Weddings with a Trinidadian twist

Simone Sant-Ghuran runs a T&T-based wedding website. She talked to Zahra Gordon

Simone Sant-Ghuran

My wedding was very do-it-yourself. I didn’t want the cookie-cutter sort of wedding; I wanted very personalised settings. It was very hand-made, from the favours to the invitations. I got married in 2002, and there were no websites. What we had was the telephone directory and referrals from friends and family. There was also the occasional newspaper wedding supplement; those three things were the major sources for couples at that time.

After my wedding-planning process, I had a whole bunch of information. We had interviewed decorators and florists and had lots of information in hard copy. I decided that maybe I could help other brides by putting some of this information online, and it would be self-generating in terms of advertising to fund it.

The highest traffic we have to our website is between January and March, when people are in the throes of planning and they want to get on board before the June to August rush. I would say we have three main pockets of wedding-planning time, and those would be: Easter time; June-July-August; then towards the end of the year.

The website, www.trinidadweddings.com, is an online resource for brides and grooms to find information, resources, articles and, most importantly, vendors. I supervise the content on the site and all the different tools and resources.

As an offshoot, what we have now is a wedding magazine, which we publish every year. The reason it’s an annual is because our wedding industry is very small compared to the $15 billion US market. The aim is for people to get a hard copy of what we put on the website. That way, they can get ideas that are Caribbean or Trinidadian-inspired rather than American or European, which is where most brides tend to look for inspiration first.

Day to day, we do business development. We touch base with customers by sending them e-mails with information. Then we have the routine stuff that any business does: invoices, receipts, follow-up calls. We look at content to see what we should revise on the site: write new content, post new content, post new pictures. Every month we have what we call a “couple of the month” and we caption the photos with where the wedding was, where the attire was bought, so people could get ideas. We also have live support, so if you have a question and need an immediate answer we can chat live online.

It is a growing market and has become part of the overall event industry. You have a lot more event-management courses being offered in Trinidad & Tobago than ten years ago.

I think a good wedding planner needs to be organised and a diplomat.

The first huge mistake people make is not having a budget. Then they interview people out of their budget and then get disappointed.

In the last year or so there’s been more attention to food and beverage: a lot of people are having cocktail hours. I’m seeing more signature drinks. They’re doing a lot of edible favours now, giving cookies and cupcakes and samples of pepper sauce and things like that.

The Caribbean bride is lucky, in the sense that she can take the European trends and twist them up a little bit to add a Caribbean touch or a personalised touch. Weddings are so personal, a reflection of who you are, and they should be a celebration of that, instead of just copying what you see.

  • Eve

    Wow!