouse and sort of set things up or show them bits and pieces? How does it work?
Jean or Amy: We can’t take them out there, it’s shocking most of the time.
Andrew: That is the tidiest warehouse that I’ve ever seen.
Jean or Amy: It’s good now, you came on a good day. No, generally we sit here in the studio and we talk through their styling requirements. We can pop out the back and grab a few things to create it there for them, so they might be sitting here, having a consult with us, and we can grab the centrepiece and build it in front of them so they get an idea of what we’re talking about.
Andrew: So really, the only time they see that actual finished setting is on the wedding day? And that’s where it all gets tied together?
Jean or Amy: Yes. That’s where the trust comes in too. Obviously, conversation and relaying back to them what we think their ideas are. You know, yes and agreeing there, OK let’s move forward. As long as they know that we’ve got it. We’re trying to get across, they’re happy with us to run with it most of the time.
Andrew: Do you have like a hundred phone calls between that first booking and then the wedding day for the bride?
Jean or Amy: Depends on the bride. Yeah, depends on the client and it’s the trust element again. Whether they trust us or they’re ready to let go of their control a little bit.
Andrew: And trust you girls?
Jean or Amy: Yes. And trust us in what we do. And we understand that it’s their big day and the most important day for them. So we understand that there is that element of control but this is what we do for them, this is what they’ve employed us for in a sense.
Jean or Amy: Generally, we like to say, two appointments in the studio. It’s what we kind of would, only need to capture all the ideas and have everything on track and so that’s basically how it works.
Andrew: So that first one is the general, the initial discussion, themes, colours. And the second one?
Jean or Amy: Finer details, probably.
Jean or Amy: Finer details. Sometimes it’s not even needed. If the clients are happy when they walk out the first time, then they may not even book the second appointment. We just have it there as an option in case they want to come through, run through things again. And that generally falls into play for the weddings due booked far in advance. So they can pop back a bit closer to the date and confirm everything they’re after.
Andrew: Sure. That’s unreal ladies, it’s so good to get all the information. How do couples find you? What’s the best way?
Jean or Amy: I guess a lot of people find us by word of mouth, these days. It’s probably generally the most…..
Andrew: The most popular way. That’s the best way! Have you guys got a website?
Jean or Amy: We have a website, ultimately, in a perfect world, it’s our venues and suppliers saying, everyone go to GG so we are probably the next step after the venues locked away. And maybe photographers, that kind of thing is for the couples to come in and then choose their theme and run with that. So once they’ve their venue, they come to us. Hopefully the venue’s are directing them our way. But then word of mouth, venues, website, definitely we put our website, Facebook.
Jean or Amy: Probably venues and the word of mouth are the two that we rely on most heavily though.
Andrew: And so what is your website?
Andrew: Fantastic. And then to come and see you in the showroom is by appointment?
Jean or Amy: By appointment.
Andrew: And you’ve got contact details and phone numbers on the website?
Jean or Amy: Yeah. And we do by- appointment only too because we can purely focus on the one bride and groom at a time. And we’re having quite a few people come through and just schedule being out onsite and whatnot just makes life easier to know when to expect people.
Andrew: Are those appointments, are they Mondays to Fridays 9am-5pm?
Jean or Amy: We try and fit in Saturdays when we can, if we’re not out on site. Obviously, peak wedding season it’s kind of rare to get a Saturday appointment. Every now and then we will work outside the hours.
Andrew: So you encourage 9am-5pm?
Jean or Amy: Yeah definitely.
Jean or Amy: And a lot of our clientele do come from Sydney and whatnot as well so we do try and work around that where possible, hence the Saturday appointments. We do also do a lot of email correspondence when clients can’t come to us. We do a lot of out-of-state inquiries and even overseas, so in that case it’s a lot of back and forth correspondence via email until the client is completely confident in us as well.
Andrew: I didn’t ask, where areas do your service? Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney?
Jean or Amy: Sydney is covered I think really, if someone wants us but we do concentrate more on, Central Coast, Hunter, Newcastle, definitely.
Andrew: Fantastic! Thanks ladies
Jean or Amy: Thank you!