For many people planning their wedding knowing where to start can be hard.
Thankfully most venues have those in the know.
Charlotte Parvin, weddings and special events co-ordinator, has worked at The Grand in Brighton for eight years. She originally was part of the conference and banqueting team but has since specialised in weddings, somewhere her ‘true passion lies’.
“If you’re organising a wedding or a party for another occasion I’ll be your first point of contact when you make an enquiry,” she explains.
“It’s then up to me to take you through a site visit and show you all the spaces available which might fit your event.
“We’ll talk about your vision, what you want and how we can make it come to life. I’ll then be your go-to person to iron out any details up until the day itself.”
In her job Charlotte finds some couples appreciate a proper guiding hand with the planning from start to finish, whereas others are happy to get on with it themselves.
One way in which Charlotte says she can help is by offering expert local knowledge.
“I always get asked ‘can you possibly recommend a…?’ Florist? Yes! Photobooth supplier? Of course,” she smiles.
“I have a little black book of suppliers at hand with me at all times in case couples are looking for recommendations.
“We’re also really lucky to work with lots of local businesses and couples from Sussex really appreciate this, knowing that their floral decorations have come from just down the roads at Gunns or from florist Tony Dunn for example.”
The Grand hosts around 50 weddings a year of all shapes and sizes.
For parties of 20 or less Charlotte recommends the Napoleon room, adding that small weddings can ‘still be grand’.
“This first floor suite has balconies overlooking the beach and the history of room is cool too - ABBA had their post-Eurovision party there after they won in 1974,” she smiles.
“Some couples choose to have the whole day with us, while others might have the ceremony element elsewhere and then use one of our ballrooms for the reception party, or vice versa.”
For larger parties of up to 550 guests there is the sea-facing ballroom - the Empress Suite.
“At the beginning of the planning process, I’ll share floor plans with capacity suggestions based on estimated guest numbers.
“That being said, some weddings start small and might end up huge as guest lists can always change last minute.”
The hotel is a licensed wedding venue in the city of Brighton and Hove, which means it is able to perform legal ceremonies.
It is also available to dry hire (when you book the venue, without catering, furniture, entertainment or any installation) with external caterers for the larger weddings for up to 800 people.
However, it isn’t just weddings that Charlotte helps organise. The venue can also host anniversaries, baby showers, engagement parties and birthday celebrations.
“It’s a real variety, and that’s why I love the role,” she enthuses.
“It’s always a real privilege to be able to get to know every couple’s story.
“I love knowing that it’s the most special day of someone’s life and that I’ve had a part in helping make it seamless.
“The absolute best feeling is when you receive a thank you card after the event. I keep them all in my office to look at again and again.”
But how does she feel once the event has taken place?
“I’ll always feel happy to have been involved with each couple’s special day but a bit sad at the same time that it’s all over,” she answers.
“I always like to catch up with couples after the event and rarely does a wedding mark the end of my relationship with them. We always have couples coming back to Brighton or to the hotel, for holiday stays or anniversary dinners, and it’s so nice to see them still happy years later.”
The advice Charlotte would give to anyone planning their wedding is ‘secure your venue first before you organise anything else’.
“Until you have a venue, you really don’t have a wedding yet and getting a date agreed can help everything else fall into place,” she explains.
“With a package, you can get a lot of the planning done in one go with a co-ordinator who can take care of the main logistics, leaving couples the flexibility to fine-tune the unique touches they want to add to the day.
“I’d also recommend going to wedding fairs. It’s a great opportunity to speak to suppliers in advance and they’re always really fun events – everyone’s so happy to speak to a couple in love. Plus, you can often get really good deals.”
For more information on The Grand, visit www.grandbrighton.co.uk