She is Mrs Wedding Planner, She is Mrs. Rugie Lamin Wurie!
She has planned luxurious weddings and events around the world, from London to Berlin to Paris, to Dubai, to Zanzibar, and of course her homeland, Freetown, Sierra Leone. She is Rugie Lamin Wurie, international wedding planner extraordinaire, founder and managing director of Mrs Wedding Planner. With unadulterated passion and sheer determination, in less than a decade she has managed to corner the market and established a name for herself, her work having been featured by the likes of Marks & Spencer and British Vogue! African Luxury Magazine caught up with the event planning aficionado and asked her to share her journey with us, in her own words.
After being frustrated with my 9-5 job and the lack of progression prospects, I started writing a private blog to unearth whatever passion I had. Frankly, I thought I had none! I also wanted a career opportunity that could allow me to spend more time with my children. To allow me the flexibility to go to parents’ evenings, Mother’s Day events, watch my kids participate in school plays, engage with teachers on their individual academic and social developments. These were important stages in my children’s lives that I was no longer prepared to miss out on. I had to make a choice. So I took a credit card, enrolled for two event planning courses and the rest they say is history. I took on every event planning job there was out there, from community halls and literally, anyone that will give me chance, in between school runs.
Today I have carved a niche for myself, but on the odd occasion a mismatch slips through, I have learned that in this job, you need to have a target market, identify their needs and endeavour to meet them to the best of your ability. So ideally I’d love clients who are accommodating of my lifestyle, the fact that I am a mother and a wife. So sometimes, children crying in the background, emergency school activities and so on (are part of parcel of my daily life and routine). Destination weddings are the toughest, you have to battle with improving your growing brand and missing out on special moments with your kids.
It is interesting to note that I have had contrasting experiences from planning in different parts of the world. The level of opulence, quality, service standards, or general experience an event exudes is determined by planning conditions in a given geographical demographic. Such conditions are influenced by rental markets, the range of venue, logistics, the skill level of event vendors and the cultural attitude towards deadlines and timelines. For example, in some parts of West Africa, there is an inherent gap in the hospitality sector as well as cultural misconceptions of the role of the Wedding Planner. With the African wedding sector predicted to thrive, the need for standards to improve hasn’t been more pressing.
Generally, I tend to attract mid-high income level professionals who value the finer things in life but prefer relaxed opulence. For them, an unlimited supply of the finest food and beverage, as well as the choice of venue location, set the standard for the type of experience they would like to treat their guests to. So from intimate wedding celebrations in the most quintessential of hotels including the Lanesborough and Langham in London to private resorts in Melia, Zanzibar, clients arrange the finest experience for their international guests from arrival to departure.
While most of the events we display on social media are aspirational it is important that engaged couples stay true to their financial situation and understand the real meaning of their celebration. Overall, the best events are those that offer unforgettable experiences and are rich in detail. Above all my business is built around the concept of celebrating marriage, which automatically translates to me working hard on my own marriage. After all, there will be no Mrs Wedding Planner if I sort out everybody else’s marriage and lose mine in the process lol.
The business side of things is extremely difficult. Aside from wedding administrative chores, you have to stay on top of your books, chasing outstanding invoices so you can meet your monthly bills, sorting out your IT teams to promote your video clips, filing annual returns, keeping company details up-to-date, deal with the legal guys for ugly situations etc. It’s quite intense really. I hate that side of running a business. I’d rather the fun stuff…lol! The actual event coming together successfully is a joy to be a part of.
Your journey with your clients through months of developing an idea, getting to know them and their families, the drama, your vulnerabilities, etc., is quite emotionally intense especially when one connects with the client. Seeing it through to the end is extremely rewarding. I have the most satisfaction when I see the joy in my clients’ faces. It says a lot really. Most of my clients actually support the person behind the brand Mrs Wedding Planner. My sense of humour, my bluntness, my refined taste, and in the grand scheme of things, I believe they want to be a part of building a dream for working mothers like me. To add to that, I have developed genuine relationships over the years with most of my clients and their families.
For example, I formed the strongest bonds with clients over the past six months or so. I was dealing with a lot in my personal life, subsequently affecting my wellness. The fact that most of my clients were sensitive to and adjusted to that situation made me understand that what appealed to my clients was not just a service but a desirable lifestyle. It was quite emotional to see that almost by divine intervention it worked out perfectly for said clients. This has been the most difficult stage in my career and I am grateful that I am still going.
Am I rich? No. Am I happily married all the time? Absolutely not, but I am content, driven and confident that I am on to something. I have plans for expansion because I have studied the industry closely and have identified gaps and business opportunities. Hopefully 5 years from now, you will hear wonderful things.
Mrs Wedding Planner clearly is a woman of her word. Her strong convictions about marriage and family have fueled her work and drives the excellent service she provides to her clients. You can see more photos and videos of her amazing work on her Facebook and Instagrampages.