Meet the Maker... Vanessa Harness from Rocks & Frocks
How did you get into wedding planning?
I had worked within the creative print industry in London for several years managing large teams of project managers and budgets across the globe from London to Shangai and decided I needed a better work/life balance. I went to work within a production company (owned by my brother) where I honed my skills producing and working on live events including events for the BBC which was a fair way from where myself and my brother started working in wedding discos for over 5 years - this event and project managment history with my passion for weddings led me to create Rocks & Frocks Ltd in 2004. 2017 was an amazing year for us we have taken on some lecturing to national diploma students as well as being interviewed on BBC radio we were also nominated for and won the 4CWA industry award for Wedding Planning & Event Production 2017.
What services do you offer (on the day coordination, full service event design or a la carte planning)? Do you create the overall vision, or are you more of a producer who brings in an event designer?
I provide a range of services from straightforward On the day management, Partial planning to Full planning our partial planning service tends to be our bespoke offering as this is catered exactly to the needs of our couple and is dependent on how far along the planning journey they already are. What often sets us apart from other planners is that we don’t just leave after the first dance instead staying until the last guest and supplier leave and even with our On the Day management we begin the handover process a minimum of two weeks before the event. this is important to us as our experience shows us that most problems can be averted before they begin and we simply couldn’t imagine simply turning up on the morning effectively clueless.
What has been the most unique wedding you have organised to date?
Wow, this should be an easy question but as we’ve developed a reputation for the more unusual, larger and logistically difficult weddings that some other planners simply wouldn’t take on its actually a difficult one to answer. Perhaps our most unusual wedding last year would have been the massive 3 day festival wedding which saw all the guests wandering round in swimming costumes due to the appearance of a hot tub bus. We’ve also had Indian Tuk Tuks, Airplanes and fireworks to contend with last year as well. This year we have an absolutely amazing couple coming over from Australia, they originally met in the UK and now want to marry here, we can’t say too much yet but its going to be epic!
What's your secret for staying calm under pressure?
Pre planning - if your wedding planner is stressed on the day, then you definitely have a problem. Wherever possible we preplan everything and using our experience we can typically pre-empt most problems before they start. There is no doubt that bringing a large wedding event together can be extremely high pressure but this is my day job, I’m an expert in my field and its just what I do..!
You have just collaborated with Ferris Heart Sloane. What are you offering?
Back in 2015 a number of our planning clients tasked us with booking the now very popular light up giant letters, however we were unable at the time to find a product that met their premium expectations - we subsequently took the decision to commission the manufacturing of suitable letters for these clients which we then offered for hire, little did we expect that demand for our exceptional letters would take off and last year we split the letter hire business from RandFWeddings and formed The Letter Hire People, which is managed by my husband and co director Dominic, our delivery teams deliver nationwide and new for 2018 is our Flower Wall & Letter Hire package in collaboration with the folks at Ferris Heart Sloane. Couples often book these two products separately and they compliment each other greatly as focal points in any venue so it made sense that two of the top suppliers in their respective fields should come together to offer a single point of booking for a package that would combine the highest quality letters available with the single best supplier of amazing flower walls.
You're preferred suppliers for a number of UK venues, which ones are they?
Too many too mention, for our letter hire business locally we are recommended suppliers for Bedford Lodge, Milling Barns, Longstowe Hall, Granary Estates, Barrington Hall as well as being regulars at many others locally and across the country.
When you're not planning a couple's dream wedding what do you like to do in your free time?
What is this free time thing you speak of? between my wedding planning, our letter hire business, Dominics management consultancy and our mutual lecturing and business talks coaching we don’t tend to have much free time but when we do, we enjoy getting away for luxury hotel breaks, walks in the countryside and making sure our office cat Sprocket is well looked after.