If you're the sentimental type then Collective Concepts are the perfect planning team for you. They will absorb your unique love story, get to know you, learn what matters to you and then, they'll research on your behalf, plan your day to perfection and deliver on details like a total boss. We chatted with founder, Kate Blundell about how they manage to balance their personal flare with the utmost professionalism.

Collective Concepts
Photo by Hannah Bird Photography

What do you love about weddings, how did you start out and how long have you been in the business for?

I have had a vast, varied and rewarding career in hospitality. Starting out in restaurants and multinational hotels where I helped deliver many weddings over a 10-year period, before founding Collective Concepts in 2008 as a company specialising in event management, bespoke wedding planning and unique hospitality experiences.

What I love about the wedding industry is the wonderful couples we meet and the privilege we hold in learning about their love story as our team guide them on a planning journey to curate a wedding day that truly reflects them as a couple and ultimately creates an unforgettable experience for them and their loved ones. 

Another aspect that is very special to our team is the relationships we build with other suppliers in the industry. There really is no better feeling than seeing everyone’s specialist product, service or skill come to life for our couples on their wedding day. When it all comes together the feeling onsite is electric – a feeling that after all these years still never gets old!

Collective Concepts
Photo by Cassandra Kovacs Photography

Does your brand have a specific style? 

I would say that our style is collaborative and aligned to our company vision and values. We offer a personal yet professional service to our clients and work hard to source locally, ethically, and sustainably to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible while delivering our couples the wedding day that they have dreamed of, within their budget.

Our vision:
Our in-house team of professionals and talented supplier network share a common vision: to deliver unforgettable event, wedding and hospitality experiences that share the unique stories of the people, products, and places we represent, in a way that leaves an impression long after the occasion is over.

While each client brings their own unique style to their wedding day, we do keep ourselves updated with international trends (as we are generally a season behind) and we love learning about new products and services from wedding suppliers around New Zealand so we can share these ideas with our clients.

How many people do you have on your team and who should we expect on the day? If no one, do you have a backup plan?

We have a small in-house team at Collective Concepts, consisting of two wedding planners, Kate Blundell and Stephanie Mitchell. 

We also have an extended team of experienced wedding coordinators, and professional food and beverage staff that we can engage in the lead up and on the day to ensure that all areas of our couples’ wedding day run smoothly.

As a company, we always have a contingency plan as we would never allow our couples to be left stranded on their special day. We have found that the industry has really come together since the start of the pandemic and we are all there for each other and our clients making sure that a wedding day comes toget

Collective Concepts
Photo by Bayly and Moore Photography

Tell us a bit about your process when booking a wedding from start to finish? What’s included and what’s not?

We offer all new clients a complimentary, obligation free consultation, where we broadly discuss their desired plans, ideas, and budget. This is a great opportunity for us and our clients to get to know each other a little better and to ensure we are the right fit for each other. Wedding planning is such a personal journey, so it is important to know that you have a connection alongside mutual trust and respect.

Following the consultation, the couple are sent a summary of our discussion and a proposal for the services they require.

Once the proposal is agreed to, a service agreement is sent out for electronic signing and then our couple are given access to our online planning toolkit, a personalised digital wedding planning checklist and suggestions and recommendations for venues and suppliers that we think will work will fit perfectly with their ideas and budget. 

Depending on which service/s the couple have chosen, we look after the heavy lifting, such as creating a mood board to streamline their ideas, prepare and manage the wedding budget, source proposals, confirm dates and services, and communicate with the venue and suppliers, attend site visits and supplier planning meetings, and create a detailed wedding timeline and run sheet to be shared with venue, suppliers, bridal party and MC. All our couples have access ongoing support via email, phone, video or in person throughout their planning journey. 

When we look after the planning and administration for a couple, they are able to focus on the elements that excite them, such as preparing the guest list, choosing their invitation design, tasting menus and cakes, deciding on their attire, planning their engagement party or hens/stags parties, and creating the special details for their day.

Once all the details are in place and re-confirmed, around 6-8 weeks out, we prepare for the wedding rehearsal and set up of the wedding before being onsite for 10-12 hours on the wedding day to bring everything together. This includes but is not limited to, managing deliveries and set up, keeping the day on track, assisting with the hosting of important family members and guests, making sure suppliers have everything they need (including food and drinks!) and managing any unexpected situations.

Following the wedding we make sure all the loose ends are tidied up, outstanding accounts are settled, suppliers are thanked for their hard work and most importantly, check in with our couple to debrief on the amazing day that unfolded.

We are lucky enough to have many of our couples and their photographers grant us permission to share images from their day on our website and social media channels to showcase our work (and that of our suppliers) and to inspire future couples.

What info do you require from a couple to best understand their vision and accurately quote on jobs?

The key things we need are:

  • Details about the couple – how they met and their engagement story (we love a good love story!), what they like / dislike, personal style, vision for their wedding day etc. 
  • Details about their wedding - preferred or confirmed date, expected guest numbers, wedding location and venue (or temporary structure/marquee site), the budget they have set or what they are happy to spend on their wedding day, suppliers they have confirmed or have their eye on and anything else that would be helpful for us to understand their needs and for us to accurately quote services required.
  • An understanding of the requirements a couple has of our Collective Concepts team – do they need a full planning service, a coordinator to help pull the final details and day of their wedding together from around 8 weeks out, or do they require professional event, food, or beverage staff to deliver elements for them on the day?

To help us gather some of this information we have a questionnaire that our couples fill in that helps us (and them!) understand their wedding day priorities and other important details for consideration on the wedding planning journey.

Collective Concepts
Photo by Robin and Andy Photography

Is there anywhere that couples can see your work?

Couples can see our work and read our planning blogs and tips on our website at collectiveconcepts.co.nz. 

We are also very active on social media - Instagram and Facebook - where future couples can follow us to see the work that we have provided to previous clients and gather inspiration and tips for planning their own wedding day.

Tell us a bit about your fee structure? 

We offer a range of personalised wedding planning solutions including the Ultimate Wedding Planning Experience, wedding coordination and wedding planning consultations and planning resources, to ensure that our clients enjoy the planning journey and the perfect wedding day celebrating with their friends and family. 

Our website includes information and guidance on pricing for our services, however each client receives a personalised proposal following our initial, obligation free consultation. Our planning and coordination services can be customised for all sizes of celebrations from micro weddings through to multi day celebrations. 

Alongside our planning and coordination services we also offer Canterbury’s only bespoke all-inclusive wedding packages where our couples can custom create their perfect day that is unique to them based around the celebration location, size and length that is perfect for them.

There are no hidden costs, all our services are discussed and agreed upon up front and are included within a couples’ wedding budget.

Do you work on locations and do your prices include travel fees?

We are based in Christchurch and are more than happy to travel throughout New Zealand to deliver our services. Travel costs are included within the initial proposal.

Please list up to 5 vendors you love working with?

This is such a hard question - we would love to list 50 not 5 as there are so many talented suppliers that we work with each season! Here are a few we have been working with regularly over the past few seasons and will again this coming season:

  • Tipapa Estate & The Woolshed at Tipapa
  • Verve Real Food Catering
  • Pulse Entertainment
  • The Little Hire Company
  • Krystle Photography

How many weddings have you done over the years?

I have been part of delivering over 200 weddings throughout my career and Steph is coming up to 50 this season, after 9 years in the hospitality and event industry.

What is the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator?

A wedding planner will research, plan and deliver your wedding right down to the very last detail. They are a trusted professional with extensive industry knowledge, experience and connections. If you dream it, they can make it happen (budget permitting of course!). From helping you prepare a budget and understanding your wedding style, a planner takes away the stress and negotiations of sourcing venues, celebrants, caterers, florists and much more. They will present you with ideas and plans for you to approve, adore, and get excited about.

On the day, the planner will shift into a coordination role, quietly looking after everything from behind the scenes, so you can immerse yourself in the joy of the day without getting deep into the details.

An experienced wedding coordinator is not only concerned with the ‘on the day’ elements of your wedding but will start working with you from around six to eight weeks prior to your wedding day to make sure all the final details are in place, and they understand exactly how you have planned for your day to unfold. In essence the coordinator makes sure that all your own planning is delivered on your wedding day, just as you had dreamed it would be. Like wedding planners, they have an eye for the finer details, will ensure the day runs as scheduled, and will take care of any unexpected situations while removing the stress from you and your loved ones, so you can get down to creating magical memories.

How much does wedding planning or coordination cost?

Starting rates for professional and experienced wedding planning and coordination services varies from planner to planner, based on their experience and services offered.

Collective Concepts rates for the 2022/2023 season:

• Wedding day coordination – from $2950

• Full-Service Wedding planning – from $5450

• DIY wedding styling and wedding coordination package – from $3950

Can you work with any budget?

We are aware that engaging a wedding planner or coordinator is a luxury and won’t be within everyone’s budget.

As a guide for your budget, wedding coordination will be around 7-10% of your overall budget and wedding planning will be around 15-20% of your overall budget if you are planning a $30k+ wedding.

Most couples find that these fees are offset by the value of experience, time saved and the maximisation of the budget that engaging a professional planner brings.

Collective Concets
Photo by Paul Wilson Photography

How much does it cost to have a wedding in New Zealand?

Let’s always keep in mind that a wedding is just one day, and a marriage is a lifetime. For this reason, we never advocate for clients spending outside of their means on their wedding DAY.

To celebrate your love, you can hold anything from a very inexpensive registry style wedding through to an elaborate celebration with all the latest trends and big guest list. This is your day and you should do it your way – within your budget.

The clients we work with generally have a budget between $30k - $70k+ and a guest list of anywhere between 80 – 130. 

Can we choose our own suppliers, or do we need to use yours?

Absolutely! If you come to us and already have suppliers booked or know that you would like to use a particular business or even a family member to supply a service or product for your day, we will help you work that into your plans.

If you don’t know where to start, we will listen to your ideas, understand your priorities and work within your budget to provide suggestions of suppliers that could be the perfect addition to your wedding supplier team.

Do you take commissions or ‘kick-backs’ from suppliers?

No. The fee you pay us covers the full service we have quoted you.

We are often provided industry rates or offered an industry discount from suppliers we work with regularly. The great news is that these are passed directly on to you if you have booked a wedding planning service with us, or if we have introduced you to the supplier as part of our consultation or coordination services.

Who from Collective Concepts will be there on the day?

Kate oversees the planning and lead up to all weddings at Collective Concepts with Steph supporting her and our clients on the wedding planning journey – we firmly believe that two heads are better than one and our clients love that one of us is always available to assist with questions or suggestions as they arise.

On booking, you will know if it will be Kate, Steph or one of our other experienced coordinators supporting you on your day. You will be in the most capable hands and will meet your coordinator well in advance of your day through our very detailed handover and wedding rehearsal process.

If you have booked any additional services such as setup, pack down or our experienced food and beverage team, they will also be onsite making your dream day come to life.

What happens if it rains?

If we are planning or coordinating your wedding, we will have come up with a wet weather (or any weather!) plan with you well in advance. We are always thinking about the comfort of your and your guests, so we consider all the elements when we are planning and delivering your day. 

The week of, during the set up and on the day of your wedding we will be keeping a close eye on the weather and working alongside your supplier team, while taking care of any required changes to the day, making sure you still have the best day and that you don’t have to worry about a thing!

How far in advance should we book you?

It really is never too early to book an initial consultation with us!

Ideally, we would love to hear from you as soon as you are engaged or at least 12 months out from your wedding. This means we are more likely to have your date available and can guide you on your planning journey from the beginning to help you manage your budget carefully and select the best suppliers for your day.

We also take clients on with a much shorter (or longer) lead times provided we are confident we can plan and deliver their day within the timeframe given.

Got any hot tips for couples when booking a business like yours?

  • It’s never too early to book your favourite wedding planner, coordinator, or supplier!
  • Is your supplier listening to what YOU want or are they trying to create their own dream wedding with your budget? The best wedding suppliers are the ones that listen carefully to all your ideas and then help you to streamline and prioritise them within your own wedding planning and budget.
  • You need to have a connection with any supplier you are bringing into your wedding day. If you meet with a planner or supplier and you don’t vibe with them, that is OK – 
  • let them know and they will likely recommend others you may like to meet.
  • Be honest about your wedding day dreams and your budget so your planner can help you make the best decisions for YOUR day.
  • Like anything, you get what you pay for! Planning a wedding takes over 200 hours and if you are using a planner, they will take at least half the work load off your hands and leave you to handle the elements that excite you. Like the saying goes ‘if the rate seems too good to be true, it probably is.’. A professional planner wants to be paid accordingly for their time and experience (just like ant other supplier) – if the rate is too low, what is being overlooked or where are corners being cut?
  • Read the fine print! Never sign T&C’s without understanding what you are agreeing to. What are the cancellation and postponement clauses? Are there hidden costs? Can they subcontract the service out without your approval? Do they have a backup in place if case they can’t deliver the agreed product or service on the day due to illness or another unforeseeable situation?
  • Make sure your suppliers are reputable, hold public liability insurance and have specific Heath & Safety planning in place for your wedding.
  • Don’t just trust what the supplier says about their product, service, or experience – read their past client reviews on Google and Facebook, look at what they have
  • been tagged in on Instagram and ask others in the industry if they have worked with them and what their experience was like.
Collective Concepts
Photo by Cassandra Kovacs Photography

What’s was the coolest, craziest or your most memorable wedding to work on?

Every wedding is memorable in its own way, which is what we love about working in this industry! However, one of our most memorable was a Northland wedding that could have become an absolute disaster thanks to a king tide and a once 100-year storm flooding a waterfront located marquee overnight while we all slept blissfully! Have no fear, all was not lost. In true Northland form where they often experience four seasons in one day, the weather cleared up was amazing on the wedding day.

The residual damage and flooding resulted in us getting to know the neighbours very well, as they let us use their washing machines to rewash the linen the morning of the wedding. Before resetting the whole marquee in record time with an ‘army’ of helpers and neighbours, we added additional marquee flooring, to which the bride didn’t even notice or learn of the extent of the flooding until photos were shown later on in the evening! 

This wedding was a true test of mental resilience, stamina and teamwork, and a wonderful reminder of the love of a couples’ family and friends to make sure they have the most amazing day, no matter the circumstances!

Tell us a bit about the face behind the brand. What do you get up to on a day off and where would we find you?

Our whole team have extensive backgrounds in and a passion for hospitality and tourism so for that reason on our days off you will likely find us out and about with our family and friends trying out new and exciting venues, sampling wine and cocktails, enjoying the latest food trends, attending events, or travelling to new places to gather inspiration for our upcoming event and wedding clients. 

Follow us on social media to learn more about our team and what we get up to!

Where do you find your personal flare and inspiration for the business?

Steph and I have over 35 years’ collective experience within the hospitality, tourism and events industries, which has made us so passionate about our work and has provided opportunity for us to experiences many high and lows, and meet many people, all of which we learn something from.

Every time we plan a wedding we are also learning from our clients – their unique style, their bigger and bolder ideas, their family dynamics, their cultural or religious backgrounds, and so much more. These learnings and our own experiences always push us to gather more knowledge, achieve more that we thought possible and deliver even more than what our couple expected. Seeing our couples create memories of a lifetime is what inspires us to keep building and creating for our Collective Concepts clients.

Collective Concepts
Photo by Collective Concepts

Finally, Tell us why you’re awesome? What sets your business apart from the rest? 

Our personal and professional approach to wedding planning takes care of every detail – we are all about creating an unforgettable experience for our couples and their loved ones on their wedding day.

We have years of experience, work with the best in the industry, go beyond the expected and simply love our clients and pride ourselves on delivery an exceptional level of service.

Here is our favourite quote, it is what our Collective Concepts team live by and what we challenge ourselves to deliver for our clients: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel" - Maya Angelou.

Collective Concepts can be found on The Best Wedding App under Wedding Planners