A TV show wedding planner who has earned a reputation for rescuing nuptials from disaster is launching a training academy in Staffordshire.
Jane Dayus-Hinch, from reality show Wedding SOS, has been inundated by aspiring wedding planners and brides wanting to organise their own big day and in response to demand, the former Lichfield Barrow Queen and Miss UK semi-finalist, has decided to offer a course to help.
The event organiser, who has planned more than 1,000 weddings worldwide, is holding a series of workshops in the run-up to the launch of a residential course next year called The Wedding Academy.
The mother-of-one, who started her career in corporate events and banqueting, has also launched her own range of Champagne with 23-carat gold flakes as well as a range of wedding rings made in the Jewellery Quarter.
Despite the recession and cutbacks, weddings remain big business in the UK with the average spend now at more than £20,000.
For couples that can’t afford to hire a wedding planner Ms Dayus-Hinch has created a wall chart and is preparing to launch an iPhone application in January ahead of the spring wedding season.
She said: “Last weekend I did a wedding fair and so many girls told me they want to be wedding planners. Often they have watched the shows and thought that’s my world and think it’s a dream job. It looks very glamorous but they don’t see what happens behind the scenes – it’s seriously hard work.
“They also think it’s like it is in the movies, I was called Frank for years after Father of the Bride. Then came Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner – it was funny to watch her running but pretending to walk. That’s what you have to do, have everything under control, even if the building is burning down, the bride can’t know anything is wrong.
"You have to be three steps ahead. When I’m teaching I say 'what to do if', in every instance. If the bride doesn’t turn up, you have to deal with it.”
The wedding guru believes too many planners are trying to launch careers without relevant practical experience.
She said: “I want a recognised standard to the wedding planning industry – you can do it online but my worry is it’s almost ticking boxes to get a piece of paper but no experience.
“I’m going to create a whole training programme where candidates shadow and are shadowed.
“A husband and wife this week told me they are quitting their jobs to start a wedding planning business but when I asked what experience they had, they said none. It’s not just about booking photographers and florists.
“I have spoken to two training providers about a qualification. It will be a practical course based in a hotel – I will give the candidates workshops, homework and they will have a wedding at the weekend and I will shadow – that’s far more beneficial than an online course.”
Ms Dayus-Hinch started in the field as an events organiser doing Grand Prix and corporate events specialising in marquees. It was by chance that she was on holiday in the US visiting her cousin, who worked for a wedding planner, which led to setting up a business in Lichfield in 1985.
In 2004 her experience and humour caught the attention of a Canadian television company looking for a British wedding planner and she was offered a position as host of Wedding SOS which features couples in need of expert help.
More than 65 couples have featured on the show which is aired in 80 countries.
Now Ms Dayus-Hinch, who married in Lichfield Cathedral with the late Lord Lichfield as her wedding photographer, is producing her first UK-based show called Mixed Blessings featuring couples from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Ms Dayus-Hinch is aiming to grow her profile in the UK with the help of agent Gino Culbertson of Lichfield-based Excel Management and continuing to expand her wedding empire with the launch of champagne and jewellery, but she acknowledges that couples are spending less as a result of the recession.