Emma Douglas of Timeless White Wedding Planning has been helping couples to plan their perfect wedding day since 2010. She talks to BQ about how she got started in business and her advice for budding entrepreneurs.
What is it the company does?
Timeless White Wedding Planning offers luxury wedding planning services and tailored packages for clients in the UK and worldwide who wish to plan an elegant wedding in Scotland. Services include fully comprehensive wedding planning, partial planning, wedding day management and elopement wedding planning. The business is based in Aberdeen, Scotland, but clients come from all around the UK. We also offer international couples a destination wedding planning service for a romantic wedding in Scotland in locations such as Dunnottar Castle. We’ve helped around 400 couples plan their dream wedding in four and five-star hotels across the country as well as private estates such as Achnagairn Castle in Inverness and Fasque House near Fettercairn.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I assist couples in planning all aspects of their dream day, helping to share the burden of organising a big event to ensure they can enjoy the process and that their wedding day flows smoothly. This includes recommending solid suppliers, sharing expert advice on budget proportions and realistic costs down to the finishing touches and schedule on the day. A Planner alleviates the stress in the lead up to and during a wedding and allows couples to enjoy the time with their nearest and dearest, while ensuring every detail has been considered and arranged.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
When I was a teenager I made a goodbye video for a friend who was moving away and her parents said I would be great working at weddings. This planted a seed and when I was a student I asked if I could shadow a wedding planner which I did for 18 months. I founded Timeless White Wedding Planning in July 2010 during my 3rd year of studying Management and Marketing at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. I was extremely lucky in that the second wedding I planned had a very big budget and so I very quickly had something major to stick my teeth into and something very beautiful to add to my portfolio to show future clients as an example of my work. This also gave me the opportunity to work with other suppliers also within the big budget bracket. Thankfully since then the word of mouth train has continued. Seven years on, I’ve carved a niche as a luxury wedding planner in Scotland.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think to always be adapting and innovating and finding new ways to improve your offering, whether for your own personal benefit, your team or making things easier for customers. For example, I introduced the Dream List in 2015. This gives all my clients the opportunity of discounts with suppliers they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. As far as I know no other wedding planner in Aberdeen offers this. I also have an automated appointment booking system so clients have access to book in for advice at any time.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
It’s a common misconception that employing a wedding planner is an unnecessary extra cost. The majority of the time a wedding planner can save you money by achieving value and can recommend solid suppliers.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
According to a US survey, being a wedding planner is the most stressful job after healthcare, the forces and the emergency services! So, in my seven years of running Timeless White there have definitely been moments where I’ve put myself under a lot of pressure and have gotten a bit overwhelmed with the responsibilities on front of me at the time. Any event is a high stress situation as there is only one opportunity for everything to come together the way it’s supposed to.
I enjoy a good gym session and I never take a phone or a watch that tells me that my phone is ringing in with me. It’s a time to completely switch off and enjoy a bit of escapism. Either that or I would light some candles and have a pamper session.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve known from a young age I wanted to work with weddings as I love the idea of building something beautiful from just the spark of an idea. I’m very much a person that feeds off seeing people have a wonderful time and genuine fun. I also always wanted to start my own business and weddings offered that opportunity without he start-up costs.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I least enjoy a bulging e-mail inbox that I have to scroll in! It’s not that I don’t enjoy responding to customers and communicating, but I track every communication in a personal customer file. So, every time I respond to an e-mail, I also make sure I update my files accordingly. This means there is some extra administration around my e-mails which can be tedious. But this level of tracking makes sure I know where I am with each project and can easily update my customers on every aspect of the wedding. It adds a level of traceability too. People joke and ask me if I have come across Bridezillas in my line of work, but I can honestly say that my clients are very reasonable, and we tend to be aligned with attitude towards the day. I’ve always designed my own processes to alleviate administration.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I want to continue to establish Timeless White Wedding Planning as the premium supplier of wedding planning and coordination – not only within Scotland but nationally and internationally too. After years of gaining experience working with weddings with a range of styles and budgets, I am now focussing on continuing to carve my niche in the more luxurious end of the market. I also hope to bring on more members of staff and freelancers to expand.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
That you should never set up a business if your heart is not in it because you need the enthusiasm and the stamina to get through the hard stuff.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I wish that someone had told me not to feel shy to show people that my heart is fully in my business. Or not to be too proud to show a vulnerable side and express how proud you are to have succeeded or if you are disappointed that something didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. I think this only shows the people you work alongside that you genuinely have a passion and a care for what you’re doing, but that you’re also human.
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