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The meeting professional’s role

The bride and groom aren’t the only ones who strive for the perfect wedding day. Behind the scenes, meetings professionals and service providers hope for the same outcome. So, how do meetings professionals influence the wedding? Meetings SA finds out.

“The standard of The Wedding Expo this year was the highest yet. It’s an undisputed trendsetter and the response we’ve had from visitors and exhibitors alike has been overwhelming,” says Amanda Cunningham, MD of The Wedding Expo. Shows like these help meetings professionals gain exposure and provide a platform for venues and suppliers to gain invaluable information.

The South African wedding industry has grown enormously over the past decade. The now multibillion rand industry is made up predominantly of entrepreneurs and is currently valued at approximately R40 billion per annum. The Wedding Expo has grown from 77 exhibitors in 2002 to 700 annually, and the number of visitors from 3 000 to 30 000 annually.

“We have a team of people dedicated to the success of the bridal industry as a whole. It’s our number one priority to ensure the exhibitors receive great value-add exposure throughout the year via various marketing platforms. We interact and engage with the exhibitors and take pride in what they’re doing and achieving. The Wedding Expo is dedicated to making this industry amazing,” adds Cunningham.

Anton Rautenbach and Guy Granger formed wedding and design company The Event & Wedding Emporium six years ago as “there were no other companies in South Africa who provided our offerings at the time,” says Rautenbach. “We were the first company in the country to design weddings from start to finish. From the wedding gown and the stationery to the flowers and decor, we can do just about everything. We have our own decor elements too, but only use them for our functions so we don’t hire any of our stock out. This puts us in the position where our clients come to us for a bespoke service and they know the experience will be a unique one,” he explains.

Although coordination is one of the functions The Event and Wedding Emporium provides clients, they don’t advertise themselves as wedding coordinators. “We advertise ourselves as a bespoke wedding and event design company,” Rautenbach says.

Rautenbach creates wedding stationery, designs the flower arrangements as well as decor, and then puts a creative table presentation together – an identical replica of what it will look like on the day – for the couple to approve. Once approved, he designs the wedding cake according to the presentation.

The Forum Company focuses on catering and the experience around it, making it the perfect fit for any style of wedding. They’ve perfected the flawless occasion: every detail is considered when designing standout experiences. The Forum Company and its team take the hassle out of organising a wedding for the bridal party.

“I’ve noticed a trend for smaller, more intimate ceremonies, which are wonderful if you really want to focus on making every detail special. Tailor-made menus are one of our specialities, enhancing food through colour and taste,” says MD, Glynis Hyslop.

She explains that dessert tables are all the rage at the moment and make a big visual statement. You can offer guests a variety of small, fun and easy to eat desserts that tie in with the wedding theme.

“The venue also adds to the magic of the wedding day. With the current trend in urban weddings, the five-star Forum Turbine Hall is the space of the season. It’s the perfect venue for couples who want to celebrate in the sleek, minimalist space in chic Jozi style,” Hyslop adds.

According to Stefan Norval, owner of Afresh Event &Design, repurposing everyday items has become popular. “Using unexpected items as props is seen more frequently and the use of interesting and unusual glassware creates a setting that’s both creative and unique,” he explains.

It’s easy to see the important role meetings professionals play in the wedding process. From decor and catering to flower arranging and invites, they form every part of the wedding build-up. The bottom line: meetings professionals need to be on the ball when it comes to the latest trends, costs and know what their competition is doing. While they may be behind the scenes, their role cannot be underestimated.

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