Apr 25th 2017

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

‘The next call you will receive is on behalf of Peter Kay’. Not a bad phone call to start the week with. He was planning a surprise and I was the ‘go-to’ girl.  When you arrive please look for your driver with a name board and I will meet you at the venue.’ One high-profile gentleman client, who wanted me to organise a surprise anniversary.  I had to pack flip-flops!  In our ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ column, which I originally wrote for The Cheshire Magazine http://www.thecheshiremagazine.co.uk/article/taylor-talks-planning-a-gentlemen-s-party, I want to share my ideas around events designed with men in mind, and events designed by men for their loved ones.  Here’s my unedited thoughts…..

Not all my clients adopt a 007 approach to organising their parties, but it isn’t uncommon in 2017 for the men in the family to look to plan special celebrations. Who said romance was dead Some clients arrive at my office with a clear idea of what their wives or girlfriends would ‘like’ (we are in the realms of TVs ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ here), and for others, they look to me for immediate, uncensored inspiration.  And that is the challenge!   We build the dream and make it happen!    It is 2017 though, and there are many stylish men out there that have great taste (my inspiring friend Laurence Llewellyn Bowen for one) and whilst they have a good understanding of what their loved ones would like from a celebration they come to me for the drama! The magic that is going to give them their gold star!   And for those that have ideas which simply won’t work, or bring great taste into serious question I play counsellor!

Is there a difference in planning an event for a man or a woman? Not really, but it does need to be an event that uniquely reflects them.  That is why I am on speed dial!

A Football inspired 50th for Eamonn Holmes – paying homage to his beloved Manchester United.  A super-sexy 50 Shades of K party for one client’s glamorous birthday at The Hurlingham Club.  A 60th birthday for a telecoms billionaire that took inspiration from the 1920s.  My reputation evokes trust with my clients, allowing me unrivalled opportunities to delve into their personality; the basis for creating that exclusive One Night Only.

Is the way to a man’s heart through his stomach or do I know otherwise! Five ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ ideas to inspire:

Tasting the Experience – Sampling the world’s finest Cognac or whiskies.  An intimate private party in the distilleries of Scotland or small vineyards of France. Gourmet dinners, Michelin chefs. Fine dining for fine tastes.

Gentleman Prefer Blonds

Sporting Chance – A private jet to take you and your friends to the sports match of your dreams.  A World Cup. On the start line. Next to the Umpire’s Chair.  Or a flight to catch a yacht to watch the Grand Prix!

Gentleman Prefer Blonds

High Energy – Power round the track at Silverstone, lounging in black “tyres” sipping fizz!   Striking red and black colours. Chequered flags. Icons of motorsports branded on personalised table settings. Ferrari. Lamborghini. Bugatti. Everything setting the pace for a night to remember with top entertainment.

Gentleman Prefer Blonds

Fairground Fantasy – Vintage set design – retro proportions. Indoors or outdoors, a warehouse, garden, or historic venue. The Carousel of Carousels together with the Dodgems, Big wheel, Hook-a-duck, Shooting gallery etc. etc.  Hotdog vendors, to popcorn cocktails and creamy ice creams. Entertainers mingling amongst the guests with magic tricks and Montmartre artists mixing the classic and the cult!

And finally – a word in your ‘era’. 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and naughties…..music, fashion, colours, architecture…let them inspire your party.  Beatles tribute artists to Take That (my clients and my heroes! Prawn cocktails to sushi.  Gin frenzy …. (Tanqueray with Grapefruit my current guilty pleasure) Deliver your ideas with innovation and creativity.  Lots of ice and a long tall glass!

wedding traditions reinvented

Whatever you choose, put YOUR stamp on it. The moment the invitation is received the sense of anticipation sets in and the journey reflects your very own style. So .. get in the driving seat, get into gear …… for the ride of a lifetime!

Has Gentlemen Prefer Blondes inspired you to plan a party? This may help too http://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/hosting-perfect-dinner-parties/

 

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 Apr 21st 2017

Calling wedding shots

Calling Wedding Shots

Top tips for brides choosing the best wedding photographer

I’ve really got a lot to say here!  I’ve seen great weddings made unbelievably memorable by creative photography, and we all want to avoid the wooden old fashioned posed shots that can, if you’re not careful, take your wedding over.  Calling Wedding Shots is here to offer practical and useful tips to make the best of your wedding day photography!

calling wedding shots

-First off, remember your wedding is all about you and the photography n   eeds to reflect that!  Make sure you have a big list of everything you want and here are a few hints to help you to ask the right questions and set you off on your search.

-Make sure that you feel comfortable with your photographer/s and that you get on well.  It really shows in the contemporary and reportage photographs if you’ve got a good rapport.  You will have looked at their website and worked out whether their style works for you.  Collect reference shots of things you like- maybe a Pinterest board and discuss the details, no matter how small.

-When it comes to choosing a photographer, you will probably have a ball park figure in mind for your photography.  This will determine your choice of photographer, from the big names in wedding photography through to the up and coming with a reputation to create.  If they’re a big name you may hesitate to ask the question ‘Do you have back up cameras in the event of a piece of equipment failing?’, but I have seen situations where this has happened and it is certainly a question worth asking as you don’t get a second shot at your wedding day!

calling wedding shots

-Do you have a preference for a male or female photographer?  Think of the wedding morning when you’re getting ready in your boudoir.  Do you want someone there to capture the precious moments talking to your family?  Do you want little cameo shots of your beautiful shoes?  Your bouquet.  The small details that you’ve gone to so much trouble to source?  Your makeup and hair details.   Putting on the veil…..The bridesmaids getting ready.  Thoughtful, sensitive portraits that will remind you of that special time.

calling wedding shots

-When briefing your chosen photographer, be clear who is going to pay the bill!  This affects the shoot in more ways than you might expect…. In our experience, the bride and groom usually want contemporary reportage, and the relatives often want traditional group shots.  Discuss in detail beforehand so that you can present your photographer with a list of essential group shots as well as talking about the informal style you may wish to concentrate on.

-Some photographers work as a team.  This can be ideal if you have a male/female or female/female combination, particularly with the boudoir shots.

-Where you get ready, going on to the wedding location then on to the reception, presents its own set of challenges for your photographer.  Obviously if your wedding ceremony is in the same place as your reception, this is considerably easier with the logistics.

-Do discuss in detail with whoever is conducting your wedding ceremony, registrar, rabbi, vicar or minister, what they feel is acceptable for recording the special moments.  Most of the above are very flexible but it’s best to have a clear agreement beforehand.  Then discuss with your photographer what you want recording.  We have seen some beautiful pictures of those special moments.  Think it through and ask – you’ll be so sorry if you discover afterwards that you missed something memorable.  After the discussion, make a list and make sure the photographer gets it!

calling wedding shots

-The only thing we cant plan for completely on our Calling Wedding Shots list of advice, and something that you are unable to legislate for, is the weather!  Don’t panic if you wake up to a grey day.  Bright sunlight is a tricky one for the photographer and an overcast day makes for great shots!

calling wedding shots

-A good photographer doesn’t take over your day.  If you’ve asked for group shots, make sure that you’ve earmarked a suitable moment for them and provided suitable nosebags and drinks for the other guests!  A very important tip here that makes a huge difference when Calling The Shots is to make sure that you have earmarked a reliable guest to act as Master of Ceremonies to get people together for the staged group shots.  They need to be tactful but firm in order to get this job done and it really helps if they know the people concerned!  Do you want the reception covered?  Make sure that everything you want to remember from the stunning overview through to the thoughtful details you’ve planned are recorded if possible before everyone sits down.  Do you want the photographer to record the food served and the guests sitting down at the tables?  Remember that the photographer/s are human and may need to refresh themselves at some point and this is a good time to choose!

-Do you want the later celebrations to be covered?   Night time shots are particularly atmospheric and there are often great shots to be had when people are relaxed and chilling out!

-Perhaps this tip for our Calling Wedding Shots list may be a little controversial, but do let your photograph savvy friends know that you’d appreciate their record of the day as well… this can give you the loveliest insights into the day that you may have missed!

calling wedding shots

-Ask your photographer how they supply you with the results.  You should be talking about disks of high resolution images of the shots as well as Art prints and access to their website.  There are some beautiful bespoke albums to be had, some photographers will have their own suggestions but if you’ve found something that fits the bill, check that the size of photos is compatible.

If you have enjoyed reading our Calling Wedding Shots advice, check out our 2017 wedding style tips http://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/wedding-tips-2017-50-shades-grey/http://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/wedding-tips-2017-50-shades-grey/

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 Apr 20th 2017

Planning afternoon tea events

Planning afternoon tea events

Tea needs no introduction, yet perhaps something that’s been around for the best part of two thousand years or possibly more, deserves a little bit more attention…so here we go!  Over the last two years, there has been a huge demand for ‘tea parties’ – from children’s events to elegant tea ceremonies. Wedding reception teas, to vintage garden parties – where the great British cuppa takes pride of place.  It was originally designed to fill the hole between lunch and dinner, when a cake and a cup of tea would just fit the bill.  How it’s grown!  And to celebrate this British tradition, we will share our ideas for planning afternoon tea events with you – and include the best places in and around Manchester to enjoy this much-loved drink.

Planning afternoon tea events

The British enjoy a good cuppa, and they’re the first to know the basic principle of brewing a good one.  Boiling water!  None of the wishy-washy infusions or briefly introducing a teabag to warm water for us!  But this isn’t quite so true anymore.  All you have to do is take a look at a supermarket shelf to become aware of the endless possibilities of the humble tea leaf, with added oils and flavours, not to mention other herbs and flowers that we happily enjoy.

Planning afternoon tea events

So, our first piece of advice on the TLC list of ideas for planning afternoon tea events – think beyond the ‘traditional tea’ and offer a wide selection of infusions and blends.  Your audience is more discerning than ever, so choice is key.

Presentation is also vital.  Tea pots range from glass, contemporary styles to floral and vintage, so be inspired to make the tea ‘theatrical’ and not just a drink!  The big question of course…should I put tea or milk in first?  Apparently putting milk in first offers a better combination of the two liquids.  Traditionally the cold milk protected delicate china from boiling tea that may crack it.  The second school of thought is that by putting the tea in first then you are allowing your guest to flavour their tea to their personal preference.  So, no definitive answer!  Whatever way you choose, I would simply add flair, individuality and drama to the occasion.  Choose unusual cups. Dress waiters as tea butlers. Dry ice perhaps? Create a sense of adventure to the event.

planning afternoon tea party

Let your imagination run riot. You could hold a traditional afternoon Tea Ceremony with a Japanese or Chinese twist…We love the stylish Mad Hatter tea parties… Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, lots of Doormice….. or for a wider interpretation of the timeless story, you could contrast the different takes on young and sweet Alice in Wonderland.

planning afternoon tea party

Or the darker and more sinister Tim Burton and Johnny Depp take on the Lewis Carroll classic.

planning afternoon tea party

Go vintage.  Lots of mismatched colourful china, beautiful cake stands, tiny jugs of exquisite flowers, and oh… the food.  Tiny sandwiches, delicate pastries and cakes, scones with fabulous preserves and a delicious dollop of clotted cream.

planning afternoon tea party

Celebrate the British outdoors. Who else would celebrate National Picnic Week other than us barmy Brits! And what better to compliment your picnic than with a traditional English Afternoon Tea complete with mouth-watering bite-sized smoked salmon or cucumber sandwiches, mini scones with good strawberry jam and clotted cream and grandma’s fruit cake. If you are not driving then pack a very chilled bottle of sparkling wine, drop in blue Curacao and a strawberry and hey presto – Red, White and Blue cocktail!

Planning afternoon tea events

On a large scale, and not weather dependent, I love bringing the fete to the afternoon tea festivities with a combination of side stalls and games, funfairs and carousels, food carts and drink stalls – with everything served to guests at painted benches and long tables. Preferably all happening outside of course, but in true British tradition, if the heavens open this can all be served inside too! Entertainment is also key from a one-man band to a folk band, from May Pole demonstrations to pop festivals. Whilst music tastes might vary there is something for everyone and under the summer sun all sorts of things can appeal!   Just add a gorgeous array of tea delights, and the party is underway!

Planning afternoon tea events

Go contemporary, maybe taking up the Australasian ideas of putting a twist on the conventional afternoon tea.  Australasia, the iconic underground restaurant in Manchester does a spectacularly different Afternoon Tea with a subtle Asian Twist.  Again, it’s always necessary to book for this extravaganza – go to

www.afternoontea.co.uk/uk/north-west/manchester/australasia/.

But whichever you choose, there’s a consistent theme… a great opportunity to stage it all round a wonderful Afternoon Tea Ceremony.

Now for some more top tips for places for planning afternoon tea events, or simply enjoying with your friends for a special treat.

Planning afternoon tea events

-I love the elegant airiness of the River Restaurant at the Lowry Hotel for a contemporary afternoon tea with a twist. Having received the Excellence Award by The British Tea Guild, tea here is an event in itself.

-Or a little bit out of town there are two great places to consider.  My personal favourite is Victors in Hale for a light filled ambience and a delicious selection of afternoon teas from simply scones and tea through to a Champagne special.

-If you feel like a drive out, The Bridge Hotel in Prestbury have the most delightful garden in which you can while away the time on a sunny day, whilst sipping and nibbling on a delightful array of afternoon tea goodies.

The Midland Hotel has just opened a lovely new Afternoon Tea room if you are a traditionalist….tea at The Midland… iconic in the city!

planning afternoon tea events

-Further afield. The most delicious flower based tea I ever drank was in Florians in Venice… A glorious rose scent pervaded the air as the teapot steamed gently as we nibbled on cantucci biscuits….?!  Florians have a wonderful e-shop which allows me to top up on supplies of these delicious goodies.  Go to http://shop.caffeflorian.com.

If you have enjoyed reading about planning afternoon tea events, you might also like this..ideas for the perfect summer cocktails to accompany your tea party  : http://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/top-5-summer-cocktails-taylor-lynn-corporation/

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