A jewel of a start-up

Danielle Sexton, 26, runs Aurora Creations, a wedding planning and crystal bouquet business servicing the North West of England. She began her journey to business success at the Wedding Planners Guild, an IOEE Academy that gave her both business knowhow and industry insights.

Since starting her career as a florist’s apprentice aged just 18, Danielle Sexton has always had a connection to the wedding industry. Now, with the help of Yvonne Bennett, who runs the Wedding Planner’s Guild UK, she has taken the ambitious step of starting her own wedding business – Aurora Creations. So how did this new career direction come about? Danielle explains:

“I’d gotten my floristry qualifications, I’d done competitions and I was thinking about my future. I was considering teaching floristry and I’d thought about wedding planning in the past but I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do next. When I met Yvonne at a wedding fair I loved what I heard and signed up to the course that evening.”

The young learner had enrolled on the IOEE Academy’s Award and Certificate in Wedding Planning, which is a comprehensive course that covers both the practical skills associated with wedding planning and the demands of business ownership. Danielle said:

“The Wedding Planners Guild UK learning programme was quite intensive and it was split into two parts. The first part was all about the weddings themselves, how they work and what you need to be a good planner. The second half was about how to build your own business.

“Each half last six weeks – we’d do three days of intense training and then have six weeks to complete an assignment.”

This carefully designed training package prepared Danielle for every aspect of running her new business, as she recalls:

“On the wedding planning side of things it’s all about different cultures, trends, styles, and how to be a professional – what you need to do from monitoring budgets to when different foods are in season. The programme doesn’t miss one detail and the little things sometimes surprised me.”

Meanwhile, the business side of the training Yvonne Bennett has developed is applicable to running almost any type of business. It gives learners all the knowhow they need around building a business, creating a strong business plan and sticking to it. One of the key learning areas for Danielle was thinking about competitors and how to make sure her business stood out in a crowded market. The answer was crystal bouquets, which she hires out to brides in lieu of traditional fresh floral bouquets. These beautiful concoctions are crafted from beads and costume jewellery, bright gems and other pretty pieces. The bouquets lend Aurora Creations a unique offer, as Danielle explains:

“Instead of having traditional flowers, a crystal bouquet is made from brooches, beads and recycled jewellery. Nobody else in the North-West hires out crystal bouquets. Usually brides need to buy them. Aurora gives them the opportunity to have what they want on their big day without going over budget. They’re something a bit different and quirky.

“You need a bit of entrepreneurial flair to be a successful wedding planner. I’m always looking at competitors out there and thinking ‘what could I do that’s different?’ to try to attract more custom.”

While she builds her business independently, Danielle also has a wedding coordinator’s job at Thornton Manor, which is a popular Cheshire wedding venue. She says:

“They offer quite a mixture of different cultures at Thornton Manor because within the estate there are four separate venues from marquees to the stately home itself. And, because we can cater for lots of different wedding sizes the venue is very popular.”

Armed with her Wedding Planner’s Guild UK qualifications and building her industry experience all the time, Danielle is

on-route to a very promising entrepreneurial future, so what are the characteristics she thinks are vital to being a good wedding planner?

“I definitely think you’ve got to have some sort of creative flair to be able to give brides inspiration because lots of them will come to you for that. You also need an open mind and you need to stay motivated. Nobody does it on a whim, you’ve really got to be committed to your business and have a passion for weddings to do it.”

To learn more about the Wedding Planners Guild UK, where Danielle learnt her trade, visit www.weddingplannersguilduk.com.

To find out more about Aurora Creations itself, you can visit www.auroracreations.co.uk.