A party planner’s guide to an elegant BritMums Live #BML16

Sara-Jayne Jones

Sara-Jayne Jones

Our Party Round-up Editor Sara-Jayne Jones is one organised mama! As well as writing her blog, producing a monthly round-up for BritMums and running her home, including looking after her three children, she also decided to write a tips post to help you get the most out of this year’s biggest blogging event! Here she shares her guide to an elegant BritMums Live. Over to Sara-Jayne…

Red, white and blue flowers?! It must be time for Britmums Live! 

There’s probably not an hour of the day that passes when I’m not planning.  Mostly I plan parties or photographs, but I’m also planning lunches, clothes for the boys, DIY projects, home decoration, days out….holidays I’ll never take, posts I’ll never write – but I plan.  I think I get nervous when my brain isn’t hopping about in dreamland.

I’m the Britmums Party Inspiration Round-up Editor – and I like things to be neat and pretty at my own parties – or smart and handsome, when we’re going for a more manly theme.  That comes from researching, drawing, scribbling and taking notes that I know I’m going to need in the future.  So, with that in mind, here’s my Party Planner’s Elegant Guide to Britmums Live 2016.

Your Outfit

First things first, your outfit.  Do not leave this until the last moment.  Think about your blog, your brand.  People like to make the connection between the blog and the blogger.  Dress like yourself – you don’t have to be anyone else, because you’re amazing. 

Whilst the temptation is there to wear your normal blogging outfit [read: pyjamas – I’ve worn slippers to a conference before because they looked like boots and were so comfortable – but in my defence, I was 8 months pregnant], remember that there will be brands in the hub and you won’t feel professional if you’re not dressed the way you’d like them to see you. 

Heed my cautionary tale and don’t get caught out like I did at a press day when I was of the opinion that only Hero would be on camera and I wore a vest top, jeans, no makeup and mom-hair.  It’s not fun, it was humiliating and I’ve cringed at the memory for over a year now. 

I’ve seen the prettiest dresses and gorgeous tops worn by fellow bloggers at Britmums Live over the past few years – have fun and feel fabulous, and you’ll have a great time.

Shoes

There are stairs, corridors, and you are going to be on your feet for most of the crazily amazing time you’re there.  Wear a pair that are cool, light, and that won’t give you blisters.  I wore some pretty gold flip flop sandals from Next last year and they were perfect.

Luggage

Bring your suitcase. Really.  I laughed it off the first time I was given this advice although I did take my suitcase as I was staying over.  I’m so glad I did.  I filled it, and then some.  My huge, normally-takes-22kg-of-holiday-luggage Walt Disney World embroidered suitcase was packed to its limit, and I still had three carry-on bags at the station.

This year I have my suitcase as I’m staying over, and my very new and beautiful Radley De Beauvoir bag which I’m still swooning over.  It’s perfect for conferences as I can fit my camera, lenses, money, touch up makeup, perfume, cards, keys – everything – in it, and it’s beautiful.  Look out for it in my post about what I’m packing for Britmums Live this week.

Rucksacks are fine, but it can get quite crowded in the hub and turning swiftly then accidentally knocking the stand of your favourite brand over probably isn’t the best way to introduce yourself [although it definitely would get you remembered].

Business Cards

Cards are so important – yet sometimes they’re the last thing that we think about.  We’re taking our blogs, our brands, to Britmums live.  It’s a networking event – and I’ve never been to a networking event where I’ve remembered everyone’s name or blog address before.

Cards are brilliant for sponsors, for friendship – and for spreading the word about your blog’s amazingness.  And please, don’t be shy [unless you only have a few] with them – hand them out, offer them to people you’re speaking with – sprinkle them like glitter.  It’s publicity for you – and your sponsor if you’re carrying one.

Camera

Polish your lenses, charge your battery and get ready to capture your conference the way you experience it.  Remember you’ll most probably want to record your day on your blog later, so take photos of the details that matter to you.  Friends you’ve finally met, sponsors you’re interested in, wide angle shots of the main conference room with keynote speakers – everything that’s made the day amazing. 

I invested in a camera strap this year instead of advertising Nikon constantly – and it’s made such a difference – softer, less of a burden around my neck – and I can carry it lower on my body.  In my bag will be my camera, my 50mm and 105mm lenses.

Gadgets

As well as your camera, remember your iPhone!  Charge everything the night before you leave, but  have your chargers ready too as there’s a charging bank at the back of the main room. After a lengthy train journey, unless you’ve been smart or lucky enough to sit by a plug, your iPhone is going to be thirsty for juice.  Get into the hall early and plug in if you can! 

Sponsor

If you’re fortunate enough to be carrying someone’s brand with you into the conference, make sure you know your objectives at the conference with regards to their needs.  Are the on your business cards – do you have all of the information you need from them to play your role professionally?  Is they post on the front page of your blog?  Get your ducks in a row and be ready with scheduled tweets or any other media you’re using on the day.

Transport

If you’re arriving by train, please get a taxi to the Brewery.  That’s my best advice.  The first year I ever did this, I thought it would be simple and a friend and I got completely lost walking around thinking we would find the venue.  We arrived hot, sweaty and with sore feet – after eventually caving in and getting a taxi.  The lovely people at the front of the Brewery will hail you a taxi to wherever you do – and there are always taxis at the stations.  The early start means that if you’re late, you miss the delicious food – and what’s worse, you’ll miss Instagramming it.

Your accommodation


Should you stay or should you go?  There are some very lovely hotels nearby – I’ve stayed at the Brewery itself, and M by Montcalm which was possibly the most luxurious hotel I’ve stayed in, in England.  Staying the night before gives you a not-so-early morning, staying the night after means you can relax with friends you haven’t seen since the last Britmums, and get a peaceful [child free] night in a comfortable bed. 

Your food

Let’s just say I’ve never been hungry at Britmums!  If you’re looking for Instagramable food, you’ll find it on tables in each corner of the hub. I’ve sampled the most delicious mini yoghurts and pastries at breakfast, and the sweetest little boxed lunches and desserts.  And the coffee? Ohhhh!

Finally

Enjoy yourself – let your hair down!  Relax, chat and smile – this is the social networking event of the year!  I’m looking forward to meeting as many new people as possible – so come and say hello!

Catch up with Sara-Jayne at her website Keep Up With The Jones Family. To reserve your place at this year’s BritMums Live, grab one of the last few tickets available!

 

Register for #BML16

Home page image: Sara-Jayne Jones.

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About Sara-Jayne Jones

Sara-Jayne is a former Big Four insolvency lawyer turned Disney Bride who really, truly just wanted to plan birthday parties for little people, make pretty cupcakes and capture cherished memories through her lens. This rugby-loving [and playing] Nikon-girl can be found squinting at Photoshop through the early hours, blogging at Keep Up With The Jones Family where she documents life in leafy Hampshire with her hard-working husband, three blond boys and two rather mischievous huskies. She has a particular fondness for The Manic Street Preachers, Tetley Tea, white Chucks and of course, Mickey Mouse.