Easy Weddings with Darcy Burch

Episode 11 - The Wedding Guide Podcast

Meet Darcy Burch, a wedding planner at Easy Weddings. Darcy has had a huge amount of experience in the wedding industry as an event planner at some of Melbourne’s most popular venues and now helping couples put together their dream team of suppliers all across Australia. 

Tell us about Easy Weddings and how it helps couples?

So easy weddings, hopefully most of you have visited before but basically were the biggest online directory for the wedding industry in Australia. So we do account for about 85% of the market which is a fantastic figure. So it’s huge, easy weddings actually celebrating its 20th year of operation so it’s our 20th anniversary. So here’s hoping we can have a big party soon enough.

So it’s actually a family owned and operated business which I actually didn’t know about until I started here as well which is really nice and exciting so we do, whilst it’s a big team of around 50 of us, and we do all have quite a significant input into the business as well which I find very exciting.

We had fit in 2019, we had 3.9 million people visit the site. So that’s some big numbers here in Australia specifically as well and about two years ago now. We did launch easy weddings in the UK so it’s slightly, a little bit of a different model with a bit more of a venue focus, which is something that I’ll go into shortly here as well, but it is, it does exist in the UK and does very well over there as well so it’s nice to have almost a global brand represented representation as well.

We do have our app. So it’s a great kind of guide for couples to help them plan on their wedding journey. So it’s a smaller version of the site essentially but it’s got some great tools in there budgets mood boards styling tips that type of thing as well. And obviously, our social media accounts so we’re pretty much on every corner of the wedding industry world I guess you could say.

What's your role as a Wedding Planner?

Sure. So I’m a venue and planning manager, so I manage our wedding planning team which is slightly different to I guess the usual bread and butter which we’re kind of known for so we have our directory which, as I mentioned, is the largest in Australia, but we now also have two services that are quite unique to the market that we offer directly to our consumers so our brides and grooms.

So I’ve managed both of these departments so one being our venue account managers. So we have Sydney, Melbourne wedding specialist and Sydney wedding specialist at this stage, which we do hope to branch into Brisbane and other stick CBD states as well around Australia when we can. but for the moment, both of the girls basically work on behalf of a range of premier wedding venues across their states, and we help brides with their initial inquiry chatting through all the different packages and pricing across the board, and finding out budgets styling tips that type of thing and directing them to the most suitable venues for them.

So we call it a venue finding service so brides and grooms can come to us and say hey, we’ve got $50,000 we’ve got 200 people, we have absolutely no way to no idea where to start. Can you help us out. So that’s kind of an end to end service in terms of the venue component which we find this, I guess the biggest ticket item for your wedding planning journey. Second to that we do have an exciting supplier packages model, which is unique to the market so we’re actually the only company that is offering a supplier package at the moment.

So basically we get to know you and your partner. The types of people that you are personality traits preferences you know if you’re a Posey bride or a candidate bride. And we pay you with your four essential suppliers, so your photographer videographer celebrant and DJ or band so we kind of help you through that process which as you can imagine saves you hours of time and endless research, to kind of find the best, the cream of the crop in your budget to fit your needs to suit your region, and go from there. It’s fantastic.

 

Pete The Celebrant: Yeah, and even before your rolse at East Weddings, you’re involved in weddings, what were you doing before you joined them?

 

Darcy Burch: So my background is very venue specific. So I’ve worked across a number of different companies, including the National Trust where I was looking after weddings at Ripponlea estate and Como House of gorgeous kind of historic mansion properties so lots of God and weddings. From there I also worked for Showtime event centre. So they have a gorgeous kind of industrial chic venue down on the wharf and cargo Hall as well. And then from there, the last three and a half years I was actually based at Park Hyatt Melbourne. So, one of the five-star premier hotels here in the city. So it was managing weddings across two of their large event spaces.

Easy Weddings Wedding Planner

How will COVID change the wedding landscape?

Pete The Celebrant: Now with easy weddings, one of the biggest reasons I wanted you guys on is because you’ve got such a huge aerial view of weddings, all across Australia, and what comes with that are different ideas. This perspective particularly will help us during COVID with what people are doing, and, you know, the stats of how people are being impacted.

Can you share with us, and this is on a personal view as well as you plan your own wedding; how will COVID change the landscape of weddings in the next two years for us?

 

Darcy Burch: Yeah, sure. So I’ll start with some kind of market forecast that we have been fortunate enough to, I guess, take into account so from what we’re seeing. Obviously as everyone knows, majority of the weddings for 2020 have now been postponed most, most of which have gone into 2021. So we’re expecting 145,000 weddings to take place in 2021, which is an increase of 20% from the previous year so we’re obviously going off 2019 data being that 2020 is in a league of its own.

 

So as you can imagine that has a massive impact on I guess availability which I will certainly tap into a little bit later in our conversation, but there’s that real need for brides and grooms to start thinking about their 2021 and 2022 weddings now. Because essentially the prime dates for the next 12 to 18 months is certainly almost gone. If that makes sense. So, the next expectation from there is 50,000 weddings for 2022, because there are still a lot of brides and grooms that are wanting to wait, that little bit longer just to make sure that they can have their day exactly as they planned maybe they might have international guests or quite large guest numbers. So they are playing it safe and moving to 2022. So we’re expecting another 5000 weddings in 2022 so a total of 150,000.

 

So for me personally, we are due to get married on the 10th of April next year so that was our original date, we haven’t actually earned yet so that was exciting we chose to wait quite a while, just, you know, pass plans and everything like that. So for us, we haven’t had too much change just yet. Obviously I need to kind of approach planning with a little bit more caution than maybe previously required. However, at the end of the day I understand kind of the importance of supporting the industry through this time, so I’m kind of still full steam ahead. My goal is to kind of reassess in January, because I do believe that, you know, in terms of going ahead with a wedding or even postponing that’s certainly something that can be done in a three month turnaround. So I don’t kind of feel the need to stress ourselves out, just yet.

 

The only thing that I have done which might be helpful to other couples we only have quite a small guests of about 120 people. But I have made a bit of a backup guest list of about 100, because I do feel that kind of the next step from the 50 packs restriction may be 100. So just kind of, you know, coming up with a couple of different options, obviously those 20 people don’t actually know yet so hopefully they’re not listening today.

 

But yeah, that’s kind of where we’re at, at the moment but dress. And all of that still on the way so we’ve still got plenty of time. In the process of ordering bridesmaids dresses now as well. So they are coming from a designer in New York, so I’m just kind of cautious there in terms of delays with freight. So if you’re something that couples are considering if something’s coming from into from somewhere internationally it’s certainly something to do. I guess let’s say the normal window was three to four months lead time, I would you know push that out to five six months just to be safe.

Darcy and her fiancee Brayden

How are couples currently adapting with COVID in mind?

Pete The Celebrant: I know EW is in the midst of a 2020 wedding report. Can you share with us some of current stats explaining how couples are having to adapt to the current COVID environment to help with their planning?

Darcy Burch: Yeah, sure. And so at the moment, as you mentioned, we are conducting, one of the largest surveys, so that will go out to both industry, and couples, so we’ll get some really interesting data from that which we can buy, I am going to do mine as well I’ve got the email, I just haven’t done it yet, but I promise I’ll do it. I will gladly certainly.

 

But from a ratio sort of survey that we kind of did at the beginning of COVID just to kind of see what was happening across the board. We did find that 30% of couples have had to reduce their initial wedding budget just, you know, with job loss, reduced hours that type of thing.

 

We also found that 80% of couples reported that they are hesitant to put down a deposit with a supplier. However, out of that 80 only 21% said that they definitely wouldn’t put the deposit down. So I guess you know and the same way I’ve been approaching anything any kind of supplies that I’ve reached out to in the last three to four months, I just asked them questions you know in the event that I need to respond. What are your terms and conditions is my deposit interchangeable Can I move it to a new date we just, you know, flexibility around that as well so I’m not kind of withholding deposits from anyone but I am asking some of those questions just to make sure I know where we sit in the event that we cannot proceed.

 

So I guess I’m sitting in that 80% as well. So it’s totally fair to approach the situation with caution. But at the same time we do need to support our industry as much as we can, through this as well.

Easy Weddings Website

Easy Weddings Directory – One location with over 80% of Australia’s Wedding Suppliers 

What will 2021 look like for Weddings?

Darcy Burch: Yeah, definitely. I guess from our kind of industry knowledge and kind of just watching, I guess how the other states especially watching Victoria unfolding. It’s kind of giving us an understanding of what weddings will look like moving forward. So obviously I touched on availability so that’s going to be the biggest thing anyone who’s saying, you know, it’s all over. I want to get married in 2021, that’s fantastic. We’d love to have you. But as long as you are flexible if you come to us and say I want to set a knot in December.

Maybe wait two and a half years, it’s just it’s kind of the reality of the situation so the more flexible you can be during this time, I guess, everyone’s had to be flexible we all had to learn how to adapt, so why not use these newfound skills to plan your wedding. Thursday’s a great day everyone’s came for a drink, it’s almost the end of the week. It’s a little bit cheaper, so you know, incentivize their Friday night, great weddings, you know, everyone wakes up on Saturday morning, they’re still wet the rest of the weekend to recover. And I’ve always actually been a massive fan of Sundays, I guess kind of being a wedding planner Sunday’s was always my only day off. So I used to make the most of them back in the day “Sunday sesh” is I like to say so I’ve kind of decided to adopt that for my wedding. We were fortunate enough to have a Saturday night available, but I would have had absolutely no issue going for a Sunday.

 

You can start a lot earlier in the day and finish earlier that night so you can kind of make the most of the daylight. You know, maybe start for a two o’clock ceremony with pre drinks and canapes starting from 4 with everything wrapping up by 10 or 1030, the reality of the situation is as well. A lot of us have had to forego holidays, this year and potentially may not have taken a lot of annual leave that we were potentially owed. So I don’t think your guests are going to be too upset with you that they may have to take a half day or a day off here and there I think they’ll actually love the long weekend, or the experience and I think we’re all going to really appreciate the finer things in life moving forward so you know don’t be afraid to take up a new day even a Monday, you know, extra long weekend you can have the Saturday and the Sunday with the girls, or the boys getting prepped and pampered.

So it’s a great way to kind of not only save money but also have your wedding exactly how you planned, without having to wait that little bit extra longer or a little bit longer, I should say.

 

The other thing that we’re obviously cautious of is there might be kind of limited in terms of mingling and dancing so just kind of being creative with how you’re going to plan that out so you know whether or not you, rather than do all of your speeches in one lot you have maybe the two fathers do their speeches just before entree after main you can have a member of your bridal party maybe they do some group speeches, and then finish with your speech after the main course before your first and so rather than lump them all into one say 20 minute block spread them out throughout the night. Another thing that we see quite often already European style weddings is a first and second entree. So it’s always lovely to start with a cold entree maybe a beautiful steak tartare, or a kingfish sashumi or something similar, something quite light and fresh and then moving into your standard risotto or pasta. So if you know kind of based on an option, in terms of a stand up food style of service, why not consider a first and second entree.

You know, I think there might be a lot of adaptions to menus in terms of more of a de ga station or a la carte, almost like a restaurant field, rather than you stock standard 50/50 steak and chicken. So there’s an opportunity here for our couples to kind of think outside the box. In terms of food service you could look at the chef alive, cooking station which is operated by a chef, so obviously in terms of hygiene and sanitation there you are covered. So they could do an amazing gnocchi station, noodle station, dumpling bar.

So something that’s quite interactive for your guests that they can actually watch the item, be prepared and smell it as well. And I guess kind of entertainment with games the shoe game will certainly make it a appearance. It’s a great kind of time filler but also good fun. So for anyone who’s not familiar, the shoe game is basically the bride and groom sit back to back, so they can’t see each other. And basically the emcee or whoever you determine to run the game, ask questions so maybe you know who’s the loudest. And if the bride agrees that she is the loudest partner or to put her she puts her hand up and vice versa so it’s quite interesting to see how the couples see themselves from the other side if that makes sense so it’s kind of finding out a little bit more about the couple and how they see each other, but the other one that you could do to involve your guests a little bit more is kind of like a couple’s trivia.

So I had a girlfriend of mine who had to postpone her wedding so on the day of her wedding. We did a zoom trivia. So they asked us questions all about the couple and, you know, where did they meet, where was their first day, where did right where did they get engaged, that type of thing so it was actually quite detrimental to our friendship because I didn’t actually win. so, it was a bit risky, but another great time filler.

But yeah, I guess it’s an opportunity to think outside the box weddings don’t need to be this traditional stock standard.

You know, here there and everywhere they can be anything and everything you want them to be. Yeah, definitely. There’s some great ideas in there as well with, and I’m sure we’ll see plenty more things come out of it.

 

Pete The Celebrant: How can couples compensate for all the differences when booking with COVID?

 

Darcy Burch: I guess for me, I think focus on new food and beverage obviously I tapped into that just briefly in terms of in first and second on train stations and things like that but make this more of an experience for your guests, whether it’s a rather than an arrival cocktail being that we can’t have the standard pre drinks and kind of pays or when they may look slightly different.

Think about having a late night cocktail, that’s, you know, designed around you and your partner, you might have come up with a funny name for it and it might be your favourite colour. And that can be passed around on the entree service just to kind of give you that elegant classy feel, and you could have, you know, a spirit section or something like that so make it.

I guess focus on the food and beverage, and make it much more of an experience for your guests and something that they’re going to walk away remembering because I guess my biggest thing they’ve always said to couples at the end of the day is people are going to remember if they left your wedding and went to Macca’s drive thru because they were hungry. They’re not going to remember the colour of your flowers, they’re not going to remember what type of chair they sat on.

But they’re definitely going to remember if they had fun, and you know whether they were well fed and well served.

 

Pete The Celebrant: 100%. That’s actually a really, really good point. People will not remember the chair set on the napkins, they will not remember things look nice and then if they match. But, hundred percent with food and quote I’m not really sure what it says about my wedding because we definitely went through Macca’s as well. I didn’t even have a piece of my wedding cake, I’m still shattered to this day.

 

Darcy Burch: And that’s kind of my biggest gripe, I’m a food lover and massive foodie so I’ve always said to my couples please you know you’re spending an absolute fortune on this day you’ve gone through the menu tasting you know how good this food is so don’t miss it.

 

So I’m that wedding planner, that is, you know, everywhere you turn around, I’m there. And I’m saying go and eat your own trade now. And you know if they’re talking to someone I’m that one that’s, you know, super polite with a smile and just say well you know she hasn’t actually had her own tray yet Do you mind if she just heads back to a table and they’re like, Oh, I’m so sorry. but you know I’m a massive advocate for eating your own meal, like trust me on my wedding night when my steak is served. I do not want to be spoken to.

 

Pete The Celebrant: That’s great. 100%, when I MC, while I’m there to make sure everything flow, but my other biggest role is making sure I check in the couple regularly, like “Hey, how you doing? have you had something to eat? Have you got something to drink? Can I get you something?” because sometimes they’re walking around from table to table, like you said they haven’t had an entree while everyone’s just wants to have good old yarn and, which is fantastic but if you’ve been up since early in the morning getting makeup and hanging out with the boys and you just you just think to eat, you need to look off yourself on the wedding day aswell.

 

Darcy Burch: Definitely and something that’s really helpful to ask your venue of choice, most of your hotels and kind of large wedding venues will actually employ what we call a bridal attendant or a bride or staff member and so basically their job for the night is just to look after say the bridal table, potentially sometimes the parents table as well depending on the size of the wedding. But their sole responsibility is to make sure that you’re well fed and well hydrated. So you know if you need a need a glass of water, they should be there, kind of in the immediate vicinity of you. So that’s always something nice to ask your venue and I’m sure if that was something that maybe they don’t do they certainly would be open to. So ask the question,

Pete The Celebrant’s Easy Wedding Shopfront

When should couples book their Wedding day?

Pete The Celebrant: Let’s talk about seasons, dates and the days of the week couples choose with COVID in mind and the increase of weddings over the next few years?

Darcy Burch: I wanted to touch on winter weddings. We have some really gorgeous here in Melbourne obviously I’m speaking very solely Victoria at the moment obviously this is Victoria is my baby in terms of the wedding industry.

But we have some absolutely gorgeous properties that are obviously indoors, we don’t have too many outdoor venues here in Melbourne because at the end of the day, even if you get married in February or March, there’s still a chance it’s going to rain.

So people are constantly afraid of these winter weddings. We did see them kind of pick up in the last probably two to three years just because I guess the European honeymoon is becoming the new the new norm.

So, if you do have a June wedding then you can head off straightaway onto your beautiful European honeymoon. But you know make use of these indoor venues, and my ceremony location is the dome on Collin Street and absolutely gorgeous office building the next day used to be a bank so very kind of iconic here in Melbourne.

That’s all indoor I’ll then be travelling by car to the reception at the State Library of Victoria. So you know, obviously, it would be devastating if there if it is raining on the day obviously touchwood, but at the end of the day, I’ve made kind of concessions for that regardless.

Same as for a winter wedding, you can have some really beautiful days in June July August I’ve always found that the last two weekends of August are very big for weddings, you get those really lovely kind of 18 and sunny here in Melbourne.

So don’t be afraid, you know, choose a venue that’s got a gorgeous fireplace, go for your deep reds, your, your Burgundy’s, you know, go for a really indulgent meal, you know, a beautiful steak with a red wine as you are beautiful pasta entree and kind of make the most of it finished with a hot desert, which no one seems to do you know, a beautiful sticky date or something like that could have mulled wine you could make that that beautiful winter wonderland experience that’s everyone seems to be afraid of.

Pete The Celebrant: Oh Darcy talking my language particularly sticky date pudding. I feel like there’s so much we could keep talking about all day – even just about going month by month and you can tell us, you know, or maybe the seasons, you know, colour schemes and food and just. Anyway, we’ll have to do this again.

first easy wedding couple

Ben and Shellie were Pete’s first couple that found him through Easy Weddings

What do you wish couples knew?

Pete The Celebrant: What do you wish couples knew when it came to planning their wedding?

Darcy Burch: I guess my biggest kind of tip has always been don’t sweat the small stuff, and kind of what comes along with that is trust in your bridal Dream Team of suppliers. So at the end of the day we’ve all done this many, many times before, we spend our weekends devoted to weddings and you’re making sure that your day is executed as per your vision. So trust in us that we will do everything in our power to make it the most amazing day for you as possible. And that’s kind of why you have engaged, our services.

You know the little things. Things happen and we’ll always come up with a plan, a, b, c… And, you know, more often than not, I’ve had couples come to me at the end and say oh my god that was amazing I had absolutely no idea that you’d even change that.

And you know I said at the end of the day if I had asked you that at the start of the night, it would have been something that you might have potentially had a bit of a sticking point for you. But at the end of the day it wasn’t really a big deal so don’t sweat the small stuff. Most of your wedding coordinators at a venue or even a wedding planner if you do hire one they’re always going to understand what your must haves are and what the most important things to you. So they’re certainly not going to sacrifice on anything that’s detrimental to your big day.

Pete The Celebrant: We just did a podcast with Mark cam, getting the French perspective on dating and weddings and all that. And one of the things he said for his day, I asked him ‘what do you remember?’ and he was saying that he was pretty nervous on the day and was running all these scenarios through his head; going through rain and things that could go wrong. And then he realised, it’s all good, these suppliers have for this. They know what they’re doing – he got Andrew Redmond as his celebrant and he was like ‘they just know what they were doing’, and I was able just to relax and trust in them.

Darcy Burch: Now, very safe hands with Andrew there and, pretty much every day, all of you suppliers across Australia, especially if they’re listed on our site.

They’re excellent at what they do so trusting them and trust that they will put your put you first is your day at the end of the day.

Pete The Celebrant: Yeah, hundred percent. And one last question, what’s your best advice for couples?

Darcy Burch: I think there’s a lot of discussion at the moment around photographers, because obviously they do come at a price point but at the end of the day it’s an amazing service, and they spend hours upon hours editing your photos, and you know, printing albums and things like that so they is certainly a price that comes with that it’s usually the second biggest ticket item after the venue.

So what I always say to the couple is, of course, you left with your memories, at the end of the day what you’re left with physically is the photos, so don’t scrimp on something that’s so important to you that you can look out for years and years to come. Obviously you can still get an absolutely amazing great quality photographer in saying, mid range price, price point. But you know I constantly see these Facebook posts about, you know, is there a student photographer who’s potentially affordable or a little bit of a cheaper option at the end of the day is that something that you’re willing to sacrifice, knowing that you know I’ve had very minimal but I have had couples in the past that have kind of regretted the photographer choice or potentially not going that extra mile in terms of the hours in the photography packet as well they might think or six hours is definitely enough, but if you want photos of you, you know, half ready in your robe, with the girl with the girlfriends and then you want photos going to the ceremony at the ceremony photos. Reception father daughter dance bridal dance speeches dance full. That’s why more than six hours is going to account for so I’ve had a lot of couples kind of regret that the photographer may have left at 8pm or whatever time they have essentially paid for. So I think that that’s something that deserves a little bit more thought, I guess it probably the right word.

Pete The Celebrant: Yeah, and I will share my experience we had a friend do our photos and they did a great job. If we had employed someone who did it professionally. We will probably still have access to our wedding photos as we’ve lost the disk we had and their hard drive was damaged. And we basically have one booklet on wedding photos, and that’s all we’ve got left so. And with these days. If you go to professional photographer you’ll have the link to your photos. And as far as I know they’ll be there forever. If not for years. So, yes don’t do what Pete and grace did do what Darcy is recommending.

Darcy Burch: Yeah and, yeah, spend a little bit more, and have those memories forever because you put so much into the day you might as well. Truly remember it and be able to have all these great memories at your fingertips whenever you want. Definitely and do something to show the grandkids and turning to treasure for years to come. You can look at it every anniversary. You can get some gorgeous prints these days that you can put, you can use kind of a styling in your home, that’s kind of my dream to have a gorgeous wedding photo as you enter into our home.

So you know you know if if the quality of the image isn’t that great you’re not going to want to blow it up and have it on present on presentation in your room. I think that’s just a guess, you know at the end of the day, we do need to save on costs, and there are a lot of couples struggling financially just with everything that’s going on, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the item that you need to potentially, you know, strip back on. There are other ways, you know, a wedding cake is so traditional but do you really need a wedding cake. Do you have a gorgeous dessert you have roaming deserts or whatever the venue has included in your package, could you potentially have just a fake cake, if you just you know you really want the photos, and that kind of traditional feel. You could do a cheese wheel that you can pick up from your local deli. There are some ways that you can certainly have everything that you wanted at a cheaper price but I would probably just recommend from my personal experience that photographer is not something that you want to scrimp on. Yeah.

How can couples get in touch with Easy Weddings?

Pete The Celebrant: Darcy thank you so much for joining us Darcy, how can people find out more about easy weddings and how can we get in touch?

Darcy Burch: Sure, thanks for having me today it was great fun chatting with you, obviously we’ve got an amazing website, which is a great hub directory site for everything and everything across Australia wide in our wonderful industry but you also have our venue finding service and our supplier packages that I mentioned earlier, we have our fantastic app so highly recommend downloading and it is free.

And then in addition to that we have oversee our Facebook and Instagram pages, we’d love for you to follow us on social media. You will soon start to see a little bit more engagement from us from a personal level as well. So we’re going to be doing lots of takeovers and q&a sessions just to kind of find out what you, what you really like to see from us and how we can help you further. And of course, as you can imagine there’s going to be some wedding diaries for me as well so you can follow along with my wedding planning journey as well.

It’s fantastic so much information people can get one that app you’ve got all the way at the 80% of Australian supplies on there at your fingertips you’ve got a budget guide in there and all that so fantastic and of course you can follow your journey with you planning your wedding as well, which is great. And thanks again for having me Pete.

Pete The Celebrant: Thank you Darcy, and thank you for joining us everyone.

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