Celebrating 4 years of Hanami Dream!

Celebrating 4 years of Hanami Dream!

What a day for celebration the fourth of July is:  Independence Day, Alice Day and today is the 4th birthday of Hanami Dream weddings and special occasions!

four years since my first styled shoot

Yes, today marks four years since I published my first styled photo shoot under the umbrella of Hanami Dream. After that Alice in Wonderland shoot in 2014, came the Wizard of Oz, followed by a Wind in the Willows wedding in 2016. Last year saw the addition of 3 more styled bridal shoots: a modern Edwardian Secret Garden themed wedding, a real break from tradition with a Festival style wedding and also a lovely winter Journey to the Centre of the Earth themed wedding. I’m enjoying working with some amazing local suppliers!

four years since my first tweet

From my first tweet in 2014, to a steadily increasing readership (and social media following) with around 1,100 unique page views a month on average. Plus a combined social media network of over 5,400 followers and ongoing promotion and networking means this is ever growing.

four years since my first blog post

It’s crazy to think how much has evolved over the past four years; now 310 blog posts later and this year I won the Event and Wedding category at the UK Blog Awards after being a finalist for the previous two years running, I’m now a Certified Wedding and Event Planner, and have recently had one of my shoots featured in Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine.

four years of further accolades

I’m really pleased to continue to add to my honoured collection of accolades, which include #QueenOf Wedding Inspiration by The Royal Connection, the #SmartSocial award from Marketme, #BrightPig’s Business of the Week, WOW Winner picked by Jacqueline Gold CBE. As well as winning Theo Paphitis’s #SBS (Small Business Sunday).

I am an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Certified Wedding and Event Planner with the UKAWEP.

Plus I launched #UKWedLunch nearly 2 years ago, as well as being a guest host on #BrideHour.

four years more experience

My focus has been on developing the blog commercially, as well as providing inspiration to brides and grooms in the Cotswolds. Plus I’ve continued to combine my previous 13 years of marketing experience, with my local knowledge, in the scope of the wedding industry. It has been great to provide marketing consultation to some local, independent wedding businesses in and around Witney, Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. I’ve been affectionately titled the Wedding Inspector – a bit like the Alex Polizzi of the local wedding industry!

work with Hanami Dream

I look forward to working with more local wedding professionals, services and venues #keepitlocal. And I can’t wait to produce more styled photo shoots and have more opportunities to collaborate with local suppliers.

Please get in touch if you’d like to advertise on the blog, submit your own wedding details, would like to collaborate on a shoot, write a guest post or need some marketing advice and guidance. Together we can build the local wedding industry and inspire brides and grooms for their special day.

Happy birthday to Hanami Dream – definitely time for cake now!


Certified Wedding and Event Planner

Certified Wedding and Event Planner

I’m thrilled to announce that I have recently obtained my Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning from the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners and am now a Certified Wedding and Event Planner.

I’m over the moon to (finally) complete the course! It’s taken a little while longer than I first planned but actually this has been for the best as it has meant my business has developed along the way.

Many thanks to my tutor for their invaluable support and guidance over the last few years. The course has opened up my eyes to the whole wedding industry beyond just planning and I’m delighted with how my business has evolved over the course.

Thanks also to the interaction and networking with fellow students (new and upcoming entrants to the industry bursting with fresh ideas) as well as an impressive alumni, tutors and advisory board full of experience and expertise.

My tutor gave me some brilliant advice about playing to my strengths, entering competitions, having a niche and fitting the business around my life. Three years later and I’m a finalist in the UK Blog Awards for a third year running, combining my photo shoot experience and marketing background with my passion for weddings and supporting local businesses.

It is great recognition to have my experience, skills and expertise acknowledged with a formal qualification. I’m really excited with where things are going and what lies around the corner next.

“It was a really great way to organise a wedding fair – made it stand out from the fairs we have attended before”

“It was a really great way to organise a wedding fair – made it stand out from the fairs we have attended before”

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

“Just to say thanks once again for inviting us over to Cogges last Sunday.

The photos look great and we thought it was a really great way to organise a wedding fair, with all the products arranged as if it were an actual wedding and made it stand out from the fairs we have attended before.

If we can help out with anything in future or work together in any way please give us a shout.”

Goujon Monkey – September 2017

“The whole event was brilliant – so well organised and the barn looked truly amazing”

“The whole event was brilliant – so well organised and the barn looked truly amazing”

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

“Thanks so much for involving Mabel & Rose – I thought the whole event was brilliant – so well organised and the barn looked truly amazing.

I’m sure it will have given couples lots of ideas and the photographs are great.

Well done you – I hope you’ve given yourself a well deserved pat on the back and manage to get a bit of a rest before you move onto the next one!

Thanks again and yes, very much hope to work with you again in the future.”

Claire, Mabel & Rose – September 2017

“This is the best Wedding Open Day I’ve ever been to”

“This is the best Wedding Open Day I’ve ever been to”

Photography by Cat Stephens Photography

“This is the best Wedding Open Day I’ve ever been to.

We loved the Wedding Open Day at Cogges today, it was an amazing collaboration of alternative suppliers and looked absolutely amazing and had a fantastic atmosphere!

It was so much more relaxed and welcoming than the usual wedding fayres that are held. I’m sure all involved and those that visited felt this too.

Congratulations for pulling it all together and the very best of luck with your blogs!”

Linda’s Vintage Hire – September 2017

Happy 1st birthday to #UKWedLunch

Happy 1st birthday to #UKWedLunch

Last week marked a whole year since my Twitter networking hour came to fruition. Having partaken in many local and wedding related networking I noticed that most hours are in the evenings and sometimes don’t include many brides or grooms to be. #UKWedLunch was born to cater for couples and wedding professionals planning a wedding in their lunch break.

A year on and #UKWedLunch is going from strength to strength; with 1,156 followers and counting; a different discussion topic every week; and lots of lively interaction between brides and grooms to be looking for recommendations and UK based wedding professionals networking in their lunch break.  Lots of connections and new contacts have been formed as a result of #UKWedLunch. I’m incredibly proud of how it is developing and look forward to the next year of networking. Please spread the word so others can join us on Wednesdays 1-2pm on Twitter. 

However I’m not always good at celebrating my successes. I’m often guilty of looking at the ‘hole rather than the donut’ – whilst I may have ticked plenty off my to do list, I’ll still be thinking about what I haven’t done. Earlier this year I fell in to this trap and felt a bit despondent as there wasn’t enough time to bring many of my ideas to light. It resulted in me blogging less and this made me feel more disappointed. What I had failed to do was recognise what I had managed to achieve alongside the growing demands of another baby joining our family.

It is now (following a fantastic break away in France with my family) that I look back on the year so far with fresh eyes. Now I can see and celebrate the great things I have achieved rather than dwelling on what I haven’t yet done. Before my holiday a series of exciting things happened which over whelmed me as they all came at the same time. After a bit of a step back, I now can appreciate and shout about these great achievements.

Firstly, my most recent styled bridal photo shoot (a modern Edwardian Secret Garden) was featured in Brides magazines online – a great honour especially to show case the amazing local suppliers involved.

Secondly, another shoot I organised last Autumn (a gold and Marsala Wind in the Willows) was used throughout the latest UKAWEP Wedding Academy wedding business magazine being shared globally with the wedding industry, fellow students, alumni, contributors, editors, tutors and prospects of the academy.

Thirdly, I also embarked upon on a 100 Day Goal challenge run by The Business Bakery that reached its climax last week. The essence of the strategy is to try to do a little every day to chip away at your ultimate end goal. Back in May, I challenged myself to monetise my blog which has been an ambition and business objective I’d set my sights on this year. These 100 days have enabled me to see little steps that can build to a whole. And in the last 100 days I’ve achieved this goal – not via the advertising route I’d envisaged but I’ve discovered to take opportunities wherever they arise and I’ve been really pleased to do some consultancy for a local wedding venue. The next 100 Day Goal starts again on 1st September and I look forward to seeing where this mind set takes me in the build up to the end of the year.

Additionally, some other great forthcoming opportunities have come my way include styling the Wedding Open Day at Cogges Manor Farm next month – watch this space for the images from this festival inspired shoot that will I will feature on the blog.

I continue to receive more wedding styling enquiries so I’ve now included a venue styling page on my website so couples can see the types of services I offer.

Plus more plans are afoot for another photo shoot in the autumn as I’ve been approached to style one by a local venue.

And lastly (and most importantly), I was lucky enough whilst away to celebrate my own wedding anniversary with my amazing husband. I continue to be grateful for the love and support he gives to me. We’ve done quite a lot in the 6 years that we’ve been married and I look forward to our many adventures to come too. Six years of marriage traditionally would warrant getting an iron as a gift (which could be more inappropriate for me – I can’t remember the last time I ironed anything!)

So, after a brief social media break (forced due to lack of wifi!) but a wonderful family time away en vacances, I come back refreshed and raring to go.