BNI Gateway To Business

Members' Articles

Top Tips for Planning Your Wedding (Budget Options Included)

by Shelley from Sourcerer Events

23rd April 2014

Post Type: New Member Article

There’s no denying it: planning a wedding takes an incredible amount of time and calls for organisational skills worthy of an award. If you are about to embark on shaping your dream wedding, you are more than likely experiencing that overwhelmed feeling. We’d like you to take a few moments to relax and have a read of some useful advice we’ve got for you. Grab a cuppa and read on...

Main Aspects First, Finer Detail Later

The key is to take time at the outset to plan the major aspects and realistically calculate how much time and money you can afford. Once you have the main facets in check, you can start to plan the finer, fun detail!

Here we take a look at seven main areas of wedding planning, offering advice and ideas to help when making key decisions. Don’t forget: don’t get carried away with the finishing touches until you’ve settled on these core aspects!

1.   Budget

Make setting a budget your first consideration: it will influence absolutely everything. It’s easy for costs to spiral out of control, so either make a point of keeping a watchful eye on all your outgoings with the help of a spreadsheet or schedule, or hire a wedding planner to manage it all for you. Whilst you may initially be put off by the additional cost of a wedding planner, they can actually help save youmoney: it’s one of their greatest talents, so don’t discredit it too early!

2.   Date and Season

The big question: when to get married? Summer is obviously a popular time and whilst you can’t guarantee good weather, there’s a better chance that your outdoor ceremony or reception will be bathed in sunshine. Don’t discount other seasons though. A winter wedding can be a lovely, cosy affair. Think of roaring log
fires, scenic snowy wedding photos or even ice sculptures to set off your venue. Getting married any season outside summer is more likely to land you your preferred date and venue and discounts too, so it’s worth considering. 

3.   Venue

Draft your guest list and think about how much you can realistically afford to spend. Then and only then start looking at possible venues. Think about location: is it accessible for all guests? Is there accommodation nearby for all budgets? Is
there capacity for your full guest list or will it be too vast for a smaller gathering? Are there facilities on site for you and your wedding party to stay or get ready? What are other couples saying in their reviews? Do your homework but also go with your gut instinct: if you get a good feeling when you visit, that stands for a lot!

4.   Style of Wedding

Wedding styling is where your flair for finer detail can kick in, but don’t forget: focus on the core aspects first. Setting a main theme is all you need to do at this stage. Gathering your accessories and working out your décor – the fun part – comes later. Your choice of venue will impact upon how you style your wedding. A country barn will lend itself to a rustic theme and a grand hotel to classic fashioning. If you are starting with a blank canvas, the limit is your imagination. Think about whether you want formal, fun or something in between. A good idea is to let it portray your personality.

5.   Catering

Would you prefer a formal sit down meal, or a more relaxed buffet or BBQ? Discuss catering options with your venue; they’ll work closely with caterers and will have a recommended list they’ll share with you. A good caterer will offer consultation and tasting sessions to help you choose your food and wines. It’s one of the most fun parts of planning your big day! If you are working to a budget, consider a homemade buffet (rope in some willing budding master chefs to help sprinkle some gourmet into the mix!) or hire out a restaurant on one of its
quieter nights.

6.   Photography

It is vital to be clear on how you want to preserve your special memories before you choose your wedding photographer, so you can be sure they offer the service you need. Would you prefer mostly formal pictures, natural shots or a mixture of both? Perhaps you want photos taken of certain family members together? Do you want pictures taken at the ‘getting ready’ stage as well as during the ceremony? And at the reception too? If you are on a limited budget, ask around to see if anyone knows a semi-professional or student photographer, but do check their past work!

7.  Entertainment

Here’s where you’ll want to pander to your own tastes, but also consider how you can keep everyone entertained too. If you have an eclectic mix of guests you’ll need to think of ways you can please all the people. Think outside of music too: consider magicians, garden games, bouncy castles, a casino or a photo booth with amusing props for guests to pose for their own fun photos. Remember that good wedding entertainers get booked up a long time in advance, so make this one of your priority decisions.

How a Wedding Planner can Help

Planning a wedding eats up an incredible amount of time and can be very Stressful. A wedding planner helps ease the pressure by liaising with all the suppliers. Here at Sourcerer we have a vast book of contacts and experience of working within set budgets and negotiating the best prices. We can guide, recommend and inspire as much as you need and best of all, we’ll be there on the day making sure everything runs like clockwork so all you have to do is enjoy your wonderful wedding!

If you’d like to find out more about getting some help with planning your wedding, please get in touch.

 

Shelley Morris

Sourcerer Wedding Planning & Event Management

www.sourcerer-events.co.uk

01371 811108


Project: Transformation WLTG

by Vicky Wright from Shake & Shuffle

10th April 2014

Post Type: Other
Project: Transformation WLTG

In the 7 years that I have been teaching people to dance I have been very lucky to meet people from all walks of life wanting to learn for all sorts of reasons and occasions. Some couples for their first dance, some for their first cruise holiday. Many because they just loved watching Strictly. I've taught young children who want to wiggle like their pop idol, teens who want to make a career out of dance, parents who want to spend quality time and the older generation who just want to remember the 'good old days'.

Then, recently, a new challenge was added to the list. I was delighted to receive a phone call from a lovely chap, Paul Winspear, asking for assistance in an upcoming production. Paul is part of the Water Lane Theatre Group who will be taking to the stage to perform Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard this month. Now, what could an am-dram theatre group performing a Russian play want me for? Well, it turns out they were not after me for my acting ability (thank goodness)! Instead, I was to choreograph a couple of pieces for their Russian Waltz scene (dancing? Much more like it!).

So, one Thursday evening myself and partner, Jonny, whizzed over to Water Lane for rehearsals. Before starting, I asked about their previous dance experience and what they had been doing in the particular scene so far - the response? A roar of laughter! So, the Director, John Bell, gave us the floor and we quickly got to work. Teaching the poise, hold and some basic steps we introduced the actors and actresses to this lovely style of dance. Before long, each couple were waltzing around the room without a hint of this being their first ever lesson! I think they were even impressed with themselves! The rehearsals went brilliantly so that evening we left a once-nervous group of people on a fantastic high.

My so-called 'job' really is such a pleasure when I get to work with some amazing people and see the animation on their faces - starting with sheer fear, then high concentration and, finally, the absolute joy and excitement for what they have achieved! "Transformed from a herd of elephants to graceful swans!" was a quote mentioned that evening... Note, they were not my words but John, the directors! Over the following days we received such lovely comments on our rehearsal from the group, "Loved tonight's lesson with @ShakeandShuffle I've never seen such a transformation. It's all in the teaching!" It was so nice to hear what an impact we had made.

Now, the Water Lane Theatre Group really are a lovely bunch and have some fantastic talent. Try and catch them at the Hockerill Anglo-European College this month, if you can. Showing for 3 nights only, you're bound to have a great time!

What a marvellous job I have!


Rising from the Ashes

by Jonathon Clarke from Attwaters Solicitors

08th April 2014

Post Type: New Member Article

Rising from the ashes

We have all probably faced the situation of discovering that a company with which we have been trading has mysteriously apparently gone off the face of the earth only to reappear after a few days in a slightly different guise.  The end result is for instance that the old company owes us money which does not get paid, but then appears to go on trading whilst ignoring previous liabilities.  More than a handful of clients then come us
and ask how this magical process has been achieved.  They want to know is it legal.  They rather hope that it is not. 

In the trade this is known as a pre-pack.  It arises when a company goes into
administration.  It is the unsecured
creditors who are at risk.  It deserves
explanation.

What is a pre-pack?

A pre-pack is the name given to an arrangement under
which the sale of all or part of a company’s business or assets is negotiated
with a purchaser before the
appointment of an administrator. The sale is completed by the administrator
shortly after their appointment. This reverses the standard process, where the
administrators start marketing the business after they have been appointed. The
purchaser may be a competitor or, as is often the case, the existing management
team.

What are the advantages of a pre-pack?

  • The main advantage of the pre-pack process is the speed with which it can be concluded. For example:
  • the costs of the administration process can be reduced, which can result in a better return for creditors;
  • key staff can be retained because they do not have the time to seek alternative employment;
  • more jobs may be saved than in a normal administration process;
  • if stock has a limited shelf life, there is more scope for it to be sold at full
    value; and
  • adverse publicity, media speculation or damage to the goodwill of the business may be reduced.
  • Some unsecured creditors, such as suppliers, may be engaged by the new business.

  • Often there is no other option. The alternative would be liquidation and the immediate cessation of the company’s business.

What are the disadvantages of a
pre-pack?

 

Lack
of transparency

Pre-pack arrangements are generally made quickly and in
private, albeit with the co-operation of secured creditors. Unsecured creditors
are often unaware that a pre-pack is going to happen, so they do not have the
opportunity to protect their interests by considering and voting on the
pre-pack proposal.

 

Lack
of accountability

Administrators involved in
pre-packs do not have to obtain prior approval for their actions from the court
or creditors in the same way as they do in a normal administration. There are
no specific regulations which deal with pre-packs, which can lead to a lack of
confidence in the openness of the procedure.

They
do not maximise returns for unsecured creditors

A pre-pack sale of a business is often conducted with
limited marketing compared with a normal administration. It is therefore
impossible for the proposed administrator to test the market fully because of
the risk of the company’s financial difficulties being leaked. Consequently,
the assets of the company may be sold at an undervalued price or the goodwill
of the business may not be valued accurately because of the speed of the sale.

Writing-off
liabilities using a pre-pack is a short-term fix

A pre-pack doesn’t subject the company to a
restructuring, which is often necessary if the business is to survive in the
longer term. It is debatable whether a business that has already failed will do
any better under the control of the same management team.

Pre-packs
are similar to the outlawed practice of creating “phoenix” companies

Creditors tend to be suspicious of pre-packs when the
business is sold back to the original owners. Under the pre-pack guidelines,
administrators have to disclose to creditors the name of the buyer and whether
there is any connection between the buyer and the company. There are concerns
that there is the potential for abuse of the process by directors seeking to
purchase the business at an advantageous price and simply avoiding paying
creditors.

Issues for directors of a pre-packed
company

  • The directors of
         a company who are involved in a pre-pack need to make sure that they do
         everything they can do to minimise loss to creditors. Directors should
         take independent legal advice, especially if they acquire an interest in
         the company’s business and assets through the pre-pack.

  • The Insolvency Service has indicated that it will use its enforcement powers to penalise any directors who misuse the administration process to seek to gain a benefit themselves.


All eggs need a basket: Easter packaging

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

04th April 2014

Post Type: Education Item

The trees are blossoming, the sun is shining in the crisp cool air, and the grass is looking decidedly long again: it’s Easter time.

What does Easter mean to you?  For some, it might all be about Christianity.  For others it’s about bunnies and daffodils.  For lots more, it’s all about the gloriously decadent period when Lent finishes and the assault on the chocolate can begin again in earnest.

Easter Egg box

 

Given that we’re in the confectionery packaging business, it won’t surprise you to know that we generally deal with that third interest of Easter: chocolate and confectionery.

 

Is Easter just for kids? Not according to The Grown Up Chocolate Company

One company we’ve done a lot of work for this Easter is The Grown Up Chocolate Company; and as they’re a pretty fascinating local business like us I thought it was worth telling you a little bit more about what they do.

The Grown Up Chocolate Company was started with the aim of creating the most indulgent and decadent chocolates possible.  The idea behind the name was that their bars would be reminiscent of the chocolate bars that people eat as kids, but with an adult twist.

Triple Easter Egg box for The Grown Up Chocolate Company
Triple Easter Egg box for The Grown Up Chocolate Company

Since they launched in 2011, the public response to the bars has been overwhelmingly positive, and this year they decided to join in with the Easter fun by releasing a series of Easter eggs with the same branding.

Their single and triple Easter egg boxes are for sale in Booths and other quality farm shops and delis, and we’ve enjoyed creating the packaging for their eggs as well as their bars.

Boxes that don’t pull focus

One thing we don’t do at Easter is make Easter egg packaging for the mass-produced Easter eggs that fill up the supermarkets.

Easter Egg box
Easter Egg box for Bettys

What we do do though, is make Easter egg boxes for the more bespoke and high-end chocolatiers in this country, and the work we do for this market largely falls into two camps.

The first brief we generally get for these high-end easter eggs is to produce a box which shows off the egg as much as possible.  As you can imagine, these types of products are made by the crème de la crème of the UK confectionery industry and the eggs they produce are highly finished, and highly decorated.  We are then entrusted with creating packaging that doesn’t mask the high quality, visual aspect of the egg.

Easter Egg box
Cylindrical Easter Egg Box for Damien Curley

The other common brief we get for these sorts of eggs is almost entirely the opposite.  Rather than the egg being on show, we’re tasked with creating a box that sells the egg without showcasing it.  In order to do that we have to convey the luxury and opulence of the egg in the packaging we produce.

Easter eggs are not just for the punters

We have a number of clients we produce Easter egg boxes for, but one of the things we’ve found over the years is that not only is Easter a great sales period for the commercial confectioner or chocolatier, but it’s also a great time to market your services.

Folding Easter Egg boxes
Folding Easter Egg boxes

We’re often making branded Easter egg boxes around this time of year for companies to use in order to raise awareness of their brand or business.  There’s nothing quite like a bit of free chocolate to make people sit up and take notice of your company, and by creating a branded box it’s certainly possible to make an impression that will help publicise your business.

 

-----------------

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: www.gwd.ltd.uk


Reviving a Great British Tradition on Bank Hol Monday 5th May

by Jane Malyon from The English Cream Tea Company

04th April 2014

Post Type: Other
Reviving a Great British Tradition on Bank Hol Monday 5th May

We're known for the wonderful traditional treats of afternoon tea and English picnics.  We're known for spreading the word about etiquette and manners (and no, you don't stick your little finger out when sipping your tea!).  Now we are launching the revival of another great British tradition:  

The TEA DANCE!!

Do you love Downtown Abbey, Call the Midwife etc?  Then this is for you! 

Love a very fine Afternoon Tea and a glass of Bubbly as well?  Then this is for you!

Want to know the best etiquette of tea manners?  Then we have world-expert William Hanson (TV personality) for you.

Love to dance or happy to have a go?  Then we have music and dancing for you.

 

We have even revived the traditional Gateaux Trolley to come round with delicious treats after all the afternoon tea goodies as well.

 

Www.englishcreamtea.com for tickets - but hurry.  Two left feet?  No worries - just join in the fun from 2.45pm at Pledgdon Barn Venue set in countryside near Stansted Airport or ring for further info: 01279 876661

We're waving the flag here for all things wonderful and British.  Come and join us!

Download Attachment