It’s absolutely no secret that here at Brides Up North I like to shout about the fabulous talents of many suppliers in our glorious wedding industry, so that’s why I was very happy to step up as a judge in The Wedding Industry Awards for the third year running (seriously, where has that time gone?!) What better way to keep informed of what the great and good are up to?
The sparkling ceremony took place last week and whilst I was unable to attend due to a family holiday, I was watching all the action unfold on Facebook and Twitter. Hosted by Sky News’ Sarah Hewson and held at The Bloomsbury Ballroom in London, the awards recognise the very best in service, creativity, innovation, professionalism and passion.
From gowns, flowers, hair and make-up to venues, transport, entertainment and photography, every winner was cheered by the 450 strong audience and everyone on the shortlist for each of the 24 categories had much to celebrate.
1,250 companies entered the 2014 awards. 23,000 votes were cast by newlyweds which decided the Regional Shortlist. These select few then went through another round of critical judging by an expert panel who decided the Regional Winners, before a final process of judging to decide last night’s National Winners.
Assigned to judge in a few categories (I ask not to judge any categories with a Brides Up North sponsor) – and there’s no way I’m telling you which ones – I specifically asked Damian and Anna Bailey, the lovely organisers, not to tell me who the final winners were. Firstly, because I already had a gazillion emails asking me who had won and secondly because I like the element of anticipation and surprise!
It looked like there might be a few hangovers the next day, but mostly it looked like a proper celebration of everything that’s good about our industry – a fabulous setting, glamorous gowns, industry friendships and a lot of healthy competition. A massive well done to all the wonderful winners (particularly to our amazing Featured Suppliers Middleton Lodge and Flossy & Leigh – big love)! You’d do well to add a few of these to your go-to wedding planning list.
Damian was thrilled with the evening and with the response to the awards themselves:The Wedding Industry Awards really have become the gold standard for wedding excellence in this country. Everyone can enter and because of the unique way the votes are scored, big companies are on the same footing as individuals. For couples, seeing our logo on the website of a potential supplier is a real guide to quality and we know that the list of nominees and winners on our website is a big hit with brides and grooms. We’ve done all the hard work in selecting the very best and couples can just enjoy choosing top quality suppliers with no worries.
This was our third awards and the standard of entrants was higher than ever. It’s becoming harder and harder to pick winners from such amazing shortlists where everyone demonstrates such skill. It was great to celebrate everyone’s achievements and then party all night!
To see the full list of winners, and web sites, click through…
Ok, except the looks, international pop career and racing driver beau. But hear me out.
Last week I spent a pleasant few days trawling through the regional shortlists for The Wedding Industry Awards 2013. I was thrilled to be invited to sit as a consultant judge on this prestigious panel for the second year in a row and I am pleased to continue to represent the regions in this important role.
Nicole Scherzinger comparisons aside, I take my judging job very seriously, checking out each and every shortlisted wedding business’ website alongside the votes from the companies’ clients so that my final choices are informed and fair.
This year I put in a special request to judge the Southern shortlists only, so that I could be completely unbiased in the decision making process – with the whole Northern Revolution thing going on over here I just love my Northern industry friends a little too much! I’ll still be rooting for them in the final stages though!
Damian says: The Wedding Industry Awards (TWIA) aims to sit between the word of mouth that drives the industry and suppliers’ own marketing. We want to recognise and reward the very best wedding suppliers whilst helping people make better educated decisions when looking for suppliers for their wedding. The Wedding Industry Awards are aimed at all wedding suppliers and anyone organising a wedding. We want the TWIA logo to become the kite mark for the wedding industry – a trusted mark of the highest quality.
Just by entering TWIA suppliers are putting their hands up as one of the best in the business.
Wedding suppliers enter the awards and invite their eligible clients to vote for them. This is key: TWIA relies on suppliers actively engaging with the Awards by entering themselves, rather than relying on an editorial panel to draw up a shortlist on which anyone can vote. We also have a nomination process whereby anyone can nominate a great supplier they know. This is simply a means by which people can tell us about fantastic businesses. We then invite them to enter (though suppliers can enter without being nominated).
By only allowing an entrant’s eligible wedding clients to vote, we get a much more useful and reliable indication of the quality of the suppliers concerned. TWIA is no beauty parade voted for by friends and family!
We are very keen to create a level playing field to allow all sizes and types of suppliers to compete with each other fairly. To achieve this, we look very closely at the percentage of eligible voters that actually vote for each entrant, rather than just totting up the total number of votes. We are all about quality, not just quantity! Furthermore, we operate the awards on both a regional and national basis enabling us to highlight so many more great suppliers. Many suppliers only operate on a regional basis, so this aspect of TWIA is really important.
Finally, our judging panel that presides over the national winners is second to none with real breadth and expertise in all areas of the industry. All these things give TWIA reliability, integrity and credibility. In the inaugural 2012 awards, there were over 2,000 entries from suppliers up and down the country, who received more than 22,000 votes in total.
Why The Awards Are Helpful
Anyone planning a wedding has two main ways of finding the suppliers they need. Firstly, via the supplier’s own marketing and advertising. Secondly, they have the ‘word of mouth’ recommendations of their friends, family and colleagues. This is based on direct user experience but only that of the person who is doing the recommending. TWIA sits in the middle of this and aims to offer an industry voice. Companies who are shortlisted or win an award are given the seal of approval by their clients and by our judging panel and this is a very strong endorsement.
. In addition to the new judges on our expert panel, we’ve introduced some new categories this year including:
· Best Wedding Stationery
· Best Wedding DJ
· Best Wedding Live Music Entertainment
· Best Non-Musical Wedding Entertainment
We’ve also teamed up with Guides for Brides to create the Best Wedding Industry Website award, which all 2013 entrants are automatically entered into, and the Best Newcomer category, which all new businesses since 1st November are eligible for.
This year, we have also introduced a blog to occupy the space between our web site and social media, as well as introducing an entry fee for all entrants. This nominal £50 fee enables us to organise and run the awards in addition to marketing and advertising TWIA for the benefit of all those who participate whilst keeping things 100% fair. Our independence is key to TWIA’s rigour and fairness and this is only possible thanks to the entry fee.
We continue to examine the regional borders, the award categories we use and how we can further enhance all entrants’ exposure to the marketplace in an effort to involve as many people in the industry as possible.
From the outset, it was vital that our panel was respected by both wedding professionals and by anyone organising a wedding. After extensive research, we picked up the phone to the experts we thought would suit TWIA best. Every potential judge we approached accepted our invitation (bar one who said no because he had just retired from several other panels and needed a rest!). They fully understood and backed the ethos behind the awards and we were delighted to welcome them on board. It’s worth mentioning that no single judge has sole discretion over any award. The vast majority of the judging process is based on voter scores and comments, but our judges take their role of examining the votes in addition to entrants’ web sites and TWIA profiles very seriously. Each expert gives the panel their detailed feedback based on their speciality to help the decision process when it comes to the regional and national winners. It’s very much a team effort!
At the inaugural Awards event back in January this year we decided to move away from the ‘sit-down-meal’ type of awards night. We want suppliers to be able to meet and network with as many people as possible; to build contacts and relationships with others in their industry and region. To do this we felt we needed to make sure that people weren’t tethered to a table all evening. We wanted to have a party at which the awards were presented – and that’s exactly what we got! This year’s event will be even bigger and better.