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Extraordinary times such as ours call for flexibility and adaptability, particularly when planning an event. Ever changing guidelines and continuous restrictions mean that right now, the only kind of wedding celebration that can be planned is a micro or smaller wedding. I’ve put together some tips on how to scale back your wedding whilst still ensuring you have a memorable celebration.

1. Take back your time

You have a wonderful opportunity to focus on making your intimate wedding uniquely yours as you have more time to work with. Wedding Planning is a huge time investment , it’s a job in itself and can be stressful if project planning and management is not your forte particularly when you are planning a wedding with large numbers. The admin that comes with guest management, RSVPs , planning seating, accommodation, transport is all vastly reduced and in some cases entirely removed as these are not necessary for smaller weddings.

2. Maximise your Budget

The other obvious pro of a smaller wedding is that you can maximise your budget , with more resources to use on fewer guests. You can invest more into the parts of the wedding that are most important to you as a couple , where your priorities lie. If you are foodies for example, consider a more elaborate multi course meal or an indulgent dessert station over standard wedding fayre.

3. Guest list

Having fewer numbers gives an opportunity to celebrate with your favourites and also an excuse to not invite the people on your list who perhaps were there to appease your parents or family. If you are having a non religious ceremony, consider that your guest list will automatically include your witnesses , your immediate family – parents /siblings who may also have partners, leaving room around the table for just your very closest pals.

4. Location, Location

Scaling back opens up the possibilities of different types of venues and more locations. Destination weddings become more attractive as again, costs are not prohibitive because of numbers. Similarly venue options such as a wedding at home, glamping, private dining spaces in restaurants, boat hire, boutique hotel spaces and other non traditional ‘wedding venues’ are options because they compliment the smaller size of wedding.

5. Guest experience

You get more quality time to spend with each guest at an intimate wedding and in turn guests have fewer people to socialise with and can get to know each better too. You could tailor welcome gifts for each individual guest for a destination wedding, giving meaningful

6. Styling

Personalisation at every step becomes easier with an intimate wedding. You can actually achieve the tablescape you’ve been curating from the pins you’ve saved on Pinterest and ideas you’ve gathered on Instagram. You can really splurge on hiring beautiful tableware as you’re not constrained by budget in the same way as you would trying to replicate this for 100 guests.

7. The seating plan

You can play around with table seating to add to the guest experience ensuring guests get to know each other better . Seating people on a round at the ceremony ensures everyone gets a great view is a popular trend right now as well as opting for alternating pews and chairs, even lounge furniture over traditional wedding ceremony seating.

8. Entertainment

Whilst a 10 piece show band is not the best choice for a small wedding or small wedding venue, there is scope to have a variety of entertainment options. A suggestion would be to have an acoustic set or acoustic performers which always lend themselves to more intimate settings and then you could play your own playlist for the party to ensure you get exactly the music you want to cut a rug to .

9. Planning events around the wedding

Intimate weddings give the possibility of extending celebrations beyond the traditional wedding day to other events like a welcome dinner or hosting a brunch the next day. As “buddymoons” become more popular, it’s easier and more desirable to plan post wedding trips and activities with your group of guests after the wedding.

10. Things you can possibly skip

Ditch the traditional format entirely. Change up the timelines of when you do speeches or how you serve food as you won’t be constrained by the format of a bigger event and there isn’t a need for more rigid timings.

10 Tips for scaling your wedding back to an intimate celebration.

August 14, 2020

Wedding Planning Advice

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I am beyond thrilled that ByChenai Events has been added to the Harper’s Bazaar Top Planner’s list which has been updated to include new & noteworthy businesses alongside the established best of the very best. That my name appears among these greats, whose work I so admire, astounds me. Especially in these trying times, it keeps me motivated to do more, lear more, keep growing to ensure every single ByChenai Client has a wonderful experience.

Harper’s Bazaar Top Planners in the World

July 3, 2020

Wedding Planning Advice

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If you are new to the blog, this series of posts are from a real bride & groom’s experience of working with a wedding planner. I introduced my clients Jacinta & Jeffrey to you here , we started working together in November of 2019 and they very kindly agreed to share their hints and tips to help you , what better way to get a real understanding of what planning is like than from a couple in the same position as you will be?! In this post Jacinta talks us through her wedding dress shopping experience and gives some really honest and insightful tips on the process, finding THE dress/dresses , as well as allowing yourself to change your mind to ensure you are happy with your choices.

Jacinta & Jeffrey , ByChenai clients.

Jass,where did you go for your dress shopping experience?
Initially I was set on simple, no fuss and modern style of dress, so I went with the wonderful Andrea Hawkes bridal as the designer of both my dresses. I completely fell in love with how Andrea combined elegance, simplicity and modernism into all her dresses. From the moment I received comms back from the AHB team, I knew a bespoke service was definitely the way I wanted to go. The communication was personal, detailed and so warm and this has been the sentiment throughout the entire process. I chose 2 looks from Andrea and started the process before Christmas.

Jacinta & Andrea Hawkes at Andrea’s London studio.

As my wedding planning gained momentum however, and I had more conversations with my Mum around the overall vision for the wedding, I began to start getting a taste for a dress that brought some glitz, glam and DRAMA. So with this in mind, I reached out to my wonderful wedding planner, let her know my thoughts and that my vision had slightly developed and she was able to help guide me to where I could potentially find a dress that fit this vision, with ease and to an amazing standard of design. In essence I wanted to still keep 1 gown from Andrea Hawkes, but source a different one in style to have contrasting looks for the day.
Chenai booked me an incredible appointment at The Wedding Gallery. I was met with the most enthusiastic and fabulous consultant Dominic to help find the dress. The Wedding Gallery is truly a little piece of heaven and beyond dreamy! I would recommend booking an appointment to any bride-to-be, even if just for the inspo and the unmatched experience.My dress journey has been interesting to say the least, from being completely adamant on one style, to then being open to the complete opposite! One thing that’s for sure though is that my outfits for the big day (ceremony gown and evening ensemble) definitely serve both visions and I couldn’t be happier with the choices I have made.

How did you find both wedding dress suppliers?
I found Andrea Hawkes Bridal on Instagram! Hashtags really did help on this occasion as well as seeing tagged real brides. I found the wedding gallery through my wedding planner. As hilarious as it seems, I never knew they did wedding dresses so I never considered them before Chenai made the recommendation and arranged my appointment.

Jacinta jumping for joy at the prospect of trying some really fabulous gowns at the Wedding Gallery .

Who did you take with you to your appointments?
I have been lucky enough to have two experiences with this. My first appointments I went along with my Maid of Honour and my wedding planner. And my last appointmentsI had my Mum, my little sister and Chenai . They were both experiences we will remember for a very long time. We had lots of laughs, breathtaking moments and I felt like such a Princess on both occasions.

Was it helpful having your wedding planner Chenai there?
Absolutely! It certainly made me feel closer to her as it’s such an important and personal piece of the planning process, so it was great from a relational perspective. It was also reassuring because a wedding dress purchase is quite significant in terms of cost and what that dress symbolises, so to be able to have her there to guide me to not feel so overwhelmed was very, very helpful.

What Top tips do you have for brides looking for their perfect dress?
1. Don’t limit yourself to one style, be open to styles you never envisioned yourself if. Even if it’s just to confirm you are 100% set on your initial style! 2. It’s okay to change your mind and develop what you see yourself wearing on your big day. Just ensure you are as transparent as possible with your dress designer and ensure you follow protocol for any changes being made. 3. Have a few styles in mind to share with your designer/consultant beforehand so you have a solid starting point for your appointment.
4. Share the dress shopping experience with those dear to you, and take loads of pictures to remember the moment!

Thanks to Jacinta again for being so kind and open , stay tuned for the next one in the series where we talk all things decor !! This one is a going to be a good one, Jacinta has a clear ( and gorgeous ) vision for how her day will look and we are working with some of the best in the business to bring it to life!

Finding the right wedding dress for you

May 25, 2020

Wedding Planning Advice

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As an event planner focusing mostly on luxury weddings, I find when answering queries from potential clients that the same ones always come up , one being “what will it be like to work with you”. Now every planner has their own way, people have a perception that we are all clipboard wielding, blazer wearing and ear piece having characters like the movies portray . Whilst there are certain things you can expect from all of us in terms of what we should be able to help you with, how I support my clients on their journey is very much through open, honest communication and collaboration amongst other things. It’s easy for me to do the sales spin but what I thought would be of more value was to get a REAL ByChenai client to tell you about their wedding planning journey working with me. This first blog is an introduction to this client and some detail on how we ended up working together. It’s very important for me that I feel a good fit with my clients and vice versa, which is why working with this couple is such a joy.Introducing Jacinta & Jeffrey These two London based professionals have their wedding set for December this year at a venue in Essex (more will be revealed later) I’ve asked Jacinta or Jass as she prefers , to talk about their relationship, what led her to me and each blog going forward will talk about where we are in their wedding planning journey.

Please give the readers some background on you and Jeff: Jeffrey and I met in 2017 at his sisters birthday party. We didn’t actually speak to each other during the celebration, it was only at the very end that we said our first hello, established that we had taken a liking to each other and went on to exchange numbers. I later learned that he had seen me earlier on that evening and thought I was cute (Yaay). The moment I knew I fancied Jeffrey was when he was posing with the birthday girl (his sister) and I joined in with everybody who was taking pictures of the sibling-love moment. It was then I thought wow, he’s handsome. it didn’t once cross my mind that he had seen me out of all the other girls that were there that night, but it turns out he had!

We haven’t stopped talking since the day that we met, which again surprised me as I had found that consistency and intentional communication on the dating scene was a real struggle. Since meeting we have done a fair bit of travelling together. So far our favourite destinations have been Santorini & Barbados! Travelling together has helped us really get to know each other and we feel have us the opportunity to see if this relationship was something we could see ourselves long-term.

When did Jeff propose and how did he do it?Jeffrey proposed on the 23rd of March 2019, which was a few days after our 2 year anniversary. He planned a lovely day which consisted of a 5 course vegan dining experience at Vanilla black. I then was told we were heading to an art exhibition at a new gallery that had opened, unbeknown to me this was a little white lie to get us to St. Dunstan in the East garden, a location Jeffrey and our wonderful photographer had picked weeks prior. In this beautiful garden is where he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I laughed so much because I was so nervous and honestly could not process it until later that evening where Jeffrey had arranged for my family and closest friends to toast to our engagement. It was when I walked in and saw everybody who had been in on it that I burst into tears and it finally sunk in!

Photos by Ben Achana PhotographyAbout the wedding….When did you start thinking about the wedding/agree budget etc?Not too long after the engagement, we agreed on a budget after we had viewed and set our hearts on our venue. Our rationale for this was we wanted to make sure the budget was built after one of the biggest costs had been factored in. We didn’t want our budget to restrict the type of venue we had, but of course we did have an ideal number in mind of what we would be willing to spend. Did you know straight away you would want a planner?Nope. Initially I was going to plan the wedding with just the help of a few friends who have always been great are organising events and use blogs and tips found on well known wedding blogs and real brides YouTube videos. However, once we had started the process of venue hunting and reaching out to potential vendors, the reality of how much admin management comes with wedding planning, got very real. With both Jeffrey and I’s busy schedules (work, being in the middle of buying a flat and social commitments) we decided to get an expert to come alongside and help us bring our big day together. We also both really wanted to keep stress levels down and enjoy the journey to “I do”. And what better way to do that than patterning with an awesome wedding planner?! Did you know anything about how wedding planners worked or what services they provided?Somewhat. I have a few friends who have recently started growing their event planning businesses and have planned a few big and small weddings. So from casual conversations with them I learnt a few things, however, I found that each service (dependent on the wedding planner themselves) differed. I have always thought and have now found out that wedding planning is a very personal service offered and a genuine connection between the couple and the wedding planner needs to be there for it to really work and essentially bring visions to life. What if anything/had you done so far in terms of arrangements?Before partnering with Chenai, we had only agreed on a date for the big day and had confirmed our venue. How did you find ByChenai?On Instagram, through a wonderful sponsored post that popped up on my timeline! What was the process like of booking her , what made you want to go with her?Once I saw her post, something about her caption completely resonated with me. It had such a personal tone, it was passion filled, yet still came incredibly professional. So, I decided to slide into the DM’s and enquire about her services. I received a response back in less than an hour (her work ethic is admirable!) and she let me know the services she offers, how shes works with her clients and proposed an initial consultation call. The call was great, Chenai explained everything in detail and we had all our burning questions answered. We immediately felt like we were in safe hands, there was a great rapport between Chenai, Jeffrey and I. It turned out to be a no brainer for us, so very soon after the call we emailed Chenai to let her know we would love to move forward with her and she expressed the same! A contract with t’s and c’s were sent over on the next working day with clear details of costings also and the rest is history. And there you have it. Please come back for the next blog where Jass talks to you about the vision for their wedding AND her wedding dress appointments and purchases at The Wedding Gallery & Andrea Hawkes

What it’s like to work with a wedding planner: from a real ByChenai client

January 26, 2020

Behind the Scenes

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This one is an essential read friends. ESSENTIAL. Wedding season is upon us and in this blog post I give you the definitive guide to good wedding guest etiquette. I’m going to start with what I’ve observed to be the most common irritations caused by Wedding Guests and what you shouldn’t do

  • Don’t steal the couple’s thunder. You’ve been invited because the couple care about you and want you to share in THEIR special day. Avoid unplanned and unsanctioned speeches or ‘performances’. Unless you’ve been asked to contribute, don’t think you can rock the mic because you’ve had a few glasses of fizz and are feeling extra confident. I personally feel proposals at someone’s wedding are a HUGE no no. It speaks to a lack of creativity that you would choose someone else’s special day to propose to your partner. Unless ok’d by the bride & groom , but even then….It’s a no from me.
  • Don’t wear white. I know of late we’ve certainly seen a trend for brides or grooms to have their bridal parties in all white also which can be really impactful. The age old question about whether it’s ok to wear white however, still remains. My guidance is to err on the side of tradition and just don’t do it . Don’t do it especially if the dress you want to wear could be considered remotely ‘bridal’ . To add to this, if a couple specifies a dress code, do your best to stick to it . (My two absolute pet peeves are jeans at a wedding (day guest) and flip flops at a non beach wedding. Get out of here!)
Illustration by Alexandra New
  • Don’t challenge invite decisions. If you’ve been invited to the reception only for example, it’s really not ok to send a text asking why you didn’t make the cut for the full day. Similarly if a couple request no children at their wedding, respect this. Don’t try to negotiate or guilt trip. Suck it up, make your childcare arrangements then go and have a great time. Often, these decisions aren’t personal and based purely on finances , venue availability, venue restrictions and the prioritisation of close family etc. Making someone else’s wedding about you and your desires, is a huge irritation.
  • Don’t be a badly behaved guest on the day – I’ve personally witnessed some outrageous behaviour at weddings that has caused the breakdown of relationships as a result. Remember you are a guest, behave how you would at your friend or family’s home. There’s nothing wrong with having a few tequilas and a spin on the dance floor with Uncle Rupert but keep your clothes on and your mouth shut when you are boozed.
  • Don’t bring extra people to the wedding. Some of you will be perplexed by this. Stick with me. This is a common occurrence in some cultures where parents and family members play a big role in the wedding preparations and planning. The guest lists get larger and the invitations become more informal to the point where a table plan is used as a guide rather than an exact representation of what will happen on the day. I’m from Zimbabwe and my close friend actually had a ‘just in case’ table put at the back of her hotel ballroom to account for this. Low and behold, some distant relatives turned up who had been informally invited by her parents. True story.
  • Don’t challenge meal options. Allergies and medical conditions ofcourse must be taken into consideration seriously and most people will do their very best to accommodate those affected. It isn’t always possible and affordable to have multiple meal options just because you don’t like something. Most venues and caterers include meat, vegetarian and vegan but beyond this , try not to impose your individual meal requirements on the couple.

Finally , a really big one for me …

  • Don’t accept an invitation and just fail to turn up. That’s the worst. The actual worst.


August 13, 2019

Wedding Planning Advice

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1. Take time to really enjoy it.

Share the news, bore your best gals/guys with the proposal story. They love you so they too will share in your joy. Throw a party! (Ok so this isn’t necessary at all but I love any excuse to do so ) ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

2. Don’t rush into major decision making about the wedding.

You will be bombarded with well meaning offers of help and advice, news articles and magazines telling you what you should be buying etc. Again take time to distil some ideas, get inspired and start thinking about what kind of day you want.

3. For crying out loud don’t go on a dumb diet.

Don’t do it. Wellness is important, yes, so keep going to your classes and training if that’s what you love, eat well, prioritise rest and quality sleep but the last thing you need is unnecessary pressure to fit into an ideal that may not be right for you. And to invite insecurity and self doubt during what should be an awesome and exciting time. ⠀

4. Ask for help.

Once you’re over the initial excitement and have had time to think about a date for your wedding, where you might want it to be etc, hire a wedding planner. I am here to take care of the logistics and help you have the day you want your way. If you don’t think that’s right for you, asking those closest to you to help with tasks to make the wedding planning journey smooth sailing, is a must.

NEWLY ENGAGED ? These are the 4 things you must do first.

January 8, 2019

Wedding Planning Advice



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