ABOVE: Photo credit Sanshine Photography (left); Matt Porteous (right)

Melanie Helen is the Founder and Director of Cranberry Blue Events – a luxury wedding and event planning company that operates at the very top end of the industry, staging special occasions in prestigious venues such as the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Rosewood London, Claridges Hotel and The Lanesborough. Here we meet Melanie to discuss her background and how she sets about staging a highly memorable event, whether large or small…

ABOVE: Details from a Cranberry Blue event captured by Sanshine Photography

I started my career working for the designer ‘Roland Mouret’ on his London Fashion Week show – which was my first foray into the events world! I now have over 15 years’ experience in the fashion, event and wedding industries and I set up my own company in 2009. Here at Cranberry Blue Events, we pride ourselves on our creativity, discretion, high standards and unwavering attention to detail, coupled with having an approachable persona…”

Melanie Helen, Founder and Director, Cranberry Blue Events

NS: “How did your initial events in the fashion world evolve into weddings and what’s it like operating in that market today?”

MH: “The event planning world is a very saturated market nowadays with wedding planning being seen as a fun and popular career choice or dare I even say it, by some as a ‘hobby’! However, creating and building a successful event planning business takes a lot of hard work and unwavering dedication. After working on behalf of Roland Mouret on his London Fashion Week show, I then went on to the position of Fashion Buyer – I remained as the ‘go-to’ for the annual company ball and retail conferences before I quickly realised my calling was to be an event planner in my own right. I spent several years studying and gaining specific experience by working alongside other event planners before launching Cranberry Blue…”

NS: ”Which geographical areas do you cover, and which are your favourite locations and/or venues, worldwide?”

MH: ”We predominantly work across the UK; however, we also cover parts of Europe and are even travelling to the States later this year. It’s always a tough question when it comes to favourite locations as I love many venues for different reasons… however, if I’m put on the spot, then I’d choose the iconic Claridge’s in London and Cliveden House in Berkshire…further afield then it’s Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, which is positively dreamy…”

Our clients tend to be highly successful business men and women with a typical budget for a wedding being in the range of £250k – £2 million depending on the size and complexity, but this tends to be less for an event. We tailor each occasion to the personality of the client and their individual style; we try not to be dedicated by trends…“

Melanie Helen, Founder and Director, Cranberry Blue Events

ABOVE: Photo credit Mike Garrard (left); Sanshine Photography (right)

NS: ”What’s the smallest event your company will organise? And the largest?”

MH: ”Good question – the smallest event we’ve arranged was a beautiful baby shower at the Lanesborough Hotel for about 25 guests, and it was absolutely exquisite. It really depends on the clients’ requirements, vision and of course their budget. The largest event we’d organise is probably for around 400 guests…”

NS: ”What has been your most successful theme, so far?”

MH: ”I’d say our interpretation of a Masquerade Ball which we recently designed for a client’s 40th birthday at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in Knightsbridge; this concept provided so much scope for amazing design and entertainment – creating a fully immersive experience…”

We’ve planned high-end weddings in as little as six weeks; occasionally we have eighteen months to organise the occasion. However, our typical lead time is around eight months…”

Melanie Helen, Founder and Director, Cranberry Blue Events

NS: ”Your events are often very extravagantly decorated; with there being a strong emphasis on sustainability these days, what do you do with all the installations after an event?”

MH: ”We try, wherever possible, to re-purpose the floral decor by giving them away to guests or to charity. The installations are broken down and the various elements are then re-used, but where they can’t be, then they’re recycled as much as possible. When designing our events, we always keep the ecological impact in mind from the outset so as to limit our carbon footprint…”

ABOVE: Credits (left) bar by Bespoke London; ringmaster photo by Matt Porteous

NS: ”With us all just getting over the bleak Covid and lock down period/s, and with Pinterest and Instagram now becoming the prime source of most event vision boards, what are the challenges you’ve seen recently when it comes to the event design business?”

MH: ”Yes, more and more event planners are popping up – which does have its challenges as some clients find it hard to understand the difference in cost between someone who’s just started out versus an established company such as Cranberry Blue. We’ve also seen lead-times becoming much shorter – particularly since Covid. We’d hoped this situation would improve, however we’re still finding some clients leaving things quite late…”

NS: ”Of all the many events you’ve organised over the years, which has been your personal favourite?”

MH: ”A highlight in my career, so far, has undoubtedly been a wedding we designed and produced in Scotland last year; it was a weekend-long celebration for two hundred guests which started with a vintage circus party and was followed by a whimsical, magical marquee wedding at Hopetoun House located just outside Edinburgh. The design brief was quirky, and the bride and I had clicked immediately so it made the process so much easier. Entertainment and lavish décor were key parts of the weekend, as were the small details throughout…”

NS: ”As we approach summer and the height of event season, I have to ask: Do you ever manage to take a holiday? And if so, where do you travel to?”

MH: ”Haha, it’s always tricky to get away! Our busiest months seem to vary year on year, so it’s hard for us to plan too far ahead, however we do always manage to take a couple of weeks off throughout the season and I do love going to the South of France. This year, however, I’m scheduled to be going to both Rhodes and Madeira and there are also talks of us taking a trip to the Maldives in January of next year…”

We approach each event with fresh eyes, and whether a client wants simple but stylish or grand and lavish, or something in-between, we’ll work with them to create a truly personal and fabulous event. For me, it’s about understanding a client’s priorities and really getting to know what makes them tick. My aim is to then create an event that is more than a client’s could ever have imagined and leaves their guests talking about it for years come…”

Melanie Helen, Founder and Director, Cranberry Blue Events

CONTACT: http://www.cranberryblue.co.uk

ABOVE: Photo credit Sanshine Photography

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