I often get ladies come to me and say “I bet your job is amazing”. Well of course it is. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t. But they only see the finish of a chair with a beautifully tied bow or a flourish of “diamonds” on the table as the final task of the day. It got me thinking does anyone really know how many hours go into an average booking? I say “average” as if there is such a thing – not in my world. But let’s take a sample booking for 100 guests, dressed chairs, centrepieces, top table swags, maybe an aisle runner, some accessories.
So let me start at the beginning – well it’s as good a place as any. Your consultation. An hour – and that is often a minimum. The table and chairs doesn’t set itself and a return visit later down the line for a mock up is not uncommon. So there’s another hour. A quote – sometimes a very detailed proposal pulling in lots of ideas and information – another hour. Your invoice and contract. Banking your deposit, your payment(s), ad hoc e-mails wanting a wee bit of help and advice along the way. Another couple of hours easy over the course of an enquiry. And I haven’t even included time spent sourcing and buying items for your big day. I can spend literally hours researching a new item. So what are we at now – at least 5 hours?
So the week of your event arrives and there is a whole host of tasks to be done. First the To do/job sheet. Preparing your “soft furnishings”, packing, counting, checking, pressing. Polishing glassware or candelabras. Making up centrepieces and any other advance work. Final hoover of the aisle runner. On average I will spend one day prepping and packing your event – some more, but rarely less. My day begins at 8am and rarely am I finished before 6pm – so there’s 10 hours. Oh and loading up the van – because it doesn’t get there on it’s own. It’s a relay, two man team, humphing and fetching and packing carefully. But we can assume that time stood still for that last task on a Thursday (or Wednesday) afternoon.
The day itself dawns. Now time on site is rarely less than 2 hours except for the very smallest weddings or dinners. A recent set up at a venue for 50 – ceremony and reception – was a five hour job for a two man team = 10 hours. Not uncommon for a bespoke event at all. Attention to detail r us! Most of my venues are at least 30 miles or 45 minutes away so that’s an hour and half in a vehicle too, there and back, or onwards. So let’s say 4 hours on the day, would that be fair? Honestly? If I leave home at 8am am I rarely back before 1pm? I would say 4 hours is generous 😀
Pick up day – you mean it doesn’t come back here all on it’s own? Oh how I wish – and if it could get into the washing machine, glass be emptied, cleaned and back on the shelf ready for next time that would be amazing. Science Fiction perhaps but amazing. But sadly robots for venue stylists haven’t been invented yet. So that’s another hour and half back to fetch it all home – maybe half hour packing it all carefully for transport – and that’s assuming it’s been stripped off of course. But today I am being lenient and everything is going to plan 😉
So what are we up to now – 5 hours booking handling, 10 hours preparation, 4 hours on the day, 2 hours pick up.
Now for the less glamorous bit of being a venue stylist. Laundry! My favourite job (I jest). It starts as soon as I am back, first load in. Washing, dry, fold, press. Then away. It’s hard to put an accurate time on one event as it’s a cycle. No dead time in between and the machines don’t load themselves. Have I said that already? But 8 hours is really not an over estimate. And then of course those centrepieces need stripping out, cleaning and putting away ready for next time. Aisle carpet to hoover and often shampoo too. So I am going to give 10 hours but I am sure by now it is Tuesday. So if my maths is correct that’s 30 + hours for a relatively straight forward event of around 100. That is devoted time to your event…quite where all the business management time fits in to that is another question.
So where is this taking me then? Well it’s not about cost as “cost” is a wholly different set of numbers which not only includes time, consumables, fuel, staff for your event but asset replacements, third party liability and indemnity insurances, tax, insurance, service (and those winter tyres so we can get to your event whatever the weather), advertising – I could go on. A subject for another day perhaps.
No this is simply to demonstrate how much one event typically takes out of my week. Yes we may have extra hands on site on the day, but that couple of hours at less than 10% is really the tip of the iceberg. And that’s the pretty bit everyone wants to do. I could employ a team of ten to do the pretty bits. What happens in the lead up and after is where the other 90% of the time is expended. And the somewhat less glamorous part of the job which is a little harder to find willing hands for. Pretty nails and soft hands have long since been a dream.
To put it in context if we take 3 bookings in a week every week that’s 90+ man hours potentially – reasonable for a two man team. Anymore means long days, no breaks and tired people make mistakes. It’s a big risk – a risk to someone’s “once in a lifetime” day. You have paid for our service, one we take a huge amount of pride in, and every element, from pressing your sash, to creating a centrepiece takes time. That’s exactly how it should be. Looking at this years diary the bookings are really wide and varied and so many more bespoke than “typical” which means some weeks that’s the only one we are working on. If that’s your week then that’s the whole week devoted to you.
I am looking forward to a creative but busy season. If you haven’t booked yet and sadly that time doesn’t exist in the week (remember that time needs to be free the week before and after, not just the day) then the answer can only be “sorry but it’s a no from me”. Unlike reality TV it’s not an audition and there are no second chances. If you have your eye on your favourite stylist or indeed any supplier then grab them with both hands.
Highland Occasions by Design,
Banffshire AB37 9DL
Tel: 07976 918185