Hazel Parsons is a self-proclaimed ‘fan of all things wedding’ – she knows a lot about weddings and not just because she herself is married. The wedding industry is big business in the south west.
According to WIFE (Wedding Industry Facts & Economics), the UK Wedding Industry is worth over £10 billion per year. This includes the clothes, venue, gifts, food, drink, flowers, accommodation, hair and make-up, stationery, travel and photographer.
Parsons spent over 15 years in the hospitality industry before deciding to hone in on a gap in the market; weddings and events. A sharp businesswoman, she developed the ‘Hazel Parsons Wedding & Event Consultancy.’ She offered SMEs associated with the wedding business, venues and suppliers in Devon and Cornwall, marketing, sales and PR support.
As her business began to grow, Parsons saw the benefits of holding events to allow the different players in the wedding industry to meet each other and to showcase their businesses for wedding coordinators.
She explains: “I created The Cornwall Wedding Industry MeetUp in 2013. At first this was a free bi-annual event to create collaborative business relationships amongst Cornwall’s Wedding Industry, providing opportunities for knowledge-transfer through key presentations and demonstrations.
“I wanted to improve the performance and standards of the Cornwall Wedding Industry, to raise the County’s profile and promote it as a ‘go to’ wedding destination in the UK.”
The events grew and expanded in scope. The latest Wed MeetUp in November was held at the Alverton Manor Hotel in Truro. The event had grown into a bustling event with attendees from all over Devon and Cornwall, three speakers, several networking exercises and a delicious three course lunch.
The aim is to have fun and meet people and create lasting business relationships,” says Jenny Wren, of Jenny Wren Weddings & Event Planning, Parsons’ partner in the last three Wedding Meetup events. The next event is scheduled for March 3.
To date, Parsons has hosted five Cornwall Wed Meet Ups – the abbreviated title that is now a successful website and Facebook page. Not one to rest on her laurels, she keeps busy writing for the Ultimate Wedding Magazine blog and hosting a #WedChat on Twitter. #WedChat is an online networking chat for the wedding industry and future brides and grooms, from 8.30-9.30pm on Wednesday evenings.
But what is her final goal and how does she see the Cornish wedding industry developing? “I want to encourage greater collaboration with businesses in Cornwall to achieve a more sustainable and prosperous Cornish Wedding Industry. This is a big part of my work to date,” she explains. “I see the businesses in Cornwall’s wedding industry continuing to grow, explore and deliver high qualities of services by working collaboratively.”
Some businesses in the industry think of her as a magical facilitator or business guru, though Hazel puts her role quite simply. “I assist in connecting the right businesses together and making them aware of opportunities,” she smiles.
“What I would like to do is establish Cornwall as a county that provides quality wedding suppliers and makes people aware that they do not need to go out of county to get this level of service provision.”
For Hazel Parsons, it’s all about people: “I love Cornwall and think the wedding industry in Cornwall is made up of a very creative, passionate and driven group of individuals and businesses.”