Interview with Sasha Cullen – Wedding Sales Manager, The Savoy

Sasha Cullen, Wedding Sales Manager, The SavoyThe Savoy is a very special place and in a magical location, how long have you been there and does it still feel as magical day in, day out?

This is true, The Savoy is so magical. When I decided to move back to the UK after working in Cyprus I remember saying to my parents “one day I want to be the Events Manager for a massive Estate and imagine if I worked at The Savoy”. The rest is history!

From the moment I walked in nearly two years ago I have felt at home here. I had the warmest welcome from the doorman and when you are northern this is all you wish for! I had become accustomed to fresh flowers having moved from a country estate with a walled garden so to have fresh pink orchids everywhere and views over the river I just instantly fell in love with the place.

It just shows how important the arrival experience is and that a venue can be beautiful but it also has to have warmth and soul. Each member of the team is super passionate here and an expert in their field. I still get excited walking into work and absolutely love people-watching in the Front Hall.

We have been on a massive journey at The Savoy so it has been incredible to be a part of this change, every day is so different and that truly is the wonderful world of events.

What is the most breathtaking wedding that you’ve been involved with at The Savoy?

To be completely honest with you I couldn’t choose one! For me breathtaking comes in many forms, I have seen the most incredible set ups which have taken 3-10 days to build with the ceilings filled with Orchids, chandeliers and draping. For a creative person this is mesmerizing but for me the true essence comes in the event; the experience and the memories that are created. It’s heartwarming to see so many incredible traditions and cultures, we are in such a diverse part of the UK and get to share this with our clients. I always stress to our clients that you can throw a lot of much money at production and décor, but if you don’t have the right entertainment, sequence of service and flow to the event it’s not going to be memorable. When you stand in a beautiful room after all the hard work has been done and see all the guests having the most incredible time with the best band, lighting, flowers, etc., that to me is breathtaking.

What is the most ‘out-there’ request you’ve had for a wedding?

I am sure we could all write a book on the requests we have had in our careers, from standing in as a bridesmaid after friends fell out to sourcing hot air balloons for arrival. What is incredible about London suppliers is that due to the demand of the clients here anything is possible. My clients are always amazed when I suggest “out there” ideas and then learn that there is actually people out there that can create/build or source them. I truly believe many people don’t know how huge the Events Industry is so it’s important we share the crafts of independent businesses to make the events super special.

In your opinion what sets a wedding apart from the rest?

The experience every time, the smell, the feel, the butterflies in your stomach and the ambience that’s created. Many couples get caught up in the physical things but it’s actually more about the event itself. Filling a room with balloons and nice food, is a nice event. What makes it a memorable event is the details, it’s all in the detail. Personalised gifts, emotional readings, meaningful music and incredible service create many more memories than an Instagram photo. I always say to my couples when the pressure of family and competing with your friend’s wedding takes over “just remember why you are having a wedding…. Because you are getting married to the love of your life and that’s the most important part of the day”.

What do Twilight Trees bring to a wedding?

So, my obsession with Wisteria and Blossom trees started at a young age and I was thrilled to find Twilight Trees when I was based in North Yorkshire. I had been using local suppliers beforehand who had tiny little trees and, like most of my ideas, I needed bigger and more glamorous versions! The trees are absolutely stunning and add a wow factor to any event. For me, having moved from a 20,000-acre estate bringing a piece of the country into a London venue is everything. Whether it’s a focal point in the centre of a bar or used for an escort tree for guests to find their seats. Both create conversations in a room with lots of people who maybe haven’t seen each other for a while so for me it’s a win-win!

How do you see weddings evolving?

We all know that destination weddings are on the rise, but this doesn’t stop International clients coming to the UK for a Quintessential English wedding. I think millennial couples are more focused on more intimate occasions and to have something different that they haven’t experienced before. Woodland weddings, glass marquees and coast weddings are in popular demand however we see many couples wanting a true piece of luxury and to treat their guests to the very best…

What advice would you give to a couple choosing their wedding venue?

Once you are engaged the excitement takes over and all you want to do is call every venue in the world to get a price and start planning! Sourcing a venue must be fun but you always need to be savvy and ready for action with your business head on, this might be one of your biggest investments so it’s important you get it right.

MAKE A PLAN! Number 1, you must sit down with fiancé/ée and family to get an idea of the below elements before reaching out to your venue. This will make your sourcing more fun, stress free and effective.

–          Location, even if you can’t choose between London and the Maldives, narrow it down to 2 at least. Then you can start your research.
–          Approximate number of guests, we don’t need to know the exact number but a wedding from 10-500 will make a massive difference to your requirements, venue and budget.
–          This brings me on to this sensitive topic, budget! This is a must, telling suppliers your budget doesn’t mean they are going to spend it all but as you can imagine everyone’s budget is different so it helps us tailor your proposal against your requirements. This is the only way we can help you stick to your budget and speed up the process of enquiry.

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