Just to be nominated in the English Wedding Awards was a big enough thrill for Helen Pomery she never thought she’d win on the night!
In fact Helen was so convinced that she wouldn’t win on the night that she didn’t actually attend the awards ceremony at all, she explains: “It all got a bit complicated! I had been going to drive up to Birmingham for the event with a friend who said she’d keep me company, but then something came up, she couldn’t go and I thought ‘it’s an awful long way to go on my own’ so I decided not to go. When I got the call the next day to say we had won – I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling that was, I just couldn’t believe it.
“And I know its a cliche but the award isn’t just about me, I’m super-proud of my team and grateful to all the couples who chose to plan their wedding at our shows and thankful to all my customers – the wedding suppliers who repeatedly choose to exhibit with us. It was a very proud day indeed.”
Helen’s company, Empirical Events, had picked up the award for Best Local Wedding Event in the South East – a very significant award within her industry.
She established Empirical Events in 2012 to provide a professional marketing and events service to businesses operating in the Wedding Industry and things have grown fast. In 2013 Helen organised just two shows, in 2018 she oversaw 60 – more than one a week! That includes wedding fairs, wedding shows, catwalks, dress sales and photoshoots and from its base in St Leonards Empirical Events casts its net across the whole of the South of England.
Helen is proud of her local roots, she was born and educated in St Leonards and is passionate about the town and about business, she says: “I have a background in sales, marketing and customer service and it really has been those principles that have differentiated my business and made us the market leading wedding fair organisers in this part of the country.”
While Helen leads from the front and is very much the face of the business she now employs a team of five local people in addition to providing work for many freelance support staff on event days.
The numbers speak for themselves, over the last six years more than 700 wedding service providers have exhibited with Empirical Events at venues across the South. Locally wedding fairs have been staged at Battle Abbey, Bannatyne Spa Hotel, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, The Lodge at Winchelsea, Hastings Pier and White Rock Theatre, De la Warr Pavilion, Herstmonceux Castle, All Saint’s Chapel and the Hydro Hotel in Eastbourne.
Brides, grooms and their extended families who visit Empirical’s wedding shows regularly remark on the quality of exhibitors and the organisation of the events and that’s something that makes Helen particularly proud: “For most couples planning a wedding will be the biggest event they have ever organised. We have carefully selected the exhibitors who book our events to make sure we give our visiting couples reassurance that these businesses can offer them the support and experience they can trust as well as a quality product. Whether our couples have a huge wedding budget or they are looking for a more low-key affair, we pride ourselves on being very inclusive and offer something for everyone at our events.”
Empirical Events works closely with wedding venues, many of whom rely heavily on the marketing provided by being part of an Empirical Events’ show because that in itself generates enquiries, often long before the wedding fairs actually take place.
Helen says: “One of our long-standing shows is at East Sussex National Resort in Uckfield where we have delivered wedding shows, catwalks, dress sales and evening showcase events for the last three years. At the end of last year, we were told by The English Wedding Awards that exhibitors and visitors to our show there had independently nominated us for the Best Wedding Event in the South East, part of the English Wedding Awards .
“We faced some stiff competition from some premium venues all over the region and we were invited to support our nomination by providing ‘additional evidence’. We gathered photographs from previous events, video and reviews from couples and exhibitors. For me winning the award was official recognition of the quality of service we feel we offer and the attention to detail that is at the heart of what we do. One of the overriding comments about our shows is that ‘they feel very personal’ and we love that because that really is what we try hard to create.”
For Helen quality is the watchword, there is no other way to do things. She has looked at what other people in the sector do and she recognises she could stage a wedding show that cost less, “I could use a sports hall for example, but that would compromise on the quality of what we do and what we do is to make people feel special. They are planning one of the biggest events in their life and even if you’re only at step one of planning your wedding that still has to feel like a special moment.”
For James Mackay, General Manager at the Banatyne Spa Hotel working with Helen and Empirical Events has been a success and that’s not just because his hotel has taken bookings as a result of its involvement with Empirical Events it’s because of the valuable relationship he has been able to build with Helen and her team.
James says: “We know what Helen expects of us and we know what to expect from her. We have a very open and honest relationship and that means we can sit down and discuss what’s working best and what isn’t.
“What we see from Helen and her team is an exceptional level of service at all levels of the work she does.”
And with an English Wedding Award under its belt the future can only be bright for Empirical Events with new venues contracting them on a regular basis to deliver their wedding shows and venue marketing and be part of the continuing success.