Christine & Fin Layson - Wedding Planners
Though my birth name is Christine, my friends and family call me Chris. Born in Wellington my parents were both school teachers, so it was expected that I would attend University and get a degree of some sort. Being somewhat of a rebel I chose to travel instead, spending several years doing the ‘big OE’, working my way around Europe and Great Britain when I ran low on funds and seeing the sights in between jobs.
When I returned home to New Zealand, I settled in Christchurch to pursue a career as a photographer. I had been taking photos almost non-stop during my travels and felt that I could put my learned skills to good use. Unfortunately breaking into the professional photography business was very difficult and I struggled to make a living let alone a name for myself.
Many of my friends from High School days were getting married during my first couple of years in Christchurch, and so I found myself travelling all around the country attending weddings. I was a bridesmaid in two of those weddings, and I think it was after the second time I was part of a bridal party that I developed an interest in wedding planning. It was about this time that Fin suggested he come to visit. We had met in France where he was working as an event caterer, developed a strong friendship and kept in touch ever since.
Like Christine, I grew up hearing my mother say that I needed to attend University and “make something of myself”. Though she never said so, I think my mother was pleased when I decided to study the culinary arts and train in France, particularly as her father had been a well-respected chef in one of the best hotels in Paris before retiring.
Gaining the skills required to prepare and cook dishes that would please even the most discerning palate took me many hours of sweat and study. Though I had learned the basics in my mother’s kitchen it did not fully prepare me for the long, hard hours I would have to work to get good enough to be employed in a top-quality restaurant. I love food with a great passion, and though there were times, I was exhausted my love of cooking carried me through.
When the opportunity to work for one of Europe’s top catering companies availed itself, I jumped at it, seeing it as a chance to add to my growing skills as a chef. It wasn’t too long after joining the catering business that I realized where my real passion lay; wedding planning. As a chef, I knew how important even the tiniest details are, and so it is with planning a large event such as a wedding. I approached the wedding planning company that hired the catering company I worked for and asked to be trained, offering to work for free if that was what it took to be accepted.
I worked and trained with the wedding planning company for 18 months, gaining as much knowledge and skill as I possibly could. When Chris told me, she was thinking of becoming a wedding planner the idea of joining her in New Zealand seemed completely natural, as was going into business together.
Though our business grew very slowly, to begin with we were very fortunate to have one of Chris’s school friends, Natalie, allow us to plan her wedding. We had planned a few small weddings up to that point, but this was the first large, lavish wedding that we had been involved in the planning for. We were both so nervous, but we knew what we were doing, had some of the best people to work with, and were so pleased to have the opportunity to do something really wonderful for Natalie and her fiancé John.
Natalie and John’s wedding was really the event that put our business ‘on the map’, and we haven’t looked back since. The only time we have not been busy planning a client’s wedding was when we organized our own 2 years ago. That was a lot of fun, and we received so many compliments on how beautiful everything turned out and how well it was organized despite us being the nervous bride and groom. Today I feel I was born to do this, and I know that Chris feels the same way. It is ‘in our blood’ so to speak, and we cannot imagine doing anything else.