April 26, 2017

An Interview with VIP Event Planner Natasha Sandeman


For some exclusive event planning tips and tricks from an industry expert, check out Rio Lounge’s interview with bespoke event planner Natasha from Sandeman Events; a professional party planning company who specialise in UK/worldwide VIP events.

What is the key to a truly VIP events experience?

Natasha notes that personal touches and originality are essential. For this reason, Sandeman Events go above and beyond to deliver sensational events with a truly personal and bespoke service.

“We think that the build up to an event itself is just as important as delivering the results on the day. The key to a truly VIP events experience is wonderful service in the build up to the event as well as on the night itself.“

How do you create a unique guest experience every time?

“It totally depends! Each party is created around the client and their tastes, so every wedding or party we organise is completely different and is tailored to suit their individual needs. Trends are always changing which means that we are always having to come up with fresh ideas to make our parties stand out.”  

How do you bring an idea to life?

“We find it easier for clients to visualise ideas, so their event planner will try to bring them to life by creating mood boards in which they can simply point out their likes and dislikes. We can then expand on these ideas further.”

Event furniture hire in gardenAlthough Pinterest is a great tool in which to brainstorm ideas, because of its wide scale popularity, it often lacks originality (the key to hosting a truly bespoke event). In order to come up with fresh, innovative ideas, the small team at Sandeman Events often attend the theatre, museums and other events as a means of gaining inspiration from surrounding ideas and trends.

How important are suppliers and how do you go about sourcing them?

Over the years, Natasha has built up a network of trusted suppliers during her time in the events industry. They play a crucial role in the run up to an event and, if reliable, she will continue to use them again and again.

Rio Lounge have worked with Sandeman Events on a number of occasions in the past – one of which included a joint VIP 25th wedding anniversary, 21st and 18th birthday party held within a country estate with over 500 guests.

white sofa seating modules for hire with hot pink scatter cushions“It was a huge party and [Rio Lounge] were brilliant. Nothing was too much. I think [the Rio Lounge furniture] can work for any event. Again, it totally depends on the client and the look that they are trying to create, but it really does have a summer feel and vibe to it … for corporate events and for private parties and weddings. It’s quite versatile.”

What criteria do you look for in a venue?

“Again, the venue totally depends on the style of the party or wedding that we are organising as well as the number of guests, or whether or not there is a theme involved. The events that we create usually tend to require quite a lot of decoration and production, so they need to be quite versatile and flexible in terms of what we can bring into the venue. We try not to use venues that have too many rules or regulations so that we’re not restricted with what we can do.”

Does working on events abroad come with any event planner challenges?

“Every single event comes with its challenges and we have to think on our feet. As long as we make an effort to get to know our suppliers well in advance, as well as ensuring that we have a back up plan for all scenarios, then everything should run smoothly.”

How do you go about creating a themed event?

Sandeman Events have planned a variety of Gatsby Balls, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Midsummer Nightmare, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1920’s themed events – the list is endless.

Initially, Sandeman Events would find a venue suitable based on the number of guests. Once the venue is determined, a floor plan is created in order to determine how the space will work most effectively. Only then will the team start brainstorming ideas on how to incorporate the theme within budget.

Odey party from Sandeman EventsAs an event grows in size, how do you go about managing substantial financial risks?

During the initial client consultation, Natasha is always very realistic in regards to budget.

When the clients’ budget can’t stretch, the event planning team need to brainstorm and propose alternative ideas in order to meet the brief without spending a huge amount of money.

Do you know of any upcoming trends for 2017?

Each year becomes more and more exciting, especially in terms of the food and drinks/entertainment and production sectors where everything is becoming far more experimental.

“Trends are changing all the time, and again, it’s very personal, especially in terms of themed events – as an event planner I try and keep up to date with new trends by constantly exploring new restaurants and lots of immersive theatre and dance shows which are full of new exciting ideas to inspire us.

When things do not go as planned, how do you fix them? 

“During one event, we had hired a very smart loo unit for a marquee which stopped working just before the event started. One of our managers had to position himself behind the unit and was manually filling up each tank in order for them to flush. The engineer turned up a couple of hours later and fixed the issue but due to thinking on our feet it had no impact on the party… Again, we need our suppliers to be switched on and turn up on time in order to avoid anything going wrong and to fix anything that is out of sort. If our suppliers don’t turn up on time it can delay the entire event build.

How do you deal with time constraints?

Realistically, how long should you be giving yourself to plan an event?

Success as an event planner is also very dependent upon suppliers and the amount of stock that they can guarantee at any given time. It can be a struggle, especially in the summer months when it’s busy and all venues are booked up and supplier stocks are out. However, within reason, Natasha notes that anything is possible. Just last year, Sandeman Events organised a huge marquee event for over 200 guests in just two weeks, “but  to ensure that the majority of your guests are free and that you get your first choice of venue and suppliers we would recommend getting the ball rolling a lot sooner! .”

To find out more about Sandeman Events and their private, corporate and wedding planning service, check out their website.