I love a supplier challenge day! It’s an opportunity to have some fun, get creative, learn something new and hang out with some amazing suppliers.

If you haven’t been following my supplier challenges and wondering what on earth they are, it’s basically an idea I had a few years ago. When work isn’t too busy, I go and spend the day with a supplier and have a go at what they do. Sounds easy enough, hey!

I do this for a number of reasons;

Networking – it’s great to catch up with old friends or make new ones

Education – I never stop learning and by immersing myself in their speciality for the day, it can really teach me more about the product or service they provide and therefore helps me to plan my client’s weddings better. And I suppose, at the same time, these blog posts can help education couples planning their own weddings, to understand a little more about the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes, to create their perfect day.

Fun – and why not. It’s great coming away from the desk for the day, clear my mind and do something different

Blog content – because we all know we should be writing them…

The average couple will spend, in excess of 200 hours planning their wedding; and I often wonder how many hours in total it takes to design, plan, create and run a wedding from start to finish with all of the supplier’s involvement too. The hours of cake baking and decorating, photographing and post editing, buying flowers, conditioning, prepping, making and installing them; so much love and effort goes into the finished product that is your wedding day. And I bet you thought it just all happened as if by magic!

Today I’m over at WEDHEAD’s headquarters in Northampton. They are one of my “go to” furniture companies with a vast inventory of carefully curated décor. It’s all well and good looking at beautiful props and selecting which items you want at your event, but what is actually involved in ensuring these items get to you on time and in one piece. The secret is… not to let me do it as you will see…

Anastasia tells me all about the logistics and scheduling of deliveries; logging stock quantities, booking them out and then arranging the delivery and collection dates and times. It’s not just a case of assuming you can deliver the day before and collect the day after. Wedhead have to check on accesses and restrictions, the type of gateway, driveway, and the route to delivering items. If there are any potential issues with delivering, prior preparation can prevent a problem on delivery day.

In order to store this vast collection of furniture, Wedhead have a rather impressive warehouse in the very old Royal Ordnance Depot – its setting is beautiful, but I can also see how much of a commitment this huge building is, albeit an essential one. Following a guided tour, it’s my turn to have a go at “loading” stock ready for delivery. Well!!! I think a five-foot 2 inch short arse isn’t going to make it in this furniture hire business. I can’t even lift more than 6 chairs for a few seconds, let alone walk with them. I can realistically move 2 at a time, which would take me all day to shift a wedding’s worth! And there Mark is, skipping off down the corridor with 8 on his back! Show off!

Then moving a sofa! Oh my days! Anastasia tells me to just put the trolley under the sofa and lift and tilt…  it took three of us to balance the sofa just in enough time for me to have a quick photo to evidence me lifting it before I dropped it back to the ground!

OK so heavy manual labour isn’t for me and I can already see how intense this job is. So, let’s try something else… forklift truck driving. All I can see is a row of parked cars, and Mark telling me to floor it and spin! Gyan, Mark and I are in stitches. Apparently, I was nowhere near the cars and I just had to take Mark’s word for it because I was too busy concentrating on driving this piece of machinery. What an experience but I think I will leave this to the big boys! I’ll stick to my planning.

Then once the wedding or event has finished, it’s collection, returning all the items to the depot, cleaning them down and loading them all back into their storage spaces… unless they are going straight back out again.

It’s safe to say that I haven’t fully experienced the hard work that goes into running Wedhead but I have definitely had a fun day playing! And it’s been an eye opener to see behind the scenes and learn more about the process.

When you see the cost of hiring a chair (for example) I can absolutely understand the expenses that must go into being able to offer these products in the first place. The hire price can’t just cover a small proportion of the purchase price (as well as shipping), but it’s covering the warehouse costs, van costs, cleaning costs, labour and so on. I can completely understand that when you look at face value the cost of anything in the wedding industry, it can be a little scary. I hear so many people say “you say wedding and add a zero on the end” but working in this industry and seeing the hard work that is involved in creating someone’s wedding day is eye opening. Services and products are priced according to the work involved – yes some are more expensive than others, but you certainly get what you pay for. If you are comparing a like for like product, and one is considerably more expensive; it is likely that the quality of the product is better (looked after better) and the customer service is superior. I am a strong believer in paying the right price for something but that doesn’t mean the cheapest price. Sometimes investing a little more can essentially pay for a smooth and enjoyable planning experience.