Man about the World
After an inspiring trip around Greece, Matthew embraced the world of wedding planning 9 years ago. His charming, creative personality shines through and his confident, calm demeanour is everything you need when planning a wedding. We adore him for his signature bow ties, his caring side and his love of flowers - because we are obsessed with those too. Matthew knows good style and has endless ideas to make your wedding remarkable.
We've been eyeing the work of Matthew Oliver for years now and can't get enough of his natural flair for elegance, glamour and international style. Despite being UK-based, Matthew and his team have styled editorial-worthy weddings all over the world - everywhere from Cyprus to Italy to our very favourite venues in the Scottish Highlands and more! We've been collecting images from Matthew's archives to file in our inspiration folders for ages and were thrilled to represent him on our A to B List, but we couldn't resist a chance to sit down with the man himself and find out what goes on in that dream-filled head of his!
If you asked Matthew about his roots in the wedding industry, he'd happily share with you a sweet fairy tale of sorts revolving around his life on the island of Cyprus. "Well once upon a time, many years ago, upon a beautiful Greek island, a much younger Matthew (that’s me!) was asked if he wanted to change to a new role within the company he worked, that role thrust him into the world of wedding planning and the amazing beauty, creativeness and people within it!" It only takes him a minute to pause and laugh at himself. "Sorry I’m currently listening to a Disney playlist and got a bit carried away! In all truth I sort of fell into wedding planning." His first few weddings in Cyprus were invaluable experiences with lovely couples that set the foundation for his passion as a creative event planner. A few years later, he moved back to the UK and used the knowledge, energy and experience he'd gained in Cyprus to start his own company. Together with his partner Bertie, assistant planner Millie, intern Ceri and gorgeous Red Setter Winston, Matthew is creating wedding magic all over the world!
We jumped at the chance to ask this international wedding expert all about his personal experience and the ever-changing wedding industry.
What are the best "undiscovered spots" in the UK for wedding venues that brides just haven't caught onto yet?
M: Couples haven’t yet discovered the amazing industrial style options out there, as wedding venues. There is such a raw beauty to industrial spaces, especially when you can soften that rawness with touches of colour through flowers and lighting. It leads the way for a wedding that is striking, functional and very very memorable; with the couple being able to put their stamp on it. London has some incredible industrial spaces, which either are or can be used as wedding venues, I would just LOVE to see more couples considering them as an option.
How has the industry changed from when you first started out? What do brides do differently now?
M: The industry seems to have gained more of a personality, vendors are really showing who they are as a brand and presenting some really amazing ideas! This makes working with them all the more fun. We’ve especially noticed a change in what’s available, like charger plates, glassware and chair hire, the options are now incredible! Though whether that has been a change in the industry or our perception from our increased involvement, it is hard to say, but I hope for the former. Brides seem to have picked up on this change and run with it, always happy to go with new and exciting ideas and looking to pour more personalisation into their special day. They are happier to really go for what they want, no matter how extravagant and not feel constrained to traditions. It opens up up so many possibilities, which means you can shape the wedding into something really unique, and couples love that.
Do you have any memories of moments when you definitely experienced "wedding magic", despite all odds?
M: I think it would be almost impossible to narrow this down to a few moments of ‘wedding magic’, we are fortunate to be able to create so many wonderful, so many special, so many unique moments, to us they are all magic. Cliche I know! But hey we love what we do and love what we create, it’s hard not to be proud!
Are there any international destinations you haven't visited yet but would be amazing spots to plan a wedding? What would your top list of "dream venues" be?
M: Oh there are so more amazing places I would love to plan weddings! We love to experience and absorb new cultures into our weddings, as there is a reason why our couples wish to marry in that country, so incorporating that culture into the wedding event is a must! And there are so many more cultures I just hope I have the opportunity to do that for. Top 3? Well first has to be Iceland, I recently organised a photoshoot out there and the incredible extremes of the country's landscape would make an incredible back drop for a Matthew Oliver Wedding. Next on the list is Japan, just a stunningly unique culture that has such beautiful traditions, not to mention the incredible architecture and scenery. Can you imagine the pictures! Last of the 3 (from an extensive list!) would have to be Austria, close to home but I just love everything about this country; the people, the climate diversity, the venues, the countryside, the Sound of Music! I would love the experience of planning an amazing wedding here, so if anyone fancies it give us a call!
Describe an average day in the life of a wedding planner - what do you do/plan/visit, etc?
M: Now don’t believe everything you see on our instagram! It’s not all food tastings and trips to gorgeous venues around the globe, it is actually about 75% admin work, but a Google Doc isn’t nearly as interesting in a picture! So an average day consists of putting together proposals or working through each client's wedding planning document, whether it be sourcing suppliers, refining the design, building the wedding schedule or a multitude of other things. Welcome breaks to this of course come in the form of meetings with clients (in person or via Skype), venue visits (UK or abroad) and catch ups with other lovely people in the wedding industry.
Biggest disaster or malfunction at a wedding? What went wrong and did you manage to fix it?
M: Ooh difficult question! We’ve never had anything I would call a disaster (he says touching wood!) but we have certainly had a few wedding day challenges. One I remember vividly from last year, we planned a beautiful vegan wedding, for a lovely American couple, in a stunning french Chateau in Loire Valley. The chateau and grounds were typical french amazingness, and so we were having the ceremony on a island of the lake in front of the chateau and the wedding breakfast in the chateau’s courtyard. We planned it so we were recycling the chairs from the ceremony to the reception (to save on cost), whilst the drinks reception was happening. We asked the venue for some suitable staff to move the chairs across the bridge from the island to the courtyard. The logistics were in place, the confirmation of staff was given and it came to the big day, up rocked these two lovely but slightly older gentlemen, both in their 80’s we swiftly learned they would be unable to move all, if any of the chairs in the 60 minutes we had. This therefore meant that Millie and myself (in formalwear) then spent a fairly hectic and sweaty hour moving the many many chairs what felt like miles between the two locations. Needless to say we did it all, without needing to shift the schedule. But that full on cardio session added to the marathon which is running a wedding day meant that I didn’t leave my bed for the following few days!
What advice would you give to brides planning a destination wedding and looking for the perfect team of vendors?
M: Planning a destination wedding is all about the contacts, you need to find what is available in the local area, who has a good reputation and which vendors can share your vision for your ideal wedding. To find these contacts you can’t be afraid to ask for recommendations, ask your venue, ask any of the vendors you’re already in contact with and make sure you have options. You don’t want to go with the first recommendation, look objectively at whether this is what you and your partner want and that the cost fits, if not look elsewhere. Should there be nowhere local, look further afield, look internationally, like us a lot of suppliers are happy to travel to experience the joy of planning a wedding in a new place. So what I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to ask questions, whatever they may be, you’re entitled to and if it gets you the wedding you always wanted, well then it is certainly worth it.