Holly Episkopou is a Destination Wedding Planner at Wonderlust Events that believes in the magic of making everlasting memories. She's made some of her favorite memories experiencing different countries and cultures with her loved ones. Pair this with one of the most spectacular days of your life and voila you have a destination wedding. What she loves most about a destination wedding is that it gives clients and their guests a real wanderlust buzz. It turns weddings into a week-long celebration filled with excitement, love, sun-kissed friends, al fresco dining, and numerous Aperol Spritz. Read more about how Holly delivers the best destination wedding experience and how she started making tablescape boxes.
What was it that inspired you to take the leap from planning corporate events to starting your own destination wedding planning company?
I loved working in the corporate events industry however I found when it came to planning events, I wasn’t able to use my creative mind as much as I’d like and I missed the more personal and life-changing events. Weddings have always been an area I’ve felt passionate about along with having lots of travel knowledge from being cabin crew in a previous career so it made sense to put everything together and for destination wedding planning to become my niche.
With COVID-19, and travel restrictions, how have you seen your company change? What have you and your team done to adapt?
All of our weddings postponed last year which kept us extremely busy from an admin point of view but meant we didn’t get to see all of our creative work come together as we would in a normal year. Once we had time to catch our breath in November, we decided to use our creativity by putting together tablescape boxes for people who wanted to make special and memorable experiences at home. This has opened many other doors for us and we've now been booked to style UK weddings, and to plan bespoke intimate tablescapes at people’s homes. It's also given us branding work for creative companies who want to give their brand engagement a boost.
If you could change one thing about the weddings and special events industry, what would it be?
I think the stress and uncertainty within the industry at the moment because it’s difficult for everyone to live in this limbo-land. Some clear way through the remainder of our time within the pandemic would bring much needed certainty to suppliers, couples, and planners.
How does using Aisle Planner help you deliver the client experience you want?
I’ve found Aisle Planner to be life changing for my business. We set up profiles for all our clients and give them access. We find that this works amazing, not only to help them along with their planning (such as the checklist, etc.) but it also ensures transparency at all times with the budget sheet, supplier contracts, etc. Most importantly it means me and my clients are always on the same page when it comes to where we are in the planning process.
What's your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
We personally love the RSVP section because it saves us so much time from when we manually used to do this and it ensures the information is clearly set out. Being able to message guests quickly has been so helpful during the pandemic in order to keep everyone up to date at the click of a button.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a wedding and event planner?
Do it! Don’t compare yourself to others but be true to how you’re trying to market yourself and who you are. It’s also important to choose your audience and focus your communications towards reaching them. Also, think about what you want your niche to be and don’t be let down if you don’t get bookings straight away—it takes time to build these things. In the meantime, get to know suppliers and other planners. Asking them questions when you’re uncertain about things and offering to help them so you can gain some experience can be invaluable.
What do you think will change about the weddings and special events space over the next five years?
Weddings will re-start again! I know we've had a number of false starts but we'll get there. In the longer term, I think intimate weddings will become more popular.
What’s your personal philosophy on becoming a great wedding and event planner?
Just be yourself and you’ll attract the right clients for you. Our key is also ensuring we have good communication and honest relationships with our clients.
What lights your creative fire?
When a client tells you that they want to spend money on the styling and give you a blank page to come up with ideas based on their choice of venue.
Describe your favorite wedding that you’ve planned and why.
We planned a city wedding in Lisbon for 160 guests in a Portuguese palace. It was so beautiful and full of colorful tiles which we adore! The guests had an amazing itinerary starting with rooftop drinks overlooking the city centre the day before the wedding, which provided a great atmosphere and chance for everyone to get to know each other. We're used to al fresco dining at our destination weddings but the dinner for this wedding was in a large ballroom with chandeliers and it was really great to do something quite different. During the first dance, someone kicked a glass of wine over into a plug socket and we lost all power (which was rather stressful at that moment in time whilst we ran around looking for the fuse box) but everyone started singing ‘stand by me’ together in the dark with their camera torches on whilst the newlywed couple carried on with their first dance! It was so magical! For a video of the moment check out my Instagram feed.
Is there anything you're particularly excited about working on this year?
We're excited to see the tablescape side of the business grow. We have lots of amazing weddings booked across Europe which we're keeping everything crossed that they can all happen as they're all completely different designs and locations.
Just for fun
What’s the most used tool in your emergency kit?
Candle putty. We hate a wonky dinner candle so this is our secret weapon to keeping them all straight.
I’m dying to design a wedding or event in…
Mexico—Tulum, Todos Santos, Los Cabos—it’s our favorite holiday location due to the culture, food, and music. We'd love to plan a wedding in one of the amazing boutique style hotels or dry hire venues, and plan something completely authentic and amazing.
Following that Marrakech in an amazing riad or Palm Springs at Korakia Pensione.
What’s one trend you think should be left in the past?
What’s one trend you hope to see more of?
Patterned linens! We love going a little over the top in this area!
Your favorite shoes to wear on event day?
I have a pair of golden espadrilles with ribbons for wedding days. They're my ultimate go-to's and are so comfy!
If you could plan any celebrity’s wedding, who would it be?
Thai Nguyen, the fashion designer who's featured in the Netflix series ‘Say I Do.’ I think we’d have a great time planning together and come up with the most amazing design.
If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would change about your wedding?
I didn’t have many flowers at our wedding and now I would have an abundance of flowers! I’d probably also have a more intimate wedding as we had around 150 guests.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever created for a wedding or event?
An edible English meadow lollipop seating plan. This was one of the big talking points of this particular wedding. I’m now obsessed with creating seating plans that don’t just get binned after.
During your time as a wedding and event professional, what’s the biggest mistake you made and how did you recover from it?
Not knowing our niche to begin with! When we launched the company, we offered planning for any event anywhere and that ended up being difficult to market and get right. Once we held a few events it quickly became obvious what brought us excitement and passion. As soon as we discovered this, we focused on what we did best and that lead more bookings and better plans. Since Valentina joined the Wonderlust team we're even stronger at Destination Wedding Planning. We always chase our passions and the kind of work that makes us excited with the right clients.
Want to see more from Holly? Check out her website wonderlustevents.co.uk!
Hero photo courtesy of Anneli Marinovich