Zafferano’s resident weddings guru Laura Roberts is in the hot seat this month to discuss why she’s passionate about creating breath-taking receptions and celebrations.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Portsmouth but have spent most of my life living overseas. First in the Netherlands and then 15 years on the East Coast of the US. Two years ago I decided it was time for a new adventure, so I returned to the UK.
Weddings are what you do, how did you get into the business?
Back in the US, I met the owners of a catering company whilst doing volunteer work and started working for them as an event waiter. I really fell in love with the industry and decided I wanted make it my career. At university, I studied Hospitality Management and got more interested in weddings during my work placement for an event organiser.
After graduating, I started my career in the USA with a leading caterer based in Virginia Beach. Weddings were a particular speciality of the company, so I soon found myself organising over 120 receptions a year! I’ve helped create small, simple affairs in suburban back gardens to large-scale, no-expense-spared marquee celebrations in incredible settings. Each one was so unique!
What did you particularly like about the Stateside approach to weddings and what handy tips have you brought back with you to the UK?
American weddings have quite a different structure to weddings here in the UK. There are less restrictions on where and when you can get married so people choose some really unique locations and at all times of the day and night. This allows for a little more flexibility, e.g. getting married at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve or standing on a beach as the sun rises over the horizon.
Hiring a wedding planner is the norm in the US, so I think my best tip would be to hire a professional “day of” coordinator. It takes away so much stress from the bride and groom and their families and allows everyone to enjoy the day, rather than worrying about why the DJ’s late or who’s taking the gifts home at the end of the night. Everyone can relax and take in every second – the day is over before you know it! This is another service Zafferano Weddings can offer.
I’d also say that making the day your own is so important! It’s your special day – the one day you get to have things exactly as you want them. Figure out how to incorporate personal touches throughout the day to make it 100% unique to you. Luckily at Zafferano Weddings we’re privy to hundreds of those surprising little touches which makes everyone smile and remember your day for years to come.
How did you jump back across the Pond and find yourself at Zafferano?
To answer the “how” question, I came by boat – that was quite an adventure!
When I moved back to London, I went to work for Sadler’s Wells. Whilst I enjoyed the cut-and-thrust of corporate events and working at such a prestigious venue, I really missed the personal interaction of working with brides and grooms, so I decided to make this my main focus. It was at this point, after doing a fair bit of Instagram stalking, that I discovered Zafferano and became aware that they were looking to grow their wedding business to meet an increasing demand. I loved the look of the kind of events they did and couldn’t wait to see what a Zafferano wedding might look like. I wasn’t disappointed!
What do you see as being the big trend for weddings in 2017?
Brides and grooms see the menu they serve as a reflection of their personalities. Informality is the flavour of the day with a formal 3-course dinner becoming less popular and sharing plates or family-style service the top of everyone’s wish list.
Couples are definitely looking to shake things up a bit and allow for a more fluid, less stuffy and interactive dining experience.
At the other end of the scale, we have a new breed of bride and groom for whom the dinner is the main focus of the reception. Instead of post-dinner dancing, they want their guests to sit and linger over a multi-course gastronomic tasting menu with exquisite wines, handpicked to match each course. We love those!
After dinner cocktail bars are huge news – we must serve several thousand espresso martinis each year! The wedding cake is also being elbowed out in favour of sumptuous dessert stations and Parisian-style petit fours displays – we even have a special bon-bon trolley! So much possibility, so much scope….so exciting!