Seven questions with...
New blog series "Seven questions with" where we talk briefly to the wedding people behind the scenes...
Today I'd like to introduce creative wedding business owner Charlotte Lee-Butler of the amazing Handmaid. Boho, rustic and vintage wedding props.
WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH WEDDINGS?
I was a true bride of the 2010s that already had been with my partner for 11 years and we had moved back to New Zealand (he's Irish), got the mortgage, did major renovations and had two kids. We felt married already but we decided to have a wedding after a friend passed away, which is always a reminder to get the ones you love together for a happy occasion.
I wanted to have a celebration of all the goodness and blessings we have in our life. So we got married as a family with two pre-schoolers in tow, on a budget and I discovered just freaking LOVED planning and designing it and also creating for it.
After our incredible celebration weekend, I got to thinking about how awesome it would be to be involved in other people's special day and help to make it easier for them to put the special touches onto their weddings. And thus, Handmaid was born between my toddler's naps and Kindy runs!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I absolutely love this "job" (it doesn't even feel right calling it that!). I get to really connect with the couples who hire from us and I get such a kick from hearing their ideas and concepts or helping to pin down a concept with them. I just love helping in a big or small way (whatever they need) to bring it to fruition.
I truly feel like we become friends along the way through our contact over the months leading to the wedding, even though I don't often get to meet them in the flesh until just before or after their weddings. I love seeing photos of how their ideas looked on the day, how our props were used and the feedback I get.
DESCRIBE THE MOST UNUSUAL JOB YOU'VE EVER HAD?
Well, my background is as a lawyer so it's an unusual background to come into the wedding industry from. I worked as a lawyer until my second baby was born but wanted to be able to have more flexibility around my children and being a lawyer isn't always easy with a young family.
Handmaid hasn't had any particularly unusual hires - we have been involved with a heap of weddings, corporate events, Christmas parties, special birthdays and hen's nights. They all have their own flavour and have looked great - from vintage, rustic boho and festival weddings to Arabian nights and Madhatter's Tea parties.
However, personally I have had various jobs as a student or travelling. I worked in a Bead Gallery for years as a manufacturer of jewellery for shops all over the country and sold my own jewellery at markets, I have worked for different universities in various roles, I've been a corporate lawyer in a big firm and worked for governments, been a waitress, managed a backpackers on a Canadian island with amazing treehouses, a tipi and a gypsy caravan for accomodation and worked for a potter and glassblower, oh and delivered pizzas!
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?
It's so simple but my Grandma used always say, 'carry the courage of your convictions' and it has always stuck with me - both personally and in business. If we are true to ourselves, the rest will follow. Now I hear "authenticity" all the time for life and business, which is much the same thing.
WHAT DO YOU WISH EVERY COUPLE WOULD ALREADY KNOW?
I often say to my couples that the ceremony is really ALL about them and the reception is more about their guests.
I often have brides say the reception was a blur, it all went so fast and they didn't get to see everyone, especially those who have travelled. That's why having a gathering the next day is so wonderful and also why photos will carry precious little gems that the couple weren't aware of - eg while they were off having their photos, they can see what their guests were up to and people from different parts of their lives connecting. That's why I love candid photos, instead of just posed or group photos.
IF YOU COULD HAVE BRUNCH WITH ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Gosh so many amazing people I'd love to meet - but if it's JUST one, then I would love to have a chat with Leonardo da Vinci over an eggs bene and a flat white! What a mind and a visionary! I studied Art History but he excelled beyond painting and was curious and inventive in so many facets of life.
IF YOU WERE GOING TO GET MARRIED OR MARRY AGAIN, NAME THREE THINGS YOU'D HAVE OR DO AT YOUR WEDDING
1. Have an outdoor festival wedding with stretch tent decorated in a boho theme.
2. Have a vintage caravan bar.
3. My husband's a muscian and so he played at our wedding with our then-four year old son who "played" guitar and sang - a total heart melt moment and would love to re-live that moment over and over! Heck, next time I'd make it a family rendition with me and our daughter too!