Cranberry Blue - Christmas Special

TOAST chats to luxury event planners Cranberry Blue about getting ready for the festive party season!

Christmas time means party time, and few can plan and execute show-stopping luxury events like Cranberry Blue. TOAST chats to director Melanie Helen about creating sophisticated and elegant celebrations that have the WOW factor, as well as her top tips for throwing an unforgettable festive party this year.

Luxury events company Cranberry Blue have a reputation for delivering sophisticated, meticulously organized and exceptionally stylish events, and so it makes complete sense that director Melanie Helen’s professional background in fact lies in high end fashion. Her career started 15 years ago with luxury womenswear designer Roland Mouret; she worked on high profile events such as London Fashion Week and went on to become a successful Fashion Buyer. Today, she credits the skills that she learnt then as intrinsic to the success of her work as a renowned luxury event planner.

At Cranberry Blue we appreciate luxury and beautiful design, and are very good at knowing what will work well together and equally what won’t. We have a very versatile style, and I love receiving a new brief to work on!” Melanie explains.

Having said that, our natural style for weddings is one of sophistication and elegance and for events we like to inject an element of fun and a bolder choice of colour palette, whilst ensuring the same level of style and impact”.

Alexbeckettltd For Cranberry Blue

(Top image and this image credit: Alex Beckett)

Every element of Cranberry Blue’s service is bespoke; their ‘Full Planning’ option means that all areas of the party planning process are taken care of - from sourcing the perfect venue and hand selecting the ideal suppliers, to creating the design concept and Cranberry Blue’s expert team being there on the day from start to finish. Bespoke inspiration boards are created for clients, in addition to floor plans and 3D images to help convey how the chosen design will appear in real life. Talk about fuss free entertaining…

We like to take time to get to know our clients and really understand their likes and dislikes first and foremost. We always ask them at the beginning of the process what the most important aspects are to them, and while the whole event will be thoroughly considered, we give these areas particular attention” explains Melanie.

Once we have this knowledge and have secured the perfect venue we can really get to work on creating something magical and personal. Having fantastic entertainment is always key to the success of an event so we like to include varying forms throughout, and also at more unexpected times to create intrigue and suspense!”.

Canepes Craberry Blue Image By Helen Andrewdyson

(Image credit: Helen Andrew Dyson)

Melanie tells me that some of her clients prefer to do the bulk of the planning themselves, and then Cranberry Blue can swing in and help them with a few key areas of their choice. Cranberry Blue have also recently introduced a standalone ‘styling’ service where they can create a unique design concept and bring it to life, suggesting colour schemes that incorporate table settings, floral décor, lighting and furniture and more, down to the smallest detail.

We love letting our imaginations run wild and suggesting all manner of ideas which we feel would suit” Melanie enthuses.

Cranberry Blue

(Cranberry Blue event at Claridge's. Image credit John Nassari)

I absolutely love that side of what we do, and having a new and more unusual brief is always very well received in the office! We try to look at all manner of sources for inspiration so not just the more mainstream ones - I actually find interior design a brilliant source for this too”.

In today’s busy events industry there are dozens of talented party planners and diverse events companies out there all offering something to suit a vast range of needs, wants and the all-important budget too, but something that is synonymous with Cranberry Blue is pure, unadulterated luxury, but surprisingly that doesn’t have to necessarily mean expensive.

A luxurious event does naturally require a certain spend but simply throwing money at an event doesn’t in my eyes make an event luxurious – the trick is knowing how best to use that budget to create maximum impact whilst having value for money and creating something tasteful” explains Melanie.

What luxury actually means varies greatly to different people, but for us it’s about creating an unforgettable experience that everyone will remember for years to come”.

When Melanie launched the business she always wanted to focus on the luxury sector and it was, and still is, incredibly important to her and Cranberry Blue’s way of working; every client receives an extremely high level of service, and in order to ensure that Melanie bravely only takes on a certain amount of clients each year.

A lot of our weddings in particular are across several days and involve different members of the family so the whole process is incredibly time consuming!” she explains.

The number of events we take on each year varies depending on the requirements for each one, but I have no qualms about turning business away if I don’t feel 100% that we can offer the high level of service that we’re known for

Cranberry Blue is on the prestigious recommended supplier list of a range of top venues in London and across the UK, such as Blenheim Palace, Hedsor House and The Mandarin Oriental to name a few, which re-enforces their reputation in the industry. They have executed dozens of breath taking weddings and high profile events, but despite their evident success each and every occasion looks and feels fresh and unique.

Cliveden House Luxury Wedding Image By Roberta Fachini Photography

(Image Credit: Roberta Facchini)

This is a challenge sometimes as a lot of our clients are over exposed to the same inspiration sources such as Pinterest and Instagram. We’re often sent the same images which we’ve seen hundreds of times, or a client’s seen an event we’ve done and they want just that, however that’s where part of our skill comes in” Melanie explains proudly.

We’re happy to use these as inspiration and take elements from previous events we’ve planned, but we always throw new ideas into the mix and won’t ever copy something exactly. We also try to use a range of different sources other than the obvious to gain inspiration from and keep our ideas new

And so of course, when it comes to memorable events Melanie is spoiled for choice.

One event that stands out is actually a wedding in London - our client wanted to have a venue with outside space but nothing was really quite ticking each box, so not to be defeated we suggested the iconic Claridge’s…” she smiles.

To solve the issue of the lack of outside space we completely transformed the reception space into an English country park, complete with real grass turf, a giant 10ft tree covered in flowers, park railings and the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of birdsong. Guests were completely staggered when they entered the room!”.

Celine Alex Wedding Cranberry Blue

(Cranberry Blue event at Claridge's)

To be a professional events planner – especially one of such ability – is, I imagine, a highly stressful job at times. Many balls require juggling, client’s expectations need to be managed and hour after hour is required to ensure that every detail has been considered and planned for. Throughout the industry Melanie has an impressive reputation for keeping calm under pressure and keeping her wits about her, even when the heat is on.

I may be feeling the pressure, but the key is to look as though you’re calm in order to stay in control and think clearly! The adrenaline and pressure is part of what gives you that edge to effectively manage a luxury event so I’d be worried if I didn’t feel any of that on the day!” she enthuses.

The most rewarding aspect to the role however is the event day itself. We’re always one of the first to arrive and usually the last to leave, but seeing all the hard work and months of planning come together and watching everyone having an amazing time is very rewarding

If you would like to work with Cranberry Blue you can find more information on their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book, or head over to TheEDIT to read Melanie's Top Tips For Super Stylish Entertaining This Winter!

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