Sarah Haywood

Sarah Haywood knows everything there is to know about planning and executing a luxury wedding, she was also the most referred to wedding expert for media commentary for the Royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middelton. If you don’t already know, this phenomenal wedding planner will soon be gracing our shores for the upcoming The Wedding Expo® to share some advice on how to achieve a truly out of this world wedding.

Whether you are the scintillating bride to be or the hard working planner you ought to attend her bridal and business workshops. Nubian Bride had the opportunity to ask her some questions just for you and we hope our conversation with her with help you along with the planning of your perfect day.

Q: How soon before their wedding should couple approach a wedding coordinator?
If you are considering a hiring a professional wedding coordinator do so as early as possible to ensure you get the one you want.  The earlier you involve your wedding planner in the process the better for everyone involved. They can help you work out what you want, set and allocate the budget and guide you from the outset toward what is right for you. I always tell my clients: “Your dream is my dream: even if we have to work out together what that dream is”.

Picture by: for Sarah Haywood

Q. What are some of the questions that couples should ask a potential planner before signing on the dotted line?
Ascertain that the quality and style of the planner’s work is along the lines you are looking for. You will expect to see a portfolio of their work, which shows images of several different weddings in their entirety and the budgets they had to work with (not just a portfolio of their best shots). Expect at an initial consultation for the planner to ask you a lot of questions so they can learn more about you and the type of wedding you hope to host. They should be leading the meeting and covering most of the things you want to know including:

  • How do they charge: a flat fee, a percentage of the budget or by the hour/day (if the latter how many hours do they expect it to take)?
  • What is the payment structure (typically expect to pay up to 50% up-front and the balance prior to the wedding)?
  • Do they also work on commissions (if so, what is their incentive to keep costs in check)? If the answer is yes, you will expect their quote to be significantly cheaper than from planners who do not work on this basis.
  • Will yours be the only wedding they have the week of yours and will the planner you have met be overseeing not only the planning of your day, but the event itself?
  • What are their terms of business?

Also ask yourself if you like them: did it feel like a good fit? A good working relationship is very important, as you’ll be spending a lot of time together!

Q. What are some of the advantages of hiring a coordinator?
A good wedding planner will think in ways you have not and will not think. They’ll come up with great ideas, they’ll remove the stress from the planning process, keep you on track and on time, ensure nothing is left to chance, add the gloss to the occasion and ensure that whatever your budget, you are offered value for money. On the day itself they will run the show so you do not have to and ensure it runs like clockwork (but seemingly effortlessly). They’re like life insurance – only for weddings. A wedding planner is not a luxury – they’re a necessity!

Picture by: for Sarah Haywood

Q. What is the trending in terms of wedding décor? What décor ideas are brides excited to try out.
Right on trend internationally are paired down celebrations that are all about the small details and the guest experience: so understated glamour (and that means what is glamorous to you and that reflects you and your values and lifestyle), seasonal flowers and fabulous locally sourced and produced food. And big cakes are definitely right on trend!

 Q. What’s the next big thing in terms of weddings?
I have no idea! That’s what I love about working in brideland: you just can’t second-guess what the newly engaged will want! And that’s because there is no right or wrong way to celebrate a wedding. So long as it’s a celebration reflecting the couple, their shared values and sense of style there are no rules. But I do believe more and more couples prefer to think of the effect long-term a big spend will have on their life together.  They are also thinking of what is in season and what is local so as not to have to ship in food and flowers from elsewhere: that’s partly about what is good and bad for the environment, but also to the local economy.

Q. With all your experience, what are some of the common mistakes that you see couples making when planning for their wedding?
Losing sight of what the day is really all about is a recipe for disaster. When planning a wedding keep in mind that all you are really doing is planning the backdrop to your day: when that day eventually comes, it is people who will define it. Happy guests make happy weddings (I know this to be a fact)! Weddings are about people not how much you spend on the party to impress them.

Q. And finally, what have been some of your favourite weddings you have worked on and why.
All weddings are special and for each their own reason. Every single one we have arranged is precious to me and I remember them all. For me it is really about the journey we travel together and arriving at a day that is beyond everyone’s wildest dreams – and every wedding at the time I truly believe is the most magical we have done and I worry we will never achieve such heights again. The day I do not feel this is the day I need to stop! I say too that the day someone does not tell me at a celebration that it is the best wedding they have ever been to, I will have ‘lost my mojo’ and will retire to my home in the sun…

Picture by: for Sarah Haywood

Sarah Haywood’s Top 10 Money Management Tips

  • Money Management Plan only for he type of wedding you can afford. Create your perfect day not a celebrity footballer’s dream day.
  • Set a realistic budget and prioritize the main areas of spending: If flowers are more important than the cake for example then budget for a simple cake and spend more on flowers.
  • Keep overspending in check: If you overspend in one area of your wedding then immediately claw it back from another. So if the photographer was R1200 more than budgeted, immediately cut R1200 from the spend elsewhere.
  • Keep control of your guest list: Around 50% of the budget goes on the venue hire food and drink. If the cost per head is R450 for example, then it is easy to see how inviting an extra 5 people will add a significant amount to the overall spend.
  • Beware of fixed price packages: Check what is included and what you actually want.  Negotiate and do not be bamboozled into signing a contract until you are happy with what you are agreeing to.
  • Read the small print: are taxes and service included? If not, then the extra costs could take you over budget. So do the sums.
  • Don’t be over-generous!  ‘Favors’ are just table clutter.  You do not need to buy your guests a gift and unless it is really worth having it will be left behind. And if you are offering a free bar you do not have to include spirits.  Wine and beer is sufficient and often all people expect.
  • Borrow what you can and hire expensive items. Who has recently married and could lend you a veil or jewelery? And many items can be hired such as vases, topiary, linens and decorations.
  • Enlist the help of talented friends. If someone can bake then they can do the cake!

See more of her work at ; Twitter: @SarahHaywood
Facebook: SHWeddingDesign      

The Wedding Expo® will host two wedding workshops with Sarah  Haywood in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Each workshop will offer insights on the latest international wedding trends, important do’s and don’ts and some excellent wedding planning advice. The workshops will take place on:

When: Saturday 25th August 2012
Where: The Coca-Cola Dome, Northgate
Time: 08h00 – 12h00
Price: R450 per person (Includes high tea, goodie bag, lucky draw prizes and entrance to The Wedding Expo®)

Cape Town
When: Friday 31st August 2012
Where: The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, Constantia
Time:  08h00 – 12h00
Price: R350 per person (Includes high tea, goodie bag and lucky draw prizes)
To book:

2 Responses to

  1. monica rose morapama says:

    Well for the review of the wedding photo, it looks like everything was done splendidly and was super beautiful. I admire it.

  2. Sarah Haywood says:

    Thank you Nubian bride for this interview. I am so excited about my forthcoming visit to South Africa and look forward to meeting you and engaging with all your lovely brides-to-be: Happy Wedding Planning! Sx

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