General

  • What can we do to make events more environmentally sustainable?

    The recent limelight shone on the issue of climate change, led us to discuss how we can make high-end events more sustainable. The luxury services market is often happy to ignore the huge amounts of wastage that occurs, because rarely does a private client demand this as part of the decision-making process.

    Thousands of pounds-worth of flowers are thrown away the following day; destination weddings have guests flying from all corners of the globe; and electricity to power a small town is used to produce a band’s single 90 minute performance.

    Of course, we are in the entertainment business, but what can we do as an industry in order to shift this and make it more of a priority?

    We came up with a few starting points for reducing the Carbon footprint:

    1. Ask your client about their priorities – we tend to assume that clients with deep pockets throwing large amounts of money on a party aren’t interested in their environmental impact, however, we should dig deeper to discover their sense of social responsibility. Many billionaires are at the forefront of investing in sustainable products – for example the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – and we should suggest ways in which their party or wedding could have aspects that would retain impact, but that would be more responsibly sustainable.

    2. Choose suppliers who are aligned with your environmental impact outlook – for example, a caterer who has invested in a food wastage scheme where food preparation is kept to a minimum, recycling is at a rate of 95% or higher, and leftover food is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant, where green energy and fertiliser are produced.

    3. Go paperless and plastic-free – a small step, but whether this is just in your office, for example showing clients budgets, moodboards, proposals and floorplans online; or extending to encouraging clients to send out email invitations rather than hard copy card which needs to be posted and delivered around the world. We love a beautiful printed invitation as much as the next person, but is it time for the industry to catch up with bigger priorities? In terms of plastic, most bar companies and caterers in the UK will only use paper straws now, but consider all areas where you can use sustainable products instead of throwing away items at the end of the night.

    Overall, we should be taking steps towards an industry-wide commitment to sustainability in order to ensure the future of our industry. Imagine how our industry will change with an increasing reluctance from guests to travel on planes/trains/buses to attend an event; the extra contingency planning required for natural hazards such as flooding, landslides etc, which are said to increase with global warming; the changes in food availability as crop production around the world is affected by higher temperatures.

    To conclude, the overlap of the events industry with the hospitality, tourism and design worlds shows we are not alone in needing to tackle an issue that would be easier to sideline as a threat to our industry. If we harness the positive outcomes that could come from taking big steps to make our industries more sustainable, we are far more likely to guarantee a bright future.

    For further information on this subject, please click here for an article about sustainability in the wedding industry.

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  • Destination Weddings for US Clients: taking advantage of the strong US Dollar

    Several conversations in the last week have led us to write about the noticeable advantages to our American clients who are planning weddings in the UK or Europe next year. With the British pound and the Euro weakening against the strong US dollar, clients paying in dollars are able to get more bang for their buck thanks to the currency exchange rate.

    Hampton Court Palace

    The past few years have shown a noticeably increasing interest from American clients wishing to get married in the UK in a quintessential English stately home, castle or hotel. There are venues to suit individual tastes, and some offer bedrooms for the wedding party as well. From Blenheim Palace to Cliveden House, Hampton Court to private grand houses that only Albion Parties has access to.

    Private House in England

    Across Europe, France and Italy are the top countries for Albion Parties for destination weddings. Every year we head to the South of France, where from Cap Ferrat to St Tropez we organise weddings and parties during the summer season. The cult of Brigitte Bardot and Grace Kelly has given the Cote D’Azur a classic chic feel that’s impossible to resist. We find that our clients choose to have their wedding near glitzy St Tropez, or in the gentle charm of the Provence hills a mere few kilometres away from the coast. Private villas, owned or rented, are a good way of having privacy and the ability to party late into the night without a curfew!

    St Tropez

    Weddings in Italy used to be all about Tuscany, but with Puglia growing in popularity with the likes of Borgo Egnazia, and celebrities like Misha Nonoo getting married at Villa Aurelia in Rome, there are many more contenders. In addition, Lake Como and Venice continue to attract those seeking a beautiful backdrop for their wedding photographs, and both locations have exceptional light that is impossible to replicate elsewhere.

    Villa Aurelia, Rome

    A note on a relatively new venue to keep an eye on… Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro. This was the first Aman hotel outside of Asia, which personifies the exceptional service and attention to detail the brand is renowned for. With many different options for where to hold each aspect of your wedding weekend, there are gardens, a small town square, swimming pool terraces and a restaurant to make each day feel memorable in its own way. This is a sensational destination to consider for a summer wedding. The hotel gets booked up so it’s worth booking well ahead of time. Direct flights from London to Dubrovnik make it an easy hop.

    For all of our American clients, take the leap and you will be rewarded. Not only is there a wealth of spectacular places to get married in the UK and Europe, but you’re budget will be going so much further due to the exchange rate on the dollar, and give you much more than you ever hoped for!

     

    Photography Credits: HRP, Sophia Spring, Amaury Brac, Stefano Casati

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  • Bespoke Illustrated Stationery: A whole new world of fun

    The recent trend for bespoke illustrated invitations continues to grow, thanks in part to the power of instagram. Our ability to view aspects of people’s lives that were not as readily visible before social media, has helped illustrators to grow their business exponentially. Additionally, artists can design from home and send their artwork digitally to their clients around the world.

    These days, illustrators are commissioned well beyond just designing the invitation. The project begins with a consultation with the client, followed by a list of stationery including, but not limited to:

    • Save the Date (digital or printed)
    • Invitation (printed)
    • Information booklets
    • RSVP cards & envelopes
    • Wedding or party website
    • Dinner Menus
    • Cocktail Menus
    • Thank you cards
    • Welcome Letters
    • Signage

    Choosing design details that reflect a couple’s character is the best way to personalise a wedding or a party. You want your friends and family to open the invitation and feel excited for what’s to come.

    Here is a round-up of some of our favourite illustrators:

    • Leading US illustrator, Happy Menocal, stays at the top of their game by continually evolving their ideas, while retaining a clear stand-out style that keeps them ahead of the game.

    • UK-based Fin Fellowes has many fashion clients amongst her fans, as well as an international clientele throwing weddings and parties. Creative in every way, Fin has a distinctly chic aesthetic, pushing the boundaries of what’s been done before to design a sensational stationery set for her high-end clients.

    • Lara Pilkington has been an artist amongst other professions for many years, and only recently started designing invitations. Her great talent and attention to detail has produced some stunning creations for weddings and parties alike.

    Photography Credits: Lucy Cuneo, Helen Abraham, Dominique Bader, Pemberly Fox

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  • Fashion: Where to start with Wedding Dress shopping

    The first question after a bride announces her engagement is “where are you going to get married” followed closely by: “and where are you going to get your dress”? This can throw even the most cool-headed bride into a spin.

    Ulrich Engler

    We always advise brides to make sure they have answered the question, before they head off to try on wedding dresses. A summer beach wedding abroad, for example, is going to require a very different look from a London wedding in December.

    Emma Victoria Payne

    Once your location is confirmed, start a Pinterest board of dresses you like. Don’t hold back, even if you think your style is all over the place, as after some time you’ll start to see a pattern of specific details which you keep pinning. Is it buttons down the back of the dress; a halterneck style; a long train; or no train. We even once had a bride who wore a white fur-trimmed long length coat to the church, only to reveal a beautiful silk red dress underneath when she reached the Wedding Reception.

    Stewart Parvin

    First of all, make appointments at a variety of different dress shops, take a friend and go and have fun! Treat it as a recce, and be open-minded to different styles, looks and materials. You may find you’re surprised by how you feel in one dress, which is the total opposite of what you thought you’d like.

    Calvin Klein

    Secondly, remember this is your day, and the most important thing is to feel comfortable and happy when you are centre of attention. Many brides decide they want to get in the best shape of their lives for their wedding day, and knowing your dress fits you perfectly will help relieve the pressure in the run up to the big day, so you won’t be crash dieting and needlessly getting stressed about how you’re going to look. Try to have a final fitting as close as possible to your wedding day, as many brides lose a final few pounds from nervous anticipation the week before their wedding.

    Philippa Lepley

    Lastly, find a designer who puts you at your ease, as you’ll have several fittings throughout the process, and having trust between you and your dressmaker will make the process so enjoyable. Some designers include the fittings and alterations as part of the deal, others charge for every additional change. Make sure you know where you stand before you sign on the dotted line.

    Jesus Peiro

    We recommend all of these dress designers for their bespoke creations and excellent service.

    Photography Credits: Lucy Cuneo, Lucy Davenport, Alex Lloyd, Ann Kathrin Koch

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  • Bespoke Stationery: Choosing the right calligraphy for you

    First impressions are key, and it’s always special receiving a beautifully written envelope through your letterbox giving a hint of what’s in store for the rest of the celebration.

    Traditionally, calligraphy has been mainly used for invitations, but now it is incorporated into many ‘on the day’ aspects at weddings and parties. Our recent favourites include marble coaster place names at a wedding at the V&A gallery in London, or personalised fans for favours at a beach party in St Tropez.

    While it may be an ancient art form, the styles to choose from have rapidly increased with the popularity of a wide range of new scripts pairing the classic techniques with modern, casual, personality-filled styles.

    The consistency and precision of Italic hand and Copperplate can bring a more formal look to an event. Italic hand is elegant without being fussy, and you can’t go wrong choosing this classic, timeless script. The simplicity makes this style very versatile – we have found this script works equally well for personalising traditional wedding invitation suites to writing names on slate placemats at a Woodland Themed Bar Mitzvah.

    Modern styles embrace imperfections and can add unique character to your event. They are flowy in nature, with flourishes that have a fun, bouncy vibe. This was perfect for playful placement cards we made for a 50th birthday party last year.

    At a recent dinner held in a warehouse, the contemporary calligraphy really enhanced the décor and theming, which was all based on one piece of artwork chosen from the client’s favourite artist. Guests found their table in the colourful envelopes displayed on the placement table, and clear acrylic cards with their names on were at each place setting.

    There are so many modern calligraphers who each have perfected their own individual lettering style. A good place to start when searching for a calligrapher that suits your personal taste is by looking through Pinterest and Instagram, which are full of great photographs of calligraphy and chic ways of including it in your event.

    It’s the small details that often make the biggest impact, and handwritten calligraphy is a great way to add a personal touch. From the moment a guest receives their invitation, carried through to the details on the day, handwritten calligraphy is definitely a way to impress your guests.

    Photography Credits: Tom Greenly, Albion Parties, Sim Canetty-Clarke

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  • Parties: 40th’s are the new 21st’s

    Turning 40 is a huge milestone, some say life begins at 40 so why not embrace this notion and throw an extravagant party to make this important occasion memorable.

    Don’t take it too seriously; it is a great chance to be over the top with wacky ideas and a time to go big on the theming. Whether you make an entrance on a heliosphere, serve shot skis from an ice bar and cover Claridge’s ballroom with snow, or book a private performance by a world-class comedian, there are endless possibilities!

    When choosing your theme, think about the things you love whether it’s a special place where memories were forged or a film that has defined your life. Start with the most basic of concepts, a sliver of an idea, and run with it – before you know it you will have an array of unique ideas to really make your 40th as outstanding as it should be.

    Once you choose a party theme, the rest of the decision-making process becomes much simpler and lots of fun.

    We have found that 40th birthday parties are a time to be wild; find your inner child and don’t hold back. At a Wes Anderson-themed rave guests arrived to giant inflatable tentacles breaking out of the windows, and were greeted by Lobby Boys at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Guests could enjoy a warming curry whilst sat on the train in Darjeeling and by ducking through a Fantastic Mr Fox rabbit hole, they were immersed into a Life Aquatic scene.

     

    We love creating an environment full of secrets and surprises, giving a multi-dimensional and faceted experience, leaving guests walking away sharing their own narrative of the night.

    Photography Credits: Stephanie Trowell, Sim Canetty-Clarke

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  • New Year kick start to your wedding plans

    New Year and newly engaged? With the initial whirlwind of excitement, and with January firmly setting in, it’s time to get wedding planning!

     

    Where to begin? With what seems like an abundance of decisions to be made, the process can often appear like a daunting task at first. But by conquering just a few key early decisions to kick-start the process, the task can start to seem so much simpler, leaving room to get down to more important matters – enjoying your engagement and the wedding planning process.

    The 3 crucial elements to set as a priority are:

     

    The Ceremony

    –       A church service, a civil ceremony or a something more relaxed in the great outdoors?

     

    Venue

    –       An existing venue or a marquee in a garden? Think about location, guest numbers, and the overall style you’re looking to create.

     

    Photographer

    –       Photography provides a lasting memory of your big day, and this is an aspect that gets booked up quickly. Every photographer has a different style, so do some research, compare previous work and pick the one that really suits you.

     

    Once you have the above sorted and a date firmly in place, it’s time to get into the fun stuff – invitations, food, drink, entertainment, styling, and the all-important wedding dress.

     

    With the more time-conscious aspects already sorted, you can go at a more relaxed pace, enjoy the process and keep stress levels to a minimum.

    Get creative and gather inspiration from many sources – wedding blogs, Instagram, Pinterest – there is a world of ideas out there so pin, screenshot and save anything and everything. What at first may appear a mismatch of images will soon start to take shape and the unique nature of your wedding will grow from there. You’ll soon have a clear idea of what you want (and equally don’t want) for your wedding!

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  • How To Choose The Perfect Caterer

    There are many brilliant caterers in the UK, and many clients’ first question is who to choose who should cater for their party or wedding. We always start by asking our clients how important the food and service is to them. For most clients, it’s a key element of their party.

    For those who love their food, the first stop is to look at the caterer’s instagram account, where you can see real photos, which give away more than generic website images. You can see the style and presentation of the food, and also how the food is lined up back-of-house which gives an indication of how efficient the service might be. Most caterers will offer a tasting, which is definitely the best part of party planning, and is usually offered free of charge if you subsequently book the caterer.

    The next question is to ask your caterer about where they hire the table settings from (glasses, plates, cutlery and linen). Our clients ask us questions like “Should we go for linen hemstitch napkins?” (Answer: always); or “Should we choose a coloured water glass?” (Answer: if your flowers and linen are neutral, a coloured water glass can lift the look of the table as a whole, and adds a chic touch”). There are some fabulous new companies like Classic Crockery who are challenging the traditional stallwart, Jones Hire. Or you can buy bespoke plates from Laboratorio Paravicini in Italy, which you can keep after the party.

    Finally, service is as important as the food. Therefore, always ask your caterer for a breakdown of the number of waiting staff and bar staff. Both food and wine should be served so effortlessly, that for your guests, the party flows entirely smoothly.

    Cocktails

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  • How to Choose the Perfect Party Venue

     

    Once you’ve decided to throw a party, the best place to start by having an idea of how many people you want to invite, as that will help you choose your party venue.

     

    – In London – there are some fantastic venues in London if you want to go for a New York loft style, with open brickwork and a certain edginess to the surroundings. Look out for galleries and photographic studios, which work brilliantly as a blank canvas to create a totally unique party. We love Loft Studios and The Worx.

    – Around the UK

    – if you choose to throw a party in the country, either you’re lucky enough to have a house or a party house where you can dance the night away, in which case your main thing to book is cleaners for the next day. Alternatively you can put up a marquee, and with endless different types of marquee to choose from, you can set the tone of your party depending on whether you choose a sperry tent (popular in America right now), a stretch tent (popular across Europe), a traditional tent, or go wild and choose an LPM Bohemia grand pavilion.

     

    – Abroad

    – choosing your venue abroad is the most fun, especially if you’re heading to a warmer climate where the weather is more likely to be warm. Dancing under the stars is unbeatable, and there are a host of exciting places we highly recommend, from Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, to Macakizi in Bodrum, to Pampelonne beach in St Tropez. We’ve worked all around the world and we’ve always noticed that guests coming abroad go even more wild for a party because they are in holiday-mode.

    Whether you pick your venue first, then edit your guest list, or vice versa, now more than ever you can choose from a host of ever different, new and exciting places for your party.

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  • Dazzling Floral Ceilings

    This summer we were working in the South of France with the fantastic florist Wayne Riley. Wayne and Jeff created a stunning array of colour pops on each table, but most of all we loved his floral ceiling which hung above the guests and created a talking point, as guests were blown away by his design. There is a growing trend for floral ceilings at the moment, which is a natural progression from the flowers walls of the last few years. If you’re looking fo something unique for your party, it’s a sure fire way to create an impact.   Speak to your florist about which flowers they will use, and what kind of panels will support the installation. For St Tropez, we were battling the heat, so the flowers had to be fully watered, at the same time as making sure not to drip onto the guests during the party.   With a growing group of inventive florists who are continually pushing the boundaries to create more interesting arrangements, we think that if want your party to look creative and to wow your guests, floral installations are the way forward.

     

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