Here at Love Sussex Weddings we are all about making your wedding planning a little bit easier and a lot more fun. But we are not the only ones helping you Sussex brides to ‘Brighton’ up your big day!
Fellow local gal Kelly Wickson (also of Sussex Lovebug fame) held the inaugural Belle’s Vintage Wedding Fair at The Hove Centre earlier this year. A wedding fair that was fun, friendly and jam-packed with loads of brilliant local vintage-inspired wedding suppliers.
It was right up our street (both literally and metaphorically) and Love Sussex Weddings just love what Kelly is doing with her vintage wedding fairs. So much so that we are delighted to say that we are partnering up with Belle’s Events for their Brighton and Hove fairs this year — and we hope to see you there!
So for those of you who are thinking that wedding fairs aren’t really for you, think again! Kelly’s fairs offer something really different and fun and here she is to tell us a little bit more about herself and what Belle’s Events are all about…
Love Sussex Weddings: Hi Kelly, lovely to be working in association with Belle’s Events this year. So, tell us a bit about you and your background?
Kelly: Joss and I were married back in 2004 at Bartholomew Barn in Kirdford, since then we have had Jimmy, 6 and Matilda, 4 and we live in Shoreham-By-Sea. Joss is a Web Developer and Graphic Designer for a Brighton based company and has been for 10 years, I was a PA at Amex until the middle of last year when I was made redundant and the last thing we wanted was to spend the redundancy package on bills and credit cards but instead we wanted to invest it in our own company. Over the years we have come up with a few business ideas. Joss built me an on-line shop a few years ago called Lovely Gifts, it was successful for one year, then the recession hit and we decided to close it. The next part of the story is the reason for this interview.
LSW: Ahh lovely, a Sussex bride and a fellow mum too! So how did you become involved in the wedding industry Kelly?
Kelly: In September of last year a school friend of mine was married and held her reception at Grittenham Barn in Sussex, Joss and I had a few glasses of champagne and got chatting about what to do with the redundancy package. It seemed that we both thought that I would thrive in the wedding business as I love organising things. I thrive in exciting, slightly stressful situations and most importantly I am a born romantic, Joss not so much! We sat there discussing all the different areas of the wedding industry and ping, Joss came up with the idea of buying a VW Beetle and starting a wedding chauffeur business. We have both always loved VW’s, as soon as we got home on the Sunday, slightly worse for wear, Joss started the hunt for Belle on eBay.
LSW: So come on then, tell us about Belle’s wedding fairs; how they came about, and what the inspiration was behind them?
Kelly: Wedding Fairs, what can I say without offending anyone? I went to a few when I was planning my wedding and my god, they were so dull, so plastic, sooo corporate, all those chair covers and chocolate fountains, wedding singers doing covers of Robbie Williams, shoot me now! My instinct was to walk out and never go back to one.
When we bought Belle and started Sussex Love Bug I obviously wanted to promote the business and one of the best ways to show off a car is outside a wedding fair. Well, the thought of parking outside one of the large fairs filled me with dread; I didn’t want to associate my business and what it stands for with something that filled me with dread.
I started working at Hove Town Hall back in September last year, I was taken on to try and get people booking more events at the venue. It has a strange reputation for being a bit 70’s, but to me, that’s the best thing about it. I was in the Great Hall one afternoon and it just came to me, I could run my own Wedding Fair, one that was full of glorious, unusual, inspiring suppliers and goodies, I would make it fun for the suppliers and the brides and I would be able to promote Sussex Love Bug. When I got the go ahead I immediately put my head down, spreading the word around the suppliers I had met through a networking evening that Helen from Doily Days and I had run. Soon enough I was fully booked and oh my goodness it was an amazing day. We had over 500 people through the door, they were all offered a glass of bubbly and some chocolate and were entertained all day by some amazing local talent.
LSW: We had a great time down there too. And why vintage?
Kelly: Vintage, hmmm, it’s a tricky one. To me vintage means being inspired by days gone by. It doesn’t just mean tea cups and bunting it means capturing the essence of yesteryear. It could be an old car like Belle, it could be vintage inspired jewellery, original 1960’s dresses, a 1970’s styled lounging area, it means something different to everyone and that’s why it works, because brides can pick and choose from different era’s to create the most unique day; their day.
However, I am also running a fair called Belle’s Bridal Bazaar later this year which will be equally as wonderful but won’t be solely vintage. It will be more of a collaboration of unique and exciting local wedding suppliers and entertainment. There will be catering on the day by a lovely company called Jam & Tea and Belle will be outside with her new pal The Little White Car. Belle’s Bridal Bazaar will be at Brighton Unitarian Church, it’s a beautiful church, it’s stunning in the there and it’s such a fab place to get married, on the day brides will be able to look around the venue and you never know they might even want to book it! Catering, dresses, cars, flowers and cake, all in one day.
LSW: So Belle’s first fair at the Hove Centre was a great success with hundreds of brides and loads of great local suppliers, what can bride’s to-be expect from your next fairs?
Kelly: Thanks, I was really proud of the event and it made me want to do more, so the next Belle’s Vintage Wedding Fair is this September. Brides and Grooms can expect a whole lot more of what we had in May but this time we have more dresses. I am so pleased that Vivien of Holloway are coming down south for the day, their dresses are amazing, I was recently a bridesmaid and wore one of their circle dresses, there were seven of us and the effect was truly beautiful. We also have an amazing local talent in the form of Oh My Honey who will be bringing her handmade wedding dresses, they are divine and so perfect for a vintage wedding. Bridesmaids and brides will be able to try on the dresses too. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s going to be so fab, about 60% of the suppliers have re-booked though so it will be a great day.
LSW: Sounds great, we are looking forward to being there too. OK Kelly can you tell us what makes Belle’s Events different from other wedding fairs out there?
Kelly: I think it’s because I am not your average wedding fair planner, I fell into it and I treat the suppliers like friends, in fact many of them have become just that. I don’t do goody bags full of flyers, I don’t charge a lot and I involve the suppliers in the advertising, we all get on twitter and facebook and they are all so enthusiastic and keen to make it a good day. I had so much lovely feedback from the visitors at Belles Vintage Wedding Fair, some of the comments were heart warming, it seemed that they had fun, they weren’t pressured by suppliers, they were entertained and most importantly it made them excited about planning their day.
LSW: How about this wedding singers event I heard whispers about? Can you let us in on any plans for this event?
Kelly: Oh you are cheeky, I only tweeted it once! The idea is still very small, however I do get excited every time I think of it. At the fair we had The Doo-Wop-Dolls, Mark Vis and his mobile pub piano, Johnny Zero and The Stash DJ’s. They were all amazing and since the fair lots more entertainers have asked if they could play at the next one. This got me thinking: imagine an evening of wedding entertainment with local, amazingly talented people who want to showcase what they can do. In my head it’s like a wedding reception/wedding fair/party. It wouldn’t be just for couples planning their weddings either… who doesn’t love a wedding reception? You know what though, I might have to squeeze in to my wedding dress if I do it!
LSW: OK so dates for diaries, where and when will the next fairs be and do brides need to register or can they just come along on the day?
Belle’s Vintage Wedding Fair: September 9th, Hove Town Hall, 12-5pm.
Belle’s Bridal Bazaar: October 20th, Brighton Unitarian Church, 12-5pm
No need to book, you can just turn up on the day!
Thanks very much to Kelly for chatting to us today, Love Sussex Weddings is delighted to be working with Belle’s Events this year. Thanks too to another Love Sussex Weddings directory lister – Erika from Photomadly for sharing her fantastic photos of the last Belle’s Vintage Wedding Fair with us.
So make sure you all come down to the fairs for a glass of bubbles and some fun Brighton and Hove style wedding planning. Kelly, Love Sussex Weddings and loads of fantastic local wedding suppliers will be there to say hello at the Hove Centre on the 9th September and at the Brighton Unitarian Church on the 20th October.
We will also keep you posted on Kelly’s lovely wedding fairs, here on Love Sussex Weddings on our Wedding Fair page in the LSW directory (where you can check dates, entrance fees, a profile page, and maps of where the fairs are being held). Plus we will report back on the fairs in our ‘Brides Bulletin Board’ category here our blogazine.